I definitely would take much out of the real negative reviews, it's important to find a middle ground in between the amazing reviews and the terrible reviews. Riu Palace Punta Cana was an overall a very good experience. Don't fool yourself this place is not a 5 star resort, but was very good. The thing that really stuck out to me as amazing was how beautiful the grounds were. The staff was constantly performing upkeep everyday, to help maintain a clean well kept environment. The beach is very close. I would say a 5 minute walk if you were the furthest away. We were fortunate to have about a 30 second walk. As a tip make sure you get out early enough to reserve chairs, and even a table if your lucky. Also one thing that really surprised us was how windy it was and how rough the water was. We literally probably went two days without going deeper than knee high because the water was soo, rough. This was the one aspect that will keep me from going back, but that is not a knock on the resort but simply the Dominican in general (not to mention the airport was pretty much out of control).
The food was ok. I'm not picky at the least but honestly things were hit or miss. Breakfast was great every morning, and the wait staff were so nice. Dinner and Lunch however was about 50/50 from a food standpoint. As is the nature of a buffet, the quality of the food depended on recently the food was prepared, so I would stay away from unique things that you want to "try" because chances are it's been sitting there for a while. As a tip, stick with popular meals that a lot of people would eat, as it has a quicker turnover. But in all honesty, as crazy as it sounds the buffet was much better than a handful of the dinner restaurants (not all). Stay away from the Grill, they have steak and lobster which is tempting, but honestly it was really really bad, dry etc. It was by far the worst. I do however recommend the Italian and Brazillian.
At night they have a show which at first is a blast, really a must see for a night or two, but you will quickly realize it's the same people doing essentially the same things, with the same jokes etc in a variety of ways, except for the magic show. If you go, you have to go to the magic show! I was astonished at what he was able to do, but don't sit too close because he will bring you on stage! The rest of the nights were dances by the same people, and honestly probably not kid friendly as they essentially work normal dance tops with thong bottoms. I think you migt be able to go to the other riu's for their shows, so I would bounce between them for variety purposes.
One last warning I want to give, your room could have two full size mattresses pushed together, not a king (most people we talked to had the two fulls including ourselves) and it is guaranteed to smell musty. It's the nature of the location, ask for an extra blanket to throw on the coach, that's what we did. Honestly we didn't spend much time in the room anyways.
In summary, I would say if you are traveling to the Dominican then the Riu Palace is recommended. My review may sound negative but I want to stress it was very good, I just thought I would highlight a few of the downsides to prepare you, so your not caught off guard like we were. If you have your mind set on DR then I would recommend the Palace. But I would say if your willing to spend a little more, I would go to a different island.
Do not spend the extra money for the "upgraded" room. Its identical to the other rooms, ex...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.