Riu Palace Punta Cana Review
My husband and I visited this resort for one week for our vacation and we have reserved a Suite. Our previous experience with Riu Resorts was at the Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun Mexico in the summer of 2008 (Junior Suite).
We have posted numerous pictures from the resort at:
http://brtravels.shutterfly.com under the tab Riu Palace PC
They include the suite, menus, restaurants, beach, pools, hotel lobby and grounds, beach walkway etc. Also you can see pictures from our stay in 2008 at Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun under the tab Riu Palace LA.
We know everybody has a different experience at any resort and that they go with different expectations so we will express our opinion only. You can decide then if this applies to you or not.
We have posted Notes at the end of each paragraph with the important points for us.
Airport Punta Cana: We arrived in Punta Cana with Jet Blue around 3 pm (direct flight from Boston, great service, no problems). There was no line for pictures as others have posted. Our luggage arrived relatively fast, then we had to pay the $ 10 each as entrance fee in DR. Shortly after we were on our way to get to the pre-arranged/paid Orbitz transportation van to the resort with Coco Tours. No problem finding them after we exited the terminal area, all the travel agencies are well marked. Be aware that people ask you every minute if you need help with luggage and they grab it from you if you are not firm on your feet. The ride to the resort is a 30 minute run where you get to see the real living conditions of the people.
NOTE: print you voucher for the pre-aranged/ paid transportation. You will need to hand it in. Get a pen for the trip to sign customs forms (the resort does not have any in the rooms!)
Check in: We were welcomed with a tropical drink and we were ready to start our beautiful vacation. Then the front desk person asked us about our hotel voucher?! All we had was the reservation confirmation from Orbitz ( our travel agency). Thank God we had that. He made a copy and he said we have a Junior Suite reserved, not even a Superior Junior Suite. We almost had a heart attack. It was clear on the confirmation page that it said Suite, we paid extra to have this upgrade. We got angry and were almost ready to call Orbitz when he eventually said we had a Suite.
Definitely not a 5 star resort: they do not have computers to check the reservation, and everything is paper only ( see the check out problems). They should know all this and should protect customers from these mistakes. I wonder if we had not have all the paperwork to prove we had a Suite, if we would have ended up with a room 2 levels down downgrade!!! After we said it was my husband birthday they offered us a bottle of champagne delivered to the room. Nice touch, but we were too upset by this time.
NOTE: print your confirmation with room arrangement. Have travel agency number ready and a calling card.
Suite: After all that we were given a 1st floor room viewing the interior fountains. We requested a higher floor (due to bugs from previous reviews and for better view). We got 2nd floor. Better, but no view of the pools or ocean, only the interior fountains through the palm trees. We ended up liking the large terrace and the calm, relaxing view. There are only corner rooms as Suite rooms and Suites with outside Jacuzzi as you can see from the included map, and these are only a few. As opposed to Riu in Cancun, here you cannot get beach or even pool view unless you are on the highest floor (fourth level) . Beach front rooms are few (See map and it will make sense). Of course there are worst rooms (our opinion only) on the outside, not facing the interior fountains.
Overall we loved the room space, outside terrace, and the interior Jacuzzi of the Suite.
Room Smell: no musty smell (we had Glide plug in for bathroom and living room; Glide spray for bathroom), great AC, loved the inside Jacuzzi after beach, nice towel animals every day. Hard working maids. Tipped $5 per day and everything was great. They also placed in hallways towel animals with fresh flowers (see pictures)
NOTE: If you can get a Suite it is worth it. Do not expect views of the beach or the pools even if you pay for the most expensive suite with outside Jacuzzi. You could end up being by the Buffet or Show Bar, or even worse on the outside facing the other resorts. I would rather pay more to have a better view. They should have this offered as an upgrade choice implemented.
Room Service: See the posted room service menu and the pictures for the fruit plate and nachos (no guacamole). No 5 starts food menu for room service. We also ordered a bottle of champagne (for my husband’s birthday) and they did us a favor and brought it.
NOTE: I will rather bring food from the buffet (extra plate for later) than order room service. Only once we were told we could not take a glass to go from buffet. They did not care if we took food in our room for later.
Hotel Grounds: Very beautiful interior fountains in the courtyard. Well manicured landscape. Very nice views to enjoy during the day and at night. One of the highlights of this resort compared with others. Well kept lobby, luxurious furniture, marble floors, nice paintings.
NOTE: the gardeners were up keeping the landscape with machetes, quite a site to see…in fact there are machetes everywhere.. from the landscape trimming to the coconut cutting on the beach.
Food & Drinks:
Buffet is good: they have 3 nights with special dinners Thursday: Gala Dinner Buffet, Saturday: Caribbean Buffet; Tuesday: Mexican Buffet; Food is diverse and you will find something you like. It is more like home cooked food, no 5 starts but tasty and diverse. We loved the outside terrace seating for morning and dinner (few tables but worth the wait if needed). At night you hear the music from the courtyard. In the morning the view of the interior fountains is great.
The steakhouse/ lunch alternate area have the best location by the beach with 2 floors, with breathtaking views. We loved to have lunch here (smaller selection than the main buffet) but the beach views are amazing. Also some days they have outside grilling, with great food and music. See pictures. The smell draws you in from the pool/beach. Do not miss it ( I think it was Mondays). I wish they had music all the time for lunch by the beach.
Steakhouse: not great food at all. OK at best
Krystal: the best restaurant we tried: flavorful and interesting.
Brazilian: very disappointing. We fell in love with Brazilian food at Riu Palace in Cancun but here there was no selection of meats. Very poor selection and flavorless food and above all they did not even bring out all the food that was on the menu. We had dinner at the second seating (that starts at 9 PM) and the servers seemed eager to close asap.
Italian: always booked. It looked the most interesting menu but we could not get a reservation. We gave up since we liked the buffet. To make reservations you need to be early in “line” in something that resembles the crowds during the “Black Friday” sales. People are” in line” (sitting at courtyard tables in front of the Italian Restaurant) since 7 am. Italian is booked by 8:05 am.
Japaneze: did not try either.
NOTE: More quantity versus quality; Buffet will do just fine. You will not starve. Desert: like my husband said “Nothing worth getting fat over” and that is a guy’s perspective who doesn’t care about weight and loves sweets.
Drinks: Wine is bad, it doesn’t matter the color; Champagne: Spanish is better than Italian; Cocktails are great at the lobby bar (see menu in pictures); Beer: only one type Brahma ( not the greatest) Coffee/Espresso: very good, all from Nespreso machines.
NOTE: great Banana Martini and fruit cocktails (some very sugary)
Shows: We did not see any but they were loud so we could hear them from the room terrace at night. The problem is that they were starting at 9 pm when the second seating at dinner is for the specialty restaurants. All the seats were taken early. It was nice to sit on the outside on the terrace in front of the Show Bar a couple of times. The drinks at this terrace are not as good as by the lobby bar.
NOTE: go to dinner at 6:30 seating to catch the show at 9 pm.
Pools: Be aware there are chair hogs out by 6 am, pools open at 7 am. There are plenty of chairs so you can find a decent one but if you are looking for the front row surrounding the pools be out early to reserve it (I guess you have to keep the towels from the day before since the towel place opens at 7 am). Pool service is very nice. Nice drinks in small plastic glasses so order 2 drinks at the time. The pool closer to the beach with the pool bar gets dirty and is very hot. We enjoyed the round deeper pool with cooler water. Kids are everywhere in June/July and they can get on your nerves, so if you hate noisy, misbehaving, and rude kids you might want to look into an adults only resort or visit this one in the months when they are in school. It comes to different cultures and their child education in which I will not get into. To each its own I guess.
NOTE: If you want a specific pool chair be aware they get taken up early so plan accordingly. The round pool is cleaner and cooler in temperature. Kids are everywhere in summer months.
Beach: The beach is absolutely breathtaking. See pictures for crystal clear green waters and tall palm trees. Great beach service: all drinks you want every 25 minutes. Not too many vendors to harass you. Enjoyed coconut water from coconuts cut in front of you (2-3 $, you can bargain with them, they can also put rum in it if you want). They clean the beach at Riu resort daily from algae so it is very nice, not like at the Majestic next door. (See pictures)We walked up and down on both directions. We enjoyed the calm atmosphere at Riu. About 20% of women are topless on the beach not only at Riu beach but at other resorts as well. Nothing to see, no Miami South “Silicone” beach or Ibitza, your husband will be safe….All the beach chairs have a problem: you cannot placed them all the way flat so you cannot tan your back in a comfortable manner (See the pictures). Pool chairs can lay flat.
NOTE: Not to miss, better than the pool. Amazing waters and sand. Nice beach service. Does not feel crowded.
Gym/Spa: Not used but placed by the beach. They looked nice and not busy.
Other Riu Hotels in this Resort: There is a walkway by the beach to the right of the gym/spa that links all the Riu hotels in the resort complex. Beautiful to walk day and night. Very romantic at night. The other hotels have their own character and after visiting them all we loved Riu palace Punta Cana where we were staying. They are building the new resort Riu at the end of the walkway but thy have at least 1 year until finished. Very hard working conditions. All hotels of this resort are away from the beach so there are limited beach view rooms, some have none.
NOTE: great walkway in the afternoon for a stroll or for a romantic time at night.
Check out: We were ready for a smooth check out since we did not use the laundry, telephone or any other additional cost services but to our surprise we were informed we had to pay for laundry. They showed us a laundry tag with our room number but not our name. We got upset and showed the passport with our name, informed it is not ours and it was dismissed. They did not apologize for their mistake at all. I do not know why they do not check in advance the name on the tag: money lost for them and annoyed customers are the only result. They do not have any computers to verify this? Nor the human skills to see that it is not the name on the room reservation? Definitely not a 5 stars resort.
Pick up from resort to airport is done 3 hours in advance and for good reason. Our pick up was 30 min late (for a 30 min ride to airport) after 3 phone calls back and forth. Not very professional at all.
Shopping/Dutty Free/ Excursions: The shopping inside the resort is nothing to be impressed over. More souvenirs and dutty free is in the airport. Some nights there are vendors at tables set out around the interior fountains who can get very annoying and pushy. You cannot enjoy a nice walk after dinner or before without being harassed. Maybe if they were less aggressive I would have felt comfortable to stop and look and maybe buy something. There are shopping malls to go to but we were not that adventurous and after the ride to the resort we decided to stay and enjoy the beach. There are also excursions: safaris, swim with dolphins, ziplining etc that you can do if you want.
FINAL NOTE: Beautiful grounds with great beach and waters. Unfortunately very few people are hard working at this resort and deserve all the credit for that (and tips). Many are not happy to work in general , or have a different work ethic and your vacation suffers. In Mexico at the Riu Resorts you are treated much better in general by happier hard working people. If you want to visit this resort make sure you get a great deal and that you do not expect 5 stars. If you already book you will still have a nice vacation, very relaxing and hopefully with nice weather and great tan lines. Stay at least 7 days ( 2 were rainy for us; take advantage of the free internet in the lobby with your own laptop/Ipad) For us it is probably the first and last time visiting the country.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana * Inside the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Macao, Riu Taino, Riu Naiboa hotels and the ClubHotel Riu Bambu * 4-story building * Surrounded by 63,000 m2 / 75,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 50 km / 31 miles from Hig??Ey * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Int???L. Airport ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Riu Palace
- Riu Palace Hotel Punta Cana