We booked the Riu Palace Bavaro based upon the many positive reviews we saw on this site. However, it was not exactly what expected from a 4-star resort.
To begin, the food. If your idea of a good meal is a hamburger from McDonalds and good wine comes in a box for you, you will have no complaints about the food here. But, if you are looking for something more akin to a restaurant, and wine that costs more than $10 per bottle, you may want to bring your own food and wine. The food in the main buffet restaurant is obviously not great since it is mass produced. But the variety is awful--it is clearly focused on American ideas of good food (pasta, burgers, fried food) instead of good local food, which is sorely lacking. Fruit consists of pineapple and watermelon. There are many more tropical fruits that are oddly missing. If you book a restaurant requiring a reservation on the resort, you may have high expectations for better food. But it seems the food is identical to what was on the buffet--it just is brought to you by a waiter. And worse still is the wine. They have one kind, a 2003 Italian variety that tastes like dirt. But even in the restaurants, they serve the same wine! In any event, the food is undesirable. And whatever you do, do not eat at the steakhouse. The steak cannot be cut with a chainsaw and the lobster is a mushy concoction of something, but it tastes nothing like lobster.
The resort itself is nice. The ocean is lovely and the pool, while not large, is pleasant. Drinks at the bar are basic, but if quality is unimportant, they certainly have lots to offer.
Upgrades/ VIP - not at all worth it. We paid an extra $500 to be upgraded to VIP. VIP means you are further away from everything and you have a pool that is only accessible by VIP people. Well, no one uses it because it is so far away from everything else. The room is identical to non-VIP rooms and there are no additional services other than internet, which only works in the room itself.
Service - generally good. However, one night they asked us to do an evaluation of the resort and as I was writing comments about the food being awful, the manager looked over my shoulder and began interrogating me about my comments and asking me to write a new one and throw out the old one. Clearly they are not open to criticism.
Finally, don't get the transport service through the hotel. Get a taxi at the airport. The cost is about $25 each way and it is much, much faster than the bus. Also, the bus service company will try to sell you extra tours that you don't need--they are very aggressive. Book tours through the hotel (by the pool) as they are much more respectable and safe.
If you go, go for the water, not for the food or service. I will not return here. This is the end of all-inclusives in my mind.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana * Inside the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Macao, Riu Naiboa hotels and the ClubHotel Riu Bambu * The Splash Water World will be opened from 1st November 2016 * 4-story building * Surrounded by 63,000 m2 / 75,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 50 km / 31 miles from Higuey * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Intl. Airport ... more less
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