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“Birthday Getaway” 5 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 #52 of 101 Hotels in Punta Cana
Hamilton, Canada
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Birthday Getaway”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2013

I brought my wife to the Riu Palace Punta Cana for her birthday last December after having stayed at the Riu Bachata in Puerto Plata that July. We enjoyed the Bachata so much that I wanted to take her back to another Dominican Riu and a friend recommended the Palace Punta Cana as an upgraded experience and the staff and facilities did not disappoint us.

When we arrived the front desk as part of a large bus crowd we lined up at the front desk and their organization got us quickly checked into our room.

Throughout our stay the staff kept the room clean and well stocked with drinks, towels, etc.

Many people travel to Punta Cana for the white sand beaches and just looking at the professional and traveler photos on this site you can see why. The beaches are spectacular and you can walk along them for miles. So if you're looking for a resort with a fabulous beach you won't go wrong with the Riu Palace Punta Cana. The bar wait staff will even serve you on the beach and a $1 tip goes a long (long) way! We prefer sitting poolside, closer to the bar and the lunch buffet! :-)

We ate at the buffet for both breakfast and lunches each day and then at the a la carte restaurants for dinner. I love omelets and fruit for breakfast while my wife prefers a variety and the buffet never disappointed either of us. With respect to dinner we particularly enjoyed the Japanese restaurant (the Yokohama) and the steakhouse but we liked the food at all of the a la cartes. Like other Riu resorts the Palace Punta Cana allocates the limited dinner reservations on a first-come-first-served basis early in the morning (opening at 8am as I recall), however, (as I only found out the second last morning of our stay) they allow you to book for at least two days in advance (there's reason enough not to skip your orientation session when you arrive like we did!).

A couple of tips: We found the beach-hut therapeutic massage extremely relaxing and will ensure we build that into our budget for future trips. Bring along a stack of $1 bills for tipping. While the staff at the resorts provide EXCELLENT service regardless of tipping and we found they NEVER sought a tip, they also greatly appreciate the simple gesture of receiving a $1 for good service ... and remembered the gift later on.

Overall we have found the staff at the Riu resorts friendly and accommodating and the facilities up to their five star ratings. We enjoy the food both at the buffets and the a la carte restaurants. We very much look forward to returning for our next vacation!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
    • 5 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (595)
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English first
Guildford, United Kingdom
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2013

My sister and I have just returned from 14 nights at this hotel, and I have to say it was fantastic, better than we expected. The staff are friendly, courteous and helpful, our room was clean and lovely, the food was excellent, you would be hard pushed not to find something to eat here. The bar staff and restaurant staff were all excellent, special mention to Suero, Yahani and Marino, also special mention to Carlos the pool boy.We would definitely go back for a second visit. If there was one thing to mention, there are several tiles missing from the pool, which was a bit scary if you caught the edge of the tile, but it is beautifully clean, and kept so every day. Entertainment staff are very friendly, and will leave you alone if you don't want to join in.

Room Tip: Would probably avoid a room above the restaurants and entertainment area, also if you have problems...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
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Buffalo, New York
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2013

My wife and I went on out honeymoon here and it was amazing to say the least. My luggage was lost and they did everything in their power and beyond to get it back for me. The food was ok, I have had better but I have also had a lot worse back in the states. There is soooooo much to do there or you can just sit on the beach all day. We went on a the Outback Safari, our guides name was Rudy and he is probably the best guide EVER!!!!!!!!! If you do end up going on the safari bring school supplies with you. I would love to go back and see all of our friends we made at the hotel again any day.

Room Tip: Ask for high floor room
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  • Stayed September 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waverly, Ohio, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2013

Punta Cana is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I would most definitely go back. However, I WILL NOT be staying at this hotel. My husband and I went to this hotel for our honeymoon at the end of August. This was our first experience with an all-inclusive because we had always gone on Carnival cruises in the past. I hope this info helps...

Food: Going to an all-inclusive hotel, I expected that we might put on a few pounds but we had quite the opposite experience. The food was so terrible that when we got to the airport and saw a Wendy's, I'm pretty sure tears of joy filled our eyes. This was some of the worst food I have ever had. The buffet was full of tasteless attempts of American food; I would have much rather had authentic Dominican food. We are not picky eaters so the fact that we were so disappointed is surprising. I lived off of rice, french fries and donuts (the chocolate donuts were actually amazing and I ate one every day). The specialty restaurants were ok. There was usually at least one part of the meal that was decent. Overall, we were hungry the majority of our stay.

Cleanliness: This is what I care about most when I travel. If the room is not clean, it makes it difficult to relax. We were not informed that there were no non-smoking rooms so our room smelled like smoke the entire time. You could see the residue from the cigarette smoke on the curtains and there were ash marks on the rugs. When we arrived it had not looked like our shower had even been cleaned. It seemed that throughout the hotel they just "surfaced cleaned" and the place really needed some deep cleaning. There was even crud (for lack of a better word) built up on the light switches in our room.

Rooms: At first glance, the room is very pretty and spacious. The bathroom was decent and not cramped. The bed and pillows were extremely uncomfortable. The bed was hard and the pillows were flat. The sheets were stiff and rough and that is all that you had to cover up with. We also did not get our sheets changed the ENTIRE week. Overall, it was not a very comfortable room.

Activities: The grounds were absolutely beautiful and it was nice to walk around, you could tell that the staff put a lot of effort into them. The entertainment in the evening was not very good (we are used to the shows on the cruise ships) but we had a great time laughing at some of the acts. The hotel had shops which were expensive but fun to look around in. There was a parade one night and that was a good time. The dance club was nice and even though we did not dance, they had entertainers dancing which were fun to watch. The casino was very small but it was nice and the workers were very friendly. The beach was beautiful and there was lots of seating.

Service: We were not very impressed with the service here. A few servers in the buffet area were good. Room service was very poor; it took forever to get anything from them, if we even got it at all. The servers on the beach were wonderful and friendly. This is not a complaint, just a helpful hint...many of the servers do not speak english so it is helpful to have some basic phrases or words in spanish mastered before you go.

Location: Punta Cana was amazing. We love to snorkel and this was the perfect place to do that. We went on a couple excursions that we really enjoyed. The Marinarium was an awesome time. The workers were so fun and helpful. This was worth every penny and we highly recommend it. We also did the Bavaro Splash which involved so many activities that it was worth the money. These activities are really worth looking into no matter which resort you stay at.

There was really nothing impressive at this hotel and if we could go back, we would definitely choose a different one. I had always heard good things about Riu resorts so this was very disappointing. We had a wonderful time on the island and fell in love with Punta Cana, just not this hotel.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
south wales
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2013

Hotel was the usual Riu Palace style but the food was not. The food was repetitive not just on a weekly basis but lunchtimes & evening meals were much of a muchness each day. The meat was often tough & still bloody.The Italian restaurant was the best of the restaurants. The weekends were overcrowded & the poor staff were struggling to cope.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
bucks
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2013

Going home tomorrow a excellent holiday weather brilliant hotel was the best I have stayed at at the pool all day Samuel the pool waiter the best always kept you cool with drinks hard worker al a carte food excellent steaks great Krystal restaurant the best only downfall was the Thompson rep bit is a arthur Dailey does not like to disclose any freebies like free buses to shopping malls rooms very big clean staff brilliant beds nice tempura ones plenty of tv choice well done thanks riu

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2013

Background Info
Four of us (49/51 + 25/24) arrived at the RIU Palace Punta Cana on Saturday 9/14/2013 to celebrate our wedding anniversaries (30yr + 2 yr): We stayed 7 nights. This was not our first stay at a RIU resort; we have now stayed at five. We have previously been to Punta Cana. Depending on which RIU resort you book in Punta Cana, there are reciprocal rights at some RIU properties in the same area. Although this review is a bit long, you should know the honest facts. If you find this review helpful, please give me a helpful vote!

Tip: If you are celebrating a special event, let the front desk know and they will accommodate (we had special cake at dinner, balloons in our suite, chilled champagne delivered and a Cuban cigar waiting for me).

Front Desk and Staff
Upon our 3pm arrival, we were very impressed with the lobby, tile work, furnishings; the lobby ambiance was very impressive. We were greeted with cold cocktails made at the nearby Lobby Bar. The staff was pleasant and bi-lingual (mainly Spanish and broken English; with some observed Dutch, French and German). We were provided advance room keys to “go see” the room (we paid for the JR Superior Suite and JR Suites). After checking about 4 rooms and more than an hour later, we accepted the “Interior Courtyard” and “Ocean View” rooms for the night (both were complimentary upgrades). We were offered better free upgrades the following nights if we wanted to change (one of us did). Two towel cards, one room key, and a Safe Lock/Key were provided at check in (don’t lose or each is $20-$25 fee). It is OK to ask for an upgrade (no charge for us). Of the rooms rejected, one had poor A/C and the other absolutely no view (overlooking the wall, just above the theater). Nyemen, the Font Desk Manager, was very accommodating. For the delay, a bottle of Jack Daniels was sent to our room.

Tips: Plan to bring some small bills for tipping. Although not mandatory, staff work hard and appreciate the couple extra bucks. Don’t be afraid to ask for complimentary upgrades and try to make a friend at the front desk.

Room & Grounds
The resort vegetation was very tropical and well kept. The resort complex was very spacious with many areas to roam. The Jr. Superior Suites were nice, with a step down living area and door wall with semi-private balcony. The room also had black out curtains. The rooms were a bit musty, but we were in the tropics during rainy season. The bed was firm (ask housekeeping for extra pillows). If you ask for a king, you may get two twins pushed together. But if you want a true king, just ask (or go see prior to accepting room). The A/C worked just ok, it was not bone chilling, but noticeably cool. The poor reception flat panel TV had several English and Spanish channels to choose from. The granite bathroom had dual sinks (don’t drink the water), a hair dryer and a small working jetted tub. The overall resort showed some signs of aging (few plaster bubbles, water stains, outdoor mold/dirt and some cracked tiles); but we did see maintenance people regularly working.

Tips: If you want a quieter room with Inside Courtyard view, get as close to ocean as possible. Rooms closer to lobby are a bit louder. There are really no clear ocean view rooms as the resort sits back from the beach and is at most 4 stories high. We found the Jr. Superior Suite to be adequate. Also, keep the door wall closed or the A/C shuts off. Leave the maid $2-$3/day and you will always have fresh towels, sprinkled flower pedals, towel animals and a nightly turn-down service.

Entertainment/Club
One word here: Boring... Although the staff does work hard, this was one of the main drawbacks of this resort. There is a list of structured daily activities, including beach (horseshoes, volleyball, and darts) and pool activity (water aerobics only) with nightly stage based entertainment. However, there is no music in the bars, the pool during the day is typically quiet and after the nightly evening show (starts at 9:45pm), its lights out (by 10:45pm), or go to the Sports Bar, Casino and/or nightclub. The nightly shows change daily and are ok at best (this is not Vegas or a cruise ship). The 24hr. Sports Bar is ok, but again, no music. There are a few slot machines (maybe 15) and a Caribbean style roulette wheel inside the Sports Bar. Grab and go food there is not so good (hot dog, hamburger cold sandwich, fruit or nachos). The Sports Bar does have pool tables, air hockey (working poorly) and a couple video games. Expect to pay $3/game. There is also a larger Casino at the RIU Macao Palace (free shuttle from lobby). At the “Pacha” night club, drinks are NOT included and there is even a cover charge on “special evenings” ($3-$5/pp)! The club opens at 11pm and closes at 4am.

Tips: Don’t expect too much and you will not be disappointed. And even more important, don’t get suckered in at the Casino’s Caribbean Roulette wheel. The forced bets will quickly double, triple (quickly become $80/roll) in chase of the elusive 100 point “jackpot”. If you decide to play, stand by the wheel and watch it very closely: Add your own numbers and watch the wheel spinner and his/her “assistant”: You will find you may need $500 bucks or more for any chance to really win.

Food & Drink
The food is prepared in masse and tastes that way: Nothing special. The main buffet is open for breakfast and dinner. The buffet contains all the typical breakfast foods, with a buffet line catering toward the Europeans. Nightly food themes change depending on the day. Service was good and friendly. Only lunch option is the buffet by the pool. There are 5 other specialty restaurants from which to choose, but you will need advance reservations. Reservations are taken from 8:00am until 10:00am, and can only be booked 3 days in advance. There are basically 2 dinner seating’s: One at 6:30pm and the other at 9pm. Here is a quick summary of the “reservation required” restaurants: 1) Brazilian – lots of meat but not typical eat ‘till you are done’ style; 2) Italian – Nice atmosphere, but nothing special; 3) Steakhouse – Good fillet (tiny lobster), better rib-eye; 4) Japanese – Very good sushi appetizer, rest not so authentic; 5) French – Perhaps the best (for me); try the soup. Overall, we were not overly impressed with the food; it was ok at best with an occasional good. Room service had limited selections, but was nice and prompt.

The drinks were generic and the beer was not so good (only local beer – Presidente). They did have a few branded liquors (Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, Stolichnaya and Canadian Club): You had to call your brand or you would receive just well drinks – they were just ok. Only domestic rum was available (try the Imperial). We did observe the glass washing in the Sports Bar was mainly a quick rinse and towel dry (not the typical wash-rinse-sanitize).

Tips: Make reservations for dinner early in your stay. Not all restaurants are open every night so plan accordingly. If you go to the 9pm dinner, you will be late to the 9:45 show. Bring your own insulated cup from home: Ice melts very quickly.

Pool & Spa
This was the best pool in the Punta Cana RIU properties. Although there were tiles missing here and there and some cracks in the surrounding cement area, the water was warm and clear. There is not much shade in the pools (we moved a table umbrella near the pool for shade). The swim-up bar was awesome with plenty of seating. The nearby infinity pool was a tad deeper and a bit cooler. Pools close by 7pm, so don’t plan on swimming after dark. There were always plenty of chairs and umbrellas available. There were two poolside ping pong tables also available. Remember to take your shirt and shoes to the pool, the restaurant will not let you in for lunch without something on your feet and a shirt. The pool patio tiles get very hot on your feet. We did not use the Spa other than its free gym, indoor pools and restrooms. Spa services were $100+/pp.

Tip: Get clean pool towels early at the pool, they can run out by mid-afternoon.

Shopping
There were plenty of on-site shops at the RIU Palace, plus more shops over by the spa. Also, check out Caribbean Street shops. At all on-site shops, don’t expect to negotiate very much and prices can be 1.5x+ more than you will see elsewhere. Shopping on property is hassle free and US dollars are accepted. No need to change currency.

Tip: Up the beach ¾ mile are more shops but be prepared to be hassled. They are a bit pushy and always have a deal that is ‘almost fee’. Offer no more than 40% (or less) of asking price; settle for about 50%. Pre-check prices at resort shops as comparison point.

Beach
The RIU has the best beach. On the north side of the island the water is a bit wavier, but it is very “bluetiful” as I call it. There are plenty of chairs to choose from and lots of palm trees to shade you. There will be topless sunbathers.

Tip: There are no close reefs to swim to and snorkel and the water is a bit cloudy. The waves are large, but too small for surfing. Bring your sun screen or plan to drop $35 on a bottle.

Overall
I give the resort 3.75 out of 5 stars. The food is a bit bland and the liquor is not top shelf. The staff was attentive and friendly (for the most part). If we went back, we would consider staying here again but do not plan on returning any time soon.

Room Tip: Tip: If going to relax and wind down, this is a good choice for you to consider. But if you want to...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 40
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:
#37 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#40 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#45 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#47 On the Beach 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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