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“Could Have Been 'Excellent,' Instead of My 'Very Good'”

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Hotel Riu Palace Macao
Ranked #43 of 111 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
Flanders, New Jersey
Level Contributor
41 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Could Have Been 'Excellent,' Instead of My 'Very Good'”
Reviewed 28 May 2013

We looked forward to this six-night getaway (May 18-24) for months and, for the most part, were not disappointed. In fact, some of my expectations were exceeded. The Riu is a first-class resort in Punta Cana – fancy, clean, picturesque, a wonderful and cooperative staff – everything a beach vacationer who enjoys the all-inclusive experience could want. My only reason for not giving the Riu Palace Macao HOTEL a perfect 5-out-of-5 score is the truly terrible Riu Palace Macao CASINO, which I have reviewed separately (1 out of 5) on its own specific Trip Advisor page. ( http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g147288-d1019356-r161879759-Riu_Palace_Macao_Casino-Dominican_Republic.html )

Here are some key points of what I thought of the otherwise tremendous Rio Palace Macao HOTEL:

Accommodations: Superb. We upgraded after two nights because my wife enjoys a bathtub while on vacation. Know in advance that the standard or so-called superior rooms do not have tubs — a fine-and-dandy shower, but no tub. Superior, in fact, is pretty much a standard room with a slightly better view. Nice, as hotel rooms go, but not nearly as spectacular as our junior suite was – spend the extra and get the junior suite. By "spend the extra," I mean either book the suite in advance, or (a tip here) perhaps even better, work out some kind of one-on-one deal with the manager(s) once you get there. Special thanks to Widney and Leo, always aiming-to-please at the front desk, for being overly accommodating with every request we made throughout our trip. Our suite had two balconies, Jacuzzi jets in the tub, two TVs, a separate living room, comfortable king-size bedding, two ceiling fans and the A/C worked fine, a bidet as well as a toilet ... the works. The daily towel sculptures you're used to seeing on cruises are here, too, and they made a bunch of them on our Sunday there because the front desk knew it was my wife's birthday. Every room here, even the standard, has in-room liquor dispensers and a stocked mini-fridge with whatever you request, even just bottled water or orange soda in addition to beer (Presidente).

Beach and pools: Gorgeous. From the in-pool slabs or outer-pool beds you can spread out on, to the shaded areas you can have or create, to the around-the-pool activities offered (swim races, dance lessons, mini-golf, coconut parties), to the palm trees, sandy beaches, and relaxing ocean waves, it is picture-postcard material. The swim-up bar is a great place to meet new people and learn about the many other Americans, Canadians, Brits, and other Europeans who are also on vacation with you. The Riu Palace Macao is adults only, which does not mean anything untoward whatsoever, but a number of women, mostly Europeans, go topless. I, as a juvenile and immature American man, enjoyed spotting them when I could. ;-) But if this makes you in any way uncomfortable, then try one of the other three Riu hotels within this giant four-hotel complex. Also, I had read beforehand that the seaweed on the beach might be a problem -- while we did see it, and some occasional driftwood, too, neither hindered our delightful ocean swims or long or short walks on the beach. By the way, pack the best (like 100+ SPF) sun-tan lotion you can find.

Food and Booze: My wife and I slightly disagree on the dining quality. We both thought the buffet has something for everyone, though the mysterious cold cuts on the salad bar were a bit of a turn-off. Breakfasts here were great ... because of our suite with the balconies, when we woke up we threw on shorts, a shirt and our flip-flops and went downstairs, grabbed a pot of coffee, and filled up a couple of plates with morning eats (the omelet station was my favorite), then retreated with everything to our room to enjoy it there. We tried all four specialty restaurants and rate them in this order: 1) Fusion (it’s something different from home, so you’re not sure what to expect from this gourmet menu, but everything was tasty and plentiful); 2) Japanese (they went above and beyond for my wife’s birthday, including balloon decorations and her own special dessert cake, and again, the meals were prepared well); 3) Steak House (the appetizers were better than the dinner, and the supposed lobster with the surf-and-turf was more in the langostino domain than authentic lobster); and 4) Italian (I guess you shouldn’t expect great Italian food in the Caribbean, and this was only fair -- I did not find anything at the salad bar worth trying, and my wife compared her lasagna to a frozen dinner). Over all, my wife said the food quality was often no better than one of our local diners back in New Jersey, though I think that’s a bit harsh. I actually felt as if I was being treated somewhat special with each meal, and I especially looked forward to stopping by the number of nearby "snack" places and grabbing a chicken wing or a cookie if the hunger urge struck my fancy. As for drinking, we’re red wine folks, and the vino is not good here – those who have compared it with kerosene aren’t far off. We stuck to the house champagne for our beverage with dinners, which was O.K., and did the fruity drinks poolside and at the bars. Tip: Be specific when you order, and if you see a bottle of vodka or rum you know you like at a bar, ask them to start pouring the drink with that liquor in your glass. I always ordered the orangy frozen drink (which already had a little bit of alcohol in it) at the swim-up bar, but requested that the bartender start it by pouring a shot-and-a-half of Stoli vodka in the glass. Kept me quite mellow and smiling throughout the week.

Extras: Don't worry about spending a lot of money here, because the shopping is pretty much the same cheap junk (T-shirts, beach wear, jewelry, art) you can find at your local Wal-Mart for half the price. We didn't take advantage of the scuba, windsurfing, or fishing excursions, as we were here strictly for rest-and-relaxation, but if any of those is your thing, it's available and affordable. We did spend a little bit of time in the spa at one of the adjoining Riu hotels, and we found this to be much like going to an American salon -- like paying about $50 for a pedicure, or a little more for various kinds of massages. The Riu Palace Macao sometimes has shows and usually has free nightly entertainment, so you can dance to a live band (both Caribbean music and American pop hits) up until about 11 o'clock at night off the lobby bar. Hotel staff members try their best to help you have fun, going up to people of all ages at random and asking them to dance.

Staff: All personnel went above and beyond, from the front desk to the entertainment and housekeeping staff to the bartenders. I had to literally and jokingly argue with one of the breakfast waiters, in my limited Spanish, who kept insisting to me that I was on vacation and that he should carry my pot of coffee back to my room for me (I said: "Gracias, pero yo lo tengo" -- "Thank you, but really, I got it."). I thought this all-inclusive might be a place where I’d have to hand out dollar bills continually as gratuities, but it wasn’t that way at all. Nobody has their hand out here, though they’re all eternally grateful when you do slip them some cash for top-notch service. We needed our in-room safe looked at a few times ... the same guy was promptly there each time and, after his quick fix and resetting of the combination lock, he would be on his way leaving for his next assignment before I'd have to run up to catch him to give him a $1 bill. He was quite pleased with that. Interestingly, that same safe-fixing guy also did the job of hacking up the coconuts at the late-afternoon pool party! Fun.

Now, if only the Punta Cana or Riu powers-that-be could fix and improve that [--] casino.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Mike R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (764)
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English first
Saint Louis, Missouri
1 review
Reviewed 27 May 2013

We just returned from a weekend getaway at the RIU. The hotel was absolutely beautiful, and the staff was warm, inviting, and attentive. The rooms were nice, and the bathroom was beautiful. The beds were too firm for our liking though, and the sheets did not seem very clean. The buffet food left much to be desired. After two days at the resort, I could predict what food would be available since there was not much variation from day to day, meal to meal. We did experience the Japanese and Italian specialty restaraunts. The Italian meal was the best, the Japanese meal was mediocre. The servers hospitality at all of the meals made up for the dissapointment of the food.

The pool and swim up bar were never too crowded, and ounge chairs were plentiful. The activities at the resort were redundant and few far and in between. There wasn't much for nightlife at any of the resorts, and the drinks were bottom shelf and watered down. So if one is looking or a nice relaxing vacation with beautiful scenery and great service, then this is your place. However if you are looking for the total package of food, entertainment, service, and beauty; then you might need to search for a more active place with better food choices.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Marchgems
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
manchester
Level Contributor
56 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 May 2013

We stayed at the Riu Palace Macao from 24th April for 10 nights. The Riu resort is fantastic, made up of 5 riu hotels, 3 of which are in the riu palace range. The Macao is the only adults only hotel and this suited us perfectly.

The rooms are clean, with a huge bed and very nice bathroom, complete with glass wall. The beach was fantastic and is great for long walks in either direction. Turning right out of the hotel and walking down the beach you find a local market, right on the beach front which was quite unusual to see.

The all inclusive basis was one of the best I have experienced. Spirits were named and the food was varied and plentiful. The steak a la carte restaurant was a little disappointing (salty steak) but the italian and krystal were fantastic and all included in the price. We did not try the Japanese. Nothing was too much trouble for the waiters and waitresses.

The only reason I haven't rated the Macao 5 stars is that at times I felt that it could have been more relaxing. We had booked for a relaxing, adults only holiday but often found that the area around the pool was noisy (particularly the pool bar mid-afternoon) and the entertainers were constantly trying to get us up to play the games despite us saying all we wanted to do was relax!

Aside from that it was a great holiday, with fantastic amenities and brilliant staff.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank TheCrossley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wigan, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
38 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 May 2013

Just returned from my first and definitely not my last visit to this superb hotel. Everything I needed was catered for and more. The room was spacious, food excellent and drinks plentiful. Staff were attentive and very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. Everywhere was spotless.
The hotel is right on the beach and had a plentiful supply of sunbeds and many shaded spots under the palm trees. The beach was white coral sand and the water was warm.
By the pool were shaded sun-loungers, double canopy beds plus double beds in the pool. Additionally there was also a swim up bar, mainly occupied by the usual bunch of loud excitable Americans.
The 'Animation' team kept up the activities by and around the pool by day but were not intrusive; evening entertainment was also put on for those who wanted to participate.
All in all a very good hotel and priced about right.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank 767Chris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2013

We just returned from Riu Palace Macao (D.R) where we stayed for 2 weeks. Riu Palace Macao, exclusively for adults, is absolutely wonderful resort, newly renovated in 2012.
Check-in was easy and quick. Nice surprise : familiar face of the Reception Manager Mr. Ramon Garcia, we remembered him from previous stays in this resort. Since the first moment in this resort you feel like home. We have got room #3229 on the 2nd floor ocean and pool view. Room was very nice, re-designed during renovation, very clean, contemporary decorated and very nice maintained during our all stay.
After renovation, resort has renovated main restaurant and newly build modern restaurants: Italian "Volare", Steakhouse "Pancho", Japanese "Kubuki", Gourmet "Krystal" and Pasteleria "Capuchino". Also re-shaped main swimming pool and new swimming pool with pool bar "Coral".
Beach of the Riu Palace Macao, in our opinion, is the best in Punta Cana. Wide, deep with white sand, lots of palms and shade. Plenty of beach beds any time of the day.
Food and service in this resort is absolutely amazing! Spanish "tapas" style of food involves lots of kitchen staff work, but it is brilliant idea and makes beautiful food presentation.
About service : Under the personal supervision of the Assistant Hotel Manager Mrs. Dasha Kovacikova and Food Manager Mr. David Martines, Riu Palace Macao has tremendous and dedicated team of the people working very hard to make your vacations luxurious and very special.
They do their service perfect and they where very helpful, friendly and nice, all staff! This was really "no problem and everything is possible" resort during all of our stay. Thank you very much!
See you soon our friends!

Margaret and Boguslaw from Canada .

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank bwkowal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
oxfordshire
Level Contributor
28 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2013

Stayed at the Macao from the 25th April for 15 nights.
Very clean, beds comfortable and loved the walk in shower.
Food was the best we have ever had at a Riu hotel and we have visited 12 of them to date..however agree with some comments about dishes not being labeled. Visited the Steak House, Italian and Fusion and all were good, but liked the variety in the buffet.
Champagne was good, but wine was awful....shame as usually the rose is half decent.
Pool is clean and the bar staff lovely - especially Noel. We preferred the beach, plenty of shade under the palm trees and never a problem getting a bed. The beach was beautiful and all you could see for miles and miles was sand. The sea can be rough (I lost my sunglasses on the second day, so beware!) but clear water and warm.
We too were told we could use the facilities in the other Riu hotels (except the Punta Cana Palace) this is not the case, we were refused a drink in the Bavaro!! The adult only is pleasant and after walking around the other hotels consider we made the best choice.
Excellent value for money, would go back but have many more destinations on my wish list to visit first.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
5 Thank minimacca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Foz do Iguacu, PR
Level Contributor
31 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2013

I work and hotel and specially in Food and Beverage Department.
So I am very picky with everything related to hotel and food and beverage.

Riu Palace Macao is a good hotel for the price its charge.

Pros:
The service everywhere in the hotel is good. People work smiling all the time, but a tip it is always welcome.
The rooms are large and well designed.
The food at the buffet is good, but after 8 days eating there, it gets kind of boring.
The location is fantastic.
The swimming pools are very nice

Cons:
The quality of the drinks are not very good.
The animation team is a little boring, the same dances and the diretor of the animation team is very stupid with his employees and wants to be "the man".
The food and the utensilies at all a la carte restaurantes are very poor and need hardly improve
The cleaning at all hotel are not the best one. Needs to improve the cleaning as well.

Overal, it is a good place to stay, even though the cons above.

Room Tip: Ask for a sea view room!
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank NettoSt_Louis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Macao

Property: Hotel Riu Palace Macao
Address: Playa Arena Gorda | Punta Cana, Punta Cana 35100, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#19 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#35 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#37 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Macao 4*
Number of rooms: 364
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana. * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. * Within the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Bavaro, Riu Naiboa and the ClubHotel Riu Bambu. * The Splash Water World will be opened from 1st November 2016 * 3-storey building. Colonial style architecture. * Surrounded by 30,000 m2 / 36,000 sq. yards of palm groves alongside the beach. 50 km / 31 miles from Higey. 200 m / 660 ft. from Caribbean Street. 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Int'l. Airport. * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Macao Hotel Punta Cana
Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Rui Palace Punta Cana

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