Let me start by saying, I was just like yourself surfing and reading up on the reviews. Reading all the praise and/or horror stories of the Good, Bad, & the Ugly of other's travels. In my travels I've stayed in 5-Star resorts all the way to the complete dumps that you couldn't get away from fast enough. The Riu Palace Punta Cana is sitting comfortably on its laurels in its 4-Star rating. This hotel is what you make of it, and is all in your state of mind. That being said here are my two-cents, of my recent visit/experience. (June 29 - July 9, 2014) Also just remember kindness and respect will get you everywhere!! Take it easy, remember you ARE on Vacation.
Upon arrival at the hotel my elderly parents, nephew, and myself were greeted at check in with a nice cool beverage. The check-in process itself was quick and painless, the rooms were ready on time and we were quickly escorted to them. The lobby is spectacular, statues and art reproductions line the walls, not to mention the gran chandelier as you walk in. It is something to see when it is all lit up.
The room itself was as expected and seen in pictures, I opted for the Superior rooms and the view is of the lush gardens and pool area. Regular rooms are exactly the same minus this view (so if its about the view for you, upgrade if not you will be in the exact type of room facing other hotels and landscapes). The rooms were clean and maintained to normal peoples standards unless you choose to nitpick about everything. Now I will agree with others about a slight musty odor, BUT this is to be expected in ANY tropical climate due to the humidity. Its the smell of the sea air, and you will grow used to it after a few hours in the climate. The Housekeeping staff is very attentive and always willing to do what they can. I was lucky enough to be paired with a true jem of the housekeeping staff, ANA MURILLO. Ana went out of her way to make sure our stay was a pleasant one, it was like having a second mother around, making sure we survived our nights out. Always greeting us with a smile and a good laugh; and of course a beautiful new towel creation daily. And I must add this!! In my excitement to hit the beach I accidently left Jewelry and cash out... I know, I know.. When I realized what I had done I rushed back to the room. The room was cleaned and my jewelry, thought lost to the world, was in a neat pile for me. I WAS IN SHOCK!! While I don't recommend testing this theory in any hotel, it was nice to know that there are still a few VERY HONEST employees in this hotel, THANKS ANA!!!.
The Beach... well what can you really say.. ITS BEAUTIFUL!! And I would think so, isn't that the reason most of us are booking this trip anyway. The swimming pools are average. The infinity pool is nice, but small. The Large pool with swim up bar is ok as well. The temperature of the pool changes throughout the day as the sun heats the tiles, and not for the reasons most claim due to no one moving from the swim up bar haha. The swim up bar is another animal in itself. It is VERY difficult to get a drink here. As there is only one bar with 4 bartenders working, its a busy place with a lot of demanding people all wanting complex mixed drinks. If everyone was ordering beer or something directly out of the frozen machines it would move faster, but as they are not it does take some time for each persons order. (Pool Tip- order simple frozen drinks virgin or alcoholic in multiples, and you will be fine) There is also a Free Spa available to guest of the hotel. It is in the back of the Spa building past the glass doors. Here there are 2 small co-ed tiled Jacuzzi style pools, one cold and the other heated. They also offer separate facilities for men and women with showers, steam and dry sauna rooms. While they are separate, keep in mind that everyone tends to roam free in all the areas. So use au natural at your own risk haha.
The food and restaurants vary by your particular tastes. The Main buffet "Don Manuel" does its job of offering an array of foods. Somewhat limited depending on your tastes, but there is something for everyone from the vegans to the hard core carnivores. Keep in mind that the clientele here is mostly European, and the buffet is catered to their tastes. You may see foods you might not be familiar with, give them a try you are on vacation. If you don't like it, don't eat it, that simple. The desserts are kind of one-note, with not much out of the buffet style desserts. (Dining Tip- Pick a section/servers in the buffet and go back to that one for every meal you have there. The servers are very good at remembering your likes and dislikes, and will accommodate accordingly) Our servers for this trip were JUAN #1 & JOSE MIGUEL. These men were always eager to serve and make sure your dining experience is to your satisfaction. THANKS AGAIN JUAN & JOSE!!
The Theme restaurants are very hit or miss. While there we experienced the: Japanese, Italian, Brazilian, & Steakhouse. The Japanese was just horrible! Its all great during the sushi course, then goes downhill fast from there. Avoid it if you are expecting anything resembling Asian cuisine. The Italian was ok. The antipasta bar is great, with a slightly different selection for the regular buffet antipasta bar. The pasta course is hit or miss with how al dente your pasta is cooked, sometimes with a mix in the same serving. The Brazilian is an assortment of roasted meats and your run of the mill salad bar. For my fellow carnivores out there this is the place for you. But most meats are cooked well-done here, so don't expect much less. But you might get lucky like I was when I heard people complaining about it being raw, I flagged the guy over to discover they were complaining about medium-rare beef. Needless to say luck was in my favor that evening...mmmmm medium-rare steak.. The steakhouse is actually very decent. The starters is a platter of various seafood. (One strange fact though- for a place that serves Lobster and crab, there is not a pair of claw crackers to be found at any restaurant on this resort!! Be prepared to crack and pry them with your hands) The steaks here are cooked to order, so it can be as rare as you like it, or they can just make you a hockey puck.
The Nightlife and Bars are truly what you make of them. I will be honest there is really no set night life after the evening shows in the theatre end at 10:30/11:00PM. The shows are exactly what they are Hotel Shows, don't expect Vegas! But the performances are somewhat entertaining if you just sit back and relax with a drink or coffee. The hotel does offer a shuttle service to the neighboring Macao property's Casino and Night Club every 10/15 minutes. The casino is SMALL with about 40 slots and 4 table games. If your are expecting any resemblance of a casino you are used to this is NOT the place for you. The Nightclub is what you would expect, small dark room with lightshow and loud music. But keep in mind it is not owned by the hotel and you must pay for ALL drinks here. Should you choose none of the above the hotel does offer two other options on property the Lobby Bar & 24-Hour Sports Bar. The lobby bar is a nice quiet place to unwind and have a coffee or drink. The beautiful atmosphere allows you to relax, have conversations, or meet other hotel guests. YAHANNI is always ready to serve up drinks with a smile. The only down side is that it closes at Midnight, and lights are off by 12:15AM and its a ghost town. The 24-Hour Sports bar is where everyone decides to go after all is closed. They have multiple TVs showing various sporting events from around the world. They also have a snack area of Nachos, sandwiches, hotdogs, hamburgers, and fruit plates. RIJO the bartender here is here to help you finish your evening. He will make sure you have a great time, and wake up with a great hangover in the morning if you want to. The kind of hangover that keeps you going back each night, and wondering why you even left in the first place!! THANKS RIJO!!!!
All in all the resort is a great place to vacation. It is all what you make of it for yourself here. If you choose to nitpick and be miserable that is exactly what you will find. BUT if you keep and open mind and just enjoy yourself you will have a fun memorable time, I know I did. And PLEASE PLEASE let us all remember that Tipping is not a city in China, While tips are not required, they ARE appreciated greatly. That $1 that means little to you could mean much more to them. So let the staff know that they are doing something great even if you can't do it monetary but with a gracious THANK YOU. You'd be surprised how far that can get you on your vacation. Put yourself in their shoes in your own job, do you remember the multiple people that complain to you, or the few that appreciate you and show it. You would go out of your way for them and they will do the same for you!
Should you want to try excursions I would highly suggest Saona Island, chat with MEL from VIP travel in the lobby, he will take great care of you.
- 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 * 50 km / 31 miles from Hig??Ey * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Int???L. Airport ... 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