I vacationed at the Riu Merengue Gardens (middle property between the Village and the Bachata, and in my opinion, best location) from March 25 to April 1 with a friend. I booked about 6 weeks before, and tortured myself reading these reviews in the weeks leading up to the trip. In hopes of relieving others who have already paid or perhaps helping others decide, I will try to provide a thorough and honest review.
Check in and Check Out
Seamless. Nothing about the process was problematic. I would say that if it’s raining or dark when you arrive it may be more challenging to find your room. The resort is large, and the paths may be confusing in the dark or if rushing to stay dry.
The rooms are dated and need a face lift, for sure. The current décor must be 25 years old. The bathrooms are fully functional, but fairly small and also dated. If you are someone who will need to spend a fair amount of time in your room, for whatever reason, this resort may not be a good choice for you. But if the room is truly a place to sleep and clean up, as it is for me when I visit hot spots, it is entirely adequate. The cleaners are meticulous, the beds are reasonably comfortable, and the showers are hot. There is a mini bar in the room which includes 3 bottles of rum for personal dispensing, and refrigerated beverages that include water, soft drinks and beer. Stock is replenished every second day.
If the Riu intends to continue to promote this resort, my assumption is that there is a plan to renovate soon. From the exterior, the 2-story mini-complexes are quite attractive, but the interiors need a dramatic renovation. In the short term, room service would be improved by increasing the provision of water. Tap water cannot be consumed in the DR. For 2 of us, we received 1.5 litres of water a day to drink and brush our teeth. Of course, water is available at the restaurants and bars, but this is less convenient. We did see the water delivery guy and he gave us extras, but guests should not have to be concerned about this at an all-inclusive. Simply add a 4L to the room for tooth brushing, and 1.5 L per person per day to drink.
The only bugs were mosquitoes, for which they sprayed just after we arrived. No roaches. No bed bugs. Not an issue.
I was extremely pleased with the food quality at this resort. The breakfast buffet was my favorite, complete with an omelette station, a smoothie station, eggs, bacon, veggies, hot donuts and churros. The coffee has to be the most delicious on the planet. We ate lunch at the beach site, which was decent. By day 7 the lunch options were a tad repetitive, but not problematic. My favorite was jerk chicken barbecued on the beach. The dinner buffet was quite good. There was a good variety, it was fresh and hot, and I enjoyed the preparation. The a la carte options were average. Generally, these should provide a nice break from the buffet but I preferred the buffet. The steakhouse was decent, but not what Canadians have come to expect from steakhouses for sure. The Italian meal was mediocre. It’s nice to be served for a change, but manage your expectations. The afternoon cappuccino at the beach bar was amazing.
I spent the vast majority of my trip at the beach. I loved finding shade under naturally growing palm trees. I did wear beach shoes to avoid an encounter with an urchin. The upside of that is you can snorkel without leaving your resort. The beach is fairly long, there were tons of beach chairs, and the space allowed for significant privacy.
There is no swim up bar, but you can practically reach the beach bar without leaving pool side. The pool was a little crowded, but I was generally able to find a chair on the couple of occasions I ventured away from the beautiful beach. Pool entertainment was ok.
Okay, I live in Toronto. If I was interested in stage productions or concerts or whatever, Puerto Plata would not be my choice destination. But I paid just a little more for this week away than I paid for Elton John tickets a couple of years ago. The stage entertainment is pretty bad. In the evenings after dinner we tended to sit in the lobby, access our free wifi for the day (90 minutes) and listen to a local singer perform. I’ve heard better local bands at other resorts, and this is an area that could be improved I think. We also went to Caribbean Street a couple of nights, which is just a 5 minute walk from the lobby. The sales people can be aggressive there, but it’s manageable.
There was no grief on the beach or at the pool. Services were offered, but a simple no thanks did the trick. One night a week the vendors can set up in the lobby. They are quite aggressive, and truthfully, it was my preference to pay more at the airport than be stalked if I expressed interest. Riu management should really take responsibility to give the vendors boundaries as it would ultimately benefit everyone. In the meanwhile, the comments about prostitutes at the resort are complete nonsense. Either the issue has been addressed, or someone was making stuff up.
Would I Return?
I’m not sure I would do any hot spot twice when there are dozens of new places to try. That said, I was truly sad to leave the Merengue. There is something about the natural beauty of the beach and the grounds that is unique.
Please feel free to contact me directly if you have specific questions.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with 5viajes2012 S.L., Expedia, Hotels.com, TripOnline SA, Evoline ltd, Cancelon, HotelQuickly and getaroom.com so you can book your ClubHotel Riu Merengue reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- 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