We stayed at this new RIU Palace Resort for 8 days at the beginning of February 2012. This resort has a unique design and color palette from other RIUs we have stayed at, it has a modern, bright, shiny and colorful design. Other RIUs are decorated in a Spanish style design.
Reception/Check-in: We did not have any issues and it was done quickly, politely and the staff we dealt with spoke fairly good English. We were offered a beverage while we were getting our package. As it is at all 8 different RIUs we have stayed at you get your room keys, wrist band, towel cards, map and a brief hotel introduction. If you have any questions you just need to ask. I have to say that if the hotel is busy and a large group has just arrived this service may decline in quality as everyone just wants to get to their room and start their vacation. If you are upset about not getting a drink there is always a lobby bar less than 100 feet away. Our bags were brought to the room right away. If it’s busy expect to wait or better yet bring your own bag to the room with you. We travel with a small carry-on bag with the essentials so we can change and go to the beach right away. By the time we get back to our rooms the bags are there.
Rooms: As I said this is a new décor for RIU and is nice but not my favourite. RIU rooms are mostly the same at every resort. Bed (1 king size or 2 doubles). It is not unusual for these to be pushed together to make one bed. It is standard practise and we have seen both. These rooms are different as they have an open design. The Jacuzzi tub is between the sleeping and sink area and there is no privacy wall/curtain. Toilet is separate with a door. The shower is not in a lockable separate room but is very large and you could dress in it easily. The shower door is frosted and very difficult to see through. We had great water pressure and never ran out of hot water. We had one small issue with the toilet but it was looked after quickly when we let the front desk know. Other than that the room is standard; iron/board, coffee maker, couch, balcony, safe, etc. We did not have any issue with bugs or anything like that. Most important each room has a free bar and stocked fridge. It is refilled every 2 days. Use the safe provided, better safe than sorry. We have never had an issue and hope not to. We do not leave valuables out in the open even when at the pool or beach. It is not only the staff you should be concerned about but your fellow vacationers are not always the most honest.
Bars: There are lots of bars. As in the room the choice of liquor is limited somewhat. They do have generic local brand being served but if you ask they will give you the name brand. At the main bar and lobby bar they have the better alcohol. The beer is local Dominican brand. You’re not in the states so don’t expect Buddy light. As for drink strength you get what you ask for you just have to ask. The glasses are small and plastic when served at the pool area. Safety! If you bring your own thermos mug the bartenders will fill it with whatever you want.
Food: The food ranges from great to good. It is hard to please everyone all the time but I would say that this was one of the better buffets we have eaten at. We had everything from lobster (not the Maine kind), shrimp, lots of different fish, whole roasted pig, steak, chicken, goat, all kinds of cheese and the list goes on. Sometimes it was a hit or miss on the temperature but it was not the norm. Great desserts! Perfect two bite size pieces so you can try a little of everything without wasting. There were lots of different fresh fruits available all day long at the different eating areas. The Sports Bar does have sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers and Nachos available 24 hours which is the norm at all RIUs and most all-inclusive resorts. Unless you are extremely picky there is always something to eat.
Theme Restaurants: They are what they are. Some are good and some are great it all depends on your taste. Most are part buffet served (entrees, soups, salads) and the main course is served at the table. We didn’t experience any long lines and there was always something open. You can book 2 days at a time. I don’t know what the big deal about dinner reservations are because it is the same at all other RIUs we have stayed at and most of the other All Inclusive Resorts as well. If you are a large party I would plan ahead and be flexible. I think being flexible on seating time and restaurant is key. Now I have seen on a number of occasions where there are empty seats during the sitting time. I thank those wonderful folks who have booked and don’t show up as planned. Maybe too much to drink or didn’t have the forethought to cancel?
Pool: It is a very big pool and there is plenty of seating. We never had an issue finding a seat and there are umbrellas and some areas have a permanent shade structure. We never made it to the pool before 9 and had no issues finding a place. Now if you are really fussy or are in a large group you may have some issues at times. There are other pools but one is not better than the others. The water was cool but refreshing. If you want hot/warm water go have a bath. I always find it interesting to see pool chairs reserved by people who spend their day at the beach and don’t come to the pool until later in the day. Then there are the ones who go on a morning excursion but save seats for when they get back after lunch.
Beach: What a great beach. It is clean, the water is clear and you can walk for miles either way. No shells and only the odd rock to watch out for. At certain times of the day some sea weed does wash up but you will need to complain to Mother Nature not the resort on this one. For all the prudes out there I must warn you that there are topless bathers on the beach. I didn’t see anyone flaunting themselves and most people remained topless at their beach chair area. It’s a freaking boob so get over it already.
Restrooms: They are clean except when the previous guest leaks all over the seat or doesn’t flush. Really! If at the beach the closest one is at the beach side restaurant. I have never seen one on the beach and would hope not to. Like mother says plan ahead.
Shopping: The resort has a small gift shop and the prices are what you would expect and is normal for any resort we have stayed at. Bring your essentials with you or expect to pay 2 to 3 times what you would at home. Souvenirs, cigars, etc. are not badly priced. The prices at the hotel seemed to be better than at Caribbean Street which is a street of vendors found between the RIU resorts. Just down the beach there are a number of local vendors. It is a drink and a half walk from the resort so bring two to be on the safe side. Haggle like crazy and DO NOT pay full price. As an example I bought a necklace for 5 USD which started out at 25. If one place doesn’t give you a good price talk to someone else, they all sell mostly the same stuff.
Cigars: No great deals to be had here. I can buy the same Dominican cigars at home for the same or better price.
Staff: We did not have any issues with staff. They all smiled and seemed very friendly. They work long hours for little pay and still seem to be happy. I hope this doesn’t come off wrong but we have encountered far ruder, uptight, demanding, arrogant guests then staff on our travels. Just because you paid to be there does not give you the right to treat people disrespectfully. Life is about pay back and kindness, understanding and a smile goes a long way.
Entertainment Staff: These guys work hard all day from 9 till well past midnight. They encourage you to participate but do not harass you. It is their job to entertain you. When I say you I mean all guests. Most activities happen around the pool and pool bar so if you don’t want to participate, don’t like loud music and don’t want to have fun the I would suggest you move or pick a lounge chair away from the entertainment area.
Entertainment: This is not the best we have seen. One show was bad and the others were good. They have less audience participation in the preshow then other places we have been at. In general it is fun and passes a few evening hours.
Language: Like any foreign country English is not the primary language. I encourage anyone visiting a foreign country to learn a little before they go. In this case Spanish. That being said most people we dealt with spoke English average or better. However, do not expect to have an in-depth conversation with the maids or ground keepers. Key people spoke enough English to get buy and understand what you are looking for.
Tips: Plan ahead and bring what you need from home. Have fun you are on vacation. You get what you pay for. If you want ocean view then pay for it. If you want to be catered to then ensure the hotel offers this service but expect to pay for it. Check out the Resort website before you book. Use Google earth to see where the resort is to see if it meets your needs for shopping, excursions, restaurants and bars, etc.
No Resort is perfect and [--] happens. No different than at home every employee can have a bad day. I have had bad meals at some of the best restaurants and crappy rooms at some very nice hotels. Have realistic expectations of people and life and you will be much happier.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana * Inside the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Macao, 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 Higuey * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Intl. Airport ... more less
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