If your clients are looking for an all-inclusive vacation experience in the Caribbean, and service, quality, and relaxation is what they seek, Riu Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana definitely delivers on its all-inclusive program. From the a la carte restaurants offering exquisite Japanese, Italian and Fusion cuisine, particularly Krystal where we dined to a 7-course selection of diverse, savory flavors from the menu, to the 24-hour service and liquor dispensers in every room, the overall value, staff, and accommodations at the Riu Punta Cana complex are unique, impressive, and well-worth a second trip to this Caribbean destination.
Riu’s Five Properties
The five properties that make up the Riu Punta Cana complex are distinct with their own style and feel. Armin Kaestner, VP of sales, contracting and partner marketing for the Caribbean and Mexico markets, says 48 percent of guests visiting Riu Punta Cana are repeat customers, which could be the incentive to why the brand decided to renovate three of the five properties.
“I believe we have a very complete product,” said Kaestner. “You can see this in the different resorts we have starting with the lower-end properties, such as Hotel Riu Naiboa, to our high end products. Riu offers something for every budget, and no matter what hotel you choose, you will always have excellent service and high customer satisfaction.”
Laid out side by side along an immaculate stretch of soft-sand beach known as Arena Gorda sit the five Riu properties that make up the Punta Cana complex: Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Macao, Riu Palace Bavaro, ClubHotel Riu Bambu and Hotel Riu Naiboa.
Soon to be adults-only (the first for Riu in the Americas), Riu Palace Macao recently received a $13 million dollar facelift. All of the 364 rooms were modernized with new furnishings and decor, and new restaurants and services were added to the property. To continue the trend, the Riu brand plans to have one adults-only resort in each destination where a Riu exists; Riu currently has 35 resorts in the Caribbean and Latin America, 106 in a total of 16 countries around the world that include Mexico, Jamaica, Aruba and the Bahamas.
The Riu Palace Bavaro (where we recently visited) is a very modern and chic hotel. The property opened in December 2011 and features 610 rooms distributed between the main building and villas. The lobby and room accommodations burst with colors of deep purple, vibrant yellow and lush pink, while the Riu Palace Punta Cana, popular with European guests, boasts European-style architecture with accents of dark wood furnishings and vintage Victorian style decor in the lobby. Popular within the US market are both the Riu Bambu and Naiboa, offered at lower price ranges, with more buffet dining options, yet consistent with Riu’s 24-hour, all-inclusive service.
And the Riu brand continues to expand. Nov. 2 is the grand opening of the Riu Palace Costa Rica in Guanacaste; Riu Plaza Berlin in October 2013; Riu Palace Jamaica in Montego Bay in December 2013 and the recently announced Riu Plaza New York Times Square in 2015.
Exploring outside of Riu
With sports activities, entertainment, the inviting Atlantic Ocean and swimming pools in different shapes and sizes, guests staying at the Riu Punta Cana complex really have no reason to venture off the property. Yet, one of the most popular of the excursions, available to book at any of the resort’s excursion desks, is the day trip to Isla Saona-the largest of the islands closest to the Dominican Republic. This government protected nature preserve is famous for its natural beauty and pristine beaches.
The 50-minute ride to the harbor gave us a picturesque view of the Dominican Republic’s lush vegetation. Upon arrival, we were loaded onto a catamaran for a 1-hour sail to the island-a trip that had locals serving us libations while choosing unsuspecting tourists to dance with them. The island was everything we expected and more, and after soaking for an hour in the warm Caribbean water, we were whisked away on a speedboat to a spot where large starfish dotted the sand and the water was beyond sublime. Also popular are safari excursions where guests can see life in the rural areas of the island’s countryside, and thanks to a recently built highway, travel time to Santo Domingo was shaved by one hour.
Travel Agents not Excluded
Riu has not forgotten about the power travel agents and tour operators contribute to the growth of the hotel brand, which is why in 1992 Riu launched its loyalty program, Riu Partner Club. As a member, agents are guaranteed top-notch training as they get to know the product and recommend the hotel that best meets the client’s needs and expectations. For more information about the Riu Partner Club, visit webrpc.riu.com/.
Of course, like any Caribbean resort destination, the high season kick starts in the winter (end of December) until April, although Kaestner says business does pick up in July and August, during the time when the Europeans take their vacation. Low season starts in September and ends in late November, with a lull in May and June. All-inclusive prices and packaging varies depending on the season. Visit riu.com or call (888)-RIU-4990 for more information.