Having had visited a remote tropical resort in the past, this past May my wife and I decided to vacation somewhere closer to home (and inevitably more busy). After some traditional research on where to go, we settled on taking a trip with the in-laws to the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive resort called RIU Palace Bavaro, located in Punta Cana. Here is my resort report and review of RIU Palace Bavaro.
Unlike our trip to the Maldives, this time we flew out of JFK as it was far more economical than flying out of close-to-home Albany (it’s funny how airlines work sometimes). We flew on JetBlue which had a direct route from JFK to La Romana (LRM). We always prefer direct flights as it’s far more convenient but sometimes the cost is prohibitive. In this case, it was quite affordable.
The flight itself was non-eventful (good) and we landed in the beautiful DR shortly after. La Romana is a pretty small airport all things considered but I like the vibe their terminal gives off.
Once we got through customs and security, we were greeted by our previously arranged Dominican Airport Transfer (DAT) driver who would be driving us about 56 miles (90km) to our resort. Along the way, we ended up getting a flat tire which the driver promptly changed.
I’ve only had a few check-in disasters over many years of staying in hotels but luckily this was not one of them. The check-in was smooth and our room was ready and waiting for us. All in all it probably took around 15 minutes. The staff arranged to have our bags transported to our room and they arrived within minutes of us at our room.
We had requested a room away from the entertainment center as we aren’t really ‘partiers’ and RIU Palace Bavaro was happy to accomodate. Our room, 2131, was located on the north end of the resort. The room was very clean and orderly when we arrived and housekeeping checked in on it multiple times a day.
Between the sinks and beds, you can see that there is a jacuzzi. I personally didn’t use it, but my wife did and it was decent enough. There was plenty of drawers and closets to store your clothes if you are the type of person who doesn’t live out of a suitcase like me (I never unload my luggage). The beds were firm but not hard and I got plenty of good rest. The AC was nice and cold which was welcome as the Dominican is quite hot. My only complaint regarding the room would be the bathroom itself. Lets just say, poor ventilation.
As I mentioned previously, housekeeping was very good at this resort. I forget the name of the girl who was tasked with our room but she did an amazing job (and we hope she enjoys her tip). As we were on vacation to celebrate my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary, we were surprised on day to come ‘home’ from the beach to find balloons, candy and a nice letter from the staff. It was a nice touch.
The Main Pool
Although there is another smaller more secluded pool on the grounds, we didn’t spend any time there. We did spend a lot of time at the main pool and it was one of my favorite things. It was HUGE, plenty of room to swim. It was also chlorinated just the right amount. If I had to put a temperature on it, it was probably a good 88-90F. You could literally jump in with no adjustment, but it was still refreshing. I spent a lot of time in it/by it as evidenced by my sunburn.
The resort offers various activities by the pool most days. One day they had water aerobics, another day they had an international competition to see who could hold a 1 gallon jug of water the longest. Alexandro from Brazil won the men’s competition and a girl from Michigan (if I recall) won the women’s competition and each got like $500 USD. Crazy! Where do I sign up!?
RIU Palace Bavaro is a very nice resort. All of the walkways, lawns, gardens, etc. are well manicured and taken care of. There was no issue getting around. Even in spots where maintenance workers were making daily repairs, the work was confined to very small areas and the areas kept clean for guest passerbys.
RIU Palace also has an entertainment area on the property between the main dining areas and most of the hotel rooms. They had a few shows and concerts here during our stay but we only checked it out from afar.
During our research process though we saw many beaches that had a LOT of seaweed. RIU Palace did a good job of keeping the beach clean from an over abundance of seaweed but the ocean itself did have some seaweed floating around. The ocean waves were a bit surprising but that may have been just a matter of the season. It reminded me less of, say, Miami Beach and more of Myrtle Beach (if you’ve been).
The sand was very nice and not rocky at all although you’d occasionally get pricked by a piece of old palm.
Dining Options at RIU Palace Bavaro
Dining. Phew. I’m still full.
RIU Palace Bavaro offers many choices for food on the all-inclusive plan. We tried a few of them but liked Montecristo the most. Montecristo is the buffet type main dining hall. It had everything we liked. I will say though that the steak at Taino by the pool (requires reservation) was very good. The lobster at Taino was good too but so far I haven’t been able to find a lobster as good as the one I had in the Maldives. We also tried La Bambola but only once and it was just okay.
The fruits being served are locally grown and taste amazing. I’ve never eaten Pineapple that was so delicious and juicy. The ones you can buy in the states at the local grocery store just don’t compete.
Video Highlights of RIU Palace Bavaro
Overall Thoughts on RIU Palace Bavaro
Having never been to the Dominican and having to stay within a particular budget due to being part of a multi-party group, I’d say RIU Palace Bavaro is a very solid choice. We had no complaints about our stay there (which happened right around the time news was breaking of unfortunate tourist deaths at a few other resorts) and would definitely consider going back. Getting there wasn’t hard and the beach/pool/food (main components of a good tropical vacation) were high quality.
Have you stayed at the RIU Palace Bavaro? What did you think? If you were to go again, would you do anything differently? Tell me in the comments below and let me know if my review of RIU Palace Bavaro helped.