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“Great Vacation!” 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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Special Offer
Up to $2000 Resort Credit
Ranked #52 of 100 hotels in Punta Cana
St. Louis
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Great Vacation!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2013

We just returned from a 7-day stay at the Riu Palace, Punta Cana and had a great time. Even though most of the reviews we read were good, there were enough repeat comments around cleanliness, food quality, service and overall amenities to scare us a bit. I am happy to report we ran in to NONE of the bad--but we are also pleasant to the hospitality staff and have realistic expectations (i.e. you are going to smell some musty in a tropical climate as humid as the Domincan Republic!).

We went for a 25th anniversary trip and took our 2 adult kids (19 and 23) with us. Initially our rooms were farther away than we wanted, but the front desk was quickly accommodating and moved us closer together. Rooms are a little small and had no chairs--just the king bed and then in a sunken living room area a pull-out couch. But, we didn't spend a ton of time in the room, anyway. The balcony was adequate and while I would never call our view "ocean front" or even "ocean view," the fact is you COULD see the ocean from our balcony.

We stayed in room 1140 which is ground level with the main lobby--very convenient for luggage. From the room we walked down about 15 steps to a ramp to the courtyard area--left for the pool and beach; right for most of the eating and the evening shows. The buffet (Don Manuel) was good--good variety and food was mostly fresh. Wait staff is extremely pleasant, hard-working and accommodating (in fact, my wife commented when she saw a member of the wait staff move condiments, wipe under them and then replace them that 'you would never see that in the States--they would just wipe around it). For the themed restaurants, all were good, and they will generally let you book for the next 3 evenings at a time. We ate at the Italian, Brazilian, Japanese and Steakhouse (twice). The menu on their signature fusion restaurant Krystal did not appeal to us, but the food at the others was above average to very above average. The closest we got to "excellent" was the Brazilian restaurant but, my God!, there was so much food we got stuffed and left without dessert!

We had no trouble with power (despite me buying a couple adapters in advance). However, in typical hotel style, only 1 was remotely convenient for you to plug in to charge a phone or bluetooth speaker or iPad, etc. I'm not sure what brand of alcohol they use, but clearly the "Stolichnaya" label on the vodka in our room was just that--a label. It was really pretty bad vodka, and I've drunk some cheap vodka in my day. When the bottle was empty, I left a note asking the housekeeper for more. I got the same Stoli bottle with about 3 inches of what was obviously some other vodka inside. A full menu of "signature" drinks available at the swim-up pool bar and everywhere else. Again, these folks just went way out of their way to make sure you got what you wanted.

You CANNOT drink the water out of the tap here (signs in each room clearly say "not potable"). They are very free with agua pura (pure, or bottled, water. Humorously, the brand is Alaska, and it is bottled right here in.....Santo Domingo!). We brushed our teeth using bottled water and when I got a shower I would take a big mouthful of bottled water and keep it in my mouth to prevent me from ingesting any water in the shower. We left between $2 and $4 in the mini fridge each day with a note asking for more water, or vodka, or 7-Up or whatever--always got it.

We left the property three times--once for an unplanned ambulance ride to an emergency room about 45 minutes away (daughter with migraine--aside from the harrowing ride to the ER all was quickly well), once for a trip to the mercado (market) and for a sailing/snorkeling excursion. Everyone we encountered was pleasant and helpful. We do not speak Spanish, but learned a bunch and if I were to do it again, I would learn some better Spanish. Not that most of the employees didn't speak enough English to get by, but with our going off property twice, it would have been helpful to know a bit more than we did. The sailing/snorkeling tour was great (aside from the hour ride to pick up passengers from other resorts that didn't necessarily respect everyone else's time). We snorkeled over a coral reef and the attendants fed the fish to bring them around and get good photos, and we stopped in a natural 'pool' a couple hundred yards offshore to play a little men vs. women's water basketball. That was a blast. Great weather made the day. The organized trip to the mercado was essentially a resort-sponsored trip to what amounted to two different offsite hotel gift shops. I think we were expecting more like a bazaar-type set up with local vendors and we were disappointed with this (though wife and daughter did get good deals on larimar jewelry there). Also, one of the markets featured an interesting tobacco museum where we saw a guy hand make a cigar right in front of us that you could sample if you like. The other was an amber/larimar museum (larimar is a little bluer than turquoise and apparently is indigenous to just the island--you can google yourself and find out whether or not that's true).

Speaking of smoking, it's a little bit of a throwback in that you can smoke just about everywhere here and with plenty of Europeans, there was plenty of smoking but most of it outdoors--I think most people get that non smokers (and reformed ex-smokers like me) don't appreciate the smoke and did a pretty good job keeping it outside and relatively inoffensive.

The shows were OK--we watched 3. Well, we got up and left the circus show but that was in part due to us sitting out in the open, and it was uncomfortably hot and muggy (I seriously have never been to a place this humid--everything we brought home was damp!). A dance show was really quite good, with one dancer doing a really good impersonation of Michael Jackson moonwalking to Billie Jean and the magic show was also very good. The shows were billed to start at 9:30, but never started before 10. Many times, though, they had a singer or band in the courtyard to provide pre-show entertainment, and the kids got involved in pre-show dances on the stage--watching some of those kids was a show in and of itself!

You can walk the beach as far as you want in either direction, and we went about a mile and a half each way. The Riu properties have by far the best, broadest beach area. Lots of palm trees but plenty of sun, and deep enough so that you felt you weren't crowded. When we walked down past Iberostar, their beach was relatively short and crowded with thatched cabanas and just felt really crowded. You will, of course, pass local vendors trying to sell you snorkeling trips or hats and baskets made out of palm fronds, etc. Simply ignore them or politely tell them "No" and you have no problem. Riu did a nice job keeping the random vendors off their beach, but did have cigar, figurine and a dress vendor show up in a controlled fashion on the beach. We bought a couple tops from the dress vendor and haggled a bit on price.

Another note: none of us burns very easily, but we went through 6 spray-on bottles of SPF 30. If you think you're bringing enough, you may not be! And at about $25 US for a bottle there, it's an expensive item to forget! (And, yes, we all got plenty tan despite using 30!).

In short, we would go back in a minute. The little things that I could complain about are just that--little things. If you have reasonable expectations, remember that you're there to be on vacation and relax, and you're pleasant to the people you encounter, there is nothing about this trip that would disappoint.

Room Tip: Unless you plan on spending a ton of time in your room, I wouldn't give it much thought beyond w...
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  • Stayed July 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
    • 4 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.
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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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (528)
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English first
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2013

My boyfriend and I spent hours researching hotels in Punta Cana and finally settled on the RIU Palace Punta Cana. This reservation was booked and confirmed. The hotel had our email addresses and cell phone numbers. After traveling approximately thirty minutes to the hotel, we were informed that the hotel was overbooked and we were being shuttled to a different hotel - that was not even a RIU hotel and was another thirty minutes away. We ended up staying at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, which I highly recommend. The RIU gave us a four night voucher to stay in any of their hotels. Sounds great, right? I have been trying to book a room for over one week and NO ONE has gotten back to me. This is the worst customer service I have ever experienced. DO NOT STAY AT ANY RIU RESORT.

Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, NC
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2013

When we said we were going to DR, all we got was warnings of poor serivce and lack of activities. Ugh! I will never lesten to the negatives again! Trust your travel agent! We went to the DR because it was the least expensive for our length of stay. We wanted all inclusive and limited kids. We got everything we wanted and more. The staff was obsessed with cleanliness and service. There were plenty of activities. The food was great. The beach was amazing. To top it all off, there was a tropical storm heading for the island and they did not panic. They told us there would be a little rain and then some beautiful weather. Well... there was a little rain and some beautiful weather. Easy to relax here. Plenty of sun and shade on the beach. Very natural. Well done Riu!

Room Tip: The hotel is only a few stories tall so the trees obstruct most of the "beach views". Jus...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 11, 2013

I was concerned when I read other reviews saying the food was terrible, but it turned out that we spoiled Americans have a tendency to over exaggerate. The food was quite good in the buffet restaurant, but none of the specialty restaurants were superb. The location and facility were top notch. Have to admit that having a Spanish speaking wife was useful. Employees seemed to cater more to the European visitors, but overall it was a great visit.

Room Tip: Stay away from the north side, as construction is going from early to late.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 3 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.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2013 via mobile

Me and my wife visited Riu Punta Cana and was expecting an average stay for all the scary reviews we read... DONT BELIEVE THOSE... we had the best time of our life... Would definitely go there again...

Apply for RIU Class Card... it does help in spa and late check out...

Thank you Nestor (swim-up pool bartendar) and Thomas at Don Manuel... all other staff members were amazing too...

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johnson City, Tennessee
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

I forgot to review this last year when we stayed and what made me do this today was the fact that we ventured off from the RIU resorts and stayed at Secrets. Never again will I stray from RIU. I can't say enough about how friendly the staff is.

Every morning our waiter would remember us and knew exactly what we wanted and had it for us in no time.

Never a problem with getting towels or chairs by the pool.

We tip the staff daily and the housekeeper. We always had a clean room. At Secrets we started tipping the housekeeper and after 3 days of the exact same spill left on table, we still tipped but less than we started out doing.

My two complaints about RIU are the armbands and children. Secrets managed to be all inclusive without armbands and had properties for 18 and up. If I wanted to take my children on vacation I would, but sometimes you want an adult vacation. Even with that being said, we will be back to RIU 2014. Now just to figure out where to go. Punta Cana was nice, Puerta Vallarta was not my favorite, but I think it was only because it was on the Pacific side.

If you are trying to decide on where to go....choose RIU Palace Punta Cana. Gorgeous beach and friendly staff!!

Room Tip: We just like to see the ocean. We had a gorgeous room on the top floor looking right onto the beach...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
mississauga, ontario
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

This is our second time in two years at this hotel. I must say found it even better than the first. What makes this hotel the way it is besides the beautiful setting and beach is the staff. We were treat amazing by every staff member we encountered. The room we had was perfect granted the beds are a little hard but oh well. The housekeeping lady we had for the full two weeks Maxima was great room totally cleaned and sheets changed everyday beautiful flower arrangements daily fridge stocked with water pop and beer never went without. We did leave her a tip daily and she so deserved it.

How people can complain about the food is so beyond me there is definately something to eat for anyone even picky eaters cant complain. The waiters in the main buffet and and the beach are fantastic always had our table everyday with flowers and in the morning mamosa lunch white wine and dinner. They go out of their way to please you and make you comfortable. All the guys who work the bars are friendly and so funny and also the managers . My husband planned a special surprise for me and went to the general manager who made it amazing for us a special dinner that he booked and when we went back to our room balloons, champaign on ice and special little gifts it was beautiful thank you so much hope im spelling it right Neelis you made our day.

The beach is out of this world we were there everyday and yes there are vendors but a polite no grasias and they leave. We have stayed in this complex five times once at the new Bavaro Palace twice at the Bambu and twice here and this is my favorite the only thing that irked me was these towel people I swear its so aggrivating they have six chairs saved by the pool and six at the beach and then still dont show up so annoying . All in all a fantastic two weeks with great people and fantastic staff we will def. be going back any questions please feel free to contact me.

Room Tip: Rooms in the middle of the complex are great
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  • Stayed June 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 7
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 ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#42 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#45 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#46 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana 4*
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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