We booked this resort with great hesitation based on the great discrepancy of reviews on Trip Advisor. Now we see why! During our one week stay we had experiences that were both horrible and wonderful, but our overall take on this stay was disappointing.
We arrived after dark, tired and just wanting to get situated. When given our room, #0024 on the ground level we were overwhelmed by the damp and musty smell that hit you as you walked in. I was prepared for this based on some of the other reviews. We unpacked our bags and settled in for the night. In the bright morning of a new day we awoke to a much better view of the room. I was shocked and aghast at the mold that was building around the a/c venting, the ceilings and all over the walls. The mold appeared to have been painted over but was again permeating out through the paint. The shower stall looked like a science project in various stages of mold, muck and crumbling ceilings. The shower head was caked in mold, looking like it had not been cleaned in years.
I went down to the front desk, asking to see a manager. He asked me to return after 1pm when he had more rooms available, and we could look at another room. We went down to the pool for the morning and returned as requested. Armed with pictures of my moldy room on my I-phone, he did not want to look at them! He said that a replacement room is being provided and that it was just about ready, and that we could take a look at it. Our new room, #2069, was on the third level. The room was slightly smaller than the previous one, but it had a spectacular view overlooking the lush gardens and pool area. The bed in this room was a true king sized bed vs, 2 full sized beds that were pushed together in the previous room. The cleaning lady was putting the finishing touches on the nicely assembled towel arrangements which were loaded with hibiscus blooms and petals, as were the bathroom vanity. A couple of balloon arrangements decorated the headboard of the bed. I returned to the front desk and told him that the room "was like night and day", and we appreciated the switch up. We were a bit surprised when he asked us to not take too long in relocating to the new room, as they had to get our old room ready for the next guests! Really!?! That room needed to be condemned.
On the food and restaurants... it is spotty at best. We ate at both the Specialty restaurants and in the buffet. The worst was at La Altagracia (Steak house). This is the same location where they serve lunch poolside all day, and the service was the worst. The menu is pretty much pre set. Our Seafood trio appetizer was supposed to be three different seafood dishes, but they were all the same. When we mentioned this to our server, he didn't understand (more on the language difficulties later). When we pointed to the Seafood trio appetizer on the table right next to us, with three different dishes as they were supposed to be, he says to us "all the same." A few minutes later he returned, took our Seafood appetizer, and that was it. No seafood appetizer for you!
My steak, like was like all of the steak that I had here, overdone, thinly sliced, fatty and grizzly. My wifes lobster was surprisingly good!
La Bodega Rodizio, the Brazilian style restaurant with a wide variety of meats carved fresh from skewers had the potential to be good. Unfortunately everything was way overdone and dried out! What a disappointment!
Kristal, the gourmet fushion restaurant was very good with the best wait staff that we encountered! This was 5 star dining with interesting taste combinations. The waiters were personable and fun and we enjoyed our dinner here.
We also enjoyed Luigi's Italian restaurant on two occasions. They had a great salad and pasta bar, which served both hot and cold pasta, meats, cheeses and soup. You then get to order your entrée off the menu. We both ordered the OssoBucco dish and it was wonderful. There were three great desert choices available and we were uncertain as to what to choose, so they brought us all three! Dinner was topped off with shots of Limoncello or Sambuca. Very nice!
We had to try the Buffet for dinner, as everyone said that it was great. In our opinion, the menu was not much different than the lunch menu, with the exception of adding a carving station for meat. The night that we were there, they were carving lamb.
We prefer to be waited on for dinner and our preference was the Specialty restaurants. Keep in mind that reservations need to be made in advance and these are taken in person at Luigi's between 8am-11am each day. You may make reservations for up to three days. Men must wear slacks for dinner. Ladies wore skirts, sundresses, slacks or jeans.
We did have breakfast each day, and the menu did not change. Be sure to try the fresh made juice bar with 7 different juice choices made fresh before your eyes, The omelet station was my usual choice as I prefer my eggs prepared fresh to order. The breakfast was good with a nice variety.
The grounds of the property are expansive and beautiful. They are well maintained and a pleasure to walk. Out of all of the Punta Cana RIU properties, this one was the most photogenic!
The beaches in Punta Cana are amongst the most beautiful that I have ever seen. Tall palm trees abound and they grow right to the oceans edge. The beaches are wide and the sand is spotlessly clean, almost like sugar. You can walk for miles in either direction and just enjoy the view! The water is the most beautiful turquoise blue you have ever seen. The ocean was fun to swim. Yes the waves can be aggressive at times, but the water is very clean.
Ok, that is the good, now for the bad...
The language barrier... there is definitely a problem in communication with the help at this resort. Don't get me wrong, they are pleasant, and most of them work hard. But if you don't speak any Spanish, you are going to have a hard time getting through. The staff understands most one word requests... beer, water, coffee, spoon... But try to string 4 or 5 words together in a sentence and they will look at you like you have three heads. If at all possible try to learn some brief conversational Spanish before going, you will be less stressed out.
The drinks are very inconsistent. Depending on the time of day, who your server is, whether you tip or not, and what bar you are at will all depend greatly in the quality of your drink. The best drinks, hands down, are in the Martini bar in the resort lobby. This bar serves signature and good quality drinks with top shelf liquor. Tip nicely here and you will be well taken care of.
The drinks at the pool bar are best when you go to get them yourself. When served poolside, they often are weak and service can be slow.
We tipped, usually a dollar each time, and the help did remember us and came around more often. The drinks were better too! We were surprised how many people did not tip, as these folks really do work hard to serve you.
Make sure that you bring plenty of sun block, sun tan lotion and all of your toiletry products. For northerners like us, the sun is intense here! We started with SPF 50 and had to move up to an SPF 80. The price for this small bottle cost us $28 on Caribbean Street, a small RIU operated shopping district.
I enjoy working out, and the gym facilities are pathetic! The gym located in the Spa area had just a few treadmills, one bike and a Universal weight machine with 2 of the 5 stations broken. The facility was worn and dirty. There were no towels, no disinfectant supplies available and the water cooler was dry! The second facility on Caribbean street was worse! It is second floor above a store front. This one had some free weights. The bars, weights, clips and everything was very badly rusted and smelly. The universal weight machine was well worn with tattered and broken benches, rusted chains and pulleys, and it just looked hazardous to use.
One of my biggest concerns this whole trip was of the safety and quality of the foods and drinks that I was consuming. It was most difficult to remember that all of the tap water in the resort is not potable. Yes bottled water was widely available, but it is hard to remember, like when you are showering and brushing your teeth. Regardless, we were careful and did not screw up.
Regrettably I write this review, sick at home for 5 days now with a bacterial infection. My doctor says that I likely caught this in the Dominican as the symptoms that I suffer do not compare with what he has seen locally.
I should have trusted my intuition on this one, unfortunately, I wanted to give it a try.
We will never return to the Hotel RIU Palace, or even to Punta Cana for that matter. There are simply too many other places to visit without jeopardizing your health.
- 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