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Reviews Views Date of last review
6 29002 Tue June 16, 2009
Recommended By Ave price per week Average Rating
100% of reviewers $1,550.00 9.3

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Description: Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
Playa de Arena Gorda
Punta Cana
Higüey Dominican Republic
Tel. +18096874242 Fax. +1 809 687 7878

Location/General information

The very latest addition to our outstanding resorts in Dominican Republic, Riu Palace Punta Cana achieves an even higher level of luxury, comfort and beauty.
Located on a spectacular stretch of white sandy beach, this magnificent property proudly boasts 612 junior suites, all with hydro-massage bathtub and Riu's distinctive amenities, such as a mini-bar and optics. Continental breakfast room service and 24-hour All-Inclusive (snacks and beverages) complement the wide array of gourmet restaurants and bars available. Exchange privileges entitle guests to access to the 5 sister properties in the resort.

* Opened May 2006

* Located on Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana
* Inside the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Macao, Riu Taino, Riu Naiboa hotels and the ClubHotel Riu Bambu
* 4-story building
* Surrounded by 63,000 m2 / 75,000 sq. yards of lush gardens

* Complimentary sun loungers on the beach
* 50 km / 31 miles from Higüey
* 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Int’l. Airport
* Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Diners

More Riu Palace Punta Cana Information


Registered: July 2006
Posts: 1
Review Date: Mon July 17, 2006 Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes | Price paid per week?: $1,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: great staff, very cleans, beautiful beach. Great Job Riu!
Cons: No real negatives. As in any new resort the palms and flowers had not matured, but I am sure they will be beautiful.

Absolutely wonderful. Very short walk to the Riu Bambu. Can't say enough about the beach. Beautiful. Local vendors were no problem and were always polite. One of our better vacations. We visited in May '06. The staff were very well trained, helpful and very friendly. Great service and just a wonderful experience. The hotel was also quiet. I posted some pictures that I hope you will enjoy.


Registered: January 2006
Posts: 96
Review Date: Tue August 8, 2006 Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes | Price paid per week?: $1,350.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: service and staff, lots of choice at buffet, La Bodega, beautiful resort on a lovely beach
Cons: Yokohama, Steakhouse, massive place so can lack intimacy

I know this is a very long review, but I hope what I have to say will be helpful.

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


Registered: June 2006
Posts: 105
Review Date: Mon August 20, 2007 Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes | Price paid per week?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Beach, pool, food, service, rooms and location
Cons: We just wish we could go back tomorrow!

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.
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.
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.
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 art
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.
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 sex 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.
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.
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 I have attached the link below to our online photos.
Kelly & Carlos
Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Riu Ambassador

Registered: September 2005
Posts: 525
Review Date: Sun March 9, 2008 Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes | Price paid per week?: $2,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: cleanliness, staff and the beach
Cons: None

Riu Palace Punta Cana – March , 2008

Departure – 5 hour direct flight from Thunder Bay via Westjet. The aircraft was a bit smaller than Skyservice that we’ve flown with in the past, however much more leg room and individual televisions.
The flight was shared by Sunquest and Transat vacations.

Arrival – There was only one other flight from France that arrived at the same time making customs lines move very quickly. The tour operators have small kiosks set up in the airport where you go to get your bus number. Within 20 minutes of landing we were on the bus. 30 minutes later we’re at the resort. Only 3 stops before ours.

The Palace – Well what can I say…..Absolutely breathtaking even in the dark. The same majestic white building with the circular driveway similar to the palaces in the Mayan and Cancun.
Pedro the doorman greeted us with his top hat and tails…..My 2 girlfriends had never stayed at a Palace so to see their jaws drop when we entered the lobby was priceless…..Shiny marble floors, chandeliers, beautiful artwork, furniture and flower arrangements which is typical of other Palaces I’m sure. We were greeted with a glass of Sangria…..Check-in took about 5 minutes and we were off to our home for the week.

Rooms – Definitely a musty odour when we walked in but nothing that a plug-in didn’t fix. We were in a standard suite with 2 double beds and 1 single. Beds were a bit hard but we had no problem sleeping in them. The bathroom had double sinks, Jacuzzi tub and shower and a large mirror. There was more than enough room for 3 women getting ready at the same time. We had a garden view with a bit of a glimpse of the ocean. I had called Reynardo the front desk manager to see if he could move us to a room with a better view. He said he would be able to give us one on Monday. ( We arrived on Saturday). After 2 days we had decided that we were quite content there and it was too much of a bother to pack up all our stuff and move. The room we were in also served as adjoining rooms to accommodate families. Two room doors facing each other down a short hallway with a door at the entrance that could be locked.

Restaurants – 5 specialty and the buffet. We ate at 4 out of the 5 passing on the Japanese. Reservations are made at 9:00 a.m each day and we never had a problem getting the restaurant we wanted. This is how we would rate them –

1 - La Bodega (Brazilian)
2 - Sir Oscar
3 - Italian
4 - Steakhouse.
And of course the dinner buffet was excellent as well….The only thing that disappointed me about the buffet was that I didn’t see a chocolate fountain. Maybe they didn’t have it on the nights we were there.

Grounds – Immaculate – The greenery and flowers are manicured meticously…..We watched the lawn keepers one day. They were using a tool that looked like some type of level to make sure the shrubs were all even. The courtyard had beautiful fountains and statues. There are 2 pools – one smaller and the larger one with the swim up bar. We only spent a few hours at the pool because we found it too hot. To the right of the pool was the spa building. This building included the gym, massage rooms, saunas, steam room, hairdresser and 2 eternal jacuzzi’s. One hot and the other cold. One is supposed to open your pores and the other to close them. Not sure which is which but they felt remarkable after a day in the sun. The resort itself is big but very easy to get around.

Activities – We didn’t do any excursions so I can’t comment. The animation team was lively but they didn’t bother you if you didn’t want to participate in the daily stuff. We actually did participate in a lot of the activities. We played bocce ball, darts, beach volleyball, aqua aerobics and horseshoes. I’m proud to say that I was the ladies horseshoe champion 2 days of the week. On Thursday evening they had a carnival on Carribean street next to the Riu Taino. There were dancers, fire eaters, shows with audience participation and locals selling their usual souveniers. It was a lot of fun.

Weather – it rained for about 5 minutes 3 days out of the week. One day was cloudy but still hot. Otherwise hot and sunny. Perfect vacation weather.

Riu Complex – 5 resorts that adjoin by a walkway. The Naiboa was the furthest – about a 15 minute walk. We ate lunch at all the resorts. They all had their own uniqueness. We met people from Thunder Bay that were staying at the Bambu. They loved everything about it….The Taino seemed to have the March Break crowd. Lot’s of action happening there. We were told by a member of the animation team that some of the Riu staff live at the Naiboa. The Palace Macao looks lovely as well but in my opinion does not have the same grandeur as the Punta Cana. I would guess that the guests at the Palace Punta Cana ranged from 30 yrs. and up but we certainly didn’t feel the atmosphere to be stuffy or snobby.

On our return to the airport it was still daylight so were able to see more. There was a lot of construction –mostly condos and apartment blocks. Looked very nice.

I’ve saved the best for the last –

THE BEACH – WOW – The best I have seen so far……We spent the majority of the days at the beach. Never had a problem finding loungers. Always a worker cleaning the beach area so you rarely saw dirty cups laying around. There was always a nice breeze so you didn’t feel like you were cooking as you were at the pool area. The water was warm and the waves were big enough to do some gentle body surfing. We had so much fun rolling in the waves. Our daily routine was walk the beach in the morning at least one hour in one direction and again in the afternoon in the other direction. And we still could have walked further. There was a market about 20 minutes down the beach that had the usual souvenier stuff. We didn’t find the locals overly pushy and it was fun to barter with them. We saw 2 new resorts being built. One was a Sandos and not sure what the other one was. It didn’t have a sign. We stopped at each resort to ask the name. The only other one that really impressed me from the beach was the Paradissus.

Overall Impression – The resort itself is magnificent. The service was top notch. The staff were always friendly and helpful. I had taken some Spanish lessons in November so they really appreciated me trying to say a word or two in Spanish. I can’t compare this to the Palaces in the Mayan because I haven’t stayed at one. There isn’t a Playa Del Carmen that you can walk to which I always enjoyed. Each area has it’s own distinct beauty though. Personally I found the Dominicans to be friendlier than the Mexicans. (That’s just my opinion so I hope I don’t offend anyone). If you are a beach lover there is no comparison to the two areas. Punta Cana is by far the winner in the beach category. (My opinion again)

I now have 2 more friends that are addicted to the Palaces. They both told me that this vacation will be hard to beat.

Would I go back – In a heartbeat

Would I recommend – Absolutely


Registered: September 2006
Posts: 17
Review Date: Fri September 19, 2008 Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes | Price paid per week?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fantastic hotel
Cons: Not for the non smokers!

This is a review of our stay at the RIU Palace Punta Cana, from Sept 2nd to Sept 16th. I have also touched breifly on the tour operator, Thomson, as it was a package holiday.

Early Tuesday, we arrived at Birmingham Airport and checked in with no issues. We were travelling with Thomson and had been to the Dom Rep with them twice before.

Again, no real issues on the plane. Staff were a little on the miserable side, but this was nothing new. The seats are now leather with a 33” seat pitch. Although there was plenty leg room for me (6ft) the seats were hard, like they’d been sat on many times over. I’m guessing the seats are the originals just re-upholstered. The seat back TV’s didn’t work properly there and back, which was a disappointment. The lack of movies was also a let-down. You could have more, but it was a £5 upgrade. Not really worth it, given that the screens kept playing up.

We arrived on time at Punta Cana airport and we were met with a queue. This turned out to be due to them taking photographs of everyone that arrived, so that they could sell them back to you on the return trip. Unneccessary delay in my opinion.

I made my way to the Thomson desk and they got us our private taxi (included in the price as it was one of their premium hotels). We stepped into a very nice 6 seater minibus and it was nice to see that it was only us in there. This meant a direct trip to the hotel, without having to drop anyone else off. Journey time was around 20mins.

Upon arrival at the Palace, our jaws dropped! WOW! What a place! grand isn't the word here. Chandeliers, paintings, polished floors- it is truly majestic. The gardens are also immaculate and well tended to. The bellboy came out and collected our suitcases and put them on one of those tall brass trolleys. We then stood there expecting a Thomson rep to greet us as had been the case before when we went to RIU Merengue. No sign of anyone. We later saw other guests arrive from Germany, who were met by their rep and a welcome drink as well. Again, no biggie - sometimes it's nice to be left alone.

I went over to the (huge) reception desk and was greeted by one of the staff, who spoke very good English. He booked us in promptly and instructed the bellboy to take the cases to our room. We were pointed in the direction of the room, which was on the top floor overlooking the courtyard. We found it after a bit of searching. The place is huge!

Room was very nice. No musky smell as has been mentioned on other reviews. Bed was huge. Found it was hard, but that suited us. Turns out I had the best nights sleep ever in a hotel on that bed! Room was nicely laid out, clean and had a corner site, meaning a front and side balcony. We overlooked the main plaza area and could see the shows at night without having to leave the room. We also had a good view of the ocean, so no problems there.

The shower didn’t work and despite asking several times, they didn’t come to fix it until day 3. Again, this wasn’t a huge problem, but for a 5 star hotel, I expected a better response. The water pressure was low as well, and was fixed same day. The hydro-massage tub was nice though!
We noticed that there were some suites with a rooftop private Jacuzzi. I found out that these were upgrades and not available (or advertised) through the tour operator. When I go back, I will definately reserve one of these rooms. We took a look around one. They are magnificent. Double the size of a regular suite, with a seperate shower cubicle and walk in dressing room.

TV in the room was mainly spanish channels. I found a couple of english channels (Fox/CNN news, setanta sports) but nothing that held my interest. Again, the RIU Merengue had a lot more channels to choose from.

Mini-bar had the usual. No Smirnoff, but they did have the Russian Stolichnaya, which I was later told was better than Smirnoff. This was probably why I was met with a smile from the refill guys when I asked them to change it. In the end, I left it as it was (reasons why to follow!)

The minibar was stocked up every day, which was a bonus. as there was a small sign saying every two days. The beer is nice and refreshing, but gassy so don't have one prior to going out for food- it will limit your eating!

First two days were a washout. The weather was terrible! I suspsect that this was down to the hurricanes that were passing by, namely Ike and Hannah. The rest of the time, it was blue skies and sunshine. The ocean was always a bit choppy though. I was informed that it was like a millpond prior to coming out, but on arrival here, we were told that it’s always like this. Lovely colour water and the beach is just in a different league to everywhere else we’d been to. When they say powdery sand, they’re not lying! Being September, there was loads of space as well. We sat up by the RIU RESORTS sign throughout the holiday, and found this to be a nice pleasant spot with plenty of shade and a nice breeze. When you see pictures of this beach and the ocean in a brochure, you almost suspect it's been touched up. Not the case here- the water really is that colour!

When we'd been there a few days, we took a walk around the other hotels. The Bambu next door was pretty much a mirror image of the Merengue and we had a few drinks there to remind us of previous holidays. The atmosphere was good there and we'd stay there without hesitation.

I have to say, we weren't impressed by the Palace Macao. Admittedly, we only ventured into the lobby and adjoining bar, but based on that, I couldn't see how it got Palace status. The lobby is tiny!! Maybe the Palace Punta Cana is the new breed of Palace, I don't know. Why they have two Palaces on one site is also beyond me. Maybe they plan on downgrading the Macao?

On venturing further, we encountered the Taino and the Naiboa. Not my cup of tea I'm afraid. Maybe the Palace has spoilt me? In any case, we were glad to get back to our hotel!

Little bit of a disappointment in this area. We found that it was OK, but not fantastic. They served pretty much the same stuff every night, with slight variations. Compared to the RIU Merengue, where there was much more variety, it was a bit tame. It was never piping hot, and the trick is to go at opening time, so you get nice hot fresh food and not something that’s been left under the lamps for an hour or so. I got talking to a Chef from New York City, who works in a top restaurant there. He told me that the food was mostly frozen stuff and was, in his opinion, rubbish. Each to their own I suppose. Like I say, it was OK, but not brilliant.

The speciality restaurants were an improvement and our favourite was the Italian, Luigi Italiano. Their steaks are magnificent. They also do chicken, which was lovely. The Tiramisu was gorgeous as well. The staff were always filling up your drinks, but as we found out was the case everywhere, their English isn't brilliant. It's a lot better than my Spanish though, so I'm in no position to complain!

The steakhouse was a joke- people were arriving late and as such, they didn’t serve mains till everyone had finished their starters, and again with dessert. This was nothing to write home about- the steak was poor, the starters were a mix of seafood and snails! (they didn’t state that on the menu). Sufficed to say, we didn’t eat that.

We gave Yokahama a miss as there was never anyone in there. Sir Oscar was also nice and this and Luigi Italiano were worth further visits.

I noticed quite a few well known brands in the bars and in the Sports Bar. I like a Jack Daniels now and again and so I ordered one. An American guy sat next to me told me to be careful. I asked him what he meant and he told me he was a sales rep for a drinks company in the US and that the JD they were serving wasn’t the real thing. He got the bartender to pour one and he took a sniff of it. He immediately told the barman that it wasn’t Jack Daniels and to get a new bottle. The bartender produced a new, sealed bottle from under the counter and poured another one. The guy sniffed it and nodded. He then infomed me that what the hotel does, is fill empty Jack Daniels bottles with normal whiskey! I’m guessing they do the same thing with the Vodka and other stuff, so in a way, I’m glad I didn’t get Smirnoff in my room!

Friendly, but not over the top like Merengue. I'm guessing here that they are told to be a bit more reserved to reflect the grandeur of the place. Every now and again, I noticed some of the breakfast staff having a laugh and a joke and singing, which was OK by me, but seemed to be frowned upon by their supervisors. I saw one get a bit of a private telling off. Maybe they used to work at the Bambu or Puerto Plata RIU resorts and are used to interacting more with guests - who knows?
As touched on before, the spoken English isn't great, especially in the speciality restaurants. Coupled with the lack of English TV channels, I don't think they are pitching this hotel at the English/ American market.

Now, for the minus points:
Don’t come here if you’re a non-smoker! I would say that 95% of the guests smoked and they did it everywhere. This obviously affects non-smokers more and I find it quite rude when someone lights up at the next table or at the bar next to me. I’m used to people asking if we mind, but not here.
This leads me to my next gripe- rudeness. I’m going to stick my neck out here, and I may upset some of our members from the continent, but here goes. Most of the guests are from Europe (not UK) and their lack of manners is quite evident. When we were there, they’d barge in front of you when getting food, some of them were loud and treated the place like an 18-30 holiday. Folks, this is a hotel on a par with some of the finest in the world. The lobby blows you away, and yet most of the guests thought it was great to walk through the lobby with just a pair of (wet) swimshorts/bikinis on, whilst puffing on a cigarette, leaving sand all over the floor. I found flattened cigarette ends on the main staircase, discarded chewing gum in the plant pots and saw another guest walk over to the fountain next to the plaza and blow the contents of his nose into the water while everyone was eating breakfast! What the Hell is wrong with some people?

This leads me nicely to my final point. I feel that this Hotel doesn’t know what it is yet. The clientele is proof of that. It seems to attract all sorts from all walks of life, some of which as has been said, have no manners, no dress sense and are rude. I should say that the majority of guests are well turned out and clearly have money. the hotel doesn't enforce the dress code in the restaraunts either. OK, we're on holiday in the Carribean- I know that. However, it's clearly stated on the way in 'no shorts', but people still do it and no-one says anything. The hotel also has a sports bar at the one end of the lobby, that serves microwave burgers (they are in the fridge- you warm them up yourself!). It’s like going into the Ritz in London and seeing one shoved up the corner. Lord knows why they added this feature, but I feel it’s more at home in a RIU Clubhotel like the Bambu next door.

In summary, if this fine hotel attracted the right crowd and got the food right, it would be spot on. In the coming years, it may sort itself out in these areas, and it will then be worthy of its Palace Status. We will definitely go back, but not for a few years.


Registered: March 2007
Posts: 43
Review Date: Tue June 16, 2009 Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes | Price paid per week?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: hotel
Cons: non

hi we have just returned from a fortnight break, where do i start, the holiday was great from start to finish. there was 4 adults , myself, my husband my daughter and her friend, we were very unsure at first as we were ment to be going to mexico but had to change at the last minute, what with all the negitive reports that we read but non of them were a big issue.

first of all on arrival at the hotel we were made to feel welcome rooms was ready straight away porter took our luggage up to our two ajoining rooms where there was a huge king size bed which was firm but comfortable and very clean, within half hour reception was on the phone to see if everything was ok we asked for more pillows and they were there within 15 mins now thats what i call good service, yes the rooms smell musty be what do you expect you are in the carribian i feel that some people just moan for the sake of it.

food was very good only tryed one specialist resturant which was not very good the meat was over cooked infact it was charcoaled not nice at all but the buffet was excellent always loads of choice only problem was my daughter is aligeric to garlic she found most things cooked with garlic, but she has the same problem most places. the drinks were fine but i must agree with the last review when it comes to the smoking, been a none smoker and back in the uk you are not allowed to smoke in any inclosed public places found it very annoying having smoke blown in you face . and some of the guests shouting rather loudly across the bar area
but you soon get used to it.

the pool was fine but we never really sat around the pool was always on the beach but there was always loungers to get if you did want one, the staff work really hard from morning till night found most of the waiters that worked at the beach/pool bar also worked on the bar at night. we never really watched the shows of an evening but what we did see they did not seem very exciting.

in the second week our daughter and her friend booked to go on the helicopter ride but on the day we had a really bad tropical storm with one of the best thunder storm we have ever see it even blew the electric and phone lines so they rearranged it for the next day they said it was the best thing they have ever done well worth the money, it was 89$ for ten mins does not seem long they said they saw what they wanted, you payed 85$ for ten mins on the para sailing.
we also went on the bus to a shopping centre got the free bus from outside the taxi rank it got us out of the hotel for a few hours but the prices were very expensive.

the weather could have been better but that could not be helped we just made the most of the time we had got up soon as we found that the cloud seemed to come over about 2ish, but all in all had a great time please dont listen to to the people that do nothing but moan try it for your self you will love it .
would we go back? defo


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