Debbie's Dominican Travel.com Old Reviews - Riu Palace Punta Cana
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Jim 

July 2008
My stay at this so called 5 star resort was horrible. I would advise anyone to try going anywhere else. The room smelled musty. The TV was broken. Even the safe had to be fixed. which took someone from maintenance almost an hour to come to fix. We couldn't leave the room to go to beach without locking our things up. The food is almost uneatable everywhere in the resort. Great if you want to go on a diet. The pool bar closes pretty early so if you want a drink you have to go back to your room. You will most likely have to eat at the buffet every night since the restaurants are not big enough to seat everyone. But you are not missing much since the restaurants don't have anything good to eat either. Two nights in a row the power went out while we were eating. We were left sitting there in the dark. Nobody came around to even let us know if the food was still going to come out. The people on the beach could care less about doing anything unless you tip them. They didn't want to give out the kayaks or windsurfers. They will say that you need to make a reservation a day ahead of time. Even if there are plenty lying right on the beach. The next day they told me I didn't have a reservation. The fitness room is a joke. There is hardly any equipment. The staff is ignorant. I was given misinformation several times. Several other people in my party had the same experience. Apparently the staff likes to tell people who ask where something is that it is on the other side of the resort. So that they can laugh at you walking around like an idiot. the worst part was the casino which everyone should stay away from. girls are in the lobby directing guest over to the casino. There is no regulation in the Dominican Republic and the casino is run by a bunch of thieves. The games are fixed and there is nothing you can do about it. This is well documented. The hotel will tell you they have nothing to do with the casino. That it is a separate company. But that is not disclosed anywhere. The hotel promotes the casino on their website and it is in the building but when there is a problem the manager will not even return your call. I had a camera stolen out of the room and the air never seemed to blow cold. I would rather stay in a prison cell before going back to this dump run by bandits and scammers. If a server ever comes back with your drink order it probably won't have any liquor in it. I could go on and on but these are just a few of the problems.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Stephanie and Marianne 
Ohio - departed from Cleveland
June 2008
Arrival and Flight
Traveled with Apple Vacations and USA 3000 for the flight. Everything was seamless at the airports, on the plane, and transportation from the airport to hotel and vice versa.
Check in at the resort was a bit hectic, but still nothing major to complain about. They were dealing with a lot of people and it was understandable.

Rooms
Excellent! Lots of space! They are all suites and our "standard" suite was large enough for three 20-something women. The two sinks in the bathroom worked great, as did the very large bed and extra bed.


Safety and security in the room
I can't believe what I've read about theft. We never felt insecure or that our things were in danger. We used the safe for important items such as passports, money, and nice jewelry and this worked well.

* Somehow with our booking through Apple Vacations we received an extra room (4 rooms instead of 3). When we approached the concierge with this issue he just notified us that it was the travel company's mistake and we should feel free to use the 4th room. What a deal!!

One great thing was the placement of our 4 rooms. All of the rooms were in the same hallway, whereas on previous trips our rooms have been very far from each other. That works great for larger families.

Room service
what a bonus! All room service is included. We enjoyed the club sandwich and nachos as snacks.

Restaurants
Great food!! We loved the breakfast buffet and the lunch at the beach cafe. Service was excellent, and the wide variety of food was fresh and tasty.

A la carte
*Note: Although it is great that you can eat at an A la Carte restaurant every night, beware that you will have to wake up every morning to make the reservation. You can only make the reservation on the day you plan to eat there.?

Sir Oscar: Our favorite! You need to eat here! It's a very s
mall and intimate setting. The filet here was the best we had all week (although you could eat filet every night).
Yokohama: delicious, includes some sushi and sashimi as well as cooked meats. We assumed it would be hibachi style, but it was not.
Brazilian: Come hungry. They give you huge portions, and most of us couldn't manage to eat dessert at the end.
Italian: Not our favorite, but still tasty.
Steakhouse: Surf and turf was nice. We enjoyed eating near the ocean with the breeze. We recommend taking the 9:00 seating because it may be too hot earlier in the evening.

Overall the service is excellent and anybody who complains about the food is WAY too picky.

Bars
Note: Be sure to try the local drink of Punta Cana, which is Mamajuana (pronounced mamma wanna). It packs a punch . . .



We were disappointed that the disco (Pacha) wasn't as nice as we have seen at other resorts. Drinks at the Pacha must be purchased and are not part of the all-inclusive deal. This is the first time we had seen this and were pretty disappointed.

There were two main cocktail bars, one in the main lobby and one outside. Both had great service and were nice places to sit and enjoy a cocktail while enjoying the activities going on around us.

Sports bar: A fun place to hang out. Very relaxed atmosphere and includes the 24 hour snack bar. There are also a few slot machines, arcade games, and pool tables.

Swim up bar: compared to other resorts, this was by far the cleanest and quickest of them all.

Beach and Pools
A beautiful beach! Plenty of chairs in the sun or shade. You can keep to yourself and find a quiet seat or sit more in the middle of the action. No complaints here!

The pool was a bit warm, as other people have described. It was a nice pool though in terms of cleanliness. One day we went to some of the other resorts in the Riu complex and noticed that their pools were a bit more shaded and kept cooler, although they were not as luxurious.

The drink service was a great treat. The waiters were frequently walking around taking orders or simply handing out pre-poured beverages.

Grounds
Very nice.

One complaint: there was a smell that wafted around near the pool. However, this was avoidable and it's something we have noticed at other resorts as well, so it's not a huge issue.

Activities and Entertainment
We took a banana boat ride. Anything you want to do is available.

Sometimes the sales-people were annoying as they were trying to get people to snorkel, go on excursions, etc.

Casino
Don't get your hopes up for anything exciting. It was quite small and not exactly Vegas, to say the least.

Departure and Check Out
Excellent. Our plane took off earlier than planned.

Conclusion
A fool-proof vacation! We've done several Apple tours, and we found that this is a great alternative to the Riviera Maya if you're looking for something different. The service and amenities were as good or better than anywhere else that we've been. We definitely recommend this resort!
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Joe 
Chicago
June 2008
I have to completely agree with Cynthia's comments from Oakville, ON that are listed below. I also chuckle when I read some of the comments from the people that have visited this resort. This is a very nice place to have a very relaxing vacation. I realize that everybody has their own levels of standards, but if this place cannot meet your standards, then you should re-define your standards. I feel we have a good perspective of all inclusive, beach front resorts. We've been to at least a dozen of them throughout Mexico with focus on the Riviera Maya area.

Arrival and Flight
USA 3000 - wasn't sure about this airline as I am a American Platinum flyer but the check-in process and the flight were very nice.

Rooms
Rooms are very nice. Our original room didn't have a view. I worked with a manager at the front desk who asked me if we would stay in that room for one night, then he would move us to another room when he had the availability. He did it and we had a great view of the gardens and the pool area.

Restaurants
Couple of things to be prepared for with the restaurants:
1. Pants for men every night - even at the buffet. We did not know this in advance and I only brought two pair of pants for a week stay.
2. Ala carte restaurants only have two seating times: 6:30pm or 9:00pm. I didn't like this. I have two teenagers and the 6:30 is too early and the 9:00pm is too late.

We ate at 3 of the ala carte restaurants. I would not recommend the Brazilian steakhouse. The meat - 5 different types - were all dry and bland. We didn't have a real good experience with the Steakhouse on the beach. By the way, because the steakhouse is open air near the beach (they convert the lunchtime buffet to the steakhouse), men are allowed to wear shorts. We had a 9:00pm reservation. Because our kids were getting tired, we showed up at 8:00 and asked if we could be seated. The entire restaurant was empty. They initially said 20 minutes. At 8:20, they told us it would be 25 more minutes. We were seated at 8:45. Our food came at 9:45 even though they insist that you order right away. Some of our group thought there was a conspiracy against us for trying to get in early.
We also ate at Sir Oscar's which is their gourmet restaurant. The food and service was good at this restaurant. We enjoyed the buffet. The food was good and there was plenty of it. The desserts were much better than the desserts that we become used to at the Mexican all inclusives.

Bars
The large lobby has a nice air conditioned area where we enjoyed our cocktails before dinner. They have a couple of drink menus with a nice list of martinis.

Beach and Pools
Like most people have said, the pool is a bit small and the water is warm. However, our temperature was mostly in the upper 90's when we were there. There isn't any pool that would stay cool in this kind of temp. The staff by the pool is very attentive and the activities people really try to get everybody involved.

Grounds
Very nice and well tended to.

Activities and Entertainment
We wanted a do nothing relaxing trip so we didn't partake in a lot of the activities. However if you want parasailing, banana boat rides or snorkeling, there is plenty there for you to do.

I'm not usually a big fan of the entertainment but I have to say that this group of young people did an excellent job. Better than anything that we've seen in Mexico. The production of Grease was very good. The young man who did the Michael Jackson show was excellent. I highly recommend seeing these shows.

Tours
I toured the Don Lucas cigar factory which is a nice 2 hour diversion of you like this type of thing. They pick you up and take you back for free.

Departure and Check Out
Very smooth and well done.

Conclusion
A very competitive alternative to the all inclusives in Mexico.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 
New Jersey
May 2008
We just returned from a trip to the Riu Palace Punta Cana. It was a group of us from NJ that were there for a wedding. Four of us traveled through Continental Airlines and as usual, we were not disappointed. We got to the airport 2 1/2 hours early which made everything go smoothly and we were able to have breakfast in the airport.

When we arrived at Punta Cana, we took the advice of others and took a cab $33.00 to the resort which saved us a lot of time. The cab driver was very nice and friendly. At the resort, Santana checked us in and was more than helpful. He asked us to go have lunch and return at 1:30 for our room keys. The rooms were clean and beautiful and I didn't notice the musty smell some were complaining about. We encountered 2 problems with the room, 1) the tub seemed worn and almost dirty which gave me the heebie jeebies so I didn't use the spa tub (I asked the maid to clean the tub and she did wash it, but it didn't help) 2) the maid kept making beautiful animals out of our towels and decorated them with pretty garden flowers which brought ants into our room. (thankfully I didn't notice the ants till the last night which wasn't fun but at least I slept well every other night) lol I hate bugs!

The pool bar, sports bar and lobby bar were very well equipped and manned. We never had a problem getting drinks and the workers were very friendly and nice.
The waiters at the beach were wonderful. We liked playing beach volley and they just kept the refreshments coming. Just be sure to tip them, they really do need the cash and they work so very hard.

The grounds, beach and pool are beautiful and very clean. My only complaint is that the pool is very small for a resort of this size and the pool bar is also very small and closes way too early. Although the bartenders worked tirelessly to serve everyone.

The activities at the pool were lots of fun and the entertainment at night was fun to watch. Just try to get a table outside because inside of the theatre it was very hot. You will be a lot more comfortable watching from the courtyard.

DON"T GET MARRIED HERE!!!! The wedding ceremony was beautiful! The reception left a lot to be desired. The only consolation we had was that we were on vacation in the Dominican Republic. The wedding was at 6pm and immediately following we had or'deuvres in the lobby bar for 2 hours. The reception that followed was in the Brazilian Restaurant at 9pm and the food was terrible. The bride paid extra for appetizers but they were placed by the salad bar and other restaurant guests helped themselves to the food she paid extra for. When she complained that others were eating our food, they simply told us to keep an eye on "our" food and let the other restaurant guests know that it was only for the wedding guests. This led to a pathetic approach from the aunt of the groom to other hotel guests every time they neared the salad bar. Some of the wedding guests didn't get to eat the seafood and they wouldn't br ing out any more. The waiters said they couldn't do anything about it. At 10pm they cut the cake and at 10:30 we asked for coffee and were told that we had to leave because they were closing the restaurant. I don't understand why they charge so much money for weddings when you are eating the same food that other guests get and there is nothing different from any other dinner night. Apparently you need a certain number of guests in your wedding to be able to have a DJ. If you don't meet the number, don't bother. Get married in Vegas or chose another resort.

Another problem we encountered was that a bunch of the resort employees asked us for food. I have been to other resorts in the Caribbean and never saw such depressing circumstances. Since we speak Spanish, we said hello to everyone and I guess they felt comfortable admitting to us that they were very poorly fed by the resort. As we sat by the pool near closing, a bunch of us that were there for the wedding started talking and we realized that at a few points throughout the day, different employees asked each of us to smuggle some food to them. The strange thing was that when we discussed who asked who for food, none of us had given food to the same person. This led us to believe that they are not being fed appropriately. I am going to be writing a letter to the resort asking why this is occurring. I highly doubt that this is simply greed forcing them to ask for food. I hope to have a response from the resort and am curious to kn ow what the result will be. In conclusion, the resort is great, the people are so very nice and the food in the buffet is great. My best advice is tip tip tip! A couple of $$ go a long way.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
David 
Bay Village, Ohio
May 2008
Arrival and Flight: USA 3000 CLE-Punta Cana arrived late evening- direct and a great way to go. No problems here.

Rooms: Newer, granite floors, clean and well appointed.

We tipped the housekeepers daily 3 to 5 USD but still had two minor thefts. Day #3 we found 6 diapers missing (we brought our 2- and 4-year-old daughters and these items were meticulously accounted for before and during our trip!). Day 5 saw the absence of 2 children's sticker books to be given to our daughters as gifts, which had never left our room. The monetary value of these items was nominal, and we wouldn't have reported the diapers, would have gifted the books if we had been asked . But with theft #2, we related both occurrences to the front desk, including manager. No empathy or remedy was forthcoming. As a matter of fact, I detected an attitude consistent with a belief that our family owed these things to the housekeeping staff.

Restaurants: Beautiful main dining hall with better than average resort mass market buffet food. The reserved restaurants have a more intimate feel but the food is similar.

Bars: Close early but the service was good, no wait, plentiful. . Drink selection was adequate.

Beach and Pools: Awesome beach, pool chairs must be reserved early and everyone does so, in spite of the rules.

Grounds: Clean, architecturally beautiful.

Activities and Entertainment: Very low budget entertainment at night, but the entertainers were enthusiastic and worked hard.

Tours: Did not tour

Departure and Check Out: Smooth

Conclusion: Beautiful resort, overall worthwhile trip, very "you Americans owe us" management attitude toward our minor houskeeping/ minibar thefts.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 

September 2007
This was our second visit to the Riu complex. Last time we stayed at the Macao. To say that the Palace is an upgrade from the other five sister properties is inaccurate.

The Macao is much better in room accomodations, personal service to their guests and general housekeeping. Truly a gem of a hotel.

The Palace PC Mis-Management team needs to focus on the following:

Timeliness in responding to guest's requests for emergency services. Mangement's attitude for our particular emergency was ....manyana....

Location of ice machines. Our machine required a long walk to the ground floor and the machine was tucked under the stair well.

Clean out the courtyard hallway ashtrays. I saw several ashtrays that still had the same smoking materials sitting in them for three days. Very sloppy.

The rooms were musty at all times even with the AC on.

Mini Bar service was basic even after you tipped the attendant and asked for additional items. For a first class resort, bring in another local draft beer to compliment the Presidente only selection.

If you really want to be pampered and in the thick of things, book your stay the Macao instead of the Palace. You won't be disappointed.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Tina 

September 2007
We booked this 5* hotel via Thomson. We usually stay in Bayahibe at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus but we decided we didn't really want the 1.5hr transfer so the Palace was a better option as it was only a 30 minute transfer via a private taxi. It is classed as an Al a Carte hotel in the Thomson brochure and is exclusive to Thomson in the UK unless you book independently and not through a travel agent.

When we drove through the Riu Resort guarded gates and up passed the staff quarters; which in themselves are the size of a hotel. We could see the resort complex was of great magnitude. There are 5 hotels set in the complex 4 of them are beach fronted and the other is a short 500m walk.

The Palace Punta Cana is an exclusive hotel, guests there may use the facilities at all the other Riu's in the complex but the guests from the other Riu's cannot use the facilities at the Palace Punta Cana. Anyway, we arrived via private taxi and I was in awe at the site of the huge palace appearing in front of me, it stood out in all its glory, like a prized trophy. We drove up the sweeping drive, and arrived at the rotating door, the sort you see at the Ritz and in movies. The bell boy took our luggage and we checked in. Wellington the guy who checked us was not very brushed up on his English and struggled to understand what we were saying, he simply handed us the keys to our room and safe and walked off. I then went back and asked him where to go in order to find my room. He pointed to the left side of the lobby and said that way and walked away again. The lobby itself I might add is bigger than a football pitch! Well of we trotted, the three of us, tired but excited at being somewhere so lavish, trying to take in all the surroundings. We walked along the open corridors looking at the beautiful palms and blue skies. We came to our room which was open and waiting for us.

It has to be said that the room was lovely; the bed could easily have slept all three of us and more. As you walked in through the door, there was the bathroom to the right, which had a whirlpool bath with overhead shower. They also supply hair and body wash in a dispenser by the side of the bath. Note that the baths can be very slippery so we used to lay a hand towel down inside the tub when we showered. There is also no lighting inside the bath tub so it can look pretty dark when you are having a shower. Double sinks set in marble and a WC. Directly facing the door were the built in wardrobes, which for a change had an abundance of hangers also inside the wardrobe were the iron, ironing board and safe (the safe is gratis). To the left of the door was the built in fully stocked fridge, a counter with glasses and ice bucket and a cabinet with four bottles of spirits, rum, brandy, whiskey and vodka. The mini bar and spirits are all part of your all inclusive package and are restocked daily. There was an arched area to the left and then the huge bed with a bedside cabinet either side and an alarm clock the standard bench and little table. The two steps down to a seated area, which had a sofa bed already made up for our daughter. There was a big dresser with 6 large drawers and the TV. Then the patio doors to the balcony. There was also a mesh screen after the patio door which was great for keeping the bugs out. We stepped onto the balcony and found it to have two reclining chairs with padded cushions.

The view from the balcony was lovely. To the right you could see the sand and turquoise waters, and directly in front were the natural areas with palms and the beyond that the hotel rooms of the adjacent hotel. Below were well landscaped gardens.

The hotel has 4 floors in total and is easy to get around as there are plenty of staircases and lifts. Going back to the room, it was very clean and at the time we didn't notice a smell that so many other reviews had mentioned. I guess that was because the room was well aired with the doors open and the patio open too. Our luggage arrived some 10 minutes after us. We then decided to take a look around.

Still trying to take everything in. We went down 3 flights of stairs and walked to the left and could see the magnificent fountains then the two pools, the first is a round pool with continuous flowing water, the second is the main pool, with a vast seating area, and the first two rows have parasols. There are a good few hundred beds so you never had to fight for somewhere to sunbathe. Unless you wanted to sit right in front of the pool. The pool wasn't really big enough for a hotel of this size but is surviced. It had 10 tiled beds plunged into the shallow water on the ledge, then it had a swim up pool bar, 4 table nooks, and two Jacuzzi nooks. The bar was very well manned with 6 bar staff. One thing to note is that the tiled area around the pool gets very hot so make sure you always have footwear at the edge for when you get out if you get out! The pool is only 4ft deep all around, I liked this aspect. The pool bar doubles up as the beach bar, as the top side faces the beach, it has a seating area and railings so you can sit and watch the ocean.

To the left or the pool is the lunch buffet/evening steak house. The toilets are also in this building. To the right is the towel hut and the spa. The hotel has 6 restaurants it has your standard buffet which has inside and outside dining, I do believe that the inside dining was non smoking. Like the pool there are enough seats for everyone! There are no toilets in the restaurant you have to walk a few hundred meters to the other side for those.

Just near to the buffet, are the remaining restaurants, the Japanese, Italian, Gourmet and the Brazilian. Food at the buffet was a bit repetitive, and there were very few potato options other than chips of instant mash. More often than not the pork was rare, so we always avoided that! Also note that the lamb chops are cooked from frozen and again are very blood soaked. The only meat that was never rare was the chicken. Despite the uncooked aspect and the lack of potatoes we never went hungry in the 14 nights we were there. There was a pasta station and a junk food station, fruit and salad in abundance and always dessert. If there was nothing that someone couldn't eat then I’m sorry they were just too fussy! Our waiter Lorenzo was lovely, by the end of our first week we didn't even have to order our drinks he brought them over as soon as we sat down. The champagne is very nice not cheap tasting like it so often is, nor are the house wines. Long pants MUST be worn in all restaurants bar the steakhouse in the evenings. Be warned you will be turnt away and asked to change if arrive at any restaurants in shorts or ¾ length pants no matter how smart they are! The staffs in general were not overtly friendly unless of course you tipped them on a daily basis; personally we like to tip at the end of our stay.

However the animation team all 4 of them were always friendly and cheerful in their work. The water aerobics is a 'must see' lol. Jeff from the Brazilian, Lorenzo from the buffet; Saul from the beach bar and Chocolate from the animation team all great guys! As with all Dominican hotels the entertainment was not fantastic but they did try hard. I would have like to have seen more guest interaction and more children/teen activities.

As this hotel is on a resort it was nice to be able to visit the rest of the hotels in the chain. They have their own street called Caribbean Street. There are lots of gift and clothes shops there and they all give change in $ unlike the hotel shop who only give change in peso and their rate is dire! There is a chemist and a doctor there and a photography shop worth checking out. The prices in the shops are pretty reasonable especially the sun creams.

There are no ATM’s at the hotels but there is one at the staff accommodation at the entrance of the resort. Also there are no public phones at the hotel! There are various bars in the hotel, the sports bar has internet cafe, pool and table hockey ($3 per game) as well as a couple of arcade machines also $3 per game. This is where you can get 24hr snacks, hot dogs, burgers, toasted sandwiches and fruit as well as tortilla chips and cheese sauce. All the snacks are self service and micro waved by you. There is also a room there with slot machines I think they take 25c. There is a casino at the Macao but it is not part of your all inclusive you can enter free of charge and water is free but all other drinks are extra. You have to place a minimum of $5 on a bet.

The Pasha disco is usually full of hotel staff trying to hit on single female guests. Again this is not part of your all inclusive and can be expensive. The lobby bar is massive but closes at 12pm sharp. There are no last order calls and we found them to be very rude by turning all the lights and fans off even though we were still sitting there drinking! The reception is manned over night but don't expect them to be available if you call down.

The Beds are huge but solid, but still sleepable. The hotel boasts a turn down service we only encountered this twice in our fortnights stay but others we met said they got a turn down service every night. Indeed there was a very mildew smell on the pillows and when the air conditioning was on, but nothing some Fabreeze won’t cure during your stay. Our daughter slept on a double sofa bed the annoying thing about this apart from the smell of the sofa was the mattress was covered in a plastic which made an awful noise every time she turned over and believe me she is a real fidget at night! There was also a noise every time the persons above flushed their toilet; we found that other guests said they noticed this too so it was common throughout the hotel. There is a lot of noise with room service in the morning and guests returning from the casino and disco in the early hours but we soon got used to it.

The beach was massive but I disliked the fact that there were so many loungers it reminded me a little of being in Spain. There is plenty of shade on the beach if you don’t want to sit up front by the sea. The beach bar staff come round on a regular basis with soft and alcoholic drinks. There are a few traders on the beach selling jewellery and shells but if you say no they don’t bother you again. Scuba Caribe and Captain Cooks also scour the beach along with water taxis and Para sailing traders. Be warned these have no insurance but looked like fun. Maybe if I lived more dangerously I would have had a go of the parasailing or the air boat now that looked really cool. We would of like to have tried Captain Cooks but we didn’t meet anyone who had been there to ask what the food was like and the prices. There were lots of helicopters too that toured the sky along the resort. The beach itself was nice but the sea was a little rough at times with a strong undercurrent. Often pulling grown men under its waves. I put this down to the fact that we were on the cusp of the North Coast. We went for many walks along the beach to the left was the Gran Bahia Principe which is a huge hotel with very little shade, we walked all the way round to where they are building the new Moon Palace Hotel and if you walk to the right of the beach you will come to the Iberostar Hotels, their beach is guarded. There are plenty of local ladies braiding hair if you walk either left or right on the beach. Just past the Iberostar's are the local traders huts and my husband went for a run past these and around the few bends and said the beaches were lovely that way. There is a huge pelican that frequents the beach so try and get a picture of it when you go. It really is a lovely site to see. There is a ship wreck out to the left of the sea; it is a really lovely view. Many people went out on mini catamarans when the sea was calm as it wasn’t too far from the shore.

I have said we wouldn’t visit this hotel again but I say this because it didn't match our experience of the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus in Bayahibe and the sea was rough in comparison to the sea on the South Coast. We were impressed by the splendour of the hotel but it lacked personality and atmosphere for us. We did meet some very lovely people there from the UK but the majority of the guests were USA/Canadians or German with British being about 3% of the total guests. There were no other children our daughters age (13). This in itself was a huge disappointment for her.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Karen 

September 2007
My husband, 13-year old son and I recently returned from a week at the Riu Palace Punta Cana. Overall, we had a wonderful time at a gorgeous resort. This was my fourth trip to the DR (first to this hotel).

First, I would like to thank the person who suggested that we take a cab from the airport to the hotel. The cab cost, with tip, $40.00, and saved us a load of aggravation. We had a direct, quick ride to the resort, instead of waiting until everyone met up on the bus. We must have saved at least one hour, if not more, and we had a quick, smooth check-in at the hotel.

Much has been written about the lobby, which is quite unusual for the DR. It is HUGE, air-conditioned and lavishly decorated. It almost reminds me more of a Vegas type lobby (the type which tries very hard to impress and kind of overdoes it). There is a lovely lobby bar just off the main lobby - this bar is quite relaxing, with live (albeit a bit off-key) piano music at night. There is also a noisy sports bar at one end of the lobby. The sports bar doubles as the Internet center. The Internet service is free if you bring your own computer, and several workaholics, including my husband, definitely used this feature.

Our room was quite nice. We had a king sized bed and a sofa bed for my son. We thought the bed was comfortable (it was very firm). My son, Ben, said the sofa bed was also very comfortable (it had a real mattress). The TV was a bit "snowy" at times, but there were several US stations, many of them from NY (which worked for us, since we're from NJ). The bathroom was fine - great water pressure from a hand-held shower head. The bath was a whirlpool bath that we didn't use, but it was nice to know it was there. The sinks were a little high (I'm 5'3"), but usable, and there was a magnifying make-up mirror (again, mounted kind of high). A hair dryer was also included, and there was an iron and ironing board in the closet. The closet space was very spacious, with more than enough wooden hangars, and we had plenty of drawers for our clothes.

The pool's size was fine, and we never had trouble getting chairs. However, I've been in jacuzzis that were cooler. This is not a complaint, just a statement. We were in the tropics and it was HOT (as expected). The pool (with a depth of around 4 feet) just couldn't cool down. The tiles were also very hot - you do need sandals.

The beach is just perfect. I'm a sun worshipper, but even I was sitting under the plentiful shade there. The water was green, cool and lovely, with very gentle waves. Waiters came around frequently with drinks, and there were few if any annoying vendors trying to hawk jewelry or other junk.

The biggest disappointment at this lovely resort was the food. I did not expect great food, but I would categorize it, at best, as mediocre. The buffet is frankly much better than the specialty restaurants. The system is one of the worst I've seen - you must go in person around 9 AM to make reservations, and they only have 2 seatings - usually 6 PM and 9 PM. The restaurants are very small with extremely limited menus. The service, however, is quite nice. Avoid the wine, it's pretty bad. The drinks were good, however, and it's amazing to have a real bar in the room (Stoley's vodka, Gordon's gin, some rum and brandy), plus soda and beer. Of course, ice was at a premium - only one ice machine, and it was frequently near-empty.

The casino (at the hotel next door) is about a five minute walk on the beach paved path, or you can take the golf cart they provide. Taking the cart there is a good idea, because they give you a coupon worth up to $10 that you combine with a bet at blackjack or roulette (I suppose craps too). The casino is very small - only 2 blackjack tables and one roulette wheel, and the air conditioning didn't work too well while we were there. On the plus side, my husband won about $500 at blackjack, and I won about $200 at roulette, so I can't complain! (Neither event is typical for us, especially at Caribbean casinos).

The fitness center wasn't bad. Our hotel had about 10 machines (only 2 treadmills, a few elliptical's and stationery bikes) and some equipment, but at least it was air conditioned. The fitness center at the Macau Palace next door had lots of free weights, but no air conditioning.

When you go to a place like this, you have to realize that there is really nothing to do but relax. There's not much night life - the "shows" are in a fancy theater but the dancing isn't too good (still kind of fun to watch). The shows are late, around 10 PM.

Overall, we had a great trip, but I like the Sol Melia Tropical-Caribe better - better pool and much better food. I thought there would be kids my son's age since it was a week between camp and school, but there were very few kids present. He had a good time anyway, especially since we went on the Outback Safari, which he really loved. He also liked playing bingo at 5 PM every day.

Would I recommend the place? Yes, as long as you don't care about the food as much as the beach.

Oh- the trip home was very annoying. We were at the airport 2 hours prior to our alleged departure. Continental apparently sent the wrong plane, which was short 55 seats. However, no one bothered to explain anything, and we literally stood in the un-airconditioned check-in terminal for FOUR HOURS. Then, we barely made the replacement plane -no time to hit the duty free shops. I am most annoyed that no one apologized for the delay or told us what to expect.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Kelly and Carlos 
Burlington, Ontario
August 2007
Kelly and Carlos are frequent contributors to our website

The following is a review for the RIU Palace Punta Cana in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. My husband and I (ages 40 & 37) took our annual 2 week vacation to this fantastic 5+ star resort from August 3rd-17th, 2007 and highly recommend it to couples and singles alike.

Airport and Flights

We flew Canjet Airlines out of Toronto on a Friday morning at 8:55am. We had heard that this airline was superior in quality to both Sky Service and Air Transat, yet we could tell no real difference in seating room, check-in or on board services. All charters seem to be the same. We were given a complimentary beverage and a small snack package for breakfast on the way there and lunch on the way home but there was no in-flight movie or other entertainment to pass the 4.5 hours to Punta Cana. If you have a portable DVD player or laptop computer to play your own movies, I recommend you bring it.

We arrived in Punta Cana on a very warm, sunny day and exactly on time. We were met at the stairs by a rep from the airline and escorted to the baggage area where we only had to wait 15 minutes for the luggage to arrive on the carousel. Once our luggage was collected we made our way to the front of the airport, spoke to a taxi driver regarding a private driver to the resort, and in turn advised the tour operator that we wouldn’t be taking the tour bus. The taxi cost $30.00 US from the airport to the RIU Palace. The tour bus is always provided free of charge when you book your vacation with a tour company such as Sunquest yet we have always found it takes twice as long to get to the resort and it’s simply worth it to pay for the ride and be at the pool earlier. It is a half hour ride from the airport to the resort.

Location

The RIU Palace Punta Cana is located in the northern part of Punta Cana directly next door to the Bahia Principe to the left and the RIU Bambu to the right if you are looking towards the ocean. Directly in front of the beach at the Palace is an old ship wreck which certainly gives the beach front a piece of character to go along with the white sand and palm trees.

Check-In

The check in process was quick and painless. We arrived well ahead of the bus carrying others from our flight and were therefore the only ones at the desk at the time of arrival. We were greeted with a welcome cocktail and the General Manager was actually the person who opened the door and carried our luggage to the check in! We were provided with our room key, wristbands, ( Only the Palace guests are identified by wristbands, other RIU guests have no bands )2 towel cards, a map of the resort and the complimentary room safe key. Our luggage was gathered up by a bell hop and we were quickly taken to our room overlooking the courtyard. We had written an email request to the resort approximately 4 weeks prior to our trip requesting a room overlooking the courtyard/pool area and they kindly filled this request for us.

The resort is large but not so much so that it requires any sort of tram service to get from one place to another. I would say that it takes approximately 5 minutes to walk from the front lobby area to the beach/pool bar directly in front of the beach itself. There are no umbrellas in the rooms but during our stay it only rained one evening and didn’t last longer than 30 minutes. Other resorts we have visited in Cuba and the Dominican Republic have provided umbrellas in the closets of the rooms but this certainly wasn’t an issue for us.

One of the best things about this 5+ star resort is that there are several locations throughout the Palace that provide air conditioning for those moments when you’ve had a bit too much sun during the day. The front lobby is fully enclosed and air conditioned, the room air conditioning is very good and the rooms all have ceiling fans over the bed. In addition the main buffet and all but one of the a la carte’s is air conditioned. As well the lobby has a full size washroom and shower area with towels and soap for cleaning up after you have checked out of your room but are not yet on your way to the airport.

Grounds and Beach

The lobby is just incredible with very high ceilings, marble, beautiful lighting, very impressive furniture and a sports bar area where you also find the internet café and 24 hour snack area. In addition the lobby bar has comfortable seating and a piano player in each evening for a couple hours.

The landscaping at this resort is out of this world. It seems like the gardeners are constantly in the flower beds and bushes working away at making them more beautiful. The grass is a perfect green colour and the fountains cover the entire length of walkway from the lobby entrance to the pool area. It is a great walk before and after dinner in the evening.

There are two pools at the RIU Palace Punta Cana and the best thing is that you also have full access to the four other RIU’s in Punta Cana and are all within a 10 minute walk of the Palace (Bambu, Macao, Taino, & Naiboa). The first pool is a small wading pool with walk in steps and a seating area for lounging in the water. It is round, above ground and fun for quick dips. It also seemed to be a few degrees cooler than the large pool. The large pool consisted of a number of below water lounge seats in the shallow end, bubbling Jacuzzis and a swim up bar. As reported in other reviews, the pool (at least in the summer months) is quite warm, not a cool refreshing swim. We mentioned this to the Manager while he was touring one day and he explained that July and August are very hot and the pool is located very close to the beach and therefore there isn’t much that can be done to make it cooler. He explained that the further back from the beach, the cooler pools will be. Both pools were kept very clean and seemed very well maintained by the pool staff. They also looked after gathering the drink glasses around the area and did an exceptional job each and every day. Despite the warmth of the pool, it didn’t hamper a moment of our days spent around the pool and we still did a good deal of swimming and playing with our paddles and ball.

There are a good number of umbrellas located around the pool area. We were there in August and never had a problem finding chairs with an umbrella. We had pool service for drinks and once every 10 minutes or so our pool server Cesarin, the best bartender at the entire resort, would come and take our order. He really was exceptional in the making and delivery of the drinks and I would suggest to everyone that you sit in the area that he looks after each day. If you do, tell him that we send our best. Don’t forget to tip these servers, they work very hard to make your vacation memorable. We didn’t spend our days at the beach but heard from others that the servers also took drink orders on the beach for those staying at the RIU Palace.

The beach itself is stunning, with white sand and many palm trees. In fact the RIU properties appear to have the most or only trees on the beach and this was a good touch in my opinion as there was always a place to go out of the sun. There are no umbrellas located on the beach but they are not necessary because of the great number of trees for coverage. As well, the beach is both wide and long and never seemed crowded. The ocean was a tad rough during our stay but not rough enough to keep the boats or other water sports off the water.



Scuba Caribe runs the watersports program at the RIU resorts and I believe they also run the program at other resorts along the beach. Included complimentary with your stay at the RIU is kayaks, catamaran, windsurfing, boogie boards, sunfish and scuba lessons in the pool each day. The time limit for most of these services is one hour per day. There are also paid services available including sunset cruises, parasailing, ATV tours, scuba doos and diving/snorkelling. If you want to make use of the catamarans, make sure to reserve ahead of time as the reservations fill up quickly, and I suggest making reservations days ahead of time. Excursions booked at the Scuba Caribe can be paid for by Visa or Mastercard, but only for amounts above $100.00

Keep an eye out for the professional photographers that walk around the pool each day with parrots or iguanas to pose for pictures with. They take excellent pictures and they are developed each day and are kept at the Bambu. If you like the pictures taken that day you can purchase the 5” x 7” photos. They will also print extras and will schedule photo sessions if you wish.

Rooms

All rooms in the resort are junior suites in the 4 storey building and there are several elevators located throughout the hotel. Our first week we were located in one of the regular junior suites facing the courtyard on the third floor and during the second week we upgraded to one of the larger suites on the first floor closer to the pool than the first room. Either way, the rooms are very well laid out with either two queens or one king bed. They are very firm beds but no problem to sleep on.



In every room you will find the famous RIU mini bar with fully stocked fridge of water and pop and above the fridge is the liquor dispenser consisting of full bottles of rum, brandy, vodka and gin. If you enjoy tea or coffee each morning, there is no coffee maker or tea kettle but there is room service available. I talked to a couple from the UK who wish they had known to bring their portable kettle. Keep in mind however that the voltage is the standard North American 110 volts.



In addition the rooms are nicely decorated, and have a seating area with couch, and table, telephone, clock-radio with alarm, satellite TV (19”) with a lot of English stations (network channel NBC, cartoon channels, CNN, movie channels, sports channels, etc.) and balcony. There is a full bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and shower, hairdryer, and makeup mirror. In the room you will find shampoo, bath gel, shower cap and wash clothes. Beware that the water in the Dominican from the taps is not potable, DO NOT DRINK IT ! Use the water provided in the fridge for brushing your teeth, taking your meds, etc. The mini fridge is refilled every other day but if you need water sooner, just ask.

The electricity in the rooms is the same as in North America, 110 volt, your plugs for hair dryers, etc. will fit in the outlets just fine. There was turn down service for the bed each evening but if you don’t require it, just put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door. The maid service throughout our two week stay was very good, always cleaned by the late morning. We left a $2 US tip each day for her and in return she left us towel artJ

Bars and Drinks

We are far from heavy drinkers but we did have a few drinks throughout the day at the pool and a glass or two of wine each evening at dinner. As I mentioned above, the pool server named Cesarin was the best bartender we came across during our stay. The drinks were always consistent and delivered with a smile. There was a wide range of international brand liquors to choose from and the wine at the restaurants consisted of selections from Italy, Chile and Spain in both red and white. If you want a good Margarita then see Cesarin the poolside server and ask him for one, plus ask for the rim to be salted.

Restaurants

All of the restaurants (except the beach steakhouse restaurant) are air conditioned. Men must wear long pants at all the restaurants in the evenings at dinner, something my husband didn’t like, but at least it’s only an hour or so and you can go back and change back to shorts right after. There was no restriction placed on the better sexJ But we did see women wearing casual pants, skirts and one was wearing an evening gown…very varied in the buffet for certain. Breakfast is served at the main buffet and you can have Mimosas for breakfast every day.



We found that the buffet restaurant each evening had the best selection of food but there are a la cartes available to choose from each evening including an Italian, Japanese, Steakhouse and Brazilian.



During the day there is a lunch/snack bar buffet with table service for drinks. It is located directly on the beach with a great view of the water. There is a salad bar, hot food, pastas, hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries and nachos and cheese type fare to choose from.

Internet Access

Internet access is located in the Sports Bar and costs $5.00 for each 25 minutes of service, yet if you are a RIU Class card member you get double the time for the same price. Don’t forget to bring your card or sign up for one prior to your vacation and bring along a print out of it. I understand it takes 6-8 weeks to receive the actual card by mail so I just gave them the print out and had no problem. I found the Internet speed consistent and comparable to high speed in Canada. No problems logging in. As well the card will entitle you to a 15% discount on merchandise at the stores and at the Scuba Caribe among other places.

Money exchange

Money can be exchanged at the front desk. You can buy US dollars, or Dominican Pesos. Never a problem with exchange and the rate seemed fair.

Spa

The spa is located beside the pool area and the “Mini Caribbean” street on the other side. There are a number of spa services available but I didn’t use any of them. There is a Jacuzzi room located at the back of the spa that is free of charge and a really nice addition to the resort. There are two jacuzzi’s in this area, one being warm water and the other very cool. There are open windows surrounding the jacuzzi’s looking out on the beach and it is very relaxing. Highly recommend you check it out.

Summary

In conclusion, we were very impressed with our first visit to Punta Cana and third visit to a RIU hotel. The service was exceptional, the resort itself absolutely gorgeous and the beach was top notch. I can’t comment on the entertainment in the evenings because we never attend the shows. They just always seem the same at every resort location.

I would recommend this resort for singles and couples alike but wouldn’t say this is the ideal location for families with young children. I think you would likely be better off at a Breezes or Club Med type location for that. There is a kids club in place but there weren’t a lot of small children there and therefore the ones who were could have got bored rather quickly. Just an observation from a childless couple so likely not worth much. If you are considering this location for a honeymoon or romantic getaway, look no further, this is a great place!

As a final note, the airport is not like the airport at Puerto Plata and the only duty free you can buy there is Rum and cigars. There are no other liquors so if you were planning to buy some additional liquor to bring home, you will need to go into town, or buy at your airport before the vacation. Talk to your cabbie or the front desk staff about shopping outside of the resort. It is safe to go into town, and my husband took the public bus into Plaza Bavaro. Cost about 25 cents US and then when he came back, did so by taxi, $10.00 US. Going into town was not that much fun as you are constantly urged to buy merchandise or enter stores. However there were some nice little cantinas where my husband had a beer and watched the locals going about their daily routine.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at kcponce@sympatico.ca.

I have attached the link below to our online photos.
http://picasaweb.google.com/Ilovlos/RIUPalacePuntaCana
Riu Palace Punta Cana
William and Karen 
Bolton, England
August 2007
Just back from a fortnight in the Riu Palace, Punta Cana. This was our second visit: having spent one week there last summer shortly after it first opened. If anything, this second visit was even better!!!

Finding ourselves ensconsed in a senior suite overlooking the golden sands and azure ocean: the sunrises; sunsets and even the tropical storms provided a spectacular vista!

The suite was magnificent: with a jacuzzi on the roof terrace providing a cooling retreat from the blazing sun; the comfortable four poster bed providing a sound night's sleep and the round the clock room service ensuring you wanted for nothing.

As last year, the food was delicious providing fayre to tempt even the most picky of pallettes! Service within the restaurants is excellent. I particularly recommend the Don Manuel restaurant where we were enthusiastically looked after by-Tomas, Robert, Monica and Angelica.

The Lobby Bar provides a splendid evening retreat where you will be served cocktails expertly concocted by the delightful Angela. It was lovely to be remembered from our previous stay. It almost made it like going home! . Management of the Palace is impeccable. With Rodolfo at the helm, no request was too much trouble. Indeed service throughout the hotel is superb. The Palace has matured form it's opening year and has already had an award bestowed upon it in recognition of it's excellent service provision-deservedly so! A heartfelt THANK YOU to all at the Riu Palace for another wonderful holiday. Needless to say, we will be returning!
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Mindy 
NJ, USA
June 2007
Travel agent review June 2007

We stayed at the Riu Palace Punta Cana for 7 nights from June 4-11, 2007. This resort is just over 1 year old and is by far the nicest and most opulent of all the Riu properties in Punta Cana.

Driving up to the resort is like driving up to a stunning white palace. It is very impressive to see from a distance. Arriving at the resort is just as impressive.

The lobby is air conditioned (a definite plus and unusual for Punta Cana where most are open air). It is filled with comfortable seating areas, all of the tour operator representatives, a gift shop, a large and welcoming piano bar, and a sports bar with slot machines, pool table and the internet café.

The check in was fast and efficient. We were given a 30 second introduction to the resort by one of the front desk representatives and were handed a map of the Riu properties on a map. We were given 1 key for the room (on a large plastic key ring with the room # on it), a key for the safe on a long cord and were told to come back for towel cards. We were given a sticker to put on our luggage to have it delivered to our room but the bell hop was free and took it as he showed us to our room (sort of- he got confused and ended up taking us to the wrong floor).

Room-
We asked for a courtyard view room (as opposed to a standard garden view room) and were given room 1104, which is on the same level as the lobby.

All rooms are junior suites- with step down to a sitting room with a sofa, coffee table, dresser and TV. There is crown molding, tray ceilings and dark hard wood furniture. The floor is tile with area rugs around each side of the bed and in the sitting area.

The balcony is a nice size with 2 cushioned chairs that recline, a plastic snack table and a drying rack which is attached to the side wall. The balcony is private on both sides with solid walls separating them from the neighboring balconies.

The bathroom is large with a high step in jetted tub/ shower. There is a double sink with lots of room. The vanity is higher than usual which might make it a bit difficult for children or short adults. There is no drawer space or medicine cabinet but plenty or room on the vanity for putting personal items.

The beds are the major issue with these lovely rooms. The options are 1 king or 2 doubles. The 2 double beds are pushed together (with separate sheets and blankets) but only has 1 headboard. This bedding set up may cause issues with families or guests who may not want to sleep side by side. These beds can not be separated by a night stand to create privacy. The other issue with the beds is that they are hard as rocks. One guest equated them as sleeping on books. I felt that sleeping on the floor would have been more comfortable. For a brand new and deluxe resort, I would have expected comfortable pillow top bedding. I spent the last few days on pain killers since my back was killing me.

Each room has a mini bar which is restocked every 2 days with water, sodas and beer. Right above the mini bar is the Riu signature liquor dispenser. There are 4 bottles (gin, vodka, rum and something else) inverted for the guests to use throughout their stay.

If you can, ask for a courtyard view room rather than the standard view room. The courtyard view rooms have a lovely view of the fountains rather than of other hotels. The courtyard view rooms may be considered to be the superior rooms vs the standard rooms and may command a higher room rate.

Pool and Beach
Although the pool looks small for a resort of this size, it was never really crowded since the beach is so gorgeous. The pool is at the far end of resort, closest to the beach in the middle of the property (between the 2 buildings). It has Jacuzzis on either side with a large swim up pool bar. At the other end, there are a dozen or so tiled loungers in the water. The pool is not for diving-the entire pool was only waist high. Unfortunately, the pool water was so warm that it really wasn’t refreshing and you would need to go to the ocean to cool off.

Just in front of the main pool is a large round pool. It is not a kid’s pool, nor is it a Jacuzzi. It was rarely used so I’m not sure what it is used for. It is shallow- maybe only a couple of feet deep.

Around the pool, lounge chairs and umbrellas were plentiful but since this property is so new, the palm trees provided very little shade and the chairs around the trees were at a premium.

The beach is beautiful! It is wide and deep. The water is a stunning shade of turquoise. The sand is powder fine and white- not hot to the touch. There are a good number of trees to provide shade and there are plenty of lounge chairs. Since the beach is so beautiful, there were more people there than at the pool.

***The one suggestion that I would make is to bring your own beach towels. Since the hotel only provides 1 per person at a time, and they are all the same color, it is much easier to spot your lounge chair.

Food
Overall the food was good, not great. The buffet restaurant was pretty comparable to any other buffet restaurant. It is air conditioned, which is a plus. The wait staff was fast and friendly but most of the food was drowned in a sauce or butter. The breakfast buffet was plentiful with a cereal bar, fruit bar and bread table. Their breads were wonderful. Lots of cold cuts and salad items that Americans probably wouldn’t eat for breakfast. Don’t miss the smoothies- they were very good! You can get made to order omelets but it is the same person making large omelets and cutting them into portions. He is right near the eggs and he will make an omelet made to order. There was never a line for omelets since no one could find him.

Dinner at the buffet was mediocre at best and is best avoided, if possible.

The restaurants- our favorite- the Gourmet- Sir Oscars, then the Steakhouse, Japanese, Brazilian and last the Italian. (We are from NYC- you can’t compete with NY Italian food). Dinner reservations had to be made between 9am and 12 noon at the Italian restaurant for that night. The line started at about 8:45 am but wasn’t terrible.

The lunch buffet got pretty redundant- always pizza, burgers, fries and the salad bar. One day they had a pasta station and another day there was a paella station which was very good. We ate at the steakhouse most days for lunch since it is closer to the pool and beach.

Room service was delivered quickly. The menu was ok and delivery is from 7am to 11pm. Their 24 hour snacks at the sports bar is a joke- Hot dogs, hamburgers and nachos that can be heated up in a microwave.

Entertainment
Please keep in mind that we are cruise people and are used to good entertainment. This can’t compare. The Animation Team did the same dances to the same music daily. The daytime activity schedule is posted on a board outside the theatre. I would have preferred it in writing- especially since it doesn’t change day to day, it could easily be handed out with the welcome package.

Since many of the guests are not American, and English is not their primary language, all activities and shows are announced in 4 languages- Spanish, French or German, English and then another. Their accents are so heavy, that even when they are speaking English, it is very hard to understand them.

The shows in the evening start at 9:45pm with a 15 minute ice breaker- some games with some audience participation. The only evening show which was decent was the Sunday night show- Cabaret. Most of the others were so bad we ended up walking out on them.

The casino is located at the entrance to the Riu Palace Macao which is about a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute shuttle ride away. The blackjack tables are a $10 minimum. Roulette was $5. Lots of $.25 slots- but lots got stuck mid way during playing. I was hearing a lot of bells going off and 1 person won $1000 in the slots while we were there.

Beware a scam game that they try to sucker you in with a “free” $10 chip. There is no name on the game and they try to keep you playing by changing the rules with their money until you are “so close” to winning the jackpot and now have to use your money.

This is not a property that I would recommend for families. There is a small kid’s area with a jungle gym and tiny pool. I never saw any kids there and never saw a children’s staff. Although there was a kid’s activities list posted on the activities board, unless they were hiding the counselors, I never saw any kids participating in any organized activities.

The spa is lovely- although we didn’t get to use it. I did walk through it. I honestly don’t remember seeing a fitness center on the property. I can’t imagine that they don’t have one but since I wasn’t looking to use it, I really didn’t pay much attention.

Travel Agent Summary:
This property is gorgeous and will be even better when the foliage on the trees grows in a bit more. The staff is eager to please. Some speak better English than others. This is not a resort for Americans who expect to be with lots of other Americans. The English speakers were in a minority the week we were there. It is also not a property for families. We saw other properties in Punta Cana which would be better suited for families. I’m not sure if I agree with the Apple Vacations rating of a 6 Golden Apple. There were other properties that I thought were more deserving of that rating.

Who would I recommend this property to?
-Honeymooners who don’t want much in terms of activities
-Older couples
-Those who like a more European atmosphere
-Beach lovers

Who would I not recommend this property to?
- Young singles who want a lot of action
- Families

We saw a total of 14 properties while we were in Punta Cana, and there were others I liked more and others that I liked less. After seeing all of these properties, I feel confident of being able to recommend the right property to my clients. That is what a good travel agent will be able to do.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
A. Smith 
Atlanta, GA
May 2007
We just got back two days ago from our vacation to the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana. We visited the Luxury Resort, RIU Palace Punta Cana, never to be confused with RIU Palace Macao just next door. We stayed 8 days and it was fabulous!

The country is very poor, so the airport and customs/immigrations is somewhat of a joke compared with the United States. The drive to the resort is about 20 - 30 minutes from the airport and just like any ride at Disney, THRILLING, SCARY, AND ANIMATED.

The Riu resorts are all on the same property and is gated with security with one access road for all the Riu Resorts connected via beach access and paths. Palace Punta Cana is the newest and most luxurious and it shows everywhere from the buildings to the staff. The staff is what truly makes this place. We took our 11 month old and our 5 yr. old on this trip and the Riu Staff did not disappoint in spoiling them at every turn. The one thing that we did not like was the kids club. I am sure it would have been fun for our oldest but we felt better with her with us the whole time.

The room felt big and spacious. We had a Jr. Suite with two balconies, one ocean view. The maid service seemed to run non-stop, We even had a maid knock on our door every evening to inquire if we needed fresh towels. The only small and very insignificant down side was the hot and cold water would sometimes be hard to set in the shower.

The drinks are served 24/7 and I do recommend the Champaign during meals instead of wine.

The food was outstanding everytime, even the buffet.

The beach was perfect and the staff did not disappoint there either. Wait staff came down to the beach to serve all, not just a few individuals. White sands with enough palm trees for everyone that wanted to sit under one.

The pools big and heated the main pool with a swim up bar. We liked the big round pool best, it was a bit cooler than the main pool but still heated. We never had a hard time finding a place to lay out under the palms.

It was just fabulous, a relaxing, stress free worry free vacation.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 

May 2007
My boyfriend and I (age 38 and 43) just returned from the Riu Palace Punta Cana and had a wonderful, relaxing time. We thoroughly enjoyed the hotel.

Before the review, I should say that our main criterion for choosing a hotel was that it have a good beach...to us, the rest was less important. And the Riu Palace Punta Cana didn't disappoint us in this regard.

CHECK-IN: Check-in went very smoothly. We requested a king-sized bed when we got there and had no problem getting one. We got our welcome drinks and didn't have to wait very long to be taken to our room.

HOTEL LOBBY: This was a bit of a surprise. I had stayed at the Riu Palace Macao three years ago, and was expecting something very similar: laid back and beachy. But the Palace Punta Cana is nothing like the Macao. The lobby is largely marble, with crystal chandeliers, gilt furniture, Roman-style busts, and reproductions of Botticelli paintings throughout. If you are an architectural purist you may not like it...no two pieces of decoration are from the same period or have anything to do with each other...but after the initial shock I found it sort of amusing and charming. The lobby is huge, very grand, and has a large, comfortable lobby bar.

ROOM: We stayed in 1016, which is a standard, non-upgrade room. I thought it was a perfect location: halfway between the restaurants and the beach and toward the back of the building, which meant it was very quiet. The view was of a lawn and of the Riu Bambu next door. The room itself was more than adequate and very clean. Not particularly luxurious but perfectly nice, more like a room at a Hilton. The bathroom had double sinks, which we appreciated. The floors are marble and tile, which can get a bit slippery. Other reviews have complained about the hardness of the beds: It WAS hard, but I found it quite comfortable. The air conditioning worked perfectly...the room could get too cold if you weren't careful. Every room has a small terrace with two chairs and a table.

BEACH: Amazing. Clean, blue water, clean sand, perfect for swimming. We adored the beach. There are areas that are out in the open, and plenty of room under the palm trees for a little shade. One note about the beach: if you don't get there early it can be difficult to get chaises. When we couldn't get them my boyfriend complained to the management and they suggested talking to one of the pool men who are always around handing out towels, etc. So...we approached Raoul, gave him $4 a day, and every morning we had 2 perfectly placed chaises and a table with pads and towels waiting for us. I'm sure any of the beach/pool staff would be happy to do this for a small tip.

POOL: I loved the pool and didn't find it too small, as some others on this site have. It's heated, though it never feels too hot. It has a good-sized swim-up bar as well as about 10 jacuzzi areas with their own cocktail tables attached to the bottom of the pool, so you can sit in the jacuzzi and have your drinks with you. At the far end of the pool there are about 8 built-in chaise lounges that allow you to lie halfway in the pool while also sunning yourself. I had never seen this at a resort before and loved this feature.
There is also another, smaller pool right next to the big one. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a children's pool but it was always filled with adults. We never had a hard time getting a lounge chair by the pool and, though there were always plenty of people in the pool, it never felt overcrowded.

FOOD: This is where I differ with many of the other reviews on this site. I thought the food was really very good. We live near New York City and eat there often so we are used to pretty good food, and the food at the Riu was almost as good as in some of New York's best restaurants. I will say, however, that if you are looking for American-style food you may be disappointed. Though the main buffet does have hot dogs, hamburgers and the like, it mainly caters to more sophisticated tastes. It might be hard for a picky child to find something to eat here. We ate at 4 of the 5 "specialty" restaurants and liked all but the Brazilian. We thought the gourmet, Sir Oscar, was excellent. I was fearful about trying the Italian restaurant, Luigi, because my boyfriend is from Italy and can be very critical about Italian food...but even he liked it! The antipasto bar is wonderful. The only bad thing I can say about the culinary experience at the Riu Palace was the wine. In a word: awful. But the champagne is pretty good, so we switched to champagne early in our stay.
Lunch at the beach-front Altagracia was particularly good. Try the Paella.
I've never had better.

A NOTE ABOUT THE RESTAURANTS' DRESS CODES: Even during the day, you must be covered to eat in the restaurants. I tried to go into the casual, beach-front restaurant for lunch wearing only a bikini top and a pareo wrapped around my waist and was told I had to have a top on. Bring something appropriate. They also insist that men wear long pants to dinner, though I did see a few wearing shorts at dinner.

ENTERTAINMENT: We were too tired most nights to stay up late, so I can't really comment on the entertainment. What I very much liked, however, was the fact that there is a plaza between all of the restaurants where people gather before and after dinner and where there is usually a band playing.
Every night before dinner we sat in the plaza and had drinks and played cards. There is a casino and a disco on the grounds of one of the neighboring hotels. We walked to the casino one night and it is a lovely walk, even if you're not interested in gambling.

OTHER GUESTS: This is not the sort of place to go if you want non-stop partying. There was a mix of young families, young couples, and middle aged couples. Not too many singles. There there is quite a bit of drinking and music that goes on but it doesn't have a spring break kind of feeling. I took a walk on the beach and checked out some of the other hotels and they had music blasting, etc. The Riu Palace isn't quite as rowdy. I think the Riu Bambu is for younger people, with more of a party atmosphere. I would say about a third to half of the guests are American or Canadian, and the rest are largely Eastern Europeans, South Americans, and Germans, and French.

STAFF: Exceptionally helpful and friendly. I have traveled to many, many developing countries and was not expecting the greatest service at the Riu Palace, based on my prior experiences. But the service was excellent. I know almost no Spanish but was able to manage perfectly well. I will say, however, that once or twice my boyfriend had to step in and use his Italian to make himself understood. But, really, it's not likely that you're going to be having very many deep, involved discussions with the staff of the hotel and between their pretty good English and some improvised Spanish it all works out.

EXCURSIONS: We only did one, the short snorkeling trip. It cost $31 per person, took about 2 hours and was fun. Don't expect to see the most fabulous fish in the world: it's not the Red Sea or even Hawaii, but we had a great time.

SHOPPING: There is a little arcade called Calle Colonial attached to the Riu Palace. They sell some souvenirs (very overpriced, I am sure, but who cares?) as well as some bathing suits, jewelry, cover-ups, inflatable toys, etc. But there is another shopping area, called Calle Caribbean, that's further into the resort, where the disco and the casino are. It's much bigger, with much more variety. Also, if you go to the beach, are facing the water, and make a right and walk for about 20 minutes along the beach there are some local shops. I didn't go, but I would guess that the prices are much better. They looked fun, but my boyfriend isn't much of a shopper so I couldn't convince him to to make the journey.

MISCELLANEOUS: The website/brochure say that you can use the facilities at the other Riu properties. Not quite true. They wouldn't let us eat dinner at one of the restaurants at the Macao. Check out the pool at the Riu Naiboa...it's fantastic. I had forgotten how strong the sun in the D.R. is: I'm very fair and brought 30 spf sunscreen and suffered for it. Bring strong sunscreen! And don't expect to buy some when you get there: the shops at the hotel charge about $20 for a small bottle. Check out the spa: there are some lovely Roman-style baths in the back that are wonderful.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Heidi 

April 2007
After staying at the Iberostar Bravaro in Punta Cana and then the Iberostar Lindo in the Riviera Maya several times and Royal Solaris in Cancun 3 times. Check in went rather smoothly, they managed to get my parents room next to ours and the rooms were ready. After that I felt the vacation slowly go down hill.

The pool is very small for the complex but it was nice. The umbrellas were too small and you needed a couple to get shade during the day, most of the umbrellas were broken in areas or were missing the metal bar to hold the mechanism up. I watched several people actually take this metal bar with them so no one would sit in their seats until they got back. I used my pen to hold it up one day and forgot it in the umbrella and the next day Francisco our friendly drink boy was using it LOL. Speaking of drinks, they don’t have a fully stocked bar, and they push crème de coco in all the drinks probably because its cheap there. I personally loved iguanas at the Iberostar in Mexico but they didn’t have Midori so I couldn’t have them make it. I also enjoy a Baileys in the evening and they didn’t have that either. There is no music or entertainment at the pool like with every other resort I’ve ever stayed at. About 4 p.m. the entertainment team comes back from their 3 hour break and usually did some sort of game or dance lesson at the pool. This was usually a lot of fun but you had to start thinking of going to your room and getting ready for dinner by that time.

Dinner was ok at the Brazilian restaurant and the steakhouse, the Japanese restaurant was awful and the buffet was worse that old country buffet, not worth the time it took for the men to put on long pants.

The rooms were ok nothing like the Iberostar rooms, our remote for the TV was broken so I requested another one from the front desk and they gave me another one that didn’t work. You don’t need to use a credit card for your room which means buying a prepaid phone card is useless because you cant use it, I went to the front desk to use the phone and he tried to use my phone card but they aren’t easy to use, you have to dial one 800 number then another to get to the US and he wasn’t doing it right and wouldn’t let me try. I gave up and went to the internet Café to email. The internet Café is in the sports bar where they have a couple pool tables and some video games. Its $3.00 for pool (this was free at the other all inclusives I’ve stayed at).

You cannot charge anything to the room either, my husband went and got a massage on the beach, and when they were done they said $60.00, he wanted to charge it to the room and they said you cant, who has $$$ on them at the pool and the beach, he had to run back to the room and get money to pay them.

They have a good band that plays in the garden area outside the main lobby in the evening right outside the theater where they have the shows at night. The shows are awful, I see they don’t spend a lot of $ on entertainment, they have approximately 5 entertainment staff, I will get to them shortly. The shows usually had at least one crotch shot with a dancer in a thong, even in their “grease” show, Sandra Dee was lip sync’ed by a dancer in a thong who showed her bare bum several times and did a couple leg lifts to get the full crotch shot. I don’t remember seeing this in the movie, but I may have missed it. The dancers put on the show, same dance steps, and different songs each night. They attempt to lip sync but it would be like you and I trying to lip sync to a Chinese song when you don’t know Chinese. They were really bad, the quality of entertainment was POOR, the best show was the Kareoke show, at least some of the guests had personality.

As far as the disco goes, they should rename Pacha – Meat Market, because that’s what it is. Most of the people there are staff of the hotel and locals trying to catch a free feel on the girls staying at the resort. It’s overcrowded and you have to pay for your drinks because they open it to the public. I don’t understand why the Riu would open that to the public, can they possibly be hurting for money??? My daughter went with another couple we met down there; I had trailed behind about 5 minutes and was walking with one of the entertainment staff to the disco when he felt it was appropriate to start mauling me. Not once but twice he started mauling me and I had to tell him to knock it off TWICE, this is right after he told me all about his fiancé in Germany, and showed me pictures of her on his IPOD. At this time I was in fear for my daughter and walked very quickly to the disco to keep an eye on her. At the Iberostars we went to the disco a lot, they are closed to the public and were only open to guests and the entertainment staff, their staff never made moves on me or my daughter. We never had to pay for drinks their either. The next day we were at the pool and one of the other entertainment staff came and asked my daughter (16) if she would help him get some of the equipment out for some exercise or something at the beach, unaware of where the equipment was she said ok, my husband spotted her 300 yards down the beach in an entirely different hotel complex with him. He ran down and told him she was a teenager and shouldn’t be leaving the complex. After talking to the head of entertainment he stated that I should steer my daughter clear of both of the individuals on their entertainment team because they are no-good. NICE!!!

I was very disappointed in the Riu, we decided to give it a try and we won’t go there again. Anyone who has stayed at the other hotels I have mentioned and enjoyed their stay should steer clear of this hotel. Even the shopping on Caribbean Street was just ok, the credit card machines were down and I rarely bring a lot of cash to a foreign country for shopping, even in Mexico I always charged my purchases so shopping was out. We spent most of our cash on massages, internet café etc. Didn’t have much left for shopping. The second night we met one of the managers; he was French and asked us if everything was ok on our vacation. We told him some of the things we were disappointed with in the Riu and he was totally uninterested, and avoided us like the plague after that, I guess he only wanted to hear from people that were impressed with his hotel.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Tony & Paula 
Canada
April 2007
We just returned from Riu Palace Punta Cana and had a wonderful time. We had originally booked a holiday in the Mayan Riviera but our travel agent screwed up and sent us here, we did not regret it a bit. We have been to Punta Cana a few times and always like to return because you can’t beat this beach. The weather was perfect for us as well. We heard it had rained a bit the week before, so I guess we were lucky. I don’t know what people are talking about in the other reviews about the musty smell of the rooms; I guess they are not used to the Caribbean. We only went to one of the restaurants you need to reserve because we prefer to just pay it by ear, plus the reason we go down south is for the sun, not the food. Since we live in Toronto, it’s really hard to compare the excellent food in Toronto to a resort. The food was fine for us, and the service was excellent. Service on the beach as well – drinks whenever you want!

The good thing about this hotel chain in Punta Cana is the number of resorts all linked together. We had stayed in the past at another Riu hotel in this complex, so we knew what we were in for. We went to the hotel next door one night for their entertainment. I have no complaints about this hotel, but I can see how younger couples may find the nightlife a little slow; however, all you need to do is go to the other Riu resorts attached to the Palace and you will find some good parties going on. However, you won’t get the service like at the Palace. We never had to get our own drinks, a real plus.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Patty 

March 2007
We recently returned from a visit to the RIU Palace Punta Cana and wanted to sing the praises of Mr. Rani Ghosheh, his staff and the facilities.

Since the year 2000 we have been visiting the RIU Resorts in Punta Cana and the RIU has outdone itself with the RIU Palace Punta Cana.

We have truly found our Paradise within the surroundings of the resorts. I can not tell you enough about Mr. Ghosheh, his hospitality and the wonderful staff that he has. We have followed Mr. Ghosheh from the RIU Melao, to the RIU Bambu and now to the Palace Punta Cana. It would be unfair for me not to mention that his staff gives their undivided personal attention to their guests. My husband and I travel with our grandchildren and the attention they recieve from the staff is outstanding. They, as well as ourselves, never go unnoticed by the staff members.

The personal attention is the best to be found in the Dominican Republic and I have to honestly say I truly believe it is because of Mr. Ghosheh. Each and every time we have stayed at a resort which Mr. Ghosheh has been the Director, we have had an excellant stay. He is truly a wonderful host and it is always a pleasure to see his smiling face on the grounds of the resort.

In regards to the facilities themselves, "Wow!" The hotel itself is amazing. From the first look at it from the lobby or the beach it is just beautiful. I have to say, as many others also agreed, that the set-up of the restaurants could not have been better. You get the small town atmosphere when you walk out of the restaurants, the music is playing and you see all of the guests enjoying the magical mood that is in the air. What a unique set-up and a very welcome feeling is felt by all.

The hotel rooms are just perfect; with four of us to the room we still had plenty of room to move about. There was not one thing that was not provided for our stay. Not once did we have to request any additional items, the maid service was outstanding. With the four of us to a room, there were many showers had by all and at no point in time did we experience any difficulties with water temperature or pressure. I believe that no matter where your room was located, you had georgeous surroundings.

The pools were amazing. There was not one time when we felt over-crowded in either of the pools, and with two young children that isn't always easy to say. Even when the animation crew was conducting water aerobics, there was still plenty of room for play. For those of you who have commented that the pool was too small, you should consider a resort where your guesttroom has it's own pool. From the form of the pools to the location of the pools, the design was right on. The stationary chairs located in the pool was a terrific idea and a very wise addition.

The food, as always was exceptional. With the variety and the never ending portions of food, we never once went hungry. At times we enjoy our traditional American selections, however we are always open to and look forward to our authenitic favorites and new dishes. If you can't find something to your liking with variety of dishes offered, you should maybe not leave your home country.

The shops located at the Palace Punta Cana meet our every need and not once did we venture down to Carribean Street. We did miss our walks there but the grounds and surroundings and atmosphere at the Palace Punta Cana can not be outdone.

We have stayed at other resorts in Punta Cana as well, and can honestly say that the Palace Punta Cana will be where we will be returning to. We base this on two very important things; one being there is no better Director in Punta Cana than Mr. Ghosheh and the second thing being you won't find personalize attention like you get at the RIU Palace Punta Cana.

The children attended the Kid's Club and were very pleased with it. We don't force the Kid's Club on the kids as we bring them on vacation to spend time with them, but each and every day they would ask, "is it time for the Kid's Club yet?" Kids tell the truth and the truth here being the Kid's Club was the place to be. They participated in the Fashion Show and the dancing on the stage each night of our visit.

From the grounds crew, to the front desk, to the maids, to the animation crew, to the food service workers, to the pool crew, to the bartenders, to the waiters/waitresses, to the bell man, to the management, the RIU Palace Punta Cana meets the highest of standards. At one time our youngest grandson missed his afternoon ice cream with his papa and let's just say he wasn't too happy. One of the staff from the pool area made a special trip and came back with ice cream for our grandson. He was never asked, he just seen the unhappiness expressed by our grandson and took it upon himself to bring a smile back to this little guys face. You just don't see service like that elsewhere.

We are already looking forward to a return trip to the Palace Punta Cana.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Heather 

February 2007
My husband and I (both 30) just returned from a wonderful vacation at the Riu Palace Punta Cana!!! We booked our trip through TNT Vacations, which I highly recommend if you are from the Boston area. We used TNT in March 2005 as well for our trip to Aruba, and had excellent service both vacations. The charter flights are a bit tight, but fortunately the airline assigns seats based on when you check in. Since we are frequent travelers, we checked in at the last minute for both legs of the flight and managed to secure all three seats to ourselves. That little extra leg room goes a long way. As for our review of the Riu Palace Punta Cana:

HOTEL: Upon arrival, we were greeted and checked in within minutes. Our room was very clean and just the right size. Of course there is a musty smell from the humidity, but after a few minutes you don't even notice it. The turn down and maid service were excellent. The king size bed is hard, however, we slept like babies every night. And the four bottles of liquor and refrigerator full of beverages were much appreciated!

BEACH: The reason for taking a trip to Punta Cana!!! The beach was amazing! There were plenty of lounge chairs for everyone and a warm breeze to keep you cool while basking in the sun. There were plenty of palm trees around to take a nap under. The sand was so soft and the water a beautiful shade of turquoise. There were very small waves and no seaweed to worry about. We spent our entire vacation on the beach.

POOL: The pool is a bit small for the size of this resort, and the water was a little too warm for our tastes. We did enjoy the swim-up bar for a cold pina colada in the afternoon. Despite the size of the pool itself, there were plenty of chairs and umbrellas for the guests, and the service was remarkable. We never had to wait for a drink!

FOOD: We enjoyed the food at the Riu! There is something for everyone, and the service could not have been any better. The Dominicans are the nicest group of people we have ever met!! We made reservations for 4 of the 5 restaurants. Making the reservations took about 5 minutes of our time following breakfast. It is a very easy process! You don't even have to do it everyday since they allow you to book two of the restaurants the day before. The first night we ate at the buffet, Don Manuel, as well as every morning for breakfast. The assortment of food was plentyful and delicious. The pasta bar for dinner was a real treat! The second night we ate at the gourmet restaurant, Sir Oscar's. We both had lamb, which was remarkable. The next night we dined at the Brazilian restaurant, La Bodega. Again we enjoyed it! Monday, we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant. No it is not like what we have in the states, but the chicken and pepper teriyaki skewers were quite tasty. And the last restaurant we ate at was the Italian one, Luigi's. The hot and cold buffet to start was the best part, but our meals were enjoyable too. No complaints at all with regards to the food! Also, just as a side note, I have a very sensitive stomach, and had no problems at all!!!

SPA: The day before leaving, my husband and I both enjoyed massages at the spa. We signed up for the free Riu membership card and received 25% off our massages. It came to $100 for two 50-minute, much needed massages! We booked them first thing in the morning, and received excellent service.

Overall, it was a great vacation to sit on the beach and do nothing! My husband did leave one day to golf at La Cana golf course at the Punta Cana Resort & Club, which he said was a beautiful course to play. The additional cost of the caddy was an added bonus to his game. Punta Cana is the place to go if you need to get away from reality! I highly recommend it!
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Cynthia 
Oakville, ON
January 2007
I really can't help but chuckle when I read reviews from people who have criticisms of this incredible property. I suggest that they might be in a category of travellers that the majority of vacationing public are not - and hence should look at places featured on the Rich and Famous.

This is our seventh trip to Punta Cana, and we have always stayed at five star resorts. The Riu Palace Punta Cana has exceeded all of our expectations, from ambience, class, service, food, accommodations, etc. This hotel is par excellence. Everything positive that has been said in previous reviews is echoed here.

I do have one concern, however. Despite the fact that there is a deadbolt on the room doors, any master key can enter the room without any problem. Therefore, the deadbolt really is ineffective. The front desk staff did not seem to think this was an issue, despite the fact that the Mini Bar guy walked in on us in a state of ....er....undress. When this was addressed, we were indignantly reproached by front desk staff (Rosemary) saying that "if you want to walk around your room naked, then you should put a "do not disturb" sign on your door. While I tried to emphasize that although it was embarrasing, my point was that anyone with ill intentions could easily come into the room at night and slit our throats. They didn't seem to understand our concern and kept reiterating that only the maids and the manager could access your room, and that a "do not disturb sign" should be sufficent to ward off unwelcome visitors! Silly me - someone intent on robbing you and slitting your throat will be deterred by a little red cardboard sign on your door!! Somehow it did not make an impression on them that I did not trust my personal security to the maid.

That being said, we certainly did not feel in any way uncomfortable at this resort. However, in princple, guests need to feel secure, and at the very least there should be a peep hole and a chain lock on the room doors, dontcha think?? I would very strongly encourage the Riu to address this weakness in their otherwise INCREDIBLE property.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Eva & Tony 
Warsaw, Poland
January 2007
My wife and I (29 & 34) stayed at the RIU Palace Punta Cana January 3-10. We have traveled to many other islands in the Caribbean and this was our fifth trip to the D.R. and our second trip to Punta Cana. Our first stay in Punta Cana was at the Paradisus. We use Apple Vacations when traveling from the U.S.A. and have had positive experiences with their services in the past. Apple rates this resort 6 golden apples, however I would not agree with that ranking, I would rank it 5 golden apples until they work out the kinks.

This is the nicest property we have ever stayed at and is truly a palace. The hotel was opened this past June therefore is very clean and fresh. The exterior is very impressive when you first pull up to the entrance and at first sight we were very happy with our selection. The reception is exceptional with upscale flooring, paintings, chandeliers and stylish furniture. Check-in was quick and we were escorted to our room.

Room – Very clean and spacious with nice tile floors and granite finishings. Beds were very hard which was a bit uncomfortable. The bathroom was well appointed but did not have an exhaust fan and water pressure in the shower was very low. The refrigerator was restocked every other day and also had 4 different bottles in the liquor dispenser. Yes, there was a slight musty smell but what did people expect, they were in a country with a very high level of humidity. The housekeepers cleaned daily and had turn down service every evening. They did a great job of keeping the room clean. We tipped her $2 everyday which was well worth it. The biggest negative to the room was the noise that echoed throughout the hallways. When somebody would slam the door or speak loudly, you were able to hear all the noise inside your room which was very annoying to me because I’m a light sleeper. The sound and music from the shows would also carry throughout the hotel because it’s designed in a horseshoe shape. I had to keep the A/C on all the time to drown out the excessive noise. I personally would have rather been in a bungalow style room. If you are a light sleeper and are looking for peace and quiet then this type of hotel is not for you.

Grounds – The hotel is very clean with workers constantly cleaning and manicuring the landscaping. The Spa was also impressive and seemed to be a best kept secret. They have to two large Roman bath type pools (one warm and one cold) which were hidden in the back of the Spa. You have to walk through the bathrooms to access them, well worth discovering. There is also a gym, sauna and massage rooms.

Beach – Gorgeous! This is why my wife and I came back to Punta Cana, one of the nicest beaches we’ve been to. A very wide beach with powder white sand, many palm trees for shade and plenty of loungers available any time of the day. The water was very clean but swimming might be a bit challenging to some due to the rough waves. Make a right and walk for about 20 minutes and you’ll run into numerous huts with souvenirs, cigars, jewelry etc. Make sure you haggle with the vendors because they’ll high ball you with the initial price. Remember, many vendors sell the same goods so you do yourself a favor and visit all the huts to familiarize yourself with the prices and then buy when you are about to leave.

Pool – Average and a disappointment in my opinion. The pool seemed a bit small for a resort of this size. The architect definitely dropped the ball here because there is ample room to make the pool and lounging area bigger. The Paradisus’ pool was much larger and much nicer. The loungers were all reserved very early although there is a sign stating that you cannot reserve loungers. We witnessed two fights over “reserved” loungers. It felt very crowded around the pool area. The best part of the pool was the swim up bar. Efficient bar tenders handing out cold drinks. We spent most of the day at the beach and came to the pool area later in the afternoon when there were less people.

Food – Another disappointment. A person would definitely be out of line to say that the food is inedible. However, the previous reviews got it right when they mentioned the food was not very good. The buffet (Don Manuel) had something for everyone and served breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate all breakfasts here and the lunch menu is much better then La Altagracia next to pool. Do yourself a favor and take a short walk and eat lunch at Don Manuel, we realized it too late. There are five specialty restaurants for dinner in which you have to make reservations for at the Luigi’s @ 9:45 AM till 11AM. This was the most frustrating system I have ever seen. Who wants to wait in line on their vacation everyday @ 9:45 to make reservations? Last year we stayed at the Bahia Principe in Riviera Maya where upon arrival you booked all your specialty restaurants at one time for the entire week. I guess the silver lining with RIU’s system is that you can eat at the same specialty restaurant more than once. They all have very limited menus with about 4 choices in each. Sir Oscar (gourmet) - good service, decent food, small portions, all about show. Luigi’s (Italian) - no real Italian dishes on the menu, good appetizers, good steak and good service. Yokohama (Japanese) Terrible food and terrible service. La Bodega (Brazilian) - very good meat skewers and great service. La Altagracia (Steakhouse) – my favorite, great food and great service.

Entertainment – Not very good but the performers try hard. Don’t expect Las Vegas or Broadway type shows. There’s a live band that plays every night until 9:45PM just until the shows are about to start. There are many servers taking drink orders before, during and after the shows so your glass is never empty kudos to the hard working staff. Also, there are different outside vendors selling their goods in the plaza every evening.

The hotel caters to an older crowd and is very suitable for couples and families. This is not the place for wild nightlife however there is a disco near the Macao entrance for anyone interested. The majority of guests were from Europe with some Americans and Canadians sprinkled in.

In general, the staff worked very hard, aimed to please, were very friendly and always had a smile on their faces. We brought a lot singles and tipped for great service. You won’t miss the extra dollar bills and it will go a long way in the life of these hard workers that should be rewarded for trying to make our stay very pleasurable and memorable. If possible, gifts of toiletries and toys are greatly appreciated by the locals.

Overall, we had a great vacation considering some of the inconsistencies. I would definitely recommend this hotel but won’t return only because there are so many other resorts that we would like to visit. If I had to choose again between the Paradisus or the Palace, I would choose the Paradisus.

I hope this review has been informative and helpful in planning your vacation.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 
Toronto
January 2007
My wife & I recently returned from the Riu Palace in Punta Cana; overall the vacation was very good, we've been to both Riu Palaces in Mexico, and the resort layout here is similar, maybe a little larger.

One situation did annoy us when we arrived; we sent an email in advance requesting a room facing the courtyard on the 3rd or 4th floor; we appreciate there are no guarantees regarding rooms, but when we inquired about changing our room, we were told by the night desk manager there was nothing available they were overbooked, next he said these rooms cost extra, although no one told us this, nor did any site info indicate that was the case. We also over heard him tell others the resort was overbooked. However, once the crowds disappeared, he was able to magically find us a room facing the courtyard at no extra cost. I should point out that in other dealings I had with the front desk (day time), the staff was very helpful (and honest).

We arrived late (11:00pm) but the resort had the Italian restaurant stay open for those that arrived late, so we didn't have to eat at the Sports Bar.

The rooms are reasonable large and clean, with a step-down sitting area which is a nice touch. The bathrooms are large. Some rooms have a king size bed, while others have two queen size beds pushed together which isn't as comfortable. You get clean towels twice a day (morning & evening).

The food is fine, although not has good as the food in Mexico. Admittedly, for dinner reservations you had to line-up that day (10am) but it didn't take long - maybe 10 to 15 minutes. This seemed to avoid people making multiple reservations at the beginning of their stay at one or two restaurants throughout the week, and thereby not allowing everyone a chance to try all of them. The wine that is generally served is somewhat sweet, we ask for a dry wine and the staff found one we preferred.

There is a large courtyard, where you can sit and have a drink before dinner which is very relaxing. The bars close around midnight - it would be nice if they stayed open to at least 1am - but the Sports Bar is open to around 2am.

The beach was excellent, with lots of shade if that's what you want. The beach is also great for walking. There was some seaweed in the water for the first few days and than it disappeared for the rest of the week.

The pool is large with a swim-up bar. There were lots of lounges with umbrellas so you don't have to get up early to find one.

Overall the staff was friendly and very helpful, although their English is limited, but we could always communicate and get what we wanted.

We were leaving late in the day (5pm) and although we had to leave our room, the resort was able to give us another room to shower and change in, which was greatly appreciated and we left with a very positive impression.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 

January 2007
We must have picked a week when the friendly and helpful staff went on vacation. If you could not speak Spanish you were basically ignored. The food was fair and most dishes were repeated daily. The premium alcohol was less than "top shelf". Drink selections were very limited and you could not vary much from their pre-printed menu of drinks. I am not a wine drinker but others in our party were not impressed.

The Hotel itself was impressive but please note, wet marble tile is VERY slippery and it does rain occasionally. Rooms were nice but the noise from the other guests was disturbing. The pool was too small and confined to a tight area, the six fountains were a waste and maybe a few could have been incorporated into the pool to give the guests a little feeling of relaxation. the beach was narrow especially at high tide. It is beautiful though and the water was great too.

The front desk staff was all smiles on arrival and that was it. Trying to get change on our last day to leave tips for the few actually nice staff members we met was impossible. Numerous trips to the front desk were met with, "we have no change, come back in an hour". Needless to say, these deserving people got screwed by their fellow workers.

It is very easy for me to say "I WILL NEVER VISIT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AGAIN!" If you want to stay at an all-inclusive and have a great time try the Paradisius Playa Conchal in Costa Rica.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Ms Swami  
USA
January 2007
Just back from the Riu Palace Punta Cana. I was disappointed in the Riu. I had previously stayed at the Riu Palace Mexico (2 times)in Playa del Carmen and loved it. The food in Punta Cana was nowhere near as good as Mexico and at times it was uneatable. The resort is very similar to the Riu Place Mexico but larger which is not a problem. Rooms are layout a little different but still very nice. Large pool with built in lounge chairs and circle seating areas with tables. Plenty of chairs with lots of trees and shrubs to keep from seeing a large concrete area. Great beach with lots of chairs, never had any problems finding chairs on the beach. Loved walking on the sand for miles in either direction from the resort. Resort had waiters walking around with drinks all day on the beach. The restaurants were the same as Mexico but not nearly as good. The grilled fish was awful one night and just passable most other nights. We ate at both the buffet and gourmet restaurants. Liked the beach front steak house the best. One day for lunch they had a barbeque at the beach with roasted pig and pork which was very good and a great change of pace from the similar food every day. No town like Playa del Carmen to go into to shop or just walk around. I would not go back to Riu Punta Cana but would go back to the Riu in Playa del Carmen.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 
USA
December 2006
This is to review our visit last week to the Riu Palace Punta Cana.

The resort is beautiful to look at and extremely clean. The staff is very warm and friendly and tries very hard to please the guests. The beach is lovely although the water tends to be very messy with seaweed frequently making it less than appealing to swim in. The beach itself is lovely.

The food is beyond terrible at all venue's on the property. All four in our party were ill with gastro problems for several of our days there. We met people from all over the world that will never return due to the food issues at this resort. The management only extends dining reservations at specialty restaurants if you stand in line in front of the restaurant at 10AM every morning you wish to eat in one of these dining venue's. I have better things to do than stand for six hours during a vacation week making dining reservations. It is all terrible anyways.

My room was dirty with no ammenities upon arrival, my sheets seemed to not have been changed from the previous guests. There are never face cloths and they want you to shampoo your hair with body wash!!!

Very little premium liquers here!! The drinks are very poorly mixed and watery. Wines are terrible and nobody can tell you anything about the wine. They say, White? Red?........

The language barrier for Americans is very difficult here with no understanding at all. Ask for a cup of tea and get a fork is common. Tea is served without cups unless you ask!! Only Leche for cereal or coffee/tea.

The Riu idea of 24/7 food service is a refrigerator with old sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs to put in a micowave oven to heat yourself. Not my idea of five star service!!

No shuttles to the other available properties unless you go to the Casino at night.

Spa is usually empty and there are no spa menus with pricing except for one book in the spa at the front desk. I saw nobody booking after several visits while there. Sad, since the Spa is lovely. The staff was sitting around doing nothing.

Do yourself a favor and don't visit this resort anytime soon!!!
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Agnes and Paul 
Ontario, Canada
November 2006
Hello fellow travelers!

I found others’ reviews quite helpful when deciding on our vacation destination, so here goes my two cents:

My husband and I spent a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at the newest of the Riu hotels, The Riu Palace Punta Cana ( Oct.21st-28th). First and foremost, a little about us, since I think that there’s a significant correlation between people’s reviews and their age/personality/travel experience. My husband and I are 30 and 29. We’re both professionals, no children, fitness fanatics (this is relevant, see below), non-drinkers for the most part, and have considerable “all inclusive” travel experience (I’ve been to Cuba 3 times, Dominican twice, and once in Mexico, all 4-5 star resorts). We’re from the greater Toronto area in Ontario, Canada.

Hotel/Room: DEFINITELY impressive! All the pictures on the web are accurate, it really IS that grand, that elegant, that clean, etc, etc! Walking in for the first time is quite the experience as you’re surrounded by granite, crystal, and various art! The hotel is beautiful, spacious, and well maintained. The rooms are all within the hotel (i.e. there are no bungalows or separate quarters like in other hotels) which may be a bit challenging if you prefer quiet (i.e. if you don’t want to be disturbed by entertainment, you’ll get a room in the farthest “wing” of the hotel at the cost of being a bit of a walk from the restaurants/buffet). We moved bc of the noise level, there was no problem. The room is once again very nice, clean, spacious, has a balcony and a small “living room” area with a TV. The fridge is always filled with soft drinks, replaced daily, and there is alcohol in the room as well (we never tried it, not big drinkers). The one problem we both had is the smell in the room. It has that musty/humid smell that could not be eliminated despite of cranking the AC! Our clothes were permeated by this smell to the point that it has been 2 weeks since we returned, and it’s still there! We finally figured that this may be bc the hotel is only a few months old and perhaps they’re still fine tuning the airconditioning system. Now, do not be afraid, it was not HOT. In fact, you could make the room freezing cold, it was just musty. All clothes in the closet was damp and had a “smell”.

BEACH: Beautiful! We went for walks every day, my husband ran in the mornings, and we never made it to either end! It’s endless! Sand is almost white, water turquoise, just gorgeous! We also swam everyday, waves got big at times, but it was great. We went kayaking a few time, my husband went sailing, etc. There IS a bit of a problem with the equipment (i.e. book in ADVANCE…you could never get anything right there and then) but with a bit of planning, no problem.

FOOD: Great as far as I’m concerned. More seafood would have been nice (i.e. chicken and fish were regulars, I was hoping for more shrimp and lobster) but you could always find something you liked.We mostly ate at the buffet, although we tried the Japanese and Italian restaurant. I would CAUTION AGAINST THE JAPANESE RESTAURANT. We ate there on our second last night there and it’s the only thing that upset our stomachs. Do NOT eat the sushi. I ate a few pieces, my husband went all out! Consequently, I just felt a bit “unsettled” for a day, he had a “busy” trip back!

DRINKS: I can’t comment, don’t drink. Husband had a few rum&cokes, said they’re pretty “weak”. We DEFINITELY got our money’s worth in coffee however! We’re big on caffeine and just LOVED to sip on cappuccinos in the lobby. Even the morning coffee in the dining room is good. Fresh juices were also served with breakfast, which was fantastic.

FITNESS FACILITY: No one ever writes about this, but I’m certain there are a FEW of you out there who get anxious at the thought of not hitting the gym for 7 days straight! Anyhow, they’re gym is certainly no Premier Fitness, but if you’re creative, you can make it work. The actual space is nice, air conditioned, the equipment not too impressive. Three treadmills, 2 stairclimbers, 2 stationary bikes (that kept braking down). Weights: 8 and 10 lbs, which was fine for me, but all you gentlemen would have to double up. There’s also a chest press (semi broken) and a leg extension/curl machine. Anyhow, with all the swimming and walking, this was enough for “maintenance”.

CLIENTELE: Mostly German! Not sure if this was just the time of year, but there were a LOT of German people. Nothing against them, but it was hard to meet someone our age who spoke English! Speaking of which, this is an “older” resort. We did not mind this, since we’re past the “clubbing/partying” stage, but if people in their 20’s/early 30’s are considering this resort, they may be happier at the Riu Bambo next door, which was more of a party place. This hotel is quieter, hardly any children, most patrons on the “wealthier” side. In fact, the dinners were a daily fashion show with some women going all out (as in evening gowns, sequins and all!). You could get away with a dressier shirt and a black skirt, but jeans would probably not fit in.

ENTERTAINMENT: As mentioned, pretty tamed, compared to next door. We did not really see any shows, tried to get as much sleep as possible and be up for 7 am to walk the beach, it was the best time to do it. Day time pool entertainment was once again occasional and fairly quiet.

Anyhow, hope this helps! It’s a gorgeous resort, but is it worth the extra money compared to the Riu Bambo? Depends how you look at it. If you’re after a great beach and entertainment, the Bambo is the way to go. If you like staying at a nice place and want to experience the 5 star service, this place IS worth it. Kind Regards
Riu Palace Punta Cana
 
USA
October 2006
We are a couple in our late 40’s who recently returned from the Riu Palace Punta Cana. I heartily agree – the disgruntled reviews of this hotel are totally out of line. Our previous all-inclusive stays include the Grand Palladium and Bahia Principe in Riviera Maya and the Sunscape in LaRomana, DR.

Our trip started badly – we flew USA3000 out of Baltimore. The flight was at 8:00 a.m. and they waited until 7:30 to decide they needed a part from Philadelphia. That plane should have been checked and ready to go long before 7:30 – and any parts they needed should have been in Baltimore. When I joked to the Apple rep on the plane about what he was going to do to make it up to us – he shrugged his shoulders and gave me a look that said “Whatever.” I really was only kidding, but his attitude irritated me.

Once we landed in the Dominican Republic though, it was all smooth sailing. We flew through customs – we were all amazed how soon we were on the bus to our resort. The Palace is about a half an hour away from the airport. The drive there is sobering because of the surrounding poverty and trash. The Riu Palace Punta Cana is truly a “PALACE.” Words cannot convey what a beautiful place this hotel is, and we probably will not be able to afford to stay here in the future. See it now, because the prices are only going to go up, up, up.

We booked our trip with Judy and Maria’s Travel out of Pennsylvania. Though we did get a great price – we did not feel we received any special attention because we booked with them. It was off-season and our room overlooked palm trees and the Bahia Principe property. Save your money - it’s not necessary to subscribe to their web-site – you can get the same information, and more advice from Trip Advisor, or Debbie’s Dominican for free. The room itself was very beautiful, with a lot of marble, and a step down area for sitting and watching television. There is a balcony and it was very nice to sit out on the deck in the evening. If you like to drink, you would never have to leave your room – there is an excellent selection of liquors and mixers.

As for the food, I was skeptical when other reviews kept saying that they preferred the buffet to the a la carte restaurants - but the buffet really is excellent. You can dine either in the air-conditioned part, or outside on the veranda. We usually preferred the outdoors because it seemed more tropical and intimate. I often enjoyed champagne or mimosas for breakfast and the staff was always friendly. They work extremely long days and still remain up-beat. Say hello to Regina – she is expecting and always had a smile while working a very hard day.

The a la cartes we ate at were Luigi’s – Italian, la Botega – Brazilian, and la Atlagracia – steakhouse. If you go to the steakhouse – bring your bug spray if you eat very close to the beach. My husband went back to the room to get the spray – otherwise we would have had to move. The food and service at Luigi’s was very good; the service at la Botega was excellent – the food so, so. The steakhouse was good but the service was somewhat slow. For these restaurants though, you have to make a reservation and get more dressed up. Either format requires men to wear long pants and closed toe shoes. However, we did see some jeans and open toe shoes sneak in both types of restaurants.

What the Palace lacks is a more casual lunch choice. Here you can’t get too casual for lunch - and who feels like leaving the pool and getting pulled together? If you are staying at the Palace you can go down to the other beachfront restaurants at the Macao or Bambu for much more casual dining. The ambience at the Caribe Bar at the Macao was very tropical and relaxing.

The weather was amazing, yet draining sometimes due to the heat. We had one day of rain, and that was probably for the best to get us out of the strong Caribbean sun. Bring sunscreen or you will pay dearly for it. Don’t bother with the insulated cups – the staff always keeps a fresh, cold drink coming.

As for souvenirs, vendors come to the hotel a couple days a week and set up. There is also a flea market down the beach with the same merchandise. You must bargain and if you are a woman – tell them “no molestar” and they will stop pressuring you as much.

As an all-inclusive resort, they say tips are included. Please consider tipping really good service. They work very hard, and if you put yourself in their shoes, you might reconsider.

We would have a hard time now staying anywhere else in Punta Cana. All-inclusives try to appeal to many different types of people. If you weren’t happy here, perhaps you should look in the mirror. We were definitely spoiled by the beauty and the luxury.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Gregory 
Atlanta, Georgia
October 2006
Spent one week earlier at Secrets, but had to see this brand new Riu property.

The grandest lobby in Punta Cana. One block of marble, chandeliers, stained glass, mirrors and gillt . For some maybe to glitzy, but total air-conditioning except the pool, grill, and the patio bar. The largest lobby bar I have seen in DR with a pianist every night. The grand staircase to lower level is beautiful. going to the patio bar, the three level air-conditioned show lounge and huge bar and the majority of the restaurants.

The main buffet was the nicest I have seen in Punta Cana. Italian restaurant has good items, the Brazilian had all types of meats served on swords and a great appitizer table with all the fresh heart of palm I could eat Sir Oscar the gourmet restaurant was especially good. Great salads, fish and good crepes with ice cream. The JapeneseRestaurant was good (not just Caribbean good, but good) Never went to the grill by the beach but others gave it good marks.

In a year the palms and flora will grow to match the rest of the Riu compound. Went to the Palace Macoe for cocktails, dinner and the Casino As Macao is half the size of the Punta Cana it appears busier. The Cubano bar is lovely with five pieces for music every night. The main bartender at the Cubano could give lessons in Havanna on Mojitos. Casino big but really very impersonal. If you are not gambling, they charge for drinks. Not good if you are just relaxing before you step up to the tables/.

PACHA DISCO IS THE VERY BEST IN PUNTA CANA. Never less than one hunfred people even at 4 AM closing. Free admitance for Riu guests as well as Riu staff, cover charge for those from other hotels, but charged for drinks. $3 for beer....$4 for rum....$5 for Scotch.,,, well worth it for seeing a lot of happy people. $3 taxi back to the Palace Punta Cana. Sports bar with food , sports tv, and booze open 24 hrs. in Palace Punta Cana.lobby area on main floor.

NOW FOR THE DOWNSIDES: As I walk slowly with a cane I emailed as did my travel group VACATION EXPRESS to get me a room in this U shaped hotel close to an elevator and the lobby. I even received email back acknowledging my request with a promise to honor it. The hotel was slightly less than half full. I was taken to a room in the third of four sections, facing a field and the Bahia Principe Hotel far away from an elevator. I called immediately and the bellman was back to move me to a room in the second section nearer an elevator with a beautiful view of the courtyard and fountains. Still a long walk for me.

After a week I needed some cleaning, laundry, and pressing. Found the bags and filled out the sheets and called housekeeping to come and pick it up. I had one silk shirt to dryclean, two fine cotton bermudas to dryclean, two shirts to launder and press, and a pair of fine linen trousers, cleaned expensively but well at Secrets and worn for three hours on my last night to be hot pressed only. The lady came and I gave her the bags and enclosed sheets. Went to have a drink in the lobby bar . When I returned to bath and dress for dinner (the front desk manager, Rudopho had made reservations for me for several days so I would not have to stand in line.) I found my silk shirt in its bag undone on my brick-like bed. I called the desk and they said they did not have drycleaning. The sheets said dry cleaning, the websight said dry cleaning and the TRAVEL EXPRESS websight listed dry cleaning. Went to dinner, returned and put the room service breakfast doorhanger out. The next morning...no room service...no one even picked it off the door. Called front desk again...Rudolpho the FRONT DESK MANAGER (same that made the dinner reservations had cafe con leche, croissants, juice and fruit up in thirty minutes.Went down to look over the property, came bach and shirts were hung in closet, bermudas were hung, but had been washed and pressed and the red one was a nice shade of hot Mamie Eisenhauer pink and both two inches shrunk by hot water. I might have lived with that but the Mid-night blue Hugo Boss linen trousers with a label in four launguages including Spanish saying DRY CLEAN ONLY....HOT IRON ONLY had been washed and badly -badly pressed. Now they were soft-not crisp- a lighter blue, and not capable of being worn let alone buttonned. A little hot under the collar I went down to the deskand left the trousers with. Rudolpho , who said I would need to talk with the Sub-Director (he will remain unnamed as you might wish) and I went to the lobby bar for capicino One and a half hours later.....no one....went back to the desk and was informed the sub-director was busy now and I should have come back earliier when he had time for me..I said I wanted to speak with him immediately. Thry directed me to walk to his office and wait as he finished his business He looked piqued as do so many too -important- for -a -mere guest managers in a lovely country where the Directors (GM and assitant GM's in the US ) are God like owing to few rights for employees and at times scant regard for guests . He took me into the lobby and had the head of housekeeping and laundry come over. She brought back the trousers and said they had not washed them. No explanation other than we have no dry cleaning regardless of what the laundry sheets say , for the condition of the trousers let alone the uncleaned silk shirt and shrunk semi-ruined bermudas. I appreciate that he was trying in his own way to support his staff member, But he implied maybe I had ruined the trousers at home with my twenty-year drycleaner service. I did not take that well!

I saw my Coco Tours rep who called the office and spoke with the supervisor Alexandra wh talked with me a said she would be there to see me at 4:30 American time. I was in the lobby bar at a table and she was on time and said she would speak with Mr. Sub-Director I was told in a few minutes by a front desk lady who came over that Alexandra was pitching a fit at the Sub-Director. She came back and had a pepsi with me. Within minutes, Mr. Sub-director came over, never said that the trousers had been washed ,but stated I would receive no bill for any pressing or laundry during my stay, my breakfast would be delivered at 8:30 every morning and Rudolpho was sending his assistant to show me closer rooms. The same "Ms Alexandra is pitching a fit lady took me to four room all closer but with no view of the courtyard. I cold live with the walk, but she had one more for me to see. It was one of eight junior suits on the ocean front in a cool coridor next to an elevator. It was a terrible walk to the lobby, but I could not turn down such a magnificebt room that would have cost at least $400 more for the week. My mother did not raise a fool.

Still a bit angry at my impugn honesty, I never-the-less enjoyed my stay at Riu Palace Punta Cana. With the exception of the ever-dour sub-director, all other contact was pleasant and I may have found the best bartender in the DR.

The prices are higher than some, lower than others in its class and good for the facilities, food,beverage, and decor. NIce mix of guests, few children, and great for the air-conditioning lovers who so often have a problem in the tropics. Will return, but I do hope my poker-faced sub-director finds a better calling than hospitality.

As always, look at your Website a least once a week.

Any one wanting more on this new Riu or the others in the compound email gwbrown1@aol.com.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Hoepelman 
Tampa Florida
October 2006
I just got back from 3 wonderful nights at the RIU PALACE PUNTA CANA It is the BEST Resort I have ever been to...my husband and I had an absolutely wonderful time...

The place is absolutely beautiful....from the moment you see the hotel from a distance you know you have arrived to a palace... The attention given to you is incredible...you are treated as royalty the whole time... Food is great - The pool is beautiful and the beach is wonderful... I fully recommend this resort -

When you are there ask for Carlos Manuel at the Don Manuel restaurant he is GREAT!!! We are already planning our return!!!
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Betty 

September 2006
Let me start off by saying that Punta Cana and the new Riu Palace are absolutely beautiful. This was my first stay at an all-inclusive and my first trip to Punta Cana. We really loved the resort. Our favorite thing was the swim-up bar. I also really enjoyed being able to visit the other Riu’s and going to Caribbean St. (In between Riu Palace Macao and Riu Naibo). Great little place to shop for tourist items.

The hotel staff was great. Everyone was so nice and friendly. They really went out of their way to make sure you had a pleasant stay.

If I were to find a complaint which is really hard to do with this resort is that after the first few days we were tired of the food on the lunch buffet. It seemed to be the same old stuff. They definitely need more lunch choices. Dinner was great. Our trip was short because we missed our flight (never using Spirit Airlines again).We only ate at two of the ala-carts, Sir Oscars and the Japanese, and two times at Don Manuel (the main buffet). Dinner was great at all places, but especially the ala-carts.

I didn’t do any excursions because of the shortened trip but my boyfriend tried twice to go to deep sea fishing. The first time it rained and the second time he tried the excursion didn’t pick him up.

All this being said, I really liked the resort but don’t think I would go back. Mainly because of the food at lunchtime (I’m really picky when it comes to food). Oh and the fact that no matter how much I drank (liquor-wise), I couldn’t seem to for lack of better word, get drunk or even tipsy. My boyfriend and I are light-weights when it comes to drinking and here in the states we are really good after only two or three. After 3 or 4 there, I felt no difference. Having never stayed in Punta Cana or an all-inclusive, this just might be the norm, but I am willing to take my chances at another resort and/or another destination.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
William and Karen  
Manchester, UK
August 2006
Having just spent a truly memorable week at the Riu Palace, I felt compelled to "pen" a review. Initial Impressions

As our airport transfer vehicle "swept" up the horeshoe shaped approach to the hotel we were immediately struck by its palatial appearance. Entry to the reception/lobby through the revolving doors revealed the oppulent splendour within! Cool marble surfaces, ornate chandeliers and majestic fresh flower arrangements ensure that your first impression is a truly five star one! You are greeted with warm enthusiasm and taken to your room with similar accord.

Rooms
The rooms are well furnished, cool and comfortable. The wall mounted optics and well stocked fridge provide a delighful array alcoholic refreshments. A well appointed bathroom houses a hydro massage bath; a welcome relaxation after a hard day sunbathing! The balcony overlooks the capacious u shaped plaza, courtyard and pool areas.

Bars/Restaurants
The Lobby bar is a tranquil retreat; a place to watch the lanquid progress of hotel life. The sports bar is home to the internet cafe, tasty snacks and live sports coverage. There are a number of restaurants to frequent including: Japanese, Italian and Mexican. The most sumptious of these is the Don Manuel buffet restaurant whose superb range of dishes is matched by the excellent table service. The La Altagracia restaurant is an super retreat for lunch, with a balcony seating area providing a magnificent view of the white gold sands and azure ocean.

Pool and Beach
There are two spacious pools, one with a swim up bar. Poolside seating is excellent, as is the poolside service. Take advantage of the opportunity to try an introductory Scuba Diving lesson in the main pool. Stroll down to the beautiful beach where seating under natural palms provides welcome shade and a spectacular vista of the aquamarine ocean. As part of your Palace experience you can sample the hospitality and amenities of the five sister hotels in the resort. Reservations for restaurant usage need to be made 24 hours in advance.

Staff and Service
The people of the Dominican have a reputation as congenial hosts. Throughout our stay all the staff were extremely friendly, helpful and courteous; upholding their deserved reputation. If you want a luxury holiday in a magnificent setting then look no further. We are already planning a return visit.
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Melody  
Canada
August 2006
Photos

I realize this is a very long review, but I hope it will be helpful.

My mother and I stayed at the Riu Palace Punta Cana from July 29 to Aug 5/06.

Flight - Canjet out of Toronto - uneventful check-in, food not great but ok, only entertainment was personal dvd system at a cost of $10

Arrival in Punta Cana - very long lineup to get into the airport proper, as they were taking everyone's picture (available for purchase at the airport before your flight home)
- watch out for baggage handlers, as they will call out your tour company name, making you think they are with the company, then will take your bags to the bus and expect a tip (a firm "No, gracias" will suffice).

Arrival at hotel - very impressive, both outside and inside - stained glass and chandeliers in lobby, nice landscaping even if not entirely mature yet
- excellent rum punch on arrival, check-in done as a group in lobby bar - Rossemary was the front desk "supervisora", very helpful
- we were in room 3033, which was in the section of the hotel closest to the beach. Due to my mother walking with a cane, I had requested a room closer to the front of the hotel - this was not granted, but after speaking with Rossemary, she said she would see what she could do the following day. We were moved the following afternoon to 1014, which was far more accessible to both restaurants and pool/beach (seemed less of a walk to get where you wanted to go).

Hotel - huge!!
- room very nice, large, pretty clean, lots of hangers (but can get more if needed)
- pool has lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas, and built in tables for drinks in the pool
- menus for a la carte restaurants posted outside each restaurant, so you can tell right away whether you want to try for reservations
- elevator closest to pool/beach not working for first few days, but was repaired eventually
- maid service was okay, but was really late one day (got back to the room at around 4 to chill before dinner and she hadn't even done the room yet).
This will sound corny, but I enjoy the towel art, and our maid wasn't terribly creative (either that or she just couldn't be bothered) - and yes, we did leave her a little something on the bed each day.

Food - Don Manuel buffet restaurant always a good choice - first night, we had pork chop, roast suckling pig, potato salad and crab salad that were extremely good, nice selection of cheeses and different desserts and fruit
- ice cream/sherbets are amaaaazing!
- managerial staff at Don Manuel always very present and welcoming, appreciative of feedback both positive and negative
- service at Don Manuel always very good. We had Arturo and Greysis at breakfast (if you go there, ask to be in their section, and please be sure to say hola to them from "Senora Mucho Agua y Mama :-) At dinner, we had Ruben and Ennrique, who also took excellent care of us. Johanny is one of the hostesses (sometimes handles waitress duties as well), and is a real sweetheart!
- got reservations at Yokohama for the Sunday night, La Bodega (Brazilian) for Monday night and Steakhouse for Wednesday night, could not get reservations for either Sir Oscar or Luigi's
- Yokohama - very disappointing - sushi appetizer was fine, but the tempura shrimp was extremely undercooked (glue-y) and the chicken teriyaki skewers were dry and overcooked. (we actually went to the buffet restaurant afterwards, as we did not even finish half the meal)
- La Bodega was the best of the three a la cartes we went to. We were seated at one of Abad's tables (on purpose, as he took care of us at the Altagracia at lunch, but works at La Bodega at suppertime) - please say a big HOLA to him from Melody y Mama (we played cribbage almost every day at the Altagracia, and he was so intrigued by the game that we left it behind as a gift for him.) There was a salad bar, then they brought side dishes on a skillet to your table, and put it onto a warming tray of sorts, then came around with skewers of meat - 6 different kinds in all. We did not leave hungry from La Bodega!
- Steakhouse was also very disappointing. Mom and I both had the loin of pork, and it was extremely overcooked. The corn on the cob was undercooked, and the broccoli was cold. Dessert buffet made up for it, though.
- Theme nights - Saturday was Caribbean night, Tuesday was Mexican and Thursday was gala dinner - all were very good, lots of different choices (and lots of non-spicy stuff for those of us who can't handle heat), but I was expecting a little more from the gala dinner, maybe lobster or something special

Drinks - all very good. Mimosas available at breakfast, lots of good drinks on the menu, including Coco Rosa (vodka, creme de coco, triple sec, grenadine and lemonade) and Lumumba (milk, chocolate syrup and brandy)
- my favourites were actually the smoothies at breakfast!
- Jairo (from pool bar) would bring trays of drinks to the beach to quench everyone's thirst - talk about feeling spoiled!

Excursions - well, our only excursion was a walk to Riu Naiboa to say hello to some old friends from 2003 - got to see Alexander and Francis. Unfortunately, Castillo was off sick, and Jose Miguel had moved to Taino, and had vacation that ended the day we were leaving to come home. Not seeing everybody I had hoped to was my biggest disappointment in the trip.
- got a sheet from our tour rep on Sunday morning at orientation outlining various excursions, but chose not to take any.

Shows - Saw 4 altogether, Tropical night on Tuesday - not very tropical and the choreography was sadly lacking
- Dominican show on Wednesday was far more worthwhile
- a singer performed on Thursday night (I believe his name was Tony Montani, or something along those lines), and he had quite a nice voice
- Another "tropical" show on Friday night, but this one was more what we had expected the first night - worth going to
- I always enjoyed watching the Animacion staff do the Riu dances (Man, can Mr. Jesus move!!), but the emcee (assistant director of animacion, I believe) was very hard to understand.
- live music in the pavilion on the terrace before show time was good, from what we saw.

Miscellaneous - got braiding done at a covered area on the beach - $45 US, took 2 1/2 hours to do my mop of long hair
- was going to get a massage, but waited too long - I should have done it at the beginning of the week before I started getting so much sun
- sun was very strong (stronger than in May or September when I went before), and I got lots of colour even just walking from our room to the beach/pool.
- internet cafe - very convenient (in Sports Bar), but you have to be very careful and not get distracted. The first time I purchased time, I bought the 1 hour for $12, and got so distracted that I forgot to get my change until after I had already left, so I had to go back to try to explain. She did give me my change, but grudgingly. I finished up the hour on the last day - it actually cut me off in the middle of an email - so I decided to pay the $4 and get the Riu Class card special of 40 minutes for $4 (usually only 20 mins). Lo and behold, after 20 minutes, it shut me down. Fortunately, Rossemary was there talking to Mom and I at the time, and after a few short words from Rossemary to the person handling the internet connection, I was back on line :-).

Overall impression - thoroughly enjoyed my vacation! I have to admit, though, that I did miss the intimacy and closeness of Naiboa, so I think I would go back to Naiboa next time, and save the Palace for a special splurge every now and then.
- sometimes difficult to get to know other guests, as the place is so big and populated

Some of my highlights - chocolate croissants and smoothies at breakfast
- wait staff - wonderful!!
- hearing Alegria Riu "live" again
- La Bodega restaurant
- ice cream/sherbet at the Altagracia
- playing cards looking out over the beach and ocean
- all the tropical music

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me at melody@karwowski.com
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Sue & Marvin 
Plymouth Meeting PA
July 2006
It was our great pleasure to stay at the luxurious five-star RIU Palace in Punta Cana, 30 minutes from the quaint but antiquated airport. We were amazed by the friendly, attentive service throughout this new resort, opened in April, 2006, as part of a complex of six all-inclusive RIU Punta Cana properties.

We are travel agents, having been to the Dominican Republic four times in recent years. We had hoped for an improvement in the roads to the Punta Cana resort area but the many potholes and impoverished conditions along the way made the taxi transfer to the resort somewhat depressing. However, we were dazzled once we arrived at this particularly regal, ultra-clean, elegant resort.

Located on the beautiful, white powder-sand Atlantic-facing Playa Arena Gorda, this Palace is the newest in the RIU chain worldwide. An ultra-fancy reception area greeted us and serves as a meeting area for all guests with a spectacular lobby bar and lounge wired for internet access. We arrived to look up to at crystal chandeliers, stained glass rotunda with a magnificent view of the ocean through a wide, formal garden, elegant promenade. At check-in the bellmen and friendly reception staffers said, "Welcome home!"

The beach and pool areas have plentiful, comfortable lounges in shaded places throughout. There were no rocks or coral at the clear green/blue water's edge and there were groves of palm trees all along the beach. Beware - there is an international clientele so if you are not used to topless bathers on the beach you will be surprised (sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not :-). We were glad that the topless bathers were somewhat discrete and that there were virtually no vendors walking the beach nor timeshare sellers to bother us anywhere.

Bar service is excellent, especially at the busy swim-up bar, with premium brands available everywhere, including the in-room bottled spirits in a liquor dispenser rack with a mini-bar amply stocked with beer, soda and bottled water (available everywhere, no charge). In fact, one of the only criticisms we have with the entire experience was the limited choices of mediocre table wine at the meals.

The quality and variety of the food was excellent. Don Manuel is an elaborate air-conditioned buffet for all three meals themed differently each night. Dinner times at the five alternative ala carte venues (Yokohama is Japanese, La Bodega - Brazilian, Sir Oscar - gourmet, and Luigi - Italian and La Altagracia - the Steakhouse) can be reserved during the morning for 7pm or 9pm seatings. This was fine for us because we were there during off-season but could be problematic when the resort is full. Line up early to get your first or second choice.

There is an interesting shopping area called Caribbean Street (with a spa and fitness center, the Pacha Disco, four lighted tennis courts, and Pizzeria) which connected the Palace to the Club Hotel (their family-oriented, mass market brand) RIU Bambu next door with a more extensive supervised children's program than the one at the Palace. Not in the all-inclusive program are: a PADI SCUBA dive shop on-property and nearby sports and activities - motorized water sports, snorkeling excursions, golf and deep-sea fishing. Many land and water sport activities are scheduled during the day and there is nightly local entertainment in the large theater area.

The accommodations are junior suites or suites with balconies in three-story high buildings most of which face each other. Our spacious jr. suite had a walk-in closet, living room area, personal safe, a wonderful double-wide hydro-massage bathtub, and a separate large bathroom with a shower, two sinks and an amenity kit. An excellent cable TV system, plush new linen, great housekeeping with a turn-down service, ceiling fan and an efficient AC system made our stay so very comfortable.

American tourists and US dollars are welcomed at the RIU Palace punta Cana and every attempt is made to satisfy guests' needs. The management staff, under "Director" Rani Ghosheh and his assistant, Melkis Diaz, is visible and accessible. Their attitude is "What can we do to make you as happy as possible?" We really enjoyed our stay tremendously and think that you will too.

Sue & Marvin , owner/mgrs
Marvelous Travel
Plymouth Meeting PA 19462
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Kathy and Omer 
Northern New Jersey
July 2006
We just returned from a four night vacation at Riu Palace in Punta Cana. We are a couple in our early forties. We booked our vacation with Apple Tours and were very satisfied with the service they provided both in the U.S. and in Punta Cana.

We give Riu Palace four stars for the following reasons:

Service: We couldn't have asked for better service. We had absolutely no problems and all of the people that worked at Riu Palace were extremely friendly.

Hotel interior and exterior: It is brand new and beautiful. As other reviewers have commented, the landscaping around the hotel is filled with plants and trees but is not lush yet. In another year, I am sure it will be.

Hotel Room: We stayed in an upgraded junior suite. It overlooked the center court and pool. The room was extremely clean with two full-size beds put together, a small couch and coffee table and a small balcony with two chairs. The bathroom had a bath/shower and two sinks. We also had a fully stocked refrigerator with a gallon of potable water, beer, 7-up, Diet and regular Pepsi, tonic water and orange soda. We also had a fully stocked bar with bottles of rum, vodka, brandy and gin. The maid that cleaned our room was excellent. We also thought the beds were extremely comfortable. We like a firm mattress. The air conditioning worked well and we never had a problem with losing power.

Water: It is NOT necessary to bring water from home. The hotel provides you with drinkable water. We had absolutely NO intestinal problems.

Beach: We have never been to a more beautiful beach. The water is turquoise and there is no coral to hurt your feet. There is a shipwreck about a mile away which is highly visible.

Pool: The pool was very clean and since the hotel was not filled to capacity, was not very crowded. We had no problems finding a lounge chair by the pool or by the beach.

Food: We ate mostly in the Don Manuel buffet restaurant. It was very good and had a wide variety of food. The fish and the fruit were always good. We ate once in the Japanese restaurant and it was terrible. If you want authentic Japanese food, do not eat there. While we were there, we also heard negative comments about the Italian restaurant and the Steak House. If you are only staying four nights like us, I would advise you to eat in the Don Manuel restaurant. The food is good and you don't need to make a reservation. If you eat in the other specialty restaurants, you must show up at 10:00 am (and even earlier) if you want to make a reservation. Also, the seating times are either 6:30 or 9:30 pm. We like eating at 8:30 pm.

Trips: We went on the safari trip for the day. It costs $79.00 per person. We enjoyed the trip and thought it was worth the money because we got to see much more of the area of Punta Cana than we would have if we had stayed in the hotel. Our guide Daniel was very informative and fun-loving. The tour advertises that you will go to a school and meet the school children, but if you go in the summer, you will only pass by the school because it is closed. Also, you ride on a truck the whole day and it is very hot and bumpy. I would not recommend this tour for an elderly person, young children or anyone not in good health because although drinks are supplied, it would be easy to suffer from heat exhaustion. If you decide to go on the tour, buy your rum, mamajuana, coffee, chocolate, cinnamon sticks, and pineapple wine on the tour because prices are the cheapest. The beach which you are taken to at the end of the tour is very picturesque.

Entertainment: The entertainment at the hotel is really lacking. The show at night is amusing for about a half hour but is mostly silly. There was a good band one night that played dance music that was very good. We would have liked to hear more of that. There is also a nice piano in the hotel but it was never played. A person looking for an exciting time would be really bored by this place, but someone like us who wants relaxation would not be bothered too much by the lack of entertainment.

Kid-friendly: The staff are very kind to the children who stay there, but there is very little entertainment for kids other than the pool and the beach. We were told by others that Sunscape: the Beach is a much better place if you're taking your kids.

Advice to those who choose to go:

-The fruit punch/ rum drinks that are served are very weak especially by the pool. It you like a stronger drink. Fill a soda bottle with rum from your room and add to the drink to your taste. The wine is very poor in quality. If you don't want to drink rum punch with dinner, drink the champagne. It's a little better than the wine

-If you bring children, bring sand toys and a blow up tube or raft. You can buy them in the gift shop but they cost a fortune.

-Tip generously. The people deserve it and you will always be guaranteed of excellent service.

-If you want to buy good quality larimar, buy it at the hotel gift shop. You will pay a little more than other places, but you will be guaranteed that the stone and silver are real. Also, as guest of the hotel, you automatically get a 10% discount. If you buy more than one item and you pay cash, you can negotiate at least a 15% discount. The jewelry from the stands that come to the hotel is usually very low quality with ridiculous prices. If you decide to buy from them, offer about 1/3 of what they want and don't pay more than half of what they ask.