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“My family's march break experience” 4 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 #51 of 100 Hotels in Punta Cana
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“My family's march break experience”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

My family arrived at the hotel for a March Break vacation. My first impression of the lobby and the main entrance was clean and very well maintained. The front desk was occomadating and friendly. The rooms were somewhat not to my expectations, i would almost discripe the room as standard. My kids slept on a sofa matress that i would describe it as slightly below average. The room service was was excellent, very friendly with a "hello- olah" every morning however did not speak any english. The landscaping was excellent, very well maintained, the pool was very clean, the entertainment staff were very friendly and alway found them trying to get guest to participate in activities. Again, the only draw back was the lack of some of them not speaking much english. The beach was fantastic and very well maintained. The gym was alilttle dissapointing, a little small and some days the exercise machines would work other days not. The did have a childrens play ground a little of the path, however they were only open during the late part of the afternoon. The italian resteraunt was dissapointing, considering i love italian food. The steak house was o.k. however the buffet is the best bet. Get there early becouse it was fresh. The buffett had a different theme every night, the selection was excellent and the service was excellent. The pool service was good, however i would recommend tipping a $1 every order, service is faster, bigger smiles every time. There is a kiosk that provides photos, i would highly recommend, not only were they very friendly, Elena one of the photographers was very good with the kids, a litte expensive but the quality was great. The nightly entertainment was average to good, they always put a strong effort to entertain every one. More accomadating to the age group of 40 to 60 years of age. I would say the overall experience was great. i would recommend the Rui Palace Punta Cana.

Room Tip: Make sure you see the room first before unloading your bags. Make your happy. Try and get the pool...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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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Hills
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

We stayed at Riu Palace Punta Cana 2/24-3/3/13. We read all the bad reviews b/4 we left, and were a little worried we'd picked the wrong place. Honestly, after being here, it made us wonder about people--are they just being mean, or are they impossible to please? We are from Iowa, and appreciate SO much being able to get away from the cold to beautiful places like this. If the sun is warm, and the drinks are cold, we are generally happy!! We traveled w/ a group of 8, and we had so much fun! This is a lovely hotel, super-sweet, hard-working staff. We spent a lot of time by the pool. Thanks to Sylvestre for helping arrange chairs for us, and thanks to Garcia for being such an awesome pool-side waiter! If you go, PLEASE tip wait staff, housekeepers, etc. We always do, and found here, like other places, no one acts like they expect it, but it is surely appreciated. The beach and water here are most beautiful. We traveled w/ a group of 8, and we all had so much fun! Afternoons by the pool were a great meeting spot, as well as the plaza bar after dinner. Great music in the eves. Nice, reasonable-priced shopping areas within the hotel complex. Be sure and bargain w/ them, as well as the beach vendors, who were very nice and not pushy! Beautiful walkway b/t hotels. Never experienced any musty smell, unless you mean humidity, which is everywhere in the Caribbean! There was a sewer-ish smell now and then, but have experienced this at many other resorts, possibly b/c we're at sea level? Ate at all the specialty restaurants and buffets. Food was generally good. Oh, sure, some stuff better than others, but don't you find that everywhere? Drinks were PLENTY strong, so not sure how much alcohol people want! Ask for a double, if your drinks aren't strong enough for you, and bartenders will pour it for you. They even had Jack Daniels, which made my husband happy! We have experienced Sandals that prides itself on "luxury" (with prices to match) that was always running out of JD! Our accomodations were great, room spotless. The best fridge-restocking I have ever experienced. We have traveled to the Caribbean probably at least 40 weeks, and stayed at many other resorts in Mx, Jamaica, Caribbean-- other RIU's, Jewel, Sandals, Excellence, Secrets, Iberostar, and this resort compares favorably. There was lots going on here, which we loved! Took the afternoon snorkel/party cruise, and had a ball! I would not hesitate to return to this hotel.

Room Tip: We did not pay for a Superior room, so we were facing the hotel next door. Had a bit of an ocean vie...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2013

This place is amazing; the lobby is old-school Caribbean class with high ceilings and lots of wood and ceiling fans.

The staff were universally friendly and helpful. I would recommend brushing up on your Spanish before you go, it's fun to practice and people seemed to appreciate the attempt. Not everyone speaks English well, so it enhances communication too.

There is a bit of a walk from the lobby to the beach, but it is a beautiful promenade with palm trees and fountains all the way to the pool (which is very close to the beach).

The beach is gorgeous and there is a bar so close that there's no excuse to ever be thirsty. The pool bar is a lot of fun and again the staff are amazing.

There are a lot of activities and a full-fledged spa, but you can just relax at the beach for a week if you want to and none of the other stuff will disturb you.

Our room was very nice, with a little step-down to the couch/balcony/television. Remember, "el agua no es potable"...don't drink the tap water (bottled water is provided daily). The ice and water for drinks is purified but not out of any of the faucets.

One clever thing I have not seen before is the rack of liquor bottles in the room for making your own mixed drinks. This is included, as are a few beers and sodas in the refrigerator. The bottles are in a dispenser and will give you one ounce per actuation. A very cool idea, and there are mixers in the fridge as well.

The food at the buffet seemed to be the best. A huge variety of local and gourmet fare, pretty typical of most decent all-inclusives. The specialty restaurants were just ok, but all were fun and we didn't hate anything we had. Read a few articles on how to avoid traveler's intestinal distress if you have a sensitive gut. It's something that is very common in this part of the world but it doesn't have to ruin your trip.

We enjoyed the lobby bar, which is again old-school with a lot of hardwood and great service. The entertainment at night was uneven; I wish there was more authentic Dominican music and less Michael Jackson impersonations (though that was pretty hilariously entertaining) but we didn't go there for the entertainment. You can totally skip it and have a great time if you don't like that sort of thing.

If you're a smoker, this place is very friendly. I'm not, but the place is so huge that I was never bothered by cigar or cigarette smoke.

There is a small shopping strip on the side of the property, and a small casino at the resort next door within easy (and safe) walking distance.

Bring lots of ones and tip freely, the service is really worth it. As I write this, the exchange rate is 1 dollar for 40 Dominican pesos.

WiFi is free, but a bit spotty. The 3G (don't forget to either buy a data roaming package or turn your data services off or you'll be sorry when you get home) worked about 1/3 of the time. I was able to make Skype calls to the US at least daily using the lobby's wi-fi service.

Over all one of my favorite trips ever and I would visit this resort again without hesitation.

Room Tip: If you're close to the lobby, you may actually have wi-fi access in your room. Wi-Fi is free, b...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spokane, WA
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

Service: A+ first class service. Very eager to please. Ask and ye shall receive. The Entertainment Crew work very hard -- 15 hours a day, 7 days a week (they live on premises, work 21 days then get 3 days off).

Restaurants: The menus at the specialty restaurants never change; Only ate at Luigi's and the steak house. Ate at Luigi's only once as the fish was overcooked and no seasoning; Lobster at the steak house the first time was undercooked so didn't order it again the 2nd and 3rd times we ate there. The ribs and steak were quite good - especially considering the steak was cut very thin. The buffet at the steak house for lunch was okay but preferred lunch at Don Manuel's buffet (less people and better selection). The Sports Bar (24-hour snacks) only has pre-made wrapped sandwiches. This is where the free computer is located and 10 slots machines. By the way, if you want to play pool there's an additional charge for that!

Food: Beautiful presentation but mediocre at best. A lot of the time we couldn't figure out what the stuff was -- so you take it, take a bite, push your plate aside, and go back for another try. The trouble with buffets is that even if it was good, it's cold or luke-warm. But that's standard for any buffet. On our last day we ventured over to Club Bambu and ate lunch there. By far, better quality than what we were getting at Don Manuel's.

Room Service: Mark your morning menu and put on your door by 11:00 p.m. with the time you want it delivered the next morning. Room only has a 2-cup coffee pot so that should get you through until room service arrives. There really isn't a dinner menu - just snack stuff.

Dress code: The dress code at restaurants is not really enforced. You will see some women dressed up (heels & dresses) but most of the men don't bother. Therefore, wear whatever you want. You won't feel out of place.

Rooms: We had a top floor corner suite with massage tub. It was beautiful and the extra large balcony had a terrific view of the pool and ocean. Large walk-in closet and a decent amount of hangers. Maid takes care of the room but someone else comes every other day to replace drink dispenser.

Alcohol: As one of the other reviewers said, the gin, whiskey, vodka all taste like rum. When my husband commented on this to the front desk, all the bottles in our rooms were changed out and then the vodka actually tasted like vodka. I drink wine so they brought in it in for me in addition to the hard alcohol.

Smoking: Very smoker friendly. Yes, you can smoke in your room, at the pool, restaurant terraces, and the theater.

Pool: Rules state you cannot reserve chairs at the pool. WRONG! If you don't, you won't get a chair. Just give the guy at the Towel Shack $1 per chair per day and tell him which ones you want. He'll put a towel over those chairs to reserve them for you each morning.

Activities: There is no Activities Booth to ask for Bocce Ball, ping pong, darts, or whatever. It appears it is only available when the Entertainment Crew decides it's time to play. If you don't follow the Entertainment Crew around, you will miss some of the more fun games they come up with as sometimes they will do it at the pool, sometimes at the beach, -- oh, and Bingo is behind the Swim-up Bar.

Casino: There are 5¢ & 10¢ slot machines (no penny machines) are located in the Sports Bar off the lobby. The casino located by Riu Bavaro has 26 slot machines, 6 table games. Again 5¢ & 10¢ machines -- we found only one 1¢ machine. Shuttle to casino runs every 10 minutes but you can walk it on the brick walkway beachside.

Shopping: Caribbean Street shops are between the Macao and the Bavaro. Probably about 10 shops - nothing special, high prices, and they will round up to dollars so exchange rate is a rip off. Insist they put the charge through on your credit card in pesos. There are about 6 little shops on site at the Riu Palace - same problem as Caribbean Street shops. NOTE: On Thursdays there is a "street party" on Caribbean Street - dancing, music Since no one at our resort told us about this, we didn't go. If you walk the beach past Iberostar, there is a beach flea market. Can't comment on that as we didn't know it was there until we got back home!

Main Points of Contention: The resort doesn't give you any information at all. You are on your own to figure it out. We either had to fumble our way through or ask other guests that had been there awhile. The list of the daily activities on the board in the main plaza never changes and is far from accurate. We weren't told what was going on or when. By accident, we stumbled onto the vendors' night at the Riu Club Bambu.

Theater Shows: 9:45 pm every night. Nothing to shout about. Did watch the Games Night and it was entertaining as it included people from the audience. Otherwise, it's just a dance troop on a very small stage.

Parasailing: We got the guy down to $70 for the two of us, but I think he would have gone lower if we had kept pushing.

TIP: Take with you or purchase for $10 at the resort boutique an insulated To Go Cup to put your drinks in at the pool. Otherwise, you get flimsy little plastic glasses and ice melts as fast as they put it in.

Room Tip: Take with you or purchase for $10 at the resort boutique an insulated To Go Cup to put your drinks i...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sudbury, Canada
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

On February 22, 2013 6 of my family members and myself (ages 14-55) stayed at the Riu Palace Punta Cana and had a wonerful vacation. None of us wanted to leave...we were all more than willing to throw our passports in the ocean and never return home.
The weather was fantastic...no rain!!! The ocean and beach were a dream.
As for the rooms...great...no complaints. They were clean, no mildew smell and plenty of towels...and the mini bar was always restocked!
The food was incredible....lobster and steak dinner every night at the buffet if you wanted. Breakfast was delicious...such yummy tropical fruit! The a la cartes were really good too. We did the Brazilian, Japanese, Fusion and the Italian....so good. the Fusion and Italian were amazing! Being a vegetarian there was plenty of selection. At the Brazilian (where MEAT is the main course), the staff prepared a fish dinner for us vegetarians instead....I was more than willing to eat salad and sides...but they were so great to prepare a different dish. At the buffet, our maitre de (sp?) was Willy....he was the best...knew exactly what we wanted to drink with our meals and was so gracious. He looked forward to seeing him everyday and teaching him some words in Finnish.
The drinks....so good! Nothing beats a nice cold Pina Colada in the hot sun.
The entertainment was the best I have ever seen at a resort. The amimacion staff put in a great deal of effort and excitment to make everyone feel that they were included and ensured everyone was having a great time. Many thanks to Stephanie (chocolate), Baby Johnston, Coco Loco, Mickey Mouse and Sexy Kelvin for making our vacation that much more enjoyable. We really enjoyed laughing and dancing with you every day! At night there dancers were incredible.
They only bad things I have to say about the place; is that we had to leave :( A week was not long enough! We can't wait to go back next year!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Illinois
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2013

We stayed at this hotel at the end of January for our annual winter trip. We had never been to the Dominican Republic and opted for it over our favorite island, Jamaica - just to see what it was like. We have stayed in many RIU properties over the years and have always had wonderful luck with them. There were just a few things on this trip that we noticed and did not really care for. It used to be worth spending the extra money on a "palace" within this chain - but this is not the case - at least not in Punta Cana. We have booked Palace's before so that we could visit the other resorts and check out their bars, and grounds to see if there are other properties that we might want to come back and visit. The other RIU's in this complex were off limits to us - could not even walk down the beach and stop and relax with a drink.

We could go to the next door resort to gamble at their casino - because of course, they want you to spend your money there. BUT - we were told that we had to purchase our drinks not only in the casino - but at the night club as well. We have never run into this at any other RIU. Needless to say, we didn't stay and gamble because we knew we could go back to our resort and have free drinks.

Other than those things - I must say that everything else was wonderful. The Italian restaurant was fabulous - have the linquine with shrimp! The house red wine is terrible, but the white is passable. We also enjoyed the snack bar near the pool every day while we lounged! :) Always something good to munch on!

The pool was not as large as some of the other RIU's that we have been to - but more than adequate for the amount of travelers that were there. The wait staff at the pool were fabulous - especially Leo!!!!! Our drinks were never empty! The weather was beautiful - we only had 5 minutes of rain one morning, other than that - it was GORGEOUS.

We did not venture off the grounds - normally we take a tour or something but we were both ready for down time of the best kind - and enjoyed it to the fullest.

We still prefer Jamaica over the Dominican, so I doubt that we will go back - at least not in the near future. But, it is a beautiful island and the resort is nice and clean - and quiet.

Room Tip: We got a room on the garden side - so nothing to look at but grass - I would highly suggest booking...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
2 reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2013

My husband and i stayed in this hotel with 2 more couples. We are all in our twenties and really enjoyed our stay. This hotel is big and the whole property looks like a palace. Amazing building, garden, fountains etc.
our rooms were not very fancy but clean and comfortable. Exactly what you need when you go on vacation.
The service was extremely nice and helpful. They really tried to make us feel relaxed and always greeted us with a smile! We made a lot of friends with the service staff. The second time we went to a Japanese restaurant, the waiters already knew we were Polish and there was a bottle of vodka waiting for us at the table. How crazy is that :) !!
Nightly entertainment was very fun and different every night. The Animacion Group was so much fun and was teaching everyone how to dance baciata, marengue and salsa. They made sure you had fun during the day and also after dinner.
This hotel is perfect when you go as a group of couples because you can spend a good time in style as well as have fun and party.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
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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 Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#23 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#45 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#45 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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