Arrival: Dec 4-11/08
Arrived about 30 minutes late on Air Transat. Uneventful flight. Breezed through Customs,had our picture taken, collected our luggage, found our Sunquest representative very quickly. Then spent 45 minutes waiting until the bus was to the resort area was ready to leave.
Our room was very clean, a bit of a musty odour. I had requested king beds, close to the beach area and near to our friends who we were vacationing with. The hotel acommodated all of our room requests. Mini bar was only restocked once during our stay, it appears they do not return if you have do not disturb sign on your door. No problem in getting our room made up except for the one day when there was a transportation strike and there were very few of the houskeeping staff at the resort. It did take the hotel until 5 pm to advise us of the problem and did deliver clean towels.
Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet was ok, a good choice of food. The a la cartes restuarants were not worth spending the time in line to make the reservations. Food there was okay, but nothing special. It was a bit annoying that reservations for the a la cartes could only be made in the am from 7-10 for that evening's sittings. Disappointed by their choice of wine, white was undrinkable by most.
Service at all the bars was great.
Beach area was spectacular, sand was like velvet. Water was clear, and with no seaweed or rocks. Lots of natural shade with the palm trees and usually no problem to get a beach chair. Pool area was difficult to get a chair until about 4 pm.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Took the Tropical Storm day trip, unfortunatly the weather was not great, but the staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a great time. Of concern is the mamajuana bottles they sell with your picture on them. Several passengers on our return flight had them confiscated by Customs as the wood and bark they contain cannot come in Canada. Husband went deep seafishing and had a great time and caught lots of fish.
I would not rate this hotel as 5 star, closer to a 3.5, and I would return to thsi resort if I got a great deal on the price. This would be because of the cleanliness of the resort and the beach area.
We stayed at the Riu Bambu with another couple during the week of May 10th. The beach was o.k.( much better in Cuba).The food was good but a big disappointment was the lack of bottled wine.The barrel wash wine was awful.We have gone to 4* in Cuba and they served bottled wine.The biggest disappointment was the Caribe grill a la carte. The food was o.k.The service was very slow and the maitre 'd was the most rude and ignorant person I have ever encountered.He would stamp his feet if he did not get his way.He never came by to any table to ask how the food was nor did he greet anyone as they came in.His name is Pedro.The pool was really a cesspool if you know what I mean. If you wanted to order a international drink they more often then not conveniently ran out.This really is a 4* star not I repeat not a 5*star.
On the scale from 0-10 is about 4. Desent for a 2 star. Don't waiste your money paing top dollars. Kids club even worse, entertainment sucks, night club 2 hotels away. Restorants impossible to book (booking same day only - get in line 6am) and not worth it. Nasty. Don't waist your time. 2 Cafeterias working opposit hrs with gaps of 1.2 hrs. 2 little pools, tiny premises. Never again.
My wife and I just returned from the Bambu, and we were very pleased with our stay. We have attended 6 Riu Resorts as well as other chains, and find Riu is very good value.
Skyservice and Sunquest, flying out of Ottawa, is using a Boeing 757 - a huge improvement over the Airbus A320 ( Air Sardine ) of previous years.
Is the Riu Bambu a 5 star resort? I would say yes, except for the room itself, which is a 4 star. The bathroom is too tiny. We had a problem getting drinking water, asking twice via phone to the front desk without any results. However, when I found the water/drink guy and tipped him a one dollar bill, well, we still had two gallons of untouched water in the fridge when we left. The mattress is very hard and the pillows are not very 'fluffy' - to be charitable. Otherwise the room is satisfactory, but 4 star, not 5.
We were assigned a ground floor room, but I asked immediately for a second floor unit and received one at check-in. The desk, and all Riu staff were helpful, upbeat and always pleasant.
We found the food to be the best of any Riu we have attended. Dress was very casual at breakfast and lunch, but most folk came to dinner informally dressed in long pants and open neck shirts for men and the women were very nicely dressed in skirts, pants and blouses. No muscle shirts or short shorts at dinner, and we found this to be suitable, a nice change from the informality of the rest of the day.
The pools are great. Swim-up bar, clean, landscaped beautifully, scuba lessons, bikinis everywhere - how much better can it get?
However, we are beach types. I say that this is the best beach in the Caribbean. Yes, I know that we were on the Atlantic Ocean, but this is Caribbean water. Thirty miles of talcum white powder sand, bordered by palms of every size so you can have total sun, partial sun or total shade. The water is that wonderful Caribbean blue that Enya sings about, but it is even a more gorgeous green/blue colour than one can imagine. There is always a warm breeze during daylight hours blowing from the Atlantic, but the reef well off shore kills the huge waves, making for ideal water for swimming. The para sails, banana boats, Hobi sailboats, scuba boats, water taxis, sea canoes etc. are safely away from the swimmers, and are a constant source of amusement.
Just off shore is the wreck of the Russian ship Astron sitting since the 1970's on the reef where it went aground. It was fascinating to watch the rusting hull as the sun changes it from morning black to afternoon 'detailed rust'.
The weather while we were there ( Feb. 5 till 12 ) was perfect, hardly a cloud in the sky at all. We think it rained once at night, but it might have been the sprinkling system. Something wet the sidewalks.
Will we return to the Riu Bambu? YES !
Michele Edmonton, AB - Canada
We wish we were still there! We recently returned from our trip to the Rui Bambu in Punta Cana for 2 weeks from Jan 29 to Feb 11/08, the first week with a group of 13 for a friends wedding, the 2nd week only 4 of us remained. Having not been on a tropical vacation in a long while and never being to the DR, we didn't really know what to expect, but we found the Rui great with a few exceptions.
They bill this hotel as a 5 star, but it is probably more a 4 star.
Arrival: All was good once we found our Sunquest bus and started on our way. No problems with anything other than some locals wanting to carry your luggage (for a fee of course). A polite "no thanks" was sufficient to deter them. We arrived a night so didn't see much of the area around the resort, but did notice lots of garbage on the side of the road.....kind of sad, really. I was surprised that the gates to the resort were manned by an armed guard, which kind of freaked me out, but it is close to Haiti. The check-in was good, we were greeted with frozen fruit drinks (non-alcholic) and shown our rooms, the bags were brought up by the porter promptly.
The resort: Amazing. The beach is perfect white sand, beautiful blue water, lots of loungers - no need to get up early to place your towel. Around the pool is another matter. The 2nd week, my husband got up a 7 am every day to put our towels out so we could sit by the pool. We had no problems with people removing our towels.
2 pools, one small and one larger with a swim up bar. I really like the way the resort was laid out and even though the beach was absolutely gorgeous, we spent most of our time by the pool, close to the bar! There were lots of activities for kids and adults if you were up for it, from water polo to water aerobics, volley ball and horseshus, ping pong or learning to marenge (?) on the beach. There were a lot of Canadians and Europeans at the resort, not as many Americans. Lots of Europeans means lots of speedo's and topless sunbathers. Most stayed on the beach, but some did it by the pool, which being from somewhere that you don't see that, it unnerved me a bit, but you get used to it. My thoughts were for the younger teenage kids, probably good to have a talk before you go!
The rooms: Ours was fine. Nothing special, but you don't go there for the rooms. We had no problems with ours. No bugs, always clean and a nice towel animal and flowers every day. The beds on the other hand are very hard and I was glad to get back to my memory foam bed at home. The pillows were very flat, but we just called and requested some extras and they brought them up right away. The liquor and pop/water in the rooms was stocked every 2 days, but if you ran out, you could just call reception and they sent someone right away to re-stock it. Some people we were with had some minor issues with their rooms, but they were dealt with right away.
The staff: We found them to be amazing! So happy and friendly all the time. The bartenders were fantastic and got to know what we liked to drink and would remember. The shows were very entertaining and we only had 2 repeats the whole 2 weeks we were there and even those were a bit different.
The Booze: For an all inclusive, never being to one before, I didn't know what to expect. It was ok, some people we were with really didn't like the beer as it was draft. There is a small store in the lobby hallway were you could buy cold Presidente for 100 pesos ($3 US). I got used to it and found it was ok, if you put it in an insulated mug (bubba keg's from Canadian Tire work great!) and that kept it cold. Most of it is bottom shelf liquor, they have a better rum in a square bottle, but you have to ask for it and I did see a
Smirnoff bottle of vodka on the bar shelf (again, you have to ask).
Lots of sweet fruity drinks, a Bahama Mama is a must. They definitely don't stiff you on the amount of liquor though, a few times I had to ask for "small" amounts.
The Food: We mostly ate at the Colonial buffet or the MamaJuana as no one wanted to get up early enough to reserve and any of the other places. We found them sufficient. Breakfast was great, lunch ok and dinner was pretty good - if you couldn't find something you could eat, you must have been extremely picky! The pizza was pretty good, I avoided the beef as it just didn't taste right, but the pork and chicken were good as was the pasta. The fruit was amazing and I really liked the cheese! No such thing as real OJ though, coffee was good in the mornings - it seemed different at dinner. My husband said the milk did not taste quite right.
Bugs: As we were there for so long I was surprised we didn't see more. There was the odd flying wasp thing around the pool, but nothing like at home. We eventually did see some cockroaches, but they were by the main bar area one night during the entertainment show and it was dark. We didn't see any before or after that. I didn't see one mosquito and didn't get any bites. Some people we were with got some bites, but nothing major.
Vendors: The come on the weekends to the hotel and set up in the lobby, some stuff is nice and they will definitely bargain. Start below 1/2 of what they ask and you will generally get it for 1/2 the price. We walked down the beach about 20 minutes to where there are a bunch of stalls and got some really good deals on stuff. There is also a little patio bar there that sells Presidente and Corona which we indulged in the first and last days we were there.
Excursions: Definitely book through your rep as they know all the ins and outs. We did the Tropical Storm sunset cruise which was disappointing as the weather wasn't very good that night. Chilly and windy. The 2nd week we did the Saona Island excursion and it was worth every penny! Absolutely amazing. Beautiful views, free flowing booze, good food. Friends did the Mega Truck Safari and said it was great. Both are very long days (7:30 am to 6:00 pm), but worth it.
Must haves: Lots of $1 US bills for tipping as it makes the service even better. Lots of different SPF's of sunscreen. Aloe vera for burns. Bug spray for excursions. Snacks (i.e. chips, granola bars etc.). A toothbrush you can throw away when you leave. If you are a smoker, make sure you have enough as they do not sell Canadian cigarettes at the resort, only American. Q-tips as they don't sell them. The sell pretty much anything else you may forget or run out of, but it is expensive. A friend ran out of deodorant and had to buy some, it was $15 US!! Crazy. But if you are in need, it is there. You can also by chips and chocolate bars, but I didn't see the prices on those. Pack bikini's nothing else! I brought 2 bikini's and 2 tankini's and only wore the tankini's once - it was too hot and uncomfortable. Don't worry about what you look like - there are people of all shapes and sizes, believe me! Bring a couple cover-ups and your sunglasses. A light sweater is all that is needed a night, sometimes not at all. Definitely bring something for heartburn - all the fruity drinks gave my husband bad heartburn and was eating Rolaids like crazy! Pepcid or Zantec is probably a better idea. Immodium and Pepto Bismal a must along with Gravol. The food is different and can take a few days for your system to adjust.
All in all we would definitely go back to the Bambu as we very much enjoyed the overall experience.
Rob and Diane Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Just returned from the Riu Bambu in Punta Cana on February 16th after a fabulous week.
Our family found this resort a great beach experience. If you are looking for a formal hotel, this is not for you. (Go to the Riu Palace Macao or the Riu Palace Punta Cana on either side. You will pay an extra $600 per person per week as well.) But if you are looking for a great pool bar or a nice sand beach with a large grove of palm trees for shade, try this one. It is an informal place with no requirement to ‘dress up’ for meals. A really restful, relaxing place. Or party time if you want it.
The Bambu’s staff are friendly and quick to serve, whether at the front desk, the restaurants or the bars. The food was plentiful and the alcohol flowed freely. Kudos to Willie the manager, Ariel at the front desk, Roldan in the dining room, and Wilton at the pool bar.
The rooms are clean and well presented. We had no problems here. Lots of clean linens and no “critters”.
Our Sunquest vacations rep. at the hotel (Hollie) put us onto a couple of great side trips. Try the Monster Truck Safari to see the Dominican people and surrounding country side. It’s a full day excursion and will open your eyes. www.monstertrucksafari.com Pack some giveaways for the local school kids. i.e. pens, pencils, ball caps. And for some fun on the water try the Happy Hour Cruise. There is snorkeling, swimming, and drinking on a catamaran before watching the sun go down from out at sea. Thanks Hollie for all your TLC.
The Dominicans love their tourists. And about 60% are Canadians. Some people call this area Punta Canada. Don’t worry about the language barrier. Although Spanish is used mainly, there is always enough English spoken to figure things out.
A couple of negatives.
We booked through Sunquest vacations who use Skyservice for their charters. Their Airbus A320 jets are set up with high-density seating. If you are over 5 foot 10 inches and 190 lbs. you are not going to be comfortable. Both my son and I are big guys, 6 foot 3 and 220 plus. Our knees were really squished. The flights down and back were truly torture. ‘Spam in a can’ at its worst.
There is no orange juice available on the resort. I know oranges grow in the Dominican Republic. I saw some growing. The orange drink in the dining rooms is some sort of punch.
Room keys and room safe keys. It has been a long time since I have seen keys used in hotels. They are a pain to drag around when in a bathing suit.
The pillows on the beds are really flat. If you are looking for “fluffy”, you won’t find them here.
Take lots of $1 US bills for tipping. Makes the service even better.
Book your vacation through a tour operator. It eases the airport transfers, and gives you that added personal help with the hotel and outside excursions.
Take wash cloths with you. They are not provided.
Would we go back? You bet! It was worth every cent.
We stayed at the Riu Bambu from Jan 29th-Feb 5th 2008 and had a fabulous time. I don't know why the reviews for this resort aren't better, I was a little worried when I read them. The beach, the food, the people and most importantly the drinks were all fabulous. If you get the chance to go to this resort, don't pass it up! Unless you are a very picky person, you will have a wonderful time!
Our family stayed at Riu Bambu resort (one of 3 Riu) in Dominican Republic and I would like to comment on our vacation. We stayed from 12/28/07 - 1/07/08. On the scale from 0-10 probably 4. Kids club gets a 2 on the same scale, 2 cafeterias working with big gaps, 2 little pools, don't know how to make coktails, night entertainment sucks, entainterners lazy and unpleasant, night club 2 hotels away. Restorants - don't even waiste your time. The ocean is nice but extremely waivy and windy. Don't waiste your money paying top dollar for this "5 star". go to 3 star - much better deal.
Bob is one of our hard working moderators on our Dominican Travel Forum
Riu Bambu / Sunquest Vacations / Skyservice Airlines
OK, as most of the regular Debbie's readers know, it was supposed to be Colony
Bay Resort, but that didn't open in time, so we got reassigned to this resort
by Sunquest. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but colour me pleasantly
surprised. This was 'supposed' to be an upgrade to a five star resort, so I'm
writing this review accordingly. I do expect more than I what I get from our
'normal' three and a half to four star properties.
Some of our Debbie's posters told me that there is no way this the property
deserves that five star rating and (caps intended) I HAVE TO AGREE. That said,
it's still a very nice property, but it's NOT five star by any stretch of the
imagination. In my honest opinion, arguably it's a four star resort and at
best it's a four and a half star resort. I'll go into the reasons for that
later. Would I return? Yes, definitely. We had a great time and I would not
even hesitate for an instant.
Some also suggested that we should have insisted on an upgrade to one of the
Riu Palace resorts. I'm glad we didn't. They appeared to be top notch, but
just not our kind of place. We were much happier at the Bambu. I guess a good
example is to look at the 'traditional' Caribbean style wooden building where
we tended to go for lunch every day. We went there for the food, the service
and the ambience. It didn't feel at all like a hotel restaurant and felt more
like we had stopped in off the beach and into a local restaurant/bar. Without
having to pony up the cash of course ..... Oh, and one of the waitresses took
some oranges and went to the back room to squeeze fresh juice for us. Talk
about service. Gracias Belkis.
Normally I have a long "meet & greet" list of people we have to meet. This time
I had a zero length list, and in fact we ran into very few people that had
even heard of Debbie's (www.DebbiesDominicanTravel.com). We changed that, so
now we have some new friends.
For those that don't want to read the whole review, here's a summary. Overall,
the resort was pretty good. There were some things that you would never
expect, like using some kind of egg mixture (powdered?) for the omelets, juice
drink rather than real juice from the dispensers, coffee machines, bottom
shelf liquors, rather basic accommodation, the list goes on ...... However, we
did enjoy the stay at one hotel and play at three hotels concept. We had
access to the Riu Taino and Naiboa and also could walk around the two Palace
properties, but not eat or drink there. The grounds were lovely and nicely
maintained. The beach did get stirred up a few days by the strong winds and
waves, but otherwise was excellent. The pool was also very nice, but not the
meandering freeform pool you see at the newer places. The room was basic but
quite acceptable, and as usual I left it in better shape than when I arrived.
The food was pretty good, but again not up to 5 star standards. The service
was excellent and I would rate it beyond five star. Any more and they would
have been hovering. That would have bothered me.
OK, on to the full review.
Skyservice: The flight down was quite pleasant. We were greeted with a smile
at check-in, there were no hassles and we were thanked for filling in our
A.P.I.S. (Advanced Passenger Information System) forms online. Tourist cards
were handed out on the jetway when boarding the plane. The inflight service
was fine. The breakfast sandwich was good, and was served with juice (or
should I call it a slushy since it was frozen almost solid), yogurt, cheese
and crackers, orange flavoured raisins and an apple-cinnamon cookie. They may
be learning from the competition since hot towel service was also provided.
Another surprise was champagne and fruit juice served as a vacation starter
about 1/2 hour before landing. Bonus, there was sufficient leg room for my
long legs (B757 aircraft). However, the trip back home was another story
entirely. Check-in was a zoo, and they seemed to be having some issue with
their computer system and passport reader. When it finally spit out our
boarding passes, the first six came out blank followed by two good ones. The
inflight service was abysmal and the flight attendants seemed more interested
in selling duty free and snacks than anything else. I witnessed the attendant
call button being frequently ignored, including the one or two times I needed
attention. Unacceptable. On this flight, my knees were jammed against the seat
in front of me and I couldn't get comfortable no matter where I positioned
myself. (A320 aircraft). Oh yeah, another new wrinkle. Blankets and pillows
are no longer provided. You have to purchase a "comfort package" for $7. This
package also includes a beach bag (eyes roll). BFC rating - 3 stars and if
both flights had been like the return flight, it would have been minus 3
Sunquest: There were some minor issues with the scheduling of our return
flight as they incorrectly informed us of a flight change. After numerous
emails this was resolved. The flight time turned out to be as originally
scheduled. The Sunquest representative at the hotel, Hollie, was very good and
tried her best to resolve issues, even when complaints were unrealistic. We
heard some of these when we were waiting to chat with her. It should also be
noted that there was some confusion over the departure tax (that we had
already prepaid) when we were leaving Punta Cana. The airline check-in people
and the Sunquest rep at the airport thought that we were going to have to pay
it. We were ready to do battle, but no one tried to double collect it. Nor
were there any overweight issues. My bag weighed the expected amount. So no
real issues here.
The hotel: No deja vu this year. It's always a tough call trying to decide
whether to repeat a place you enjoy or try something new. This year we went
for the new. This property wasn't our first choice, but it worked for us and
we would happily return. Being our first trip to this resort, we were at the
bottom of the learning curve, but we could navigation quite easy. It was easy
to find your way around. On arrival our first impression was of a nice place,
but rather standard Caribbean construction (stuccoed concrete block) with
ceramic tile floors, exactly the same as we are used to.
Our room: When we first checked in, the room seemed basic, but in pretty good
shape. When reception phoned to ask about the room, we hadn't discovered the
flaws yet. There turned out to be a few, like the running tap in the bath tub
that could not be stopped. As a matter of fact, despite the fact that it was
running at a good rate when shut off, it was so tight that my wife could not
turn it on. There was also two defective light switches. The tap was quickly
fixed after I reported it, but they only replaced one of the defective
switches, so the problem was better but not fixed. They also tried
unsuccessfully to repair the toilet that ran on. I fixed that and a few other
minor problems myself. It's not a holiday unless I fix something .... The room
itself contained two beds which seemed to be an unusual size. They were
narrower than a double but wider than a standard twin. They also seemed
longer. My thought is that they were what is referred to as a Super Single (48
× 84 in or 1.22 × 2.13 m). There were two end tables, a large closet, a
luggage rack, table/drawers holding the TV, a table, two chairs and a floor
lamp. There was a mini bar (rum, vodka, brandy and gin, the cheap domestic
stuff, Normandy), a mini fridge with two Pepsi, two diet Pepsi, two 7-Up and
two beer (Brahma). There was also a safe in the closet. The safe key was
provided at no charge. There was a small balcony with a screen door that
worked. Note that there was no porch light which rules out reading at night.
There was also a clock radio which interestingly enough was wired into the
room master switch, so I finally gave up resetting it. Sheets, towels and bath
mats were changed daily. The sheets were good quality, high thread count, but
very thin. The mattress was a Simmons Orthopedic Maxpedic Classic, and was
VERY firm. The word fluffy could never be applied to the pillows; they worked,
but they were pretty small. There was no mattress protector. However, the
mattress was clean (I checked). There were NO washcloths provided. There were
very few electrical outlets in the room and those were inconveniently located.
Note that the outlets were the two pin type and were recessed. I'm glad I
brought my modified cord. There were also a few cracks in the stucco. BFC
rating - 4 stars at best.
The restaurants: There was the one main buffet (Colonial) and the second "near
the beach" buffet (Mamajuana). There was nothing right on the beach. The
Mamajuana was split into two specialty restaurants in the evening (Italian and
Steak House). We also had access to the Caribe Grill (part of Palace Macao) as
a third specialty restaurant in the evening. Reservations were required for
these, but were not all that difficult to get. The Caribe Grill was the
hardest and you usually had to be early to get a reservation. They've done
away with assigned seating and times for the buffet, even though the hotel
services guide still mentions it. One thing we really liked was the outdoor
terrace area for the Colonial Buffet. You could eat outside breakfast, lunch
and dinner. Our vacation package allowed us to eat breakfast and lunch and to
use the bars at the Taino and the Naiboa. We didn't eat much at any of them,
but did stop occasionally for drinks. We especially liked what they referred
to as the Pizzeria on Caribbean St. We ended up eating most of our lunches
there. It was a traditional Caribbean style wooden building located right on
the beach. They served pizza, soup, baked chicken, burgers, hot dogs, fries,
rice, pasta and had a nice salad and desert bar. BFC rating - 4.5 stars with
the exception of the "pizzeria" which I have to give 5 stars for the
traditional ambience, the food and the service. Our waitress even took oranges
to the back room and hand squeezed them so we could have natural orange juice.
Food: The food was good, but despite the fact that I gained 4 kg, I had some
issues. In the morning, the omelets were not made with real eggs. It was
either powdered egg or 'egg beaters' or some other premix stuff. Whatever,
they were pretty gross. I had the omelet guy make me a few with real eggs a
few days. Funny that he could make two omelets with the artificial stuff in
the time it took to cook real eggs. The juices from the dispensers were not
real fruit juice but some kind of fruit drink that we didn't especially care
for. The fresh made fruit smoothies kind of made up for this, but I was
craving real orange juice. At breakfast there was always lots of bacon, ham,
sausage, potato, buns, cheeses, sweet rolls, fresh fruit. The temperature
controls seemed good and the hot food was hot and the cold food was cold.
Trays were replenished regularly. We ate most lunches at the 'pizzeria' and
they had great chicken. Not quite up to my reference standard, but close. At
dinner, along with the meats, there was a lot of seafood offered, which
pleased my wife. However, we never saw lobster and the beef served was
invariably 'chewy'. They had several theme nights (Dominican, Chinese,
Mexican, BBQ). These were generally good, but I was especially disappointed in
the BBQ night since all the meat had apparently been cooked on the BBQ, but
taken off and put in the hot trays with a sauce poured on it to keep it from
drying out. Next year I'll try to be early and catch the meat coming off the
grill. IMHO, BBQ doesn't need any sauce .... BFC rating - 4 stars.
Service: There is obviously a good relationship between management and the
staff here. Everyone seemed to be happy doing their job. We found the service
excellent in all the restaurants and bars. There was usually someone from
upper management to great you at the restaurant entrance at dinner time.
Usually this was sub-director Manuela and we found her exceptionally outgoing
and friendly. The waiters, waitresses and bus boys were all quite attentive
and friendly. Quite often you were also greeted from the reception desk as you
walked by on your way to the dining room. BFC rating - 5 stars (or better).
The beach: In a word, the beach was 'beautiful' (almost spectacular). I've
been to nicer, but not many. Nice white powder sand, turquoise water, a little
seaweed, palm trees and hazard free swimming. Well, the waves did stir things
up and liked to eat sunglasses and diving masks. My sunglasses are probably
half way to Puerto Rico by now .... Note to self, use your glasses tie on
strap next time. There were sufficient loungers available and we never had a
time when wee couldn't find free ones. The towel game didn't seem to be big
here. Part of the reason was that there are no palapas on the beach itself and
the shade is provided by the palm trees. People don't seem as possessive about
these ..... BFC rating - 4.5 stars.
The pool: The pool was very nice. The temperature was quite comfortable by my
standards. We spent most of our time at the beach, but made a point of trying
the pool, pool bar and jaccuzzi so I could report on it. It should be called
the non-jaccuzzi since I never saw it operating. It was just a small circular
grotto area, surrounded by rocks (fake) with a small waterfall, but I never
saw the jets in operation. If there was a switch to turn it on, it was not
obvious. BFC rating - 4 stars.
General comments (in no particular order):
- A previous reviewer referred to what she called a retarded arrangement in
the main buffet. I have to agree, especially in the morning. Because of the
placement of the empty plates, people coming from the egg station met the
people coming the other way from the bacon and sausage stations. I felt like a
salmon trying to swim upstream.
- Make sure you take an adapter or a 'modified' extension cord if you plan on
plugging in one of those camera battery charger transformer boxes.
- Take your own washcloths.
- The room key has your room number engraved on it. I saw people with their
safe key clipped to the room key. If lost, when someone finds it, they have
ALL they need to clean out the safe.
- Presidente beer was not served in the bars or restaurants, nor was it in the
mini fridge. I believe Presidente is served in the Palace resorts.
- They seem to have to mosquito control thing down pat. As a matter of fact,
there was hardly any living creatures around. I saw a few very small geckos,
two mosquitoes, two cats, some centipedes, a few birds and some annoying flies.
They didn't bite, but they sure were 'friendly'.
WHAT WE LIKED:
- the stay at one hotel and play at three hotels concept.
- property was beachfront.
- all the common facilities are in one spot.
- food was acceptable (I had some issues).
- room was basic but acceptable.
- nice pool.
- very nice beach.
- nice facilities (bars, restaurants, lobby, pool, grounds).
- no time share / vacation club salesmen.
- very few vendors on the beach.
- no armbands (unless you are staying at one of the Palaces).
- red wine was quite potable, white wasn't. We didn't try the rose.
- hardly saw a mosquito or for that matter, a bug.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE:
- Brahma (Brazilian) beer in the mini fridge. Presidente would be nice.
- Rubia Barril (Brazilian) draft beer served at the bars.
- Normandy/Classic liquors in the mini bar
- Normandy/Classic liquors in the bars. You could get Brugal Anejo and
Barcello Anejo if you insisted (and watched the bartender). I also saw Jose
Cuervo tequila and a name brand gin (I don't recall the brand).
- most prices in the on-site shops are very high, but some seemed reasonable.
- drinks in disco are not included.
- the disco smells bad.
- At dinner, candles on the table every night would have been nice. They did
have candles on theme nights. Our solution was to take our own.
- no face cloths. This is not unusual for the DR.
- no soap trays in the shower.
- you can't get a liqueur with your evening coffee in the restaurant. You have
to go to one of the bars. (one exception - the Caribe Grill).
- There seemed to be a lack of public washrooms. There were some in the lobby
and some in the Mamajuana restaurant, but that was about it.
- there are no oceanview rooms at the resort.
- I definitely took exception to the egg mix used for the omelets in the
morning. I look forward to my 'Dominican' omelets. When it wasn't busy at the
egg station, I did ask for and get real eggs, and the oelet was excellent. But
the cooking time seemed about twice as long, so by the time it was cooked, it
was usually busy (by definition).
- No real fruit juice, with the exception of the smoothies. These have a lot
of sugar added and they didn't have orange. I really craved real orange juice
in the morning.
Good food, super service and nice accommodations. Not gourmet.
A few warts, not 5 star, but a good solid 4 to 4.5 star. We would go back
without hesitation. It is a great place to meet people and chat. Overall, we
liked it. Unless you are truly looking for 5 star accommodation, we recommend
it. There were things wrong that shouldn't have been.
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Note: the photos and slide show may lag the review by a few weeks. If they're
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EMAIL: I'll be glad to answer any questions I can. There is a link on my
website (antispam - you will be challenged to read and enter numbers that
are not machine readable).
Peter and Jackie Cambridgeshire, England
Having stayed previously (twice) at the Fiesta Bavaro, now Grand Palladium Bavaro, we were really looking forward to our two weeks, especially as we were meeting our daughter & son-in-law. They were 'first-timers' to DR, and were travelling separately from N. Carolina.
Rooms were ok, well kept, decent minibar, nice touches from the cleaners (towel arrangements & flowers). They really went to town on Jackie's birthday, towel swans, flowers, balloons and little presents.
Food was ok, usually a fair choice, some very good, some not so!
The real problem with this hotel is the lack of facilities:
The pool and pool area was tiny for the size of the hotel ! It was barely possible to get to the swim-up bar at any time.
There was no cocktail / reception bar, only the single outdoor bar that supplied the outside table areas and the entertainment area. The service was ok but slow due to the lack of other bar options.
There was a poolside bar which was also the only point from which you could get drinks if you were on the ( gorgeous) beach. Quite a trek if you chose the wrong spot !
The reception area was no more than a corridor with a few sofas / armchairs and it turned into a cheap / tacky souvenir market every evening, removing the few chances of sitting in any comfort.
After experiencing the Fiesta ( Grand Palladium Bavaro), this was by comparison a 3 star experience in most respects.
The restaurants, pools, a fabulous open-sided cocktail / reception bar, gym, staff, entertainment, but above all simply the overall atmosphere and pristine condition of the hotel and grounds, and other facilities at the former leaves the Riu Bambu a distant third , in a 2 horse race!
We will return to Bavaro, but if this is 5 star Riu, then we will definitely not be going to returning to the Bambu, or any other Riu hotel.
Our daughter and son-in law, I believe, enjoyed their stay, but I am sure they couldn't equate this hotel to the 'build-up' we had given Bavaro and DR in our 'pre-holiday chats!
Cheryl and Ken
We were in the Dominican at the Riu Bambu in January for my daughter's wedding. It was the second time I had been there. The first for my husband. Although he isn't much of a traveler he enjoyed himself very much. Found plenty to do and said he would go back again some day! My daughter's wedding was beautiful and the most relaxing one I have been to. The pictures awesome. We had a total of 16 people in our group. We all had a ball. Everyone basically did their own thing but met up on the beach, at the bar, etc. I thought the resort was very clean. The food was prepared and served very attractively and tasted good. Such a variety. We never did make reservations at the other restaurants as the main dining room was all that we could want. The shows at night were very entertaining. We loved the ones that made us laugh. The people there are so friendly and there to make your trip enjoyable. The bartenders would sing and dance! They are so fun loving. Our check in and check out couldn't have gone more smoothly. I would definitely visit there again some day. As a matter of fact I would go every year if I had the $$. When I read reviews of people with all the negative comments I can't help but think they are either way too fussy or were they actually at the same resort I was at???? It is a most beautiful paradise!
April Tennessee, United States of America
It has been a year and a few months since our trip but I remember it like it was yesterday.
Our trip was January 29-February 5th 2006 and it was for our HONEYMOON which makes this review all the more important. We are ages 30 and 34.
Prior to this I have stayed at the Riu Cancun and the Barcelo TuCancun in Cancun Mexico and LOVED it! It was my idea to go to Punta Cana, because our travel agent said everything in Cancun was destroyed by the latest hurricane (that is the last time I ever listened to a travel agent), but I did some research and we were really looking forward to it. Especially since we would be on our honeymoon here.
Airport-- was fine, no problems here. You have the usual "luggage pushers" that are very pushy and try to take your luggage away from you so they can get a tip later. We sternly but politely tell them no. Immigration was a joke, my husband asked a fellow american later (very hard to find by the way) -- "did we go through immigration at the airport?" They said yes it was the desk where the guy looked at your papers and waved you on through.
Check in--No problems here but we were a little disappointed with the location of our room. We were on the ground level and no view of the ocean. I had hoped since we were on our honeymoon we would get a little special treatment but there was none. The fridge is basically a cabinet to hold drinks in...it was never cold. Everything else was great about the room. Loved the beds, I sleep better on those firm ones anyway.
Restaurants--The information we were given about the buffet restaurants was very confusing. We know enough spanish to get by and speak it when the opportunity is there but this was the most backwards set up I had ever seen. We ate at the buffet one night and made reservations at the resort restaurants the rest of the week. THIS IS THE WAY TO GO!! We LOVED the reservation restaurants and felt very pampered by their service. I am just a down to earth country girl and never had a dinner quite this spectacular! The table was set to the nines and candle lit for romance. You would choose from an a la carte menu and all of the food was EXCELLENT at these restaurants and made to order. We ate at the Caribe Grill and Mama Juana's. The vino was drinkable but not what I am used to...but it was nice to drink as much as we wanted at no extra cost. We would always slip our waiter a $5 (or more if he was extra attentive.) For breakfast and lunch the buffet's were fine and we could always find something we liked. We thought the coffee was AWESOME. I read a review where they said it was instant. If it is I am highly surprised and want some in my kitchen cabinet. LOVED the coffee!
Beaches and Pools--I don't do pools when I have a beach nearby (I dont' have a beach in Tennessee but we do have swimming pools) but from what I saw they were completely full anyway. The beach was amazing. Always very clean and peaceful. The palm trees remind you that you are in Punta Cana and that you are in paradise. The water was gorgeous and nice to swim in. One thing to watch out for is the gardeners that are passing through and picking up the coconuts that fall from the trees. We made the mistake of making eye contact with one of them and he asked us (in so many spanish words that we could recognize and motions with his hands) if we wanted him to cut it open so we could eat it. We said yes and he did with this huge machete. After he gave it to us he holds his hand open for a tip. We had no money with us and my dear husband had to run to the room while I was left there to try to talk to a man who spoke ONLY spanish and was holding a very sharp machete. We will NEVER do that again!! Later in the week I saw another gullible tourist that fell for the same thing. I felt like a big dummy.
General experience--I didn't realize I would be so out of place there. There were very few Americans and I too felt that they treated us badly just because of where we were from. The front desk personnel never had time to answer our questions and when they did they tried to act like they did not understand what we were saying or they rushed us along. I am always a patient and courteous person and I was appalled by how I was treated here. I could always sense irritation by the bartenders or wait staff because I was American. Yet the europeans were treated far better than we were. I was honestly dumfounded that I was treated this way here and it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth for the region and the hotel. Also there were two seperate occasions where the power went out at the resort. It was out for HOURS. We were also told by the front desk it is not safe to leave the resort and not to be on the beach at night. I would have loved to experience some of the culture without being required to pay $100 or more for a day trip. So we didn't venture outside of the resort area's...we walked to the other Riu resorts of course...without these places we would have went stir crazy.
In closing....this was a very disappointing honeymoon and I will not be back. Recently a good friend of mine said she was thinking about going to Punta Cana. She had her mind set on it until I told her of my experience. She decided to go to Cancun Mexico instead. So in the future I will spend my thousands of dollars in Mexico where they are appreciative of tourists from the USA. I will let the Canadians and Germans keep Punta Cana all to themselves.
Pat and Mike
We stayed at the RIU Bambu for 1 week in early April 2007. This was our second trip to Punta Cana, our first to the Bambu.
Rooms: Very clean, comfortable, decent sized rooms. They had 2 double beds, a small table and chairs, an in-room drink dispenser, fridge with soft drinks, beer and water that was restocked frequently. The balcony had 2 chairs and a little pull out rack for drying your towels and bathing suits on: a little detail but a thoughtful one. The bathrooms had tub and shower. There was a ceiling fan and a screen on the balcony door, so there was not a need to have the A.C. on all the time. The maids kept the room clean at all times.
Grounds: Beautiful! Very well kept and clean. Quite mature trees and plants, so very lush appearance. Shade was always available. Lots of loungers. Nice pool area. Swim up bar and main bar all within a few steps of the pool area.
Food: Quite good actually. Tons of choices at the buffet. Hot food was kept at good temperature and the cold foods were always kept chilled. Never heard of anyone getting sick. We ate one night at the Macao, it was okay, but after that we just stayed with our main buffet as we always found things we liked. One night they had wonderful smoked salmon, and that was the main part of our meal! The fresh fruit was lovely, especially the passionfruit, or Chinola as it is called there. I had never eaten it before, and watched other people as they consumed platefuls of it. One taste and we were hooked, and then every meal for the rest of the week had Chinola as part of it. Unless you are ridiculously picky, I can't imagine you not being able to find things you would enjoy eating.
Beach: It is beautiful. Pure white, talcum powder soft sand, that stretches for miles in either direction. The water is wavy, but gentle waves that are fun to swim in, not the kind that drag you under. The turquoise colour is amazing. There are lots of palm trees on the beach, and lots of sun loungers, so if you wanted shade it was easy to find.
There was always a breeze blowing. The first 2 days it was very breezy, and at times you were being sandblasted if you were at the beach. After that, it calmed down, but still breezy enough that you never felt sticky with the heat.
The shows at night were a bit hokey, but enjoyable. The animation staff work very hard all day, then perform in the shows at night. It's a long day for them, but as Oliver said, he loves his job!
Overall, we had a great holiday. We will definitley consider the RIU Bambu again for a holiday.
Our group traveled to the RIU Bambu from May 4-11, 2007. In our group of five we had three in our early 30’s and two in their mid 20’s. This review is from the early 30’s point of view. This was our BEST vacation yet!
Flight to Punta Cana:
We flew Air Transat down from Toronto. The seats are a little tight but better than SkyService. Mind you I am 6’4” so anything other than club class I will find tight. The flight down left on time with no issues. On the plane you get your ‘blue’ immigration forms and you also get the $10 entry card. The flight was very smooth with no turbulence and the flight left on time. At the Punta Cana airport we got our luggage’s and headed toward our bus with no issues. Our driver Leo was excellent navigating the bumpy roads. When the new highways are finished I think the trip will be much faster from the airport. This time we didn’t notice the bumpy roads as much. The trip to our resort took about 35-40 minutes since we had to stop at the RIU Tanio, Palace Macao and the Palace Punta Cana first.
Arrival at RIU Bambu:
When we arrived at the Bambu our luggage was taken by the porter and we headed to the Front Desk. Check-in was very smooth and the people at the Front Desk were very friendly and explained everything to us. We were also given a welcome drink. It was a fruit punch type drink. It was refreshing after the flight and bus ride. After we were given the room key and safe key we put the room number stickers on our luggage and we were taken to our rooms. When you get to your room the porter shows you where everything is and after he left the Front Desk called and asked us if everything was to our satisfaction. The call made us feel like we were important and that they wanted us to feel at home.
The grounds at the Bambu were beautiful. Every morning we would see the groundskeepers trimming and cleaning the grasses and palm trees. The walkways were always clean even the ones by the beach.
Our room number was 1215 which means Building #12 and room #15. We had a second floor room. The rooms were not huge but for the amount of time we spend in them they were perfect. We asked for a King size bed and what we got was two doubles pushed together which worked well. The bed was huge! The mattress was firm but we like it that way. Each person got two pillows and they were plenty. When you walk in the mini bar is on the right and then on the same side you have the closet with the safe. There is a table and two chairs on the opposite side and the good old 20” RCA TV on the desk across from the bed. To the left you get the washroom with Tub/Shower. Water pressure was good and there was plenty of hot water. We did not see one bug in our room. The room was cleaned each day by at least 1pm. We don’t usually go back to the room until about 4-5pm. We never found the room not cleaned and we always had enough towels and amenities each day. The air conditioner worked very well and the fan was a dream to move the cool air around. A few nights we turned down the air since we found it cold! The balcony is fair sized with a small table and two chairs. There is also an expandable clothes rack for drying towels or bathing suits. We found the rooms very adequate.
The food, where do I start? The food at the Colonial Buffet was AMAZING!!!!! We ate here every night (Even the night we tried an a la carte). There was plenty of choices each night and the theme nights were awesome! We can’t rave enough about the food. We ate breakfast and dinner at the main buffet and we never had any stomach problems. All the Hot foods were Hot and the Cold food were Cold. There was more than enough selection for everyone in our group and one person was a vegetarian. We tried one a la carte while we were there. We tried the Caribe Grill at the Palace Macao. The food there was ok but we ended up going to the main buffet anyways since we were still hungry! There is no set seating times anymore. You can eat when you want and you can sit where ever you want. They had people help you find a seat if the buffet was busy. At lunch we usually ate at Mamajuana’s which offered a great lunch. Not as much selection as the main buffet but the food here was also excellent! At night the Mamajuana restaurant splits in two to create the Steakhouse and Italian restaurants. We never tried these as the buffet was excellent.
We didn’t stay at the pool at all since we are beach people. I did go for a swim each day in the afternoon to escape some of the hot sun at the beach. The pool was kept very clean and the pool Jacuzzi was nice. The pool water was nice and warm each day from the sun. The pool has steps to get in from either the main entrance and there are also steps by the Jacuzzi. The swim up bar was very busy and the bartenders were excellent.
The beach was awesome. It was always cleaned each morning. There were plenty of chairs to be had. There was plenty of shade as well if you need it. The water was very calm and nice and warm. We had a few waves on the last two days but nothing to be worried about. What more can I say about the beach in Punta Cana? Excellent!
The staff was great. They always had activities going. They would always try and get you to participate but were not pushy if you just wanted to relax. I tried a few things and it was great. They are great at making you laugh. We didn’t watch many of the shows as we were pretty baked after all day in the sun.
Flight to Toronto:
The flight back go Toronto was also uneventful. We had a bit of turbulence but it only lasted a few minutes. We were actually about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
In summary I would like to say that this was an AWESOME vacation. I can’t stop raving about the beach and food at this resort. I would definitely stay here again. After this RIU experience I would like to try other RIU resorts. They always try and make you feel at home. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this resort to anyone!
My wife and I just returned from our vacation April 6 to the 13 2007 in the Dominican Republic. We stayed at the RIU Bambu. We both agreed it was wonderful vacation. The water and the beach were aweswome. The staff at the resort were friendly and very helpful. When ever we asked for anything we got imediate service and they complied with everything we asked for. I had read some of the reviews after I booked the trip and was very concerned. I have to say to those who gave negative reviews they must have not stayed at the same resort. The food was very good and there was always a huge variety to chose from. The staff at the resturants and bars were excellent and always did all they could to attend to all requests. There was always something to do durning the day with contests to enter from bingo, darts, horse shoes and numerous other games. They also they had dance instructions on the beach and arobics at the pool. I would say it was one of the best vacations we have been on. We wouldn't hesitate to go back.
Marilyn & Jerry
We were at the Riu Bambu from March 25 to April 1/07. The resort was fantastic. We have been to the Bahia Principe and the Punta Cana Grand before. This resort is by far better than the Grand and we enjoyed it even more than the Bahia.
-the service was great
-food was fantastic
-rooms were well cleaned each day
-the ocean is the best. always found a lounge chair
-never did the pool (we can do that here at home)
-the coffee (my husband drinks) said was very hot and tasted like home.
-the tea (me) was always very hot
-we do not enjoy the entertainment at night at most of the resorts. The children are on stage far too long for my liking.
-the Grand had movies playing every night (new releases). That we really enjoyed.
-we did not see one bug on the resort
-we have never gotten sick in the Dominican either
-over all we would go back again. When you had a great holiday with no complaints who wouldn't go back.
When reading other peoples negative reviews just shake your head and book this resort. You will not regret it.
The Martins Maine, USA
This was our fourth trip to the Domican Republic. Every year my wife and I start out by looking all over the world for our yearly excursion to warm weather. Again this year we couldnt break away from the pull that the Domican Republic has on us. What a great place to get away, the people are great and weather is always nice.
We stayed at the Riu Bambu on January 19th 2007.Opting for the less expensive
Riu complex. We never at anytime felt like we were staying anywhere other than the palace. The staff is wonderful, the grounds and facility are superb. Rooms were clean and well stocked. Now keep in mind that this was our 4th trip to the DR. Prior trips include such places as the Barcelo Palace, Iberostar Punta Cana, Casa Marina. The Riu was by far the best. The only place that I would say that they could work on was the entertainment. But they try real hard and at times you really felt like they cared if we were enjoying our stay. My family and myself would most certainly recomend this resort.
Rooms are not big, pillows were terrible but all else was great....very clean... Hint if you don't want a musty smelling room ask for one on the second floor. Ours was on the second floor. Very musty smelling upon arrival but was odor free for the rest of our stay by running the AC when we were out and turning it off for our own comfort when we went to bed. A good idea is to bring a room freshner. Visit the Riu web site and you could get a map of the resort...stay away from block 24 your room might end up looking at the washrooms.....block 21 nad 22 can be noisy ...too close to the night entertainment...blocks 6-12 are exposed to the noise of delivery trucks at the Palace next door...so go for centre blocks....15-20, 25-31 and ask for a second floor...more privacy!
All workers from the bottom to the top were absolutely amazing ...always greeting you with a smile and "good day" etc. The workers put in very long hours (10), get $250 a MONTH, work 11 straight days before getting three days off to go back home to their families who live 2-3 hours away yet despite this they were always cheerful and often singing away as they did their job....so be kind and bring a few dollar bills for a tip...we always did. They were so appreciative.
The resort does an excellent job at cleaning up the pool areas and walks. Everything is spic and span very early in the morning. So for the person who wrote that towels should be removed from chairs if left after 7 let me tell you that they are! The towel seen in the morning were put there by early risers. My husband and I always got up to catch the sunrise (7), we then get our chairs on the beach and go for breakfast. At nine o'clock there still are plenty of chairs available both by the pool and on the beach but if you think you can find a chair in your perfect spot after 11, you're dreaming! You will find a chair here and there but you'll have to go looking. The beach is cleaned every morning...picking up butts and garbage left behind by the people who were too lazy to use the garbage cans...
The buffets were great. We were there two weeks and were impressed with the fact that they did try make it interesting every day. Granted some things were repeated but then again try going to a buffet back home every day and see the variety you get. One day they had such an awesome cheese spread it was to die for...and I don't mean Kraft slices but Brie and Camembert and Blue Cheese...amazing. We always ate in the main restaurant...The Colonial...even for lunch as it was much better than having lunch at the Mamajuana by the pool. There the lunches seemed skimpy. It was much more plentiful in the Colonial with awesome pizza at every meal. The wine in PC is AWFUL so unfortunately I settled for beer with my meals and it was good. For those people who miss their food from back home they did serve hotdogs and hamburgers at the side.....ugh why go the DR for hotdogs! They always had three types of pasta and I was pleased to see that it was cooked correctly "al dente" and not mush, melt in your mouth pasta from a can. They use imported Italian pasta! Their meat dishes are so so. Chicken and pork are usually ok but forget the beef "vacca" as it is so overcooked it is tasteless.
Drinks are usually without alcohol unless you specifically ask...for example gin and tonic is ok but if you ask for a pina colada there is no alcohol unless you ask. The cappuccino from the machines are good.
Entertainment: day time games were ok. Night shows were mediocre....music is often tooooo loud...acoustics are not very good. They had BINGO every day at four thirty with nice prizes...t-shirts, bottles of rum etc....Cucchi made bingo fun but La Titi just wanted to get it over and done with so he'd give double prizes for one line and hence end the game quickly. 8:30 Bingo at Taino was much more fun...more prizes and a much fairer way in distributing.
The Taino is next to Palace Macao ( to your right )at the end of the bricked beach path.(very safe to walk here...the only way to go from one resort to the other...well lit with people constantly walking by) Palace Punta Cana which just opened on the other side of Mambu ( on the left)is lovely but I much prefer our beach. If you like to go to the Casino at the Palace Macao....don't dream of coming away a winner....your best bet is the roulette....if you play the slots...limit your amount and leave if you have even a $20 win...whatever you do DO NOT get hooked in to the game called "eight ball jackpot" (not sure if that is the name) Greeters at the door will give unsuspecting visitors a FREE $5 dollar chip. The greeter then walks you down to the table where you play....they place a cord near your area so no one could come near....you throw 8 balls into a wooden bin....you WILL win on the first throw I assure you but then watch as you are lured in for the big bucks....and you will come out a loser....if you don't believe be watch next time you go there. How come the man in charge adds up the sum....do you really know if the sum he gives you is correct ??????? You don't stand a chance. I've witnessed quite a few become losers in no time.
If you plan to buy things you are much better off on Carribana street....cigarettes were $2.50 vs $4.00 at the hotel....postcards and jewellery are also best bought here or at least make your self familiar with the prices. At the hotel everything is priced in pesos...but you can pay in dollars...be aware that they round the price off to their benefit...eg. 32 peso to a dollar....bought something for 80 pesos was charged $3....a pack of cigars from the vendors sold for $25 yet the same ones from a vendor on Caribana street was $10.....By the way no matter what the package says the cigars are from the DR and not Cuba. I wouldn't buy the vanila extract....plastic bottles aren't sealed...who knows what's added to them.
Please don't compare 4 or 5 star hotels to 4 and 5 star hotels back home....star rating is just to give you an idea it is not a universal grading...so the 4 and 5 star rating for the DR or Mexico is comparing hotels in similar areas of the world.
We've always loved our visit.....and will def. return.....
returned from the rui bambu 19-09-06 on arrival at punta canna airport had to stand in line for 30 minuets while they took every bodys photo just what you need after a9 hour flight.the hotel is simmeler design to the other rui hotels in the north of the island,the beach isthe jewel in the crown absolutly fabulous.i found the food poor the vegatables under cooked and the presentation poor,i liked the bungerlow accomerdation itwas very clean and well presented the main bar with the steps leading up from the pool i thought was tired looking the floor was always wet and the upholsted seat were always wet,there was no dress code inthe snack bar and people were walking around in wet bathing wear this hotel is not 5stars i would say 3 at the most.
Larry Decatur, GA
Arrival to Punta Cana
Lets take it one at a time. First the arrival. The entry into the Dominican has changed since we were last there. It is $10 per person to enter, you are given a form to complete at the airport, then after completing you advance to pay the $10 and receive a bar-coded ticket. Next, 5 feet away a person takes the ticket, scans it in and keeps it. There is no blue/green card to keep up while you are in Punta Cana.
We were then greeted at the airport by a porter who literally took our luggage from us – no surprises here they are really aggressive. He was helpful in showing us to the Vacation Express (VE) kiosk, where we were given our bus number. You have to listen to the person at the kiosk yourself, or you might get on the wrong bus to the wrong resorts. The porter heard the wrong number and we had to correct him. The porter continued with our luggage (2 bags on wheels), and showed us to the bus. We were greeted by the Coco Tours guides Lina, the VE representative and Eddie, bus driver, who were both delightful, friendly and helpful. Some language difficulty, but nothing you didn’t understand. So far, so good.
Arrival to Riu Bambu
We’re dropped off by the Coco Tours crew. Lina stayed with us for questions. My reservations were not found on the list for check-in. I showed my voucher and was given a room. Whew, not a good feeling. Things at the time of check-in seemed a bit disorganized which was a bit disconcerting.
The Room #3002
Upon arrival, immediately I’m struck with the musky odor of the room, but didn’t dwell on it. It appeared spacious enough. Took a minute to figure out how the light switches worked and what they controlled, but was successful. We loved the pine and mahogany doors and furniture. The bathroom was pretty and well stocked for our arrival. I tipped every day $4-5 for maid service, but the bath gels were never replenished, neither was the bath soap (bar).
That night I realized how cheap the bed linens truly were, along with two of the smallest “do nothing” pillows I’ve ever seen in any hotel I’ve stayed at, in my 25 years of travel. The sheets were worn, with small bumps all over that were scratchy. I didn’t expect this. I mean when I stayed at the Barceló and at the Melia, this was not to be had there. I felt like I had been booked at a Motel 6. I tried to not let it spoil my trip, and tried to ignore it.
The building was noisy, really noisy as the doors slammed shut and you could hear them resound throughout the entire building. The maids start early cleaning the rooms – opening and slamming the doors. Kids ran up and down the hallway, and you could hear them in the room. You could hear the upstairs rooms as they flushed the toilets, sort of annoying at 2AM as folks came back from the discotheque.
The mini-bar was well-stocked upon arrival with two of each of the following: Pepsi, 7-up, diet Pepsi, local beer, tonic water, club soda. It was restocked with Pepsi, when I was drinking the diet Pepsi. This meant, that there were no more diet Pepsi in the mini bar. I relayed this in a note to the maid, but nothing was ever done about it.
We all know you can’t drink the water. The resort supplied a gallon jug of water for the room. Again, I asked in a note to the maid for individual bottles, but they were never delivered. She didn’t speak English, so I’m thinking she didn’t understand my requests. I never saw anyone stocking the mini-bar, and I wasn’t going to wait around for them to show up. What was I supposed to do?
The grounds of the resort were pretty, not as pretty as the Melia Tropicale, but they were pretty. However, there was an awful smell in the air late in the evening (10PM-ish) which I attribute to an incinerator. It lingered till the morning. A really disgusting odor!
Still the plants were lush, the sidewalks and walkways were clean and well kept, though there were signs of wear where some tiles were broken and not replaced in the common areas of the lobby/pool. The buildings’ exteriors were well taken care of. It reminded me of the Barceló's painted buildings.
Overall, the service was good. Not great, but good. It seemed as though they were short-handed. For example, at night from 8PM till midnight, there were two girls who were working the entire crowd for the shows, in the theater seating area, as well as the plaza seating area outside The Plaza bar. They picked up the dirty glasses, but didn’t take orders for drinks unless a patron who requested something specifically stopped them.
The bartenders were the hardest working employees at the resort (and I tipped them every round of drinks), second to the cooks, maybe. However, unless you specifically asked, they didn’t add alcohol to the mix-drinks (daiquiris, pina coladas, mai-tais, etc.) The frozen drinks that were pre-mixed in the machines, I mean. Oh, that’s another thing. I hate mixes! I can’t believe it. Neither the Barceló or the Melia used mixes for their frozen drinks, at least I was able to watch them make banana daiquiris and see them add a real banana to it, even if there was a base mix used. Not here ~ nope pure mix. Yuck! I’m sure it must have something to do with costs, but I really think I paid enough to see bananas used in the drinks.
At dinner, you’re assigned a table and a time. It was like herding cattle, I swear I felt like I was going to graze – really didn’t like this. Anyways, there was a person assigned to a section. We got a young man who was really attentive.
Not the case at breakfast or lunch, where you get to sit anywhere, from 5:45AM to 11AM and again from 1PM. During the breakfast or lunch times, service was iffy. But again, it seemed like they didn’t have the personnel there to attend to all the folks.
I needed an extra room key, it took me two trips to the reception to get it. The first excuse was that the manager who had the key to the keys wasn’t there.
I wanted change for a $20USD, it took three trips before I could get this. Again, I was told the cash was not there, they just took all of it to the bank.
Not only were these instances inconvenient, I wasn’t received warmly when I asked. I put them out. Yep, they acted like you stupid American gringo, why are you bothering us with this? Yet, there was no one else around. So what, they just plain didn’t want to work? There were enough guys behind the counter, at least 3 each time.
We stayed at the Riu Bambu where we had the Colonial Buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was the Mama Juana, it was an open air buffet/grill that began serving at 11AM. Now, I was told there was a buffet at the Naiboa and the Taino, but that was a 15 minute walk and NOT CONVENIENT! So, we were captive to the Colonial and the Mama Juana. We experienced the same thing with The Plaza Bar. It was the only one conveniently located where we were staying.
Besides being limited to only the Colonial Buffet and The Plaza Bar, the dishes were icky! ICKY! The plates had left over food stuck to them. On the outsides of glasses, when they began to condensate, they became slippery and you could feel the grit from food. God knows what was on the inside prior to the beverage. They just were not clean, which I attribute to my two days being sick. Yep! I got sick here. Diarrhea for the first time at any of the three resorts I’ve stayed at in Punta Cana. No, I didn’t drink any of the local water (knowingly), and I didn’t leave the resort. I got something there ~ probably from the dirty dishes. Again, I think there were too many guests for the number of people working, maybe? Or maybe they’re making so much money they just plain don’t give a damn. Heck, they got mine!
Moving on, the Colonial breakfast was absolutely our favorite meal. Lunch at the Colonial was repetitive and if you ate dinner there the night before, you saw “leftovers”, which is only good if you liked it the night before.
Dinner at the Colonial was my least favorite. The qualities of the entrees were just so-so. With the beef, you had a 50-50 chance of getting “tender tasty” or “shoe-leather”. The grilled fish fillets were always good, but sometimes had bones. The pizza there was usually good, but went so fast that you only got a single slice every 10 minutes or so. The veggie dishes were good.
One thing I noticed was that they left food out in the open for long periods of time. I wondered about spoilage for the salads using mayonnaise and the cold-cuts. I stayed away if I didn’t get there early on.
Glasses for drinks were rather small in the Mama Juana. They used the 6-8 oz. juice tumblers and 6-8 oz. plastic solo bar cups. There were no real 12-20 oz. glasses to be found, anywhere.
Coffee was instant. Yep, in the Dominican Republic they served instant Nescafe.
I didn’t try the specialty restaurants. I was afraid they’d be too much like the buffet ~ barely passable.
The beach area was absolutely stunning. But first you had to get past the plastic straws, plastic cups, cigarette butts and sea grass that had washed up, to see it.
I remember at the Barceló, they had men raking the beach three times a day. I thought that was indicative of the care they took of the place, and the pride they showed to their guests. Sort of like they wanted you to enjoy their beautiful place, they way they liked to have it seen. Like driving a freshly washed car, with shiny wheels. I’m always most proud of my freshly washed car. But not here at the Riu Bambu. It was like they took it for granted that the beach was pretty and didn’t see a need to care for it. Well, they should rethink that strategy, because I’d go back to the Barceló for their beaches, I wouldn’t for the beaches at the Riu.
Oh, that’s right there was a pool. It was so crowded that you couldn’t get in it. You had to be outside “staking your claim” on your pool-side lounger, for which most everyone kept all day.
The pool is absolutely not suited for this large a resort.
Well there was one on Caribbean Street, but that was really far away. There wasn’t a Jacuzzi or whirlpool available like at the Melia. Of course, the new Palace Punta Cana had one, but not sure if it was available. And even if it was, it was also a good walk to get to it.
I wonder if the complex is over-utilized and understaffed for the number of guests it serves.
It was my least favorite of the three resorts I’ve been to, and I saw less value in the services due to poor quality at a fine quality price.
I can’t get past the cheap worn linens!
I can’t get past the poor quality foods, and the lack of choices on the buffets, and the lack of buffets and bars to choose from. I mean we had broccoli on the buffet 6 times, brussel sprouts 4 times, okra and tomato 3 times. French fries every time. There was a spinach mixture that showed up 3 times. If I wanted to go to a different bar, it was a 15 minute walk, in 90 degree heat at 90% humidity, not an ideal situation to me.
And I’m terribly saddened by the care shown in the beaches, or lack there of.
I really don’t think I’d make this my next choice.
Dear Debbie, Thank you for such a wonderful site. It was very helpful, especially the packing list and what to expect when you arrive. Below is my review of the Riu Bambu.
We spent three nights and four days at the Riu Bambu in mid-May. The trip was arranged by Apple Vacations. We will never arrange a trip through Apple again. The only thing that pleased us during our stay was the USA3000 flight from Philly Intl, the beach at the RIU Bambu, and the wonderful British friends we made by the pool bar.
Flying USA 3000 was wonderful. Plane left at 6:00 a.m. We were given juice service and a coffee cake immediately after takeoff. Later, we had a choice of egg sandwich on a bagel or biscuit during flight. We also had movies. Well above what one expects of an airline these days. Plane landed in Punta Cana at 9:35 a.m. We had the entire day to play!
Met the Apple Rep who took us to the bus. There was a 45 minute bus ride, with little air conditioning on the bus.. We were told by Apple Rep who left us with others on the bus, we would meet our Apple Rep in the lobby at 5:00 p..m. that day. Arrived at RIU Bambu, the bus driver dropped us of on the sidewalk and made no attempt to help us with our bags. There was noone to help us up the steps with our bags. We went to Reception Desk. There were no welcome cocktails like we read about in reviews. There was nothing but a Front Desk. We were more than willing to wait until regular check in time, 3:00 p.m., as we already had our suits on. However, Reception said they had a suite available for an additional $50 USD per night. We agreed and paid the $50 USD per night. What a rip off and mistake!!! TIP#1: When upgrading your room, if you think there is a jacuzzi, based on things you have read, ask before paying the additional upgrade fee.
The bellman helped us to our room. We arrived in room 107, on the ground floor. Upon entering the room, we were kicked to the floor with the stifling heat and humidity and an otherworldly odor of mustiness in the room. The flowers decorating the towel art were even dead! We quickly turned the air on and went to the fridge for a drink. The fridge was well stocked but hot, yes hot. With regard to water, you are given a gallon jug, but you are not given individual bottles of water. TIP #2: Bring a few of your own bottles of water from home. This way, once they are used, you can refill them and put them in the fridge. Also, if you like iced tea or other drinks, get some individual serving size of say, Crystal Light, to pour into your water bottles.
We were in our room for a few minutes when Reception immediately phoned to ask if everything is okay. We told them the fridge was not working and the air was not on. This initial phone call was a nice touch. The only problem was, it was not effective. Front desk sent two repairmen who scratched there heads and told us it was fixed, in Spanish. I do understand and speak Spanish semi well. Repairmen told us it would take a while to cool down the fridge. We were very thirsty and hot and decided to rinse off in the shower and head to the bar and the pool. We went in the bathroom and found the left sink's hot water faucet was running, not dripping, running. And, for a suite, there was no jacuzzi! (Refer to Tip#1) But, we were thirsty and hot and just wanted to get a drink and get wet. We phoned front desk and told them about the running water. They said, "No problemo!" We unpacked, we figured the air would start to cool off the room, and fridge would get the drinks cold. Wanted desperately to get a cool drink and a dunk in cool waters. TIP#3: Do not unpack or leave your room, until everything is to your liking and functioning properly. Once you leave, it is a real pain to change rooms.
From reading the reviews, we knew to go directly to the Plaza Bar. Drinks at the Plaza Bar were most welcome and delicious. As advised, we asked for the Dominican Special and it was special and delicious. We would soon find out that the drinks were the only things delicious at the Bambu. We went to the beach. Found paradise! Any description of the beach you may read, does not do it justice. One must see to believe. The beach is lined with palm trees and the water is warm and turquoise. It was beautiful. We had no problem finding a lounge chair. We spent a few hours on the beach and then went to the pool bar, had a few more cool delicious drinks. TIP#4: The Bubba Keg or insulated container is not just good for cocktails. I found it useful for water to keep hydrated between drinks. TIP # 5: By 2:00 p.m., there were no lounge chairs available, but someone offered to save us a lounger. Naturally, we said yes and tipped a few bucks. For back-up towel, bring your own beach towel. Not only does it distinguish your seat from anyone elses, at the Riu Bambu, they ran out of clean, dry towels around 3:00 p.m.
When we went back to the room, it was still ungodly hot in the room. The drinks in the fridge were still warm and the faucet was still running. Worst of all was the stench. It was still there even though we had the Oust Air Freshener fan running and a jarred candle burning!! TIP#6: Bring Oust Fan, Air Freshener Solid, Jarred Candles and/or Glade plug-ins. TIP#7: If the room still smells that badly with all of the air fresheners running, GET ANOTHER ROOM - THE MOLD IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM.
We showered and dressed for dinner, sweating the entire time. Please note, the bathroom had two sinks, a toilet, bidet, tub with handheld shower but no exhaust fan and a hair dryer that does not work well (Bring your own with the proper adapter). Additionally, there were two hooks next to the shower to hang your robe etc. The bathroom was spacious enough for the hubbie and I to do our thing and not bump into each other. But, beware, the shower head has a life of its own and on one day, the water was turned off, so you could not flush or wash hands. Yes, toilet articles are supplied but bring your own. The toilet articles supplied were of the cheapest quality I have ever seen. No big deal though because I never use the toilet articles a hotel provides. Did not even bother to take them home for the little one. Also, in the interest of avoiding sickness, I would recommend bringing your own liquid anti-bacterial soft type soap and sanitizer. Every time I washed my hands with their water, I sanitized after. I even carried around travel sanitizer to use in public restrooms. Finally, we found a card in the bathroom telling us, in the interest of conservation, discard dirty towels in the tub and only those discarded towels would be replaced. Found this very impressive.
TIP#8: Yes, you need to bring your own face cloths/washcloth. The room came with two bath towels and two fingertip towels. Find your housekeeper on day one, tip her well, and tell her how many towels you would like daily. Our housekeeper was great about giving us towels. Also, you might want to ask for a few extra towels to put on the floor. The floors were marble and very slippery when wet. We never received a bath mat for the floor. Finally, in tip#8: make sure there is always a spare roll of toilet paper in your bathroom. If the roll in the holder is filled, they will not leave another. If and when the REVENGE hits, it is quite possible you could go through another roll. Also, in the event of the REVENGE, pack wet wipes. The toilet paper is standard one ply. We use the standard one ply at home, but, when you have the REVENGE, Charmin is a dream. TIP#9: Two glasses were in the sink area. To avoid rinsing your toothbrush with the water from the sink, I advise storing your toothbrush in a glass full of mouthwash and using the mouthwash to rinse. Prefill it the night before. Also, if you are not a morning person and the first thing you do when you rise is brush your teeth, put a hand towel over the sink to remind your morning brain not to use the sink water. If you do not want to go the mouthwash storage route, ask for an extra gallon of water each day to keep in the bathroom. Also, bring a back up toothbrush in case you do accidently clean one off with sink water.
Now that we have covered the bathroom, I will return to our trip.
We left for dinner. By the way, long pants are not required for men at the buffet for dinner. They are required for the a la carte restaurants. Ladies, do not over dress, you will be sorry. The lobby, Plaza bar and theater are open air with no air conditioning. As expected in a subtropical island, it is rather humid and we did not have any days of a cool ocean breeze. So, my advice, wear a light sun dress and little makeup. Don't even bother packing a light sweater. Unless you are always cold, you will never need it and will actually wish you were in your bathing suit. Finally, on the way to dinner, we stopped at front desk and told of the faucet and the air. Front desk, told us,"No Problemo, we will take care of it."
Dinner at the Colonial Buffet.... When you check-in, you are given a card with your room number on it and which dinner seating you prefer: 6:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. When you arrive at the buffet, show the card to the maitre'd. He will assign a waiter who will escort you to your table. (Don't loose your card, this is your I.D. for renting water sports. It is not your pool card though.) If you would like an outside table, now is the time to ask. But, I do not recommend one because as I said, as expected, there is no cool breeze in May, at least not during our stay there. With regard to the food: I don't know what these other people who gave rave reviews of Bambu food usually eat, but I would not let my dog eat off of that buffet. Everything had an odd taste and things on the salad bar looked like they had been sitting all day. One reason the food looks like it has been sitting is that the room itself is supposed to be air conditioned and has ceiling fans, but with the open doors and the inside cooking, it is cool but not comfortably cool. In other words, it is relief from the outside, but after a few minutes, it is warm again. Okay, back to the food: Yes, there is pizza, but, it does not resemble US pizza(No, corn and hot dogs are not acceptable toppings.) Yes, there is pasta, but, again, it does not taste like any pasta dish I have ever eaten, unless you stick with the pasta with butter sauce and garlic. There was a carving station, but the meat was not recognizable. We often referred to the meats we found here as...MYSTERY MEAT. There are a variety of veggies, but if they were common veggies(I.e. corn, carrots, brussel sprouts), they appeared frozen, not fresh. Local veggies were obviously fresh and some were served deep fried. They have a large assortment of breads, but I found them to be mostly stale. My saving grace were the papas fritas (french fries)Even though the chefs were working hard cooking in front of you, it all just looked, smelled and tasted gross. After devouring the fries nightly, my dinner usually consisted of desserts. The desserts were pretty good, but again, some were melting because of improper cold food storage. TIP#10: Firm rule: if you do not know what it is...don't eat it. It just might be goat stew! Also, it is faster to get your own water, soda or wine.
After dinner, we tried to watch the show. We were in a sub-tropical climate and the theater was open air and there was too much smoke (FYI I am a smoker. If a smoker complains, it is real bad.) We decided to take a stroll on the beach under the full moon. What a delight! We walked almost as far as the shopping stands. TIP #11: Bring a small flashlight to light your way. Take a cocktail with you for the walk. It is the nicest walk you will ever take in your life. Also, for the beach, if you smoke, bring a travel ashtray to use at all times. This way you are not polluting paradise.
After our delightful walk, we went back to room, it was still hot. We figured out the master switch by the door, turned off the electric and the air conditioning. So, we left a note on the switch asking that it not be turned off. Also, the rooms do not have digitally controlled thermostats. From what I have read, the newer builds are installing digitally controlled thermostats. TIP #12: Bring post-it notes to leave notes for the housekeeper and fridge guy. We put the note on top of the tip. For the housekeeper, we left it under her name card and for the fridge guy, we left the note and tip in the fridge, so the housekeeper would not take it accidentally
We slept poorly but were glad we brought my own pillow cases and top sheets from home, as the linens and the room smelled of moldiness. Barely slept in the heat of the room. Have allergies to mold and throat started to close during the night. Thankfully I brought all of my allergy meds and inhaler with me. Also, Hubbie figured we should keep the bathroom door closed so the air would have less area to cool off. Hot water faucet was still running in bathroom.
Next day...Breakfast. It was wonderful. Everything you could and would want on a breakfast buffet. We filled up on breakfast. You really can’t mess up breakfast.
Lunch at the Mamajuana...we noticed recycled food from dinner and breakfast. Plates that were on the breakfast buffet were simply moved to the Mamajuana. They also served leftover things from dinner. Yes, there is a chef to replenish some of the hot things. But, since it is open air, all food is sitting out in heat. The cold foods are not sitting in ice. They are sitting on top of what appears to be a cold ceramic type thing. I bit into a croissant sandwich with bad mayo. Stuck with eating fries. Dinner was the same as the previous night. On day 2, in addition to the mold allergy in high gear, what little I ate, gave me the Revenge. I was up all night. Thank goodness for Imodium. No, I did not drink too much and yes, I drank the bottled water only.
During our stay, the fridge never got the drinks cold. We resorted to getting ice from the Plaza bar and filling up a trash can to use as a cooler to keep them cold. The air conditioner never truly cooled the room off. The running hot faucet was never fixed and the smell never went away. 24 hour all inclusive means that all during the day and night, at the Plaza Bar, there is self-serve ice, sodas, juice, keg of beer, coffee and hot water and tea with condiments and popcorn. The popcorn was always soggy. Again, this is due to a sub-tropical humid climate. They would have been better served to have individually wrapped crackers or something like that.
Positives: The room was spotless and we had extra water every day. Although the water was in a gallon jug, not individual bottles. We also tipped $5 daily to the maid and $2 daily to the fridge guy. The workers can't help if the place is bad. The drinks were delicious, but you do have to ask for alcohol and ice. In fact, although the liquor put in the mixed drinks was local, at the swim up bar, you could not really tell the difference when you are drinking a fruity type drink. Also, we found that at the Plaza Bar, the drinks were quite strong...3/4 alcohol with a splash of coke for a cuba libre. We had to ask for a glass of coke with ice and the alcohol on the side. Otherwise, we might have done something stupid like eat the goat stew. The bartenders at the Plaza were very friendly. Also, if you want better brands, i.e. Stoli Vodka, Johhny Walker Red Scotch, go to the Plaza Bar. If you are drink specific, bring your own from home in your carry-on and bring along your flask and a funnel to put the liquor in your flask. Additionally, there is a liquor store on Carribean Street, but I don’t know what they had or the prices.
The beach is paradise. No words can do it justice. We enjoyed the long walks. TIP#13: Securely attach your own beach towel or colorful t-shirt to your lounger so you don’t loose the lounger during a walk. Again, bring a travel ash tray, if you smoke. Again, the insulated drink holder is a must. By the time you get the drink and walk it to the beach, the ice is completely melted and the cups are small.
POSITIVES: ACTIVITIES: The animation team worked very hard. The organized games around the pool are fun. Get involved. Make a fool of yourself. You will never see anyone again so, who cares. The shows were corny but the animation team deserved applause for all of their daily hard work. The shows reminded me of summer camp. We enjoyed renting a kayak and sailing. We enjoyed walking to the beach shacks to purchase our things. We never went to the disco because we were not willing to pay for our drinks. For the most part, by 12:00 a.m., the Bambu is dead. If you are looking for a party place, go to another resort. TIP#14: You must bring the card that you took to dinner with you to rent anything. Only one rental per room each day. They would not allow you to book for your entire stay. When you arrive at your rental time, book for the next day. The insurance costs $5 USD.
Negatives: Mold stench in room was overwhelming. We think it was because it was a ground floor room. Things that were put on the drying rack outside on the terrace, never dried. The air conditioning worked, but was not effective. Fridge worked, but things never became cold. Hot water faucet ran the entire time. Food was awful due to, in my opinion, poor handling and lack of training in the way food perishes in heat. If the cold foods were kept in ice, yes the ice would melt, but the water would be cold and the ice could be replenished regularly. Ice works much better at keeping things cold. Even though our initial impression was that Reception was on top of things, it could not be more untrue. We complained nicely and tipped and the things were never changed. Also, housekeepers tend to knock and come in(two did). So, make sure you use the security latch in your room. Our room did not have a, “Do not disturb” sign. Make your own. With regard to the pool area, if you are bringing kids, talk to them about Europeans and toplessness. Someone actually was topless while sitting at the swim up bar! YUCKKK. There really is no bathroom at the pool area. You must walk to Mamajuana. While there, I noticed, not many people got off their swim up barstool.
Oh, did I forget to mention our Apple Rep? Where was the Apple Rep when all of this was going on? I don't know...never had a meeting in our lobby at the Bambu at 5:00 p.m. on day one, like we were told. Apparently, the Apple Rep doesn't even come to the Bambu. The Apple Rep stays at the Riu Palace Macao and we were expected to walk to the Palace to meet the Apple Rep!!!! Guess the Apple Rep had the inside scoop on the Bambu!
Coming home was another misadventure. We were told the bus was leaving at 4:20 p.m. for a flight leaving at 7:45 p.m. Departing was grueling. After you wait in the heat, in a long line, an agent goes through every piece of luggage and purse by hand. Luggage is weighed and limit is enforced. Noone checked carry on size though. Only one side of the Punta Cana Airport is air conditioned. If you are flying USA3000, you luck out with a flight, but you wait in a sauna of an airport. There is a Wendy’s (never so happy to see fast food) and another café type shop with cold bottled drinks. The duty free store is very inexpensive: carton of cigarettes were $22 USD. Americans can bring home 3 a piece. 18 year old Glenfiddich Scotch was $50 USD. You can use a charge card at the duty free store. If you have leftover pesos, you are stuck. They are unexchangeable. TIP#15: Don’t even bother exchanging to Dominican pesos. Everyone takes and even prefers USD. Bring small bills. When you are purchasing something, the first price given is in pesos, then, you divide the peso amount by the exchange rate. Bring your own calculator or use theirs.
When I arrived home, I opened my suitcase and guess what? I brought home an unpurchased souvenir..... all of the clothing in our suitcases, unworn and dirty, were wet(no I did not pack them with wet suits)and smelled of mold. I had to wash them three times to get the smell out. Had to air out suitcases for two days. This is fine if you go camping but, not at what Apple calls, a five apple hotel.
We loved Punta Cana. We loved the beach. The workers are hard working. We even loved the vendors we discovered after we passed other resorts on the beach. We met wonderful British people who helped us forget the room and food nightmare while we were with them.
Will we ever visit Punta Cana again.....in a heartbeat. Will we ever stay at the Riu Bambu.....I wouldn't advise my exhusband to stay there. Oh, wait a minute, perhaps I will. LOLOL We should have paid closer attention to negative reviews. Not all people are whiners. Many have legitimate complaints.
My advice to anyone traveling to Punta Cana...read reviews and forums. Find someone who lives in your area who has been to the hotel and read their reviews. People who live in your area are more likely to view things the way you do. Don't know where we will stay next time, but I do know we will not return to the Riu Bambu! But, I can't wait to return to paradise...Punta Cana and the beautiful beach.
Debbie’s Packing List was very helpful. The only things I would add are: a small soft side cooler in the event your fridge does not work properly and a surf safe. The surf safe is a small rectangular plastic case, the size of a pack of cigarettes that is attached to a rope you can wear around your neck. When sailing or going to swim up bar, it is a safe dry place for cash, key, cigarettes etc.
Don’t over pack on the clothes. During the day, the only thing you will probably wear is a swim suit and coverup. I found it useful to bring inexpensive sun dresses to use as cover-ups so I would be properly dressed for breakfast. Once at the beach or pool, I used a sarong.
Bring snacks, just in case you do not like the food or you get the REVENGE.
Bring some type of cooling foot spray. After a day in the sun and in flip flops on the beach, the dogs are barking!
No matter what time of the year or weather going on in your place of destination, either have your summer clothes or swimsuit in your carry-on or wear them under your clothes. We found it easier to leave Philadelphia in our Punta Cana clothes. You are going to a sub-tropical climate. As soon as you walk off the plane, it will be quite humid and hot.
It is helpful to speak some Spanish. I wrote everything I thought I would have to say on color coded index cards in English on one side and in Spanish on the opposite side. Each color was for each area: housekeeping, bartenders, front desk, vendors etc. I laminated the cards in the event of rain and for future trips. If caught not remembering, I simply read off my card, or showed my card to whom ever I was speaking to. Everyone thought it funny, but appreciated it, especially housekeeping staff.
For the record, to date (June 3, 2006), I have sent two e-mails, written completely in Spanish, to the management at the Riu Bambu, telling of our experience and to date, I have not received a reply. If I do, I will surely post it. I believe in telling the positive and the negative.
Just arrived back after two weeks at Rui Bambu, had a very good relaxing holiday.
On arrival the room did smell musty like everyone says but this was not a problem. Had to kill a cockroach that first night , that scared the rest did'nt see anymore.Most impressed with the mini bar in the room but then the bars were good around the resort as well.
Apart from the last evening dinner in the a-la-carte restaurant every other meal we had in the Colonial, the choice was very good but after two weeks we had enough of the same old thing every night. Our best meals were at breakfast, Mr Tortilla cooking fresh omelets in front of us to our choice.
Entertainment was quite poor at night apart from when outside resort artists entertained a few times, the in house crew just played stupid party games, two or three seemed to be in love with themselves.
Mosquitoes were a plenty but there bites did'nt seem to last as long as there European buddies.We had a few tummy upsets but I had more Imodium then Boots.
We had some good excursions the best being the swim with the Dolphins, the scary part was the flight to get to Dolphin World, this was on a 50yeay old plane.
Biggest down to my good holiday was being ripped off at the Airport on leaving by 70 dollars because I was 7 kg over weight.
I have just returned from a 7 day trip to the RIU Bambu...with a friend that I met form the USA. Let me start by saying that previously I have only vacationed in Cuba in a 4-4.5 star resort so I was eager to see what the RIU offered with its rating. Let me focus only on the positives to star......
BEACH- AMAZING I loved it, there was nothing that I could have said negative about it (at the time), as a Canadian I quickly adjusted to the many many women who were topless (and did not seem to care) and to ready availability of sunbeds even later in the morning. I spent ALL of my free time on the beach with no disappointment (aside from the hot feet from walking CONSTANTLY to get a drink at the bar), I LOVED the beach and if it was not for what I am to reveal later I would return in a minute. Let me say DO NOT turn LEFT at the resort beach....I did and I looked down and there were
ACCOMIDATION- It was what I expected from all that I have read. The room was clean, but small. A lovely tip on the first day assured that I had the fridge stocked with what I wanted on a daily basis (they say they only offer fridge service every 2 days) There was a problem with a LOUD scratching soud in the walls of our bathroom.....disturbing loud (even for a country girl :)) We called for someone to check into in and they sent a woman with a spray can who immediately announced that she could not speak English.....this sound went on nightly (we were only there at night) (this I NO SPEAK ENGLISH IS COMMON AND MY RETURN AFTER 3 DAYS WAS "ME NO SPANISH") It was very clean daily, but according to other reviews....yes tip, gift, it did not matter.
FOOD- I am an EXTREMELY picky eater and I will say that sometimes I struggled to find something that I enjoyed..... The food was amazing, I just have my likes and sometimes they were not there....my fault. not the resort.
STAFF- WELL this is where my concern is "ME NO SPEAK ENGLISH" is more more common than it should be....and not believed by me anymore...... my friend found that you had to give them money to answer you in English (5 US dollars at least), I did not have the same experience......... I learned from the workers there that many can speak English but choose not to (for whatever reason). I did not have that problem after a few days.....Which brings me to my BIG concern (1 of many )(at least 4 that I can think of) called my room CONSTANTLY....wanting to go out for drinks, "give me a massage" ETC. My friend and I were what I believe to be an abnormality to the resort, 2 single women alone....and believe me it became old very very fast. That annoyed me beyond belief and when I threatened to tell the "Director: I was laughed at.. I saw another girl attempt to complain with no results (we had a conversation later), The rest I have to write holds no positive and I have spent 12 days considering before I have written this review. I will say that the shows were carzy and I loved them, but alas.....within 10 minutes everyone was in bed, my friend and I joked that if you got drunk you would be kicked off the resort...I BELIEV THAT.....it was SO sloe
POOL- There were NEVER seats, they were taken EARLY in the am and there was nothing left, plus there was lots of shade around the pool....now I wish I had tried harder to get a seat, but I was always unsuccessful (even at 8AM)
Since I have gotten back here to Nova Scotia I have been ILL. It stared with a SEVERS (Dr.'s words) chest infection which ran its course) to my most recent and SEVERE..... I have a very RARE skin disease which is transmitted through the feet to the rest of my body (lower torso) from the sand on the beach., It is a very rare parasite which spreads all through your legs and ITCHES and kills with bites (my Dr. was only able to diagnose with the assistance of a travel doctor) I will be SCARRED for life from this and the untreatable ITCH.....
I WILL NEVER EVER RETURN TO PUNTA CANA FOR MANY REASONS....... STAFF, BUT MOST OF ALL THIS DISEASE. I AHVE EN EXTRELY RARE SKIN DISEASE FROM THE BEACHES THERE, IT A PARASITE WHICH STARTS IN YOUR LEGS AND TRAVELS UP TO YOUR LEGS.....THERE IS NO CURSE AND I AM NOW INTO DAY 12 WITH LITTEL RELIEF.... I do blame this on the resort, but with the other negatives I WOULD NEVER GO BACK.
Just returned from RIU Bambu this morning. We were there from April 29th-May 6th. Thirty Seven family and friends travelled and met from all various provinces in Canada. From start to finish, the trip was amazing. My brother was married to his beautiful new wife on the 4th of May under the wedding gazebo of the Palace Punta Cana(this resort us brand new and onl opened the week before we arrived.) A breathtaking backdrop of white sand, palm trees and the carribean ocean was unforgettable and truly magical! The Palace Punta Cana is lavish, elegant and a must see resort. I have traveled to other locations in the carribean and have not viewed such an amazing resort! Truly outstanding. We stayed at the RIU Bambu. We were very impressed with the resort and would go back there on a minutes notice! There are too many positives to mention! It was a wonderful place to spend an amazing week with family and frinds, young and old!! I could have stayed another week !
We stayed at RIU Palace Macao in 2004 and loved it a lot. So my husband, who is not really a beach person, wanted to come back. This time we were traveling with kids and decided to pick a more kid-friendly Babmu. We stayed at Bambu from April 6 though 11.
Our flight on United and hotel transfer via VIP tours were uneventful.
(Apple busses are much better and newer than VIP though.)
At first it seems that all the RIU resorts on the same property are similar.
But then, why is there price difference for your package, and why are those "low" ratings in reviews. Well, here is a big difference: Palace will pamper you all the way; Bambu will provide you some comfort. And the lower price you pay, the less you get. Through our whole trip we could not stop comparing Palace Macao and Bambu. Well, you really get what you pay for.
Rooms: fairly good size room with bamboo decor. We had a standard room in building 2 on the first floor. The king bed is made up from 2 double beds pushed together. We also had two single size beds squeezed in for kids. So beds were taking most of the space from wall to wall. There is a strong musty smell in the room (and you will bring it back home on your bags). We put laundry sheets everywhere, but they did not help much. The beds are hard, but we did not mind that. The mattresses have MOLD. (later in our trip I think I discovered the answer, why --- and it's not due to the tropical
climate!) There is a mini fridge with soft drinks and beer, liquor dispenser, and safe in the closet. Hairdryer is provided in the bathroom.
You get daily maid service and every other day service for minibar. The maids do not accept gifts, only cash. Tipping does not change anything.
Palace Macao provides maid service 2 times per day, and they also do the turn down service.
Beach: is the best. Soft nice sand, lots of palm trees, plenty of shade and lounges, calm water with small waves, a little wind. I think many people commented on that.
Pools: are a bit small for the size of the resort, and get pretty crowded.
Most of the lounge chairs around the pool are reserved and USED first thing in the morning. We managed to find a chair or two on the first couple of days, but then we gave up.(We did not want to reserve the chairs in the morning only to come and use them after lunch.)
Food and drinks are plentiful and delicious, but not as good as in Palace Macao. And they do run out of some things. The ice-cream machine worked only half the time. The coffee is better from the machine than the house-brewed.
Breakfast is the best and has most selection of everything you can think of (no bagels or cream cheese though). Lunch is sort of mix of breakfast and dinner items. Dinner -- plenty of variety and some new items every day.
Theme nights were fun, but the food was ok. Beer and wine available at all times. Soft drinks and all kinds of juices (including apple juice) are available from the soda machine. Snack -- is a scaled down version of the meal before (just less selection of food). If you are used to having nuts, chips, crackers, or candy -- you will find them at the gift shop for a very high price. One of the bars has popcorn and very raw and mushy peanuts. You can visit other RIU resorts for breakfast and lunch. We only walked around and peaked into the restaurants -- same food, but smaller selection at Taino and Naiboa.
If you want to get a drink, you have to go to the bar and get it. All kinds of drinks and water is available. If you want alcohol in your drink, you got to ask for it. Even during the shows -- they have waiters picking up empty glasses, but they do not serve you drinks.
Shows and entertainment: there is always something going on. But the resort is much bigger than the Palace Macao, so it gets very crowded, say, during aerobics, or other popular events. Evening shows are ok. We missed Michael Jackson show. Ms. Bambu was fun. Dominican night and dancing night were very loud. Caribbean street festival was ok. You can go to other RIU resorts to see the shows too, but we did not go.
Kids club: there is a play ground, and a kids pool. A little house has some beach toys and paints. There is also a TV and some Lego blocks. Angela and a couple of other ladies run kids activities: soccer, volleyball, ping pong, bowling, etc. The equipment that they use is a very run-down and broken.
There were about 40 kids at the club at one time, and only 1 adult supervisor. My son chose not to go to the kids club, but rather spent time with us.
Cleanliness: the resort is not very clean. The staff does their best, but it's not good enough. (Palace Macao was spotless!!!) We had some food spilled in the hallway of out building (although they do not let you take the food out of the restaurants). This stuff remained there for several days. The same is with the room and common grounds. The glasses and silverware in the restaurants had some food stuck to the "clean" utensils.
Illness: two out of three of us got sick. My son had a very bad diarrhea on the second full day at the resort. On day 4 (actually at night)my husband had a full blown food poisoning (that's why they have mold on the
mattresses.) We washed our hands all the time, used purell before we ate anything, and watched what we ate. We had only a few mixed drinks at the bar at night, but drank a lot of water throughout the day.
Service: they really work very hard and the resort. And they try to do their best. We had only a few small requests and never had any problem in response. But again the service at Bambu is not as good as at Palace Macao.
We never had a problem with communication. Most of them speak English (as well as German and French), or can find some who does.
Dress code: It looked like there was no real dress code at Bambu. Shirts with sleeve were require at dinner time. But there were plenty of people in shorts. Breakfast and lunch -- seemed to be no restrictions. At the main restaurant there were several people in wet bathing suits sitting on their towels!
Overall we had a good trip. But it really is: you get what you paid for. My
advice: pay extra and stay at the Palace Macao or the new Palace. You can still use all the other RIU resorts on the property.
(PS. Someone wrote a review on www.TripAdvisor.com titled "5 star and 3 star in one" -- I fully agree with that review as well. Very similar to our
My husband and I have just returned to Nova Scotia from our first all inclusive, Dominican Republic, travel experience. We stayed at Riu Bambu on recommendation of the travel agent and got a good last minute price. Friends confirmed that we would like the resort.
Food - We were told to make our reservations right away for the a-la-carte restaurants so booked the steak house for our first dinner. Good but not stellar. Opted for the buffet next night and decided that was the choice for us each night. The choice was amazing, the service was wonderful with charming staff serving copious glasses of (albeit mediocre at best) wine. The food was hot, fresh and delicious. We noted that some Americans longed for alternate food choices but not sure what they regularly eat!! We agree that the menu leans towards European tastes (who represented the majority of the guests at the time of our visit) but that's fine with us. The coffee is wonderful!!
Room - that was our only slight disappointment although we had been forewarned. We would have loved a queen size bed instead of the two rather small and hard doubles provided and the bathroom although clean needed some upgrading. Grout falling out of tiles and handle off shower knob. Opening to bathtub (in an alcove) rather small if we had been of larger dimensions. Decor is dull - would have appreciated a lighter more tropical approach. Slight musty smell on arrival but dealt with by use of the air conditioning unit and limiting open window time. Being on the second level helped as there was more breeze (fellow travellers had to ask to be moved from 1st floor to second floor due to musty smell.)
We saw no bugs although one couple said their room had a cockroach but the hotel gladly changed their room.
It is noisy with maids, carts and mini-bar staff knocking on doors early but why sleep in when the sun is shining and beach is calling. (not to mention the delicious breakfast buffet)
Pools are small but adequate (staff at pool bar are not as friendly and accommodating as other bar staff). I think they have to put up with a few obnoxious drinkers and smokers who hang out all day long.
Excellent shade on the beach from lots of palm trees and plenty of beach loungers. Enjoyed sailing the catamarans every day, although not sure why limited to one hour per day when boats are sitting idle.
Entertainment - great first few nights but fell off after that. Never sure what was on the agenda and very slow getting going especially if one had partaken of the early dinner sitting.
In general we had a wonderful week, friendly staff, more or less exactly what we expected, no ill effects from food or water, excellent value for the money. While it did not compare exactly to our experience last year of a world class, five star, hotel in Maui, one couldn't fault it for the comparative value.
Additionally, one quick tip. A fellow female traveller had her short hair braided. She subsequently got sunburnt and her face swelled and required treatment from the local doctor. His first question was regarding her braids which had pulled on her scalp worsening the effect of the burn. She was a nurse and reported that the attention she received from the doctor was superb although she would have been happier not to have had to consult a doctor at all. So - if you must get the braids - wear a hat!!!!
Returned home to UK on 23rd March. Only 1 complaint - we had to leave such a beautiful place !
A wonderful hotel - spotlessly clean, everybody with real big genuine smiles. Food excellent and believe me - I'm fussy. Great service from the waiters- who will not let your wine or water glass stand empty. Never had to wait for a drink - always superfast and entertaining. Great daytime dancing and aerobics lessons. What a beach - WOW ! Lots of loungers - lots of palm trees for shade if you need them. The sea was lovely. Probably one of the best holidays we ever had - so much so that for the first time ever we are thinking about going back. Such lovely friendly people.
me and my wife ( in our early fourties), stayed at the riu bambu as well .i read reviews frequently,but never gave one until i read yours.
i understand that people have different opinions,but with all due respect,yours is way out of line !
let me start with the food situation.the food at the buffet ranges from beef,pork and seafood in all sorts of varieties,some cooked right in front of you.whether grilled,broiled or fried,it's there.as well as plenty of side dishes etc..exactly what kind of food are you looking for?we never noticed any kind of bad smell anywhere !
the drinks at any of the bars were superb ! if you wanted them stronger or mixed differently,all you had to do is ask !
we stayed 10 days and never saw a single cockroach or had any problems with mosquitoes.you said,that you travel often.you should know to bring certain meds. for bites etc..
the entertainment starts around 9:30 pm,with rewarding kids as well as adults for their participation in the daytime games.the shows were fun and never extended midnight! we stayed at the building closest to the stage and never had a sleepless night due to any noise !
i am sorry for your bad experience with the bug sting. bad weather and the wait at customs,but that's not the hotels fault is it ?!
our rooms were spotless ! we left a little gesture (for our maid) on our pillow.in return we received tons of fresh towels daily,flowers and toiletpaper to last for weeks.
this is a vacation resort,not a sports bar ! that could be the reason for only one tv in your room.the beds have to be made sometime during the day.why would anybody sleep at that time,when there is so much fun to be had ?!
all in all,we were treated,like we owned the place ! from the day we arrived,until the sad day we had to leave !
to every one that is thinking about staying at the riu bambu - go for it,you'll have a blast ! we could not find anything wrong at this resort.don't let this bad review influence your decision !
and to the unhappy couple-customs are different in every country and island.obviously,what you put into this vacation is exactly what you got out of it !
My wife and I recently returned from a 5 night stay at the Riu Bambu(which we shortened from the scheduled 7 day stay)We are in our mid-forties,midwesterners,and are very well travelled throughout Europe,Mexico.and other islands.I have never reviewed or commented on any destination in the past. However, after reading the reviews on the Riu Bambu,I thought that a contrary opinion needed to be made available to potential visiters.
People of DR very freindly and hard working
Beach was world class
The food was terrible.The brochure may indicate that their are 5 or more restaurants.The food is basically the same at all the dispensing stations(not individual restaurants)If you think you are going to choose your meals from a menu.you are not,with the exception of having a couple choices at the" steak house " and the other 2 dispensing stations.The "Pizzeria" located at the beach end of Carribean street is a joke.A buffet that consists of 1 extremely under cooked mystery pizza and tasteless pasta dishes
The smell in the Colonial restaurant and other food dispensing locations was enough to make you lose your appetite alone.
The drinks were watered down and they offered exactly one choice of beers(Quiequises ?)which was awful
The cockroaches were huge,mosquitoes and no-see ums plentiful,plus the mystery bug that bit or stung my wife during the night that caused her face to swell up
It rained every day but one and was mostly cloudy every day
The entertainment was very late and was not entertainingThe show starts with screaming kids that were cute the first night and annoying after that.
Customs was under staffed ,so it took 1 and a half hours to get through.
There is absolutly no options for food outside the stuff dispensed at your resort.
The beds were very hard and were covered by extremely pilled sheets that made it feel like their was sand in your bed.
The only TV's in the resort were in your rooms and they had a picture that was hard to see and came on at any time(day or night) according to more than one fellow resort quest.
The rooms were very noisy in the afternoon with maids banging doors and scraping furniture accross the tile in adjacent rooms(DO NOT plan on taking a nap)
The booze in the room is interesting,except there is no ice to make a drink with.
Deciding whether you were going to eat at 6:30 or 8:30 every night through out your stay somehow makes a vacation seem a little too regimented.
In summary,when we returned to cold Wisconsin 2 days ahead of schedule,my wife and I were both very excited and relieved.
I decided to spend a Valentine’s Day weekend w/ my boyfriend laying under the sun on a beach instead of in the cold of the Northeast, so we headed to Punta Cana. I was recommended Riu Bambu by my mother, who is a travel agent. I read some reviews with the best ones on Debbie’s travel page, and was happy with my decision to go to Bambu.
Upon arrival, we had a very easy check in and we got really good pink drinks – don’t know what they are but I only saw them when new guests arrived, so I’ll call them “welcome drinks”…. Everyone was very friendly and we got out room right away…. The good thing about the rooms is that they are all pretty much the same – the layout of the hotel is even so it’s not like some places are bad, some are good… however, the one thing I noticed is that on our ticket it said we had an Oceanview room and when I called the front desk, they told me there ARE NOT oceanview rooms – it’s true – there technically are not. Our room was right next to a construction site – there is some new (gorgeous) hotel being built – but we did not hear it from the room – in fact, rooms are pretty soundproof (definitely a plus). The rooms are a good size – I don’t know who complained about size of rooms – it has everything you need – 2 double beds, closet, tv, tv-stand, nightstands, table, bathroom – and yes, two people can fit in the bathroom to get ready!! Everything is clean and neat. The bar in the room is great – only drawback is they refill drinks every OTHER day and we kept running out of drinks, so we’d call to get new drinks every day. Another “drawback” is there are no snacks in the room (candy or anything) and there is no room service (which I’ve never seen in a hotel).
Food: Reservations must be made between 7-10 am (which was way too early for us) – so we ate in the main restaurant – buffet style… the one day we made a reservation was for the Steak House and although it’s nice to sit down and have pretty dishes brought to you… we preferred the buffet – the food was better, more variety and more flexibility. Food overall was fine – nothing extraordinary, but I can’t see why people would go on an all-inclusive vacation for the food. It was good – I was never hungry (and I’m pretty picky) and there were a lot of choices. Drinks were ok – standard island drinks – plus soft drinks… supposedly the beer was really good (I don’t drink beer but everyone else said it’s good). Don’t know who complained about getting sick b/c I did not get sick at all – and I am very prone to getting sick.
Entertainment: We went to see the other resorts and the Palace Macao. Ours was definitely the best!!! The Palace had a decorative advantage – they had the pretty garden look whereas we had the tropical look. But the crowd at Palace is significantly older (50’s and up), whereas in Bambu the crowd was 20’s to early 40’s – lots of families. There was the Animation team which had daily activities, for people of all ages, throughout the day and night. There is a wonderful kids program (I am coming back with my child later this year b/c kids seem to have an awesome time here), and there is a kids entertainment portion in the evening. Evening shows were funny and entertaining – started at 9:45 which was fine for us since we had dinner at 8:30.
Beach/Pool: On the beach there are chairs throughout the day, whereas at the pool, you really need to get up early to get chairs. There was a kid’s pool and a general pool (w/ pool bar)… the problem w/ the adult pool is that there were a lot of kids (with parents) and there would be games played at pool by Animation team, that involved alcohol… which a lot of times fell INTO the pool – poor kids swimming in a pool filled w/ alcohol!!! But they closed the pool at 7 to clean it. The beach – one drawback is that there were no floating devices for you to lounge in the water – which every other resort I’ve been to has. They should also set up a bar on the beach, so you can grab some water or something while on the beach w/o walking back to the bars.
Water sports: Did you know that Jet Skiing is not allowed in Punta Cana???? I don’t know if this is true or not, but NO ONE had jet skiing – not one resort along the beach…. And I LOVE jet skiing. For free, the water sports that were offered were: Kayak, katamaran, canoe, paddle boat. For a charge, parasailing ($85 for 2 people, $65 for 1), speed boat ($110 for 2 hours, 2 people), windsurfing (don’t know price), and other water activities.
Sports: Could not find fitness gym.. but I found tennis – which we played daily. Nice tennis courts, free rackets and balls to use.
Weather – there is no AC anywhere but the rooms, but I did not think there needed to be any. There are fans everywhere and there is a nice soft tropical breeze. There was never a point where it was too hot.
Casino – the casino is located at the Palace – there is a free shuttle till 3 a.m. to take you there… however.. it’s easier to just walk on the beach (there is a walkway) – it’s literally a 2 min walk. Casino is literally a room, with 2 roulette tables, 2 blackjack tables (five and ten dollar minimums), one poker table, and one Texas Hold Em table… and some slot machines… to play, you need to exchange money for tokens. Be very careful – they give you $4 worth of coins instead of $5 and basically they give you a bucket that’s prefilled rather than count it out for you. In general, be pretty careful – but that’s in every casino.
Club – Pacha club – we walked in… about 4 couples were dancing, while the rest of the people sat and looked around. Spanish music playing… no one really dancing – stay in the hotel for “live music” and dance there instead.
Spa – ok, it’s NOT a spa – it’s a little hut with four tables for massages. The massages are really inexpensive, so I got one – good massage.. but the atmosphere is not relaxing since they all talk to each other and to other people… no music – but the massage was nice – it was $30 for 30 min or $50 for an hour. Good massage!
Souvenirs – I didn’t try to bargain, but I found the deals much better at the airport!!! Shockingly!!! The vendors in the hotel were selling a little turtle who bopped its head, for $10. The same one at the airport was $5.
Overall, I was very happy with the trip – and I’m pretty hard to please. I think this place is ideal to go to with small children…. But it’s good for adults as well (I went without kids). Very relaxing, good customer service. Only problem is that there are a lot of bugs everywhere – we had a beetle or some big bug in our room!! Definitely bring bug spray – A LOT of mosquitoes. Just like with any trip, relax, and enjoy yourself and you’ll have a good time.
Great place for all inclusive.The Riu is a compound on the coast,if you are looking to do things close by outside the resort area,then this isnt the place for you.The Safari included a visit to a school(?) and a typical Domican home(?).From reading other posts it sounds like one does not want to visit in the summer, but our visit weather wise was perfect this feb., the days are hot and not humid and the nights fairly cool,no real need for A/C.The staff:(we did tip)Staff for most part was excellent.The people:Mostly Europeans and Canadians holiday here, very pleasant folks.It seemed like everybody was into the nightlife, which was tame and included a couple hours for the kids.The Food: I thought the food was pretty good,I've heard horror stories about all inclusive food but this food was decent eating,lots of choices too.
This resort was very nice. We stayed at this resort in January of 2006 for one week. We had been to the Dominican before, but were a little disappointed with the disorganization at meal times. This is our third vacation staying at a Riu complex and found this one to be as good as the other two. (Jamaica and Riviera Maya). My one suggestion is that even though their outlets are 110 volts, the outlets did not accept any electrical appliance that had a wide prong. This wasn't much of a problem because when we asked about it at the front desk, they gave us an adapter to plug into the wall. Also other reviews have complained about the towels, or lack thereof. We did run out one time and called the front desk and a pile was delivered right to our room. I don't believe that they actually had washclothes, just small hand towels.
The food is good and one should be able to find plenty to eat. Our kids tried many things, but enjoyed their spaghetti and french fries the most. Plenty of fresh fruit at every meal.
We found the entertainment to be interesting. I also agree with some of the other reviews that the shows start way to late. But I guess to accomodate the people who are eating at the late shift, they need to allow time for them to finish their meal. We enjoyed the evening shows. The animacion team were always fun to watch, whether it be in the shows or organizing the games on the beach.
The beach is clean and water is nice for swimming. Plenty of chairs for everyone and no need to get up early to save a chair. Not much room by the pool, so you need to get there early. We also walked to the market and found that you should offer them a quarter of what they were asking and you usually walked away with the merchandise. Had to laugh how one guy said he remembered us from before. We hadn't been there for 3 years! Also bargain when they sell things right at the resort.
We would definitely recommend this resort to anyone who wants a very relaxing vacation.
The Dominican Republic was terrific. We just returned a week ago, and were there Jan 21st-28th. There were two other couples that traveled with us, making a fun group of six. Punta Cana (eastern tip of DR) has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, and know that I have seen all of our coasts here in the states, and quite a few beaches around the globe. The people are all very nice, but do not speak much English. Or at least pretend not too. You can tell the difference if you pay attention. There were 6 of us that went and we all had a blast. All inclusive at the Riu Bambu resort includes non-motorized water-sports and such, as well as all of the food and drink you can handle. No room service though, which I would have paid extra for! There was the famed Riu liquor dispenser in our rooms, as well as a nicely stocked fridge with different pop and beer. A nice tip on day one assured that we never ran out of beer or our favorite pop. I think I drank more Ron (rum) there in one week than I have drunk of anything since my days in Korea. Whew! But the super-hot sun is great hangover relief, as was their breakfast. And the lunch we would take to the beach. Very good!
Shopping: The shopping was great, but not cheap on Caribbean Street (the resort sponsored shopping area.) We much preferred the open-air beach market about 15 minutes south. We made such deals it was like being in Haiti all over again. You should be able to walk out of there with only spending about 25-30% of their asking price, or you paid too much. If they ask $20, you counter with $4-5. Settle for $6-7, not a penny more, and have fun. Just be prepared to walk away if they won’t come down in price. Believe me, I was chased down a couple of times when walking away as they apparently changed their mind and decided my offer was fine. What fun!
Oh, and if there are any cigar aficionado’s out there, beware of counterfeits. They are good smokes for $20/box of 25, but don’t believe they are the real thing. Especially the Arturo Fuentes. Fake, fake, fake! Good cigars, but fake. Worth the price, but not as good as real AF’s. The best I found were the Flor de Santo Domingo cigars. They cost about $40/box at the lowest, which is ok when they are asking for $140-180/box. I did some research (not a lot) and cannot find them here in the states, but would bye them again in a heartbeat. They compare with any $200/box of cigars I have ever bought. I brought a total of 6 boxes of cigars home, and would have brought 20 had I had enough cash with me. (You can bring back 100 per person, and we had 6 in our party. I was the only cigar smoker. I could have brought 600 home with help from friends!) They don’t take credit cards anywhere but the duty free in the airport, and they don’t deal on price at the duty free. Bring plenty of cash!
Ethnicity: They catered mostly to Europeans there. I would say that 70% of folks there are European, 15% Canadian, and 15% other. I was fine with the mix, for many Europeans sunbath topless. A nice perk for us Americans and Canadians, eh? At times, at least. Many of the folks from Europe were quite rude, like they owned the place in its entirety, expecting you to move out of their way, etc, but some were ok. We made quite a few friends from around the world.
Food: The food was ok. There were some mystery meat occasions, which were still good (when we were brave enough to try them,) but always something everyone liked. One nice thing is that almost all of the food is made right in front of your eyes. They have an incredible process. Very efficient. Here’s an idea of the meals:
Breakfast: Donuts made before you eyes, with sugar or sugar/cinnamon to dip them in; eggs-scrambled, fried, poached, or omelets to order; several types of potatoes; pancakes; some of the best French toast you will ever find; usually one type of fish; bacon; some type of sausage or other meat; several kinds of fresh bread (usually kind of hard though); fresh whipped juices from the actual fruit in front of your eyes (for example, they slice up mangos and put them into a blender at high speed, then pour! Fresh!); all of the coffee, espresso, cappuccino and latte you can drink; a dozen ‘processed’ juice selections; more fresh fruit than you have ever seen; the list goes on.
Lunch: Two options within the Bambu. More options throughout the Riu complex. 1) Eat at Mama Juana’s snack bar or 2) eat at the regular restaurant. I never made it to the regular restaurant for lunch though. Fries and cantaloupe on the beach was more my style. Here we go: 8 types of pizza; French fries (a staple of survival); burgers (unsure of the meat type, but they were meat, not soy, and not bad at all); hot dogs; grilled ham-n-cheese (see mystery meat below); a couple types of fish (one day they had like a beer battered fish, it was excellent!); two types of pasta; 30 foot long double sided fresh fruit bar; same size salad bar; same drink options, plus a 24 hour self serve beer tap and 3 types of wine (sulfite free); some type of chicken; beef or pork variety; many breads; soup; more, but lunch is a bit cloudy.
Dinner: You begin by having your assigned table at the main restaurant. We chose outdoor seating and never complained, even on the evening it rained. We stayed quite dry. There was also a steak house and a Mediterranean restaurant, but you had to get up at 7 am to make reservations. Not going to happen! The buffet at the main restaurant was quite good, had many theme nights (seafood, Mexican, etc.,) and offered more options than I have ever seen. Keep in mind that I have always been a very picky eater, but I never had trouble filling up. The nicest thing was that there was never an empty tray. When one came close to being empty they replaced it with a fresh one without putting the remains of the older one in it. There was also a slicing area, which was different each night. It could be fish, swine, chicken, a whole turkey, prime rib, roast, or anything else. It was all very good, although I did not have the fish or chicken myself. All of the previous drink options were available, but served by the wait staff. Other buffet options were: pizza; lots of breads; chicken tortellini; buttered pasta with garlic sauce; spaghetti; several types of fish (salmon, Hake, cod, others I had never heard of); several types of beef (see mystery meat below;) several types of chicken (again, see mystery meat below;) beans; rice; potatoes of some variety, some with gravy; French fries every night (very safe, and good;) the beef loin was terrific; always a couple of beef options (again, see mystery meat below;) clams; several types of pork (again, see mystery meat below;) several veggie options, like peas-n-carrots, carrots, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, some that were unidentifiable (doubtless they were European,) etc.; same fruit bar; incredible 60 foot salad bar; it goes on. Needless to say, we did not starve!
Mystery meat: First of all, don’t freak out. When in other parts of the world, especially third world countries, do not expect everything to be the same as it is at home. It’s alright to have some things based on local availability. Just remember it’s one of the many things that make international travel interesting. Ok, now here’s the scoop. Is the chicken really chicken? The pork, pork? The beef, beef? Who knows, but we all had our suspicions. I can verify that some is what they say it is, but I don’t think it all was. And that’s ok! Here are a few examples: 1) Al had the best chicken leg of his life! He just cannot believe how good it was. I was jealous because he got the last one, and I could not experience his awe. Here the catch: it was white meat. Now I don’t know about you, but every chicken leg I have ever seen has been dark meat... 2) They served a dish called Chicken Mole. Now I don’t know if it was to be pronounced “mo-lay” or if it was some kind of ground mole. You know, looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, we’ll just call it chicken. Looked like very small chicken breasts. It was very tasty, whatever it was. I had it several times... 3) Have you ever seen a t-bone steak that is only 3-4 inches in diameter? It was one of their beef dishes, supposedly, but it would have to have come from a coyote sized cow. I have never seen one of those. Even calves are larger. I did not try it (it was late in the line & my plate was always overflowing by then) but others said it was pretty darn good. But beef? You tell me... 4) Beware of the sliced “ham,” our first encounter with a mystery meat. I have my doubts on what it was. I don’t remember if they called it ham or not, or called it anything, but we all assumed it was ham. Well, it may look like ham, it may be partly ham, but it is not ham. I know ham. This was not ham. It is like a cross between ham, spam, bologna, and who knows what else. It’s enough to send shivers down my spine just thinking of it... 5) Pork. Was it? All of the “pork” dishes I had were very good. I even went for more. Most did. But was it pork? Some at our table thought it was until we actually had pork (as we know it) one night. Then they were not so sure. We still ate it, though. It was very good...
Entertainment: Don’t bother. None of us was impressed in the slightest with the Bambu’s entertainment. It started too late, after what seemed to be a ten hour children’s show, and did not have much substance. We did meet some folks from Iowa one night, and convinced their group to join ours on stage in a karaoke rendition of “Born in the USA.” We all had a blast, and the audience was clapping along with us. Besides the bartenders, that was our best entertainment.
Accommodations: The rooms were a bit small, but that was fine. Who wants to spend any time in them anyway? The bathrooms were too small, though, and that did make a difference. Tough for the two of us to get ready to go out at the same time, let alone have room for us both to stand! Otherwise the rooms were very nice. Second floor, with cathedral ceiling, ceiling fan, nice sized balcony, great A/C, mini-bar area, and a big closet. Everything we needed, that is for sure.
Pools and General Resort: Fantastic! Everything was very well maintained and kept very clean. The pool bar was neat, but the pool closed at 7 pm every night. They claim for chemicals, but I think they don’t want drunks swimming at night. Floating bodies would not be good for the image. We spent most evenings at the Plaza Bar at the Bambu, as did most bar-goers from the other Riu resorts there. We checked them all out, and the Bambu’s was the best. Period.
Summary: I would have to say that this was one of the most relaxing vacations I have ever been on. If that is what you are looking for I would recommend the Riu Bambu highly. Punta Cana is the place to be to relax. No doubt about. If you are looking for a sightseeing, go-do-stuff kind of vacation, you might be let down. There are several excursions you can go on, but we did not. We wanted the relaxation. There are no big cities (or towns) near by that offer a tourist night life. No pyramids or historic temples. Nothing to see except for the beach, the resort, and the people. It was enough for us. This time. I will return some day, when I need to really, really unwind. And I may even stay at the Riu again. Don’t get me wrong, they did nothing to scare us off. I just like variety. Even so, I would still consider staying there again, and definitely recommend it to others.
My husband and myselft went to Rui Bambu in March 05 (second time around for us both)and had the most fantastic time ever. so much so we are going again in May 06, the food was just out of this world, don't make the mistake we made on the first day and eat everything that is put out in front of you. food is not going out of fashion, its always there. We went on the trip to Saona - God what a place, I almost cried when we got off the boat. If heaven is like this I can't wait. We have booked the premier seats this time, although the flight was fantastic is was a bit cramped. so we have said we will push the boat out and treat ourselves
Whynot? if you are going to the most beautiful place on earth, you want to get there in style.