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Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
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Reviews (5,351)
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All reviewsdon manuelmusty smellla bodegaspecialty restaurantssports barpalm treeskrystal restaurantcaribbean streetdominican republicmake reservationsother resortssteakbeautiful beachplenty of chairsthe wait staffmain buffetoutback safari
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Reviewed 29 May 2014

We were moved to the Riu Palace from the Riu Bambu next door and were so delighted to find we had a lovely room that was well maintained, spacious and clean. Our room was a garden view which was fine, the gardens are very well looked after. The food in all of the restaurants was good however, the the main buffet had lots to offer, I am quite fussy and often struggle when staying at All Inclusive properties so I was really amazed at how much there was to chose from with something different being offered every day. The individual restaurants were a nice change although on occasion the service was a little on the slow side.
We're not really into holiday entertainment in the evenings although it was surprisingly good and not hi de hi!
The beach was lovely, one of the bar staff came around regularly calling "drinkie, drinkie" and had a selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. The pool was cleaned every day and the staff at the pool helpful, the same drinkie, drinkie man came round at regular intervals.
One thing to note, take loads of small change for the tips, it doesn't appear to be expected but it helps the waiting staff remember where you are! We found it quite irritating that other guests had put out towels and belongings really early in the morning taking most of the beds right next to the pool and often didn't come down at all so the beds went empty all day. They need to have a system that if the beds are not occupied by a certain time the towels are removed.
All of the staff were friendly, polite and helpful, we were always greeted with a smile. Overall, a lovely hotel and one we would be happy to return to.

Room Tip: All rooms had a view of either the garden or the sea so there are no bad views.
  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Dawn S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

Getting There

Before you go purchase and print your Tourist Card ($10) online at https://www.dgii.gov.do/Tturistaweb/home.
Depending on the # of flights arriving when you do, this could save 20-30 minutes allowing you to bypass that line and go directly to the Customs officials.

The Resort
The RIU Palace is comprised of 4 resorts within one facility. The Bavaro is the newest and from appearances, the nicest and most modern. You have access to 3 of the 4 unless you book the Macoa which is “Adult Only” (when we were there that translated to geriatric). We were very thankful our travel agent convinced us to upgrade to the VIP section at Bavaro. That gave us access to an adult only pool that was much quieter than the main pool which had constant activity and loud music (of course that may appeal to many but wasn’t what we were looking for. Bring a bunch of dollar bills with you. It is all-inclusive but a $1 tip here or there goes a long way.

Our travel agent recommended we upgrade to the VIP section. This was the best advice we got! The room was a little bigger but the best part was that we were able to use the adult pool. The main pool looked like fun but it was primarily 20’s-30’s. Some toddlers but not many kids as school is still in. Unless you like the loud music, constant activity and a crowded pool, the adult section is the way to go.

Caribbean Street has a collection of small shops to buy cigars, rum, mamajauana (ask when you get there), t-shirts etc. The prices are marked up by a lot. Barter for everything. The Casino is the size of an oversized living room and our guide warned us of rip off scams etc. The Hard Rock is supposedly better but we did not partake.

The only excursions we did was snorkeling and shopping. The snorkeling was not really that great but we were told it was much better on the Caribbean side but that is a full day trip. The shopping we did was arranged by Apple tours and takes you to a small compound that has a Chocolate shop where the walk you through the process, a cigar “factory” where they give you a free sample and a cigar rolling display. There is also a rum shop and a gift shop that has a variety of things to buy. It takes 20 minutes to get there and they give two 2 hours there. It was fun and informative but not really “shopping”. There are other malls you can go to.

The food was better than we thought. Many of the comments on Trip Advisor were misleading, stating the ala carte restaurants were terrible. They were not. Neither were they 5 Star restaurants. Men must wear long pants in the restaurants. We ate at Taino, the steakhouse, and it was pretty good. We both had a small filet and ½ lobster. Both were small but tasty. At Krystal (Fusion) the lamb cutlet was good but almost too mild for lamb. There was a “snapper” entrée that was very good but was a 1.5 inch thick piece of fish. Very good but in no way could be snapper….probably grouper or mahi mahi. The Italian restaurant wasn’t really Italian at all except for the antipasto bar which served as your appetizer. The chicken was tasty but the “pepper and sausage” stuffing was almost non-existent. We did not try the Asian restaurant because my wife doesn’t like sushi and that was abundant.

The main buffet is where you eat breakfast and lunch (Taino is also open for lunch). There is a wide variety of things to choose from but because they cater mostly to Europeans everything is a bit off. They always had a wide variety of good fruit which was good. One day I was craving good old American food and had a burger without bun. It did not look very appetizing but was actually tasty. You will just have to experiment.

Misc.

Mini bar and a liquor cabinet (rum, gin, vodka, scotch) was restocked every 2 days. My wife is a wine drinker and we would simply ask for a bottle at any of the bars or restaurants and bring it back to the room.

Phone/internet access was spotty at best. There are computers in the 24 hour sports bar but 30 minutes will cost you $5

Bring a bunch of singles for tips. It is all inclusive but a buck or two here and there goes a long way.

Ask for extra bottles of water. You CANNOT drink the tap water. Remember to use the bottled water for brushing teeth, rinsing toothbrush and making coffee in the room.

We heeded one tip from an online review and brought our own insulated tumblers. Otherwise all of your drinks are served in 6 oz plastic cups at the pool.

Do not buy any large shells or even straw hats at the markets…..you cannot bring them out of the country. If you booked through a tour company they should have someone to tell you all about this.

Returning

The guide told us we did not have to print a boarding pass before going to the airport and I believe that was a mistake. It is a several stage process at the airport. You have to have your boarding pass and checked bag receipt before you can go to the counter. Either spend the $5 at the hotel or go directly to the self-serve kiosks at the terminal to print passes. Checked bags can’t weigh more than 50 lbs.

When you get back to CLT there is really no one to tell you the process. Make sure you keep your boarding passes and re-entry forms nearby. Go to one of the self-serve kiosks to check in with your passport. It will snap a picture of you and print a receipt. Then you go to a customs agent to anser questions. Keep the receipt with your picture on it from the kiosk. You will need to give this to the attendant before exiting to baggage claim. If you have travelled out of the country recently you may already know all of this but it was all new to me.

Room Tip: If you want a quiet vacation upgrade to VIP for Adult only pool access
  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank TomG1225
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

I recently spent 4 days at the RIU palace in Punta Cana and it was quite a disappointment. I have stayed at RIU properties before but this one came up short. First I reserved a junior suite superior what I got was a small room with twin beds and a 4 inch crack in the bathtub that had to leak into the unit below because it was thru the fiberglass. so the Jacuzzi tub was useless. After going back to the check in counter and asking for a different room I was offered one for $35 dollars a night but it was discounted to $100 cash. The room was the same except for the view of the court yard with the same issues in the tub, it had been refinished but it was peeling #2105. The room had a very heavy odor of smoke which was just about unbearable. The RIU also closes the pool area at 7:00 pm sharp and has a very limited entertainment selection. If you want to visit here I would recommend a different property like Iberostar.

Room Tip: The front desk said that all of the rooms are the same so superior don't mean much here not like RIU palace in Coasta Rica
  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank gary g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 May 2014 via mobile

We did not flash the cash until the last few days of our holiday. Up until this point we have just been polite and said please and thank you. All the staff including the management could not have done enough for us. We have been called family on many occasions. This is our second visit and will not be the last.

The food is varied and plentiful, the drinks flowing and the friendliness abundant. Those in other reviews who find the staff rude may learn something by treating others as you would expect to be treated

Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
7  Thank Lunner58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 May 2014

My boyfriend and I just returned from a 6 night stay at the Riu Palace Punta Cana. Some negative reviews made me a little nervous, but I don't know those people. Also, neither of us have ever been to an all inclusive or the Dominican Republic. We booked through Apple Vacations, so when we arrived Monday evening at the airport there was a van waiting to take us to the resort. There was also an Apple representative that worked at the hotel who met with us the morning after we arrived for a quick 15-20 minute informational session (very helpful!). Quick half an hour or so to the resort, no biggie. The resort is seriously beautiful! Check in was a breeze and they gave us the key and then brought our bags up minutes later. Since it is not America, smoking is allowed in the rooms, so our room had the slightest cigarette smell. This didn't necessarily bother us but we figured we should ask to switch rooms. They didn't give us any problems, switched the keys and brought our stuff from one room to the other. We were in 3006. We didn't have a garden view, we faced the Riu Bambu, which was fine because it was beautiful to look out anyway- plus, we didn't go to the Dominican Republic for a VIEW of the place, we went for the beach! The food was really good, no complaints. The staff in Don Manuel were so friendly and enjoyable. We gave them a few dollars a day, not because we felt like we had to, but they really deserved it! They had themed nights, one night we ate there and it was "romantic night". The staff decorated the tables beautifully, each woman received a rose as they entered- it was really nice. We also ate at the specialty restaurants- Krystal, La Bodega, and Luigi's. They were all delicious. I am not a big meat eater but I still enjoyed La Bodega. The drinks were also delicious, no complaints on the amount of alcohol they used either- strong drinks, especially at the theater bar. The entertainment at night was very enjoyable also. Servers come around and take your drink order not only on the beach, but also at the pool and in the theater. My boyfriend and I were on the younger side of the wide age range, but everyone was so friendly and anyone we spoke to had nothing to say but good things about the resort. Oh and I just wanted to touch on the "language barrier" that has been mentioned. You are going to the Dominican Republic, where they speak Spanish. All of the staff spoke English, but it is obviously not their first language. My thoughts are this- you are in THEIR country, you shouldn't expect them to be 100% fluent in other languages. We had no problems with any "language barriers". Overall, I really had an amazing time at the Riu Palace Punta Cana and have no complaints. My best advice is to go with an open mind, which is what we did. We really enjoyed it and I would recommend it to anyone. Remember- you are NOT in America and you shouldn't expect it to be that way, it's a different lifestyle in the Dominican Republic. You're also going for the beach and the pool- and those were amazing! Everything else was truly an added bonus.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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13  Thank Hayley L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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