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“absolutely fantastic value for money with the friendliest staff in the world!!”

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ClubHotel Riu Merengue
Ranked #13 of 39 Hotels in Puerto Plata
glasgow
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“absolutely fantastic value for money with the friendliest staff in the world!!”
Reviewed 7 September 2009

We have just returned from 2 fabulous weeks in paradise at the Riu Mambo.
We flew from Glasgow with Thomson which was one of the best flights we have been on - plenty of leg room, 2 meals and tv/games on demand. We booked the holiday 3 days before departure and got amazing deal.

Staff: Everyone at the Mambo, from maids to gardeners, animation team to chefs, bar staff and waiting staff are sooo friendly and go out of their way to say "hola". We never once felt obliged to tip or that they were being so friendly for unterior motives (unlike our trip to Hurghada, Egypt in April). We tipped the maid $5 every few days and left her small gifts such as nail varnish, lip gloss etc. Our bedding and towels got changed daily and she left lovely towel art and flowers frequently. We tipped the bar staff a dollar here and there and also the waiting staff every few days (we tended to sit in the same area each day and served by the same staff).

Food: There was always lots of choice and seemed to be better in the first week, though we have no complaints at all about it. We tended to have lunch at one of the snack bars throughout the complex as you can have breakfast and lunch at any of the 3 hotels. We ate at the Steakhouse twice which was a nice change to have al la carte and to be waited on. We werent ill at all during the 2 weeks - hygiene seemed to be of great importance as outside every toilet and restaurant was a maid with hand sanitizer.

Drink: Be sure to ask for alcohol in the cocktails if thats what you want. We were drinking "virgin" Pina Coladas for the first week as we didnt realise that you had to ask for the rum in it!! The wine was a bit sweet for my liking but by the end of the 2 weeks it was going down very nicely. Also i love amaretto and you could get this too (though not branded). I think you could get some premium brands though you would have to ask for it. The mini bar was stocked every couple of days though you could ask for more should you need it. My boyfriend liked the beer in it. There are also optics in the room free of charge with Vodka, Rum and Gin although we never used them.

Trips: We went on the Outback Safari which was $79 each but well worth it for an entire days trip. Our guide Julian was really funny and informative. We visited a traditional dominican family in their home, a school which was aided by the Outback Safari (we took pencils and paper for the children), we bathed in a lagoon, went on a boat trip, had lunch and at the end of the trip we went "boogie boarding" which was an experience. Drinks were supplied constantly throughout the trip. We would highly recommend the Outback Safari and its brilliant that they put profits back into the local community.
We also booked a taxi around Puerta Plata for 3 hours - it was only $40 between us and another couple. The driver was informative and took us to a rum factory, fortress, local shops and a supermarket where we could stock up on crisps and sweets etc at about a third of the price the hotels shops charge!! Martin, the Thomson rep was great and very honest in his advice.

Facilities: You can use any of the 3 large pools in the complex, change pool/beach towels as often as you like, use the pedalos, kayaks, wind surfing, snorkelling etc with no extra charge providing the sea isnt too choppy. You can also have a free scuba diving lesson in the pool as well. There are people that ask if you want massages, scuba diving trips etc when you are sitting at beach/pool but a simple "no thanks" is sufficient - there is no hard sell or constant pestering.

Room: Our room was quite basic but adequate. We were staying in block 20. Our bed was 2 queen size beds put together. Although one of the legs was broken when we arrived, a maintenance man came within a few minutes of us calling reception and fixed it. Our air con worked fine and there was also a ceiling fan. The water was a bit temperamental at times although it seemed to be hotter in the evening which was generally when we were showering anyway. I never brought a hair dryer and you could get one from reception for a deposit of only $20 which was returned to you when you returned the hair dryer. The electricity is only 110 V so British things like straightners and non dual voltage hair dryers wont work well. You can still charge phones etc but it will just take a bit longer. The sockets take both American and Continental European adapters.

Others: We usually get bitten lots by mozzies but I only got 3 bites until the day after I got home I found several more - I blame the plane!! We never saw a single cockroach. The only surprising thing we found in our corridor was a rather large crab one morning scuttling about!!!

Entertainment: The entertainment staff seem to do a great job and work long hours. They arrange games and activities to do on the beach and around the pool during the day. We never took part in these and didnt feel hassled to join in as we were just there to relax. The entertainment at night was average but then again we didnt go there for shows etc.

Weather: We were a bit apprehensive about going to DR last week of August/first week of September due to it being hurricane season but the weather was great. The temperature must have been over 30C every day and not much cooler at night (i had brought a few cardigans and a pair of jeans but didnt wear any of them!). We had a couple of rainy evenings but overall the weather was fantastic.

Overall we had a brilliant holiday - we really couldnt have asked for more - great people, great weather, great food, great drink. We would highly recommend the Mambo and hope to return next year.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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6 Thank Ditsy32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 7 September 2009

I was 16 at the time i went to Dom Rep, I went with my mum dad their 6 freinds and my two freinds. I thought it was going to be boring but it certainly was not. I loved it! We had a great time, theres plenty to do and the entertainment was great. The staff couldn't have been more freindly, active and helpful. Always trying to get you up and about. The food was lovely, plenty of options. Nightlife was also rather good! I would recommend Dom Rep to anyone! Remember a holiday is only what you make it! Carolyne Spence x

  • Stayed May 2008, travelled with family
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1 Thank CarolyneX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
btucker1
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2009

This hotel was no better than a two star motel and that is a generous rating. I have stayed at nicer Motel 6s and Red Roof Inns. The hotel is outdated and looks like it still has the original furnishings. We had two rooms and both were substandard. All the tiles were cracked in the bathroom and stained. The curtains were full of holes and dirty. Calls were made from our room to the US when we weren't in it. The a/c didn't work in the rooms. There were numerous lounge chairs by the pool and beach that were completely broken, however, the hotel did not see fit to remove them. The food was also substandard and worse than college dorm food. The speciality places were even worse. I would not recommend this hotel for anyone looking for a comfortable vacation.

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank btucker1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
196 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 371 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2009

We have just returned from a beautiful holiday in the Dominican Republic staying at the RIU Mambo. This was our first trip to the D.R. On arrival we were greeted with a welcome drink and which must have been the fastest check-in we have ever had. All your room keys and documentation are set aside on a separate table. Bell boys quickly whisk your cases to your room. I emailed the hotel a few weeks earlier requesting if possible an ocean view room as it was our wedding anniversary and indeed we were given an ocean view room on the first floor that’s if you could see the ocean through all the palm trees!! Do note that there’s not many ocean view rooms at the Mambo complex due to its layout. Our room was very spacious with two queen beds pushed together creating one giant bed. There was plenty of storage space and various lights around the room. The T.V. had many channels mainly in Spanish but there were a few English channels as well. The air conditioning was excellent and offered a good respite from the heat, there was also a ceiling fan to circulate the cold air around. The bathroom was a reasonable size with a good shower and good water pressure, however, the water was hotter during the morning but was luke warm of a night not that it bothered us much as a cool shower in the evening was quite welcome. Toiletries were replaced every day, shower gel, soaps etc as were the towels. But the icing on the cake has to be the fridge and mini bar. The fridge was stocked with beers, a variety of soft drinks and a big container of drinking water. The optics had various spirits including dark and light rum plus brandy. On request you can ask for any other spirit you like and they will change it. The mini bar and fridge were replenished every two days but if you “dropped” the drinks guy a tip he would make sure you were well stocked up. Our room was kept immaculately clean by our maid and never have I been to a place where they create so much “towel art” – love birds, hearts, elephant heads, swans and bags plus more all complemented with flowers. I always tipped our maid every day a couple of Dollars or 100 Peso’s. On our anniversary day they gave us a big basket of fruit wrapped in a big bow plus a greetings card. For the last two years we have been to Egypt (Sharm) staying at supposedly “all inclusive” hotels but found you still had to pay at certain bars and pay for extra’s such as the pool table and ice cream but not so at these RIU hotels, All Inclusive here means exactly that you don’t have to pay for a thing (except for the casino at the Bachata which I’ll come to later). As for food a drink you simply cannot go hungry or thirsty. The Mambo had an excellent selection of food to choose from as did the other two hotels but remember, as others have mentioned you have to take your evening meal at the hotel you are booked into. At any other time you can eat where you like in fact you can eat and drink 24/7 if you so wished. We booked two a la carte meals both in the steak restaurants of the Merengue and the Bachata which were excellent. However you do have to book early in the morning on the day you want the meal. You book the meal at the desk at the entrance to the main restaurant. On our anniversary evening they decked out our table with balloons and flowers and then later on the waiting staff played drums and sang to us at our table and also presented us with a very nice cake – excellent touch. So if any of you have got any birthdays or celebrations it’s well worth contacting the hotel and informing your tour rep. As for the drink, never have I drunk so many cocktails in my life! There was so many to choose from plus the very friendly bar tenders would make up their own “specials” if you asked them. It has been mentioned that the spirits were weak, but not for us every one we had were very big measures. The pump beer had a bit of an acquired taste but I got used to it especially when it was served freezing cold. The animation team at the Mambo worked their socks off from morning until night with pool and beach games during the day and then a varied entertainment programme in the evening. They also did two beach parties on a couple of nights which were good fun. Not wishing to be biased but I thought the Mambo team were better of the three hotels. All the staff were friendly, helpful and happy and nothing was too much trouble for them. The bar staff were forever singing. The swimming pool area was kept spotlessly clean and there appeared to be plenty of sun loungers to go round but you still had the world wide scenario of people claiming beds at ridiculous hours of the morning and there were hardly any German’s there. The largest of the pools is at the Bachata where there was more than ample sun beds to go round. But apart from just one day by the pool we spent all our time down on the beautiful beach. The beach is just as you see in picture post cards – Palm trees, white sands, blue skies and sea. The Mambo has the wider of the other two beaches and also has a beach bar serving cocktails, cold beer and soft drinks. Water sports were available on the beach including a dive school. My wife and I enjoy a flutter and we had a couple of (quick) sessions at the casino in the Bachata hotel. This was the only place where we saw miserable staff. The dealers at the tables all had glum faces. I like a game of Blackjack and usually enjoy a bit of banter between other players and the dealer but not here I might as well have been playing in a morgue!! I don’t know if the staff were under orders not to smile but they could have done with taking some “happy pills”. The casino is also the only place in the entire complex where you have to buy your drinks from the bar. You don’t even get free drinks even if you are playing which I thought was a bit off. However, you are free to bring drinks in from the bars outside although this is a bit awkward when you are at the tables playing. The one plus point about the casino is that it is one of only a few places that is air conditioned and offers some comfort from the sticky warm evenings. The disco at the Mambo is also air conditioned and apart from the internet rooms everywhere else is “open plan”. We booked with Thomas Cook and both the T.C. reps, Fran at the Mambo and Helen at the Merengue were great. They both do the welcome meeting together and were very informative. We booked two trips with them. A charity evening at Ocean world where all the local Thomas Cook reps put on a show and then you are also treated to a Caribbean show called Bravissimo plus there was quizzes and raffles the whole idea is to raise funds for the local children’s hospital which a year ago was in a very run down state. You are shown a film of the progress and it is very thought provoking. The evening includes free drinks during the show plus free drinks afterwards if you play in the casino, a far happier casino I might add plus I won on the night. There is also a night club you can enjoy at the top of the complex which has panoramic views all around Puerto Plata. A most enjoyable evening that I can highly recommend. The other trip we done was the Mega Trucks which is a “must do” trip. You are taken by old army trucks out into the hills and tiny villages to meet the locals. The children’s faces are a picture when the trucks turn up knowing that you have gifts for them. Many people at the end of their holiday leave stuff to take up to the villages for the kids. We also bought sweets to give to them. Mega Trucks is a whole day and includes horse riding, lunch and a visit to a private lagoon so take your swimming gear. Be warned though, it can be a very bumpy journey. The tour guide we had – Kelly was a real laugh. A really enjoyable day out. Returning to the Mambo I have to say that the entire RIU complex was kept in a pristine condition, guys were constantly keeping the pools clean and ladies were always keeping the toilets spotless along with the public areas. Hand gel was squirted into your hands as you exited the loo’s and when you entered the restaurant. I had concerns about the weather before we left as a weather website was forecasting thunderstorms every day. I need not have worried, the weather was fantastic the entire time we were there. Any regrets? Yeah, just one, because of our work commitments we could only go for nine days. Next time it will be at least two weeks, even longer if it were possible! I had better rap this review up, there is so much more I could mention but I would be taking up a whole web page!! Besides I think other items have been covered by other reviewers. Final word, brilliant hotel complex, brilliant holiday and at a good price too. Hope this is of some help, if you need any advice or tips feel free to contact me. Right, let’s start that diet!!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank finkfloydman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maidstone, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2009

Last week of August, our first trip to the carribean and not sure what to expect. As soon as we arrived at the Mambo any fears were allayed. We'd booked three rooms as a family and it was a pleasant suprise to find that the rooms allocated were next to each other without having to be requested, something beyond certain 5 star hotels in Europe. All the staff were friendly and helpful. Tips are appreciated but not expected.

The short review is that there might be better hotels, better beaches, better food, and better entertainment elsewhere, but Riu Mambo and the staff have managed to combine everything in a way that you would struggle to find elsewhere.

In more detail, we were lucky with the weather. Only one thunderstorm which stayed in the nearby mountains but was spectacular to watch from the sea. Otherwise, hot and sunny.

Rooms were a little distressed, but spotlessly clean and the little towel sculptures are a nice touch that raise a smile. As some other reviewers have noted, there was a musty smell in the rooms, but this dispersed after use. The room blocks and grounds are well kept and didn't have the feel of a big complex.

Food was good and no one in our party was ill. I'm not sure that booking the evening restaurant was worth while. The food wasn't any real improvement on the normal evening fare. No need to avoid washed foods or ice cubes as the water used is purified. Just don't drink the tap water. Ask for extra rum in the cocktails.

The pool and surrounds was clean, but the sun lounger pads could do with renewing and you have to do the towel thing if you want sun loungers together for the family. The beach is so close that you can easily wander between the two as the mood takes.

The entertainment team were particularly hard working and there was always something going on. But if you want a quiet time there's no pressure to be involved.

We all got away with only one or two mosquito bites, and the hotel grounds are frequently fumigated.

A warning about excursions offered at the hotel (not the Tour Operator excursions). The reps for the excursions set up little display boards outside the restaurant, wear uniforms, have glossy leaflets and look official. We booked a family horse ride through them. We met the uniformed rep at the alloted time and he took us to the edge of the hotel where we were handed over to another man who led us into the neighbouring fishing village. There we were met by two locals who had the horses and acted as guides. Health and safety was non existent, and the condition of the horses was worrying by our standards, but probably normal by local standards. We got to ride inland and on the beach (which I later learnt might be illegal) and never felt unsafe.

We also booked a trip to Ocean World through our Thomas Cook holiday rep (who was also excellent). This included the shark, sea lion and dolphin encounters. Ocean World is a relatively new construction and overall was a good day out. It was not until we got home and saw information on the Internet and an Article in The Sun did I realise the cruel methods of capture used to obtain the dolphins. Another animal welfare issue was that they had two Bengal tigers who show obsessive psycotic behaviour rather like the polar bears in London Zoo used to before they were moved to a better location.

That said, this is a Third World country where a fair proportion of the population live in absolute poverty with a hand to mouth existence. The economy is growing and many jobs are reliant on tourism. As things improve hopefully so will other standards.

Overall, a fantastic holiday and a bit of an eye opener. We're all agreed, we want to go again.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank kentishman61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK, Midlands
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2009

I cant believe i am writing my review nearly a year later (apologies for the delay). Booked through Thomson paid around £800 pp, flight was delayed by 7 hours from manchester so most people were irritable, flight ok seats uncomfortable would highly recommend the upgrade to Premier if you can afford it.

After the flight and delay we arrived at aorund 10pm Dom Rep time. Once at the hotel we were greeted by friendly staff serving cocktails which really hit the spot, we were shown to our room and pretty much headed for a bar and to grab some snacks.

I can honestly say even a year later my experience at the place was fantastic, staff are friendly, if you are travelling with girls you are likely to get plenty of male attention (not in a sleazy way) just what you would expect in any place in the world. I really dont know why people moan and compalin about holidays the place is immaculate, the food is great yes the pool at Merengue is a little small however THERE ARE 2 MORE TO CHOOSE FROM!!! I spent most days at the Bachata at the swim up pool bar :-). The drinks are decent you can ask for named brands i would try the Barcelo rum nice in the Cuba Libre.

All in all a fantastic holiday, it was perfect for me, great weather ,nice people, relaxing, alcohol free flowing, i guess if you want something different you wont choose here...although im not sure what you would be looking for if this didnt tick your boxes?

My waiter most evenings was a guy (very handsome guy) called Lilo service was superb so tip him cos these guys earn nothing and the same at the 24 hour Bachata Bar, his name Tulile.
Oh try the casino at the Bachata spent many a night losing my chips lol.

  • Stayed October 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Cheesywotsit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
west yorkshire
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2009

On arrival cocktails were given & suitcases taken to your rooms, the rooms spotless all staff friendly more than happy to help, entertainment typical all inclusive but the animation team are a great set of people, they make the holiday so ejoyable, they work from dawn till dusk, you have the choice of 3 hotels to eat drink or sunbathe at. The food is of a very high standard there is something for everyone, never no need to go hungry,

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank rgert
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

Property: ClubHotel Riu Merengue
Address: Bahia de Maimon, Puerto Plata 57000, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
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:
#5 Spa Hotel in Puerto Plata
#11 Top resorts Hotel in Puerto Plata
#12 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Plata
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
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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