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“Amazing :)”

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Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro
Ranked #53 of 111 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Amazing :)”
Reviewed September 12, 2012

One thing about this hotel is AMAZING! We stayed at Riu palace Punta Cana last year & we stayed at the new one this year :) it's very modern , the restaurants was different from last year " it was so much better" we took a talk to riu palace Punta Cana we was disgusted the pool was horrible it wasn't like that last year , we saw animation team and they remember us :) I miss our animation team from riu palace bavaro such amazing people ... I would go back but not for couple years think we seen riu enough! It's time for change now , the rooms are very modern & we got free VIP bands so that was good! Weather was great x

  • Stayed August 2012
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Helpful?
5 Thank Moanerminnie10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
41 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed September 10, 2012

We stayed Aug. 31st thru Sept. 7th. This is my 4th stay at RIU in the DR but first time at the Palace Bavaro. Amazing value for the money - the best in this price range. Most everything was great.

Front Desk - Check in was easy. Our room was not quite ready so we had lunch first and then off to our rooms. We did request a room change to a higher floor as we could hear people moving around above us. The front desk was happy to help. Richard and Luis were especially helpful.

Grounds - they work tirelessly day and night and it shows. I got 2 mosquito bites in 7 days. (I got more bites on my neighbors deck 2 weeks ago in 2 hours). Not a problem. I brought OFF and cortisone never used it.

Rooms - Spacious and open. Great view of the ocean/pool from our standard room. I suggest requesting a top floor to cut down on noise. I recommend rooms 3048 thru 3059 (or if not available try 2048 thru 2059) The view is excellent. As others have said, you need to leave a key in the slot near the door to keep the lights on. We brought an old key from another hotel and left it there and it worked fine. This is why your mini-fridge doesn't stay cold, unless you keep the key in. It also allows you to leave the lights on when you are not there. The rooms are very open. The only privacy is in the "water closet" and even then, you can hear every noise if you know what I mean. If you are shy about bathroom noises or need a lot of privacy for changing clothes, then I'd recommend the RIU Palace Punta Cana. Same great food, service, etc, but a little more bathroom privacy. However, the RIU Palace Bavaro is newer and nicer. Also, no bugs anywhere. Not a single one.

The Beds - they are very firm. You can ask them to "pad" them but they just use thin blankets that didn't really help much. If you don't like firm beds, this may be an issue. This is one reason I didn't give it 5 stars.

Housekeeping - the BEST ! Our room was cleaned everyday by 3 pm while we were at the beach. Plenty of towels in all sizes. We asked for extra pillows, towels, water and got it all promptly. In response to those who previously complain that the maids don't speak English, get over it. Most maids in the US don't speak English either and they live here. It helps if you bring a little pocket translator and leave the maid a short note with your request (and $1 or 2). However, they understand basics.

Food - All of the restaurants have healthy choices and most have at least one or 2 vegetarian selections. We enjoyed the Monte Cristo Buffet everyday for breakfast. Great food, lots to choose from. If you want fresh eggs instead of what they serve under the heat lamps, the chef at the omlet bar will fry or scramble them to order. We ate at the Grill/Steakhouse for lunch right next to the pool. Always lots of choices and great salad bar. We ate at the sit-down restaurant most nights. You do have to make reservations in the morning (the desk is at the Italian restaurant) between 8 and 10 but you can make them 2 nights at a time so you don't have go each morning. Some restaurants require long pants for guys but those restaurants are airconditioned. The food was great in all locations and we are "foodies". The steak at the steakhouse was tender and delicious and better than the lobster. We ate at Krystals twice because we liked the fine dining service from Gregory and Rosalba. The Monte Cristo Buffet had great dinners as well. Lots of great appetizers including shrimp cocktail, sushi, etc. They will even cut sashimi on request. Excellend carving stations and over all good choices with something different each night.

Beverages - There is a liquor dispenser in your room with Johnnie Walker Red Scotch, Smirnoff Vodka, Beefeaters Gin and Barcelo Run - all inclusive - and the mini bar has beer, water and mixers. All of the bars offer premium brand spirits but you have to ask for them. Once the bartender knows what you like, they usually remember (especially if you drop $1 or 2). The beer is all El Presidente or Brahma. Not great, but I didn't go there expecting Bud Light. They will make your drinks as strong or as weak as you like. They do have pool side waiters but not at the beach. We brought insolated tumblers as other recommended and it was perfect. We filled one with water and one with drinks. The bar staff was happy to fill them up anytime. They also have a different drink station set up at the beach or pool almost everyday with pina colada's, sangria, mai-tai's or others. You just help yourself. They make drinking way too easy !!! Shout out to Jose Edwin, Modesto, Sebastian at the pool bar. Also, Salome in the Sports Bar was just wonderful and she helped me with my Spanish. Muchas Gracias Amigos.

Wine - the champagne is actually quite nice, by itself or in mimosa. We drank it day and night. However, the wine is TERRIBLE !! Even when you ask for the upgraded wine (Don Rodrigo), it's aweful. BIG TIP - pack a couple of bottles from home in bubble wrap into your checked luggage. They are HAPPY to open it and serve you table side and doa very professional job (leave a nice tip). We did this and were glad we did. Just wish we would have brought a whole case :) Also, I have been to many resorts that offer a wine list for an additional charge. Let me tell you, they charge a riduclous price for cheap wine and you wouldn't buy it anyway. Best to BYOW. (this is the other reason I can't give 5 stars but we are avid wine drinkers) .

Tipping - we tipped here and there to those who took good care of us but we didn't see a lot of others tipping. We received excellent service whether we tipped or not. A couple of bucks goes a long way and makes a big different to those trying to serve you. Usually we tipped $2 for breakfast and lunch and $3-5 for dinner, plus $1 to bartenders every 3 or 4 drinks. They definately appreciated it and remembered your drink preferences.

Airconditioning - The lobby, lobby bar, coffee bar and sports bar are WELL airconditioned. The room air was excellent, best I've ever experienced in Carribean. All the restaurants are airconditioned execpt the steakhouse. This is a big plus. Most other hotels in the DR have open air lobbies and open air restaurants and poor air in the rooms. If you like airconditioning, you will love it here. Also, for those who mention the damp smell, this is the tropics, it happens in all humid regions. We noticed it a little in the lobby the first day and then not again. Our room smelled fresh as a daisy everyday.

Beach - the BEST in the Carribean and I've been to most of them. Powder white, soft sand that doesn't burn your feet. Sandy bottom ocean that doesn't hurt your feet. For those that complained about the seaweed, there was a tiny bit floating around each day so if you absolutely cannot stand being touched by a small spec, stay in the pool. However, if you like crystal blue ocean water so clear that you can see your toenail polish, this beach is for you. In all fairness, on 2 days only we did have a little extra seaweed as there was a tropical distrubance somewhere out in the Atlantic and it washed in, but it came in patches and you could walk down 100 yards to avoid it. The hotel worked tirelessly to rake it up. Also, plenty of chairs, plenty of sun and shade. You don't have to get up early to reserve.

Pool - same as the beach, lots of chairs in sun and shade, no need to reserve. Very clean. Pool bar is big fun.

Animation Team - They worked hard (maybe too hard) and conducted lots of acitivities but they were in their own world. They were "on" when they had to be but not very personal or friendly. Just didn't really connect with us or others that we met. Maybe a few less activities would give them time for more interaction. Maria and Rocky were nice. The others, not so much. Sorry guys.

Safety/Theft - We never once had a problem of safety or theft and didn't meet anyone else that did either. We felt perfectly at ease. Having said that, we were careful that we locked our safe each day and didn't leave our iPad in our luggage when it wasn't with us. That is just common sense and would apply to travelling anywhere. We also left the do-not-disturb sign on our door at night and passed on the turn down service, just to be safe. I can turn my own bed down.

Language - this is a Spanish speaking country and RIU is an International hotel. Americans are the minority, however, most everyone speaks enough English to get by. If you offended by people speaking their native language in their own country them please stay home (PS: don't go to Miami or LA anytime soon either). Otherwise, open your minds and enjoy the ride. A few Spanish words go a long way. It's fun and easy. If you need help, most of the guys at the front desk speak very good English. Just speak slowly, simply and BE NICE. Also, I didn't not feel that the non-English speaking guests received better service. In fact, we got the best service of anyone !!

Sensi-Mar - this is a German travel company that has it's own little area for it's guests. It's the same as the VIP area and these folks pay extra to be there. They also have one seperate restaurant but it is the same food as Krystals and it is not open every night. We met quite a few of them at the pool bar and ended up spending the second half of the week partying with them. They were a ton of fun and most spoke very good English. One of the best parts of our trip was meeting so many people from other countires (Turkey, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain)

Shows - they gave you something nice to do in the evening. Some were better than others but all were fun. The Violinist was excellent but one night would have been enough for me. The service at the theater is great.

Apple - We ALWAYS use Apple and this time was excellent as usual. From our flight attendents to the ground service, all were wonderful. Our Apple guy at the hotel, Danny, was really good. He helped us arrange a room change and spoke excellent English. Frontier Airlines had awesome flight attendents too, especially Joseph.

Photo Shoot - definately do this. Ask for Malvin. He was amazing. You can choose your pictures but he was so good we bought them all !!

Misc - don't walk by Ocean Blue. It is just on the other side of the flea market. You will be hounded by time-share guys. Also, don't bother with the flea market - they hound you there too and things are just as cheap and better quality on Carribean Street at RIU.

To summarize, I definately recommend this hotel for the service, location (best in DR), beach, facilities, food, etc. I have always enjoyed RIU's and that's why I keep coming back. Everytime I stay somewhere else I compare it to RIU and RIU always wins. Go ahead, have some fun. You'll be happy you did.

Thanks to all of the Trip Advisor contributors that gave us good tips. They made a difference. I hope these are helpful too.

Room Tip: Ask for 3049 thru 3060. Great view. Also, be sure and get a top floor. It cuts down on the overhe...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
28 Thank Karen W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed September 8, 2012 via mobile

I was due to stay at the riu bambu for the last two weeks of august but upon arrival I was told that there was no room for us there and was given a free upgrade to the riu place Bavaro!

Upon arrival it was quick to check in and bags were brought to our room!! The room was lovely and well kept! The cleaners do a brilliant job and I loved the surprises that they left such as the swans, flower petals and heart shaped towels! The do not disturb sign works a treat however one time our fridge was not refilled due to this being on the door - not their fault!!

Reception staff was lovely and helpful! Straight on the case to anything when needed such as both our key cards being deactivated which they fixed straight away, an idiot friend locking the safe but not closing the door which someone fixed within no time and house keeping straight to the room when we reported a cockroache in our room - this was due to us leaving a yogurt pot out but a maid got rid of it and sprayed the room and left us with a can of spray - we did not spot any more throughout the duration of our stay!

Staff were friendly especially Nelson in the bar during night time entertainment - very good with English and always willing to chat - well worth the tip we made to him a credit to your team also the entertainers work long hours and very hard and do such a good job! We especially like rocky balboa, tequila and scooby doo :) the staff that work in the pool bar are very friendly helpful and funny! Their dancing is alway good to watch!! Quick on the mark with drinks too and always helpful to let you try new drinks! Waiters in the main buffet restaurant were polite friendly and always welcoming, very quick to top you up on drinks before you had ran out - however due to our holiday advisor we did not know that males needed to be in jeans or trousers to enter the other restaurants so we was unable to book for this however we enjoyed the food in the restaurant we did eat from and always found something to eat and like!

In general this hotel is full of Spanish speakers or Americans - I actually don't think we met anyone from England during our two week stay so we found it hard to fit in although staff made us feel welcomed!!

The beach is nice - a view to die for and the best I've ever seen! The pool is lovely well kept n always clean and the waiters were good at bringing you drinks however we felt sometimes we were avoided by certain people due to us not speaking Spanish!!

The wifi was good to use in order to contact family back home :) and in times of need to get shade from the sun the reception was always nice n cool! The air con was a treat in the room however could get too chilly so needed shutting off!!

The evening entertainment was good and I really enjoyed the michael Jackson show and the nights the entertainers involved the crowds - the live band was good and their stand by me version always went down a treat :)

We went on excursions but booked through our other hotel but would recommend if available to you dolphin explorer and samana by air - well worth the money and a good day out!

Reception were lovely to give courtesy calls to check everything was ok in the room which was much appreciated - service like that you need to know your in a good hotel!

Cleanliness of the hotel as a whole was exceptional - nothing at all I could moan about!! Witnessed a few weddings which looked beautiful - congratulations to anyone who got married there during my stay it looked perfect and will consider it if I ever get married!

Overall I loved my stay but im very gutted to be back home in England although I'm already looking up holidays to return here next year and I only returned 3 days ago!

I would also like to say anyone that gets approached by a photographer - take it - it's for free and you do not pay anything unless you buy the pictures that are very cheap and well worth the dollars! We had photos taken as they were great! If you do not get approached you can find them in the red photograph shop in the Caribbean street - check them out for great ways to remember your time there! Also buy a coconut and get rum in it from the bar - best thing ever!! And they are freshly picked!

As a tourist I did not know what currency to take but I would say that dollars is what is best as Dominican Pasos don't seem as common and a regular tip if you would like to give any is around 5 dollars just incase people wanted to know!

Absolute paradise here and I would recommend to anyone - ive gone home very relaxed from a break well needed with great memories and a lovely tan! Thanks to all staff at the riu palace Bavaro that made my stay so great :) I WILL be returning !

:)

  • Stayed August 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Dom123rep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sudbury, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed September 7, 2012

Stayed here with my Fiancee in May and we loved it ! I would suggest spending the extra to get in the VIP area..definitely worth it... It was nice having the vip pool and bar since the main pool was so busy all the time.. awesome view of the ocean from the room.. The jacuzzie rooms arent worth it though because there is no privacy since they are on the ground floor... staff really friendly.. nice relaxing vacation !!

Room Tip: Vip area Higher floor
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Jasmine H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed September 6, 2012

You're seriously thinking about going to the Bavaro or you wouldn't be here. The excellent reviews substantiate your desire to go, but the negative ones give you pause and make you think you should check elsewhere. That described us anyway. Finally we decided to take the chance. Most of the negative reviews seemed kind of petty anyway, and while we wanted the best experience for the money, how would we know unless we tried?
This was our first all inclusive and while we had minor issues, none made a dent in the vacation or made me think I had made a mistake. We were there from August 25th to September 1st. I can't adequately describe my tastes or threshold of what's acceptable and mine will be different from everyone else's anyway so it's irrelevant. I have traveled both luxury and primitive. My expectations come down to one question in the end. "Was the experience worth the price?" The RIU Palace Bavaro answered with Yes. Here are some other answers maybe to questions you have or have not considered.
1. Will the food be good? We went to the buffet breakfast, lunch, and several dinners. There is plenty of eye pleasing choices. Some we liked, some we didn't, but we got to try all sorts of different foods and never went away hungry or feeling we wasted the effort. we went to 3 of the a la carts bypassing the Italian for no real reason and enjoyed every one of them without complaint.
2. Will the service be good? Without a doubt YES. Everyone is pleasant and helpful. The gardener for instance, may not say good morning, but it may be because his English would not allow anything further and he does not want to embarrass himself or you. But he will return your smile and nod. What I learned was anything you want, you have only to ask. Want a better quality wine? ask. softer pillows? ask. They can't read your mind. Not everything offered is the best available.
3. Is the water safe to drink? Mixed answer; In all areas where food and drinks are served absolutely. All the water used for ice and food preparation is treated and good. In the rooms the water is potable but not filtered and treated. I wouldn't risk it save brushing your teeth and showering. Drink the bottled water and save yourself the possible trouble.
4. Will I be able to communicate? Most of the staff speaks English at least well enough to perform their duties. The bartender understands the drink order but may not understand the joke you told while he made it. During our stay, I met guests from at least 10 different countries speaking 7 different languages. My biggest pet peeve from these reviews is someone saying "hardly anyone spoke English." I guarantee the RIU staff knows more of my English than I do of their Spanish. I started taking Spanish lessons a few days ago. Next time, Henry and Kennedy will be laughing their [--] off! Seriously, if you can speak some of the language I think the experience would be so much better. Many gave me points for making an effort and helped me with my pronunciation.
5. Will the resort be hard to navigate? No. Most common areas are in central locations and events and times are posted. I do suggest going through a travel service like Fun Jet or Apple. We used Fun Jet and had an Island Sun representative meet with us the first day. He explained how things work, where everything was, set up excursions, answered questions and confirmed travel times for the trip home. Props to Juan Jose or (JJ). He was a pleasure to visit with, and we appreciate the job he did.
6. Tipping? I say yes. It is definitely appreciated. But on those occasions when I didn't tip, I never got the impression it was expected. It's a way of saying thank you and acknowledging their effort. If you don't want to, don't.
7. Should we upgrade to the VIP? Yes, if you want to get away from the crowds to a more temperate atmosphere it is worth it. We got to know some really neat people and had a great time at the pool without having to fight for space or drinks. Our room had a great view of the beach and pool (room 5222, 3rd floor). We never had to hunt for chairs or lounge beds. There was probably other perks, but these were most important to me.
8. 110v power? Yes
9. Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi. Believe it or not, this may be the ONLY reason we don't return. But it wasn't an issue since we purchased Diet Coke during our first excursion to last the week. Really folks. Cuba Libre’ is Rum and Coke.
We would definitely go again in the future and without a doubt will experience more All Inclusive resorts RIU, and others.
Get off the fence and go! Work will still be there when you get back.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Michael W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
20 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed September 6, 2012

Tripadvisor readers (love this website - it works!),

We recently stayed at the Riu Palace Bavaro at the end of August 2012 - Sept 1st 2012. The location is about a half hour or so ride from the airport. The airport itself is small making customs etc. and not very painful. We were on the ground and at our hotel within an hour and poolside sipping our first cocktail.

I would love to give the hotel a 5 star rating but it fell just short in a few areas. If you are looking for a true 5 star, you will pay more and and you will be at the new Hard Rock (will be like being home - food etc.). If you are looking for an awesome facility with tons to offer thats a 4 - 4 1/2 star and a nice value than this may be the location for you.

Let's hit the positives...

THE GROUNDS:
It's a new property, (opened fall of last year), so no wear and tear. The grounds are very well kept and the staff is friendly and accommodating. We opted to pay a little more and stay in the villas (VIP area), with a jacuzzi on the balcony (all 1st floor unless you upgrade to an oceanview suite). Right out our sliding glass door was the VIP pool and swim up bar. The beach was immediately behind that. A minute walk and you are in the ocean. Very convenient if you will be heavily using the pool and beach areas. There are also 4 sister hotels (Riu's) for which you have full access. We did visit the other locations and it reassured us that we made the right choice. With VIP, nobody but other VIP's from The Riu Palace Bavaro are allowed at that pool (has beds, it's own pool bar etc.). This kept this location a little more low key (relaxing). If you want to ramp it up, it's a short walk to the main pool where there are more people and activities (dance lessons, water areobics, archery, bingo, etc.). The beach was nice (only one day had a "sea weed problem", but the do clean it every day and it was not really an issue for us).

THE ROOM:
The room itself was very modern and clean. Tile floors (which we prefer because I know they are cleaner than carpet). There was also a jacuzzi in the middle of the room and double sinks which was a plus. The shower had a standard and waterfall option and the toilet was in it's own enclosed room. We did take a hint and brought another key with a magnetic strip and put it in the slot by the door to keep the lights on etc. (when we were not in the room). The safe worked great and we had no issues. At the end of the trip I left out stuff that I was nervous about in the beginning because of other reviews and had no problems. The fridge worked good and we kept the cabinet door propped a bit which helped keep things cooler. The fridge is stocked every two days (beer, water and pop). There is also four bottles of liquor on the wall (vodka, gin, whiskey and rum). All name brand. Room cleaning was consistent and using the red and green door tags helps them know when you want things cleaned etc.

FOOD / BEVERAGES:
There were plenty of food options escpecially at the buffet (Monticristo). Ton's of fruit, deserts and entree options. Made to order smoothies in the a.m., omlettes made your way, etc. There are several speciality restaurants as well. The one nice thing is that for the most part all locations (pool etc.) had canned beer (Brahma). It wasn't bad either! In the entertainment venue and the lobby bar, there was an ample list of speciality cocktails as well.

STAFF:
Again we saw lots of smiles, "Hola's" and they are hard workers. Especially the grounds crews (much of the work done by hand). We did bring $50 in singles for tipping (alough it is not required and very few people seemed to). If someone gave exceptional service we tipped. And what we got in return was well worth it. It feels good to put a smile on someones face. They do not make a lot of money working there and they work a ton of hours. Any gesture was genuinely appreciated. The pool / entertainment staff was engaging and the lead "boss" spoke four languages with no problem. We received great service from the bar tenders (Kennedy, Raphael, Henry and Mateo!). We also loved our towel guy (Raymando). He took great care of us. A few dollars will make great service turn exceptional (at least it did for us).

CONSIDERATIONS:
There were only a couple drawbacks and nothing real big. The food selections got boring to us after a while and the way the food was prepared (or the quality), is not what we are used to at home. But remember you are in the Dominican Republic and not at home. Things are prepared differently and it is not grade A prime steaks etc. At breakfast for example there was not maple syrup (common back home), but they had almost a dozen other options with honey, etc.

The speciality restaurants we tried were pretty good. The Japaneese was better than the steakhouse for us. We did not like the italian or gourmet selections at the othe locations and did the Monticristo buffet those nights and that was good as well (not great).

Another item is the liquor quality at the bars is not the same as in the rooms. We like vodka and the Smirnoff in the room was great, but the brand at the pools wasn't quite as consistent (off brand). If you are doing mixed drinks we would recommend bringing your own insulated glass as it is hot out! The washed them out and refilled them without question (they are bigger too when you bring your own).

A few people said the beds are hard and the pillows not so great. If you have a memory bed or down topper and pillow, this is not what you will be laying on there. We slept fine, but it is firm for sure.

Lastly the villas are perfect for us becuase we used the beach a ton as well as the pools and other bars. We were close to those and the walk on the beach to the other Riu resorts. Some people however (not us) mentioned about how far it is to the main building. If it rained it would be an inconvenience, but there was a full size umbrella in the room for our use. Maybe a 3-5 minute walk, no biggie. Some people might prefer to be clser to the restaurants and main building though. For us, our location was perfect.

SUMMARY:
Overall a great location and experience. The Punta Cana area outside the resort is what we would consider to be poor (at least where we drove through). We did do a fantastic excursion outside the property and had no issues (Xtreme Buggies). Despite the poverty level of many of the people that we saw, they seemed friendly and kids would wave etc. People seem way happier there than back home. Maybe the simplier lifestyle and living in paradise helps!

There was plenty to do between the Riu Palace Bavaro and the other Riu resorts to keep you from getting bored. There is a nice strip of stores between the Riu Palace Bavaro and the adjacent Riu. We felt safe the whole time and didn't see any guns except for a couple patrolling officers (which I thought was good). The area vendors do not come on the property but do ocassionaly stroll down the beach. A "no gracias" or avoiding eye contact is all that is needed if you are not interested. At the far end of the beach we saw a bunch of tents and walked down the one day to check it out. It is a ton of higher pressure vendors. In reality the deals even after haggling, were not any cheaper than the stores on the strip by the hotel. It's an experience if you like that kind of stuff. American dollars were not a problem and we did not exchange any money. Just be sure to carry bills (for tipping and shopping). And ask for American change too. On the beach there was also (for a charge) parasailing, tubing, small boat excursions (for snorkeling) etc. We even saw a flying boat! Oh, for those that might not want to be surprised, there were a very small number of topless women within the beach area as well.

Great resort, plesant staff, nice location. We will definitely return and our big regret is that we didn't stay longer!!!

Buffalo N.Y.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank Matt K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed August 30, 2012

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.

Have fun!

Room Tip: Don't upgrade.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank kevin f
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 Bavaro

Property: Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro
Address: Playa de Arena Gorda | Higüey - Punta Cana, Punta Cana 74100, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #53 of 111 Hotels in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro 4*
Number of rooms: 610
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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