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“Mediocre” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana

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Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa de Arena Gorda, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic   |  
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Ranked #53 of 99 Hotels in Punta Cana
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Mediocre”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Decent experience, but fell short of our trips to Mexico.

We were at the Riu Palace Punta Cana for just over a week in late Jan/early Feb with a two other couples. We are all around 30, and have previously traveled to Mexico, Cuba and other Caribbean countries.

Food - lots of selection, though little you actually want to eat. The breakfast buffet was just ok, the selection at the lunch and dinner buffet was mostly the same. Often, I felt like I was eating for dinner what I had for lunch. The a la carte restaurants only have seatings at 630 and 9. You are required to make reservations in the morning to eat at them. The 630 reservations usually fill up first and so we ate our meals at 9, which was a little late. Although it was nice to eat at an a la carte restaurant as opposed to the buffet, we all enjoyed the food at the buffet more. Room service was also a disappointment. There are only about 8 options for food and its mostly junk - nachos, fries, dessert.

Drink - but for the canned beer and the "champagne"/sparkling wine, none of the alcohol tasted like it does at home. The one variety of red/white wine was the worst I have ever tasted in my life. The draft beer is also terrible. Canned beer is like gold, and it is only available in some of the restaurants and your mini bar.

Service - the front desk staff was lacking - as were the maids. The maids did not do a great job of cleaning the room, especially the bathroom. On one occasion our door was left ajar after they had cleaned it. The pool/buffet/restaurant servers were generally excellent and a real joy to get to know. The entertainment staff were good, but a bit creepy.

Rooms - The rooms and the interior of the hotel are tired. Although the lobby/lobby bar is grand, it feels dated. We found the guest rooms dark, and had very little natural light. Of course, this could be because of the direction our room faced. The ceiling fans in the room are very strong and if we forgot to turn it off at night we would wake up feeling uncomfortably cold. Our friends had an extra blanket in their closet, but we didn't. We requested one every day but it never came. Also, our "king bed" was two double beds pushed together that easily separated. Needless to say, my husband and I essentially slept in separate beds. Also, the safe was a joke - like everything else, the lock is antiquated and made me question the security of my stuff. The room keys are actual keys, not key cards. I suppose this is fine, but again a little dated.

Pool/Beach - beach was very nice, the wind was a bit strong some of the days. Soft sand and turquoise water was a plus. Like most resorts, the chairs at the pool are a hot commodity and people set out early in the a.m. to reserve them. The drink service at the pool was much better than the beach. Victor was fantastic! I wish there was a hot tub on the property, but there isn't.

Nightlife - In the evening, most people hang out in the courtyard. It is a great atmosphere, lots of people watching and the servers are very attentive. From the courtyard you can view the evening "shows". As expected, these are not very good but are good for an unintentional laugh. There is also a sports bar, open 24 hours, that left a lot to be desired. It was pretty gross in there - the lighting, food, furniture was reminiscent of a dive bar. There is no disco at the hotel. Although I am not a frequenter of nightclubs, it would have been nice to go somewhere to listen to music/dance/drink in the evenings. We were bored some nights.

Overall, our complaints are mostly with food selection and drink. Both of these things may be the norm for the island, rather than the hotel itself. We love Mexico, and find the quality of what we are paying for there much higher.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

We just returned from Riu Palace in Punta Cana, and all six of us came back with sore throats and upper respiratory problems due to the horrible mold and smell in the rooms. We were in rooms 2087-2090. The odor was so bad it would wake me up at night, plus the rooms were right above the kitchen which added to the problem even worse. When we arrived at the hotel we were asked if we would like to upgrade to rooms with a view of the pool, managements first asked for $500 dollars for all 3 rooms for 5 nights, then he cut it down to less than half and then he said, "forget it, I will just give it to you". Well he didn't do us any favors, our view was the roof of the Miguel restaurant. And the mold was worse! On our last day there, all the guest were walking around covering their noses, the gardeners were watering the lawn with what must have been the sitting water on the grounds, you can see and smell this when you arrive on the grounds, standing water all around, the smell on the lawn was unbearable, if you stayed out there you would have most likely caught cholera! That was nasty, just nasty! Never again! The drinks were watered down so bad, the food was always blah, it all tasted the same, even the fruit was tasteless, I can't figure that out! The men in suits at the courtyard that came to get our drink orders looked like Mafia bosses, you were scrutinized from the moment you sat down to the moment you got up to leave, I felt like I was in jail at the resort, and the security with the rifles, nope, not my idea of relaxation. The regular staff though, the best!

Room Tip: Don't stay above the kitchen and don't pay for a view, they try to rip you off!
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Washington
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

We have stayed at the Riu Cancun hotel for the past several years and love it! We decided to go further south this year because of the cold weather the past 2 years in Cancun and fell in love with Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We upgraded to the Palace this year because it was our 30th wedding anniversary and this is what we observed for the price difference. Firstly, the service was outstanding! Always several managers on site in different areas of the hotel and lots of service staff to take your drink order. Lots of chairs on beach and around the pool and even though we didn't usually make it to the pool or beach before 11am each day, we always found a couple of chairs even pool side. The drinks and food are top notch, especially the Italian restaurant! Manager there was so friendly and even exchanged our 9pm reservation for an earlier one on request. We were there during Super Bowl Sunday and had a blast watching it in the sports lounge. I noted they had extra security that night roaming the hotel and lounge which I thought was great even though no one got out of control. There were not many children and mostly mid to older people at the hotel so no need to upgrade to adults only hotel. The property is absolutly beautiful! It is now our favorite place to go. Mattress was better than the one at the Riu Cancun but the room was exactly the same.

Room Tip: I recommend the shopping at the resort since you really don't spend much more than you would at...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

My husband and I returned last night from 6 days at the beautiful RIU PALACE PUNTA CANA. We were there with another couple, mid-twenties to early thirties. Two of us are teachers and we were looking for a winter escape, and the RIU was perfect!
First off I'll list the negatives, since there are less of those. The Steakhouse was not at all what we expected, and sadly we went there on our first night. The food was not the best, and the service wasn't that great. Ernestisina was great but Abad on the other hand was extremely rude to us. Not sure what his problem was with us and our table, but he seemed to think we weren't going to tip him.
Check-in and Check-out were quick..but I feel the people at the front desk did a poor job at telling us everything offered. We weren't given a map or told what goes on during the day, or about the shuttle offered to the casino and club. (we ended up going that night and requesting the information). MAKE SURE THEY GIVE YOU THE TOWEL CARD. We weren't given one, luckily the towel hut guy gave us towels the first day and we were able to get a card back. They didn't even give us our wristbands, we had to remind them! Also make sure they give you your wifi information, the signal is good all the way to the beach and in most parts of the room.
My only other problem was the Monday night show (didn't catch the name of it). This show was extremely inappropriate..we ended up getting up and walking out. There was a mattress on the floor and two members of the animation team were pretending to be Maria and her lover who get caught by the husband. REALLY??? Not my choice of family appropriate comedy shows.
The hook that held the shower head was broken the whole week, but that wasn't a problem for us. We just held the shower hose.

Everything else was great!

The hotel was beautiful, it's clean and so well taken care of. Yes the rooms smell like humidity. But you are in the Caribbean, anywhere I've been to in DR or Cuba has had the same smell. Just be careful with your cameras, our non-waterproof camera we think may have been damaged because of the high levels of humidity. The rooms were very clean, and the lady who cleaned our room made sure to change our towels, and leave a beautiful towel art in the room everyday. If you are traveling with someone that is staying in a different room, make sure to request a connecting room. The rooms are facing each other and have a door that can be locked outside of both rooms. We did not do this and ended up down the hall from each other. Not a big deal, but had we known the setup of the rooms...
The buffet is the best! There are options for everyone. We preferred the buffet to any other restaurant. The steakhouse is a small buffet during the lunch hours. We went to the Japanese, Krystal Gourmet, and Italian they were all great. Smaller portions but equally delicious. One tip if you are going to the Italian go with an empty stomach! They have a salad bar before the meal that is huge. Not just salad, but pizzas and seafood. The rice ball is to die for!
The service was incredible for the most part, some names that stick out: Rayner and Ronnie from the buffet, Anneris from the lobby bar and plaza bar...Luis from the Plaza bar at night. Also Jazmin from the lobby bar and the night bar.
The Animation Team tries too hard! There's one in particular Coco Loco he is the most annoying animator ever. But all in all they did a good job putting on a show for the guests.
We did not see any games being played at the pool until the last day. Wish there had been more, other than pool aerobics!
The beach is beautiful...I did not feel it was too crowded as we always found beach chairs. We did have to move the chairs around to get 4 together, but that's not a big issue. As always there are people who leave the towels on the chairs by the beach and pool. Personally I would not do it out of fear of losing the towel and having to pay the $20.00 :)

Please tip the staff, the waiters...the bartenders...your housekeeper. These people make very little a month, work weeks on end and only get a few days to go home and visit family. $2-3 dollars do not make much of a difference to us, but to them it could be between 60-90 pesos. We took $50 in singles and $50 in 5 dollar bills, and by the end of the week we were out of singles!!
Had the opportunity to meet the GM of the RIU hotels in PC, and I can see why the hotel thrives on improvement and treating their guests as #1.
Sorry for the long,detailed review but after doing so much research I appreciated seeing for myself the things I read. Make sure to bring some Febreze, and a smile. :)

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vienna
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013

I just spent a week at the Riu Palace Punta Cana, and it was a week in paradise. Beautiful weather, beautiful pool and beach, palm trees, piña coladas, friendly staff were the highlights of the trip. Our room definitely smelled very very musty to the point where we had to keep the door open whenever we were in the room. I don't know if this is just a general problem in the caribbean because of the humidity or if it is a problem specific to this hotel. But since everything else was great, I wasn't going to worry about it.
Unfortunately something happened that will make me never want to return. $90USD and 60 Euros were stolen from two separate wallets in the hotel safe. We kept the safe locked at all times and had the key with us at all times.
When we reported it to the front desk they told us the manager would "call us". Never happened. We eventually met with a manager and were told that it was impossible that the money was stolen and that we probably left it somewhere and should go look for it. There is absolutely no way we misplaced the money as I left my wallet IN the safe for the entire trip since I had no need for Euros. This left us feeling as though we had done something wrong, even though we did not ask for the money to be refunded, but just for someone to believe us. Proceed with caution.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013

First off the the place actually looks like a Palace!! The grounds are beautiful and very well kept. When I choose a resort I look for a great beach, room service, good food and good drinks. This resort has them all, plus decent shows and a friendly staff. All in all I would consider it an all around great value. Did I already say the beach is amazing!!! Wouldn't hesitate to return in the future.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Bridgend, Wales, United Kingdom
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

Just returned from the Riu Palace. I was anxious before going after reading more recent reviews, mainly about the food and musty smell. We travelled with Thompson's and booked 11 months previous. We had two rooms 2081 for myself and husband also room 2032 for my 2 older children. Ours was 1 floor up from the lobby near to the entertainment area, to be honest, when it was a bit noisy we were out mostly and the glazed units kept it at bay, entertainment didn't go on till late. My children's (age 24 and 17) was very quiet, (looking from the front of the hotel) it was on the right wing nearer to the beach.
The only 5* star I would give would be to the lobby possibly to the buffet restaurant and the level of service. The rooms and pool I would give a 3* they just weren't finished to a good standard, we had a hole in the bathroom ceiling, shaving mirror hanging off the wall, drawer door hanging off, however we weren't in the room long enough to cause much of a problem. Above the revolving door to to the hotel, the date says 2006, I honestly thought the hotel was at least 15 years if not more older, judging by the rooms, the smell for all of us was not bad at all, we only used the fan, that seemed to work for us.
We really enjoyed the buffet, there was plenty of everything, The japanese restaurant was fantastic, lets face it, it is all down to personal preference. We cant fault the service, we had room service a few times, getting food and drink whenever was so easy, the staff could not do enough.
The beach was stunning and sometimes busy, but not overly loud, I didnt enjoy the daytime entertainment, but others did. I watched the sunrise a few times, spectacular!
We had a fantastic time, don't worry before you go, just try and make the most of it when your there.. Have fun.

Room Tip: Rooms on the outer wings seem to be more quiet on the right side looking from the front of the hotel...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana

Address: Playa de Arena Gorda, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#28 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#42 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana 4*
Number of rooms: 612
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 
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
Punta Cana Riu Palace
Riu Palace Hotel Punta Cana

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