Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel
Reviews - Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel
- Age Group: 31 - 40
- From: United States
- Traveller type: Family Traveller
- Age Group: 51 - 60
- From: Canada
- Traveller type: Relaxation Seeker
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Riu palace Punta Can Love Hate Experiancefrom Dayzfan
Punta Cana Airport:
Once you get there they take your picture with 2 Dominican girls. You can buy it when you leave. You also have to purchase a tourist card which is $10 per person. Once you get your baggage and you exit the area, there are men there waiting to help you with your luggege. You have to sternly yet politely refuse them because they are very insistent. Remember this is a third world country and people really nedd money here. If you need them by all means but id you don't be persistent, because they will take your luggage out of your own hands. The same goes for when you are leaving Punta Cana. Our Taxi driver had to yell at them because once he opened the trunk they were literally grabbing at our luggage and arguing amongst themselves as to who was there first.. Be careful!! I was afraid they would take our luggage.
We found that there were also other families there, with even smaller children. The kids had a blast going to the pool all day. There is a posting for kids activities at 10:30AM, however it's not true. The children's activity program is not very organized. However, everyday at 3:30PM one of the girls, Vanesa, from the entertainment staff gathered any children that wanted to participate, and they would play games on the beach, play in the sand, and play at the miniclub, whih consisted of a little tikes playground swingset, 1 1/2ft. pool, and air conditioned building with many games inside. I am not one to leave my kids with anybody, but this girl was amazing with the kids and just so nice. This gave my husband and I a chance to relax and do whatever without any worries. Food for the children was a bit of an issue. They didn't have any chicken fingers. Luckily, one of the waitresses brought me a fresh jar of peanutbutter, which is one of the very few things my son eats. We tipped her for her generous gesture.
First impression as you pull up the drive way is of entering a palce. Once you walk through the doors you feel like you've entered the lap of luxury. There are amazing chandeliers, sparkling marbe, high ceilinggs, and beautiful paintings. Everyone was very nice at the front desk. You get a welcome beverage, fruit punch, which is absolutely delicious and refreshing(non-alcoholic) the only thing is that if you order it again it will never taste as good. We don't really understand why. You do have to pay for your entire stay upfront. You are given a key, safety box key, and towel cards.
It is super hot here. You sweat from walking the slightest bit. It's kind of difficult to sunbathe on the loungers by the pool because there is no breeze. You kinda have to get in the pool, where there are loungers in the water. Very relaxing and definately doable. There is a fabulous breeze on the beach where there are many loungers avaialable, whether in the sun or under a palm tree. Also be Warned! The tiles are very hot. You must wear flip flops and leave them by where you enter the pool or your feet will burn. I met several people that even blistered. Everyone usually finds out the hard way.
The room was spacious. There were beautiful red flowers lining the sinks and two swans made of towels . The bathtub has jest, big enough for one person. The water preassure in our room around 6PM was awful. I kept loosing the preassure for the shower to stay on. You are provided with a gallon of purified water, soda and beer in the fridge as well as liquor dispensers. We kept one gallon of the water in the bathroom to brush our teeth with since the running water is not potable. Our room# was 2057, the view was great. We were right in the center with views of all the fountains, pool and yes even the ocean. There are 2 reclining chairs on the balcony as well as a device attached to the wall so you can hang your wet bathing suits. There was a turn down service at night which was nice. Kinda wierd the left a Halls mint on the bed.
Food: This is where we get to our hate part. We are from the New York area so maybe we are used to really good food, but the food was really mediocore here. Everything that looked normal kinda had a weird taste. We had the most trouble at the lunch buffet "AltaGracia" by the pool. You must be wearing a cover up and men a shirt to enter. They had burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and pasta. The hamburgers started out good and then you noticed something different. We ate a lot of french fries that was the most normal and good thing I could find. The bread was usually very hard. The shrimp had head eyes the whole thing, so we skipped it. The pizza was gross. The meat was strange and usually tough and overcooked. The best bet for food was breakfast. They had a huge array of foods, and for some reason their bacon was amazing!!!. They had pancakes, eggs all ways, cereals, coldcuts, breads, and fresh fruit smoothies (which were good). They also offered mimosas which were good. Dinner was sometimes good. Out of our entire stay they had 2 theme night at the main buffet, Dominican night and Mexican Niight, both of which were good. The restaurants are OK. You have to amke a reservation in the morning. We ate at the Italian, Brazilian, and the Steakhouse. All were OK. All the meats here are thin. So wether you have a filet or prime rib, it kinda looks the same. Be careful for mosquitos at the steakhouse. Because it is in an open area by the beach once it starts to get dark they attak. So definately bring some OFF.
We're not really sure from what but my husband experianced some stomach problems for a day. He was popping pepto tablets.
The people here were amazing, they were always saying hi to our kids. They were very friendly. The service at the restaurants and main dining room was excellent. They really try to bend over backwards for you here. They try to accomodate your every need. For example my daught wanted orange juice at dinner and they went all the way to the lobby bar to get it for her. It also rained the last night we were there and they were all working hard to make sure all the seats and floors were dry. There was a power outage one day andalthough no one would tell us what happened they tried to accomodate our needs.
You always have a choice of champagne, wines and beer at all of your meals. There is a pool bar and guys you can order from that walk around on the beach and by the pool. We found the drinks to be really weak. A lot of people shared the same opinion. Some people would get a cup of rum or tequilla and slowly add it to their drinks.
There were a wonderful group of men and women when we went. We really got to know them all. They had many differnt activities throughout the day like water aerobics, horseshoes, dance lessons, and our favorite Bingo at 5PM. We won ssome rum bottles. At night they had a mini disco for the kids around 8:10PM. They would sing songs and do dances with the kids. They would also usually play a game. Our kids won little prizes and got certificates. That was really nice. After that there was usually music for people to dance. Then at 9:45 every night there was some sort of show. Like a kareoke night, Tropcal Dancing, Kids show, Fashion Show, and Impersonation show.That all ended around 11PM. There was a club a couple of resorts dow, I never went but I heard it was a hook up place for locals and young girls. While we were there, there were 2 nights that local salespeople brought items to sell and set it up in the courtyard. Items like paintings, crafts, and jewelry.
There are a couple of shops by the pool area, with reasonable prices. A couple of hotels down is Carribean St. It's basically like a pretend downtown area smack dab in the middle of this resort complex. I bought some souveniers there again very reasonable. Not worth leaving the complex.
Overall this hotels beauty and people was amazing it was really the food that had us wanting to go home byt the 6th day.
The staff was very helpful and very accomodating. Anything you needed or wanted was brought to you within minutes of your request. However, communication with staff was very difficult. It seemed as though most of the staff was very limited to speaking Spanish, and the staff that did speak English didn't speak it very well. At times it was very frustrating. But having said that, the staff was welcoming and very hardworking.
One suggestion I would make if you are staying at the hotel is that you keep--at the very least--the fan in your room on. The air conditioning was a bit too cold, especially as the temperatures outside were so high. But when leaving neither the fan or a/c on, the marble floors became VERY slippery (because of the humidity). It was dangerous.
The food was delicious. And there was never a shortage. You were also able to request certain food be made at the buffet (ie: pasta, sandwiches, etc). The waitstaff was constantly refilling drinks and clearing dishes. And they were very friendly--even with the language barrier.
This resort is mainly for couples or families--not really for singles. However, compared to the other RIU's on the 'compound' it was by far the nicest and the cleanest. You are also able to go from RIU resort to RIU resort when staying at the Palace. So if you want to stay at a cleaner, quieter resort, but still have the option--as a single--to party I would recommend staying at this hotel and visiting some of the others during the day. Your all inclusive privileges are carried over--with the exception of dinner--to all of the other RIU's.
The pool area and beach were very quiet. They did have activites running constantly, but it was more of a relaxed environment. And the entertainment at night was so-so. There were themed shows every night, some kind of corny though. I would recommend seeing the Michael Jackson show--it was by far the best and the most entertaining.
I found that the beach, itself, didn't have the best sand compared to the other RIU's. I would assume that this is because it's a fairly new resort. But two or three resorts down, the sand was clean. Not to say the sand at the Palace wasn't. But it was a bit rougher and had more seaweed than the others. There were more than enough beach chairs both by the beach and the pool. And the waitors would come out onto the beach and offer fresh cut fruit and/or drinks.
I would definitely stay there again. And I would not hesitate to recommend it.
My room was Robbed at Riu Palace Punta Canafrom A TripAdvisor Member
Not as good as Palace in Playa del Carmenfrom travelboundDC
I don't want to be all negative. The weather was nice and it is always good to be on vacation and near a beach. But my advice would be to stay away from Punta Cana and go to Playa del Carmen instead, especially if you want good service, beautiful scenery, delicous food and a beautiful beach.
Relaxing in Punta Cana - the NEW Riu Palacefrom A TripAdvisor Member
- Beautifully clean, new facility
- Secure area (no solicitations)
- Ocean was relatively calm and clean (seaweed removed every morning)
- Swim up bar in main pool
- Lots of foo-foo drinks to choose from on menu
- Great powder-white sand beach with plenty of chairs for lounging and palm trees for shade from the sun
- Adequate Spa
- Can go topless on beach (could be pro/con, depending on who you are)
- Staff did try to accomodate all requests
- Nice, unexpected surprises upon entering room on some nights (can't tell you the surprise - it would ruin it)
- You can find something to eat at all hours of the day, if need be
- AC worked like a charm and rest of resort was cool
- We saved $150 over four days by choosing a view other than the courtyard. It was fine. We looked towards the closest resort with lots of palm trees.
- We weren't able to get Nextel service on our cell, but Verizon worked just fine.
- All food was bland, but I guess it's expected from a reasonably-priced all-inclusive (if you know much about Japanese food, avoid Yokohama restaurant - you will be disappointed)
- You can hear EVERYTHING in your room that goes on in the hallway; maids are exceptionally noisy; I put a towel at the bottom of the door but this did little to quiet the noise; recommend earplugs if a light or late sleeper
- Can't drink the water. Hubby got some intestinal thing, probably from brushing teeth with it.
- VERY few ice machines to cool drinks, etc. (machines have filtration systems on them though)
- Lack of English speaking waiters/hotel staff (except front desk) - this should improve with time
- Expectation of tipping for bag handling (airport, shuttle, and resort), some drink service (not beachside), etc. (Although prepared with a bundle of $1 US bills, it was annoying to have to worry about this given that it was forbidden at our first all-inclusive experience in Jamaica)
- Pool water felt like slightly warmed bath water (have to get out of pools by 7pm each day because of chemical treatment of water)
- Catered more towards morning people that turned in early which we were not (not a con for some folks)
- VERY STIFF beds (even after asking for a pillow-top mattress [from a review I read on here], they claimed they didn't have one; maid used thick blanket in an effort to make it more comfy)
- Requests called into front desk took 6+ hours to respond (although requests made in person to front desk personnel took 2+ hours)
- Flooding can occur in some hallways/rooms when a heavy rainshower hits (we were lucky)
- All water sport equipment was gone by 2 pm, so get there early
- 60 minute massage at spa for $60 US (they do a good job and you can specify if you want an intense or soft); manicure was okay (didn't get pedicure but noticed they used one of those cheap foot spa things you can buy at Walmart - tacky)
- Dinner at the Brazilian restaurant
- Try all the frozen drinks on the menu (our fav was the Costa Caribe); lobby bar is NEVER packed
- Ask for extra towels. For two people, we got two towels for the entire day. After beach time and other activities, you'll shower at least two times a day.
- Tip the maids $2 - $3 each day. They sometimes leave a surprise.
- Ask for extra gallon of water for fridge (if you find that you drink alot)
- If you don't have shuttle service from the airport to the resort, we recommend CoCo tours ($50 round-trip through Orbitz for 2 people). They were punctual and helped us out in a jam. We had to wait five minutes upon arrival and actually made them wait for us (they were bringing down our luggage) when heading home. Just remember to phone them the day before you're scheduled to leave.
- Cheat sheet of words in spanish for help, drink, thank you, please, water, towel, air, I don't understand, dinner, breakfast, reservations, good evening, etc.
- Bring an insulated mug for drinks because the cups provided are dinky.
By the way, unless you make other stops, it takes approx. 35 minutes to get from the airport to the resort. We had to pay $10/person to enter the country and nothing upon leaving (we didn't have any items to claim). All bags are searched upon departure. We'd advise getting there two hours early for departure and staying on the cool side of the airport (you'll know what I mean when you get there). All in all, we enjoyed the experience. It was pretty relaxing and a great way to recharge the batteries. Although we had a good time, we would not return. There are far too many other places in the world to visit.
Wonderful Beach Resort- Not for Snorkelingfrom bcmitchell
Enough said about that, remember land in Punta Cana. First of all let me say that the facility itself is gorgeous! That being said there is some room for improvement in the managing of the facility and the offered amenities. I will start by giving you the cons and then the positives. RIU bills this as a five(5) star resort, which the structure itself is. However, we booked our 8 day stay directly with Riu reservations, almost 3 months prior to the facility opening. When we made the reservations we asked for an Ocean view, with a King size bed. Upon arriving in San Juan, earlier on the day of our arrival we contacted the hotel manager on duty to let them know we would be delayed arriving there and to reconfirm our room requirements. No Problem. When we finally arrived at the Hotel at 3:30 AM there was no bellman etc. (remember now this is supposed to be a five star facility) we had to bring in our own luggage from the cab and found a couple of people at the main desk. We introduced ourselves and checked in. Because we made our own reservations, (and to be honest I am not sure about their policy if you book through a tour agency) We had to prepay for our entire stay when we checked in. They said it was company policy as they had been stiffed by people in the past, they had stayed and upon checking out their card was denied etc. So be forewarned you will be required to prepay for your entire stay when you check in. After checking in they did track down someone to see us to our room along with our luggage. When we arrived at the room they assigned us to it was a Side Garden view with two double beds shoved together, Not the Ocean View with the king size bed. We relayed our displeasure to the bellman who contacted the front desk. When he finished the conversation we were told that the room we were supposed to be in was not clean and they were sorry and would move us to a room like we had requested in the morning. (Now realize they had an additional 8 hours prior to our arrival to make the room ready after we had contacted them in San Juan). The night manager promised us a particular room, so we went and checked it out from the outside (it had a do not disturb sign hanging on the door) We said that the room would be acceptable and turned in for the night in the room originally assigned to us. (Note) The AC in this room worked great!. Lastly we asked the bellman about room service, since we had not eaten in at least 14 hours and were informed that the hotel had no room service whatsoever. If we were hungry though they did provide "ready to eat" snacks in the sports bar which was open 24 hours a day. We just went to bed. (We did find out later however that you could get your choice of 3 different styles of breakfast delivered to your room, although we never tried it). The next day we awoke, went down had breakfast, checked out our surroundings a bit and then went to the front desk to arrange our move to the promised room. The Day Manager said that the promised move would not be possible as the room the Night manager had promised us was a more expensive room. but he would move us to a room at the other end of the same hall facing the ocean. The Rooms were exactly the same, so what gives? The one he offered was on one corner of the building, and the promised room was on the other corner. Any way we took the room after an inspection to make sure that the new room did indeed meet our criteria. We also ended up moving our own luggage to this new room after waiting almost 45 minutes for the promised bellman who never showed up. The new room was beautiful, and was everything that we expected. The Ocean view was still questionable though, you had to look over the roof of the Health Club/Spa to see it, In fact if you look at the facility, the design is somewhat poor in that the lower levels of rooms on the ends of both wings of the hotel, the ones that should be all ocean view, are both obstructed by support buildings. One is the Spa, and on the other side, one of the Restaurants obstructs the view. With so few rooms on the ends of the building you would have thought they would have protected the premium views from these suites, but did not. Any way, back to our room, additionally the Air conditioner was not keeping the room cool. We went down to the front desk, and spoke with the manager directly about the AC and he assured us he would send someone right up to fix it. So we returned to our room to finally unpack and settle in for the week. After and hour the mechanic had still not shown up to address the problem and another call was made. Eventually a couple of maintenance people showed up with a hose and a ladder, and messed around for about 30 minutes with the unit in the ceiling and then left. At any rate they had made no difference in the operation of the unit which just barely managed to keep the room at about 80- 85 degrees. This ordeal ate up our entire morning of our second day there. We didn't get out of the room until after 1:00 PM with having to deal with all of this. Up until the time we left the Air conditioning issue was never resolved. It was a daily call after hot sticky night, with promises of repair made by the manager, only to return that evening to the same condition.
Our main desire on vacation is to find resorts that provide both the 5 star amenities that we want with great snorkeling. We are both divers and take our own gear but prefer to snorkel off the beach and take the occasional tour. We both are very confident in our abilities of 20+ years each and will sometimes snorkel from the beach 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile out depending on the conditions. The Punta Cana Palace while providing a somewhat five star facility does not have the snorkeling that we and most likely others will desire. The swim area which we usually venture out of very quickly, was relatively small and we were driven back in by people in watercraft each time we ventured outside this area. The boat traffic was just terrible between shuttling divers from place to place, people riding the banana tube, and parasailing there was a constant tumult of boat traffic. One of the Divers at the "dive shop" (book dive tours) said that if we really wanted good snorkeling we would need to sign up for one of the day long tours, which in the end consisted of about 3 to 4 hours of good snorkeling and 6 to 7 hours of transportation on a bus boat etc. We tried it and found that the small amount of snorkeling time was not worth the majority of the day being spent on traveling which started at 6:30 AM and ended at 7:00PM. The Punta Cana Palace in addition to a beautiful facility, also has some really good dining. The 5 specialty restaurants in particular were first class both in food and service. The buffet also offered an abundance and variety of great food. The specialty restaurants are included in the all inclusive but you have to make reservations each morning at 10:00 AM for the restaurant of your choice. so if you are not there early you will miss out. There are two seatings each night one at 6:30 PM the other at 9:00 PM. Seating is limited to about 30 tables or less per restaurant or so it looked. We ended up cutting our stay there short by 4 days due to the Air conditioning issue, but mostly due to the snorkeling availability. We ended up at the Sunscape Casa del Mar in La Romana. I will write a review of our stay there as well. Getting the 4 day refund was a hassle too, if you will recall we had to prepay for the entire stay upon arrival.
All in all the facility is beautiful and the food is great. As for the five star rating, if you can live with the placating mediocre management, limited service times for some of the staff(such as bellman), lack of room service, and a concierge that won't or can't arrange airport pick ups or deliveries among other things, then you will thoroughly enjoy this facility. Lastly (and I know this is really being picky) but for a five star facility I used a lot of paper napkins outside of the cloth ones at the specialty restaurants. If you want to be a Five star facility then be one, Five stars begins with SERVICE and ends with the smallest of details. If you want the five star service that goes with the facility then you might want to pass on this one for now, being a new hotel they may eventually get their act together. My rating of above average was based on the building itself, the quality of the food and the friendliness of the support staff other than those behind the front desk, who I will sadly never see again. I can't say enough about the beauty of this facility, but as they say beauty is only skin deep.
Loved the Riu Palace...(Not the RIU Bamboo)from aa173130
Loved the Riu Palace...(Not the RIU Bamboo)
Loved the Riu Palace...(Not the RIU Bamboo)
Loved the Riu Palace...(Not the RIU Bamboo)
Found no other place to put this review....
Myself, my Wife and 12 year old child...
June 6-10th 2006
Through Dynamic Travel in Southlake, TX
Spent about $1000 plus tips (350)
American Though MIA... from DFW
Wonderful although flights were jamm packed.
From Airport to Resort via Taxi. Don't waist your time with a van or bus.
Take a taxi. We paid $28 bucks each way for all... no waiting no hagling...
Of course we tipped a couple bucks each trip.
Alot of info here... I'll try and be brief... The receptionist are wonderful... I was very picky with my room so I asked for something up high near the beach with a view of the pool and ocean... We got it but it took some time... same price. They will tell you that none of their rooms have ocean view but half do (over the palm trees)... Most rooms look over the fountains in the middle of the resort and all rooms in the resort are wonderfully appointed... jaccusi(sp) tubs, plenty of towels, Ac works great... it's all new, it should. Also had a frig with beer and mixers for the four liquor bottles mounted on the wall obove the bar...
Be careful here as the squeaky wheel gets the grease... Let them know that you will accept anything but the best.... They will accomodate ...
Our room 2119 was a great room... I could find my son in the pool and also keep an eye on the activities...
The bottom floors near the ocean gets less air from the ocean and no view except for the pool area... not bad though...
Water sports like wind surfing, cat saliling, snorkeling eqp, kyacking(sp) as free...
We went sailing on the 14ft Cats everyday ... My son and I went diving on the fourth day on the reef for 89 bucks a piece... Worth every dollar. My son is still talking about it...
In preparation, we watched a video for an hour... practice emerg proc in pool for another hour and went on dive the next day... staff was great... For instruction and the free introductory class , we had german lady named "Silke"...
very nice, knowledgable, and fun... A german gentleman who name I have forgotten, the head-instructor (Earnesto perhaps) took my son and two others onto the reef.... 5 minutes from the beach on 19ft boat....
By the way, I have been to many beaches and this beach has got to be in the top 5 I've seen... Not as good as caneel bay in St Johns but better than Cancun and Cayman's 7 mile beach...
Best restaurant veries by what you ordered and preferr... All better than good but not fantastic. My favorite is the japanese steak house... then Brazilian steak, and the italian place third... stay away from the steak house near the beach...Bad service and tough steak... Sorry I don't remember the name of it...
Drink are great at the lobby and the swim up bar...
We stayed away from neiboring resort Riu bars(Macao, bamboo) as they did not seem as clean... it's just me ...
So much to say so little time...
What can I say,,, Great place, great people, drinks .... I'll go back I'm sure of it...
Lost power on the third for three hours... Back on before dinner
Slight intestinal thing on first day then no problem throughout... (---), could have been the airline food...
Almost booked the wrong hotel because this place is so new... Just be sure not to book the Macao or bamboo or anything other than the "RIU Palace"....
Airport security screening is thorough on departure, so get there early...
High departure taxes... 250 bucks for three people...
Almost rude personnel at the water sports reservation desk on the beach... Not to be confused with the dive personnel...
Hope this helps...
We felt like royalty!from TamiTT
Pros: Absolutely stunning facilities and environment, fit for royalty. The Riu Palace has beautiful architecture, a gorgeous pool, a stunning beach, and excellent service.
Cons: The food was just average. And unfortunately, something didn’t agree with our digestive systems.
Arriving in Punta Cana: My husband and I, and our teenaged daughter and her friend arrived in Punta Cana on Sunday, May 28. The airport is very rustic, with thatched roof charm. Going through customs was a breeze. We found our tour operator (VIP), who directed us to a bus for transport to the hotel. Since we were forewarned on Trip Advisor forums, we asked whether the bus would be going to other resorts, or just to the Riu resorts, and were told it would only be going to the Riu resorts. But, when the four of us showed up at the bus, the bus driver said there wasn’t enough room for all of us, so after standing around for several minutes, we were directed to another bus. Unfortunately, this one did have other stops, and our trip took over an hour. But, it was sort of nice seeing some of the other resorts, because when we pulled up the the Riu Palace, it stood out like a sparking diamond among pebbles compared to the other resorts.
The lobby is huge, and filled with beautiful furniture, dozens of ceiling fans, incredibly beautiful chandeliers, gilded mirrors, beautiful dark woods, statues, flowers, and many, many smiling faces. Check-in was fairly easy, as the staff spoke excellent English. We were given our room keys and keys to the in-room safes. Room keys are actually metal keys rather than key-cards, and are on a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck, if you choose. We were also given cards to check out towels at pool side. A cautious note about the keys and cards: there are pricey fees if lost, so keep track of the keys and towels/cards!
There’s a small shop just off of the main lobby, but it’s pricey, and best for emergencies (like if you just have to pay $5 for a smallish bag of chips!) There’s a sports bar across from the shop, with some large, flat screen TVs playing (you guess it)…sports!, a few computers (internet is $4 for 20”), a couple of pool tables, air hockey, and a fridge with sandwiches for the midnight munchies. Through the sports bar is the “casino”, which is limited to a dozen or so slots and a couple of poker machines.
The room: The Junior suites at the Riu Palace are quite large, with plenty of clothes storage. The entry area included a large closet (lots of hangers, an ironing board and iron, and the room safe), and a bar area with small refrigerator. Four bottles of alcohol were set into a liquor dispenser. They included Stolichnaya vodka, Gilbey’s Gin, and a bottle each of dark rum and tequila (brands I was not familiar with). The fridge was stocked with Pepsi, 7-up, orange soda, and a big jug of purified water. We had to request tonic. We also brought Crystal Light shakers to add to purified drinking water for a calorie-free fruity drink.
Tip: Take the “don’t drink the water” warning seriously. You might want to bring a few bottles of water from home, and then refill them with the jug in the fridge. The absolute worst part of our vacation was that each member of our party suffered some intestinal discomfort, even though we avoided drinking the tap water and used purified water to brush our teeth. For the most part, it didn’t last long, maybe 5-6 hours, but really put a “cramp” in our vacation. Make sure you bring plenty of Immodium!
The bathroom is beautiful, with lots of granite and chrome, and a recessed Jacuzzi tub/shower with a handheld shower head. A large bottle of shampoo/body wash was provided. The towels were fluffy and bright white. A hairdryer and a wall-mounted make-up mirror were provided.
The bed is huge, and is actually two double (or queen?) beds pushed together with a huge headboard behind the two of them. There are two bedside tables, with drawers, and a LCD alarm clock radio. There’s a full size mirror in the room and a nice luggage bench. You step down into the sitting room area, which contains a double dresser with a TV on top, a love seat, coffee table, and floor lamp. The TV got mostly Spanish-speaking shows, but there were maybe 4-5 English-speaking channels. Large sliding-glass doors opened to our terrace. We were not willing to pay the additional fee (about $100 per room) for a courtyard view, so our room overlooked a grassy area and a fence that separates the Palace from the Bambu. The terrace furniture was very cheap PVC, and we even had trouble getting them to stay in one piece. We had to request a replacement for one of the chairs. On the positive side, they have a built-in extendable clothes rack for drying bathing suits.
An ice machine was just a few steps from our room, but either it wasn’t working for several days, or we had some thirsty neighbors cleaning it out every afternoon, because it was empty for 2-3 days. You might want to check the ice bin if you come in for an afternoon siesta, and fill up your ice bucket, if you want some pre-dinner drinks in the room later.
Outside amenities: The Riu Palace is shaped like a horseshoe, with the pool and beach at the open end. Our room was down near the pool end, and I highly recommend requesting a room at that end of the resort, to minimize the walk from the pool or beach to your room when you’re hot, sweaty, tipsy, and ready for a siesta! Our room was on the bottom-level. We never had a problem with mosquitoes, only seeing 4-5 on the resort during the entire trip! The only other bug in the room was one lonely ant that I found on our last day.
The courtyard area is absolutely gorgeous, with huge fountains, and beautiful little bistro sets. The vegetation is still in its infancy, but will be lush and full in a few months.
The pool is incredible, with built in in-water loungers, “bubble” areas (hot tub without additional heat), four built-in tables, and the swim-up bar. A few $1 tips here and there assure prompt and smiling service! (Tip: take some water-proof playing cards. It’s a ton of fun to play cards in the pool at the little tables. If you like drinking games, go to Wikipedia(--) and search for “drinking games”.)
Our favorite time in the pool was from about 4pm to 7pm, after it cools down a bit. Just make sure to get your drink refilled before the bar stops serving at 6pm. Although they don’t kick you out of the pool, they do start cleaning up at 7pm, which I’m sure includes adding pool chemicals. They do a great job of keeping the pool clean, because the water was always sparkling.
My one and only complaint about the pool area was the loungers. Like the furniture on the room terrace, they were made of cheap PVC, and shook a bit when I gently lowered my ample behind!
Besides the main pool, there’s also an “infinity” pool, with water continuously cascading over the top edge, into a re-circling trough. The infinity pool was a bit more cool and refreshing than the main pool.
The spa is to the right of the pool area (facing the ocean). There are individual rooms for massages and other spa treatments, an exercise room, and a bathroom.
On our first day, we forgot our towel cards in the room and walked around all afternoon wet and hot, which led to some uncomfortable chafing. So, I recommend you remember your towel, and a dry pair of shorts for the walk back to your room. Also, take some powder to keep dry on non-pool jaunts around the resort for dinner, shopping, etc. I also was fortunate to have a “split skirt” slip (like gauchos) to wear under sun dresses. Trust me, chafing in the hot DR sun is no fun, and leads to a very unattractive bow-legged cowboy-style walk!
Beyond the pool lies the beautiful beach. There’s a rusty ship wreck out in the ocean that lends a little extra “character” to the scene. There are many beach chairs and palm trees for shade. There are some water sports available at no additional cost, including windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, and snorkeling. There are beach-side massages offered (for a fee) a short walk down the sidewalk in front of one of the other Riu resorts.
Entertainment: The “animation” staff leads water aerobics and pool and beach games throughout the day, and it’s a great way to meet a few new friends. It’s wonderful to walk into the dining room or the theater and be greeted by friends, so do yourself a favor and make the effort to get involved! There is a schedule of activities located in the courtyard area, to the right of the theater. It lists the various pool games/activities, the entertainment for the evening, and a few kids’ activities.
There are not a lot of activities for kids at this resort. We only saw two listed per day, usually a craft in the morning and a game in the afternoon. There were no activities for teens, and there were very few teens at the resort besides our own. There is a small kid’s play area adjacent to the pool, with a small kiddie pool.
There is nightly entertainment in the theater. The theater is quite large, with plenty of seating. There are lots and lots of ceiling fans, and one entire side of the theater is open to the outside. So, although smoking is allowed (throughout the resort, actually), it never seemed heavy or smelly. Service in the theater is a little slow, so have a couple of drinks in the courtyard before the show! On some nights there was musical entertainment and dancing in the courtyard after dinner as well.
The entertainment was mostly dancing, with some lip-sync singing, and a few audience participation games. But, even though it’s not world-class entertainment, we had a lot of fun, especially on audience participation night and for the Michael Jackson show. The Michael Jackson impersonator was awesome! The shows alternate between the Riu resorts, so you don’t see the same entertainers each night.
Dress: I never saw anyone really dressed up, even for dinner. Shorts are fine at breakfast. Lunch by the pool requires a shirt or swimsuit cover-up, and footwear. For the evening, men are required to wear long pants and a collared shirt. Most wore khakis and a polo-type shirt. Women mostly wore either capris/gauchos or dresses/skirts. I'd say that you'd probably feel comfortable wearing what you'd wear out to dinner at home during the summer. But, this is not like a cruise where you have "formal" dinners with ladies in gowns and men in suits!
Food: The food at the Riu Palace was not bad, but not the greatest. We mostly ate at the buffets, which had a lot of variety, and fairly decent food. Our kids complained about the lack of chicken fingers. (They attacked Chik-fil-a at the Atlanta airport on the way home!).
My biggest complaint about the food was that they overcooked the seafood. There was a lot of shrimp, but even the cold, cooked shrimp was overcooked and tasteless. They served lobster on Friday night, which was mostly overcooked as well, but was served with a delicious butter sauce, that made even slightly dry lobster taste yummy.
The salad bar is huge, with a wide variety of mixed meat/seafood and veggie combinations. Dressing choices are limited, and you might want to consider bringing some individual packets from home.
If you like generic, Americanized Italian food, there was always pizza and pasta offered on every buffet. Add a liberal sprinkle of parmesan, and it was OK. There were always 2-3 different grilled fish and meats, and several veggies. There were always French Fries on the buffet. As long as you get 'em while they're hot, they're very good. There was always some kind of beef in gravy, with veggies. We didn't care for the burgers. They tasted like they might have a lot of soy in them. Hot dogs weren't bad, but we like ours grilled! The desserts were very ho-hum.
Reservations for the specialty restaurants are made at the Yokohama restaurant beginning at 10am. We only ate at three of the specialty restaurants. I wouldn't recommend the steak restaurant at all. The quality of the steak was about what you'd get at a Golden Corral buffet, and the sides were just plain bad: an over-cooked piece of corn-on-the-cob, a couple of slippery slivers of onion, and a mushy baked potato. But, the worse thing is that the steak restaurant is an outdoor restaurant, and even with the ceiling fans, it was just too hot to eat outside in the evening. (It's the same restaurant, by the pool, where they serve the lunch buffet).
The Japanese restaurant was much better. The sushi was OK, tempura good, and the tepiyanki (sp?) beef was excellent. Biggest drawback...ants! Just a few, but who wants to spend their dinner hunting down pesky food predators! We had a table along the exterior perimeter, so maybe an interior table would be better.
The Italian restaurant was pretty good, too. I had the salad bar, with hot antipasto and a seafood pasta dish. The seafood pasta was a little bland, but suited me that day. Two of our party had the beef marsala, and said it was very good. I also had Tiramisu, which was OK, but not great. We ordered cappuccino after most meals, which was delicious.
My experience was that you just can't compare the food there to food at home, because our average restaurants would fare better than any one of the restaurants there. So, don't plan on going for the food, it's just fuel to keep you energized for fun in the sun!
Shopping: If shopping is on your vacation agenda, you have a few options. There’s a tiny gift shop just off of the main lobby. There are a few shops just past the spa, including a gift shop, a couple of boutiques, and a cigar and liquor store. Caribbean Street, which is further down the Riu complex (just follow the sidewalk at the beach) has several other shops, including gift shops, a nice jewelry store, a pharmacy, and boutiques. The Pacha disco is also located at the end of Caribbean Street. Although we didn’t visit it, I understand that there is also a flea market on the beach, just past the Riu resorts.
Excursions: We visited with our tour operator (VIP) the morning after we arrived. She mentioned that there were several excursions available, and recommended a few in particular. They included a safari ride, an off-road vehicle excursion, and a few snorkeling boat trips. We opted for a snorkeling trip that including swimming with sharks and stingrays. The cost for the excursion was $70/person. We were unimpressed with the excursion. The snorkeling was just so-so, and the caged sharks and sting rays were a little sad. Even worse though, the music went out on the audio equipment on the way back, which totally ruined the mood!
Service: For the most part, the service was wonderful. The staff did an awesome job keeping the community areas clean. If you set a drink down and stood up to leave a room, someone was there cleaning up before you were out the door! We were a little less satisfied with the maid service for the room. But, it speeds it up if you get out of the room fairly early and put the green “please make up room” sign on the door.
There is somewhat of a language barrier if you only speak English. Except for the front desk staff and the “animation” (entertainment) staff, most employees speak very little English. You might want to bring a Spanish translator, or prepare a “cheat sheet” in advance, with translations for the maid, bar, and wait staff. Most important: Cervasa (sair VAY sa) = beer; and bano (BAH nyo) = bathroom! But, if you ever have trouble, there always seems to be someone only steps away who can translate.
Departure: Leaving Punta Cana was a little more of a hassle than arriving, with a lot of standing in lines in the heat. A nice little hand-held fan would come in handy! The only Custom’s challenge we faced was a small bottle of “do it yourself” mamajuana. Mamajuana is liquor made by steeping alcohol and honey in a special mixture of barks and twigs that give the liquor a cinnamon-like flavor. It’s locally purported to provide a “Viagra-like” aphrodisiac effect! We bought ours as a souvenir from the excursion. As we arrived at the excursion beach, our picture was taken. While we were out snorkeling and swimming with sharks and stingrays, the picture was developed, and placed as a label on the bottle of “mamajuna”, with a little straw hat on top. The poorly-translated filling instructions on the reverse were a hoot! Anyway, the customs official was concerned about the dry mamajuana mixture, but simply added some rum from a bottle we were bringing home, and then passed us on through. I’m not sure why they needed to add the rum to the dry mixture, unless it was in case they thought we were bringing home some of the other “M-juana”, and wanted to make it un-smoke-able!
Overall, we had a very relaxing vacation, and would recommend the Riu Palace to other vacationers who like a stunning atmosphere, superior service, and an incredible pool and beach for fun in the sun, with a cool drink in hand.
2nd time in Punta Cana - Only for Retirees - NOT for kids/singlesfrom A TripAdvisor Member
Here are my general notes:
Recommended for retirees or couples over 50 who do not stay up past 10 pm.
Not recommended for singles/friends or families with kids.
Beautiful hotel, gorgeous landscaping
Nice big beach with plenty of Palm Trees for shade.
Only problem is there are these wild dogs on the beach that bark at guests and actually chase after some people, and the hotel does nothing about it. They just shrugged their shoulders to it.
Lounge chairs on the beach were very uncomfortable. Some were broken and it was hard to get them to stay at certain heights.
Nice, clean and spacious.
A lot of moisture in the air in the DR so prepare yourself for the humidity.
Showers were nice and big with good water pressure and temperature.
The hotel tried to have games & activities, but they skimped compared to Sunscape. Theme nights were one table decorated. At Sunscape, they would decorate the entire hotel to get everyone excited about the activity.
This was a HUGE problem here – the reservation system. You needed to make a reservation between 7 AM – 10 AM in order to go to any of the specialty restaurants and not the buffet. If you got there closer to 10, you might not be able to get a reservation. We did not understand this until the 3rd day. When I woke up early that morning to sign up, there was a note posted stating that the reservation system is changed to 10 AM – 12 PM that day.
Also, prior to the trip we were told that we could go to one of the other Riu hotels to eat. We didn’t try but we met another couple who had been trying for 3 days to go to one of the other hotels for dinner. It was a huge ordeal even to attempt to go and when they did, they kept getting turned down.
The food itself was typical for a resort in the DR, which is not that great, but it was edible. I would say this for wherever people stay there.
Another big problem. It is an antiquated lock system where they give you one key to your hotel room and one key to the safe. It was me and a friend and this would cause a lot of problems when we would do are own things. (I would go to the gym while she wanted to go take a walk. We would have to set meeting times for us to get into our room).
THERE IS NONE AT THE RIU HOTELS!
Prior to the trip, it showed several bars and a Disco. This is a joke. If you are expecting a place to go at night to enjoy Dominican music and sip down a few cocktails, there was no place on the resort! The disco was always empty. One night they charged a $10 cover for a band that never showed up.
As for the Casino, there are no rules there. If you play the games, don’t expect to win.
The pool was nice but small compared to other hotels. They have chases in the water that are very uncomfortable as well.
Spa services were good. My friend got a really good message for $60US.
I would go to the gym between 8:30 – 9:30 every morning and every morning I would have an issue. Either the machines were not working, fans were not on, no cups for water and there was never an attendant there to help me out, even though there was supposed to be one there.
I did not have any kids with me, but they had a tiny play area for them that was embarrassing if you think a child of any age would be entertained for more than a half hour there.
Staff was great and overworked. I noticed some people there from 9 AM to 11 PM.
Ladies should be prepared for compliments. I felt uncomfortable many times by the male staffs attempts at being complimentary, but it would come off as a slimey pick up line. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice complement, but there was just something off (it is a cultural thing so you will find this anywhere in the DR)
Other Riu Hotels on the Property
The Riu Macao was the most “happening” place but I felt it was still not for singles/kids/nightlife. There are better hotels in Punta Cana to go to.
Make sure to bring a blow up raft and a thermos.
Excursions off the Resort
The Saona Island trip was amazing and worth the $83US. You get to see a lot of the DR on a 1.5 hour drive to the boat launch. You take a catamaran to the island of Saona, which is too beautiful to describe in words, you eat an authentic Dominican meal which is very tasty, and get to swim in a natural pool and see giant starfish.
The festival boat ride and swimming with the fish is a little cheesy but also enjoyable. (picture the crew dressing up in miniature sailor uniforms to dance to “In The Navy”.
WOW! What a trip!from tjrazin
HOTEL - beautiful...granted, it being a new property, the "grounds" had some maturing to do in terms of lasndscaping...but give it a year and it will be as lush as the other properties. The room was just right...not too small, not to big. Each room had a small terrance and you can get either a ocean or a garden view. We had the ocean, but you had to look right to see it. But you still had a wonderful view of the inside grounds and the areas where people gathered. Everything was very well laid out. The lobby shined with marble and the art work was spectacular! Looked more like a museum than a hotel lobby. The maid service was great. Our's really appreciated the $3 we left everyday...we even left some coloring books/crayons for her kids and she left us some real cook towel "art". Ask for fresh water...it will come in a gallon jug for teeth, etc. She was always accomodating and the language barrier was not that bad...just have patience and you will get what you need.
POOL - absolutely wonderful...swim up bar...plenty of room...had individual "tables" in the water that you can sit in and even several jacuzzi sections where you can sit in...still in the pool. The swim up bar was great...got a wee bit crowded, but it worked out OK. Plenty of lounge chairs, towels (which you can swap at any time when they are wet) and cushions (that you can even take to the beach).
BEACH - again, wonderful...plenty of palms to sit under...it does get hot from the sun and the shade really came in handy. We always got shade chairs and had them all day...we went from sun to shade with ease. The water was great too....not too warm...not to cold (I hate cold water). Sand was like flour...be warned that there is some degree of topless bathers, but we quickly got used to that...totally optional. Since there was a large population of Germans and Canadians, they have a different view of it... The pool boys always came around with drinks, or you can go to the bar yourself to get you favorite beverage (see below). Suggest you bring your own "mug" since their glasses are small. They had no problem filling up the largest of mugs...
BOOZE - this was the only problem I had all week. We like Barcardi and Coke...they have their own rum thier and I found it to be too sweet. I found that all their drinks were too sweet for me. They had a wide selection of tropical drinks, our favorite became the Banana-Momma... They also had a drink called the Momma-juana...man, they were good and potent! We drank these at night...OK, we had a few during the day too! The room was stocked with a liquer bar and soda...all were top shelf.
ENTERTAINMENT - each night they had a theme night in the theater...now, we understood that the staff was new and this attributed to the lack of professionalism. One night they had a Michael Jackson look-a-like...he danced great, but everything was lip-synced...it was comical at times, but again, they worked thier hearts out. Another night was Grease, then Domincan Folk. They always started the show with the awards from the day's events, Bocce, horseshoes, frisbee, "Crazy Game" (which was changed every day), dancing lessons, etc. They were alot of fun...but I felt they should get better on their activities...this I am sure will come with age.
RESTAURANTS - The buffets were great...changed everyday. You can make reservations for the upper-tier restuarants, but you need to make reservations that morning...we had no problems. Our favorite was the Japanese...loved the sake! The Italian was good too. We did not like the Steak place...but again, experience with time will improve this.
FUN IN THE SUN - We took several day trips (a few hours really)...our favorite was the Sunset Cruise ($35)...they took us out snorkleing and then to a "pool" off the shore which was fun...only about 4 feet of water where they have a floating bar and snacks. We also went on the Powerboat/Snorkle tour...was OK, but alot of time switching between boats and gave you only 30 minutes of snorkleing...we wanted more. We did parasailing...fun... There are several other tours you can take, but we really enjoyed the beach in the morning (until 2pm or 3pm) and then we went in the pool for the rest of the day.
STAFF - as noted above, they were always friendly and did what ever it took to make you happy. Each person greeted you with "hola" and really tried their best to make you happy. They really worked their hearts out...we tipped our maid $3 (US) per day and that made her extremly happy. The managers always strolled around and asked how you are doing...and always listened to see how they can improve.
SHOPPING - my wife went off shopping and found that you can "deal" with them...but a new friend we met was told that a bottle of local rum was going to cost him $25...no discount...that was a laugh! But we bought some trinkets to bring home...but we really went there for the water and sun...we came back with terrific tans...
SUN - watch out...it is potent!!! Plenty of sun screen for the light skinned. I used ZERO SPF and really only burned a bit on my nose. But each person has their own degree...
AIRPORT - make sure you get their early to return home...long lines...
BARS - plenty of them...all over the place...all very nice...staff always friendly! Again, bring your own "mugs"...
Well...thats about it...overall we had a WONDERFUL TIME!!!! This was our first all-inclusive and we are kicking ourselves in the butt for not doing this before...it's the ONLY way to go!!!
Top Local Tips for Punta Cana
Sunscreen Take lots of sun screen. We went through 6 spray cans in a week.
Your flying international- Get to the airport 2 hours early! It took us over an hour to clear customs, and many of the travelers who were flying the say airline were flying to New York, while we were flying to Atlanta. We arrived at the airport knowing its an international flight and you should be there 2+ hours early. Well while we got there on time, many of the folks flying to New York did not allow for 2 hours and made those of us who did stand in line for even longer so they could be checked and not miss their flight- Plan ahead!
Sanoa Island Dont' miss the trip. Best excursion ever taken.
Other names for Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel
- riu palace punta cana
- riu palace hotel punta cana
- punta cana riu palace
- Address: Playa de Arena Gorda - Punta Cana - 0000 - Dominican Republic