We booked our stay on the basis of seeking a good quality, minimum cost All Inclusive fortnight away, the RIU Merengue fitted that criteria.
The hotel lists itself as 5* and based on the facilities provided this is understandable however based on a few areas (detailed below) I believe Thomson (for those travelling from the UK) are correct in advertising it as a 4* hotel.
The Merengue is actually 2 hotels, ‘The Village’ and ‘The Garden’, travelling with Thomson we stayed in ‘The Garden’ (which I believe is the norm for Thomson clients) and my review is based on this but as you can use The Village (V) and the adjacent RIU Bachata (B) hotel during your stay I will make the occasional reference as part of the overall experience but from what I could see, all 3 hotels seemed broadly similar in their style and offerings.
Check-in was very speedy, the wrist band is on your wrist before you know it and the registration paperwork can be handed in the next day so you are immediately free to go to your room (….or the bar!), a small thing perhaps but in my mind a winner after a long journey.
The rooms are in blocks of 8 (4 up - 4 down) and of a reasonable size and condition. They come with air conditioning. a free safe, a fridge - which is regularly restocked with a small selection of beer, water, coke; a selection of spirits provided. The TV (about 60 channels - circa 8 English) is a little small and the bath/shower area (in our room) was a little small – shower curtain had a tendency to cling to you. There is no kettle so if you do like a hot drink in the room at any time take your own. The beds and sheets etc were good quality and comfortable.
A word of caution, whilst not an issue in the short term it is worth noting at the ‘Bachata’ end of the beach (in the next bay) Carnival Cruises are building a new port for cruise ships, this is apparently a $60m dollar investment. A large working barge and crane slightly blots the scenery at present but I would be more concerned once the port becomes operational (about a year?) and the impact the influx 1000’s of day trippers will have on the beach when a cruise ship ‘is in town’.
My views on the general facilities around the hotel are:
Overall the hotel facilities and grounds are very clean, tidy and well maintained. The staff get on with their jobs and in general do not seem to be ‘looking for tips’ although they are obviously welcomed.
WIFI: Free wifi is available in the reception area for 90 minutes duration once per day; this can also be accessed in the receptions of (V) and (B) hotels thereby giving you 4.5 hours per day.
Shops: there are a couple of shops for gifts, these are a little pricey but not overly so and there is also ‘Caribbean Street’ which provides a wider but similar choice of gifts etc, a Pharmacy/Chemist can also be found here.
Pool: This was very disappointing and one of the key areas why I do not think the hotel is 5*. It is on the small size (described by Thomson’s as ‘Massive’) and has a dated look/feel about it (the pools at (V) and (B) are not much better). The area around the pool for those who like to sunbathe there is also on the small side. The pool does not have a swim – up bar.
Beach/Sea: this is immediately in front of the hotel and a good number sunbeds are provided; there is a tree shaded area for those who do not like too much sun. The sand is ok (not fine golden sand) and the sea does not have a ‘Turquoise’ carribean feel about it. The sea is shallow and gently shelving but there are some rocks/stones etc to be wary of, there are some sea urchins so care is required. The hotel provides free Kayaks and Pedaloes and you can also hire Jetskis sailboards etc if you wish
Animation (Day Time): a typical range of entertainment is provided by the animation team (darts, golf, football) for those wishing to join in but perhaps the water/step aerobics is weak compared to other hotels we have stayed at.
Animation (Evening): this was reasonable; the main events were a mixture of dancing shows, a couple of music show’s (eg Michael Jackson, Rock Anthems) and a couple of guest participation nights. These were carried out enthusiastically but some investment is needed in a new PA system to make announcements more clear.
‘One Off’ Entertainment: the hotel provided several one- off type events, eg evening beach party, lunchtime barbecue, meet the staff drinks party throughout the duration of our stay.
Sports There are tennis courts, table tennis available if you wish.
Beach Bar: open from all day and in the evening, very hard working, polite and proactive staff looking to serve you as quickly as they could. If your cocktail is not listed but they have the drinks available they will make it for you.
Main Bar: open in the evenings, again the staff were very polite and proactive in serving the drinks.
Drinks: the general range of teas/coffees, soft drinks, beer, wine and sangria where available. Spirits where available together with a reasonable range of liqueurs, these seemed reasonable pleasant, and alcoholic.
Main Restaurant: this was another area I found a little disappointing. The room is dark which I found a little depressing at times and the layout of the food/plates did not seem logical. The food whilst well prepared/cooked did have a feel of repetitiveness about it. Being able to use the restaurants at the (B) and (V) did provide an alternative setting (food was basically the same) which helps.
Snack Bar: again, for me a little dark and undercover, at lunchtimes I like to be out in the open (still shaded) a little more and feel like I’m at the seaside at lunch time. The main restaurant at (B) provided this feel a little more.
Ala Carte: you have the choice of Italian or Steak, you book on the morning of the night you want to eat and this provided a pleasant alternative to the main restaurant.
The cost of our package holiday was £930 each for a fortnight (includes travel on a Dreamliner …..a great improvement on 767’s etc) which is remarkable value when you think about it and it makes you wonder how much the hotel actually get to provide what they do.
Whilst the hotel did not particularly ‘exceed’ in any areas (except for its overall friendliness) it did meet our requirements and delivered a very enjoyable value for money holiday.
If you are after a high quality hotel that will provide all the trimmings I would suggest looking elsewhere (and pay more!), if you are after a value break and can compromise an a few things then this hotel together with the use of the (V) and (B) it should be more than adequate for the price.
Please contact me if you want any further information on the hotel.
- 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