We have traveled with both and our previous experiences were good, as was this one. The Sunquest Rep on the bus and at the resort met our needs for information and seemed very organized.
The only catch with Skyservice was a reported fuel shortage in the Dominican Republic, which required a stop for fuel on the Turks and Caicos islands. I have seen another traveler report on this as being a significant problem. It did add an additional 45 minutes or so to the flight, and we could not leave the plane during fueling, however I don’t think it created a major issue. To their credit the Flight Crew brought the plane into Pearson International in a major snowstorm and did a heck of a job, quite impressive in fact.
Resort in General
The resort is quite nice, and I don’t think we have been to one where they worked harder to keep it clean. Also this is the first time we have been to one where there were so many employees who’s primary purpose was to squirt guests with Hand Sanitizer. To us it demonstrated that they were very committed to ensuring the health of the guests;
A fairly long beach (including all three Riu resorts)
The long beach with a good amount of shade allows you to always find a space in the sun or shade
The resort is laid-out back from the beach
Our room (building 34) was about as far back from the beach and other activity centers as you could get, however the distance did not seem too bad and the exercise good
The main dining room is large and appears generally always capable in moving people in and out efficiently
We went to both the Steak House and Italian dining rooms as well as the buffet and did not have a bad meal during our stay
Kept Clean and Tidy
There is always activity by groundskeepers, who do a pretty darn fine job
We thought that this was one of the cleanest and best maintained resorts we have stayed at
Note: During our stay we did have a plumbing issue, the water would not drain away. It was fixed the same day. I suspect that the many pounds of sand that gets washed off things plugged the drain and they cleaned it out
I also have seen mention of concern about the air conditioners, we did not use ours. We found the ceiling fan worked quite well.
There was not a beach bar really, however there are two bars close to the beach and all bars had very good service
Mosquitoes / Sand Fleas
We did see a few mosquitoes during the first couple days. I also saw the grounds crew spraying sometime mid-week, so they are trying to keep them down
We did experience some sand fleas. I think they were more likely from Riu Mambo, anywhere else I believe it is too windy for them
The pool is not really as large as I would expect for a resort of this size. I thought that the pool deck should also have been larger, given that the beach receives a direct and very steady wind and that the swimming at the beach is not the best. Our preference is a swim-up bar, which is not available at Riu Merengue. It is available at Riu Bachata. While we had access to all three pools, we only spent a limited amount of time at the Merengue pool
Our overall impression was very positive, the food and service was as good or better than any other All Inclusive that we have been to.
We tend to spend time at the beach and as a result the beach is the most significant reason we would be less likely to return. The beach itself in nicely split between sun and shade. There was however a very strong and constant wind all week. Strong enough to pick up sand, become an aggravation after a couple hours
Additionally, when you want to go in the water, the area is very rocky and not so good for most water activities.
The beach is better at Riu Mambo, less wind and better water, however I also think that is where we found the sand fleas
Snorkeling was not great, due to the wind and waves keeping the bottom turned up
Rooms and General Resort Condition
Our overall impression of the resort is quite positive. Riu Merengue is beautifully landscaped and they are always working on maintenance. Our room was perfectly clean and for the amount of time we spent in it more than suitable.
There is a mini-bar in each room; ours had Vodka, Gin, Rum and a Brandy, along with soft drinks and beer. We were told that the Mini-bar was tended to every other day, however ours was stocked daily. We also taped a US Dollar to the fridge door each day
There is a safe in each room and the key is provided with the room key at no charge. I think this is a huge plus, it made check-in easier (you often have to go back to get the room safe lock & key and the whole process seemed like a cash grab).
Freestyle Catamaran Cruise
We took the Freestyle Catamaran cruise to Sosua. We booked it through Sunquest and paid $89 US, yes I know you can get it cheaper, however I prefer to know the travel company has some skin in the game. I expect to have issues resolved quicker this way.
The cruise was terrific and we would very likely do this again. The snorkeling was great.
This resort appears to have a very strong Canadian and British following, with Canadian representation being significantly greater during our week.
We enjoyed our stay here and while we would likely go somewhere else first, I would return here if the situation presented itself.
The staff from front desk to grounds keeper were terrific
stayed at the riu merengue end of may early june this year with my wife and three year old son george.had an absolutely fab hol.food excellent superb choice.staff bend over backwards to help you.rooms spotless cleaned daily.nice pool.good beach.entertainment staff work very hard.met some lovely people.booked to go back whitsun next year.thoroughly recommend.
We stayed from 5th - 20th August with my children aged 12 and 9.
We flew with First Choice, premium seats and wouldn't bother upgrading again. We were very disappointed with the service - we were asked to change our meal request on both journeys and they ran out of beer on the outward journey. They were efficient, but not particularly friendly. We had friends who flew Economy and they were quite happy. You can upgrade the interactive entertainment for games, film etc., for £5 but they said there was enough choice so didn't bother. The only positive aspect was being able to check-in quicker . Our baggage came through with everyone else's - no priority baggage, although we did notice some cases had this.
Very quick. No other drop-offs apart from the Riu hotels. Check-in was quick and efficient and we were settled in no time flat.
We were all in one room which was very spacious and kept thoroughly clean by the maids. We had 2 double beds and a camp bed in the room and still had plenty of room to move about.
Food & Drink
We thought the buffet food was very good - a lot of choice. We ate in the steak restaurant once, but didn't think it was anything special. We were always served with a smile and very quickly by all staff at the bars.
The Animacion staff work very hard and the kids had a great time with them, particularly during the day. I personally thought the evening shows were poor, but they tried hard. Kids enjoyed it though.
We only did Ocean World as there is plenty to do around the hotels. Hubby and daughter did the dolphin swim and I did the sealion encounter with my son. Both well worth doing. We stayed @ the Iberostar last year and we all did the dolphin encounter which was also very memorable.
We mainly used the Merengue as the children had made their friends there. The Bachata pool is bigger and has the swim-up bar, but seemed more lively. The pool staff work very hard and they were always cleaning, especially when the rain came just before Hurricane Dean passed close by.
We loved this hotel and would have no hesitation in returning, but have already booked to go to Ocean Sands in Punta Cana.
Granville & Patsie Bermuda
My wife and I stayed in room 1572 at Rui Merengue from June 10th to June 17th.
Our room was nicely set out although the toilet wouldn't flush. When the plumber came he informed us that we should put toilet paper in the trash can and not in the toilet! The remainder of the vacation we had to flush by filling up the trash can with water and pouring it into the toilet.
The beach is long and narrow. The sand was brown (if you are looking for white sand this is not the place for you) and gritty. There was a lot of sea grass in the ocean. We walked along the beach on our first day and didn't return.
The nightly shows ranged from poor to okay. We would have liked to have seen more Dominican entertainment rather than themes such as Karaoke night! The animacion team worked hard although things like darts competitions were not really our scene. The Michael Jackson show was just unbelievably bad!
The buffets were inconsistent with the food ranging from good to very bland. There was plenty of it and the service was good. We ate in the Steakhouse one night, which was pleasant. We would recommend trying the food in the sister resorts as well - even though the food is similar, there is a different ambiance. Staff
The staff are very pleasant and work hard to please their customers.
The drinks are local brands. It would be nice if better brands were also available for sale, particularly wine. The only red wine was kept in a jug in the fridge.
Most of the other vacationers when we were there were from Britain. There was a scattering of other nationalities as well.
Tours Outback Jungle Safari- We enjoyed this. The guide was informative and there was plenty to see. You do not get thrown around in the jeep as much as we expected.
Paradise Island VIP tour - This was enjoyable. The snorkelling was great! The boat ride was pleasant, with dolphins swimming around the boat. There is a 2 hour plus coach ride back from this tour which was a drag.
Northern Highlights City Tour - The City was pretty boring. The Brugal rum factory is effectively just a bottling plant! The beach and town of Sosua were nice though.
You get what you pay for! Personally we will not go back. Had we known what to expect we would have paid more and stayed at a more up market resort. We would compare it to sailing on a Carnival Cruise as opposed to sailing with Royal Caribbean or similar. If you are comfortable in this setting you will probably enjoy it.
My wife and I stayed at the Riu Merengue from June 2nd to the 9th to celebrate our 26th Anniversary. What a wonderful holiday we had. We arrived late on the Saturday night and since there was only 2 family’s from Toronto staying there check in was a breeze.
James at the front desk had everything ready for us and within minutes we were getting settled into our room. In fact all week if we needed anything James made sure we were looked after. He was fantastic. Our room was in building #57 which was close to the lobby and everything else. It was a great location. The room did smell musty and the AC was not great but we did not mind too much because we were only in the room to sleep and change.
We did not do any excursions out side of the resort so I can’t comment on them. That will be the next time we go to the DR. We found the food to be great at the Merengue. We never even booked the Italian restaurant because the buffet was so good every night as was lunch and breakfast. I’m sure we both put on a few pounds that we have to work off now.
We were fortunate enough that the weather was perfect all week. It only rained at the Beach Party on Friday night for maybe 2 minutes. Not even enough to get you wet.
The bar tenders were great. Within a few days they get to know you and seemed to cater to everyone’s request efficiently. The Riu is kept very clean. There is always someone at dinner time to offer you hand sanitizer before you enter and at all the public washroom facilities. The only thing that wasn’t clean all the time was the pool but that was because there was always debris falling from the trees that would get into it.
The beach was great for everyone; there were lots of shaded areas and lots of sunny areas.
We thought the Animacion team was fantastic. They are a hard working team that wants everyone to have a great time. They looked after the dancing lessons (Boy can they dance) ping pong, water activities, horse shoes, bocce ball, beach volley ball, the kids club. There was always something you could participate in if you liked to. If you take your children they are well looked after by the team.
We liked the nightly entertainment very much. There is a 2week schedule of different shows so there is no real repetitiveness. On our Anniversary they presented us with a bottle of wine and had us up dancing in front of everyone. It was fun.
Since we left late on Saturday night but had to check out at 12 noon the hotel offered us a courtesy room to shower and change before our flight. The hotel and area is just like it is described in the brochures. You can also get a great look at the area from Google Earth, check it out.
Overall our stay at the Riu Merengue was fantastic and I would love to go back some time.
The only disappointing thing had nothing to do with the hotel but I must mention it.
Our Sunquest Vacations Rep. offered us at a cost of $20 USD the use of the VIP Lounge at the Airport on our departure. You get a nice room to wait in, drinks and snacks. We have done this before on other trips and enjoyed it so we went for it. When we got to the Airport the VIP Lounge was closed and locked with no one around to service it. We were ripped off so I would suggest that if you travel rep offers this package to you, decline it.
Glenna and Gary and family Canada
Our trip was from Feb 13 to Feb 20. My husband and I have been to dominican a few times but the rest of my family it was first their first time. IT WAS AWESOME!! The rooms were very comfortable. We were very impressed with how clean everything was. The beach was beautiful. The food was out of this world. There was so much to choose from. Now the drinks..coco locas were the favorite among the women in our group. The staff was very funny and always had a friendly hello and bent over backwards to keep everyone happy!
The only complaints i would have is that the resort is very big and you can go to the other two restorts as well and there was no transportation around the grounds. We took our mom who is 72 and it was a bit much for walking.
The shows in the evening got a little boring after awhile. Oh yeah and the other complaint is that WE HAD TO COME BACK TO ONTARIO...TEARS TEARS.
I would recommend this resort to anyone and would even go back ourselves.
Romeo and Elaine Canada
Our trip was from the 10th to the 17th of this month, February 2007. What a wonderful experience. There are no negatives, except that we had to come back to Timmins, Ontario Canada and -30 below weather. But nothing could dampen our enthusiasm. The resort is absolutely beautiful with it's open air concept. The food was exceptional, the staff is wonderful, and the drinks were delicious. This year we celebrate our 40th anniversary and I didn't want it to go by without doing something special.
Well we were not disappointed. The rooms are immaculately kept. There was tons of hot water. The surrounding lush vegetation is unbelievable. We were in Paradise, and will always have wonderful memories. I would recommend the Riu Merengue to anyone. Everything is first class. Elaine and Romeo Bourgeois
We just returned from one week at the Riu Merengue. It was a great vacation - no complaints at all.
My husband and I travelled with our 3 children, ages 16 yrs, 14 yrs and 8 yrs - fun was had by all.
We chose the Riu Merengue on the advice of our travel agent, and we were very pleased with the resort.
We had to book two separate rooms because of the number in our family, and a week before our trip I emailed the Merengue to ask for adjoining rooms. Within hours I received a very nice reply indicating that they would do their best but could make no promises. When we checked in we were very pleased to be given two rooms located beside each other. Check-in was smooth - very pleasant and helpful desk staff. In fact, all of the staff that we encountered during our stay were very nice, always smiling - everyone seemed to enjoy their jobs, and it didn't matter who it was, be it the maid, the food servers, the animation team, the bartenders, the washroom attendants - everyone was great.
The rooms were spotless, and remained so throughout the week. The maids came by in the late afternoon, and we always had clean towels, etc. Everything worked perfectly in both rooms (e.g. hot water, great water pressure, air conditioning, fridge, etc.). We liked the towel sculptures that the maids left in the rooms each day.
The food selection at the restaurants was excellent and great quality. There was lots of variety, and nobody in our family had any problems in finding something to eat. We really liked the smoothies at breakfast. The service was fantastic - the servers were exceptional, very professional and very friendly.
The beach is very nice - lots of lounge chairs and spacious. There is a good variety of shady spots and sunny spots. We didn't spend any time at the pool as we preferred the beach. Also, we never had any problems getting beach towels (I understand that at some resorts there aren't enough towels to go around) or loungers.
The evening entertainment is very entertaining. The staff puts lots of effort and energy into the shows. Our youngest daughter really enjoyed the the kids minidisco every evening, which was then followed by the evening entertainment - lots of variety, and energy. The bars were always well-stocked, and the staff was very friendly.
Aside from hanging out at the beach and enjoying the evening entertainment we also took in some extra activities. My husband and kids used the resorts watersport activities (windsurfer, kayaks). We also took the Outback Jungle Safari (highly recommended - great staff conducting the tours), the freestyle catamaran/snorkelling, and the Puerto Plata city tour with trip to Sosua beach. Be ready for the vendors on the Sosua beach! The Outback Safari was our favourite (lots of variety and interesting - the kids really enjoyed the boogie boarding in the afternoon). The catamaran was fine - a number of people were seasick during the trip and I understand that this is not uncommon. The city tour was interesting and included a trip to the amber gallery/museum, Brugal rum factory, a fort and a nice lunch, and then some time at Sosua beach.
All in all, we would recommend the Riu Merengue - the resort is very clean, the staff is great, the food is fine. We had a great time.
We chose the Riu Merengue in Puerto Plata after a
recommendation from a relative who had been in 2003 and we flew from
Manchester in the UK.
When we first arrived at the hotel, we had a very
friendly welcome from reception with drinks while we were given our room
keys and pool cards.
However, when we found our room, although it was quite
close to the main facilities and the beach, there were a number of
problems with the bathroom - the light flickered, the sink had a massive
crack in it, the plug didn't keep water in the sink and worst of all,
once you flushed the toilet it kept on filling the cistern until you
gave it a double pump on the handle (and even then it didn't always
work). The fridge was also sticky and had hairs in it, but when we told
reception they didn't seem very enthusiastic about fixing it. Some
people came after about 4 hours to clean the fridge and look at the
bathroom, but the bathroom problems never stopped throughout our entire
stay. However, the main room was spacious, the beds were huge and the
air con was really lovely after the heat outside.
We found that the variety of food was excellent, the
breakfasts were particularly good with very yummy fresh fruit smoothies
and milkshakes - shame they weren't available all day long! There were
lots of different hot and cold meat and fish dishes although there
didn't seem to be much of a veggie option going. However, after cooking,
a lot of the meat and fish was placed in a warm dish with lots of butter
and salt which spoiled the taste a bit. The a la carte Steakhouse
restaurant was excellent - we both ordered the rib-eye steak and it was
cooked beautifully and the service was friendly and efficient, although
the Italian restaurant didn't seem very Italian - it had lasagne but the
rest of the menu was meats in heavy sauces.
We found the beach very disappointing as it is quite
narrow and so there is not much room for throwing a ball around, and
when you go into the sea there are lots of rocks and weeds in the water.
However, there were always plenty of sun loungers available and it was
immaculately clean with plenty of shade and sun.
We tried some of the watersports at the beach by the Riu
Bachata and I have to warn people about this as my leg still hurts now,
three weeks later! We had a go at the waterskiing, and my boyfriend who
is an experienced skiier used a monoski and got on well. I was a first
timer but found that the rubber footholes on the skis wouldn't go tight
enough for my feet, and so they hung open a bit in a v shape.
Consequently, when the boat started to pull me my feet were pulled apart
and I had to immediately drop the rope. One time I tried to hold on
regardless of this, to see if it would be easier to stop them being
pulled apart when I was a bit further up but my legs were pulled into
the splits and I had to limp out of the water. I was told that there
were no smaller skis and that everyone used these ones, even though they
obviously weren't made for size 4 feet! We also did canoeing and
parasailing (exhilarating, but terrifying too!) from there and they were
good fun, but we were a bit annoyed by the overalll attitude of the
staff there, and our rep said that the holiday co. had tried to speak
with them before about complaints from other guests, but they didn't
Immediately after our skiing effort, my boyfriend became
ill with sickness and diarrhoea - I was quite frightened by how sick he
was, but it only lasted a day although it took a few more days for him
to fully recover from the experience. We were also bitten by mosquitoes
quite a lot, even though we used insect repellent with DEET, so I'm glad
we decided to bother with malaria tablets in the end!
We went on five trips while we were there and all of
them we excellent:
Amazing - take suncream and prepare to get wet! We were
asked not to give sweets to the schoolkids as they don't have access to
items like toothbrushes or toothpaste, so instead we brought miniatures
of shampoos and bath foams, and some other people had brought paper and
pencils. It gives you an idea of what Dominican life is really like
though and the guide is well informed and good fun! We had our first
taste of Dominican food outside the complex on this trip and it was
simple but absolutely delicious!
Well run, clean and friendly and the pools are a good
size for the fish and dolphins which I was relieved about. Swimming with
dolphins was wonderful, a once in a lifetime experience and you have a
lifejacket when you're in the pools so even if you're not a great
swimmer you can do it! My boyfriend did the sealion encounter which was
really good fun and I did the shark and stingray encounter which was
terrifying but still a really amazing experience!
White water rafting
Great fun and hardly any paddling involved at all - the
guides are all a really good laugh and obviously thoroughly enjoy their
job! The only downside to this was that it was a 2.5hr coach drive each
way to get there - if it hadn't been so far away we agreed that we'd
have probably booked it again!
Take plenty of suncream as it is very exposed, but
lovely shallow snorkelling with very friendly fish, and a great speed
boat trip through a small mangrove afterwards.
Beautiful boat, lovely scenery but again take lots of
suncream as I did get burnt (although I didn't realise until the
evening) as I forgot to reapply straight after snorkelling. I
unfortunately felt quite seasick for most of the trip, but not many
other people seemed to be affected.
I don't think we'll be going back to the Domincan
Republic although I'd like to see some of the other Caribbean islands,
but I'm pretty confident I won't be using Riu hotels again. Although it
was advertised as a 5 star, I think by English standards the Riu
Merengue was really a 3 star. The award plaques in reception from
various holiday companies all seemed to stop at about 2003 which
probably about summed it up! The Riu Bachata had a much better pool but
looked more formal, and the Riu Mambo looked similar to the Merengue.
Paul and Ruth Ayr
September 6th first visit
Have just arrived back on the 28th of Sep from (supposedly) 14 night holiday at the riu merengue. Long story so I'll start at the beginning.
Flew from Glasgow with My Travel in their Premiair Gold seats. I don't know why but from Glasgow what is described in their brochure for Premiair Gold is nothing like what you get. Yes, the seats are leather and wide and you have your blanket and round neck pillow. Yes, you have your drinks, but as for the rest, Hello!!! Where is the choice of meals, the back seat t.v. I must stress that on this subject we were given laptop like t.v.s that sat on your table which when you had your meal was no room for and which when we hit a bit of turbulence sent my son's meal flying. £179 maybe a bit much for such an old plane I'll get back to that.
Riu Merengue Puerto Plata WOW. We were greeted by the manager J.J. and staff with a welcoming drink and given our keys, towel card and map. Our luggage was taken from us and we made our way to our, well you can't say room, so I will call them bungalows. It didn't take us long to find it as we were about fifth bungalow down from the main reception and we backed onto the beach.
We were not surprised at all by the cleanliness of the room and found the air conditioning (found in rooms and shops) one of the greatest pleasures to escape the intense heat and humidity.
Admittedly our first few nights were early ones. We found that most people flying from the East had trouble adjusting. The night time entertainment was to say the least poor. There is nothing for kids at night although some did enjoy the shows our nine year old son for one did not, even with the dancers bums hanging out. This however was what made up most of the entertainment at night. The Madonna Show was by far the best, (as long as you don't watch her lips too closely) We also found that some of the games played were a bit too adult for a family hotel, especially the Miss Bikini which was done during the day at the pool. It left the wife of the judge in tears as she watched her husband being lap danced and gyrated all over by these girls with bananas. This sort of thing should be kept to the disco at night where kids are not allowed. We had to keep averting our son's eyes and like a lot of parents were not at all happy.
The food at the hotel was fantastic especially the Steakhouse which has a set meal with a choice of main courses. Although you have a great selection in the main restaurant, my husband found it got a bit samey.
The swimming pool was small but we found it to be adequate for us as most people were either on the beach or on excursions, but be warned get your towels on those loungers fast, some people put towels down and then don't even use the lounger, very infuriating.
Unfortunately for us, or some may say lucky for us on one day there was no water in the toilets so the girls were using the water from the pool so the toilets could be flushed. However the level in the pool went down so far it stopped filtering and I caught an ear infection. I didn't think anything of this until coming back from an excursion when I jokingly said to the Thomson's rep the chances of a free week. 8 injections a bottle full of antibiotics and another week saw me nearly cured.
I'd also like to say that when the doc said I could fly in 2 days Nathaniel the other manager upgraded us into a suite. Oh My God!!!! Lets just say the ocean view is enough for us to be booking a suite on our return in 2 years time.
We did 3 excursions while we were there. Ocean World of course! 6 wheelers what a laugh be warned you need arms like Arni for it and the catamaran great for ending your hols.
So a big hello to J.J. and reception staff. Animacion team Chikki Monkey, Pikachu, Suzy, Pedro 69, Scooby Doo, Romeo Dicaprio, Super Max. Restaurant Staff, Alberto M.D. Miguel (our son), Andres best waiter, Melvin ( gonni no dae that)
We have said quite a lot of negative things but all in all one of the best holidays we have had, see you in 2008
I've just now discovered your website (word of mouth), and I have of course bookmarked it...
My wife and I visited Riu Merenge in January 2005.
We’ve been to the Puerto Plata area 3 times now, 1st in 2000 to the Grand Flamenco, in 2003 to Jack Tar and this year we went to the Riu Merengue (for 14 days). For this report we are comparing the Merengue to the other two resorts.
The Beach area
Riu Merengue has the best beach area by far. It is beautiful, with loads of shade from the trees and plenty of comfy loungers (you don’t have to worry about reserving a spot). The beach is shared with the other 2 Riu resorts, with Bachata (pronounced Ba- sha- ta) on the west of Merengue, and Mambo on the right. There are no other resorts in the area, so the entire beach is yours. The water is usually rough, so snorkelling is limited.
It is on the small side and you must put a towel on the lounger of your choice to get a good spot.
Numerous throughout the complex. Getting a drink was never a problem with terrific service. However, the alcohol content seemed very low in all their drinks. The wine quality was extremely poor at all bars and restaurants. As wine drinkers, this was a disappointment.
Very nice and well maintained by the staff. There is a free mini bar in each room that is kept well stocked with liquor, beer and bottled water. The in room safe is at no extra charge (unlike most other resorts). As well, we had complimentary umbrellas in case of a sudden shower.
They are beautiful and well maintained, with palms trees everywhere. Coconuts and bananas growing right outside your room.
It is huge with extremely friendly staff (the Dominicans are a happy people). The front desk staff handle the currency exchange as well.
This was a major disappointment (as compared with the 2 previous visits to the country). The 2 a la carte restaurants shared the same locale and they were discernible only by the tablecloths. The food was what I would only call 1-2 star at best. Both restaurants were never crowded as a result. The buffet would only rate 3 star. The restaurant at Merengue was extremely dark, even with all the lights on.
My wife was very sick for one entire day... and said it was the worst she has ever experienced. It took her another 3 days to fully recover. Other guests were also sick.
An interesting fact: The vast majority of the guests are from France, followed by Germany, with English speaking people a distant third.
We took one excursion, the Outback Jungle Safari . It was well worth it, and we really enjoyed it. I would take with you a large bag of candies (or buy it at the resort) to hand out to the children you will see on this trip.
A word of advice for anyone visiting the country from Canada, do not tip using Canadian coins, as they cannot exchange it. We learned that one fellow countryman tipped using Cdn Tire money, very embarrassing for the rest of us.
We had a good time, but because of the food, which is a major factor to us, we would not return to Riu Merengue.
As a side note, either my wife or myself have been ill at one point during all three visits to the D.R. This is obviously due to something in the food or drink. We are going to try a different island on future trips.
Mary and Ray USA
Third trip to the DR, but our first encounter with the RIU chain.
Flight & Transfer
American Airlines from JFK to MIA to POP. Unfortunately, no direct flights available at the time of our visit. No delays or problems were encountered. No 'charter' type restrictions on luggage as it is a regularly scheduled flight, so I was able to bring my Bodyboard as a regular checked item. Minimal waiting for Tourist Card and immigration- no 'photo op' station- BUT a free sample of Brugal as you arrive at Immigration! Usual chaos after Customs with porters clamoring for your bags to walk 20 ft. A firm yet polite "No Gracias" took care of that. No more than a 5 minute wait for the shuttle to leave. Unfortunately, since the government is spending $300,000,000 on road improvements, the trip to the Hotel is, to say the least, an adventure. I hope that some of that money goes towards Driver Education. And on top of the road situation, A Political Rally in the heart of Puerto Plata kept us off the main roads, so a first time visitor may not have been very impressed with the scenery in those parts of town.
Lobby area is clean and airy, though not quite as spectacular as the Bachata next door.
Checking in was an efficient, friendly and swift affair- a few words from the Deskman and our Room Keys, safe keys and Towel cards were in our hands. Porter took us all to our rooms or pointed us in the direction and arrived a few minutes later with our bags. Our room (1511/Ground Floor) was reasonably close to everything and quiet. A nice combination. Grounds were well kept as might be expected with so many 'Green Shirts' (as I call them) toiling away at various duties. Just keep a lookout for those little nuts that seem to fall out of the trees with amazing accuracy. Room itself is a basic Hotel room. Nothing fancy, but that's not what we were looking for. No worse or better than a Holiday Inn or Comfort Inn. No Facecloth the first day, but plenty after. I think it was used in the Towel Sculpture and my wife didn't want to ruin it. Serviceable shower and Lav with a Hair Dryer. Mini-Bar and fridge fully stocked: Rum, Brandy, Gin and Vodka in dispensing racks- Beer, Pepsi (reg & diet), Tonic water and purified water in the fridge.
No problems here. Food was good, with some of it outstanding, and the buffet selection was adequate for the amount of time we were there. For a 2 week stay, it may have become a bit repetitive. We didn't get a chance to sample the a la carte restaurants since we didn't feel like getting up from our Beach duty and waiting on line for a half hour to make a reservation. But we didn't hear any complaints about those, either. Mary said the vegetables, salads and fruits were probably the best of all of the resorts so far. Obviously, the climate and the fast growing plants make for sweeter fruit and veggies. Snack Bar fair was okay- nothing spectacular, but it was convenient and fast. Main Buffet for lunch was a bit heavy for a midday meal, but it was as good a the dinner. Which made sense since it was basically the same type of menu. Intestinal issues? NONE. Not a single moment of discomfort other than eating too much of that dreamy Chocolate Mousse cake... with three scoops of ice cream... 2 helpings...
Pool is surprisingly small- smallest of the three in the complex. A bit loud during the activity sessions, but most people didn't seem to mind. Water level was a bit low on arrival so I advised Mary not to go under or spend too much time in the pool until they took care of the level. For the rest of the week, water level was high enough and the skimmers were working properly. Definitely not a barefooters type of pool area. By 11am or so, the stonework made for some interesting footwork trying to find a wet spot or a shady spot to cool off the tootsies. Most loungers spoken for by 8 or 9 am, but at least 90% of them were actually being used by someone shortly afterwards. Since this was an off-peak time, there seemed to be a lounger available somewhere through most of the day. I could see how this would be a problem during busy weeks.
Stunning location. During the crisp morning air before the humidity and wind kicked in, the views from Bachata's gazebo were spectacular. The color of the water and the views of Bahia Maimon are hard to describe. At the Merengue, plenty of shade Palms and other trees to help cool things down. Seaweed did not seem to be an issue, and the sand is a courser variety than the Punta Cana area. During our week the NE trade winds really kicked the first few days at about 11am and became almost annoying due to the sand blowing across the beach. Again, no real trouble getting a lounger at any point during the day, but prime spots were usually taken by 8 or 9am. Waves were mostly non-existent so it made for excellent swimming just off the beach. I found ridable (barely) waves just off the Gazebo point for a few hours on Tuesday as the Trade Swell broke on the reef there. But beware, it's very shallow in spots and very sharp (still have the scar). It is not a place to swim or snorkel- a fairly strong current and no easy path in or out. I paddled down from the Merengue through the gap in the reef and drifted along with the current til I arrived. Paddling back took over a half hour of solid effort against the wind and current along with picking my way through the deeper reef passes. Thursday and Friday the wind eased off a bit and changed direction which made for a bit more humid conditions.
As I found at the other resorts we've stayed at, 95% of the staff- maids, reception, animacion, wait staff and bar folks were friendly, eager to please and a lot of fun to 'attempt' a conversation. Although I imagine that the staff would appear to be the same during Peak travel times like Easter Week, I sensed they much more enjoyed a resort that was about %60 capacity. The other 5% were non-committal at best, and mostly involved the "Green Shirts". The maintenance guys didn't seem quite so friendly and receptive to our attention. Most avoided eye-contact or just ignored you. Maybe because they usually start so early and I was usually up and out before 7, I saw them more than most people and had more 'lack of contact'.
Shows were okay, no real BOFFO Extravaganzas, but some fun stuff and a way to kill an hour or so in the evenings. The Staff do try and it's amazing that they can go all day and all night. One word of advice- don't sit too close, the sound system makes it almost impossible to understand the MC in ANY language. Sit out on the Plaza next to the Plaza Bar or even on the stage side of the Bar itself and enjoy the show from there.
Although forecasts predicted showers through the week, Only Thursday afternoon was there any rain. It rained hard for about 10 minutes and drizzled a bit for an about an hour total around 4 in the afternoon. Too bad that was when they start to set up for the Caribbean Street Fair, so that was cancelled- that's the third time at the various resorts we've missed that due to weather issues!
The rest of the week was Sunny, warm and breezy with patchy clouds moving through during the later parts of the day giving some relief from the sun.
We were looking for a bargain vacation after a miserable winter and found this offer through Apple. Did some research on this site and others about the RIU chain and made our decision to give it a try. We'd never been to the North Coast so I figured let's give it a shot. We were very impressed with the Resort, location, staff and the RIU way of presentation and would recommend them to anyone. It didn't match up with 'Secrets' but we didn't expect it too at that price level. However- there were a few issues that I would like to address.
- The town of Puerto Plata as a destination. I'd have to give that a miss. From the various trips and excursions through the town (and around it) I didn't find a lot of things that would be any real draw for me. Being spotted as a tourist within about two seconds and marked for relentless 'you like?', '2 dolla', etc... was a bit much, and that was while I was still in the Van! I would have liked to have just been able to take a taxi and visit the Cathedral and the surrounding area without the hassle.
- And maybe someone can come up with a way to keep the Salt shakers from turning into solid blocks of salt by 1pm. Every night was the same scenario, every few minutes a drum solo while someone banged the shaker on the table to break up the lump of salt in the shaker. We figured it's easier to pull the plug out the bottom and put some on a small plate, separate the rice and pinch what we want.
- Now we come to the most serious: Can't ANYONE design a little teapot that actually pours INTO the cup?!!!! Every time it would dribble down under the spout and usually onto the floor... which happened to be where my feet where! In SANDALS. Boiling hot water on the top of my feet isn't my idea of paradise in the Tropics.
Would I go back? Definitely! Would I go back to the Merengue for the next trip? Probably not. I think I would definitely try a different RIU at another destination first, before going back to the DR. And if we went back to the DR, we might try the RIU Palace instead. We had a great time and met some wonderful folks who I hope enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed theirs. Hopefully the roads will be fixed by then! We have enjoyed every trip to the DR so far and we constantly try and tell people to give it a try. But I'm kind of glad they go to the more 'known' destinations like Cancun or the Bahamas, since they may tell 2 people, and they'll tell two people. Before you know it the place is crawling with American tourists! So hows about we keep the DR our little secret, huh?
Well, that’s it- Thanks to you for the site, it was a great help in all three of our visits to the DR
Lovely hotel, lovely friendly staff. Wonderful snorkelling trips. However my son became very ill with sickness, fever and diahorreah and spent two days on an IV drip. The hotel doctor was excellent and so was the nurse who helped us, and the IV was set up in the hotel room. However the extent of his illness was quite scarey. The hotel tried their best to deal with cleanliness - antibacterial cleansers after leaving the lavatories and before entering the restaurants was provided. I was also under the impression that some other people in the hotel were suffering from similar symptoms. Upon our return home my husband developed severe sickness and diahorreah and has been given treatment by his doctor for tropical amoeba.
The Whiteheads York
I travelled to the Riu Merengue with my family at Easter this year 2006 we all had the best holiday ever my two daughters were really impressed as was my husband and myself. The two sister hotels were just as good which we could use at no extra cost. All the hotels were directly on the beach which was lovely with plenty of free sunbeds, it was a private beach only the guests from the hotels could use it.The cleanliness and friendliness was excellent the staff could not do enough for you.The all inclusive included a free mini bar in the room which was topped up every two days with water, beer, mixers, coke, and 4 different litre bottles of spirits. We have been on many good A/I holidays but never had a free mini bar especially one so good.The bars were open 24 hours when one closed another opened. The entertainment was good during the day and night, staff tried to get guests involved using a very friendly manner. The food was fantastic many dishes were cooked fresh in the restaurant, hand cleanser was given on entering every single mealtime also whenever we left the washrooms, even round the pool. The pool toilets were equivalent to those found in any top class hotel staff were constantly cleaning in every area. The rooms were very spacious all the furniture was good quality wicker , really different. We would really like to return to this hotel but next time for two weeks.
Elizabeth Gravenhurst, Ontario
I travelled with a group of nine to this resort the week of April 17-24th. We had a great time. The resort is extremely clean compared to other all inclusives I have stayed at. The public washrooms are constantly staffed and cleaned with hand sanitizer given out at the entrances and also at the restaurants.
The food was amazing. Never have enjoyed a buffet as much. Lots of variety, well prepared with few repeats and the wait staff was lovely. They helped us celebrate my friend's birthday with a lovely decorated table and cake at no extra charge to us.
Our room was lovely, on the second floor which made me feel like I was up in the trees when I sat out on the balcony. The maid did a great job and I tipped her well, she deserved it.
My daughter and her four friends ranged in age from 8-15 and they all found lots to do. The water sport area is great because it is in a fairly calm bay with lots of spots to explore in the kayaks.
We went to Puerto Plata and hired an amazing cab driver named DIMA!! Please ask for him at the front desk. He is the kind, honest and eager to please. He speaks excellent english and gave us alot of history about the area. He is very proud of his country and wants more people to come and visit. He also took us to Sousua for the day. It is a lovely beach with big waves, not suitable for non-swimmers. There is a big market there for shopping, lots of stuff to buy if you want. Making the effort to leave the resort was a good experience for our kids. For them to see how other people live and how fortunate we are is important.
Do not rent a scooter or car on your own. Driving is crazy with few traffic signals or police to handle flow. There is construction in downtown Puerto Plata which creates some traffic jams etc.
Lastly, I must tell you about the animation team. Scooby Doo immediately befriended our kids and us!! He and Pedro 69 made sure the kids all got up to dance and had fun every night. Those guys worked at least 12 hours a day and always had a smile for you. Lots of effort to make it fun for everyone.
I would definitely recommend this resort.
Please tip if you can. We have so much and the Dominican people work so hard to make sure you enjoy your holiday.
Donna Toronto, Ontario
We went to Riu Mergengue from march 21 to the 28, it was wonderful, we were there in 1998 and not disapointed at all, the resort is very clean and the staff are all happy and friendly everyday. The food was good and the steak house had wonderful lamb chops. i went with my 75 year old mother and she also loved the resort. Everyday I was the first at the pool, and I would go get fruit and juice and have breakfast by the pool, the pool boys were always friendly and laughing and having fun with each other. The internet room was frustrating, as sometimes the computer's were too slow or did' nt work. I have been to Dom Rep 9 times and this by far was the cleanest resort I have been to. I totally recommend this resort.The animation team were all friendly, not just with the young girls , as I have seen at other resorts they were friendly with everyone. Scobbie Do/Chocolate/pedro 69 were all lovely funny people, There was a caribean street party and I loved it the best.Take a trip to riu merengue You will love it and there is NO illness.
Bev and John St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
My husband and I have just returned from our 3rd trip to the Riu Merengue in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. We chose March, because the rainy season is over and you are always assured of a sun filled vacation.
We were once again impressed by the cleanliness of the entire resort and the friendliness of all the staff. The food was very good and the extra effort to control any spread of germs they have positioned attendants at the dining entrance as well as outside the washroom doors.
We had no problems whatsoever, nor did we see anyone else having any problems with sickness.
The entertainment although provided local talent, was very entertaining and enjoyable daily.
For the past three visits we have always used the same taxi driver because of his vast experience, excellent english and knowledge of Puerto Plata. Although he works out of the 3 Riu Resorts (you simply have to ask the front desk to contact him) if you are staying at the Mambo, Merengue, or Bachatta, you can also contact him directly if you are staying at another resort. His name is Pablo Sanchez and his cell number is (809) 844-9093. Anyone who uses his services whether it be a simple ride into town or a complete tour of Puerto Plata, Sochua beach, or other surronding areas are never disappointed.
We are already looking forward to a return trip next year!
Ron & Theresa Mahtowa, Minnesota
We just got back from our honeymoon,20yrs late,at the Riu Merengue,Feb24 to Mar3. This was the greatest vacation ever! The staff bend over backwards to make guests happy! I have never met a more kinder people then the Dominicans.We are going back next year for two weeks,I asked my wife to marry me,again,she said yes! The Riu 3 resort system works great! We ate and drank at all 3,some of our group enjoyed all the pools. I recomend the Riu to all who want to enjoy great food,drinks,and various cultures-German,French,English,Italian,and many others.Everything from the grounds to the rooms,the food abound to both alcohol and non-alcohol drinks,tons of fun things to do for adults and children!Thanks to all the staff at the Riu Merengue,we cant wait till next year! We give the resort a 10+ rating!
Glen and Julie Windsor, Ontario, Canada
We went to the Riu Merengue from Feb. 17th -24th. We had 14 people in our group since it was my friends wedding.First of all after reading some reviews I was getting scared since we have never been south of Florida and all I have to say that the Riu Merengue and our trip to the Dominican was the best trip we ever had. I am a clean freak and hate dirt or bugs and I have to say that first our room was very nice and clean . One problem was the beds and pillows are hard, that is yhe only complaint which is no big thing . The food at the buffets were plentiful and there were different foods to chose from. I suggest to eat always at the buffets since the food was really good and if you like different meats you can get that there.
The people that run and work at the resort were unbelieveable. I cannot express in words how friendly and hard working then the people we met , from the maids , gardeners, washroom attendants, bartenders and all the people that put on the shows. I will try to go again next year to the Merengue since there was more to see and do and we felt confortable. We did the horse back riding by the Riu Bachatta and that was $30 for 2and a half great hours. What a deal ,they ran us up the ocean beach then into the hills and met some very friendly people in the hills. I brought some bats and baseball equipment for the kids and they were very happy. As for the smokers and since I hate smoking there was less then I expected (thank god). Sure there was some on the beaches and it semm mostly people liked to smoke by the lobby for some reason. So that was not as big as a problem that I expected. Shout outs go to Cheeky Monkey , Santiago the beach bartender , Luis and the many more friends we met that works there.
The disco was packed and the average age was about 23 but for the 1 night we went we did have a good time. Plenty of beach volleyball to go around. Also 6 of our people did the Paradise Island trip and every one gave this trip a 10. Damn and I missed it.
I can't express how much fun all 14 of us had and I personally did not get bit on the beach by sand flees nor did I see any roaches in our room , and trust me I looked since I HATE roaches. So I give the trip a 10, Food a 10, Beaches 10 , Rooms 9, friendliness a 10, drinks 8 ( don't drink too much sweet drinks , they will hit you all at once ) I found a little mixture was good, also out of 14 people NO ONE got sick and with my weak stomach I thought forsure I would get sick but I thought I felt better that week then any other time.
Thanks again RIU MERENGUE we will be back , I hope next year.
Chris and Al Pennsylvania
Chris and Al made their 52nd trip to the Caribbean/Mexican travel realm for nine days in January (8-16). We stayed at the Riu Merengue and had a great time. In January, 2005 we stayed at the Mambo. Unlike last year this trip uncovered no evidence of the gastrointestinal problem which seemed omnipresent in '05.
The food was about as good as buffet fare can be and had a wide variety that could appeal to the heterogeneous group of tourists. Service was excellent. While we understand that it is alien to some cultures, we STRONGLY recommend modest tipping. (Some tourists don't seem to get the concept that when the hotel pays the staff they work for the hotel. When you pay the staff they work for you.) Minimal gratuities and learning a few Spanish phrases will endear you to the wonderful people who will be working with you.
There are guests from many cultures at the hotel(s). We partied with people from France, Canada (English, French, and Italian Canadians), Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Great Britain, and a few Americans. There were also many Germans present. This diversity is a strong part of the charm of the Rius.
We especially enjoyed the La Plaza Bar and its excellent staff. Try a Mojito or twenty!
There was no problem getting beach and pool chairs at any time.
The room was comfortable and had all the necessary amenities. The bed was firm and the air conditioning just right. The maids did a thorough job.
We continued to be amazed at the energy and good spirits of the animation staff who kept the place upbeat from morning to night.
We will definitely be back this summer!
Bob and Joy Canada
This report is written by a person who has spent many years in the Hospitality industry including owning a motel.
This report is on the RIU HOTELS. There are three hotels Located in this complex. The MERENGUE MAMBO AND BACHATA.
MY wife and I have stayed at the fiest two.
If you want a holiday with no surprises Then these hotels are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The food is top class and there is a large variety to choose from.
The rooms are VERY CLEAN and the beds are VERY COMFORTABLE. There's lots to do so you can either rest or play.
The pools are clean if you prefer to use them. The beach is also very clean and you can just relax in your lounge chair and soak up the sun.
If you prefer to take part thre is BOCCI BALL, WATER SPORTS. DARTS, VOLLEYBALL, HORSESHOES, Bingo and more.The staff are the greatest and are always happy to help you.
We were over Christmas and New Years.
IT WAS FANTASTIC!!
IF you happen to go there by SUNQUEST look forward to meeting their Reps. We have always had a lady by the name of LEIDA who is a great person and bends over to help you.
GET READY FOLKS FOR A DREAM HOLIDAY At "THE RIU TRIO"!!
We (Americans) visited Riu Merengue in December 2005 between Chirstmas and New Year's. Overall this was very nice resort. We would say it was not really a 5-star resort as advertised, however it is a very solid 4-star. It just was not quite as super nice overall as the Iberostar in Punta Cana in terms of the facilities, food, pool, beach, swimming, etc.
That said, the Riu is a very, very nice resort and they do a very good job with everything. People are very friendly. Food is very good and plentiful, with lots of choices every day. With Riu being a Spain based company, there was a bit of that tendency towards with the food, as often you would see an unbelievably impressive cauldron of paella. But there were lots of other options, too, including tropical dishes like fried plantain. As has been typical of other resorts we have stayed at in the Caribbean or Mexico, several of the dishes are usually labeled as beef, pork, fish, etc. and you can't really tell what it is specifically, but most always they are quite tasty. (Unless you are fluent in Spanish with a lot of vocabulary, it doesn't really to pay to ask either, whether in English or tourist attempted Spanish, because you will get a response from the chefs in Spanish using detailed Spanish gastronomical terms you never heard of anyway!) The only recognizable American-type foods for die-hards are burgers and fries, but the burgers are pretty weird tasting.
There were reports on the Internet of gastrointestinal problems at the Riu resorts, mostly earlier in 2005 but also some late in the year. We did not have any problems and did not see anyone else complaining either. Intensive sanitation efforts are in place with staff posted at each public bathroom door and at the dining room entrance with hand sanitizers. One should not be thrown by this -- the resort should be commended for these efforts rather than hiding a problem that might continue if not attacked. Clearly they have targeted hand washing as the number one priority and as a guest you appreciate them pressing the issue with all the other guests! Again, we had no problems at all. Tap water is not potable but all served water and ice is and bottled water is provided free in the rooms.
With the all-inclusive, you can have all the drinks you want but they are pretty stingy on alcohol in the mixed drinks - asking for "extra alcohol" would of course be rather awkward, so this may be by design. Not a problem for us but for certain people this could be quite a bug over the course of a week. Of course you can have as many as you want (though how many pina coladas can a person drink in one sitting?) and the beer is not diluted... Flip side, there are dispensing bottles of four free liquors in each room plus free bottles of beer and mixers in the refrigerator.
The rooms were nice, generally set up in bungalows of four-up and four-down. The rooms were nice if a bit plain (fairly typical) and were mostly but not entirely quiet vs. neighbors. Like many resorts, noisy people walking between buildings, in halls can be expected (not really people being overly loud but just voices echoing around the bare stone walls and floors). Each room has a small balcony or patio, although in truth you might as well sit by the pool or on the beach! The pool is decent but small and not very deep. Surely a plus for families with younger children who would prefer to play all day in the pool. The beach area was very nice and -- a big plus over other resorts -- for the first I can remember, there actually WERE enough beach chairs to go around even if you sleep late. The beach area is particularly nice if you like to sit in the shade and read (big hit on our trip) as there are many palm trees along the beach and lots of room in the shade. There was plenty of sunning room too, although being on the north side of the island the sun did not stay long in the afternoon and sunsets were not to be seen there. There are waves to enjoy but not large, divable ones if that's what you are looking for. Not much as far as snorkeling at the resort beach - requires a side trip. Visitors with children should be aware you will encounter plenty of topless by the pool and on the beach, although by far the majority were not, so Americans will not feel out of place. On that note, the vast majority of guests were European not American, which is a plus, except that Europeans still love to smoke. There are smoke-free dining areas but outside smoking is pretty rampant, though that is offset by a constant tropical breeze.
The Merengue is one of three Riu resorts all in a row in this area and guests can walk among the various resorts and swim or dine at any of them. They do ask that you eat dinner at your home resort, but I doubt they have any way to enforce it as they do not use wrist bands or anything else for ID (everyone in this area is a guest at a Riu resort). We never saw the need to eat anywhere else, which probably says something. We did stop at others for drinks whenever thirsty. It looked like the three resorts were all about the same in terms of facilities, but they had different pools with different features -- you can take your pick. Riu Bachata has a nice swim-up bar. There is a small shopping area within the resort area with beach essentials and some local art, etc., and surprisingly prices were actually quite reasonable.
There are activities all day and night long that you can join or pass. Those include kids activity center with lots going on, Merengue lessons, seemingly non-stop beach volleyball, water basketball, horse shoes, table tennis, etc. Each night there is entertainment in the "club." This was a bit heavy on Caribbean dance programs, however they really do a nice job and bring in various entertainers both musical and dance. One night they had a street festival on "Caribbean Street" (between two resorts) that was quite outstanding in terms of dance talent. At one of the other Riu resorts, there is a disco that runs every night roughly 10 p.m.- 2 a.m., open to all three resorts' guests. This is for the young crowd, however, as it is VERY loud and VERY smoky. Anyone over 30 may feel out of place. Fortunately, the disco is set apart from the rooms and pretty well self-contained as far as noise level.
At resort activities and events, most information will be repeated in English, Spanish, French and German. All the key staff speak English (front desk, restaurant managers, activities people) so you don't need to know Spanish, however the rest of the staff (cleaning, maintenance, chefs, etc.) generally speak Spanish and no English. As always, people appreciate if you at least learn some basic expressions in Spanish. Everyone is friendly and helpful -- of course, they all work for the resorts. They have endless numbers of employees constantly cleaning, picking up, manicuring, cooking, etc. -- not clear how they could possibly pay for all of them and make a profit, but apparently they do, which makes you worry a bit about how much they are paying their staff. Side note - surprisingly, Christmas did not seem that big a deal here -- the resorts were fully operational and staffed all day just like every other work day unlike other resorts that go to reduced schedule.
There are two areas where reservations can be a hassle. The first is the restaurant (ordering from menu and made to order which is very nice). They will tell you that you can make reservations between 7 and 10, but in truth if you are not there at 7 (not 7:15) you probably will not get a reservation. Seating is limited and apparently large family groups swoop in and take 10-20 seats and fill it up. Out of three tries (7:15, 8:00 and 8:30) we only got reservations once and it was at one of the later times and only by convincing the restaurant manager to add us to an already full list (thank you!).
The other area is water sports. Again, they will tell you that you don't need reservations but for example, the sail boats were booked almost all the time. You need 1-2 days advance reservation, and if you don't figure this out for a couple of days, your choices for the week will be limited. You can call in reservations from your room or front desk, which is good because the water sports are not at Merengue but down the beach at Riu Bachata. Down the beach means a good 10 minute walk - not bad but a bit of a surprise at first and disappointing if nothing is available. If you really want to do water sports, you should pick Riu Bachata because you'd be closer and would have a better shot at walk-up availability without "wasting" 1/2 hr. (still a nice walk down a lovely beach, of course).
We did not do any side trips except to Mt. Isabel de Torres which is an inexpensive tram car ride to the top for a great overview of Puerto Plata and the ocean, plus a tropical garden park to walk through. Locals will try to convince you to hire them as a tour guide, but you don't need help. There are several side trips available, as always, including tours off into the country mountains, snorkeling/island trips and visits to the local rum factory and cigar makers.
So overall, this really was a very nice trip and any of the three Riu resorts would make for fine vacations in the sun. If we go back to DR, we would probably go back to Punta Cana depending on cost and availability because the Iberostar resorts were a step up from Riu, but still this was a very pleasant resort.
Leah, 16 England
I visited this hotel in November 2004, along with 9 other members of my family.
We were out in the Dominican Republic for my brothers wedding and i would definetly recommened this hotel for those who are wishing to ge married in the Carribean.
On the morning of the wedding, we were greeted by the rep, and taken down to the small marquee where the wedding took place. A spanish ceremony, translated into english is not what i would have thought of a wedding but this was what happened, making it even more relaxed. After the wedding we were taken around the hotel and hat photos taken. The photographer was so relaxed and allowed us to stop in the bar for a few drinks.
The holiday overall was amazing and i would defintley want to go back.
We didnt seem to have much luck with the weather as it rained for 10 out of the 14 days, however, we still managed to come back with a good suntan. Being Brits, we felt a bit of rain wouldnt hurt as and we sat out in the rain on the beach with an umbrella up!!!
There was always a huge selection in the resturant, and anyone who says that there was nothing there they liked must just be fussy, as there are always around 60 different dishes to choose from.
Whilst in the Dominican, we went on three trips, paradise island, ocean world, and the jeep safari.
I would definetley recommened going to ocean world, and swimming with dolphin. I was treated to this by my parents as a late birthday present and its a present i'll never forget!! Paradise Island was also a good trip. However when you leave the island, you are taken to a beach and it is full of insects, who bite you. Me and my dad were both covered in small bites all over our backs and legs, and some scars are stilll visible now! The jeep safari is also a must. Remember to take pens and pencils for the children as you get to visit a typical Dominican school, as well as a house.
The staff in the hotel are so friendly and always want to talk to you. Look out for mosquito, a member of the animation team who is so friendly and always wants to tlak to you and have a joke!!!The animation team try their hardest in the evening and sometimes it was bad, but they tried which made it funny!! The team also try to be friendly to you, and we heard from another guess that the watch eastenders and coronation street to pick up some of our english phrases! and they wa they come out with some stuff is so funny!!
This was a fab holiday, however there was a bad bug going round the hotel at the time we stayed and 3 of us cam down ill. One even ended up in hospital on a drip. When we came home, we found out by reading in the paper that the hotel was then closed and a major clean up took place.
The hotel was never unclean, so dont let what you read in the paper out you off. The bug was probably from one tourist, who spreaded it to others.
Definetly recommened this hotel as its amazing, 10/10!! And its brilliant for weddings to!!
Andrea & Stuart Clarkson Notts, UK
We visited the Merengue 3 years ago and enjoyed the trip so much that we decided to return this year and have been looking forward to the visit since booking with First Choice 12 months ago. Although we had a relaxing holiday on this trip to the Merengue, we feel that all is not well at the resorts at the moment and do not intend to return.
Flight & Transfer
First Choice – Star Class Premium. Definitely worth the price of the upgrade!! The crew couldn’t be more attentive, the in-flight entertainment excellent (including noise-reduction headphones), the food was better than the usual aircraft fare. Our last visit was with Thomas Cook and the flight upgrade with FCA is far superior to that offered on TCA. The transfer was, as always, an experience!! Dominican driving is unrivalled and very entertaining in our opinion!!
After being moved from one room to another on arrival (due to an occasional lack of mobility on my behalf), we were allocated a room close to Caribbean Street. We had e-mailed ahead requesting a room close to reception for the above reason but appreciate this is not always possible at busier time so were not too worried by this – I brought enough prescription painkillers for a trip twice as long.
The room (1634) smelled damp & musty but being typical Brits, and as we had already been moved once, we did not feel comfortable asking to be moved again. This turned out to be a mistake. The room was very damp, on occasions to the degree that the room (and particularly the bed and bedding) smelled like ‘pee’. We had taken a linen spray with us and mistakenly assumed that this would deal with the problem. By the end of the 1st week all of our clothes and own towels smelled musty (in fact, when we came to pack, one of our suitcases had started going mouldy and everything became so damp that when our luggage was weighed and checked in at the airport it actually weighed more than when we arrived despite having used up all the weighty toiletries we brought and given the maid the gifts we had brought). Other couples complained to the First Choice Rep about the hotel and had similar problems with damp. We also, on 2 occasions had to remove cockroaches from our room on this visit, a problem that we did not encounter on our first visit to the hotel. To cap it all off – the day before we left the air conditioning unit decided to deposit a couple of litres of water in the hallway. To play devils advocate – The cockroaches could have been driven inside by the rain and the heavy rain no doubt contributed to the dampness of the room. The maid did a sterling job and her level best to conceal the odour with air freshener when she cleaned the room. She also created beautiful displays with the towels every day.
The main restaurant seemed to be having trouble keeping up with the number of guests at breakfast. There always seemed to be a shortage of cleared/set tables to sit at for breakfast and on a number of occasions there were no clean glasses available to get a drink. On a more humorous note, I managed to throw a forkful of rice at hubby one evening when a ‘giant cricket’ landed on my arm during our evening meal and gave me quite a shock (as well as the lady on the next table when it chose her as it’s next victim…). Our waiter, Lizandro, was always very attentive, making sure our wine and water glasses were filled before we sat down and was apologetic when we came to dinner one evening to find someone had already eaten at our table. Some of our ‘european cousins’ seemed to find the concept of queuing alien to them and would barge in front of everyone else who were waiting patiently.
We also have to agree with a previous review about the Merengue pool. Out of 14 days on resort, the water reached the level of the filters on only 3 days (despite having rain for 5 days of the holiday which you would think would have helped the pool level) which meant that the water had an almost constant greasy film on the surface and LOTS of dead bugs of various sizes.
The staff are working non-stop to prevent a recurrence of the viruses/problems of last winter and there are hygiene staff at the loos and entrances to the restaurant with hand cleansing gel (which a number of guests were refusing - ?) and the resort always appears spotless. The animacion team, as ever, are tireless in their efforts. They were constantly on the go, but equally understanding of guests who just wanted to laze around and watch proceedings from a distance. (The ab-crunches on the side of the pool during aerobics are agonising – trust me)!!
Ocean World Adventure Park
We pre-booked an excursion to Ocean World and loved every minute of the day. The Dolphin Swim is well worth the cost - $290 for 2 people (beware – when they do the dorsal tow – hubby thought they had dislocated his shoulder because they kick off with such power. Hubby is a biker and said the acceleration is amazing), the tigers absolutely gorgeous and the sea lion show very entertaining!! The buffet is varied and although the drinks are fairly expensive, the souvenirs seem reasonably priced. Be prepared to want all the photo’s and the video too!! While wandering near the ‘Dolphin Encounter’ pool in the afternoon, we had what felt like our own private 20-30 minute encounter with 3 dolphins who seemed in a playful mood and one of them was even ‘talking’ to us. (For anyone interested – the far corner of the sheltered area by the Encounter pool – everyone else was watching the trainers and dolphins interacting in the other pools so we were on our own).
Please don’t think that the weather itself put a general downer on the holiday. We were more than happy to relax in our room and watch a film in the afternoon if the rain was relentless. When the pool filters were able to work, we were also happy to spend time in the pool – rain or shine, after all when you’re in the pool what harm can rain do….. We also got to snorkel off the beach a couple of times once the wind had dropped and the ocean was calm enough. We went away to relax and we managed to get plenty of rest and recharge our batteries which is much appreciated.
Visited this resort from Nov. 28th to Dec. 12th, 2005. We stayed at the Merengue but spent our days at the pool at the Bachata. The reason was more room around the pool, and less sun restriction. As well, it was a much larger pool area.
Overall we had a great two week holiday. We ate at the buffet everyday, and didn't bother with the restaurants, as the buffet selection was excellent, and the food very good. The weather was great, a little rain a couple of days, nothing serious. The staff was exceptional, the rooms clean with a well stocked mini bar.
As far a sickness, some people had some complaints. I myself was a little loose for a couple of days, but that was my own fault, as I like Pina Colata's and over did it one day. They are like a laxative and include Banana Mama's and the like. My wife never had any problems. During the second week of the stay the staff were offering hand disinfectant on entering the restaurants or exiting the wash rooms. They were doing everything in their power to keep areas clean and germ free.
The biggest problem I see at these resorts are the people. They will touch several plates before picking one up and will take items like bread, and the like, without using the tongs.
On the washroom side, some people are just pigs and have no respect for who will be coming in next. I strongly feel that the majority of the sickness problems is caused by the visitors themselves.
Another area to watch on visiting any of these countries is, take it easy on the fruit and juices. They are extremly fresh and can also cause you to get loose if you over do it. Try not to overeat the first couple of days and try to stick to what you would eat at home.
I have been to the Dominican 16 times now and can say that I have never had a bad holiday there. Some were better then others, weather wise, but overall I have had good l luck on this island. I will be going back again.
Chip & Dee Ontario Canada
Cleanliness is next to Godliness!
We just got back from a 2 week vacation (Nov 21-Dec 5)at Riu Meringue (our 5th trip there) Had a great time as usual. Didn't go last year due to illness reported at the resorts Bachata ,Meringue,& Mambo. This trip was spectacular (minus 4 rain days) entertainment excellent as usual, the food was better then ever and overall the resort condition is truly 5 star!
Our concern is however, during the last three days of our stay, staff showed up at the washrooms with hand disinfectant & insisted on its use after leaving the washrooms. The washrooms, men's & ladies were constantly being cleaned day & night
My comment is at this time is in support of the Riu staff & their extraordinary effort to stave off another possible virus outbreak! These virus or bacterial infections are as a result of us the visitors to their country. Lets clean up our act (especially in the bathrooms)& help the Riu hotels "best the bacteria" They do more than their share lets do ours.
I returned from the Riu Merengue this morning after a 2 week stay from late november to early december. Let me start by saying, what you are about to read is by no means an attack on the resort, as ive seen people responding with some hostility to bad reviews that have been submitted. All 3 of the Riu resorts (Mambo, Merengue and Bachatta) are nice. All seem to have different plus points. We were staying at the Merengue and found the resort very pleasant. When we arrived our allocated room smelt damp, i happened to mention this at reception and our room was immediately changed to a top floor room, which was much better. Overall we could not fault the staff or the level of service we experienced, especially Freddy Lopez, who worked tirelesly to make sure we had everything we needed The hotel in general way very clean and the rooms spotless However.....
Unfortunately it does seem that the dreaded "Riu Flu" has returned. Not quite to the extent detailed by some reviewers earlier in the year, but it struck both me and my fiance down at different times during the holiday. I contracted the bug on the third day which lead to severe vommiting etc through the course of the night. The days that followed we left with a definate edge with the stomach issues persisting throughout the holiday and i am far from 100% now, rest assured i will be visiting my doctor first thing tomorrow. My Fiance caught the bug a couple of days before leaving with similiar symptoms to me. Throughout the course of the holiday everyone we spoke to had experienced the bug to some degree or other. I heard the stories that people were blaming hangovers for illnesses but i didnt touch a drop throughout the trip so i know its not that. Noone seemed to know the cause of the problem but i suspect the swimming pools may have something to do with it.
With reference to the review The Sulley, Piercy and Meade Families - Nottingham, UK April 2005 the water level in the pool at the merengue was constantly well below the level of the filters, some days below the level of the water jets, this too resulted in a layer of scum on the top of the pool. We spent a lot of our time by the pool at the Bachatta, and while the water level seemed ok there was a film seen flotaing on this pool on a number of occasions too.
All things asside it was a very relaxing and much needed break and a nice pre chirstmas treat, but unfortunately i could not recommend any of the RIU resorts on this complex, due to the health problems experiencd. Someone really needs to get to the bottom of the problem and fix it once and for all as solutions seem to be short lived. I know updet tummies can be unavoidable of times, but out of the 20 or so people i spoke to all had had problems so this cannot be an isolated incident.
Tony and Nicky Essex
Returned from the Riu Merengue last week after a fantastic relaxing two weeks. Having read all the reviews we were worried about going there and took lots of medication which was left unopened and no one in our party was ill and there was no sign of any sickness bug.
This was our first time staying in a Riu Hotel and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
The food was excellent with so much variety it was hard to choose some nights, even for my fussy Daughter who for once did not live on chips and burgers. We only ate at one of the speciality restaurants once and was not impressed so every night was spent at the main buffet.
It was my Daughters 8th Birthday whilst we were there and when we walked into dinner that evening the waiter who had been looking after us every evening had decorated the table with candles, flowers and ballons and at the end of our meal presented her with a cake and half of the staff singing Happy Birthday,a lovely ending to a wonderful day.
The rooms were very spacious and comfortable. The room was spotless and tidy each time and each day we retuned to a different towel design.
The only complaint I have about the rooms is the window in the bathroom next the bath, although it was frosted you could still make out who was in the shower.
The pool at the merengue was quite small and dirty compared to the Bachata where we tended to go each day and it has a swim up pool bar and Jacuzzi.
All the staff are very friendly and cannot do enough for you, they work extremely long hours but always have a smile on their face and make time to talk to you.
The Beach is lovely, although a bit rocky in the water. Plenty of sunbeds and shade.
There was plenty of daytime activities for those that wanted it and there was no pressure to join in if you did not want to.
We went on two trips whilst we were there the Monster Truck Safari and Ocean World, these two trips a well worth a visit
Monster Truck Safari - A full day adventure driving through the sugar cane fields, visiting a local school, a Dominican home, cheese factory and lunch included along the way. We took some pens, pencils, paper and other small bits and pieces for the children at the school and for the children that you so on the roadside, you see children along the roadside all day long and some of the children fight over the gifts it was quite amazing to see.
Ocean World Adventure Park - We spend the day here for my Daughters birthday, We spent 30 minutes swimming with the Dolphins and having previously done this in Cuba this was a much better and unforgettable experience and would recommend this to anyone. My Husband along with some friends went swimming with Sharks and Stingrays, quite scary but thoroughly enjoyable. The Sea Lion show is the best I have seen and very funny.
Overall this was a great relaxing family holiday and would go back another time.
Tony and Jane Maidenhead/Windsor, England
We Returned from the Riu Merengue about 2 weeks ago and had another fantastic time there. This was our second visit to the Hotel ; we were there at the same time last year (Two days after Hurricane Jean had visited the area !).
We go on holiday to chill out . We are not great joiners and prefer to spend our time on the beach rather than around the pool and the areas where activities are going on. We were approached to join a number of activities but declined and were never pressured to change our minds. I might add that there is an ever present breeze that occurs on the beach and this together with the available shade from the palms and the plentiful sun beds makes for an ideal beach experience.
The Hotel itself is absolutely spotless with not a thing is out of place.
The amount of cleaning and tidying that goes throughout the day is breathtaking. The gardeners in particular seem always to be tidying and sweeping fallen leaves etc. The staff in all areas are hard working and friendly in the extreme The bar staff were absolutely brilliant, you can not fault them. The level and speed of service you get would put many UK establishments to shame.
The entertainment team work tirelessly to keep everyone entertained. The hours that they seem to do are amazing. To keep a smile on your face and be on the go for as long as they are is incredible.
The food last year was very good but this year was even better.The width of choice is extremely good. We were a bit wary of some of the Dominican specials and the sea food dishes but did not have a bad meal. They should win prizes for their soups which are brilliant.
The accommodation once again was ideal. The room was spotless every time we returned ; the maids are friendly and are only supposed to make your beds and sweep up but they do tend to generally tidy up as well if you leave stuff lying around. The mini-bars in the rooms are excellent (we demolished
2 litres on Rum between us whilst we were there). Part way through the holiday we asked if our Coca Cola 'ration' could be topped up to 6 bottles each time the minibar was restocked instead of the normal 4 and this was immediately organised and for the rest of the holiday we never ran out of Coca Cola. ( Many thanks to Russen for this) We are already researching a third holiday at the Riu Merengue and are contemplating returning in May 2006 as we do not want to wait another year until September 2006 this time around.
Rob & Jo UK
We returned from this hotel on 05.10.05 and what a truly fantastic time we had. This was our first time to the Domincan Republic and also our first to a Riu hotel - what an excellent choice we made!!
From the moment we arrived until the second we left we did not have to
a finger - nothing was too much trouble for anyone.
It was Rob's birthday on our second day there and we returned to our room after a day at the pool, to find swans and elephants made from our towels.
I'm sooo glad I didn't read any of these reviews before we went as I would have panicked and probably made myself ill with worry... all I can say is that we never saw any evidence of any kind of virus or bug. Obviously there were the odd couple of people with 'delhi belly' but nothing out of the ordinary and certainly none of the horror stories that other people have mentioned.
The food was excellent with so much variety, we were there for 2 weeks and only ate at the steak house once, every other night was spent in the main buffet restaurant and there was no need for us to have the same meal twice.
They had themed nights twice a week where we experienced traditional domincan food, mexican dishes and a black and white night with beef wellington!! The only downside was that the A La Carte restaurants at the Merengue were not open at night, and neither were they at the Mambo, this meant that it was a struggle to book as places were very limited (10 seats for each hotel for each sitting). The night before we arrived it was open and apparently was closed as they were not busy enough to warrant opening.
The service from all of the staff was second to none... we had street parties, beach parties, barbecues around the pool area, and a giant paella to keep us entertained. And then there was the animacion team....what can I say?? Big Mama - an absolute star 'touch me baby'!! Pedro - he never stopped, I don't know where he got his energy. Chiky Monky - Oh My God!! Si si si!! and Karavela - the human dynamo. The dance shows that were put on were fantastic but we did hear rumours that some of the dancers had been finished and that Shaggy had gone. Big Mama also brought her daughter, Liandra, who's 5 to spend the day with us, she was an absolute angel and she loved the pool!!
If you get the chance to do the Saona Island adventure then it is one not to be missed. We flew on a 12 seater aeroplane from Puerta Plata to La Romana, then spent about an hour on a speedboat in the clear blue carribbean sea with dolphins swimming alongside us, we stopped in the middle of the ocen where we got out of the boat into a natural swimming pool and sipped rum cocktails, then back on the boat to the island where we had lunch and more rum!! We then returned an a catamaran, back on the plane and back to puerta plata. It was a long day and it was expensive, but it could not have been better.
If you are planning on doing a jeep safari take some presents for the children, the need things like pens, pencils, paper, crayons, they want things like sweets and crisps and the girls love hair bobbles, scrunchies and clips.
We loved every minute of our holiday and the hotel helped to make it as special as it was - we have only been back 2 days and are already planning our return!!
Toni Mississauga, Ontario
Our only disappointment:
The lack of programs for children. The advertisement in the Alba
Brochure states a Riu Mini Club, well let me tell you now, nothing like
that exists. Sometimes there was someone at the Kids Club building ,
but she didn't do things with the kids, she just sat there and watched
them. (not supervising them, just observing them) And you couldn't
trust her to make sure they didn't get into any trouble, she couldn't
speak a word of English. This was my one and only disappointment.
We are family with 2 children (8 and 6) and live in Vermont but generally travel out of Montreal
Children's Program Not as advertised. The kids club was only for babies and toddlers and didn't seem to have set hours The children' activities were terrible. They had one member of the staff come around the pool and beach each morning at 10.30 and each afternoon at 3 to collect the kids for an activity. Some days there were 10 kids and someday there were 20 --but still one staff member. The played bocci ball, beach ball, miniature golf--but had one putter and one ball for 15 kids. Needless to say the activities were totally boring for the kids and they never joined after the first day or two.
Again, we could not leave the kids--even for the hour they were in the activities.
Each evening before the adult show (at about 8) they had dancing on stage for the kids--but with the identical tmusic tape every night for a week and a few nights a game after the dancing.
We were able to get a night babysitter for a few hours each evening--US$5 hour