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“The Perfect Destination Wedding Location!”

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Hotel Riu Palace Macao
Ranked #43 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 18, 2008

My husband and I were married July 1, 2008 at the Riu Palace Macao. We knew we wanted a beach wedding and we couldn’t have asked for more… the entire day was perfect! As a bride I found it difficult to find out information about a destination wedding, what needed to be done and what to expect so I decided to put together this review for those people who are thinking of having a destination wedding at one of the Riu resorts in the Dominican in hopes of providing you more info.


We had 52 friends and family members join us for our wedding and we all stayed at the Riu Palace Macao. My husband and I arrived three days before our guests so we had time to explore the resort and complete some pre-wedding planning (you must be in country a minimum of three BUSINESS days prior to your wedding).

The hotel rooms were nice, our guests were in standard rooms that had king size or two double beds. All rooms contain a full bar (which is stocked every other day), full bathroom with tub, TV, air conditioning, etc. A few of our guests complained that their air conditioning wasn’t working in their rooms – for those who’s air really wasn’t working the resort either fixed it or moved them to another room. A few things to note with the air conditioning – your patio door must be fully closed in order for the air to work. If the door is open even a slight bit the air automatically shuts off (this was the case with many people). Also, the air conditioning doesn’t run as cold as you may have it at home so don’t expect that you’ll come in to your room and it will be an ice box. My husband and I stayed in a Jacuzzi suite, our room was large and spacious and on our balcony we had stairs leading up to a private Jacuzzi outside. Our room was perfect!

The entertainment staff and the waiters at the hotel are awesome! Especially Johnny Bravo, Super John, Big Pappi, Angie & Antinito (waiter at the pool). We went to some of the shows – the ones held in the Copacabana are nice because the theatre is outside (the indoor theatre is musty and can get hot).

At night most people hang out in the lobby bar, the casino or go to the Pacha (the night club). You can get into the night club for free but you have to pay for drinks. We did go to Pacha a few times, and we just got drinks at the resort and took them into the night club with us to avoid paying while we were there.

The resort it’s self has many activities such as: Tennis, Water polo, Sailing, Windsurfing, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Body Boarding, etc.

The only activities NOT included are motorized water sports like Jet-Ski or Banana Boat Rides. Paddle boats, Sail boats, snorkling, and all sporting equipment can be borrowed free of charge.

If you want to go off the resort there are a ton of activities you can enjoy including the following (we did the reef explorer, dune buggy & monster truck tours):

Golf: The is the number one golf destination in the Caribbean , Names like Pete Dye, Robert Trent Jones Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus are trade marks to some of our more than 30 golf courses. Punta Cana offers a great choice for golf lovers. Play in a course designed following the lay of the land, using natural terrain to provide a route easily to remember long after the player has finished. The trade marks features are strategically placed, bunkers, mounds, and gently rolling terrain with well-defined and generous fairways and greens without forgetting an unrelenting wind.

Manati Park: 130,000 square meter preserve with permanent exhibits of birds, reptiles, and fish. A show with parrots, dolphins and dancing horses is included in the admission fee. Optional possibility of swimming with the dolphins for an extra fee. Reservations should be made as soon as you arrive in the country if you want to swim with the dolphins. Stroll along the lush gardens, take pictures of the beautiful orchids and tropical plants, or buy some local crafts in the souvenir shops.

Rafting: If you’re a whitewater fan, The Rio Yaque is the longest river in the Caribbean and offers challenging courses like the “Mike Tyson”, which features a 12-foot vertical drop!

Deep Sea Fishing: Half day trips or full-day excursions for the serious sports fisherman are available in one of the best fishing destinations in the world. Fish for Wahoo, Kingfish, Sailfish, Marlin or Barracuda.

Snorkeling & Diving: The water is warm, the reefs are plentiful and the region offers more than 20 open-water dive sites.

Santo Domingo: Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the first city in the "New World" and the capital of the . Visit the palace of Diego Columbus (son of Christopher Columbus) and the conquistadors headquarter for over 60 years; the Cathedral Santa Maria La Menor (first in the New World) and the Royal House Museum . These are just a few of the spectacular sites of this rich colonial and historical city. Enjoy time at leisure on El Conde Street (first commercial street in the new world) to explore on your own.

Monster Truck Safari: The Monster Truck Safari offers an adventurous day full of breathtaking landscapes, sparkling rivers and streams and unforgettable experiences. Join friendly and professional guides on the large 8x8 all terrain trucks made especially for your comfort and safety as they take you through lush vegetation, back country roads and small colorful villages. Taste freshly cut sugar cane straight from the field, sample fresh brewed coffee and enjoy endless juicy fruits. Cool off with a swim in the river then sip on a Cuba Libre, a cocktail made of Cola, lime and rum, dance or just relax on the hammocks.
The Monster Truck Safari also offers an opportunity to go shopping at the local market where you can browse through a variety of handicrafts, hand-painted masks, ceramics and local coffee, rum and cigars. Be sure to bring your camera with you while enjoying the Monster Truck Safari since there are numerous photo opportunities offering great views of the Dominican Republic’s natural beauty.

Dune Buggy: We did the dune buggy excursion. It was $65. USD per person, and included horse back riding, a cave, and a visit to a beautiful natural beach. The whole tour is a half day and was a lot of fun! If you do decide to go, pack some clothes that you will not mind to throw out, ....you get covered in mud from head to toe. We decided to just toss our t-shirts and socks but our shorts and shoes I soaked when we got to the hotel and then washed properly when we got home. Most of the stains came out however if you take clothes you can just toss then this might be easier.

Helicopter Tours: A photographers’ dream come true! Discover the unspoiled beauty of Punta Cana, fly over its beautiful surrounding areas of lush tropical vegetation, golf courses, endless white sand beaches and turquoise water; enjoy the amazing view of wrecked vessels while flying above thousands of coconut trees swaying effortlessly to the rhythm of the breeze. Discover paradise from a different perspective.

There are two dinner seatings (6:30 and 8:30). You are assigned a table in the buffet restaurant, and you eat at that time for your entire stay unless you opt to go to one of the ala carte restaurants. Note: the men have to wear long pants to dinner. The buffet was ok, there was a variety of foods and enough to choose from. You need to make you reservations for the other restaurants between 7-8:30 in the morning, otherwise they are booked. We enjoyed the view from the Caribe Grille (where we also had our wedding reception). The steakhouse was ok and we quite enjoyed the Japanese place as well and found it to be the best! We’ve been to a number of all inclusive resorts and we found the food at the Riu to be quite good. That being said we did hear a number of people complain that they didn’t like the food… the thing that people have to remember is that you are not going to get food like you would find in restaurants at home so don’t expect it.

Another thing to remember is that whenever you go to a resort (this one or any other), be sure to lock your valuables in the room safe. The hotel provides you a safe for free and you should use it. If by chance something is stolen from your safe (this didn’t happen to anyone as far as we know) the resort will reimburse you for the items. If however you have items outside the safe that are stolen you won’t be reimbursed. We have a few guests who left cameras out or their cell phones charging while they weren’t in their room and these items were stolen. We reported these incidences to the front desk and to our travel company (Sunquest) but because the items weren’t in the safe there was little they could do.


I recommend that you pick a resort and start on all your proper documents roughly 3-4 months before you leave this will ensure that the judge is still available and gives you time to send a copy of your documents down there for approval before you go so that there are no surprises before getting there. I went to DRSI http://www.dominicanweddings.net/ in Toronto. This company specializes in assisting couples in arranging their marriages in the Dominican. They assure that all the legal requirements are met and they arranged for our passports, birth certificates, marriage application to be translated and legalized by the Dominican Republic Consulate.

There are two wedding planners at the resort Magnolia Crisostomo & Juliana Sandoval. Before arriving at the resort we worked with Magnolia – once there we worked with Juliana. The majority of the time (pre-arrival) we communicated via. e-mail. Typically responses would take a few days but she would always respond. Both of these women plan and execute multiple weddings a week so for them everything seemed easy. For me as the bride (not knowing what to expect) I struggled with this. Magnolia would answer my many questions as I asked them, and would on multiple occasions tell me not to worry about anything - that we’d sort it all out when we got down to Dominican. For someone who is as “overly organized” as I am I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that – for someone who’s more laid back this would be fine. I wanted to know every detail, how things were going to play out, what my options were, etc. Because I wanted to know all of these things and wasn’t sure what I’d get when I got to Dominican I did a lot of things at home and just packed extra suitcases to bring the stuff down with us. Having gone through it now, I can tell you that you can trust these ladies, they will do all they can to fulfill any request you have.

If you are flying down on a charter flight (most are) then they will let you take your dress on board and it won’t be counted as my carry-on luggage. It had to be stored in the overhead compartments – but they’ll likely reserve one for you so you don’t have to worry. My husband and I flew Air Canada and they wouldn’t allow me to carry my dress on (even though we were in business class) – and because I asked ahead of time I was able to make arrangements for my dad to take my dress on board his charter flight.

* Be sure to talk to your wedding coordinator about every detail. I had emailed Magnolia quite often leading up to our trip, and she doesn’t mind, she wants to make sure that you are going to be happy. Magnolia also arranged to meet us the day after we arrived in DR to go through every detail and finalize everything.

Legal Documentation:
You will need two witnesses holding valid passports that can be traveling with you or you can ask local hotel staff to witness your wedding. Note: Witnesses can not be blood related on either side.
Documents required to get married in the DR:
1. Original birth certificates. (Send three photocopies).
2. Valid and signed passports. (Send three photocopies of the main page).
3. Notarized statutory declarations of single status done according to our sample. (Bring or send one original and two photocopies).The Notary Public must be a Lawyer with a notary's seal or stamp.
Click here to see a sample of the Statutory Declaration.
4. Divorce certificate or death certificate, if applicable. (Send original or notarized photocopy and three simple photocopies.) In both cases, a minimum waiting period of ten months applies before a woman can remarry.
5. Filled in Information Form and Document Checklist.
The 3rd and 4th documents are translated and legalized by the Dominican Republic Consulate. The birth certificates have to be translated into Spanish. Some hotels ask for birth certificates to be legalized as well, please find out if that is the case with your hotel and let us know.

We had 4 groomsmen & 4 bridesmaids. The girls all wore purple dresses (different lengths) & flip flops, and the guys wore beige linen pants and purple shirts that matched the girls dresses with sandles. My husband chose to wear a white linen suit (including jacket) and a purple shirt, and I wore a traditional wedding dress. I went shopping for a beach type flowing dress but fell in love with the one I wore. Both my husband and I thought we’d be way too hot but were willing to suck it up for one day. Because both the ceremony location and the restaurant for our reception were on the beach we had a nice breeze for the entire thing and neither of us were overly hot.

The girls and I all had our hair and make-up done by Maria at the resort, she came to my suite and had us all done by 2:30pm. My hair cost $50.00 USD and the girls cost $40.00 ea.; make-up was $20.00 ea. Something to note is that Maria didn’t have any pictures of hair samples – Luckily, I had done some searching ahead of time so had some print outs and my girls and I just chose from them. She’s working on getting a book of photos, but it would be worth doing the research ahead of time and taking pictures with you.

Ceremony Location
The Riu offers 3 locations for a wedding ceremony to take place.
• The gazebo at the Palace Punta Cana – It’s quite pretty and right near the beach – probably the most private of all of the locations (however anyone on the beach near the gazebo will watch).
• The gazebo at the Riu Bambu – This gazebo is just up from the beach and outside one of the restaurants. This location is just off the main sidewalk connecting the resorts so you should expect quite a few onlookers.
• On the beach outside the Caribe Grill at the Riu Palace Macao. – This is the location we knew ahead of time we wanted and we were thrilled with the results. You have to be prepared for lots of onlookers both on the beach and on the sidewalk between the resorts. The staff at the resort will do what they can to keep sun bathers and spectators from interfering and being in photos. The aisle is up a wooden boardwalk down some stairs crossing the sidewalk and standing on sand.

We purchased the Caprice Wedding Package that was aprox. $2375.00 USD. The wedding package we bought included:

• Caprice decorations set up of the ceremony location for up to 80 people – This included covered chairs for the ceremony and flowered arches.
• Bouquet of flowers for the bride and a matching boutonniere for the groom – We bought the following extra flowers bridesmaid flowers ($30.00ea), Boutonnières ($10.00), and mothers Corsages ($20.00). – All turned out beautifully. You’ll be able to pick your flowers once you get to the resort (the wedding planners have lots of photos).
• CD or recorded music during the ceremony – We went with the CD which was AWESOME!
• Twenty four color photographs with a special photo album and CD – this was fine for us as we had a photographer with us taking pictures. However, if you didn’t have your own photographer the on site photographer did a great job and you can buy additional photos, albums, etc. from him.
• Reception dinner for the wedding group at one of our specialty restaurants –See reception details below.
• Wedding cake for up to 15 people – As we had 50 people at our wedding we decided to pay for a larger cake that would serve everyone. The additional cost was $10.00 per person.
• Three bottles of sparkling wine – We decided to save the champagne until the reception and because you can get champagne included in the restaurants (we did our toasts, etc. there with their champagne) they just sent the 3 bottles to our room which we enjoyed when we were alone together.
• Natural or Chocolate body exfoliation for the bride and groom
• Aromatherapy massage for the bride and groom
• Deep-tissue or Lomi Lomi massage for the groom
• Manicure, pedicure and hairstyle try out for the bride
• Ten percent discount on all spa services for the bride and the groom (restrictions apply)
• Complimentary room upgrade subject to availability upon arrival (External Jacuzzi Suites are not included)
• Breakfast in bed the morning after the wedding
• Surprise gift and fruit basket
• Minister/Judge service & wedding certificate are included

The Wedding Ceremony

As mentioned, we purchased the caprice package. The package included almost everything we wanted and we only paid extra for the hair & make-up, the additional flowers, and a larger cake. The ceremony it’s self was at 5:00 pm on the beach and was quite short (just a few minutes).

We asked Magnolia if we could have a few readings and/or a unity candle lighting during the ceremony and she advised that this would be possible if we brought them down with us. We chose to do two readings which was actually quite nice and extended the ceremony a little.

For the ceremony, I had printed programs at home and brought them with me (because I wasn’t sure if the resort would do this). I was happy with the programs that I brought, however I did find out the resort would do this for you and would have saved me from bringing them down there.

Knowing that it was likely going to be very hot we also had fans made at home that had our names and wedding date on them, we gave these to Juliana when we met with her (upon arrival in DR) and she had them placed open on every seat for when the guests arrived at the ceremony – this was a really nice touch.
The Judge conducted the ceremony in Spanish and Magnolia was on site and did the translation during the ceremony.
The set-up was beautiful, and the time of day was good. The temperature was not as hot at that time and we managed to get some beautiful sunset pictures. Everything for the ceremony was perfect!

I knew that we were aloud to have our group at one of the speciality restaurants for dinner (keep in mind this is only for one seating so you’ll have to choose either the early or late seating). We really wanted to have more time and have the restaurant to ourselves so I asked Magnolia what the options were. She advised that if we paid $600.00 USD we could reserve one of the restaurants for the entire night, they would set it up however we wished , and would decorate! We decided that because we had such a large group this was definitely the option for us and decided to book the Caribe Grill (the restaurant on stilts, on the beach) - I’m so glad we chose to do it this way!

For a group our size, they set the room up in a giant U shape with the head table being closest to the sea (as a backdrop). They let me do a seating chart (I had name cards I brought with me) and they set it up exactly how I had asked. The tables and chairs were covered in white linen and they had candles everywhere – it was BEAUTIFUL!

For the meal the guests got to order off the a la carte menu which was nice as people got to pick what they want rather than be stuck eating a pre-ordered meal.

We also hired a DJ for the night (through the wedding planners). For the small cost of $300.00 USD he played romantic music all through dinner, provided a wireless microphone for speeches, played our first dance, father/daughter, and mother/son songs (we brought those on a CD), as well as played a variety of music for the remainder of the night.

Basically, we had a full reception like you would have at home including speeches, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss. We had the restaurant booked from 6:30pm – 10:30pm (although we slipped the restaurant staff and the DJ a generous tip and they let us stay until 11:30pm).

We also pre-ordered cigar labels (off the internet) and brought them down with us. Upon arriving at the resort we arranged to buy 100 cigars from one of the cigar vendors and the guy put our labels on for us – which saved us a ton of time! Magnolia and Juliana put the cigars in a beautiful basket and had them next to the guest book at the reception for when the guests arrived.

We were thrilled with the way the wedding turned out. Magnolia and Juliana were wonderful and they made sure that everything we wanted happened. Not a single thing went wrong and we certainly couldn’t have ask for more…. Except that maybe the day lasted a little longer.

I’ve tried to attach some pictures so you’ll know what to expect.

Good luck in finding your perfect destination wedding location!

  • Stayed: July 2008
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28  Thank TanyaKitchener
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 12, 2008

We stayed for 2 weeks in the Macao in June and it wasgreat. The staff were so freindly and happy.The "I love my job" is something we have brought home from the staff! The room service which is 24 hours is amazing. We came back from a trip to Sona island and didnt fancy getting changed for dinner and ordered sandwiches and salad. The plateful we got included chips and it was great - we also had champers-. There is no need to save sun bed either at the pool or on the beach as there are plenty. The mini fridge is restocked with beer water soft drinks but if you run out it is no problem to get more from the bar. One tip keep your empty water bottle from the plane as the water in the room is in gallon container and only small plastic cups from the beach bar but it is no problem getting the bottle filled up at the bars. The food is great and so may differant choices. We tried the Steak House and the steak was perfect. We have been to many countries but this is the 1st hotel we would return to.
Loved it!

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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11  Thank leenieoxford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2008

Making this our 4th trip to this hotel we invited some friends to go with us. We assured them this was a great hotel. Well things can change in one year, the resort as slipped downward. To start there was no air condition in any of the rooms. It seemed to us there was less staff. On a good note the staff that was there was great. It also looked as if the hotel needed some maintenance.
Time for us to try a different resort.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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2  Thank Caribbean2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2008

This resort has received many recent reviews so I don't want to repeat what has been already stated- Everything positive that is written about the hotel common areas, beach and service is totally accurate. As you walk around the resort, you truly feel like you are their most important guest in paradise. The staff goes above and beyond, remembering small details about your preferences. With that said, you should know:

Getting there- We booked through Spirit Air Vacations and had no problems. Transfers to and from the hotel with VIP were friendly and on-time.

Rooms- Pretty to look at but with hard beds and poor bedding. As stated in other reviews, the resort has constant problems with AC. Our first room on the 3rd floor was sweltering. We asked to move after one night and ended up on the ground floor. Much better! After speaking to other guests, it appears that the lower floors are generally cooler.

Activities / entertainment - If you're an active person, there's a lot to do on the resort during the day. Most activities are arranged through the Scuba shop. Go early in the morning to arrange what you'd like to do. We tried windsurfing, sailing on a catamaran, and snorkeling, which are all free. If you want to take the banana boats, you negotiate a price directly with the operators. The resort also has water aerobics and games throughout the day. If you prefer to relax, there are plenty of chairs, and excellent wait service around the pool, under the palms, and on the beach. Evening entertainment was decent too. The casino was small, but fun, as was the club. Both don't get going until around midnight. We didn't attend any of the shows.

Riu properties- As a guest of the Palace Macao, you'll have a wristband that allows you to enjoy the other 4 Riu properties, with the exception of the other Palace. We enjoyed visiting adjacent properties, two of which had swim-up bars. Those hotels appeared to have a more party atmosphere. Still, it was nice to return to the elegance of the Macao.

Beach - Beautiful clear water and soft sand. Great for swimming. Reefs just offshore with a variety of marine life. While snorkeling was saw rays, barracuda, flounder, and numerous colorful reef fish. Bring a mug or tumbler with a lid so that you can keep your drinks cool and sand-free while at the beach. The waiters are happy to refill them for you.

Food- Not for me. I hesitate to be too critical, since everyone else in my party was able to find at least a few things to enjoy each meal, but it just didn't suit my palate. Most items were in heavy sauces or dressings. I was surprised at the lack of fresh vegetables and fish choices. The a la carte restaurants, with the exception of the Japanese restaurant, were a disappointment. I thought that by going with the a la carte, the food would be cooked-to-order. However, most items appeared and tasted like they had been sitting for quite some time. The Japanese restaurant was pretty good.

Drinks- Unlimited, including a regularly re-stocked minibar in your room. Pepsi products. Mixed drinks - most drinks are fruity and very sweet. Wine selection was not good. Presidente beer is tasty, but not stocked in your room.
Liquor is generally bottom-shelf but you can get better brands if you request it. You must pay for drinks in the night club, but they're not expensive.

Misc- We tipped throughout our stay, mainly because the service was so wonderful. Also, most of the staff speak very limited, if any English, so brush up on your Spanish. Even learning a few phrases with help you communicate and get to know your hosts better.

One last thing-I strongly suggest you read the forums at this site to get more helpful tips. I don't think our vacation would have gone as well without the valuable info we got from the forums.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank jpocccoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 2, 2008

Hi . We recently returned from a stay at this fantastic property. We stayed there from June 13, 2008 until June 20, 2008. We also stayed there on Jan. 27th for one week. Needless to say, we returned to this resort because it is absolutely fabulous. We loved the size. It is much smaller than the Riu Palace, making it much more easier to socialize with other guests. It also was easy to get around, and we never had trouble finding anything.

The rooms are beautifully furnished, with marble everywhere. We had rooms overlooking the pool, which was nice late in the day, when after showering you could still look out at the activity on the resort. Some rooms also afforded a look past the pool, through the trees, to the ocean. There was a mini-bar that was stocked every day. As well, there were liquor dispensers in the room, which we personally never touched. The rooms were always spotless.

The Buffet Restaurant was incredible. I agree with everyone else that the buffet was far superior to the a la cartes. We had superb variety, and they served everything from caviar and champagne, to lasagna. There was something for everyone. We also liked the fact that we were shown to the same table every night. This enabled us to establish a good rapport with our servers. They anticipated our every needs...special kudso to Elias and Villy.

The Bars were just as outstanding. They did not skimp on the alcohol at all. We especially liked the 24 hour bar which served martinins and always had live entertainment at night.

As mentioned in previous reviews, there was no swim-up bar. We actually liked this, because it meant that people were not sitting in one spot and not moving the whole day. It offered lots of shade around it, and the bar service was very quick. We loved the mermaid statues that were everywhere. We also enjoyed the massage hut that operates in between the pool and the beach. The ladies that give the massages know what they are doing...they get out all of your kinks and you leave feeling totally relaxed.

The beach is the best part of the resort, of course. The resort is blessed with lots of natural shade. Riu did not remove a lot of the palm trees, as other resorts have done. There there is a lot of shade to be had...very important when you are going in the summer! For those who wanted to be sun-worshippers, there was plenty of wide-open expanse to sunbathe as well. We have been to many resorts all over Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. The beach at Punta Cana is in my opinion, one of the best in the world. One can walk for miles. The sand is white, powder-soft, and never hot. The ocean is usually clear, due to the reefs just off of the shore. The waves for the most part are very gentle.

I have done most of the excursions in Punta Cana, but the land excursion that I would recommend the most is the Monster Truck Safari. You get a full day of Dominican life experienced in a fun, safe way. You will visit a voodoo doctor, go swimming in the Altos de Chavon River, visit a school, see sugar can plantations, etc. I cannot say enough about this resort. Be careful when booking it. Make sure to request the Monster Truck Safari by name, as there are similar excursion out there that do the same thing, but do not give the same value for money.

The water excursion that I would recommend highly, if you don't mind doing something that is booze-free, is the Coral Reef Explorer. It is owned by the same company that does the Marinarium exucursion, but instead of getting just 45 minutes of snorkelling, you get about 3 hours, along with getting personal encounters with de-stinged stingrays, and swimming with sandsharks. It is one of the best snorkelling excursions I have had. The reefs are beautiful, and the whole things is very relaxing. You can take out water kayaks, and even get a massage for free!

On the whole, I abosutely love Punta Cana, and plan to return again this winter!

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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12  Thank DebbieOttawaCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2008

My Boyfriend and I went to the Riu Palace Macao on 19th May for a 2 week stay. We travelled with Thomson. We went to the North of the Dominican 2 years ago and stayed at the Riu Merengue so we knew what great service we would receive again staying with Riu. The outbound flight was without doubt more comfortable since Thomson extended the legroom to 33". The only disappointing part of the flight would have to be the meals. The Aldo Zilli food is not great but is better than nothing.
When you arrive at Punta Cana airport some ladies dressed in Dominican costumes will get everyone to have their pictures taken with them. They will be available to buy in the departure lounge when you leave. I think they cost around $10. When you get your luggage and head for the coaches there are lots of men hanging around wanting to carry your cases for you. They will keep asking you for your cases but if you say no politely they will leave you alone. The coach takes about 40 minutes to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel we were taken into the lounge and given a cocktail, told a bit about the hotel and given our room information. One of the bellboys brought our cases up to the room. They really appreciate a little tip.
The rooms are very spacious with two queen size beds, satellite tv, air conditioning, iron and board and a safe. There are full size optics in the room as they have in all Riu hotels. There is also a mini fridge with pepsi, 7 up, orange, soda, tonic and beers and water. The fridge is filled up every day and the optics every two. On your first night you have to go the restaraunt and tell them which dinner sitting you want to go to. Our choice were 6.30 and 8.30. There are speciality restaraunts to choose from. You have to book these in the morning. We stayed in the buffet restaraunt and we really enjoyed the food. There is plenty of choice and I can recommend the chocolate cakes! You have your own waiter at dinner. Our waiter was called Villi. He was really good and very friendly. They all work so hard - most from breakfast at 7am to after dinner at 10.30. The entertainment is mainly dancing and shows were the audience participate. You get waiter service day and night.
The pool area was lovely. You may need to reserve sunbeds before breakfast if you like a certain spot. We found we had to as many people had reserved their spots before 8am!
We mainly stayed by the pool during the day and went to the beach later in the afternoon. The beach is wonderful! Lovely white sands and clear water. It is paradise! Be careful in the sea, the waves can get quite strong and can push you over quite easily.
The hotel is a lovely place to stay. We really enjoyed our stay. The staff are very friendly and always check if you are ok and if you need a drink!
The people who were there when we stayed were from all over the world. America, Canada, Spain, Germany and the UK.
This is the ideal hotel for anyone who wants a relaxing break away from it all. Just lie in the sun and enjoy!

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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9  Thank nickc29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 27, 2008

My boyfriend and I (early 20s) just returned from a 5-night vacation at the RIU Macao and had a fabulous time! This was my second trip to Punta Cana (previously staying at the Iberostar Punta Cana).

We had booked through Apple Vacations, which included a transfer from airport to hotel (word of warning - once you collect your baggage and head off to your buses, there will be many guys trying to grab your bags to carry 20 feet to your booking agency stand to get a tip - you don't need to give your bags to them, you can carry them the 20 feet yourself). Travel to the hotel was a bit bumpy and fast, but nothing worse than being in a NYC taxicab...

Arrived at the RIU Macao around 2:30 pm. Check-in was quick and easy and our room was ready for us. Also got a welcome drink..All front desk staff were all smiles and very friendly, and spoke enough English to get your questions adequately answered.

Room was nice, bedspread and shower showed some age, but everything was very clean. Maid service was great, room was always clean and stocked with fresh bath towels and new towel art everyday. Mini-fridge was also always stocked.

The entire staff was extremely friendly and nice. We did not pass anyone without getting an 'hola', and all the staff members we encountered really seemed to want to do everything possible to make your vacation experience great.

The food was good. The Japanese ala carte restaurant was, in my opinion, outstanding (our favorite - we went twice), and the breakfast buffet was also very good. Lunch was decent, we tried the caribe grill and the buffet by the pool (stuck mainly with the buffet by the pool because of the outstanding pizza!) - the food was a bit heavy and greasy to me (all the buffets), but I was fine with it - my boyfriend loved it all. We ate dinner at the buffet (El Patio) the first night we arrived and were extremely impressed with the atmosphere and service - very pleasing to the eye. Men do have to wear long pants here. Aside from Japanese, we also tried the Caribe Grill and the Mediterranean restaurant for dinner - these were ok. Caribe grill was nice because it was on the beach, therefore you get a nice breeze, and the food was decent. Didn't really care for Mediterranean - my chicken dinner was overly burnt and I wouldn't recommend the lobster bisque soup, but again, this didn't really bother us (we just decided not to go again). The service at every meal, buffet or ala carte, was outstanding. My drink would never even reach half empty - someone was always coming around to refill water, wine, or soda. Some waiters didn't understand much english, but truly worked hard to make your meal enjoyable, and were always available if you needed anything. Reservations for the ala carte restaurants (4 of them) are made in the morning (between 8 and 10:30 am) in the breakfast buffet - 2 separate seating times, usually 6:30 and 8:30 or 9 pm. We usually made reservations around 9:30 or 10 am and only once had a problem (Caribe grill was all booked for the later seating, but we were able to get a table for the earlier seating).

The drinks were outstanding and had a great selection and variety - from various martinis, to frozen drinks, to mixed drinks - all were very good and they definitely don't skimp on the alcohol, but if you want some more, just ask!

The entertainment staff works extremely hard, and I thought they were great - we saw 3 shows (10 pm) which I very much enjoyed. They also did a great job of entertaining at the pool.

We spent most of our time at the beach, and never had a problem finding beach chairs or space. Went to the pool once, in the middle of the day, and easily found two seats (although I would advise to get chairs early if you plan on staying at the pool all day).

Although you don't have to, we did tip..no one is ever pushy or makes you feel like you must tip, but we did because of the great service we were getting (and because of the meager wages and long hours these people put in). A few dollars goes a long way, and they are always very grateful...

There were a couple minor issues, but nothing that seriously bothered us. The entire resort was apparently having trouble with the AC in the rooms, but our room luckily wasn't so bad - not as cold as it should have been, but definitely tolerable (ceiling fans helped) as we really only were in the room to sleep (and by night time it was cold enough to sleep with a sheet or more). The first night we arrived we called the front desk about the AC not being up to par, and within 5 minutes a friendly maintenance man was up to look at it (whatever he did, it did cool the room off). Same thing the second night, and after that the room seemed cooler for the remainder of our trip. Again, this wasn't too serious for us as we didn't spend much time in the room and it wasn't that hot to begin with.

Other than the AC, the electric outlets are a bit different in the rooms - they fit American plugs, but if the plug has a fat base it won't fit. Some of my plugs fit, my hairdryer plug didn't, but I used the hairdryer in the room, which worked fine. I did go down to the front desk when my camera charger plug didn't fit to see about borrowing a power strip or something - the front desk knew what I was talking about but said that he didn't have one available - instead I left my charger with them to charge, which was fine.

Overall, we loved the RIU Macao, it is a great resort with great people and we would definitely return!

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
8  Thank Santcn06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Macao

Address: Playa Arena Gorda | Punta Cana, Punta Cana 35100, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#19 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#35 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#37 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#40 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $185 - $444 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Macao 4*
Number of rooms: 364
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana. * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. * Within the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Bavaro, Riu Naiboa and the ClubHotel Riu Bambu. * The Splash Water World will be opened from 1st November 2016 * 3-storey building. Colonial style architecture. * Surrounded by 30,000 m2 / 36,000 sq. yards of palm groves alongside the beach. 50 km / 31 miles from Higey. 200 m / 660 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 Palace Macao Hotel Punta Cana
Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Rui Palace Punta Cana

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