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“Adequate but certainly NOT exceptional”

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ClubHotel Riu Bambu
Ranked #79 of 114 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed December 31, 2013

This was an 8-day vacation with my wife, and we did actually have a decent time, but the RIU Bambu is nowhere near a real all-inclusive resort and certainly isn't a five-star property.

This RIU Bambu resort came recommended by Southwest Airlines Vacations due mainly to proximity to the ocean. In that respect, it satisfied with a great beach. The RIU Bambu sits between two other RIU resorts and in theory you have some reciprocal privileges with them, but in reality you don't. You can't eat or drink any place but the Bambu. The check-in staff kept telling us about the all-inclusive benefits, but frankly there weren't any that we could see.

We arrived at the resort at 8:30 p.m. The RIU stops serving dinner at 9 p.m. and offers NO dining options after that. They have a two-door refrigerated case of dehydrated hot dogs that can be microwaved in your room, but that's not dining. You can't even get a bag of pretzels, so after a long day of travel, we went to bed without eating. We hoped to find something in the room, but our "mini-bar" (actually a mini refrigerator) was empty (not even bottled water, and you cannot drink the tap water). Several calls to the front desk revealed that the one person who stocks the room refrigerators had left at 9 p.m. so we could not get anything that night. Note that nothing gets resolved at the RIU on the first call. You have to be persistent. Our room was finally stocked the third day we were there, and only after yet another visit to the front desk. Five-stars? No.

As all-inclusives go, this is far from a five-star resort. Everything is buffet, including the specialty restaurants where, if you desire a reservation, you must get up early in the morning and stand in a line where one employee takes reservations for all five specialty restaurants. You can waste an hour doing this, and all you end up getting is a limited buffet with many of the same items you get in the main dining areas. You cannot order room service, and this alone makes me wonder how in the world this resort gets a five-star rating from some reviewers.

The bars are busy and noisy, and the liquor for the most part is very low-end. Only one beer is offered and wine is either red or white, served warm in plastic pitchers or on tap (?). Drinks are made very weak and very, very sweet.

On the plus side, the room we had was clean. We avoided using the central air conditioning as there seemed to be a lot of mold and there is no way to control the temperature. The room froze when it was on (others reported the same problem, and no blankets are available). Our room hair dryer died and it took three calls and two days to get it replaced. Note that no shampoo, conditioner or moisturizers are provided; just some sort of all-purpose liquid in a wall dispenser. Five star????

Don't be fooled -- this is NOT a real all-inclusive resort as most people know them. No room service, limited dining hours and low-end drinks that you must seek out. No one ever asks you if you need anything -- you must fend for yourself. There are many, many better options than the RIU Bambu.

Room Tip: Our third-floor room was up two flights of stairs as far from the resort as you can get, but it was...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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6  Thank Peter M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 29, 2013

The Bambu is listed on Sell off Vacations as a 5 star, when you enter the lobby the signage also prominently displays 5 stars under the name, I would give this resort a mediocre 4 and that's being very generous. Check in was easy and organized although hurried somewhat, seems like they had done this a zillion times and getting through it as fast as they could, finding our room was also easy but a little bit of a hike. The room we were initially given was on the ground floor and had a foul smell so we immediately asked to be moved to one off the ground. This helped, our next room on the 2nd floor was smell-free, very clean and welcoming. We upgraded to a deluxe room they have been renovated, however the odd thing about these rooms is that the shower is attached to the room so if you are going with a group of friends it may be a bit awkward since walking out of the shower you walk right in to the room.. no buffer there. Here is my biggest complaint..the food! Breakfast was ok, the usual breakfast buffet no surprises there, average and sufficient variety. Lunch was the same, buffet had typical resort food, lots of salads and fruit and nice selections. Here's my problem, the Ala Cartes are NOT Ala Carte, I don't know if the management knows this or not but a buffet is NOT considered an Ala Carte, the Mexican and the Asian restaurants are actually the exact same food as in the Buffet on their different theme night...if I wanted a buffet I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of getting dressed up (which we seemed to be the only ones who dressed for dinner, baffling) making a reservation just to carry my plate around the exact same food selection as the Buffet. Very Very disappointing. Again, the food was just average, not bad, not great. The Steak house IS an Ala Carte however we arrived 15 minutes late for our reservation and the Host was very rude stating "your NOT supposed to be late" was he seriously chastising us for tardiness?..15 minutes?, he hurried us in walking way ahead of us, like he was proving a point. My husband and I both had the salmon, word of advice don't get the salmon it was not filleted so both of our pieces had to be dissected of more bones than we knew what to do with. After our 2nd night of Buffet in the Ala cartes we didn't bother even trying the Italian Restaurant. We ate in the buffet the rest of our trip. On 1 occasion I tried to cut into my piece of carrot cake and a big black fly came from underneath my cake, crawled around my plate for a minute then flew away..YUCK! We let our server know, he seemed indifferent to it. The service at this resort was mediocre, we either experienced super friendly staff or staff who could care less there was no rhyme or reasoning to it. The Breakfast staff was awesome, she always remembered our drink order and hurried it over even if we weren't in her section, however the girl at the pool bar was rude as rude can be, no smile, when you get up to the bar she just points at you to state your order, no thank you no nothing. I didn't find the majority of this resort staff to be friendly or helpful, the friendly ones were the exception not the rule. We visited the RIU in the Bahamas last year and were very happy there so the transition to the RIU in Punta Cana seemed like the right way to go however we both said we should have paid the extra 200 or so more and stayed next door at the Palace or Bavaro. The Beach of course is amazing, in this area you can walk in either direction as far as you can on clean debris free beach. We consider a good resort somewhere we would return to, we would definitely not consider or suggest to anyone to stay here. Shame really I had such high hopes from previous experiences of RIU's.

Room Tip: Get a deluxe room on the 2nd or 3rd floors
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank lives4cookies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2013

our 2nd time in dominican, 1st time in punta cana , didnt have any problem with hotel, staff very good but think we had lazy maid, she didnt seem to do much but 2 days before we were due to leave she made swans with towels and was at our room when we were leaving obviously she was expecting a tip. jorge the barman was brilliant he ran the small bar on the beach, he soon was bringing our drinks to our sunbeds. the entertainment staff were not brilliant apart from 2 or 3 of them. hotel was very clean ,the pool swim up bar was very loud during the day, mostly being for the younger end we went on beach every day brilliant beach, lots of sunbeds, now the restaurant .......there was not a great variety for the main meals was usually chicken or pork but there was allways somesort of fish, pizzas, pastas, salads etc breakfast only got bacon every 2nd day same with tomatoes no beans so you couldnt have a full english they had mash, carrots peas on for breakfast every day , they cater for americans and germans lot more than english. some staff in restaurant were quite rude, when buyig things be careful you can easily get ripped off , we bought 4 fridge magnets he asked for £50 we ended up paying £8 realy long SLOW queu at the airport when leaving.overall good holiday and would go back but we prefer pourta plata

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank mick024
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 27, 2013 via mobile

Great holiday as always , fantastic food, clean, and staff brilliant top hotel . Bar staff excellent service and so friendly good fun had by all . Beach only a few steps away with plenty of space and free sunbeds for all . Highly recommend for a fun filled holiday .

Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
3  Thank Maidment
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2013

This is a 3 star resort at best! Management couldn't care less about their guests. My husband was injured in a hotel event. He had to be rushed to the hospital. Thankfully there were paramedics from Canada poolside who saved his life. His head was split open and could not do anything the rest of our vacation. Management gave a a dinner pass the to Riu palace next door! And they only did that because we went to our Apple rep who was wonderful. We were all very disappointed with everything. THEY COULD CARELESS ABOUT CUSTOMER SERVICE! Go to the Hard Rock my sister went and loved it,Don't waste your money at RIU resorts

Room Tip: Ask for one close to the water
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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6  Thank AL O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2013

Very terrible. Bad services. Bad food. Ants in roоm. This is no star at all. Never come visit this resort. For 10 years I visit Dominican Republic this is the first time I had such an awful experience. First they gave me a room in the way back facing the road that the workers drive their trucks. Not only was it a long way from the lobby, but it was also noisy and dusty so no peace was to be found. Then after they sent me to a nicer room, my entire table was covered in ants. They didn't even provide me with shampoo or sunscreen which caused me to spend $20 on their product in the store. Finally, I asked for a second key for my wife and they forced me into giving them more money. Aside from the rooms, I was shocked about their "restaurants". These so called restaurants are in fact buffets which you serve yourself. Overall this was the worst experience I ever had in Dominican Republic from the lack of motivation in their service to their money robbing staff.

Stayed: December 2013
9  Thank Val G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2013

I am writing this to express my deepest regrets regarding my stay at
your resort at the RIU Bambu in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Having
previously stayed at the RIU before in the Bahamas, I had a an expectation which
was not at all nearly as close to an enjoyable experience in comparison to the
Bahamas. First and foremost, this being the first vacation my girlfriend and I
have been on alone without the children in four years we were extremely excited
to share time, and space with one another, especially since it was also planned
for the celebration of her birthday. The RIU Bambu which is rated to be at least
four to five star hotel was not represented In that manner with beds that were
extremely uncomfortable without any cushioning such as a pillow top mattress or
any other such thing that would have made it more comfortable. Therefore, on our
five day vacation we did not wake up everyday refreshed and ready go but instead
we were tired as if we did not sleep at all. In addition, since we could not
change rooms due to the capacity being full, we asked for a blanket that we
could place on the mattress to help cushion the bed a little as I have a bad
back and neck to add to the matter. The blanket was there but did not help much
at all, but we were making the best of our situation.
In addition to the mattress that was was unsatisfactorily not
assisting in making our stay the least bit comfortable, we find out from another
couple that their room had a bed that was comfortable with nice cushion and a
flat screen television which we also did not have in our room. Instead we had an
old television with a picture tube which was more than likely from the 80's or
90's, which only added to our disgust but my girlfriend and I tried to make the
best of a bad situation. To be specific we stayed in room 2405 during our stay
at the resort and I would recommend someone from your company to stay in this
room also to understand what we experienced during our stay at the hotel. Each
day we were staying at the resort we made it a priority to do an excursion each
day to enjoy the experiences the island had to offer such as Dune Boogeys,
Ziplining, club Imagine, Snuba, and Suana Island.
And last but certainly not least which made the experience even the
more troubling while at the resort was the food. The food at the hotel was a
total let down and disappointment for us as we could not understand how it could
be so horribly disgusting. The breakfast buffet which we figured could not be
completely bad as it can be very difficult to mess up what is considered the
most important meal of the the day, but we were so wrong. For example, foods
were considered to be either overcooked or undercooked as far as we were
concerned. As well as the food that did look to be appetizing was otherwise cold
as I enjoy my food when it is hot. Having to endure this for five days was very
hard for us as we are people who really enjoy food, and it became very
frustrating to say the least. On one day we were fortunate enough to meet
someone outside the resort to partake in some food that was wholesome and
delicious but should not have had to be done after spending so much money on
this resort. As far as the dinner reservations, it was not a great experience
but it was also not as bad as the buffet. The Mexican restaurant was delicious
as well as the hibachi while on the other hand the Italian restaurant was just
ok as well as "Mamajuana" restaurant was just ok. There were days I opted not
eat anything except salad or French fries in order to have some form of
sustenance to make it through the days during our stay and it hurt me greatly
when all the positivity my girlfriend had went out the window as I could only
see sadness and disgust on her face when all she wanted was a decent meal but it
was out of my control.
Having mentioned that I stayed at the RIU before in the Bahamas, my
expectations from my experience there was very high but I was extremely
disappointed but more so for my girlfriend as we were celebrating her birthday
as well as our first vacation without our children. The top two things that my
girlfriend said that she would have expected from this hotel or any hotel that
is expected to be a four to five star hotel are comfortable beds and delicious
foods. Not expecting all food to meet our standards of delicious but to be at
least edible. I am taking the time express our concerns about our stay at the
hotel with hopes of improvements for future guest.

Sincerely,

Very unsatisfied customer\guest
December 2013

Room Tip: Do not stay at this hotel if you are not willing to excessively tip
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank Rashaun B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Bambu

Address: | Playa Arena Gorda, Punta Cana 23000, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#68 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#71 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#71 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $170 - $372 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Bambu 3.5*
Number of rooms: 1000
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The All Inclusive ClubHotel Riu Bambu is open all year round, is located in holiday area Punta Cana on the Dominican Republic's eastern coast (on the Playa Arena Gorda beach) and it is part of RIU Resort with 4 sister hotels. The Caribbean Street is 600 m away, next village Cortecito (10km) and Punta Cana International (PUJ) is 25 km away. The hotel has 1000 comfortably furnished rooms and offers modern amenities. Relax with a massage at our Beauty Salon or get in shape at our gym. 5 outdoor pools, 2 children’s pool as well as Water park "Splash Water World" at Riu Punta Cana. For the youngest guests, there is the RiuLand Kids Club(for children from 4 to 7 years & 8 to 12 years old), Riu4U (for teenagers ages 13 to 17) and for adults, day and evening entertainment as well as Riu Pacha discotheque, many water sports activities. For lovers of gastronomy, we offer live cooking stations at our main buffet as well as Mexican, Italian, Asian, Steakhouse, Gourmet and Spanish cuisine, 6 bars. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Bambu Punta Cana
Riu Bambu Dominican Republic

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