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“Mixed emotions” 3 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 #50 of 100 Hotels in Punta Cana
Toms River, New Jersey
2 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Mixed emotions”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2014

Just got back last night after a week stay. Let me start by saying that the staff is incredible. From the moment you walk through the door you are greeted with smiles and they can't do enough for you. We had a Junior Suite Superior. I had read reviews previously about complaints about moldy smelling rooms. We stayed in 1117 which overlooked the fountains and was a perfect location. From the time I walked in, the room smelled musty and moldy but we were told by housekeeping it was the bleach and cleansers they used. In hindsight, we should have changed rooms. Either the air conditioning vents need cleaning or something else is wrong. When I came home an unpacked, everything smelled like the room. There was one night when my bed was changed and I had a very scratchy sheet but it was gone the next day.

The food was very good. We ate at the Brazilian restaurant, the steak house and the Italian restaurant. The rest of the nights we ate at the buffet because the food was good and we didn't feel rushed. There are two seatings at the specialty restaurants. 6:30 and 9:30. We felt the courses came out too quickly at the 6:30 seating and we couldn't sit and relax.

There is not much to do in the evening after dinner. There is a lobby bar and a sports bar (which smells horribly of cigarettes. We would go to La Plaza outside after dinner and dance and listen to the music. At 9:30 on some nights there is a show in the theater. A few of the shows were very good. One night I think one of the shows was canceled. Other than that, there isn't really anything to do. The disco on the other property doesn't open until 11:00. We walked down to go to the casino but there was a sign on the door that said "Closed Until Further Notice" so that wasn't even an option. We did have drinks at some of the other properties but there wasn't much going on at any of them.

The Palace used to have vendors that would come in and you could buy from them but they no longer allow that. One night one of the other properties had a few vendors but nothing like there used to be. I understand the place has changed hands in the last few years.

The other problem we found was with the reserving of chairs at the pool. In order to get a chair at the pool you had to get up early and run down and put towels on them. I looked out my window at 7:00 a.m. and half the chairs were already reserved. Then I saw one of the other parties tipping the towel guy to lay out towels for them the next day. This is a practice that really should be stopped . We watched chairs remain vacant all day with towels across them when other people couldn't find anywhere to sit. The same went for the beach area although that was easier to find a chair.

Our tour company was Amstar and we had a very good experience with Katie. We did book the Outback Safari tour and it was well worth it. Ruddy the tour guide for the day and Leonardo the driver made the day interesting and it was nice to see other parts of the Dominican.

Leaving Punta Cana was a mess. Our flight was at 3:00. The driver was supposed to come at 11:30 and it was noon before he got there. By the time we picked up other passengers, we didn't get to the airport until 12:45. Once we got there we were directed to self-check in kiosks for US Airways. There were only 2 working and there was a line on each that were ridiculous. We then had to go check our bags in and by the time we got done it was 2:30 and we were told the plane was boarding. We rushed to the gate only to stand in line for another hour in the heat. Our plane was 2 hours late taking off. Give yourself plenty of time to get through the process of the airport mess.

I doubt I would go back to this resort. While the staff was fabulous and the food was good, I was very disappointed that there was nothing more offered for evening entertainment.

I do have to highly compliment the entertainment staff - from the water aerobics to them dancing at night with the people in La Plaza, they are hard working and try to make sure everyone has a good time. If you do go and you aren't happy with your room, speak up - they are very accommodating.

Room Tip: No matter what room you do choose, if it isn't suitable, ask for a different room. I'm sure...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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2,903 reviews from our community

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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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English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2014

I was there in March, at the Riu Palace Punta Cana.Everything is perfect, people from Europe stay for 3 weeks and some are back for the 7th time.
from Phila. you are there in 3 1/2 hrs. at 12 pm you can be already at the beach.
the transfers were excellent the check in, is easy. request the room you want, sometimes you cannot get oceanfront with apple vac. unless you pay extra.
the help is very friendly, the food is good.
if you want a good vacation, stay at this resort.
hannah Phila

Room Tip: when you check in, ask what you want.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled solo
    • 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.
Burke, Virginia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2014

This was my first time visiting an RIU resort and I will say I was not impressed. I think the rooms could use an update and more attention to detail. The sheets seemed overused and rough; extremely uncomfortable after one day in the sun. The floors weren’t very clean and my feet become dirty instantly from walking around the room. The room décor was out of date and did not feel beachy or relaxing to me.

Now in regards to food it was a HUGE disappointment. I have been to a few resorts and I will say this is by far the worst food I have ever experienced at a resort. It tasted worse than my college dorm years. There wasn’t much flavor to any of the food and was hard to find something I liked. I tried many of the restaurants and it was all the same. My boyfriend and I went off the resort to find another place to eat at one night. Highly recommend Hard Rock. Their food was amazing and the resort was more up to date. The 24 hours room service they advertise isn’t more than a few options on a menu with sub-par food such as nachos with cold cheese and a club sandwich with soggy bread and bacon. The 24 hour Sports Bar with snacks is literally a fridge with sandwiches, hot dogs, and make-your-on nachos (which are terrible) that you warm up with a microwave. I was honestly shocked and found myself more and more aggravated with RUI each day.

The coffee/espressos at the resort were delicious and highly recommend. They have a large selection of really good frozen drinks that I enjoyed. They restock your room every day and you will never be short of alcohol. I was disappointed that there were no bottled beers and at most bars only one options of tequila (Jose Cuervo Gold).
The beach is gorgeous with clear water and the softest white sand. The weather was perfect and there were plenty of palm trees for shaded area. Although, I do feel the beach was overcrowded. I went out at 10 a.m. to find a chair and every single chair was taken and there wasn’t much room to even lay a towel.

Overall staff was mostly friendly. The place was not my style. Overall based on my experience I would look for smaller resorts were food is not made for masses of people at a time and the beach isn’t as crowded.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Loudon, New Hampshire
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2014

We stayed at the Hotel Riu Palace in Punta Cana. But before I get to that I want to say if you haven't used Apple Vacations you should. We had a direct flight out of Boston on a chartered Jet Blue plane and direct Jet Blue flying back. The flight was 3 hours and 40 minutes and they had Apple vans to take us to the hotel and back when it was time to leave so you don't have to deal with taxis. They were also very helpful during our time at the hotel.

Upon entering the lobby you see that the hotel is very classy and the grounds were beautiful. One note though. The room they gave us had a view of a children's playground which isn't what we were hoping for so we went back to check-in and handed the key back to the person behind the desk along with a $50 bill and magically we got a beautiful room on the promenade and an ocean view.While they only had one pool it was very large and it never felt crowded. The pool area is only a minute to the best beach in the world. It is a soft sand beach that goes for over 20 miles so you can get all the walking you want. You also can leave the property and go to other Riu's that are next door and get drinks and meals there as well. At the Riu Palace the staff are outstanding and very hard working. They make the trip that much better with their great attitudes and friendly conversations. The breakfasts and lunches are very good and there is something for everyone with lots of options. In the mornings the staff would get us Cappuccinos which was a best way to start the day. The suppers were good but not great. I find that steaks in the Caribbean are not what you are used to if you live in North America or Europe and aren't worth getting. If I had a complaint it would be that the beer is lousy. If you like Bud Light type of beer then you may like it, but if you are a microbrew beer person then you will have to switch to mixed drinks. If find that is the case throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. We did enjoy the entertainment. Was it a little hokey? Yes but you are there to have fun so enjoy the time because before you know it you will be back at home. Overall I would go back to this Hotel without hesitation. We travel a few times a year outside the U.S. and have gone to several All Inclusives. What makes this place stand out is the service, the property, and the best beach in the world, in a very safe place.

Room Tip: If you want a great ground floor room ask for room 0051. If you get a disappointing room break out...
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  • Stayed March 2014, 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
171 helpful votes 171 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2014

We stayed here the last week of February 2014. This was our winter trip and a Christmas present to our 19 year old daughter who shared the room with us. We wanted her to have a wonderful break from college. She was not disappointed.

Our original choice was the Riu Palace Macao but I left it one day too late to book and it was no longer available. I am glad that happened because in our opinion the Riu Palace Punta Cana is much nicer. Macao is adults only but at the RPPC there weren't that many kids anyway, very, very few so not an issue. It is more upscale and you find more kids at the Riu Bambu which is a little lower in scale.

Our check in was very quick. Of all the people on our flight very few were going with us. The bus was only half full and were evenly distributed among the other Riu properties. We got our room keys, paid a $5 deposit for an extra key and were on our way.

We had a superior room which looked into the centre of the resort (next time we wouldn't bother paying the extra). Room was fabulous but only 1 king bed and a pullout couch which would have been noisy and very uncomfortable. We called down to the front desk for another room with two beds and within 2 mintues they called back. They gave us the key for another and we moved into it. It was on the top floor. By the way there are 4 floors in the place. The bottom floor is 0 and the top floor is 3. Floor 1 is where the lobby is. Next room was just as nice and very Riu. My first stop was to pour myself a rum. Mmmmm. Daughter was excited about having something from the fridge which is all included.

This property is immaculate. Very well appointed and very elegant. We checked out the others and this was our favorite and we think no just because we stayed there. Lots of marble and beautiful Regency style furniture in the lobby. The main bar has lots of wood with peanuts for snacking on and is a nice place to hang out.

The pool is great and warm. Very clean and a joy to sit around. Fun games through the day and the beach restaurant is just steps away and has lots of variety. It doubles as the steak house in the evening.

The beach is incredible. Very deep and lots of trees. Never a problem getting a chair there and you are not on top of somebody else like you are at the Bahia Principe next door. Their beach is not as deep and chairs are one atop the other. There is no chance really to snorkel at the beach here so if you looking for that you have to take a trip.

The food was great. We have stayed at a Riu before, in Puerto Plata, and it did not disappoint. Lots of choice and everything was wonderful. Great service as well and you can get a person who recognizes you and will look for you each day. We had a person for buffet dinners, breakfast and lunch and had our table ready for us each day. Nice to tip for good service and we got that here.

Would we stay here again? In a heartbeat. It costs more as it is a palace but it was extremely worth it. I was very impressed with the fact that premium drinks like JD, Canadian Club whisky and others are present and available. Once I had my fill of Pina Colodas and the like I settled down to my whisky on ice every evening. Mornings were for Mamauana (local drink) and vodka and lemonade. The mixed drinks were great but can fill you up. They have lots to choose from.

Riu again someday and someday we will return to this awesome property.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 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 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kitchener, Canada
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2014

I stayed here for one week in June. I have to say this place is Paradise! I don't understand how anyone can write a bad review about this place. The place is huge and staff are super friendly. The food was great, there was lots of options and room service was awesome. Our room was clean and the temperature was good. We stayed on the 3rd floor, it was quite a walk to the pools and beach- we didn't mind tho. If you don't want to walk I would suggest requesting a room on the 1st floor. There were many little stores right on the resort. The beach had good shade and the water was clean. We went on the snorkelling trip and I would highly recommend it. Overall I would go to the resort again. This place was amazing!

  • Stayed June 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burlington, Vermont
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2014

This was our second time vacationing at the RIU Palace in Punta Cana. We liked it so much the first time that we decided to go back again. The staff is very pleasant, always smiling and willing to help at any time. There is a little language barrier since they speak primarily Spanish. With a little patience, you can figure it all out. The room was clean with no odors as mentioned by others in previous reviews. I always bring a plug in air freshener just in case. We were surprised to find free Wi-Fi throughout the resort. (even poolside) The first time we were here, Wi-Fi was limited to the lobby. You are allowed 90 minutes of use per day. The swim-up bar is a lot of fun. The lobby bar is nice bar for the evening with no smoking and there is a 24 hour sports bar as well for the night owls, which allows smoking in it. The beach is extremely clean. The buffet has a wide variety of foods bound to satisfy anyone. We went to Steakhouse and Italian restaurants which were good. We walked to the other RIU resorts in the area and felt this one was the best for the money. RIU Macao was just renovated and is an adults only resort. It looked very nice as well, but costs much more to stay at. We will more than likely stay at the RIU Palace again in the future. The resort is starting to show some signs of wear since it is 8 years old, but it is still in good shape considering the use it gets. Don't be afraid of all of the negative reviews. There are many more positives than negatives. You can't always please everyone. Considering the cold winter we've had this year in the Northeast of the USA, this trip was very deserved and relaxing. Enjoy!

Room Tip: Top floor looking over the courtyard. Backside tends to be a bit noisy from the other resorts.
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  • Stayed March 2014, 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.
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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
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:
#24 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#42 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 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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