My boyfriend and I (early 20s) spent a week at the Riu Palace Punta Cana from 8/30-9/05. After reading the reviews before I left, I was kinda skeptical and a little concerned. Overall, the hotel was great and we had a great time. Here are some details:
Rooms: We had a regular junior suite, and because it was an end room we had a double balcony. Yeah, the beds were a little hard, but I'm used to it and after spending all day in the sun there were no problems getting to sleep. The room is very nice, and new...I don't really know why anyone had any comlaints. The fridge was stocked with bottled sodas and beer, as well as the liquor cabinet. One night the bar service man stopped by and gave me a bottle of champagne as well as a couple of dominican gifts-very nice of him so we tipped him.
Pools & Beach: The pool was never too crowded, but it was like a warm bathtub. The pool bar made the aread reek of stale beer, but it wasn't as noticeable the further away from the bar you were. The beach was beautiful- the reason why you should visit Punta Cana. There was plenty of shade and chairs. Drink service at the pool and beach were a little slow, so I had no problem walking the 20 ft. to the bar to get my own drinks. There are lots of topless women at the beach and men in banana-hammocks, which you don't see much of here at the Jersey Shore.
Restaurants: From reviews, I was expecting the food to be inedible, which it wasn't. The food was ok, decent. Nothing amazing, but there was always something to eat. Breakfast was the best meal of the day. Lunch was served in either the main dining area or by the pool. I recommend going to the main room because there was a better selection. There were no problems making reservations for the specialty restaurants. I recommend heading there a few minutes before 10 am so you won't have to be at the end of the line. We ate the the steakhouse (it was ok, my least favorite of the ones we ate at), the Japanese (pretty decent- the sushi looked a little suspicous so I didn't eat it), and the Gourmet twice (this was pretty good). The food is definitely geared toward Europeans, and there were plenty of them there.
Entertainment: There was a show each night, and it was ok. Karaoke night was really funny- lots of Americans participated and it was a good time. There's also a live band playing in the courtyard which was nice. Walked down to Carribean Street one night, and there was some dancing going on, nothing special...and it was extremely hot there so we didn't go back.
** My only complaint is that besides the places to eat, there is no tother food available. We got really hungry between lunch and dinner, and after dinner. Last summer I stayed at the Iberostar in Riveriera Maya, Mexico and it was 24-hour room service. The Riu definitely needs something like that. The staff overall don't speak great English, but we both speak a little Spanish so we were fine. I would suggest brushing up on some Spanish before you go.
Excursions: We did the Bavaro Splash, where you can drive speedboats and do some snorkeling. It was a good time. Saw tons of fish. We also went on the full-day Saona Island tour. It's a long day, but the catermaran trip alone is worth it. Saona Island is really nice, the water was full of coral so you can't really swim, and it was so hot there that you'll want to sit in the shade. The next part of the trip is a speedboat ride to a sandbar to swim with the starfish. We were told not to dive because the water was only waist-deep. Someone didn't listen and dove in- ended up hitting his head and floating and no one noticed for a few minutes. By the time we got the man out of the water, he wasn't breathing but thankfully there were nurses aboard and gave him CPR, until he came-to. From there, we all booked it in the speedboat to the nearest hotel (which was about a 15-minute drive) so the man could be brought to the hospital. He possibly suffered a stroke due to his head trauma, and it was a really scary incident. We had to drive to the hospital in our big tour bust to drop off the other family members....it was a really long day, but everything before that incident was a great time.
This was our first trip to Punta Cana, and I would go back at some point. However, I don't think I'd stay at the Riu because there isn't food available between meals/after meals. Other than that, it was a really great time, so don't let the negative reviews scare you- go relax and have fun!
- 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