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ClubHotel Riu Bambu
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Reviews (6,163)
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Reviewed 22 August 2014

We were staying at Riu Bambu from August 7th to 14th. It was our 4th trip to Punta Cana and the second stay at Riu resort.
Resort definately nees a face lifting. Also it is a little overpriced.
Check in was quick and easy. By the way, it was a welcome drink served upon our arrival.
At first, we wanted to transfer to another hotel because we were scared by the size of the place and amount of people there, but decided to give it a try.
We were never sorry we stayed. We had the second floor upgraded room, that was always cleaned by the time we were back from the beach. Every request we had was accomodated in no time. We asked for extra pillows, we got them in 20 min. We asked for some special food (my mom has some health issues), we got everything we needed. We speak English and Russian and had no problem comunicating with staff at the resort.
Food is average, but everything is frash and you can always find something to eat. Speciality restorants are a bit of dissapointment. We did not go to the Japanise one, but went to the other three. The buffet is better than any of restorants because of more food choices and flexibility. Drinks are good, no matter where you would get it from. In room alcohol dispencer was 90% of water when we arrived, but, after brief conversation with the front desk, it was replaced immidiately.
It was never a problem finding the spot either at the pool or at the beach. I even did not have to wake up early to get the spot i want. If you wanted privacy, you could find a quiet place, or you could stay around pool area to participate in resort activities.
Over all we had a great time.

Room Tip: only upgraded room
  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank 811tatyanaa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2014

This was my fourth trip to the Dominican over the last many years and I have stayed at resorts there that were great and some that were not so great. Reading the reviews, I honestly figured that this would be in the category of “the not so great”.
It was far from it. It was average to above average and we had a really great time the entire time from August 16 to August 19. Why ? perhaps because I figured it would be so bad based on the reviews and it really was not when I got there but mostely it truly WAS a very nice hotel. It was very clean, safe and very confortable.
.
There was some truth in the reviews and some that seemed overly exaggerated (not intentionally I am sure but based on the persons own expectations and experiences).

Please remember this – thousands of tourists from Israel, Switzerland, the UK, South America, USA, Canada and many other parts of the world all enjoy and enjoyed the resort without their voices ever being heard. I spoke to many while I was there and we were all saying how the trip advisor reviews (in a lot of cases) did not match our OWN experiences while we were there – living the dream !

Overall

If you let the 3 vs 4 or 5 star rating subjective battle get to you, staff not greeting you in the lobby, firm mattresses, smallish rooms, sun tan lotion in the pool, foul smell in the air, lack of nightly entertainment etc define your vacation VS the price you paid to begin with, an amazing beach, tons of beach chairs and palm trees, food and drink galore, clean rooms, good service and options when service is not that great, sun, surf and sand, then you will be doing yourself an injustice and worse – stressing over nothing and probably even LOOKING for issues because the negatives were planted in your mind, lol, as I found out and corrected quickly on day 1 !

I took the time to put in a lot of objective and some subjective information below based on my experiences together with some pictures I took, if it helps you please indicate that with the option at the end of my review (thanks)

All of the 4 or 5 RIU’s are in the same huge complex separated, so don’t panic when the bus that is taking you to your particular RIU has to make the rounds dropping people off , its fast and easy.

Please don’ forget that you absolutely cannot drink the water from the water taps there. You cannot even wash your tooth brush in the local tap water. You cannot rinse your mouth in that water either. It’s perfectly OK for bathing and washing your face. I always take along a small kettle and heat the BOTTLED water they provide for rinsing after brushing my teeth and same for rinsing off my toothbrush. I am 100% certain that those that experienced stomach problems was because they either drank the water or brushed and rinsed in the local tap water and had nothing to do with the food there. The warnings are everywhere and even I ignored them on my first visit there many years ago thinking that I was some kind of tough guy, I paid the price . if you have babies – boil the bottled water and patiently wash their bottles or use disposable all of the time and 100% of the time,. Supervise their brushing because the habit from home of the tap running water stays for adults and kids alike. If you don’t know what Montezuma’s revenge is – you will soon find out if you don’t avoid the water orally

Check- In

We got to the hotel after the half hour ride from the airport at 1 pm. The check-in in time is 3 pm. They told us that we will have our room by 2pm and we did. We spent the time eating in the restaurant right by the pool that has a zero dress code (which is great for those with their bathing suits on). Our room was 0813 and any of the rooms are no more than a 5 to 7 minute walk tops from the main lobby. Not sure what people were complaining about ‘distance”. The beach is another minute from the lobby. As soon as I checked in, I opened the screen door to the balcony and turned on the air conditioner. It was not working. Angry (and pumped up from all of the negative reviews) I went to the main lobby and demanded another room, which they said they would give me (had to go through the manager as the front line staff don’t have that authority) , in the meantime my son read the directions to turn on the AC and it required that we shut the balcony door in order for the AC to kick in, which we did and it started working with no issue at all. I reminded myself at that moment to “stand down’ Lol and start enjoying myself, stop looking for issues and I did. No one greeted me with a drink or funfair and I simply DID NOT CARE !

We have the greatest baseball players on our Toronto Blue Jay team and every time I go there I give some piece of baseball equipment(s) to the local kids. This time I took two kids baseball gloves and gave it to the gentleman in the picture attached as he was one of the [people that were mentioned in the reviews over and over again for his services at the check in counter). He has two boys 3 and 4 and these were perfect. He had no idea at all about the positive reviews about him personally nor the negative reviews regarding reviews/check-in. Folks people here don’t seem to care what you have to say as it does not filter down to the teams on the front line apparently. Why? Probably because (for now) they have the hotel filled with eager tourists. If you are going please print off a copy of some of the reviews. They really were surprised by them (the front line staff) lol

Rooms:

For sure the rooms are smallish, but so functional. You don’t go to the Caribbean and spend time in your room other than for sleeping and changing !.The rooms are in a cluster of 8 or so connected to a small lobby and we met our maid on day one and tipped her 2 American dollars. That was it. Our room was spotless every day and on day 1 had flowers all around to welcome us. I woke up every night to go to the bathroom and with my flashlight handy LOOKED for roaches etc and found absolutely NOTHING not once day or night. All of the Hotels in the Islands have these very tiny tiny ants that are in the bathrooms and are so harmless and don’t get into your things or bite or bother you. Get over it. It’s not like it’s a bug infestation that some are making it out to be. None of the people we met experienced any kind of bug problem. Do the islands have roaches ? YES they do Its life there ! BTW the fridge was well stocked upon our arrival with free pop, beer and water (plus rum etc). they never restocked as people complained about. That did not stop us from getting our water from the front desk (they keep a supply there and we went there every day as required asking for even more then we needed once). At home I have a very firm mattress so the transition to the firm mattress here was easy. I can see where people complained about the “hard beds’ because there are firm and maybe even hard for some people. I slept like a baby every day as did my two kids and other then our friends from the UK who were partying loudly till 5 am one night (with their heavy English accents arguing over nothing lol) we had no issue at all.

Smell:

Many reviews indicated that there was a foul smell in the air from “sewage” . OMG, it’s nothing more than the fertilizer they put on PARTS of the lawn, such a small area too , maybe twenty feet in the entire resort, that smells IN THAT AREA for seconds as you go by when the water combined with the heat creates that smell. It was absolutely nothing. It’s gone in seconds as you walk by and does not permeate the air all around, or in your room, dining or beach area

FOOD

I make it a point to not stay in an all-inclusive for a long time because I can and because the food ALWAYS gets boring after some days. It does not matter what resort you go to. The food was great and a ton of variety to pick from. Sure some of it was bland but it was all fresh and all OK. Everything here is washed with purified water. Salads etc. I have definitely seen better and also seen worse. This place is about average. They don’t lay out many cakes for example that are full size as they do in other resorts but do lay out small pieces. The breakfast in the am was always great. One end of the buffet (the Colonial that is connected to the lobby) has the chef making omelets and the other end another chef making fried eggs, scrambled, sausage etc. A tip I learned about tips in these places that appreciate them is to put down your two dollars AT THE START tucked under the salt or whatever and watch as your service is over the top not just that day but you will be remembered for the REST of the days as well. They would always save or direct me to a table. People hate to tip but love to complain. We are simply taking about TWO DOLLARS and not 15%. You want good service when you are competing with hundreds of others – tip and relax. I would have my coffee pot and water brought to my family and me over all others – every time in the Dominican with that simply tip , the second trick is to try and stick to the same general area as they will remember you – and won’t forget you and are so appreciative of the small change
One review said that as long as you are not a Gordon Ramsey you will be fine – that was right on the money and probably the best way to describe it. There is something for everyone in there – no matter who you are.
The Mexican restaurant was also buffet and the service was excellent there. It’s a different atmosphere and more relaxed then the hustle of hundreds in the Colonial. It took us minutes to register which we did on day one and got it for the third day We enjoyed the food (especially because it was buffet and not a la carte) and they had a chef who made fresh burritos right off the grill. Strangely, a couple next to us, left in 5 minutes of eating because the wife found the food ‘too Mexican” as she indicated in a huff for all to hear. ! God love the UK !.

ENTERTAINMENT

It was bad lol. As the reviews indicated. For the entire three evenings the same (poor) entertainer had a sing and dance along with some kids. We knew going in that it was going to be bad and made sure we planned our OWN entertainment in the night. A trip to the casino (Ocean world) was great, Took a cab there for 50% and back (he waited for us) and we socialized with the nice people from around the world. The Internet access in the lobby is for 90 minutes – once a day – so you cannot break it down into am or pm. Just a hint when you acquire the wireless connection it will present you with one more screen that requires you to tick off the “I accept” free access button before you are connected. The connection allowed me full connectivity. Additional pay-for with work stations are available.

BEACH

The beach is awesome and beautiful and relaxing, with many chairs and trees-for-shade scattered across the sand. There are no rocks in the beach floor under the water, allowing for a comfortable wade/swim. It’s true that the waters here do seem to be especially dense with uprooted aquatic weeds floating around, but we too got over it pretty quickly. I saw one poor man spend most of his time picking up these weeds and trying to make a clearing for himself instead of enjoying the unbelievable warm water. Because the waves are (gently) thrashing about you don’t see the bottom of the water like you are in a clear part. But it was glorious and what we came for. We spend hours enjoying the ocean together with so many others. I have attached pictures I took from the Ocean looking at the beach (it has a lip that separates the beach from the ocean) and from the beach looking into the ocean. You will see evidence of the weeds , again you will get used to it in no time at all.

SERVICE

I too had very mixed feelings about the waiters and bartenders. Some were very happy to serve and assist, and sometimes you'd get cold distant vibes, like the just want to move you along. Overall, the service was generally warm and reliable, but not exceptionally consistent (I cut this quote from one of the reviews as it is spot on). The difference and game changer is the almighty tip that I already indicated works to your advantage
Must do/visit
Once again we made sure we left the resort for part of the day for a must experience visit to the Cave in the Dune Buggy tour that is offered by many and can be booked in the hotel by the registered tour operators. The trip involves being picked up (and returned) from the hotel in an open air truck with seats , driven to a ranch some half hour away, you get your very own rock and roll dune buggy 4 wheel drive , you drive out to the cave but along the way you stop at Macao beach for about 30 minutes – look it up - it is spectacular and is a public beach. Absolute pure white sands, zero weeds, pure blue water and you can see the bottom – plus opportunity to wash off all of the dust you picked up from the drive out there ! You must bring along a bandana (it costs 5 dollars US to buy one at the ranch) to cover your mouth and need sunglasses to cover your eyes (even the locals wear both) because the dune buggies goes through some dusty and bumpy back roads total buggy trip is about a 90 minute drive there and back from the ranch.. This time we wore our water shoes / flip flops, either are a must have Vs slippers that come off when you are driving. The safety helmets they provide are digesting, worn out and don’t fit at all (one size fits all). We wished we had brought along our own bike helmets which would have been more comfortable, safer and healthier. Most of us had to take them off because they kept dropping onto our foreheads and no one cared if we had them on or not. My 11 year old daughter sat next to me and loved the experience of these wide open buggy’s. You can make arrangements to reserve a 5 person buggy/one driver if you have family members . I wish I had taken the option of 20$ US for a video that they will offer/shoot at the ranch of your family of the entire trip to the cave and back. I did purchase some pictures they took (they will offer you a package of 200 pictures for 50 bucks) .The video option is better and they will give you the DVD very quickly at the end of your trip when you are back at the ranch.
The cave is unreal. Absolute coldest water and you can see the entire cave which is about 50 feet from one end to the other and 25 feet deep./ It is an experience to visit that you will never forget. Your stuff is all safe with the ranch staff while you swim in the cave water. It can get crazy with the tourists arriving and leaving but all great fun. We all compared prices we paid while we were waiting for the buggy’s and the average was about 100 US per BUGGY. So don’t let them sway you when you book it based on number of people as long as it works out to about $ 100 per buggy you are in the ball park. Some paid $ 300 with 5 people which makes sense because they had 3 buggies with 2 people in two of them and one person in one of them we paid 200 for three people 9two buggies). Every penny was worth it and the overall time we spent was about 5 hours from the time we left the hotel till we came back – again the fun and experience you will have is worth the money (and you won’t have to rely on the hotel entertainment to see you though). The previous time we were there we visited Ocean world and swam with the dolphins. It too was amazing but only to do once in your lifetime I think

We took our own cab back to the airport instead of waiting for the bus which leaves three hours and change before the actual flight departure. It costs us 40$ US, but allowed us the luxury of eating breakfast unhurried and about two hours extra in the hotel (you need to check in just over an hour at the airport – the check in supposedly closes 1 hour before the flight leaves). The duty free at the airport for alcohol and booze plus colognes and other was a great prices when we compared to the prices offered on the plane and In Canada on the duty free going to the Island.

Go have fun and you will I am sure will, keep the right frame of mind, stay positive and you will come back refreshed – feel free to send me any questions you may have

Room Tip: rooms on the higher fllor vs street level seem to have no bugs at all
  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
25  Thank mxd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 August 2014

This was are first time staying at a Riu and we we will definitely do it again. We had a deluxe room in the 5000 so our walk was 5-6 minutes from the pools but it was clean, quite and a beautiful view of a palms. The AC and fan worked great and the shower pressure was awesome. There weren't wash clothes but we asked for some and continued to have them daily. The minibar was refilled every other day and there are 4 bottles of liquor ready and waiting.

The staff was great, from the moment we got there. We were given drinks at the check in and escorted to our room. They were always friendly and very accommodating. The Entertainment crew work very hard. They are working till 11 at night and back at it at 10 am with tons of smiles and energy.

Our kids loved the kids club and beg to go whenever it was open. They played games and went on scavenger hunts. They took them for walks and out for pizza and ice cream. There is also a pool there that they loved.

Pools were great. Love having the partially submerged lounges. There are 4 pools;the "bar pool" , then one a little further from all the activity, then the children's pool--love all the sand around it-I can be at the beach and still have my kids in the shallow pool, then there is a quiet pool. While enjoying the pools and snack bar you can still enjoying see the ocean.

The Beach is awesome. Tons of lounge chairs and palms to relax under. The water had some kelp but you can just swim past it. Wish there were some chairs closer to the beach for those that can't get up and down into lounges. Some benches along the sidewalk would be nice for beach viewing.

The Food was good. The buffet always had a ton of choices for all the meals. We went to the Mexican, Japanese and Steak house restaurants. All were good, great service, loved the steak at the steak house. At the buffet drinks are both self serve and you can request drinks from server(although that may take more time). I wish there were bus boys so the server could spend more time serving.

I love that I never felt like someone was waiting or expecting a tip. We tipped those we felt were doing a great job but not everyone as tips were suppose to be covered in the all-inclusive.

The best part of the trip was probably the massage by the beach. We had Maria and Ruth and they were excellent.

Bottom line--this is NOT a 5 star hotel but is very nice and was a great price.

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
5  Thank tperez64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2014 via mobile

We recently returned from staying here for 2 weeks in the very expensive British school holidays. Whilst this is certainly not the best hotel we have ever stayed in, it was perfectly good. I've read bad reviews of the staff on here and I have to say they were absolutely brilliant. We travelled with a 5 and a 3 year old and every single member of staff we encountered were so friendly and brilliant with the kids. With the way I saw some Europeans and Americans being rude to the staff, I'm not surprised if it got their backs up, some were so rude that the staff don't need to put up with that. If you are polite and friendly to them, they are polite and friendly back, simple manners really.

We did stay in a deluxe room rather than a standard room and I am so glad we did. The room was lovely, well cleaned, mini bar always fully stocked, towels changed every few days and the cleaner was great. We came back one afternoon and our kids were grumpy and tired so she knocked on our door with 2 balloons to cheer them up.

The beach was fantastic, yes it had a lot of seaweed, but it is the sea, get over it.

Cockroaches etc. Never saw one the whole stay. We saw 2 mosquitoes, 2 cats and a lizard, none of the above were in the restaurants or our rooms.

Food - ok, this was my biggest issue. Avoid the mexican at all costs. Everyone I spoke to got ill from it including myself and our 2 kids. Hygiene is not brilliant, i saw staff eating food as they were preparing it which made me feel a bit sick. We had 2 ill days the whole time we were there but it spoilt the food element for me as I didn't consume any meat at all after that and developed a major food paranoia for me and the kids as that seemed to be the cause of problems.

Pools - the only pool that was awful was with the swim up bar. Totally down to the riff raff it attracted rather than the pool itself which staff had trouble keeping control of. Sit by a different pool then there's nothing to complain about.

Kids club - fab staff in here too, my kids built great relationships with the staff who were really caring. It's not like a British well maintained and secure private nursery, so if you don't treat it as a means of ditching your kids while you go off and do something else and just keep an eye on things, there's no issue here either, our kids loved it.

I wonder really why there are ao many bad reviews on here as it is not deserved in my view. It is a family resort with a bit for everyone. If you want peace and tranquility go to an adult only luxury resort. This hotel does not pretend to be that.

I also have some tips for visiting
Dominican and this hotel. If you want the most modern room, get a deluxe, you get what you pay for. If you are too lazy for a short walk of 5 mins from your room to the buffet then stay in a smaller hotel. If you don't want to see an insect during your stay, don't visit a tropical country. If you don't like a natural beach that may contain a bit of seaweed, go to wet 'n' wild. Seriously, I don't know what people expect, it's not Disneyland so keep your expectations in check.

It is a great reasonably priced resort in a poor country where staff work incredibly hard and long hours to earn a living, it wouldn't hurt to appreciate that.

This was a 3rd time in Dominican and while we wouldn't go back to this hotel as we like to try others, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Just be careful what you eat, don't over do it and keep hydrated with water and not alcohol during the day, then you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Stayed: August 2014
9  Thank DC3535
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 August 2014

This was our second trip to Punta Cana, our fourth to the Dominican Republic and most definitely the last - we will never visit this country ever again!

After paying a not insignificant sum of money to travel with the TUI group during the British school holidays to Punta Cana we were left deflated and disappointed for the second year in a row. If you are not Hispanic, American or Russian and loaded down with U.S Dollars....forget it! The Dominicans are not interested in anyone who doesn't tip, lots, and all the time. There is also no such thing as taking your turn or standing in line. All you need is a fluent command of Spanish and a pair of elbows and you're in!

We were very disappointed by the standard of our Riu hotel overall. We thought we were booking a family oriented resort, safe in the knowledge that we would receive the same quality and levels of service as in other Riu hotels we have stayed in. This is definitely not the case at the Bambu. The rooms are dated, they are lacking in facilities, there is no facility to make a hot drink in your room and the mini-bar is never replenished unless you ask. Standards of hygiene are also very poor, particularly in the colonial buffet restaurant. I realise that the Dominican Republic is a tropical country, BUT, cockroaches for breakfast in a 5 star platinum resort? I don't think so!

Several British families who were holidaying at the Riu Bambu experienced genuine food poisoning and one person was hospitalised for four days. I don't mean they drank too much booze and sat out in the sun too long. They actually became properly sick.

The Main swimming pool was badly maintained and unusable from a family point of view. Once positioned at the swim up bar many guests would not leave the "comfort" of the pool for the whole day. I guess that's why it's called la piscine....in at the top....out at the bottom....you do the maths! There were no life guards and two children nearly drowned in this pool during our stay. They even found a turd floating in it one day.....casually fishing it out and tossing in an extra bucket of chlorine....job done - not!

We will never travel to the Dominican Republic again. Having visited four times before - enough is most definitely enough!

Having said all of that - congratulations to Thomsons. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is just fantastic - especially the flight home!!!!!

Room Tip: We stayed in 1314 .... reasonably quiet most of the time ... away from the stage near the basketball court.
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
7  Thank Mike W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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