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“Long Weekend Getaway”

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ClubHotel Riu Merengue
Ranked #13 of 40 Hotels in Puerto Plata
Islip Terrace NY
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Long Weekend Getaway”
Reviewed 25 April 2012

We just got back from our 4 night stay at Riu Merengue in Puerto Plata (April 2012). We had a wonderful trip, but I dont think we will be returning here.

Location: The location, beach, etc are beautiful. The water is very clean, the beaches are clean, not too rocky at all. We loved that there was plenty of shade available as well as sunshine so we could enjoy both while on the beach.

Activities/Entertainment: The entertainment staff never stopped working! They made sure you had a great time! Beach volleyball, bocce ball, games, dance lessons, beach yoga, you name it, they offered it. And the winner of each activity won a small bottle of rum! SMILEY BOY was hilarious and always looking to have a good time. I loved each night after the show's how the staff would pull people from around the bar and dance with them. Cant get any better when it comes to activities and entertainment.

Food: THE FOOD WAS UNBELIEVABLY HORRIBLE! I have never in my life been so disgusted by a food selection. By our 4th night, we were almost in tears from how uneasy our stomachs were, and how starved for nutrients and energy we felt. We basically survived on french fries. The only good food item we had was "Chinese Pasta" which was made by the pool one day in a huge wok. That was amazing, and kept us alive. I dont think we could have stayed any longer than 4 nights if we had wanted to, simply because the food was that bad.

Rooms/Cleanliness: The rooms are outdated, but thats not that big of a deal. They are clean, and the maid service will keep it clean if you tip them, which we did. Tiny spiders were popular, and we had found 2 in one of our beds one night, but called the manager and had them bring fresh sheets. I mean they are okay.... I would have liked a nicer room, but you get what you pay for. Our ocean view was amazing, DEFINITELY PAY FOR OCEAN VIEW. Our AC hardly ever worked, but with the window and door open at night you didnt need it (AND I LOVE ICE COLD AC).

Overall we enjoyed our stay, it was fun, relaxing, and the bartenders (HOLA TO GLENNYS AND SEXY BOY) were fantastic. Not a bad resort, if the food was better, it might be a geat resort.

Room Tip: OCEAN VIEW ROOMS ARE A MUST. Can be a little loud a night, but the cool breeze and location along th...
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
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3 Thank AmandaSanta13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Queens, New York
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 April 2012

The scenery is good, the food is so so. I give RIU Mambo a 3.5 out of 5 (overall score). I have been to better (the RIU Ocho Rios in Jamaica) which is phenomenal so in comparison, I prefer Jamaica. BUT- if I did not visit Jamaica, I would think RIU Mambo rocked. Makes sense? 

I stayed April 15-22 with mom, sister, and baby niece. We were probably the only Americans there that week lol. We met lots of folks from Canada and all over.

Food- Not great. Some days I was like ugh, so frustrated. Some days I was like, yeah, it's good! Mangu restaurant that is by the pool is so repetitive. Hot dogs, burgers, French fries, pizza, everyday! Merengue's poolside bar had better selections but we did not venture there every day. The themed nights were the best in mains inning (Italian, Asian, Mexican). Breakfast was ALWAYS good!

Drinks - weak! I was never drunk. The drinks were too sugary and they used 30 proof liquor. Ugh. 

Hotel - beds were small but fine. BEAUTIFUL Well maintained grounds. Hot water except for 2 times. Room felt stuffy only on the really hot days. Cleaning service was great, no complaints. Please tip. We were in Rm 1614. 

Beach- beautiful! 
Pool- nice!! Cold some days and warm when it was really hot outside. 

Mambo is the calmest pool with older folks and people with kids (it is not disturbing though). Merengue is the party pool. I did not go to Bachata but heard it was the biggest pool and that mostly residents frequent there. 

Workers- friendly for the most part. Not everyone is cheery all the time, but that is normal. The guy who played Elvis in the night show was miserable but he did his job lol.

Entertainment-- those guys and girls work HARD!! they are there morning to midnight, I'm not joking!!! You will see your scuba instructor doubling as a dancer in the Karaoke night. I give it to them. They are really there to please. One of our favorite people was Carmen in the Mambo main dining hall. Please look for her and tip her well. She is so nice!! Always had a window seat for us. Tell her baby Tatumn said hi!!

Tour- my mom and sis took a city tour. They liked it. Arrange with RUFO (hotel ext. 8211). He is very reasonable. 

Taxi- I would NOT use Elias as people on the these forums recommended. He's a rip off. He wanted to charge me over $100 round trip from the airport. Contact Rufo 809-829-7140 (cell) or call the Mambo hotel 809-320-1212 ext 8211. We used Enrique Merete, one of his drivers, he was funny. They are with Taxi Bahia Maimon. 

Overall, I miss the RIU. It was a good trip. Was it worth $1,000 each for hotel and airfare for an all inclusive? I'm on the fence about that one. would I go back? Only if I got a greater, lower deal. But I would visit somewhere else before going back. Yes, I would recommend you go and experience it for yourself. But if you pay too much, you might be a little underwhelmed. 

I booked our package on bookit.com and flew on Jetblue from New York. 

Room Tip: We stayed in Room 1614.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank dieselgal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Timmins, Ontario, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 April 2012

Staying at the Mambo had been an easy choice, based on the staggering number of positive reviews on Trip Advisor. Within 24 hours of our one-week vacation, I had to ask - are you people all drunk? Maybe the reviews are written by hotel employees? I am shocked at the misrepresentation by Sunwing/Signature vacations - this hotel is a 3-star, at best (although I've stayed in better 3-stars) We have traveled extensively in the Caribbean and abroad, and this is the worst resort I have ever encountered. My digestive system is only just recovering. Thank goodness I have positive experiences in Punta Cana to compare it to!

The reception at the Mambo was small and lackluster (truly the 'ugly sister' of the Merengue and Bachata!) but check-in was completed with professional efficiency. I particularly appreciated the safe key being included at no extra charge.

The buffet was open late - which was fabulous for our late check in - until we realized "open late" meant the salmon was chewy and tasteless, the fresh veggies were already turning wilted and brown, half the buffet stations were empty or closed, and there was no fruit. At first we weren't overly deterred - it was 9pm! We resolved to give it another try.

Breakfast at the Mambo buffet was revolting. We ate there the first morning, and then never again (opting instead to make the trek to either Bachata's or Merengue's breakfast buffet). Again, there was no fresh fruit (unless you count the strange sugary 'fruit salad') which I don't understand - it literally grows on trees!! The eggs were cold by the time they reached my plate, the hot veggies were all pureed and unrecognizable, and the ham tasted as though it were from a can. Initially excited about my papaya smoothie from the fresh smoothie station, I quickly found out the milk had already soured and it was undrinkable (unless I wanted to spoon out the curdles perhaps?) My partner had the unfortunate circumstance of already spoiled milk in his coffee.

Not to be deterred - we decided to book the a la carte for that night, to set our trip off to a good start! How silly we were being, apparently. The 'steakhouse' is nothing more than a fast-fry station serving undrinkable wine (tasted as though it were half water?). We both ordered the rib-eye steak, which arrived on a bed of french fries ('Aromatic Potatoes' they were called on the menu) and veggies that had been steamed so much as to be nearly mush. The steaks were so tough, and fried on the same surface as the hot dogs and hamburgers earlier in the day. My partner joked that it was "the closest thing to Beef Jerky we were going to find in the Dominican". Funny, yes, but edible? No. We walked out of the restaurant without finishing, and instead had a few buns from the buffet.

Our Sunwing Rep, Jeremiah, was fairly useless. Although our meeting was at 9am, he shooed us away and claimed the English briefing was in an hour, despite being told otherwise the night before. It was difficult to get a meeting with him, as he was only at the resort at a specific time in the afternoon and the volume of people that wanted to meet with him meant we waited for nearly an hour in the smoky, crowded little lobby. He acted mostly as a salesman, and didn't have pertinent information about our departure from the Dominican.

Another thing: the smoking. We couldn't go inside any of the buildings on our resort without feeling as though we were being fumigated. The buffet, theatre, bar areas, pool and lobby were all havens for smokers. It was extremely unpleasant, though we did notice the smoking was just as bad at the Merengue, but quite lessened at the Bachata (different demographic perhaps?) I wish we had been informed of this before our vacation.

The rooms were acceptable, functional, and somewhat clean. Ours smelled like mold, and the linens weren't changed during our stay. The shower had ample hot water, but was uncomfortable to use because of poor maintenance and a grimy old shower curtain (we did wonder whether the splotches were dried blood?). There were always a half dozen mosquitos in our room upon returning at the end of the day, we think they must come in with the maid. Beds were very hard, but we were too tired to care. Despite advertising a king bed, it was really two doubles pushed together that slid apart whenever we moved. Bright side: the air conditioning worked well, and was very quiet.

The staff on our resort clearly did not enjoy their jobs - it was difficult to get a drink, much less a smile. In years of travel I have never seen such a downtrodden group of individuals. There were exceptions, of course, but the overall feeling was that working at the Mambo is a chore for them, and they clearly despised most of the guests. The atmosphere was quite improved at the Merengue and Bachata - though the other resorts were clearly not 5-star material, they were certainly a few steps up from the Mambo.

After the first day, we were so frustrated with the quality (or lack thereof) that we exclusively ate at the Merengue and Bachata (you aren't allowed to use the dinner buffet at these two restaurants, but we snuck in anyway) and spent time at their bars and facilities.

The beach doesn't hold a candle to beaches in Punta Cana. The sand was coarse and rocky, and the swimming was crowded because only a small section of water was free of rocks, coral and seaweed. The beach did have quite a lot of shade because of all the palm trees, which was nice, however along the three resorts there was only one beach bar, which served nothing but beer and soft drinks. Bring snorkel gear, the underwater views are fantastic, however don't expect to actually 'swim'. The ocean dirty, and there was frequently garbage floating past us as we swam.

We went on two excursions - Puerto Plata City Tour with Cable Car, and the Paradise Island excursion. P.O.P. tour was nothing more than a shopping trip, with the bus stopping at multiple local vendors. It was fine, but not what we wanted from the trip.

The Paradise Island excursion was worth every penny. The hour and a half bus ride was made quick and entertaining with our guide Alberto, who talked about the history, culture and economics of the area (switching back and forth from English, Spanish and German). When we arrived in Punta Rusia (the kick-off spot for the island excursion) we found their mini-resort to be clean, well appointed, with very friendly and helpful staff. The boat ride to the island was choppy and exciting, and the island itself was gorgeous. The snorkelling was spectacular, and the excursion staff take very good care of you on the island (with fresh fruit, sandwiches, drinks). The boat ride back included a trip through Montecristi National park, which was beautiful and informative. Once on shore, the staff prepared a barbeque which, though simple, was the best food we ate all week. The return bus ride included a stop at a local cigar factory, which also sold jewelry, sculptures and paintings.

This resort has a great location, but is sadly lacking in everything else. Bring bug spray, you will get eaten. Bring Immodium or Pepto Bismol, we used both (repeatedly, often) and still had the runs. Better still - Do not go to this resort. Go to Punta Cana. Go to another island, but stay away from the Riu Mambo. I will never stay at a Riu resort again - this was supposed to be a 4.5 star resort, and was so grossly misrepresented.

Room Tip: Do not stay here! Stay somewhere else!
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Lauren D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York, New York, United States
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 April 2012

I just arrived and checked out the bad reviews to see what people could find to complain about. But its easy to see that the people who wrote them are probably very snobbish because this resort is GREAT!!!

I stayed April 12-17th. The resort is SUPER CLEAN. The staff SUPER SEXY and nice. Always smiling.

The food is gourmet with REAL chefs who prepare the food. There is plenty of fruit and a billion choices. I stayed at the Merengue but it really doesn't matter where you stay because all the rooms in all 3 resorts are identical. The only real difference are the lobby's. We found ourselves going over to Bacharta, they have the best restaurant, next is merengue and finally mambo. We rarely went to Mambo though. It was full of older people. Bacharta had younger people and merengue mixed. But again it doesn't matter where you stay because it feels like one huge resort with 3 reception areas and 3 resturants. You can eat where ever you like every night!

They have the best fish that I have ever tasted in my life. I am a HUGE foody and the food was really amazing. The soda was made with REAL sugar cane so it was sweet. The coffee was made with REAL beans from the mountains so it was STRONG! The rum was also REAL and smoooth.

The entertainment was low budget, but charming. The drinks are VERY good! There were a lot of fat women tourist who brought giant mugs to refill their drinks.

I did a lot of research before I booked and I also was able to see nearby resorts on this trip. Confesi is the worst from the outside, lifestyles seems okay, but not as nice as the Riu's.

Cons:

There is no Internet except for in the reception area so leave your laptop at home! (I did).


AVOID the snorkeling excursion. There are snorkeling stations everywhere for the DIVE CENTER avoid booking with them at all cost, this is not a joke this is a serious warning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, they take you to the middle of the ocean and leave you their (meaning they drive the boat away!) I drank soo much sea water that I threw up in the boat. My friend got a giant bloody gash on her leg from when they threw her back on the boat and 2 others also threw up on their boats. It was insane, dangerous and not worth the $50!

DO the waterfalls excursion. Where gym shoes, the hike over the rocks are painful without them!

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Ianni2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 April 2012

My husband and I spent two weeks at the riu meringue for our honeymoon last November, we had the most amazing time! Check in was quick and our bags were at our room super fast, they had decorated it with fresh fruit and flowers and balloons, yes the rooms are a bit.dated but they are immaculate and the housekeeping staff kept it that way throughout our stay. The mini bar was awesome- full size optics and a well stocked fridge that is replenished every other day but they will do this for you as requested. The grounds were stunning and kept immaculate, the staff here work so hard. The restaurants were great, big selection, beautiful fresh fruit,local food and themed nights, our waiter Javier was fab and looked after us the whole time it was sad to say goodbye :)
Nighttime entertainment was brilliant and hilarious, great audience participation and the animation team should be really proud of themselves. Daytime, the pool.is great people regularly bring drinks to the pool and beach but everything is so close and there are no looky looky men on the beach it's private. Caribbean street is nice as you could get souvenirs safely, we went into the local town with a guide and were on edge the whole time. We did go to the other two resorts but the mambo was extremely quiet and the bachata seemed quite snobby though their pool is excellent. Don't pack any towels u get them in ur room and by the pool/beach. Excursions we went to ocean world and on the catamaran both excellent and well worth it, but we were mostly happy relaxing around the resort with its brilliant staff and heavenly surroundings I could not fault the place. One thing we did notice was how few.guests tipped. These guys are on low wages and the energy they put into looking after the guests was second to none so please don't forget to show your appreciation. Go to the riu merengue you will not be disappointed and you will have a great time. We would love to return in the future. The Rickards x

  • Stayed November 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank MrsRickard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Merengue

Property: ClubHotel Riu Merengue
Address: Bahia de Maimon, Puerto Plata 57000, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Puerto Plata Province > Puerto Plata
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:
#4 Best Value Hotel in Puerto Plata
#5 Spa Hotel in Puerto Plata
#11 Top resorts Hotel in Puerto Plata
#12 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Plata
Price range (per night): ₹ 5,458 - ₹ 13,035
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Merengue 3.5*
Number of rooms: 998
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The ClubHotel Riu Merengue (All Inclusive 24h) is located in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, and is surrounded by impressive views of the mountains and a lush, natural environment. This is the perfect setting for unforgettable holidays. The ClubHotel offers all facilities you could need for relaxing holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll find a fresh water swimming pool, a solarium terrace, a gym and the Renova Spa wellness centre with a range of different treatments and massages as well as a sauna. In the Dominican Republic you can find a wide range of international cuisine, but if you want to make the most of your time in this marvellous destination by sampling Dominican cuisine, delicious in both taste and colour, you can enjoy a wide variety of flavours and aromas, as Dominican dishes mainly consist of fruit and vegetables. In the buffet restaurant or themed restaurant you’ll find an endless range of dishes and recipes prepared by our chefs every day. The hotel shares its facilities with the hotel complexes of the ClubHotel Riu Bachata. You’ll enjoy access to the entertainment programme and activities thanks to the acclaimed All Inclusive system. Whether you’re travelling as a family, couple or with friends, you’ll find a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained all day long.. There are areas for enjoying tennis, table tennis, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, bodyboarding, snorkelling, golf, volleyball, swimming and much more. Your children can also enjoy crafts, activities and dancing together with other kids in the RiuLand programme. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Clubhotel Riu Merengue Hotel
Club Hotel Riu Merengue
Clubhotel Riu Merengue Puerto Plata
Riu Merengue Dominican Republic
Riu Merengue Puerto Plata
Rui Merengue

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