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“AWESOME resort...would go back any day...”

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ClubHotel Riu Merengue
Ranked #13 of 40 Hotels in Puerto Plata
Reviewed March 13, 2013

My husband and I were at this resort from Feb 22-Mar 1 and we absolutely loved it here. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The resort was spotless. A wide variety of food to choose from at the buffet and we went to the Steak House a-la-carte one night and it was really good as well. There was always plenty of chairs at the beach (we didn't spend anytime at the pools, but there always seem to be lots of chairs around there too). We stayed in the Merengue Village and really liked it. We walked over to Merengue Garden and it seems really nice too and we never made it to Bachata (as indicated, we really liked where we were and didn't feel the need to venture to the other parts of the resort). With respect to the negative reviews on this site, we did not experience any problems that were noted. We didn't find the staff to be "tip hungry" at all, we didn't see any "prostitutes" at the resorts bothering the guests and our minibar was restocked every day. Overall, we loved it here and would recommend this resort to anyone and would go back any day.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Jane D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 13, 2013

We went here because it was really cheap, but wouldn't go back. It is worth paying a couple hundred dollars more to go elsewhere. If you are going, I'd recommend the Bachata over the Merengue since it has a nicer dining room, pools, etc. We didn't notice alot of difference between the Merengue Garden and Merengue Village. We were initially disappointed to be placed in the Village (formerly called Mambo) since the website we booked through led us to believe we would be in the Garden, but it wasn't a big deal, although the Garden is more centrally located if you want to spend time at Bachata (which you will).

Rooms - Good size but dated furniture and a very slight musty smell, plus the tub was very narrow so the shower curtain sticks to your skin (yuk), but everything was clean and the balconies were a good size.

Food - The food was ok most of the time but there were two dinners where none of the four in our group could find anything edible. Breakfast was good, but lunch was better at Bachata. There is no coffee before 6:30 am, so if you have an early flight you are out of luck. This would be an easy thing for them to do, but they didn't seem interested when I asked about it the night before we left.

Beach - Very rocky and not great for swimming. There are a few sandy areas, but not many. If you enjoy walks on the beach, it is long enough for a decent walk but is very sloped and rocky and you have to walk around the palm trees at high tide since they grow right to the water's edge in some places. The Merengue area of the beach is better than the Bachata, but I'd recommend staying at Bachata (for the better facilities) and just walking a few minutes to the Merengue beach. We had 3 calm water days and 3 red flag days with VERY large waves.

Internet - You get 90 consecutive minutes per day in the lobby and the connection is ok as long as there aren't too many people using it at the same time. You can not get in-room wifi at Merengue Village, but I think it may be possible at Bachata for a fee). Note that the 90 minutes is per device, so you can use it more if you bring along a smart phone and a laptop, ipod, etc. You can also double your time by going on-line at both Merengue and Bachata (same password for each). While you don't want to spend your whole vacation on-line, this place can get very boring, so you may want to be prepared. If you don't have cell service, download Fongo before you go to make calls over wifi.

Staff- Very few staff speak any English and those that do are so heavily accented that it is hard to understand (compared to resorts we've visited in Cuba where almost everyone speaks fluent English). The exception is the front desk staff who were easy to understand and very helpful. I don't expect every gardener and maid to speak English, but even the entertainment announcer and our Sunwing rep were very hard to understand. I also didn't find most of the staff to be very friendly, although that may have been due to their inability to communicate with guests.

Grounds - VERY clean. There is a small army of gardeners and cleaners out every morning raking leaves, touching up paint, etc. It is a pretty place with some beautiful views from the Bachata gazebo. It also appears to be quite wheelchair accessible with paved pathways throughout the resort and even right down to the beach, although I don't use one so I can't say for sure, but there were several people using wheelchairs around the resort.

Shopping - There is a shopping street between Bachata and Merengue with several stores. There are also some local shops set up on each end of the beach and there were vendors set up in the hotel lobby one night. However, almost all of these vendors (in every location) were overly aggressive. If you even glance at a necklace, they are putting it around your neck, they'll even hold onto you or block the doorways to prevent you from leaving their shop. In other countries, we enjoy going to local markets and bargaining with vendors, but these people were so annoying (and even intimidating), that we just bought souveneirs in the hotel gift shop.

Casino - If you are bored, you can go to the Bachata casino (only open in the evening) but it is a small room with a couple of table games and a few dozen slots (several of which were broken. I saw a few people win money but it isn't an enjoyable atmosphere and shouldn't enter into your decision about whether to go here.

Entertainment - Sad, sad... We tried to watch a few nights but they were so bad that we couldn't stay. One night, the "show" was simply a contest to see which of the male guests was the sexiest (they posed on stage and ran through the audience to see how many women they could kiss in 45 seconds). Plus there is no alternative to the shows (unlike some resorts that have a separate piano bar). Many people were so bored that they were playing cards in the lobby. I'm just glad it didn't rain while we were there, because I might have litterally died of boredom.

Pools - The pools seemed nice at all resorts although they have poolside entertainment all afternoon (with microphone announcers and music), so it isn't relaxing. the pools also closed at 6:00pm, so no evening swimming.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank FoodAddictPEI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 12, 2013

Great week at Riu Merengue. Cannot say anything bad about this place.The staff were excellent.The front desk (Ivonne,Aniball,Sandi and Carlos)were very friendly and professional and went out of their way for you, as did the others.Everybody on the resort was hard working and friendly.The bartenders never kept you waiting and you never had to ask.If you come here to relax, eat good food and drink good liquor along with excellent service this is the place to be.If you want loud partying go some place else. All in all, great place to go.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Russell35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2013

We recently spent a third holiday at the Merengue, and I must say we were sadly disappointed from day one, in comparison to the 2 previous holidays which were brilliant. On arrival after collecting our room key etc, my husband approached reception and was "greeted" by a male receptionist with a "Couldn't care less" attitude (the receptionist, not my husband) who didn't seem aware in any way of the Riu's flagship loyalty scheme, and was of no help whatsoever.
We found restaurant service has deteriorated badly, tables not cleared after use, food not up to previous standards and frequently in short supply causing frequent queues. On a number of occasions we actually gave up, left the Merengue and went to the nearby Bacchatta for lunch.
Throughout the holidays there were many minor irritations, and some not so minor which I have raised with Riu direct.
Having given negatives, I must say that the rooms and public areas including the gardens are kept immaculate by the hard working house keeping staff and gardeners, and the bar staff, particularly at the Plaza bar, work their socks off, as do the Animation team.
All in all , we did enjoy our stay at the Merengue, but it would have been much more enjoyable had previous standards been maintained.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank elifant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2013

My husband, myself and another couple, visited this resort from Feb 23-Mar 8. We had a great time due to the wonderful staff, and where our rooms were located. However we were disappointed in the fact that the area of the resort we were placed in was not what we expected. From the pictures we had viewed on line we were expecting to stay at the Merengue Gardens, and instead we were placed in the Merengue Village area of the resort. The resort has changed the names of the the three separate areas of the property, and has not updated the pictures properly on their site. So beware, if you book the Merengue, you may end up in the old Riu Mambo, which is now known as the Merengue Village. The pics online show the Merengue Gardens as the pictures for the Riu Merengue. The Riu Merengue Village does not have as much to offer on the actual property, although I did find it was the quieter area of the resort. As with all Riu hotel chains, we were able to use all 3 resorts for our stay, except for dinner which we had to have at our resort. My complaint is that we had expected to be at the Merengue Gardens(as per the pics), and instead felt we were placed in the lower end area of the resort. I will be speaking to my agent about this as well as sending a letter to Riu, because we felt it was false advertising.
Rooms and resort are kept exceptionally clean, and food at buffet was fairly good(lots of choices). We also ate at the pool bar occasionally for lunch, and I have to say that the french fries were amazing. We also tried the two specialty restaurants on site, but found that the food was not exceptional, especially the Italian, which only had one pasta dish on the menu, which to us was disappointing as we were expecting Italian pasta. We did not end up with any stomach issues from the food, but were strategic in what we chose to eat.
We had great weather for our first week, sunny and 29-30 degrees every day, our second week we were not so lucky. We had 2 days of rain and several days of clouds. Apparently Puerto Plata is known for being rainier than others parts of the Dominican. Also windier, which was not bad on hot days(nice to have a breeze), however made rainy days colder. The beach was acceptable, not white sands we are used to from other Caribbean resorts we have been to, but not a bad length of beach and always lots of chairs, and some shade if you wished. Our husband went snorkeling a few times, but around beach area not so much to see. The water was rough on some days, but they do advise you of that with flags on the beach. When in the water we recommend having water shoes as the coral and sea urchins can be a problem.
The pool was a fun area to spend our time at. The animation team was a lot of fun and had lots of activities during the day. However the Merengue village did not have a lot to offer for night time entertainment as far as shows were concerned. The animation team entertained you by having people up on stage for silly games, but actual shows we only had one fire thrower to entertain us during 2 weeks we were there. You had to go to the far end of the resort for entertainment. At the Bachata they did have nightly shows and a casino, as well as a bar that was open all night. At our end of the resort the bars etc were all closed by midnight.
The only other issue we did have at the resort was when the locals were visiting the resort for the day. They were often very loud and obnoxious, and kind of took over the pool area, and eating areas. I understand that it is normal for these resorts to allow the locals on the resort during the weekends, but we had quite a lot of them during the week as well. I think the resort staff need to make sure that the locals are kept in line, and do not spoil the experience for the rest of the tourists who have paid to come from far to enjoy a nice vacation.
All in all we enjoyed our stay. We just wanted to make sure that if you are booking this resort, you are aware of some of the areas of concern.

Room Tip: If you do end up at the Riu Merengue Village choose rooms in the 2100-2500 areas. Close to everythin...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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3  Thank MaryAnn L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2013

My boyfriend and I stayed at this resort March 26-March 5th 2013 and it is a very beautiful resort. The scenery is breathtaking, the staff is wonderful and always very friendly, the rooms were always clean and never any bugs. The only bad thing we can say about this resort is the food. My boyfriend and I ignored all the negative reviews on the food because any where you go there will always be negatives, and the high amount of reviews with people saying the food was great we thought it was probably good. Sure enough by the second day my boyfriend had 3 bites of a burger and had food poisoning within 15 minutes after those bites. He continued to be sick for the next 3 days. Me on the other hand, was sick for the last 3 days, and still being home for 5 days am still sick when I eat food. Thank god for their pizza, rice, fruit and imported Doritos we were able to survive the week.

Our most memorable staff member was Pepe!!! He was very enthusiastic, loved his job and always greeted us by name whenever he would see us on the resort.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Mindy V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2013

We stayed at the riu merengue village from Feb 26 to March 5. It was a lovely stay. The staff was amazing (esp Lopez, Yakalin, Erik, Martin and Richard). The entertainment team was great as well esp Mini Mi and Sexy PePe haha. One thing I will say is be careful when you ask for a taxi. We asked for a taxi and we also got a tour guide. We asked to go to an authentic cheap Dominican restaurant (we spent $100 USD on 3 meals). Then we asked to buy rum for cheap, ya right - we spent $25 per bottle and $42 for cigarettes. He took us to a sovenier shop. Asides that misap, we have a lovely time. Will def go bk!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Ola S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Merengue

Address: Bahia de Maimon, Puerto Plata 57000, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Puerto Plata Province > Puerto Plata
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:
#3 Best Value Hotel in Puerto Plata
#6 Spa Hotel in Puerto Plata
#11 Top resorts Hotel in Puerto Plata
#12 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Plata
Price Range: $97 - $182 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Merengue 3.5*
Number of rooms: 998
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The ClubHotel Riu Merengue (All Inclusive 24h) is located in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, and is surrounded by impressive views of the mountains and a lush, natural environment. This is the perfect setting for unforgettable holidays. The ClubHotel offers all facilities you could need for relaxing holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll find a fresh water swimming pool, a solarium terrace, a gym and the Renova Spa wellness centre with a range of different treatments and massages as well as a sauna. In the Dominican Republic you can find a wide range of international cuisine, but if you want to make the most of your time in this marvellous destination by sampling Dominican cuisine, delicious in both taste and colour, you can enjoy a wide variety of flavours and aromas, as Dominican dishes mainly consist of fruit and vegetables. In the buffet restaurant or themed restaurant you’ll find an endless range of dishes and recipes prepared by our chefs every day. The hotel shares its facilities with the hotel complexes of the ClubHotel Riu Bachata. You’ll enjoy access to the entertainment programme and activities thanks to the acclaimed All Inclusive system. Whether you’re travelling as a family, couple or with friends, you’ll find a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained all day long.. There are areas for enjoying tennis, table tennis, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, bodyboarding, snorkelling, golf, volleyball, swimming and much more. Your children can also enjoy crafts, activities and dancing together with other kids in the RiuLand programme. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Clubhotel Riu Merengue Hotel
Club Hotel Riu Merengue
Clubhotel Riu Merengue Puerto Plata
Riu Merengue Dominican Republic
Riu Merengue Puerto Plata
Rui Merengue

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