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“Mold Infestation!!!” 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 #53 of 99 Hotels in Punta Cana
Hamburg, New York
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33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
“Mold Infestation!!!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

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.

Room Tip: Avoid ground level floors and ask for a room facing the pools.
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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 (654)
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English first
1 review
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW via mobile

This hotel is a smoker's paradise. We booked this hotel with 2 other families. We were exposed to smoking at the pool, in the entertainment area,at the outdoor dining and beach as well as sitting outside on our terrace. When we were asked to review the hotel the assistant manager happened to be there and I had expressed my concern about a lack of a designated smoking area and that my children were si\ing near adults who lit up cigarettes in the entertainment areas. He could have cared less to my concern. In addition, our entire group had some type of stomach issues. The buffet meals lack quality but rather focuses on quantity. I will say that the meals at the sit down restaurants had decent food with selected menus. However, during the day there is no place to grab a quick snack for the kids after lunch. I would Definitely Not bring a family to this hotel. The entertainment staff during the day is kind, fun and engaging. I had read mixed reviews about this hotel but did not take them seriously. Save your money and go to Turks and Caicos where you will experience the complete opposite.

Stayed April 2015, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Plano, Texas
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

My fiancé and I stayed at the RIU Palace Punta Cana for a Spring getaway and had a wonderful time!

Yes, the food was mediocre, but about what we expected from an all-inclusive with a breakfast and lunch buffet. Dinner reservations are required for most of the restaurants on site, so book early. They seat twice per night, so there is plenty of flexibility.

The staff was extremely friendly. The beach waitstaff was fairly attentive if you are generous enough to tip a dollar every 2nd or 3rd drink. There were dance lessons on the beach, pick-up games of beach volleyball, and lots of kayaks and other fun non-motorized activities to try. There is even a ship-wreck just off the beach a few hundred yards that you can explore! (guided snorkel tours, or just kayak out like we did)

The resort did a good job managing the beach vendors, so you don't feel overwhelmed or pressured to buy trinkets.

I would recommend booking excursions very early, as they can fill up or get confusing... We did a snorkel excursion and a Zip-Line excursion that was incredible!

We wouldn't go back (would rather visit a new exotic location), but we would recommend the resort to friends and family.

Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW via mobile

You get what you expect at a Riu. Good service, standard food (buffet is usually the best option), good beach, pretty good room (cleaned daily).
No complaints here. Great vacation for the money paid!!

Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
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Newark, Delaware
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Rooms were very clean; housekeeping came by twice each day to ensure all of our needs were met. The resort staff were attentive, kind, and seemed more than happy to ensure we had a great time. We only had one bad experience with staff and that was the gift shop; the person at the counter was rude and unhelpful. The resort itself is beautiful; we are looking forward to returning soon! One tip to offer is to be sure to take small bills to give tips; we ran short of small bills and it was quite troublesome finding someone that would exchange anything over a $10 bill.

  • Stayed March 2015, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Savannah, Georgia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

We recently booked the Riu Palace Punta Cana for a girls weekend. Without going into all the details, I have to admit that this was one of the worst hotels I have ever visited. Upon arrival from the airport around 2pm, it was discovered that there was no where to get decent food, other than food that had been sitting out leftover from the lunch buffet. We then tried to get settled into our rooms and they all smelled stale, moldy and full of smoke. We headed to the pool to make the most of our time and were met with a pool full of tattoos, drunks and partiers. The beach was so crowded you could barely get a seat...it was even discussed that there must be a cruise ship port nearby because of the amount of people just walking up and down. Oh, did I mention that all alcohol drinks were served by the most unpleasant waitstaff in flimsy plastic cups with watered down alcohol. AWFUL!

I could go on and on about the depravity of this hotel. My girlfriends and I were forced to spend the night, woke up and immediately vacated the hotel for Casa De Campo. Must better resort and worth the expense. I will never return!

Room Tip: A good room doesn't exist at this hotel.
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 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.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

I was not particularly happy about my stay at Riu. We got a great value on the stay, and this could be a great experience for some people, but it wasn't what we were expecting or looking for. We were going on the trip to celebrate my wife's graduation, and looking for something relaxing and beautiful. This was more of a party resort that was very overcrowded. Seemed like you always have to fight for your food, drinks, and service. I don't think we'll be coming back.

Pro:
- The grounds were very beautiful. I really liked the gardens and fountains
- The beach was amazing. As is typical in Dominican Republic the beaches are public and you can walk along them for long distances
- Lobby was beautiful and classy
- Great value

Con:
I don't want to write a novel, but I wasn't very happy with the service, food, or activities. - The food was pretty standard for these types of resorts. My biggest complaint with the food was that the restaurants served a lot of the same foods from the general buffet. We didn't have good experiences at the restaurants and the buffet got old pretty quick.
- The service was lacking. I felt like I was always looking around for a server to get simple things like water or silverware. I always felt like I was bothering them. The staff is polite but they probably are overworked and they need many more waiters for the amount of people.
- I wasn't impressed by the activities that the hotel "tried" to get going. They posted signs about different fun activities (e.g. beach volleyball, ping pong, etc...) but none of those ever really happened. I can't completely blame the staff for not being able to get people into these types of activities, but I really don't think they were even trying.
- Also, the pool is way over crowded with only one small swim up bar. At times, you had to swim through a crowd of drunk young teenagers and attempt to get a drink. I guess that could be a lot of fun if it's what you're looking for.
- The spa was mediocre
- Very few rooms have a view of the beach. Almost all rooms face into the garden, and the few on the beach side would have to be on the highest floor to see over the spa, trees, and bar area.
- LASTLY, we believe we got bed bugs from our stay. We started noticing bites after a couple days. We saw some of the signs of bed bugs like the small red spots on the sheets. Now we've had to completely clean our apartment to ensure we didn't bring anything home.

Again, this resort could be a great value for a college (or high school) spring break trip, but not for a super romantic relaxing getaway.

Tip: Bring a large insulated cup/mug to have them refill with drinks. Only one bar by the pool and small plastic cups are provided. We saw a lot of people pulling this pro move.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
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:
#28 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#42 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 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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