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“3.5 star accommodations, 5 star customer service!”

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ClubHotel Riu Merengue
Ranked #14 of 40 Hotels in Puerto Plata
Reviewed 30 January 2013

Overview:
There are three options to choose from: the RIU Merengue, the RIU Merengue Garden and the Bacchatta. We stayed at the RIU Merengue Garden and I think it's the best choice as it's in the middle of the three hotels, has the nicest beach and the best nightly entertainment. You have the option of eating at all the buffets at the three hotels during the day, but only have choice of the two restaurants at your location for dinner. We wandered around all the locations and the staff were excellent at all of them. The food at the buffets were similar so we mostly ate at the RIU Merengue. This is an older resort so it looks a little tired but is still Ok. We met a lot of great guests from Germany, Quebec, Italy, Finland, Switzerland, Russia and other places. Unlike Cuba, it wasn't mostly Canadian.

Staff:
The staff were very friendly and made sure that whatever you needed was provided. "Ola" was heard a lot as the staff are very quick with a Hello and a smile.The front desk was very informative and I was surprised when we exchanged money that we got the exact, correct amount the first time (unlike in Cuba or Mexico where you have to count your change exactly!) The bartenders were very friendly and remembered what you drank and how you liked it - after the first visit. I was pleasantly surprised. As well, unlike Mexico and Cuba, you don't have to tip to get a drink - and we didn't see very many people tipping. We left tips with our favourite bartenders and waiters at the end of the trip. However, if you would like a table reserved for you at the buffet - tip your waiter and ask for a reserved table at the beginning of your trip and you will have a set table every night.

Food and drink:
There are two restaurants, one Italian and one Steakhouse. We tried the Italian one night and it was ok. The buffet was good. They have a variety of different types of food and you can count on some type of pasta, pork, beef, chicken and fish every night. The fish was fresh and tasty. The wine is terrible but the drinks don't seem to be watered down as much as other places.

Rooms:
We had a beach front room, there's good and bad in this. We had an excellent view of the ocean and the beach but the walking path that feeds the other hotel and additional garden rooms cuts in front of the ocean view rooms so the late night revellers can wake you up when the wander home in the wee hours. As well, when you first enter, it smells a bit musty. Turn on the fan and up the air conditioner and it clears out after awhile. I would book a room on the second floor next time, however, this room was was very convenient to the amenities. The cleaning person was very good and did an excellent job on keeping our room clean. We left her a tip on the bar and she didn't touch it, then we remembered to leave a tip on the bed. The beds are AWFUL as are the pillows. I hope they upgrade these soon. I had to use my down jacket as a pillow as theirs was so hard that I couldn't sleep on it. The beds are a bit bumpy as well. Nothing that a few rum and coke didn't cure for me. My partner didn't have any complaints and said the beds and pillows were fine.

Amenities:
We mostly spent our days on the beach. It was lovely, Nice sand, a gradual slope and there were always chairs available. There is also a reef that is good for snorkelling (not great, but good - we saw a few fish and some marine life.) Paddle boats and kayak's are free, as are snorkelling equipment but there is a $25 deposit for snorkelling equipment. The nightly entertainment was good, much like you will get anywhere. We spoke to guest from the RIU Merengue and Bacchata and they all said the nightly entertainment was the best at the RIU Merengue Garden.

I had a massage on the beach and the masseuse was excellent. It was $85 for 50 minutes and worth every penny. I felt totally relaxed and very comfortable and can compare the experience to a Canadian massage in a spa but better because the waves you are hearing aren't from a CD. I would recommend this.

Excursions:
We only did one excursion. We went snorkelling on Paradise Island which included a speed boat tour through the Mangroves. It was 1.5 hrs on a bus to get to the boat. Then a 20 minute to a half an hour boat ride and 2 hours on the island. The speed boat driver made the trip through the mangroves very exciting as he would head straight for the trees then bank quickly and scoot through an opening that you couldn't even see. I totally enjoyed the boat ride. Paradise Island is a sand bar with four or five shacks on it. Not much else and no bathroom. The snorkelling was GREAT - we saw a LOT of fish and they are used to people so stay around looking for bread or bananas. My partner saw a Baraccuda around the back of the island. The snorkelling equipment is not new - we always take our own - but I noticed that after people were finished using the equipment provided, that the snorkels didn't seem to be sanitized or washed. I may be wrong - I hope I am. The life vests were inflatable by a blow up tube and I didn't see the pipes being sanitized either so I asked the guy at the booth to blow mine up. They provided cheese and ham sandwiches - not cheese and ham, but either cheese or ham. Not great. The lunch provided was limp french fries and overcooked burgers - again not great. But the boat ride and snorkelling at Paradise Island was worth it.

OVERALL, IT'S NOT A LUXURY RESORT. HOWEVER, WITH THAT IN MIND, I WOULD RETURN TO THIS RESORT AGAIN. I HAVE STAYED IN LUXURY RESORTS AND DIDN'T ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS I DID THIS. THE TRADE OFF WAS A NOT SO GREAT BED BUT EXCELLENT STAFF AND SERVICE.

Room Tip: Ocean view rooms are on the first floor unless you have a suite. It's great for proximity to the...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Stopovertraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 January 2013

Just returned from Riu Merengue. If just want a week ( 2 would be too long here) of R&R with warm weather and can get in from Canada for under $1000.00 then you may find this property good value.

Pros
Staff ( ALL staff were very freindly , helpful and appeared they actually enjoyed their jobs ) Just a few mentions were the front desk members, Anibal and Sandi. The bar tenders were very efficient .
Property was very well kept , the beach was nice but had a few shells and small stones ( no biggy )
Room was very clean

Cons
Food , restaurants were clean , good staff but the food was repetitive and very boring. Grill had no grilled food , some worn out burgers , boiled hot dogs, roasted chicken , pasta , fries and salad
Bed , very uncomfortable as well as the pillows
Safe, they use a safe key where you get one so if you are travelling with others it is inconvenient
No ironing board
In summary, this is a nice property with limited intertainment but very clean and freindly staff . I will not be returning but would recomend it to anybody on a budget looking for a break from the cold weather ( my 13th trip to the Caribbean where I stayed at 3.5 star to 5 star properties )

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with friends
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3  Thank mahuntley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2013

We just returned from our stay at the Riu Merengue (Jan. 18 - 25) and had a great time. Of course with any place you stay there are going to be pros and cons, but overall my entire family (children are 6 & 2 - adults 37 yrs old) had a great time.
Pros:
1.The Riu complex is large, with 3 different pools areas (all different) spread out over the resort. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other. There was never a problem finding a beach chair at any of the pools or beach.
2. There are several restaurants (It is 2 resorts in one village) and bars to choose from. The only rule was you had to eat dinner at one of the restaurants on your specific resort. Breakfast and lunch got a little repetitive as far as choices went, but when you have to cater to the masses and different cultures, you need to stick with what works. We all found dinner had a lot of variety each night and most of it was quite tasty. We also aren't very picky eaters and are willing to try new foods as well. They actually had poutine one night! There was 10 of us in total travelling together and none of us got sick or had any kind of tummy problems (even with the water and ice served at meals) useless a lot of rum was involved!
3.It is beautiful and clean. The grounds were always well maintained, as well as any buildings. Our rooms were spotless.
4. Most staff are fantastic! You can't expect everyone to be perfect or everyone to be having a good day. We met a lot of great people who treating us as friends. They patiently taught my son (6) new words and phrases in Spanish every day. The staff were amazing to the kids, making them all feel great.
5. The views are stunning, and I have some amazing photos.
6. You can hire a photographer for free (approx 20-30 minutes) and then choose and pay for only the photos you want for a very reasonable price. I picked 3 amazing family photos.
7. They will give you an adapter for all of your wireless for a $3 deposit for the duration of your stay.
Cons:
1. The beds are awful. They are rock hard as well as the pillows. We had a family of four and were offered 3 single beds pushed together. Fortunately our friend was right next to us and took one of the kids each night, so we didn't bother asking for a different room.
2. They open the resort to the locals during the weekend (and we happened to be there on a national holiday so it was a 3 day weekend). Most of them were completely inappropriate and were there for pleasure business. For the three days it was almost impossible to get near the bars without being offered something.
3. The Merengue visually needs some updating, but it felt like the Caribbean to me, so I really can't complain too much.
4.We lost power 2X while there, but they still never missed a meal and always still had something to offer you to eat or drink (Once was in the afternoon, the other first thing in the morning - breakfast was still served on time).

Other than that we still had a great time and would return. It was beautiful, we have lots of great memories and it really was a good value for our money.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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18  Thank LorettaMac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2013

People REALLY need to stop their complaining about this resort.

Just got back from a great time at the Riu Merengue Village (former Mambo), We went from January 18th to the 25th. People like to complain, but you can't beat this hotel for the price... plus, you are going to Puerto Plata, so you need to understand a 4+ here is not the same as Mexico or Jamaica.

Weather: AWESOME!!! Hot hot hot, and a ton of sun everyday :)

Check-in: Really fast, they give you your keys and you go to your room. Rooms are easy to find, just follow your numbers. Just follow everyone else and you will find your room.

Rooms: Now this is where I was annoyed... but I kept telling myself it was not what I came for. Rooms were spotless, but the first room we were put in the A/C didn't work, no hot water, and smelt musty. They moved us to another room where the A/C still didn't work (and it was HOT) and had a must smell. Spoke with my Sunwing rep, and he had it resolved within the hour. Air was so cold at night I had to turn in down and they sprayed so it didn't smell so damp. Other than that, left the maid $2 everyday and she made a cute towel animal. There was a bar fridge and they put bottled water (huge bottles), Presidente beer, and pepsi products. There is also liquor dispensers. So whatever....

Beach: Okay, people keep complaining, but the beach is MASSIVE... you can literally walk for 1/2 hour. Sand is not white, but still nice. Great for tanning down by the Village. A ton of sun loungers... trust me, you will find a spot. Wear water shoes if you do decide to go in.

Pool: Loved the pool, although there is only the one end where the sun stays all day. You need to reserve by 7am if you want those spots. I was almost black by the end of the week, so you will get an awesome tan... there was always a place to get a tan if you look. There is never a resort that I haven't been to that people didn't reserve spots, so get used to it.

Food: Didn't go to the restaurants, heard they weren't great. but the buffet was HUGE! If you couldn't find anything then you are way too picky... I mean I could go up 3 times to the buffet and still haven't tried everything. Wine was horrific, but drink something else. Snack bar went most of the day and you could also go late down toward the Bachata if you got hungry. Burgers will be pink, they are soy based, so don't panic.

Bars: It was great! If anyone says the drinks were watered down, they must be alcoholics. After a few I was feeling pretty good! Bartenders were also really fast at serving.

Other than that, it was a great budget vacation and met a lot of great people! I had a relaxing trip, I am almost black from all the sun, and I now need to go on a diet from eating/drinking too much. Lastly, this is the CLEANEST resort I have ever been to... the made literally wipes down the seats after you use the toilet, and hand sanitizer before you walk into restaurants and bathrooms. Love that!

To all the haters. spend another $500-$1000 and I am sure you would still find something else to complain about.

Room Tip: We stayed in 3215 and it was fine, everything worked!
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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11  Thank mfish083
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 January 2013

Stayed for 3 nights in October 2012, we were disappointed upon arriving and going to our room. I don't know why by I expected something nice and more modern. There are no irons in the room and you are only allowed to borrow one from the front desk for an hour after you walk all the way over there to get it! The beds were terrible! But they were nice enough to put a crib in the room for our 1 year old that was with us. The food was ok for the most part, lunch and breakfast didn't have much to offer but the dinner buffet was at least a little better. The pool at the Bachata was much nicer and we didn't discover that until it was the day to leave. The security guard stopped us at the gate and wouldn't let us in with out seeing our reservation which I did not have printed out, didn't like that one bit since i had to struggle to pull it up on my phone with no wifi.
The beach was dirty and littered with cigarette butts, the trash cans were 5 gallon paint buckets hung on a wooden post, that doesn't scream luxury vacation to me!!

Room Tip: Make sure you look at the photos available online first hand!
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  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled with family
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6  Thank Sarah P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 January 2013

Hi,
here is a review with comments from 2 couples: 1 that it was their 1st trip at all, and the other (me and my husband in the 40 years old range) was our 6th travel but travelled in mexico and on 1 cruise before.

-> The merengue is split on two part, you can find the map on internet. you will see that the Riu bachata is on the left side(view of map like looking the sea from the sites), the merengue on the middle and the one that was called Mambo, on the right side. The mambo do not exist anymore as they have changed the name to Merengue Village, and the one on the middle is now named Merengue Garden.

--> There is only 2 storeys buildings on the Merengue and i have requested our 2 rooms to be on an upper level (2nd floor) and to be situated in the middle of going to beach and lobby/restaurants on a quiet section... with a room with no issue of bed,bugs,shower or other(as read on reviews).... I've done the request thru Sunwing travel on the reservation section for requests, but to be sure, i've also written directly to the Riu Merengue on their website , confirming my request (i'm the one that i've travelled more) with my travel dates and reservation# with sunwing. I've received an answer within 48hres from the person in charge that stated me that my request had been forwarded to the front desk and that they will do their best to give me satisfaction.

--> So, at arrival, yes we had the rooms as requested, well situated on the Merengue Village part. on building 20, so on the main path just before the right turn, so more quiet as it is away enough from the pool and lobby. but it takes just a few walking minutes to get back there. the sea and beach is just behind the pool so when you're walking back from your building to get thru pool or lobby , you are seeing the beach and the sea. (let's say that their plan and the one you'll see on internet has no buildings # inscribed).

--> At arrival,as said before by others, it is thrue that it is not done as usual on resorts. Instead of doing a line up to get thru the counter to register and get your key (regular key not an electronic card) and your safe lock/key( yes, as old way ..not digital safe...so that means that you need to get around all the time with 2 keys....) .. they are having envelops with your name and room number on it that contains your towel card(to exange for your towel at arrival and get back the card at the end of your trip to give back the cards at check out),your keys/lock and plan of hotel(but as you do not see the buildings numbers...) so it is quit confusing at arrival as everybody get out of the bus on the same time, trying to know where and what to do to have their room (we were there after 3pm so we were able to have access upon arrival)... and the desk person was there, calling names to give enveloppes to everyone and having another one on same time passing to put your Riu tag on your arm.

I was feeling like getting thru a Treasure Quest not expected ...as after that... everyone getting nervous to have their envelop and trying to understand the plan... as there is nothing on it to know where to go.... we had finally get out of lobby toward the pool and looking around to see indications finally at the right side... so we had followed the numbers until reaching the good building. but the plan for the rooms do not help at all, it is just good to know the places for restaurants, stores etc...

--> The room are not quit large as other we had been in the past but is enough as we are mostly there only to sleep, shower and change up. The balcony is good size with 2 chairs, 1 table and also a kind of clothes holder to put your wet bikini.... Bathroom was ok, hand shower with bath tub with a shower curtain(never had that before.... it was like old way as it is usually a glass door).
The toilet is crazy situated: just behind the door... so if your there and someone opening the door.... check out your knees and toes ! no working toilet fan. supply of shampoo/shower gel/soap is 2 of each at the time... so if you are 2 persons(or more), to be sure to have all you need, remove the balance from the counter to be sure to have others because you may not have more shampoo and having to wash your hair with the shower gel...)
* TV is old but we did not open it at all as we do not stay at the room usually, just in between beach and dinner time and late at night.

For the beds:, mine was ok, but my husband find his a little too smooth for his back but it is just a question of different opinions about mattress. But yes they do not have king size bed, it is 2 double beds side-by-side with their separates sheets.

-->Our friends, as new travelers, were mostly following us around in airport and all, so it was a new experience for them, so they were not able to compare the arrival at the hotel for checking but find it quit confusing as it was for us as experienced travelers.

They found their room good and notice that on shower time, the hot water was going in and out...but it is oftenly like that in south hotels resorts. - They also liked to be on a smaller resort that not have too large walking distance from a a place to another as we were allowed to go to the Bachata side on walking distance. there is no need and there is no shuttles.


--> Restaurants: as a guest of the Merengue, you can have breakfast and lunch everywhere at the Merengue (village and Garden) and Bachata but not for dinner that you are allowed to have dinner only on your own site on buffet or "a la carte" restaurant and yes, as other said, the snack bar on day time becoming the "a la carte" on night. Me and my husband did not tried the "a la carte" because we like to go eat whenever we are hungry. but we had to wait the openings hours that are quit later than usual on resorts:
breakfast ok 7-10h am
lunch: late ! 1h to 3h pm for buffets but snack bar opening 12h-5pm.
comments: snacks are a little poor in varieties, buffets are better, it is worthing to wait 1h00pm

supper....... no other choices than your site's buffets or a la carte if you were enough early at opening of the buffet in morning to take reservations(there is a person at the entrance to take reservations).... you should do it before 7h30am to have place for there. The dinner hours are a little late opening.. 6h30 pm.... until 10h pm

WARNING ! it is true !! the wine (no mather the red, white or rosé !) they are more than poor quality, they are AWFULL and it is not enough to described that !

our friends and us are not wine expert and never had to complain about house wine on all places we had done before. But this is something that we do not understand at all that they do NOT change their wine quality has everybody we were looking around were leaving their wine on the tables, and we knew before going there, with reviews, that it was something...but did not expect to be so awfull ! we've all came to say that rubbing alcool will be better and it is not over complaining ! they really should do something as it is a big ---negative--- for their hotel. Beers are acceptable mostly the one in the room on cans that is the brand "Presidente".

Note: at arrival, you only have 2 beers, with pepsi,water bottles and a few others soda. If you would like to have more beers/pepsi, as they filling up usually only by 2 days, just stop the guys with the ATV that are running on the paths... they are the ones to ask and if you give them a few $.. they will be happy to give you more ;-) they are usually around in middle to end of afternoon and you can hear the atv to know where they are.
Another + is that above the fridge, you have a selection of 4 1L bottles: white and brown Rhum, brandy and vodka...that was cool... i give an a+ for that ;-)

--> the housekeepers were nice and friendly but unfortunately are speaking only spanish. it was ok with my husband and i , as we can speak a little but our friends did not speak at all so it can be a little hard if you do not have someone speaking a little around, it is better to have a little words of spanish before travelling on a sheet to be able to say what you want...

--> Coming back to Buffet: the food is ok but not exceptionnal for most of it.
Mostly if you had traveled to Mexico before like us, a 3+ * stars in mexico was better in quality for our experience than that but our friends found it very good as new travellers and having enough choices to find something to eat.

Look properly your meat to be sure it is well cooked as it happens many times that it was not cooked enough mostly beef that was red inside(very bloody), and fishs were having all the time, fish bones(not like one but many many and as fishermans in the family we are used to fish bones).
On many plates, we had found peace of meat well smooth and on the same plate harder like stiff beaf too hard to eat...

For my part as a food allergic person, it is always complicated to eat on restaurants, as i'm allergic to many exotic fruits and to eggs..... so it is giving me hard time to find something that i'm not having trouble to eat... usually i'm asking to speak to the chief but as they speaks mostly spanish... i'm trying to look and taking what i know that won't contains some of these. And i like a lot to eat vegetables ... and on that.... they are really far behind Mexico hotel on choices .
there is like Iceberg lettuce alone but... other vegetables apart of other lettuce... it is cabbage, tomato, cuncumber and it is almost it. there is a few times avocado and other mixes with red and green cabagges...they seems to really like cabbage.

But if you like fresh fruits, there is melon, pineapple,and a few others and fresh fruit juice with those. For orange juice it something else...not exactly real juice or it is a mix really over sugar in it. coffee is better on the machine on the counter where you can choose the american coffee than the one they are bringing on your table. For more choices, better go at the opening
of the buffet as everything is "fresh"

--> Waiters are nices for most of them and are mostly happy if you let them 1$ tip , you'll get a better service and nice smiles all the time and have rapidly beer, coca or else...
at the restaurants or the bars, mostly there, if you have 1$ on your hand on the counter, you will be served faster...and they will be happy to do you some specials request...likei have done... go to the main bar ("la luna" if i remember) just close to the theater on merengue garden part, that is kind of white open building with big colums.... Ask the waiter that is labeled named is "Sexy boy"... he is very nice and well happy to do new things...and ask him my husband preferred drink.... Captain Cook cocktail... he now knows it by head :-) as i was bringing him my recipe from a play card game with drink recipes on it. Or try your own !

--> Shows: we have look one: Chicago Burlesque that was based on the movie with Cher and Christina Aguiliera, For adults, it is a nice show ;-) as it is a little sexy, it is better to not have children if you think it is not for them but there is nothing like nude.

--> Beach: be advice that there is a dead coral reef about 25 feet from the sand beach so there is many parts of it that coming on the beach itself from the waves moves. They also advising you at hotel that there is Sea urchin living on it so better stay away from there.
so stay where the water looking blue as that means it is sand, not dark as it is rocks or coral reef.

The best places to not have rocks is on the middle of the site. So, close of the beach tree that is like "bronze" color and looking dead and having the flight for waves warning, this area is the best place having more sand to swim around and no need of water shoes there but other places is better to have them as other people farest on the beach had walk on urchin and that will get you directly to the doctor (on site) but for a costly price.

That is maybe the bad thing about this beach ! and also as it is on Perto platam so on the north of the island, to have sun on the beach, you must lie down on your chair back to beach seeing view, to have the sun in front of you(south)...and it is a well shaded beach... so for sun lovers... is it more harder to find a good spot close to the water.

other than that, the waves are a little hard most of the time but you have 4 feets water deep to swim in at less than 10feet from beach border.

The headland on Bachata end's is nice view around, but be aware of the stairs that are made from rocks and may be hard to steps all around the path and stairs. but it worths the view ;-)

-->For our friends, new travelers, they were happy about the place, for the price we have paid for it. They have also done the excursion to the Paradise island that is on the middle of nowwhere in the ocean ... they like it alot when they had finally get there, the only thing to know about it, is that it takes 1h20 bus ride to go, + 20 min boat ride to reach the island, and same thing to come back... but bring your snorkeling equipement as it fantastic for looking fishs species :-)

--> For me and my husband, that we add more experience in travelling and had travelled to Mexico in a 3+, 4 and 4+ stars .... we cannot compare a 4/4+ stars (depending on sites reviews) in dominican rep. with mexico .... for a dom, rep, this is probably a 4/ 4+ but in comparaison to mexico.... it is a 3* ... not barely most.

So, if like us, you're deciding to go there because of the price, just have in head that you have for what you are paying for... so it is OK, but do not expect more... for those reasons i'm rating 3 on 5....

If you looking around and waiting good deals, on the week or 1 1/2 week before your travel dates... you may have better places more south for about the same prices. We would have done that if there was not the obligation to have travel confirmation for new passeports delivered less than 20 days prior to travelling....

Note: about the "locals" as others reviews were talking about....
we saw a huge of them coming on after 3pm on the saturday.... and we were not aware it was a long weekend for them also, but they are not more really over taking places than other people, it is just that that they are larger family so taking more place together.... but for sure, it is better for you to go at restaurants realy on morning as they are coming more late in restaurants and as they are many.... it is going fast that the buffet do not follow the flow of people at that time...


Best regards,
fbl1162

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with friends
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9  Thank FBL1162
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 January 2013

We've stayed at the Merengue 3 times now, and once at the sister hotel, the Bachata where we were married in 2008. The first time we stayed here was in 2004, and the most recent in Jan 2013 for 2 weeks.

This time there were ten of us with ages ranging from 2 - 79. Let's remind ourselves that this is one of the cheapest All Inclusive hotels in the Caribbean - with an average price of around £1100 per person for the 2 weeks, and the kids pay full whack too. Once we've remembered this we should set our expectations and not moan if not everything is perfect. It's classed as a 5 star, but if you compare that to a 5 star in the UK, the US , in fact anywhere in the western world it doesn't really fit into the same category.

The clientele has changed somewhat from our first visit. There are less Brits, but a lot of Russians, Swedes and others. During our stay there was a noticeable increase in local visitors but we didn’t really have any issues with anyone.

It still has it’s plus points.

Firstly the location, it's gorgeous. No one can really say otherwise. You can't see any other hotels or buildings from any point throughout the grounds, you do see mountains and it's a perfect setting morning noon or night. You can walk to the village of Maimon, it's down a track, and perfectly safe. You might get approached by a "guide" along the way or you might not. I'd recommend this walk to anyone who wants to meet the people without going on an organized tour.

Secondly most of the staff are wonderful. It's hard to pick fault. Yes we can complain about the waiter not filling our glasses quickly enough or the occasional tired look from reception, but it's not really the end of the world.

We had a birthday in the group, and booked the Steak House for 10. The table was decorated with balloons, and a cake arrived after the main course, the staff all sang and congratulated the birthday girl with kisses which was great. We brought our own bubbly and they supplied an ice bucket and opened it - so I'd recommend getting some decent stuff in the supermarket in Puerto Plata if you are celebrating something special, as the hotel wine is terrible - more on that later.

But there are some bad points.

Some of the bartenders could do with some training on how to mix drinks, but worse than that some should not be trying to get your 15 year old daughter blind drunk and take advantage of them. Problems like this could be fixed by giving different coloured armbands to underage guests upon arrival which used to be the case.

If you've got young children, the beach and pools are wonderful, but the play areas are poor. A hotel of this size should really invest in some new equipment - it really is dire.
The entertainment hasn’t changed since we were there first, it’s still dreary, with a poor sound system where you can struggle to understand what is said. I found myself avoiding most of the shows and retiring early or hanging out elsewhere. What this hotel needs though is a chill out area. Yes there’s the reception which is free from loud entertainment but it’s not exactly bustle free. A piano bar would be ideal for those who don’t want to watch repetitive dances from the staff and audience participation games which aren’t always family friendly. Don’t get me wrong, some of it is fun – for the first time, but not for the 4th. The savior is probably the magic show, but even that hasn’t changed in all the years we’ve been going. Compared to the entertainment at the RIU’s in Jamaica it’s mainly poor and scores a 2/10 from me.

On our previous visits, after our first evening we are normally allocated a table together, and served by the same waiter. This time on the second night there was no table for us all, so we had to wait. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s one of the reasons we decided to spend more time at the other restaurant in the evenings as we seemed to get better attention there and the same table and waiter most nights.

The wine is undrinkable - be in white, red or rose. On the first night I asked the waitress to try the white we'd been served and and even she turned her nose up, then said...the red and rose were equally bad. I don't understand this at all, and when I brought this up with the restaurant manager he said everything else thinks it was fine, in fact he was a bit snotty about it to be honest. I remember filling out feedback forms last time complaining about the wine and I'm sure others have too - but it doesn't ever change. Is it too much to ask to get some decent wine with your meal? An advantage is now that the hotel formerly known as the Mambo is part of the Merengue, you have a choice to eat your main meals in either. The food is the same, but we spent more nights there to avoid the snotty restaurant manager.

No umbrellas in the rooms. Some had them it seems, many didn’t. Trying to get one at reception was impossible. It does rain a fair bit, and often when you want to go from the room to dinner…so bring your own to be on the safe side.

Personally I was fine for insect bites, with just a couple around my ankles. Some of our group had much worse luck, so do bring your repellant if you have particularly tasty blood. There were a couple of cockroaches, beetles and rather large grasshoppers as well as some ants in the rooms at times, but nothing too bothersome.

Vendors. I’ve learnt to ignore most of them and stroll on into dinner, but some people can’t help themselves and get lured into conversations where they’ll buy old tat for more than they want to. My advice, ignore them all and enjoy your evenings without shopping for overpriced tat. You’ll find the same stuff down at the shacks beyond the Bachata, in the town and pretty much everywhere. It’s all overpriced, I think they have become rather greedy.

Pool hall and tennis. There are 3 pool tables here, and you can book them for an hour at a time for free. All need to be replaced, along with the cues. There’s really no enjoyment playing on them unless you are a child who couldn’t care less. The tennis courts are better, and the equipment is usable. Be wary if you hit a ball over the fence in one direction, you have a long walk around to retrieve it, and you’ll need to explore the bushes. You can’t play tennis after heavy rain either.

If you are booking tours, for instance a catermaran trip, don’t book through your travel company, or with the touts at the hotel. $85 dollars can be easily reduced to $60 by chatting to the guys on the beach, and if there’s a few of you, the savings can stack up. By the way, the Catermaran trip is great for all those who don’t suffer sickness. Even my 79 year old auntie loved it.

Generally – the room is adequate. If you are a family with a couple of kids, it can be a bit of a squeeze. The Bachata have some bigger family rooms, but apparently the Merengue’s are all the same. Although I’d emailed asking for a sea view, we didn’t get that but at least it was a nice one over the gardens. It’s a big improvement over some of the rooms we’ve been allocated in the past. Having stayed here repeatedly before I kind of expected a sea view, but it didn’t have any impact on our stay to be honest. They had at least placed all our 4 rooms in one building.

Food is generally ok. Breakfast is always my favorite, and of course you can eat outside at the Bachata too if you are early enough. It can seem repetitive especially at lunch but if you try and limit yourself to one different meal each night and try new things you’ll enjoy yourself. We found the food at the steakhouse to be acceptable and with a reasonable amount of choice. You’ll also get waiter service for your mains, but not the starters.

The cleaning lady was lovely although she didn’t speak any English and even after 3 previous visits we haven’t learnt enough Spanish to communicate properly.

The RIU properties in Puerto Plata have been up for sale since the latter part of 2012, so it would be interesting to return when another chain has made their mark on it. As it is and under the RIU brand we won’t be back again, even though it was a generally lovely holiday.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank seany
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Merengue

Address: Bahia de Maimon, Puerto Plata 57000, Dominican Republic
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Puerto Plata Province > Puerto Plata
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre 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 Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Best Value Hotel in Puerto Plata
#7 Spa Hotel in Puerto Plata
#12 Top resorts Hotel in Puerto Plata
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Plata
Price Range: £78 - £199 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Merengue 3.5*
Number of rooms: 998
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The ClubHotel Riu Merengue (All Inclusive 24h) is located in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, and is surrounded by impressive views of the mountains and a lush, natural environment. This is the perfect setting for unforgettable holidays. The ClubHotel offers all facilities you could need for relaxing holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll find a fresh water swimming pool, a solarium terrace, a gym and the Renova Spa wellness centre with a range of different treatments and massages as well as a sauna. In the Dominican Republic you can find a wide range of international cuisine, but if you want to make the most of your time in this marvellous destination by sampling Dominican cuisine, delicious in both taste and colour, you can enjoy a wide variety of flavours and aromas, as Dominican dishes mainly consist of fruit and vegetables. In the buffet restaurant or themed restaurant you’ll find an endless range of dishes and recipes prepared by our chefs every day. The hotel shares its facilities with the hotel complexes of the ClubHotel Riu Bachata. You’ll enjoy access to the entertainment programme and activities thanks to the acclaimed All Inclusive system. Whether you’re travelling as a family, couple or with friends, you’ll find a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained all day long.. There are areas for enjoying tennis, table tennis, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, bodyboarding, snorkelling, golf, volleyball, swimming and much more. Your children can also enjoy crafts, activities and dancing together with other kids in the RiuLand programme. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Clubhotel Riu Merengue Hotel
Club Hotel Riu Merengue
Clubhotel Riu Merengue Puerto Plata
Riu Merengue Dominican Republic
Riu Merengue Puerto Plata
Rui Merengue
ClubHotel Riu Merengue Dominican Republic/Puerto Plata

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