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“Average, at best”

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Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro
Ranked #56 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 5, 2013

This is our 7th trip to Punta Cana. We were there from Feb. 24-March 3. I would like to start off by stating that this staff was one of the most attentive of all the resorts we have visited in the past. Everyone did what ever they could do to possibly make your stay wonderful The staff was constantly cleaning, picking up, sweeping, trimming, serving, etc. If you needed anything, someone would always step up and assist...even if it wasn't their "job". I know that you don't go to a resort for the food, but for many other things...sun, sand, and surf! This property has 4 speciality(no smoking) restaurants that you need to make reservations for ahead of time...no problem with getting in whenever we wished. Japanese (not that show off type, but menu), Italian, French, and Steak house all had impeciable service and presentation. I wish with all the effort that went into the experience the meals would have been more than average...but they weren't. Everything presented was beautiful...but so-so. The buffet (indoor/outdoor, smoking/nonsmoking sections) also has some special nights and all are quite festive. The grounds were always being attended to as well as the pool areas. I had read comments where people complained about the ever present towel/chair problem...never saw it, but we were at the "VIP pool" area and there was always room. The crew cleaning up the sand area was out bright and early...I think that there is now a contracted crew that polices up the whole beach in front of all the resorts. This is such a great beach to walk for hours...and we did...the waves were a bit rough, but I think that was a leftover from a storm up the eastern US coast...all the seaweedy stuff that washed up on the beach was cleaned up in the morning. Who wouldn't enjoy spending lots of time there! We were in room 5002-ground floor and facing a pool reserved for German visitors (Sensimar section). It was very quiet and didn't hear a thing at all except for the last night. Room was comfortable and functional....especially for cleaning-the bed was on rollers and the housekeeping staff could push it out of the way to sweep...and they did! 4 large drawers and big closet, couch, work table, plenty of lights and a WONDERFUL SHOWER that a small family could all fit into. As with all resorts, the staff makes those towel animals, very cute. It was always nice to come in at night and everything was turned down and towels were replaced (although probably not the best environmentally sound practice). And now for the bed! The first night we fell into bed, totally exhausted, and probably didn't move an inch....that was the only night we slept....YIKES! The bed was just terrible....and almost everyone we spoke to brought up the bed situation, so it just wasn't us. The beverages were replenished every other day, but if you needed something, there was always someone nearby to bring it to you.....went through a lot of water, and they made sure everyone had at least 3 big bottles...you can't drink the tap water. I'm a Diet Coke drinker in a resort that serves Pepsi products but was able to purchase some in the store on the main building. Because we had been in the DR 6 other times, there wasn't an adventure that we planned on going on....although, I was ready to do Zip-Lining again...Our Apple rep (Alecia) suggested a trip into a little town about 20 minutes away. It was DR Independence Day and all the school children came out for a big parade...what fun! The country's pride certainly was showing that day...red/white/blue banners and flags all over. Our venture were to cigar and chocolate factories. Very interesting to see how the men individually cut, rolled and shaped the tobacco and all the yummy flavors of chocolate. I would highly recommend this FREE trip...such a deal...we were gone just a couple of hours and back in time for lunch and more beautiful Dominican weather. The grounds of the resort were beautiful and well attended...although never saw flowering plants (except for those on pillows and sinks in rooms) The resort was easily traversed...not too large and well laid out. There seemed to be more than the normal amount of people in wheelchairs....very accessible in main building, but no elevators in the VIP section. One more comment, and then I'll quit...maybe Americans are used to tipping, but we seldom saw this done. I always like to travel with plenty of singles so that the serving staff, housekeepers, bellmen, and beverage guy know that we appreciate their hard work makes our vacation much more enjoyable. I've seen staff run around for people that will barely acknowledge the effort...what is so hard about leaving a tip for them! The staff makes such a large part of the trip successful. If I was to return to this resort, I would certainly rebook the VIP section.

Room Tip: It was well worth the upgrade to the suites.(VIP section) ...great private pool when you needed the...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank SwanLakeDr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 1, 2013

First the bad reviews are just that BAD, these people must not travel at all! We went from Feb 18th - 27th, with another couple. I'll break it down to each area of the trip. We used Expedia as I usually do, we had no issues. Traveling to Punta Cana wasn't difficult, leaving was a little different. I'll get into that at the end.

ROOM - Whoever said not to upgrade to VIP is wrong, this was the best room ever. We were in room 5513, second floor beach front ocean view. This room was awesome, just like the pictures you see. I didn't hear a thing through the walls, room was kept spotless. As others have said keep door to fridge open and things stay cold. Always stocked with plenty of Pepsi products, water, beer, and other things. Bed was just ok, but as we were tired really didn't notice. Hot tub inside and out of our room worked great. I think the stuff in the shower is shampoo, but bring some they leave you plenty of conditioner but no shampoo!

VIP POOL - I've seen people say this was a boring pool. We go for resting, drinking and having a good time. We don't like all the activities at the pool so it was perfect for us. Also trust me the VIP people do have a good time around the pool. We really didn't go to the other pool, but it looked packed everyday! Watch the grey tiles like everyone else has warned. We saw too many people slip and fall, Riu by now should have fixed this, but apparently they don't read reviews or listen to complaints.

BEACH - We've been to Cancun, Riveria Maya, Tulum, Playa, and Cozumel, this has to be the most beautiful beach we've ever seen! The sand is so powdery and white. The water is turquoise blue like I've never seen. We didn't have any issues getting chairs or being bothered by anyone on the beach selling things. Nice breeze and lots of palm trees if you need shade!

HOTEL - I love hearing people complain about the contempary lobby....why???? Do you sit in there and enjoy the chairs around it?? I think it was wonderful! We didn't care much for the sports bar, food there wasn't very good either. However, they make good drinks. The grounds were impeccable. Very clean and nice. I've heard complaints about VIP being too far from the food...really if you can't walk then I guess it is. They also have umbrellas if it rains, never did rain on us!

FOOD - Well again it's what I expected for an all inclusive. If you honestly can't find something to eat here then just stay home. There are alot of options at the buffet. Breakfast is really hard to beat if you can't eat a pancake, waffle, eggs, fruit or toast! Lunch is good at Montecristo, starts at 1PM but pretty good. Dinner is different here every night. We did try Geisha, it was good. also La Labama Italian, it was good too. Only thing I didn't like is the reservation process as others have stated. Remember they cook for thousands, I think they try as they can. I worry more about the rude people who push in front of you, don't use the tongs or do and place them right on top of the food. Ethics people you are in another country try and act like you have manners no matter what country you are from.

Excursions - We did the catamaran to the island...forgot the name, it was awesome. Did the all day long one, bus there was long, but worth it. We saw alot of things in the DR that you won't see anywhere else. If you go they stop at a little shop for trinkets....just stand in the parking lot across the street and watch the goats...its something to see. I won't go into details but wow. We got to the island and it was beautiful, had a great lunch lounged around then took a speed boat back, while quickly stopping to see starfish and swim a little.

Weather - This is the most intense sun I've ever been in and believe me I can tan. I litterally went through one whole bottle of spray sunscreen, had to get more. I should have packed more, they want over $30 USD for sunscreen. I see people who say you need bug spray and they had misquitos? i never saw one at all, but with beach front wind might have blown them away. 84 degrees everyday we were there, 74 at night.

AIRPORT- Well I was a little surprised no one spoke about this, so for first timers to DR this is for you. Airport is an open air concept so dress cool before you arrive. Pay 10 each to enter, then they stamp your passport you are in. Bus rides was easy. Now leaving we had huge lines at the airlines and through customs. While checking in the Delta agents said you have been chosen for a special search. This scared me, but I followed along. They took us past huge lines waiting to get through security right up to security gaurd. Then they just did the swab of the bag and we were through...lots of people just stared and they didn't look to happy! But it saved us at least a 45 minute wait to get through those lines. Oh and smokers are everywhere in this country!!! Ugh I quit smoking 4 years ago so I might be a little more sensitive to it. But boy they can smoke everywhere with no regard to anyone who doesn't smoke.

Overall this was a great trip! Not sure if I'll go back for a while want to try other places, but most likely one day we'll return the DR and probably choose this hotel!!!

Room Tip: Beach front VIP is worth it, I went ahead and booked ahead of time, but I've seen where others g...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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19  Thank j4schern
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2013

Following several recommendations about Riu Palace Bavaro All-Inclusive Resort in the Dominican Republic, I was looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation. There were many positives about the resort. The staff was very friendly, courteous and attentive. We had a wonderful dining staff person who took care of us at each meal. The room was large, nicely appointed and always clean. The grounds were immaculate and the beach perfect. And the beach was quiet in the mornings so no scrambling for a chair at 8am! The entertainment was decent most nights - but very loud.

With all the beauty and excellent service it was very disappointing to find most of the food overcooked and with little flavor. I must qualify this by saying that I am a "foodie" and spend time in many of the best restaurants in Washington, DC and other cities around the world. That said - the only food that we could find that was tasty was the fruit. Most of the time the bread and cheese were good – however, on a few occasions even the bread was stale and the cheese spoiled. Eggs were cooked in advance and left out to the point that sunny-side up eggs had a hard layer of congealed matter on top. The fish and meats were overcooked – making the fish dry and hard and the meat barely edible. The worst food was found at the lunchtime buffet near the pool. This was the only place to find food between 11am and 1pm. There was no decent food to be found.

So - great place but don't go with any expectations of amazing food.

Room Tip: If you want to fall asleep before 11:30pm make sure that your room does not overlook the stage area...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank DP4275
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2013

We just returned from a week at the Riu Palace Bavaro and loved it! My bf and I were looking for a get away vacation that would be relaxing, yet offer some excitement. We are not honeymooners and didn't want to be secluded or in a remote location. The beach here is amazing! The pool was beautiful and we never had to scramble and get up early to claim a chair like you have to at so many resorts.
The staff was always friendly and went above and beyond to make activities fun (or even fun to watch). This isn't a place if you want solitude or seclusion which is why I think some people gave bad reviews. The drinks were good, not watered down and the bar tenders were always friendly. The rooms were nicely decorated, the bed was really comfy and although we didn't have a view of the ocean, the grounds outside our room left us with a great view. Who doesn't love looking out at palm tree's!
The food was better than I expected considering some people gave bad reviews. There is always a variety of choices and the buffets were always filled with hot and fresh food. We thought the sit down restaurants were as good as most you'd find in any city in the USA. Sometimes the service may have seemed a little slow, but I think its because we are also faster paced and expect to be moved quickly. The wait staff was always working hard and they were always kind and friendly. We had a great time, met some very fun people (watch out for the mamajuana drinks!) who loved the place too, and would go back again!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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6  Thank bct2365
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2013

Riu palace Bavaro is an amazing hotel. The location is great and the resort is beautiful! I felt like I was in paradise. The staff and service was amazing and the rooms are beautiful. My husband and I really had fun. There are so many activities you can do and we enjoyed the shows every night.

Room Tip: Ocean view is gorgeous
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Avner F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

My Husband and I stayed at this resort for our honeymoon. The Bus ride was close from the airport and when we arrived to the hotel the check in was slightly annoying. Usually when checking in you go to the desk and then you are set, the check in was done in a group setting and was strange. We then went up to our room on the second floor which was very nice! The room was large and spacious and had a beautiful view of the palm tree garden and you could see the ocean as well. It wasn't an ocean view but the water was very visible. I will go step by step.

Room- Very modern with a nice balcony, mini bar attached to the wall and the fridge was continuously filled with pop, large bottle of water and beer. The bed was super comfy and the room was the perfect temperature. Shower was very nice and water always warm with good pressure.

Room Negatives- Very open concept! if you are travelling with someone you are not close with this may be uncomfortable. The only door was to the toilet. I literally took a bath while my hubby sat beside me on the bed watching a show before dinner. It was a little awkward. Also you can hear everyone in there rooms ( yes you know what I mean :S) and the room was very loud from the entertainment, however we had the screen door open at night to listen to music

Staff~ Restaurant and bar staff very friendly!!! However some of the cleaning staff look very unhappy and rarely say hello to you. Most of them are very friendly though. I loved the staff at the resturants, they get to know you and always make you welcome when you get there. The staff at the bars and the evening entertainment we're amazing!!! We became good friends through out the week with the staff. The staff at the front desk we're nice, English isn't spoken the greatest but they do try.

Beach- I go on holidays for the beach and I was told Punta Cana is one of the most gorgeous beaches. I liked the beach however I don't know if its the time of year but the water was very choppy and there we're several large white rocks. I only went in about 3 times our whole vacation, that was a disapointment for sure. Also I don't like that hundreds of people walk up and down the beach all day long. It makes me feel like im in Miami and I would prefer to have a quiet beach while vacationing. Other than that when the water is calmed down its beautiful and crystal clear. We are not pool people however around 5pm we would go sit in the sun at the pool and relax with a drink before going up to get ready for dinner.

Restaurants- In all honesty my husband and I only ate at the buffets. We didn't really like the menu selections at the other resturants, The buffet selection has something for everyone and the food is warm and delicious!!! We both loved the food.

Overall- we would come back for sure!! We had a great time! However for a honeymoon we would have gone somewhere a little more private. This place was to busy for a romantic time. But we still had a blast!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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6  Thank Lisa D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

this hotel was our worst nightmare from the day we came through the door.For starters we arrived there to a smell that was gross and put me of to start with,the decors and cleanliness was good but it smelled.first day we went straight to the pool for a drink by the sea which the beach is amazing probably the only good thing at the hotel,and i ordered a Bacardi and coke they said they don't have Bacardi although it says on the website well know alcohol aswell as local alcohol.So they was rubbish alcohol so i decided to order a pina colada which came out a slush machine with no alchol in unless requested,so i was already being ripped off please remember if ordering vodka ask for smirnoff as they will try to give you the cheap vodka.The hotal was in a good location and enjoyed sun bathing on the beach as it was far,on the beach they is a watersport place which the prices are a joke,but i wanted to go diving so i spoke to the man and arrange a time he said saturday so i went down and he told me i couldnt dive because no one else was going out so i demanded a refund and he kept making excuses "come back 30 minutes my friend has the key for the till".On the first night we were told we could not eat in a restaurant as you have to book in the morning so we had to eat in the buffet so that was already our first night ruined,they told us you have to book at 8 oclock in the morning and you can book 3 day in advance so we went down the next morning the lady said 2 of the restaurants were fully booked so we had a choice and we choosen one and decided it was the right one so went back directly after and the lady said the rest are now booked,so we complained to the Thompson rep and she managed to get us one, so the lady had lied to us.all the staff seemed to work for the tips the would stand next to you waiting for the tip.Down at the ice cream bar/coffee bar the ladies there would often snarl at you because they had to go in the back to get the ice cream.The food was so bad and you were eating the same thing everyday.The rooms were cleaned everyday to perfection and i was happy with this,my son had lost his ray bans and we went to ask reception if they were handed in he said yes but he said that somebody had claimed it,wouldnt you have thought he would of asked the guy to describe them.DONT STAY HERE!CHOOSE SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Room Tip: choose the private villas but no kids alound.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank louis h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RiuHotelsandResorts, Social and Community Relations Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro, responded to this reviewResponded April 18, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback and for expressing your concerns.

It’s a shame that you felt this way. It is important to us that our guests feel welcome and comfortable at our hotel. The ethos of our staff training requires a helpful, friendly and very obliging service at any time. The behaviour of our employees not meeting this criteria is inexcusable. We will raise this issue with those responsible and figure out the problem so that it does not reoccur. We thank you very much for your helpful and reasonable criticism.

I can assure you that we treat guest comments very seriously and take decisive actions to correct any shortcomings. It is only through feedback like yours that we can monitor our levels and standards of service.

We hope you will choose to visit us again, and give us a chance to demonstrate the high standards of Guest Service that are typical at our resorts

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about 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 #56 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Price Range: $199 - $480 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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