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“Luxury”

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Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
Ranked #69 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed 21 February 2012

We stayed at this resort 2/05/12 to 2/10/12. The beach was amazing. The drinks were made to order individually. The lobby bar in the evening was the best!! The breakfast and dinner buffets were amazing. Lunch was okay. We have stayed at quite a few all-inclusives, Breezes, Iberostars, Barcelo. This was our first time at Riu. We were pleasantly surprised.

Room Tip: We stayed in 2143 and 2144. You want to be close to the beach. Bring comfortable walking shoes. T...
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
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    • Sleep Quality
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7  Thank baddiana1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 February 2012

My wife and I stayed here for a week from Feb 12 through Feb 19th. This trip was a complimentary trip from RIU since last year when we stayed at the RIU Palace in Aruba, they had overbooked the hotel for the first two nights and we were forced to find other lodging. We accepted the offer for a complimentary 7 night stay at any of their resorts and received a week here at the RIU Palace Punta Cana. I am an avid trip advisor reader and read the reviews months ahead of staying and booking any hotel. I will admit that prior to our travels to Punta Cana, I was extremely worried about how the trip would go since most of the reviews were negative. I hope that my review will help answer any questions or calm any fears of booking the hotel.

The airport is an open air building. Customs is not a big deal but be sure to take $10 USD per person for their "entrance fee" into the country. I am not sure if they accept credit cards so just take the cash and you will be fine. Also, there was a band playing at the baggage claim and the one member was litterally kicking the tip basket at everyone walking by and pointing to it. There are also lots of guys waiting in the baggage claim area that will grab your bags from you wanting a tip. The walk is not very far at all. If you don't want to tip or be bothered just give a stern "No thank you" or say "no money" and they will move on. We used DominicanAirportTransfers.com and had no issues. We opted for the private transfer which was nice because there were no stops in between and we were the only ones in the car. The drivers were quiet but did not drive crazy at all. The were also right on time for pick up to go back to the airport.

We arrived at the hotel after about a 30 minute drive from the airport. The hotel at first sight is very "grand" in appearence. It does look exactly like a palace. The aesthetic appeal continues into the lobby were you are greeted with large open celings and a mosaic colored glass ceiling. The check in process was very easy and quick. The front desk staff were very friendly. After reading the previous reviews about musty smells, I asked the staff for a top floor room and possibly one with a view of the pool. I also provided a small tip and the advisor stated to wait for 20 minutes and he will have a top floor room available but that the hotel was completely booked so he could not give us one with a pool view. After 20 minutes the room was available and our bags were taken up immediately.

The rooms are exactly the same as the Riu Palace in Aruba. They are spacious and clean however they could use some renovation and updating as the decor looks dated. While I would not rate this resort a 5 Star (as advertised), it definately could be 4. Our room was on the very top floor. We also had an actual king size bed rather than the two doubles pushed together which the RIU is known for. Our room did not have a musty odor to it, though we brought some air fresheners and Febreeze to be on the safe side. After reading the reveiws and speaking with other people at the hotel, I narrowed it down that most of the lower floor rooms are the rooms that have the musty smell. It seems that those who had rooms on the upper floors did not have the odor. My advice, bring air fresheners to be safe and request a higher floor. Also, the maids do an outstanding job. Our room was spotless everyday. We left a $3 tip each day. We had some sort of towel art everyday and at the end, the maid also gave my wife a Dominican necklace. The only problem we had was there seemed to be a shortage of small wash cloths. This was mentioned in other reviews so plan on running into this. You may want to bring your own to be safe.

The resort is layed out very nice. Everything including the restaurants and entertainment area are centrally located. There is an open air plaza which is where almost everyone goes to at night. They have live music and servers everywhere waiting to take your drink order. The pool is very big. The landscaping is beautiful and is kept very tidy. There are employees out everyday working on the landscaping. If you want some excercise, take a walk along the path the runs the entire length of the RIU complex. At the end, you will find the street with all the shops, a gym, and doctor's office. The staff also keep the resort extremely clean. The floors, the rooms, the bar areas... all very clean. I was blown away at how clean all of the bathrooms were. It seemed that there were staff members always cleaning them. No messy disgusting bathrooms by the beach. ALWAYS CLEAN! One tip: if it happens to rain while you are there, be careful on the walkways as they become very slippery when wet.

The majority of the staff were very friendly. Everyone always seemed to have a smile on their face and were eager to help. The housekeeping staff surprisingly were some of the most friendly. They always greeted you with a smile as you walked by in the halls. The wait staff in the bars and restaurants were also very friendly. We left a small tip at each dinner. We ate at the buffet all but one night and became fans of a particular waiter, Juan I. He was always nice and had our drinks ready before we even sat down. We always left a small tip each time but at the end of the week, we gave him a $10 tip for his kindness. He was very grateful. As other posts have stated, most only speak broken English. Keep in mind that you are in their country and Spanish is the primary language. I do not know much Spanish at all and we got by easily.

The beach was fantastic. If you look at any of my other reviews, we always book our hotels on well known and highly rated beaches. This beach again left no room for disappointment. It was very wide and clean. Plenty of shade from the palm trees and the water was crytsal clear. The sand was soft and white like powder. We took several walks a day along the beach and the RIU complex seemd to have the best beaches. We went to the Grand Bahia to the west where the beach was narrow, dirty and cramped. To the east was the Iberostar. They had no shade and the beach was crowded as well. This was not the case with the Riu. There was plenty of room for everyone to spread out and enjoy the beach. The only drawback to the beach is that you are on the Atlantic side of the island which means that the water is a bit wavy. While most could handle this, weak swimmers should just be aware. There is also no need to wake up early to "reserve" a chair on the beach. There are plenty out there. As far as the pool, it seemed that chairs with umbrellas were reserved early but we never laid by the pool. Why travel all the way to Punta Cana to sit by a pool?

The food is OK. I definately would say that it is not the best food we have had at a resort. The food seems to be repetitive and by a week's end, you will be looking for a change. I try to keep an open mind in the fact that this resort is truly an international hotel with guests from all over the world including America, Canada, South America, Europe, and Russia. I am sure it is no easy task to satisfy everyone's taste which involves such a broad culture of people. My wife and I both have sensitive stomachs so we watched what we ate. We avoided the red meats and shell fish. Neither of us got sick from the food. If you do have sensitive stomachs I recommend bringing some Pepto Bismo and Immodium as we saw others who weren't so fortunate.

All in all, I would say that we had an excellent trip. Despite the weather ( a lot of cloudy days), we had a great time. I would say that it was definately a pleasant surprise after reading the reviews. We were worried for nothing. I truly believe that you can either make or break your vacation here in Punta Cana and at the Riu Palace.While not the best resort we have stayed at it was still very nice. If you go in with a negative attitude, you will not have a good time. If you go in with a positive attitude and make the best of the things you will not leave disappointed. Try to keep an open mind. I would recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a nice yet affordable hotel in the Punta Cana area. Please feel free to contact me if I could help answer any of your questions.

Room Tip: Request a room on the upper floors.These rooms seem to be the rooms without the "musty odor&quo...
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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26  Thank YoungBuckTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2012

Just got back from a wonderful trip to the RIU Palace. We traveled February 11 - 18. Everything was wonderful, Service, Cleaniness, Food, Staff.

When we arrived at the hotel the manager gave a speech regarding the resort. He indicated that they were a 5 star resort and if we had any issues or concerns about it not being a 5 star resort to come to the front desk and tell him what the issue was.

Upon arriving at our room we found it to be very pleasant and with no problems. As a lot of people have complained in previous experiences of a musty odor, we had no issues. The only smell that I recognized was that of cleaning products, which lets me know they have done their job. The maid was wonderful and any requests or notes left for them were taken care of immediately. We probably went above and beyond and even left tips for our maid for the excellent service that was provided. I would recommend requesting the 3rd or 4th floor for the view.

For those of you that complain the water in the pool or ocean was too cold, please remember that this is also their winter season and remember what the weather is like for you back home. The weather for us was great in the upper 80's for their winter season. I will agree the pool chairs go quick but we did not have a hard time finding 6 to put together for our group and there are always plenty of chairs on the beach. Please remember that when you go to the RIU Palace you have access to use the RIU complex pools and beach area with the exception of the new RUI Bavaro. Towels the entire week for us were not a problem as indicated in several reviews. Most days we headed to the beach or pool around 10am and never had a problem.

The food at the buffet and speciality restaurants were excellent. The buffets for lunch and dinner had many choices. Salads, meats, cheeses, pizza, pasta, burgers, fish, chicken, soups, fresh fruits, and breads; not sure how someone couldn't find something that they would like. Every speciality restaurant had the menus available located outside so you were able to look over the menu prior to booking the restaurant. We enjoyed each of the speciality restaurants, especially the Japanese and the Krystal. These restaurants can be booked for 2-3 days in advance

During our stay we also took advantage of the spa, which has a jacuzzi, sauna and vapor room open to everyone staying at the resort. In addition we did pay for several massages during our stay and received excellent service. It was absolutely fantastic.

All staff at the resort were wonderful and are very friendly. I would recommend to anyone that enjoys the service that tipping goes a long way and the staff truly appreciates it.

I hope that everyone who travels to the Dominican and stays at the RIU Palace has a wonderful time. Anyone of the six travel on this, would return again in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: Upper level rooms.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
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7  Thank ratskiNeoga_Illinois
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2012

We visited the resort for our Christmas vacation.
The good: Very relaxing, laid back, right on the beach, people are nice, excellent service, very nice gourmet restaurants, very good drink menu, people were waiting to take your orders (they notice, your glass is empty, they ask you, if you need anything), definitely personable people

The bad: Buffet food was the same (same break fast, lunch and dinners all the 7 days we were there), the elevator was broken half the time we were there, very limited english speaking people around, smoking allowed: hence lots of smokers all-over the place, in the evenings sometimes there was no running hot water in the shower, may be because everybody showered at the same time

Would go back ? Definitely, but my wife preferred not to; because of difficulty in communicating in english, smoking, and broken elevators.

I liked the laid back and personable people.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank sunnyjames80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2012

We just returned yesterday (2/18/2012) from Punta Cana and our stay at the Riu Palace. This was our first time in the Dominican Republic and were so impressed with the helpful, smiling faces throughout our stay. The Riu Palace is beautiful--the grounds are lovely, the lobby overwhelming, the pool area clean and the beach, under the breezy palm trees, just so wonderful. We found the staff helpful and friendly, especially the entertainment staff. Our room was musty smelling when we first arrived but once the room was open the smell was gone in a day. We found the room and bathroom well maintained and comfortable--the mattresses are firm. Overall the food was average to good. We enjoyed breakfast at the buffet and had lunch at the buffet down by the beach--that food was very good. We had supper at the Brazilian restaurant, Krystal and the Steak House. We especially enjoyed the Krystal and the Steak House dinners. I was concerned with the negative comments that were posted on this website about the Riu Palace but I found that there are many more positive aspects to the resort than negative. Just go and enjoy the experience--the view of the ocean is to die for!

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
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3  Thank 1stmate658
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2012

My husband and I celebrated our delayed honeymoon March 10-17 2011 and after looking at just about every option out there, we finally decided on RIU Palace Punta Cana (RPPC). We were not disappointed.

Service: Everything from the front desk/check in to the maid service to the wait staff to the bartenders to the groundskeepers to the shops were just incredible. Dominicans are a beautiful people and I can't say that I've met a happier lot. We can't say enough about the wonderful experience we had. We did tip but the service merited it.

The hotel/grounds- are incredible. I cannot say enough about how pretty and well-maintained everything is. Impeccably clean. Not even a leaf out of place! The entire decor screams posh... despite the looks it was very relaxed and comfortable.

Most of the clientele were older couples, most were European or Canadian and we met so many really nice people during our week there. There were very few Spring Breakers and those that were here were not rowdy. Having been slightly afraid of that, we were pleased. Be prepared to avert thine eyes here and there if topless sunbathing bothers you. We didn't find it to be a problem, though it's there and it's not on a separate beach.

Water- I'm a big water person. I love to swim and typically that's in pools. I did not touch the pool once during this trip. The pool was very pristine and inviting but the beach and ocean were just THAT NICE.

Beach: The entire front of the RIU was spotted with coconut palms of different heights.As a redhead with a freckled husband, I was thrilled. Not having to leave the beach to get out of the sun was amazing. The "drinky drinky drinky" were plentiful on the beach. We never lacked for anything. Be sure to try the coconuts the Jardineros roll around in wheelbarrows. The eating ones are AMAZING. The drinking ones were decidedly tastier with rum.

The ocean- was warm, clean, clear, turquise and the waves were small. We really enjoyed swimming at least twice a day in the ocean. And the coolest thing was the shipwrecked Aston just out from the beach in the water. If you like to scuba, I think it would be a really interesting dive.

Food- I'm a foodie but not a food snob and am realistic. Going with an AI you know you aren't going to get the best of the best. That's just not going to happen. If you are hard to please, you will most likely not like the food. Don't kid yourself. The buffet caters to an international clientele so we found there was a little of everything all the time and all of it was at the very least decent.

I preferred the buffet over ALL of the reservation restaurants we tried. We tried all of them except the Asian themed one (that was only because we ran out of time). The main courses at the buffet changed daily, though it did have the regular items such as fruit and desserts and salad bar and so forth. For breakfast try the juice bar. It was by far my favorite part of breakfast and so fresh.

The drinks- no matter what bar were great. Not too strong, not watered-down. I really enjoyed the pina coladas and also the carribbean orange. I wasn't big on Pepsi and rum, though it did grow on me as the week went by.

The beds were a bit firm but it was not uncomfortable. I slept incredibly well all week but that might be more in part to being so active and out in the sun. In any case, how long do you really spend in the room? Not much, I hope. It's too gorgeous outside.

Definitely walk down the beach past the Iberostar and check out the local vendors. They can be a bit pushy wanting you to come into their shop and check out what they have but they are always friendly and sometimes you can get a great deal. There will be some vendors that are allowed onto the RIU property to sell during the evenings. They will try to pressure you into buying saying they won't be back until the following week or that it's about to rain and they will leave- but 2-3 days later, I snickered when I saw them out there once again.

We did two excursions through VIP and really enjoyed them. If you have a chance to get out and see other parts of the island, do so. We learned some history and saw everything from the mountains to the city to other areas of the coastline.

Overall, it was an great vacation. We highly recommend both Punta Cana and RIU Palace. We were relaxed and refreshed but still got to see and do a lot- which is what we were looking for.

Room Tip: Most of the rooms were centrally located. We had a great view even with a basic suite. If you don...
  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank seoid_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2012

I booked this resort, after having stayed at the Palace in Puerta Vallarta, which was outstanding. I saved long and hard to take my family of 10, which included 4 grandkids.

I was extremely disappointed in the PALACE. When you pay for a Palace, which I did, you should get a Palace.

The furnishings in the room, I believe to have been original issue, and are way over due for replacement. My g-kids had to sleep on extremely soiled sofa sleepers and the bedspreads were gross.

The buffet area was not well kept up, as neither were the table and chairs. It was hard to find a clean table and they did not seem in a hurry to find you one, unless you had a tip in hand. I am used to the waiters working for the tips first.

All in all, I felt very depressed, knowing what I had spent, and this is what I had to deal with for a week.

Think again before booking this resort.. Very overrated and overpriced.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
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6  Thank schoen45
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 Punta Cana

Address: Playa de Arena Gorda, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
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:
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#44 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#58 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#60 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#63 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#64 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: £123 - £344 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana 4*
Number of rooms: 612
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana * Inside the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Macao, Riu Palace Bavaro, Riu Naiboa hotels and the ClubHotel Riu Bambu * The Splash Water World will be opened from 1st November 2016 * 4-story building * Surrounded by 63,000 m2 / 75,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 40 km / 31 miles from Higuey * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Intl. Airport Accepted Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
Punta Cana Riu Palace
Riu Palace Hotel Punta Cana

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