ClubHotel Riu Bachata Rating: 2.5 Pearls
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Quieter beach than most all-inclusives
  • Extensive, varied buffet
  • Large rooms all facing the ocean
  • Lively swim-up bar at the pool
  • 6 restaurants, including those at the Riu Merengue
  • On-site nightclub and theater performances

Cons

  • Loud, very crowded pool scene
  • Poor à la carte dining
  • Small, watery drinks with low-grade liquor (worst in the D.R.)
  • Outdated, extremely crowded fitness center

Bottom Line

An expansive buffet, a huge beach, constant entertainment, bottom-shelf cocktails, an extremely crowded pool, and full access to facilities and restaurants across two Riu properties -- including the less expensive Riu Merengue. The overpriced and underserviced Riu Bachata only offers a little more beachside privacy and slightly better beds than its sisters next door.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

With a reputation as one of the best places to stay on a budget, this relatively quiet Riu has the nicest rooms and draws international guests.

The lobby
The lobby

Babies crawling under breakfast tables, geriatric chess games, 20-year-olds giving lap dances to 60-year-olds as part of the poolside entertainment -- Riu Bachata is a melting pot of vacationers. Clusters and pairs of all ages, weights, and nationalities swarmed around the Riu complex during my stay. Long, lithe Germans and short, stout ones enjoyed themselves equally as long as there was food, drink, and sun to be consumed.

The Riu Bachata is on the westernmost end of the Riu complex, and the quality of the hotels increases as you go west. The Bachata is the priciest and has the nicest rooms. The Riu Merengue is lower in quality and cost. Out of the all-inclusives that line the D.R.'s North Coast, the Riu Bachata is widely held by staff and frequent visitors alike as one of the nicest places you can stay -- on a budget.

Walking into the grand lobby, this certainly felt this to be true. Spanish, German, French, and Canadian- and British-accented English echoed through the crowds. The two-story guest-room buildings sprawl along the beach. Quieter and with more spread out buildings than the neighboring Rius, the Bachata feels like its own serene shire along the beach compared with the rest of the complex (and many other North Coast all-inclusives, for that matter).

 Location

A small town that's a 35-minute taxi ride from the airport with little nearby, except for Ocean World.

The Riu is in the small town of Cofresi, a 35-minute taxi ride west from the airport. Cofresi is a sleepy area with little beyond a smattering of hotels, the expansive (though less pristine) Cofresi Beach, and the Ocean World adventure park -- one of the north coast's most popular tourist destinations, primarily because visitors can swim with dolphins there.

Otherwise, the area is a mostly barren stretch of low-rise time-shares and small public greens that host the occasional stickball contest. Though a casino and the Canadian-owned Chris & Mady's restaurant draw sizable crowds, a relative lack of activity drives nightlife-seeking tourists 15 minutes east to Puerto Plata and the gated mini-city, Playa Dorada.

 Beach

Calm and shady, better for relaxing than for tanning or swimming. Check out the water sports station for activities.

The beach
The beach

Bachata's beach is a calm reprieve from the loud pool scene and busier stretches of beach further east, along the Riu complex. Compared with the crowds of swimmers and coconut vendors in front of Riu Merengue, the scattered beach-loungers along the rockier beach in front of Bachata is a private getaway. The beach is shaded by several sea grape trees, making it not as good for tanning and swimming as the other beaches. Luckily, guests have easy access to all beaches in the complex.

The water sports station offers windsurfing, “surfish sailing”, kayaking, wave running, and deep-sea fishing.

 Rooms

Large, but the king-size mattress is too hard. Clean bathrooms with good water pressure but few extras.

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

The standard ocean view room is spacious and comfortable. Unlike the rooms in neighboring Riu Merengue, this room has a true king-size bed, rather than two full-size beds pushed together. But the mattress is certainly not plush or soft by any stretch of the imagination.

The bathroom is clean and spacious. The shower pressure and temperature is good. A sparse set of Riu-brand toiletries are provided. Like most Dominican hotel rooms, no washcloths are provided. Exfoliation-addicts (or anyone concerned about washing off the grime of the pool and beach) be warned: Bring your own scrub device.

 Features

Facilities are crowded and shared among three mega-resorts. Buy souvenirs at the mini-mall, visit the spa or tennis courts. Gym is small with old equipment.

The pool
The pool

On the Bachata side of the Rius, the pool scene is king. The large Los Lirios pool, swim-up bar, and Jacuzzis are swarming with vacationers broiling under the sun at all possible hours. Even as the rain beat down, the barely sheltered swim-up bar was miraculously busy by noon.

The poolside entertainment is...interesting. One afternoon's activities included a line of 20-something Canadian women giving lap dances to a man who could have been their grandfather. The white-haired, bearded guest in question sat uncomfortably in a plastic deck chair, his cheeks a shade of crimson that completed his Santa Claus likeness. The entertainment hosts hoisted the girls into a straddling position on the arms of his chair to booty shake and lap dance. It felt like some sort of tropical red-light district.

Located between the Riu Bachata and its neighbor, the Riu Merengue, the resort has Caribbean Street, an outdoor sort of mini-mall serving the entire Riu complex. Pastel-colored buildings house souvenir and beach-supply shops, as well as the photo shop, beauty Salon, fitness center, and spa. A small gym serves all three Riu resorts -- that’s 1,617 rooms! One look at it shows that this hotel does not cater to the fitness-obsessed -- outdated equipment (two bikes, one elliptical, one treadmill, and one stair-stepper, to be exact) are cramped into a hot room with dingy carpets. Guests exercise shoulder-to-shoulder with those waiting for machines, and everyone works out on display for the shoppers along Caribbean St.

The Renova Spa has a reception area brightened by modern wicker furniture and the scent of cinnamon candles. Spa facilities all open onto the lobby, including several conservative-size massage rooms and a sauna.

Three tennis courts sit by the main entrance to the Riu complex. The courts are, however, a 10-minute walk from the rooms.

 Casino

Small, dingy casino with slots and a few card tables.

The El Millon Casino, located off the side of Bachata's theatre, is a dimly lit room with a few faded felt tables. Open from afternoon to late night, it contains a handful of noisy slot machines and one poker table serving black jack and three-card poker ($5 minimum).

 Entertainment

Standard for the D.R.: dancing, contests, and lip-synch musicals.

An evening performance
An evening performance

Evening entertainment across the Rius follows the popular stage formula for Dominican all-inclusives -- some combination of dance performance, onstage guest competition, and lip-synch musical performances by the entertainment staff.

The Bachata stage is packed with guests taking part in various competitions; pne involved three female guests having to collect T-shirts from men in the crowd. The resulting herd of half-naked men are then brought on stage to perform a lap dance for the embarrassed competition winner. There are also dance "lessons" which get frisky when guests and entertainment staff paired up. Sauciness tends to be a trend here.

 Drinks

Weak bottom-shelf alcohol served in plastic cups.

The Bikini Bar
The Bikini Bar

The Bachata is better than its neighbors in some respects -- namely its rooms -- but the drinks are equally terrible. Across the resorts, drinks are junior-size plastic cups made of apparently junior-proof, bottom-shelf alcohol. Even the beer and wine seemed weak.

 Cleanliness

Clean rooms and floors, but lots of dirty ashtrays and used cups around the property.

Housekeeping staff
Housekeeping staff

The rooms look and feel clean. Towels and bedding are fresh and the room seem well-maintained.

Housekeeping staff seem to work continuous mopping shifts, constantly wiping up the floors in the lobby and restaurants. Their dedicated efforts keep a constant damp sheen on the floors. Quick swipes at my feet kept me on my toes.

Dirty ashtrays and empty plastic cups scattered around the resort make it a little less clean than it could be. Tablecloths and dining areas start to look a little messy by lunch.

The poolside chair covers are stacked and left dripping in the rain. Their cracked PVC covers show this to be the standard.

 Food

Huge buffet with mediocre British-influenced fare, overripe fruit and terrible vegetables.

Bahia Maimon buffet
Bahia Maimon buffet

Riu Bachata's Bahia de Maimon is a buffet palace. Like most all-inclusive buffets I came across, the food served isn't anything to write home about. But this is definitely one of the most extensive buffets in the Caribbean. Names of most dishes are signaled by small laminated signs in four languages: English, French, German, and Spanish (with the occasional amusing translation mix-up).

Choices cater to Canadian and British tastes. At breakfast, beans on toast, and bangers and mash simulate a traditional English spread. More continental options, like scrambled eggs, muesli and yogurt, pancakes, and French toast round out the massive breakfast buffet. Lots of fruit is available, though most of it is a bit overripe. The vegetable selection, in keeping with the British theme, is ‘’piss-poor’’ -- sad-looking broccoli and cauliflower dishes are left nearly untouched by diners, and the salad bar's best offering is oily cabbage, unless you're a huge fan of iceberg lettuce and soggy tomatoes.

There are two a la cartes on-site. The dinner-reservation system, whereby guests must reserve their table by 11:30 a.m. at the restaurant (reservations are not taken over the phone), might lead one to believe that this is a heightened dining experience. But it's really just a glorified version of the same buffet food. Maracuya Restaurant is semi-reliable steakhouse and grill. Breakfast and lunch are open buffet here, but with fewer options than the Bahia de Maimon. The only advantage is the less crowded dining area. An Italian restaurant is also on-site.

Guests can also eat at Riu Merengue restaurants. However, the food here is basically the same.

 Bottom Line

An expansive buffet, a huge beach, constant entertainment, bottom-shelf cocktails, an extremely crowded pool, and full access to facilities and restaurants across two Riu properties -- including the less expensive Riu Merengue. The overpriced and underserviced Riu Bachata only offers a little more beachside privacy and slightly better beds than its sisters next door.

Things You Should Know About ClubHotel Riu Bachata

Address

  • Bahia De Maimon, Puerto Plata

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Bachata Riu
  • Club Hotel Riu Bachata
  • Clubhotel Riu Bachata Hotel
  • Clubhotel Riu Bachata Puerto Plata
  • Riu Bachata
  • Riu Bachata Dominican Republic
  • Riu Bachata Puerto Plata
  • Riu Puerto Plata

Room Types

  • Junior Suite
  • Standard Room
  • Triple Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 610
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Casino: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Address: Bahia De Maimon, Puerto Plata
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