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“not quite the palace”

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Hotel Riu Palace Macao
Ranked #44 of 111 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
Millom, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“not quite the palace”
Reviewed September 3, 2005

my husband and i have just returned from the riu palace macao and after the initial shock on first booking in there we had an enjoyable holiday. the first dissappointment being if you have been to any of the other palaces don,t expect the macao to be any where near the same decor wise,but then again you have to remember this is a poor country and to the dominicans it is no doubt a palace like most will never know. When we arrived we were given a room at the back of the hotel that wasn't very nice and the air conditioning didn't work which we reported and it wasn't fixed we were told we would be given another room the next day but then there wasn't one available, it eventually took until the 3rd day to get our room changed then we were given 3 to choose from eventually getting one at the front of the hotel looking onto the pool that was very nice. The problem being in the dominican nobody rushes to do anything it''s so laid back but the staff are very helpful and curtious just bare in mind when they say they will sort something in ten minutes it could be hours or in our case 3 days! If you want a very relaxing holiday with a beautiful beach anf lush surroundings this is the place to be but if you like to venture out of the complex on your own to explore it's not adviseable, we did the out back safari and the speed boat and catamarang trip to saona which were both very good and worth while.The food was repetative but with ample of chice not to have to eat the same thing for 14days, the bonus of staying at the palace is you can use the other 4 complexes in thew riu change which broadens your options, the caribe grill was the most excellent of the eating places and bothe times we ate there we sat looking over the carribean sea it was beautiful.There is no need to tip the staff but we found when we did tip the staff were even more helpful and our waiter by the pool would bring us a drink without us having to sumumn him the same could be said of the retaurant staff and they always remembered what you drank pretty good eh! There were not many mossies around but they did manage to find me even though i did use a proventative we also had one or two get into our room but i put that down to the maids leaving the doors open when cleanig your room which they do everyday and very well aswell. We last visited the dominican 5years ago and we so no progress in the development of the country and with the damage it recieved with the last hurricane 10months ago you could even say it stepped back not forward.As i said depending what you expect of your holiday , you might be pleasantly suprised orlike us entially dissapointed, but after you get over that just enjoy a lovely hotel with really friendly people who want you most of all to enjoy your stay in their country.They are building a new palace next to the bambu which looks like its going to be a fantastic place so hopefully when thats finished we will take another visit.One last thing we travelled with Thomsons and what they do is collect paper and pens pencils etc to take to the poor children in the mountains we also left t shirts shorts and washing thing , if we'd known before hand we would have taken somethings over with us because if you see the look on the children's face's and adults come to think of it we just don't know how lucky we are, what we take so much for granted they can only dream of, if you go on the monster truck safari you will see this I challenge you not to be effected by it i get a lump in my throat just thinking of it. So go and enjoy a trip back in time at the palace macao you will enjoy

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
15 Thank Jacqueline J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Metro Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed August 31, 2005

We stayed at Riu Palace from August 26th - August 29th to celebrate our first anniversary. We decided on Punta Cana because I found a GREAT deal for a last minute booking (1 week in advance) on Travel Zoo. Neither of us had been there before and we had never stayed at a Riu property, so we read many of the reviews on this site to get an idea about what to expect. After reading the reviews, we were somewhat apprehensive about how our stay would be, but luckily most of the things mentioned in other reviews turned out to not be true for us. We found this hotel to be a great choice and we wanted to share our experience with others that might consider staying at the Riu.

Room
We stayed in a standard room. We asked for an upgrade since it was our anniversary, but the desk clerk was not very responsive to our request (could have been a language issue), so we didn’t push. However, the standard room turned out to be nice (no smell. as mentioned in other reviews) and it was on the top floor with a king bed, just as I had requested. There were a few of those “no see ums” after they removed the complimentary fruit tray from the dresser, but the next day (after the room was cleaned) they were gone. There did seem to be a limit on the number of towels that were left in the bathroom – exactly two bath towels, two hand towels and two washcloths, but as long as we showered for dinner before the turn down service (around nine) the room attendant picked up the used towels and restocked them, so we were set for the next morning. (By the way, as mentioned in other reviews, the washcloths did seem hard to come by, they were never restocked with the other towels, but when we mentioned it to the manager, he had some washcloths brought to our room immediately). The water was only hot first thing in the morning and before dinner. That was a slight inconvenience, but not bad, since it was at least warm at the other times.

Food
We ate at the buffet for all our meals. We did not worry about making reservations at the other restaurants because the food in the buffet was GREAT! Some of the items were the same every night – cheeses, salads, soups – but for the most part there were different things to choose from each night - different vegetables and all kinds of meats – fish, beef (very tender), pork and baked turkey and several different pastas. One of the other reviews had us worried that there would only be fried foods – not so. I had more than my share of fresh mangos and there were many other fruits and desserts to choose from too.

Beach
Nice beach with white sand, some seaweed, but not bad. All the other reviewers were right about people reserving the beach chairs early but if you look around you can find some empty chairs and some shade…it may just take a while.

Service
All the employees of the Riu were GREAT!! They are extremely service oriented!!!. We did tip most of the time, but they all seemed to provide the same great service to all the guests whether you tipped or not. (NOTE: I did leave a small gift (nail polish and a trial size perfume) for the room attendant and she decorated our room with flowers the second day.)

Overall
I would definitely return to the Riu Palace. We really enjoyed our stay. Most of the employees spoke English so that was good since we didn’t know any Spanish, although knowing some Spanish would definitely be helpful. For buying souvenirs, make the walk (it is not a short walk) to the markets on the beach. You will find much better deals than on Caribbean Street, if you are willing to haggle.

I don’t believe this is the best spot for families, since about 20% of the women sunbathe and walk around without tops. I am American (definitely the minority in Punta Cana) so that was new for me, but you get used to it after the first day.

Also, be advised, the DR in August is INTENSELY HOT!!!!

  • Stayed August 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
24 Thank CWill04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cleveland, OH
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed August 23, 2005

My husband and I just returned from a quick trip to the Dominican Republic. We traveled with Apple Vacations from Cleveland on a Monday thru Friday charter. Overall, we really enjoyed our trip. The beach is beautiful and the hotel itself has a very laid-back feel. However, if you choose to travel to the Dominican, it's important to keep in mind that you are not in America--therefore, the food is not what you will be use to and the natives will not speak English (Spanish is the main language). We met many Americans who complained about this, however we were not one of those people. Traveling to Punta Cana is an amazing cultural experience and if you're not open to that, I would suggest traveling elsewhere.

If you fly Apple (or any other charter), you will exit your plane on the runway and walk directly into the airport, which is small and very unique. When you get into the airport, you'll get your picture taken (you'll see it when you leave and you have the option to buy it). Then you will walk to a kiosk and pay a $10/pp and fill out a traveler form, which you'll need to exit the country. Don't lose this! Expect this process to be a little confusing, but be patient. Everyone who flys into the DR must go through this process. After you complete the traveler form, you will get in line to have it stamped along with your passport or birth certificate. Then you'll pick up your baggage, proceed to the exit and find your Charter's representative (this is clearly marked after you exit) and the representative will take you to your bus. The bus ride is about 45 minutes to an hour long, depending on how many other hotels your bus has to stop and drop off guests. We were on the bus for about an 1 hour and it's a bumpy ride, but it's not terrible. Take the time to look out the window and observe the country. It's VERY poor and it's an eye-opening ride to the resort.

Depending on your check-in time, your room may not be ready when you arrive. Our room wasn't. But we left our baggage in the lobby and had lunch. You may want to pack a change of clothes and some beach gear in a carry-on so you can go to the pool or beach to stay cool. We were very hot and tired while we waited for our room. The first day of our trip was the longest. In fact, once we got our room, we took a nap before heading to the pool.

About the hotel:
--It is rated a 5 apple, however, expect a 3 star hotel. From what we heard, this was one of the nicest hotels. I would be leery to stay anywhere other than a 5 apple. While our room was large and the hotel itself was pretty, it wasn't brand new and the hotel room smelled very musty. But it's not a problem because you won't be in the room much anyway. It would suggest bringing nasal spray or frebreeze to help alleviate the smell when you are in the room.

--Otherwise, the service is good and the employees work VERY hard. Tip if you feel it's necessary--we did occasionally--but I didn't think I was treated better if we tipped. They were good to us regardless.

About the food:
--It's OK. You can probably find something you like. It's mostly buffet. I would suggest eating food that is hot and staying away from fruits, veggies or anything cold. And don't drink the tap water. Also, pack snacks for the beach/pool, as you won't find much at the hotel.

About your Apple Rep:
When you arrive, you should get an invitation to meet your Apple Rep in the hotel lobby to get good information about the hotel, eating, excursions, ect. I would suggest going to this meeting because it's VERY helpful. Your Apple Rep can also answer questions anytime and/or help you communicate with staff. For example, we had a question about calling home and our Rep was able to get it resolved (by the way, most cell phones don't work, calling cards don't work and it costs a fortune to call the states. Avoid doing it if you can. Email instead--there is Internet access in the hotel and I think it's more affordable).

Temperature:
Punta Cana is very, very hot in August. Even at night, we were sweating at dinner. Regardless of the temperature, men have to wear pants at night. My husband wore pants to dinner and changed right after. That's fine and it kept him cooler.

All in all, it was a great place to vacation. I just would advise travelers from the U.S. to be courteous of the cultural differences and be open-minded. If you can do that, I think you'll really enjoy the trip.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
17 Thank ljkogelnik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 22, 2005

My husband and I traveled to Punta Cana with a group of family and friends for our wedding. My husband and I stayed at the Palace and our guests stayed next door at the Bambu. The wedding coordinator, Magnolia is the greatest! She made the wedding so seamless and perfect. I didn't have to do anything! We had an amazing time! I cannot put into words how beautiful the beach is. I noticed there were quite a few people who complained about the heat at this time of year but we found it wasn't so bad. Just as hot as Toronto at this time of year! The staff at both hotels are amazing! They bent over backwards to ensure we had an enjoyable stay. Everyone was very friendly and curteous. The food was great as well. The entertainment staff worked really hard and they worked all day and night! I recommend going on some day trips, they are well worth it! We went snorkling one day and spent another day at Saona Island - which is the most beautiful place I have ever seen! We had a great time and I recommend the RIU Palace Macao and the RIU Bambu. I was really nervous before I left because I read some bad reviews on this site. Please don't pay any attention to the negative reviews. Remember that DR is a very poor Island. The people are the most friendly people you will ever meet and the beaches are spectacular. Have a great time!

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
22 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed August 21, 2005

We went to the Palace for our honeymoon and it started off fine with an automatic upgrade to a larger suite which included a "dining room" and living room area. The front end staff were very accomodating and there weren't any communication problems.

Rooms
Fantastic. Cleaning staff did a great job. Very nice and courteous. All you can stomach liquor dispenser and minibar in the room. The patio was very large and great for getting in some pre-breakfast sun. Air conditioning was powerful. You'll need an adapter for the electrical outlet. 2 geckos and a tiny frog found its way into our room but we let them stay to eat any bugs that might get in.

Beaches
Gorgeous. I'd say about 20 percent of the women on the beach were topless. It's only shocking for the first 30 minutes. Get over it. Most of the non-motorized water sports are included. We didn't hang out at the pool because it was sweltering. There isn't on-beach service but the bar was a quick walk away. The Riu Palace had the nicest beachfront by far in the whole Riu complex. It was less crowded had a larger beachfront than the rest.

Food
The food was good. It wasn't gourmet but there was enough of a selection at El Patio to find something you like everyday. The buffet's are geared towards europeans buts that's not a bad thing. The best locale is the Caribe Grill for its scenery. I think the soft serve ice cream at the bar by the pool got me sick for a few day though.

Shopping
The hawkers down the beach were a bit pushy and sketchy for my taste. We took a cab ride down to the Bavara Shopping Plaza and bought gifts and trinkets there. I think the prices are comparable. Just be ready to haggle.

Night life
We weren't into the shows so we just had late dinners every night, had night caps, then went to sleep.

The negative
Both my wife and I stayed in on the saturday night because of the "ice cream". At approximately 11pm, we heard noises on our patio (we were on ground floor). We looked outside and we saw what looked like 2 employees trying to get into our room. We immediately called the front desk. They said that they would look into it immediately. We didn't actually hear from them until the next afternoon when they came by to check the patio locks in our room. The manager said that they searched the grounds and apprehended a sketchy German on the grounds even though we told the front desk the people on the deck were Dominican in all-black clothing (like hotel staff). The manager said that security were posted throughout our wing of the building now. We did seem to notice more management personnel on the premises after the incident.

Other downside, though no fault of the hotel, is the travel time to get from Western Canada to Dominican Republic. Total time, including waiting at airports, from Vancouver to Punta Cana was close to 17 hours. Miami airport is not close to hell but you can see it from there. Nothing but problems in that dive. Airplane had problems there and back. There was a 3 hour delay on the way back because the customs system went kaput. We had to stay a night there because the delay caused us to miss our flight.

Summary
Aside from the incident, our stay was really good. If I was to come back, I would stay at Riu Palace again for the service and beauty of the beaches. I would recommend this hotel to everyone. However, there's other places to visit. Maybe for our 10th anniversary or something. Finally, invest in an English-Spanish dictionary. I really think we were treated better because we tried to speak their language. You gotta remember we're guests in THEIR country.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank D_Wrecked
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 9, 2005

My wife, myself and children ages 18 to 24 were at this resort from 8/3 thru 8/8/05. This hotel is by far the nicest place we've been ever!. From Mexico, Hawaii, and thru-out the caribbean there was none nicer. I've read some reviews that talked about the gallon jugs of water and I say who cares! we emptied a couple of the club soda bottles and refilled them with water. The food was great and plenty of it with great variety, obviously the folks who said it was all fried didn't look around, from boiled lobster to baked turkey and everything in between it was there. If you stay at the palace you have access to all the Riu resorts around you, and each is about a 2 minute walk, with different restaurants and different food. Also if you want a relaxing pool with no bar just jump in the one at the Palace, if you want a pool with more activity take that 2 minute walk to Bamboo or Tainu no big deal in our opinion. The beaches were breath taking white sand, blue water sure there were topless bathers but again its a place were thats acceptable so go there with an open mind. As far as beach service there was none, but if you needed a drink that bad the beach bar was only a few minute walk from just about anywhere you plopped your lounge chair on the beach. There were plenty of things to do at night, casino was fine and there was a show nightly at 10pm which was very entertaining and I've been to many resort shows and cruise shows and these folks did everything they could to please you and make it entertaining. Were from the Uninted States and at times language was an issue but every place that mattered like the casino, the entertainment leaders and front desk all sopke very good english. Every place we shopped that we used dollars we goy U.S dollars in change. That wasn't the case last year when we were in Mexico!. I highly recomend this resort, like I said we have been many places and had nice times but would not return there, this resort however is one place we plan on returning to as soon as we can !!!!.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
25 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 1, 2005

my wife and i stayed at the riu palace macao from july 22-29. it was a last minute honeymoon trip since our plans to riviera maya were cancelled due to hurricane emily. needless to say our trip to punta cana was enjoyable and relaxing. the beaches, the palm trees and ocean water were picturesque.

the service
the service at the palace was very good. every worker was pleasant and hardworking. if there was a problem, it was taken care of immediately. on our second night, our tv was broken; it was fixed within 10 minutes. bartenders, servers, and the front desk people were kind and could speak some english.

the room
we did expect an upgraded room since it was our honeymoon but we did not get one (and neither did another couple who was on our plane). hence, there is no need to bring your marriage license. the rooms were cleaned and the snack bar was restocked daily. we received an ample amount of towels. there were no actual bottles of water given (just a gallon jug)-we brought our own. there also seemed to be water pressure problems at times in the hotel-take your showers before dinner. our bed was turned down nightly and our room was decorated with flowers daily. **note-bring plug adaptors;my wife could not plug in her curling iron in our room.

the food
this was probably one of the few disappointing things about our trip. meals seemed to be the same at all of the restaurants-daily. breakfast at the buffet was adquate-we recommed the the pancakes. lunch was repetitive- greasy buffet foods. good thing we packed munchies. dinner was the same nightly at all dining areas with the exception of tuesday's mexican night at the buffet;it was very good. if you're into a picture perfect view, eat at the caribe grill (early seating) and get there early to sit at the ocean front. the food was average but the scenery was breathtaking.

pools & beach
the pool was small at the palace with no swim-up bar. if you are into swim-up bars you can take a short walk to the bambu or naiboa. the beach was beautiful and clean-much nicer than the iberostar. also, the water was clear for the most part. we were surprised at the numerous amounts of topless women. be aware fo this if you want to take young children. bring plenty of lotions, sunscreens, and aloes! drink plenty of liquids-the sun is intense.

entertainment/nightlife/tours
not much of a nightlife here. we didn't go to the disco. there is a very small casino-not much for this either. we went on the outback safari tour. this was the definite highlight fo the trip. we traveled through the hills of the dominican, learned about the culture and visited several scenic areas-great for pictures. our tour guide, elvis, was a very intelligent native who spoke four languages fluently. he made the experience entertaining and enjoyable. the lunch provided on the tour may have been the best meal we had during our trip. we also went on the marinariam snorkeling adventure. my wife wasn't that impressed and i totally disliked it. way too much swimming!

overall
punta cana is gorgeous. the riu palace is a tremendous place to stay. we probably won't return in the future-maybe for an anniversary or something. we encourage those looking for a relaxing vacation to go to punta cana.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
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

Property: 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
Amenities:
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
#40 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#40 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#40 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
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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