To begin, just be aware to bring extra $ with you because you'll have to pay $10US upon arrival and $20US leaving Punta Cana tax. We never found the need to use pesos so for anyone who is wondering, just stick with US dollars.
I expected this resort to be at the lower end given the price I paid. You really do pay for what you get. But did I really need to pay another couple of hundreds just to have a prettier lobby like the other Riu Palaces around us? No. Everyone shares the exact same gorgeous beach which really is the #1 thing everyone looks for about Punta Cana and this side of the coast specifically. I find a lot of people's reviews are way out of hand, expecting unrealistic results for the amount they paid.
Yes, just like the pictures on the promotional magazines. The beach really is that beautiful. Soft white sand, warm and calm water (we went in the middle of crazy March break). I did find the massive amount of seaweeds to be kind of annoying when you're initially getting into the water. Something I hope the resort would deal with. Personally found the setup of Riu Bambu's beach better than the other Riu's surrounding us. The distance between water, beach and resort was much shorter... and also better shading (shorter coconut trees) if you need. We never had a problem finding an empty beach chair, perhaps because of the lower number of guests in this particular resort? There was one bigger pool in the middle of the resort which we didn't use simply because of the March break youngsters who basically took over. If you're into that kind of partying, you're good. There's another small pool and a kid's section as well if you have a family. Often there will be different people selling you things like cigars, segway tours or coconuts for $3 each. Coconut tasted alright, not the best so do it at your own discretion. The coastal beach is huge, you can definitely walk to other resorts besides the Riu's. I do recommend it, it's a nice stroll and the view is awesome.
The Bambu set up is like units of 2 story houses. Exterior is this ugly pink which I hope they will repaint one near day. We were in the 800s so it was a bit of a walk but I like it. I know some people just want everything to be close together but then they'll be complaining about small the resort is. I like the size of Bambu, not too big, not too small, lots of greenery. Our room was clean, by no means absolute perfect but it did its job. I was prepared so I brought all my toiletries with me. They only provide shampoo in a dispenser and bar hand soap, so if you need more than that, make sure to bring your own. We had two mattresses put together so it became "king size" but of course it's annoying when you end up sleeping in the gap. Liquor dispenser and fridge always provided at all Riu's I go to. If you're afraid of the heat, not to worry, the AC is STRONG. We actually needed the extra blanket at night it was that cold. My biggest problem was the electric sockets. It has a this bulky protector on it so sometimes you can't use certain chargers 'cause it gets in the way. Every so often they restock your water/liquor supply but it's a separate guy that does it not the cleaning lady (if you want to tip accordingly). You can always ask for bottles of water at the front desk (and yes you DO NOT drink the tap water in D.R.) We could hear only loud guests sometimes if they're in the hallway (middle of March break, imagine that) but most of the time, it was pretty quiet in the room. There is no free wifi in the room but you can certainly pay for (10US dollar per day if I remember correctly).
Typical resort food. Buffet style, I didn't expect the most amazing quality. Yes you can call it average. It was difficult to eat "clean" if you're at these kinds of resorts but I figured it was my vacation so I indulged a bit on sweets. Stay away from raw foods, just to be safe. I tried a bite of beef carpaccio, ONE bite, and the next day I had the D, not pretty (yeah bring imodium folks). Pineapple was always available. Lots of things are fried in oil. There are a couple of a la carte restaurants. We only liked one, which was the steakhouse because you actually get a decent piece of steak (only medium or well done though). Mexican was meh, Italian was meh, didn't even bother with Asian I know I will hate it. And yes, you will get your wine from a tap, the red was actually tolerable haha. We're not big drinkers, had a decent mojito but general everything is very sugary which I'm not a fan of. My partner actually said the watered down beer was the most tolerable among all the drinks. There's something called mamajuana which is a D.R. concoction rumoured to have effect like viagara or an aphrodisiac? I tried a little bit, smelled like grape drink, tasted pungent.
In general, the service was a bit casual. Don't wait around, just direct and ask for help and they will. They're not necessary up front and friendly until you approach them, at least that was our experience. They had the typical resort daily activities you can do from morning to late evening. Water type activities like kayaking you do have to sign up for a time slot. I believe scuba diving lessons are offered but not free. There is a massage place called Eternal Spa next door at Palace Punta Cana, all different types of massages but often on the beach, you'll encounter staff asking if you want one.
This resort doesn't have its own gym but as a Riu guest, you can use the other facilities in the other Riu's around. The closest gym was at the Riu Palace Punta Cana and it's only steps away from Bambu, not far. Equipments are OLD. If you're looking to do free weights, the heaviest was only 15lbs. 5 treadmills, 5 ellipticals, and one cable machine and some dirty mats.
There is a maximum of 90 minute free wifi in the lobby. I never use it at night because every single person will be there (before or after dinner) and trust me, you will never log in. Use the internet during the day while everyone's on the beach or at the pool, it's much better.
There is the Caribbean strip which is a tiny streets of vendors selling Punta Cana merchandise and paintings, if you're into that, perfect. Just don't be surprised if you'll be paying for $30 sunscreen.
We flew with Sunwing/Signature vacation, there was always a representative there to help us if we needed to ask about flight information or excursions. Speaking of, D.R. isn't known for too many excursions. But we did the sting ray bay/snorkel with sharks/party on a pirate ship (was kinda entertaining if you're willing to get into the dancing), about $100 for person and also the ocean spa "Dr. Fish" about $150 per person, which we found quite relaxing to do in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. And the staff at these excursions are always very friendly.
Generally we kept to ourselves so we didn't run into any problems. There were a couple of looks here and there from the staff and guests... u know the same two guys hanging around together. It did seem like we were the token gay couple there. D.R. is primarily Catholic I believe. In case anyone is wondering.
Overall it was a great trip. Everything went very smoothly which is always nice. It was my partner's first tropical vacation and he said he will definitely go back. The beautiful beach and clear blue sky are definitely worth it. We had a full week of hot weather but never too humid and never overly hot temperature, always about 29degree celsius, it was kind of perfect.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located in Punta Cana * Situated on Arena Gorda Beach * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * Within the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Macao, Riu Taino and Riu Naiboa hotels * Main building and 1-story bungalow complex * Surrounded by 46,000 m2 / 50,300 sq. Yards of palm groves, adjacent to the beach * 50 km / 31 miles from Higley * 600 m / 1,980 ft. From Caribbean Street * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Int€™l. Airport * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Bambu Punta Cana
- Riu Bambu Dominican Republic