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Hotel Riu Palace Macao
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Reviewed 12 May 2009

We got married at the Riu Palace Macao on March 18th and had 61 of our friends and family join us who all stayed at the resort. We had such a great stay and so much fun!!! I'll get into the the wedding details later for any of you brides (or grooms) out there that have a ton of questions like I did when we were planning this!

THE RESORT OVERALL: First of all, the beach is GORGEOUS. I've travelled quite a bit around the world, and the beach is one of the nicest I've ever seen. Wide sand area, clear beautiful torquoise water, tons of palm trees, and miles for walking.

The resort is very nice - beautiful grounds, nice pool, great restaurants. The buffet always has plenty to choose from and you could easily eat at it every night, but we really liked the a la carte restaurants, especially the Krystal restaurant, which had killer food. The Japanese and Caribe Grill restaurants were very good too. Most of the staff were really friendly and most importantly, always kept the drinks coming! The beach bar was great during the day and they serve you drinks while you're laying on the beach. The main lobby bar was good at night, we'd usually headed in there after dinner for drinks and to watch the live music and dance. We didn't end up watching any shows so I can't comment on that, but some of the people in our group did and said they were pretty good. If you're really looking for a party at night, the Palace Macao usually quiets down around midnight, but there were lots of young people partying next door at the Riu Taino, and there's also the La Pacha disco that goes all night. We went there one night and it was pretty fun - good dance music and quite a few locals.

The rooms are decent - they are a tad old fashioned, but really i can't complain as they were clean and I felt they were just fine. Being the bride and groom, we ended up getting a fabulous room upgrade (if you are getting married, don't be afraid to ask for an upgrade - i don't think we would've got it if we didn't ask). The bedroom was separate from the "living room" and the balcony wrapped around the whole room, with a nice sized sitting area on the balcony and a spiral staircase leading up to another level with a jacuzzi tub! Our room was huge, and the bathroom was big too. It was great.

Take advantage of being able to use the other Riu resorts. The Riu Naiboa was nothing special, but the Taino and Bambu (on each side of the Palace Macao) have great swim-up bars. We enjoyed going there for a couple hours some afternoons, as the Palace Macao didn't have a swim-up bar.

We only did one excursion - a snorkelling/sunset cruise which was really fun. We did it through the Scuba Caribe desk and if you get enough people to fill a boat, it's only about $25 US for 3 hours. There was lots of rum on the boat, the snorkelling was OK, and they also took us to a nice swimming aread where they served us drinks on a floating tray! BY THE WAY, Brugal, the rum there, is really good. It's not as strong as rum in Canada/the U.S. though, so don't worry if they pour it half and half, you'll probably be OK! We also played beach volleyball some days, got massages (which were GREAT and not very expensive), and shopped on Caribbean Street. There is decent shopping there and lots of souvenir type stuff, along with some decent jewellery and clothes. If you walk down the beach for maybe 20 minutes (towards the Riu Taino), there are lots of other shops on the beach that are way less expensive. We are divers, but heard the diving around Punta Cana wasn't great, so didn't spend the money to do it. If it was anything thing like the snorkelling (which was really just OK), I'd advise not to do it. There is a wreck that you can dive at, which might be alright.

THE WEDDING: Let me start off by saying, we are SO happy we had a destination wedding and chose the Riu Palace Macao. I don't regret a thing about it and highly recommend it! We got everything we wanted with our wedding there. I wasn't sure we would, and was prepared to be flexible with options, but honestly you can pretty much have whatever you want as long as you pay for it. We loved that we got to spend a whole week with our friends and family, and everyone had such a great time.

Juliana and Joanna are the wedding coordinators and they are amazing. If you are thinking about getting married there, know that you can trust them. We mostly worked with Juliana, and before we got there, I was back and forth e-mailing her months beforehand with so many questions. I'm a planner so i wanted to know exactly what we were in for, but at the same time, I'm a pretty laid-back person so I was willing to accept the fact that we might not get our wedding exactly how we wanted it. We wanted our ceremony right on the beach in the afternoon, and a private reception/dinner at one of the restaurants complete with speeches, a slideshow, and a dance. Well, we got exactly that. In fact, out of every tiny detail, the only things that didn't work out were that we had to have our ceremony at 3 instead of 2 (we thought it was going to be at 2, but then they said we had to have it at 3, which actually worked out better!) and that we had to have more than just our wedding party at our head table due to the fact that our group was so large. Big deal.

Before the wedding, you meet with the wedding coordinators to pick last minute details - flowers, colours, set up of restaurant, centrepieces, etc. and pay for everything. They had great choices for flowers - my bouquet had white orchids, birds of paradise, pink roses, and pink/white lillies and was beautiful. My bridesmaids had calla lily bouquets and the corsages/boutonnieres were white orchids. We had bright gerber daisies with greenery as centrepieces. Juliana was really great with explaining exactly how the day would go. We also met with the photographer and videographer and chose the package with the album, CD of photos and DVD. Let me just say - this package seems expensive, but it it SO worth it. Once you see the handmade album and DVD you will be so happy you paid for it. The photographer took very nice pictures and made sure to get people out of the way who were walking by on the beach.

Before the ceremony, my bridesmaids, myself and my parents were up in my room waiting for the call to come down. We had some champagne which took the edge off. Our ceremony set-up was stunning - huge palm arches with flowers, white chair covers with bows of our wedding colours, rose petals spread on the walkway, and the best part - the beautiful turquoise beach in the background. We brought our own minister (a family friend) who did the ceremony and we had a quick rehearsal the day before to make sure we knew what we were doing. Juliana was present at the ceremony though and made sure everything went smoothly. I gave her a CD of ceremony music and marked it with exactly what songs to play when (processional, signing, recessional, etc.) and she played everything perfectly. I would HIGHLY recommend choosing the beach ceremony location as opposed to the wedding gazebo, unless you are very worried about privacy. The setting was stunning and the pictures turned out gorgeous. I went barefoot and remember thinking during the ceremony how cool it was to have my feet in the sand while getting married. Yes, there were lots of people standing around watching, but you really don't notice them and the photographer and wedding coordinator keep them far enough away. After the ceremony, they passed out champagne for everyone at the wedding, then we did photos. It was the perfect amount of time in between the ceremony and reception, which started at 6:30. After the photos, the wedding party went up to our room to hang out and drink champagne. We had just enough time there before we made our "grand entrance" into the reception! We had an MC (who used a cordless mic from the DJ - he didn't have a podium but it was fine) who started off the night, then we had a 5-course dinner (Caribe Grill menu) which was very good. During the dessert our friend played a slideshow for us on a huge screen that we rented from the resort. Then we had our speeches, then started our dance. IMPORTANT: if you want to have a full dinner, speeches, and dance, there is no way you'll have time in the allotted 6:30 - 10:30 slot that you pay for to have a private reception. Since the dinner was 5 courses, and we had a slideshow and 6 speeches, we didn't even start dancing until 10:30 - 11ish. SO, you just have to let Juliana know beforehand that you want the DJ/restaurant longer, and then you pay $200 US per hour extra that you want after 10:30 ($100 to the DJ and $100 to the restaurant staff). We finally stopped dancing at 1:30 and then some people headed to the lobby bar to keep partying (it's open all night.) All in all, it was a FABULOUS day and everything turned out pretty much perfect. The DJ wasn't awesome, but he had quite a few good songs and I had made a couple CDs that I brought with our first dance song, etc. and some good dance songs in case of a crappy DJ. If there are certain songs you want played, I'd highly recommend you bring a CD or two, because he didn't have a lot of the songs we wanted.

What a perfect and amazing day. It all came together so wonderfully. I might add too, that it was the nicest day weather-wise of the whole week, and the people who stayed 2 weeks said it was the best day of the whole 2 weeks. We'd highly recommend having a wedding at the Palace Macao if you are looking to have a destination wedding. It was one of the best weeks of our lives, being there in paradise with all our closest friends and family. Feel free to message me if you have any questions about getting married there, as I know I had so many questions when we were planning. I also have some pics I could show you.

Overall, this was a great place to stay and a wonderful place to get married!!

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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15  Thank Dani_worldtraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 May 2009

First I'd like to say that I think people that wrote negative reviews (the ones with nothing positive at all) likely have little travel experience and/or are way to picky to travel to a third world country.
I went with a group of 40+ people for a wedding and besides one incident no one seemed to have any complaints.

FOOD: The buffet restaurant had a ton of variety so there is no way anyone could go hungry unless they chose to. There is a lot of American food (fries, hotdogs, burgers, pizza, pasta) for picky eaters but there is also less common foods (for me, a person travelling from Canada). One thing I will say though is (and this applies to any one going on a vacation anywhere) if you eat a lot of food that you aren't used to (like greasy food, fresh fruit, seafood, whatever) you will likely get sick. Not because the food is bad but because your body isn't used to it. This happened to one person on our trip but after a night of being ill she got better.
The a la carte restaurants were good. If you go you MUST check out Krystal, it was amazing. The food there was similar to what you could easily drop $100/person for here in Toronto. I didn't go to the Japanese one but the wedding party went the night before the wedding and they enjoyed it. The seafood was good but no lobster, 5 course meal which was very filling. The steakhouse was ok, I ordered my steak rare and they served it blue, which was gross to me but they would have recooked it if I asked. I just went to the buffet instead.

THE BEACH: To sum it up GORGEOUS! The beach was so beautiful, palm trees clear water, soft sand, ahhh. If you go with children go in the water with them because it gets deep very quick. Also lot's of nasty old topless women and gross old men in speedos but that's the same anywhere in the Caribbean. If you get a chance try a massage in the huts on the beach. A lot of people in our group did them and they loved it.

SERVICE: The staff work hard to make sure you enjoy your stay. We tipped, but not all the time, yet our group of like 20 younger people were always served. Sometimes it is slow to get your drink but if you look at the bar it's because the bartender is so busy... worst case scenario you go up and order the drink youself. Being a young female I did get creeped on a bit so watch out for some of the male staff as they don't hide the attraction well (this also happened in Cuba and Mexico so nothing new). Room service was ok, fast enough, though one person in our group was assaulted after ordering room service so watch out if you are alone.

THE POOL: The pool is nice, nothing special. It was a little deep for me in most areas, I'm 5'1 but I never wanted to use it much anyways. The pool closes at 7 for cleaning which is when it was getting dark anyways. There is no swim-up bar at the Macao but we were allowed to go to 4 of the 5 Rui resorts (all a short walk) and the Bambu had one which was fine. The Rui Palace is a resort we are not allowed to go to.... but if you flip your wrist band so it is white side up you can go as their wrist bands are white. If you get caught leave immediatly......

The ROOMS: Room were nice and clean. Maids came by and cleaned twice a day (except my sister was always sleeping and had the DND sign up so ours wasn't cleaned as often). There was beer, pop (pepsi, sprite & fanta), and water in the mini fridge as well as alcohol dispensers in the wall! On arrival there was a fruit try excpet there were bugs so we put ours in the hall. Two large beds pushed together but easily pulled apart, lot's of closet space and nicely decorated (lot's of wood). Our ceiling had a mirror on it above the bed (eek!) so we slept on only the bedsheets, no duvet cover (because I worked at a resort here in canada and they only washed the duvet cover here once a year!!!).

The WEDDING: The wedding was soooo beautiful. They did an amazing job, with the arach made of flowers/greenery and the rose petals along the sand. The day was windy which was less than desirable but other than messy hair and the brides vail wrapping around a tree on the way down it made no difference. The only thing I disliked about the wedding was the people watching. At one point a couple started dancing to the wedding march as the bridesmaids were walking down and people on the beach were staring and taking photos. It was odd but didn't bother anyone.

PACHA (the nightclub): On Caribbean street there was a nightclub called Pacha. It was fun but don't go alone (if you are female). The locals did come up and try to grind but walking away, finding a guy from the group, or telling them to leave worked. Drinks are not free in the club but you can go back to the resort to get more. Music is good and the dancing was fun!

Remember to: not drink the water, pack bug spray, tip for good service, enjoy yourself... your in the Dominican!!

Overall I would recommend this resort to friends BUT it is not a great resort for younger people. The entertainment and overall style of the resort it geared towards an older crowd. We spent a lot of time at the Rui Bambu which had more younger people and it was great. As for excursions, you MUST do the happy hour sunset cruise (tropical storm) it was amazing.

  • Stayed: May 2009
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3  Thank meli28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 May 2009

Just got back from a weeks stay at the Rui Macao in Punta Cana and wanted to bring to your attention about room service.
During our stay a girl had order room service. She said that apx 5 min after room service had been delivered there was another knock at the door, she thought that it was the waiter who had come back. She opened the door and found it was someone else and was assulted. I'm not sure of the degree of the assult but she had brusies on her arms. Her boyfriend was arguing with the staff at the front desk and she was visibly upset.
There are no peep holes in the door so please be carful as to who you open the door to.

While at any resort you have to watch out for you safety (girls should be in pairs while walking at night or going to the bathrooms) but you don't think about that while ordering room service.

Other then that scare, we had a great time at the resort. If you get a chance, check out the Krystal Restaurant . The food is incredible!
The buffet was great with a wide selection of food. Some of the items ran out but were refilled in no time. The entertainment staff were very entertaining and put on great nightly shows. Unfortunatly the night of the Caribbean street party it rained and the party was cancelled, but the staff put on the best Karaoke night that I have ever been to!

Lots of talk about the air conditioning. Don't expect it to be blowing freezing cold air. At first you even wonder if any air is coming out at all. The majority of the rooms in our party were kept cool enough to be comfortable. A few were really cool and a few were just ok.

When I arrived, my bar fridge had 3 beers, jug of water and a Pepsi. I had to call do get another jug of water when I ran out. The third jug I took off a cart that was in the hall. They didn't fill up my fridge untill 4 days later. Then they were there the very next day to refill it again! Others in our group were restocked every couple days. Not a big problem, all you have to do is call the front desk. But in my opinion you shouldn't have to call for anything.

The 24 hr room service was fast, after getting back to the room from the night club and ordering food it almost arrived before we had a chance to sit down!
Again, just be careful if you are a female alone in the room, who you open the door to.

  • Stayed: May 2009
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4  Thank Mikeferd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 May 2009

We had a perfect time in Palace Macao! The food was just perfect, there where much variety, we think that the food was really the best part of the hotel. However the animation on the hotel was also very good, everybody was friendly and very nice with us, and we hope some day, we will be back again!

  • Stayed: June 2008, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank urkinha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 May 2009

We picked the D.R. specifically because they had a Riu Palace and had good luck with them in the past. This is a poor relation to the Palaces in Mexico. The food was very bland, the service so-so and amenities lacked such as a swim up bar. One of the restaurants we had dinner in was so poor that I told my wife to relax, we would get room service later in the evening. That turned out to be untrue after the 50th unanswered ring. We were pretty hungry by breakfast time. We also used the spa located within the resort for massages. Turns out that the spa had a different owner and our one hour massage turned into a 30 minute oil bath. Not sure where the training is coming from, if any. This is a shame in that the beaches in Punta Cana are excellent. Too bad Riu's quality takes away from this.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank texsweat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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