Me and my partner visited the Riu Palace Punta Cana in November 2012.
We flew from Manchester with Thomson.
We arrived at night (8pm local time, 12am UK time) exhausted after the flight we were pleased with a smooth check in, we got to the room and ordered some room service which arrived in no time at all. after starting the unpacking we realised we hadnt been given a safe key, my partner tried to call down to reception but the phone was not walking, anyway he decided to walk down to reception to ask for a safe key and for someone to fix the phone, about 5 minutes after he had gone a guy arrived to replace our phone no problem, my partner returned shortly after with no safe key, he was advised by reception that there where no safe locks and keys left, they were all out until people checked out the following morning.
I wasnt particularly happy about this, we are very technology focused people, who had 2 iphones, 2 ipods, a laptop, an ipad an a kindle with us as well as a load of cash but with not much choice and luckily i like large handbags we put it all in my bag, went down to the bar had a quick nosey around and a drink and went to bed as we where exhausted.
following day we got up, while i was getting dressed my partner went to reception and was advised still no safe key and to come back after breakfast.
We returned to reception after breakfast and still no safe key, by this point i was not happy and calmly explained to the gentlemen i would return in 1 hr and expected a safe key to be there other wise i would be speaking to my rep and manager.
It did the trick 1hr later when i returned it was there.
That is the only fault i had with the hotel really.
The hotel itself is beautiful, clean and well maintained, there are constantly people working around the clock to maintain it.
The entrance is very grand, the rooms not so much, but are nice.
Our maid came twice day,morning and night, she was lovely, in fact so lovely i gave her a load of my flip flops, toiletries, clothes and a large tip before we left.
The pool is nice, bit small for such a large hotel and you have to get up early to get one, luckily i'm an early riser so this was no problem but then the pool guy said he would make sure he reserved the same beds for me every day (obviously i tipped him for this), the guys are constantly filling up your drinks.
The beach is absolutely amazing, it really is white sand a blue sea like something you see in a brochure.There a staff coming round all the time with "drinky drinky" fantastic.
The food - average, yes when you booked this hotel you was probably told it was a 5*, and it is in some senses, but the food is mass produced on such a large scale, its not amazing, there is plenty of choice (including boiled veg and mash potato at breakfast) and there will be something you like, but i dont doubt you will have eaten at better places.
we went to the steak house and brazillian, again it was average, nothing to rave about.
Nights entertainment, you have to give them there dues, they try hard but it does become REALLY repetitive after 2 weeks.
You can visit the sister hotels, which we did have a nosey around in, but we mostly stayed at our own, as you get to know the staff and they tend to look after you.
Carabein street is nothing amazing but its worth a walk down for something to do, a lot of the shops sell the same things.
Other guests - a lot of Germans, Americans and Canadians when we visited. A lot of the reviews advise the Americans and Canadians are quite obnoxious, some are, but some just come across that way cause they are quite loud, we were calling some of them rotten, but once we got talking to them they were really nice.
Trips - we only did the sand buggy's. It was booked through the hotel staff that hang around thee poof and we haggled him down by 50% so dont take the first offer. The trip was ok i thought, it was defiantly good to get out the hotel for the day as you start to go a bit stir crazy after a while. My partner loved it but he is not as well travelled as i am, and it annoys me when they take you to show you a coffe platantion and there are lots of young children in rags passing you flowers as another way to get more money out of you, where as if they just let you drive up and down the beach on the buggys as you have paid for it would be better.
The room, the smell we did not particularly notice, but we did take 2 air freshners with us and opened them straight away so could have something to do with it, however you are in the crabein, be realistic, due to the humidity its expected.
Tip - take a key ring, you will need this for your safe key.
Take plenty of $1, we took £200 worth to use as tips, granted we did not use them all as some staff expect a tip even if they have not given you any good service, i will only tip someone if they deserve it.
Weather - it was around the time hurricane sandy struck we traveled, but it had not hit punta cana at all, it rained a coupe of the days we where there, but as in rained for 5 minutes and then stopped and the sun was out an it was glorious again. The sea was a bit rough some days, but this was great for attempting to surf, It was HOT, really hot some days.
There is plenty to do around the hotel, the entertainment staff are always trying to get you involved. personally i was happy with my sun lounger, kindle and ipod.
Drinks - try all the cocktails, im sure you will find one you like, beer was not the best but drinkable. Yes they advertise top quality spirits but its not, but it is drinkable.
Overall it was a fantastic relaxing trip. just what i paid for and just what i expected.
I wouldn't go back, the only reason is there a many more places in the world i want to see, (currently planning a trip to New York) but i would recommend.
Your holiday is what YOU make it, if you go full of bad opinions and being picky, you will only spoil your own holiday. Go with an open mind and aim to enjoy yourself.
I was slightly nervous after reading the reviews on here but decided what would be would be and not to let it spoil my holiday before i even got there.
We stayed top floor 3003, no problems, garden view.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.