Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Low rates and free-flowing bottom-shelf liquor attracts a spring break crowd.
Plenty of families descend upon the Riu Bambu, and the resort offers an array of kid-friendly amenities. Nonetheless, this hotel attracts a large number of collegiate spring breakers with its low rates, unlimited bottom-shelf liquor, and nightly entertainment, so the swim-up bar at the main pool can get a bit rowdy. The second pool is more tranquil, however, and though the resort often reaches max capacity during peak season, it’s sprawling, well-maintained grounds keep it from feeling overly crowded.
For those looking for a calmer scene, sister property Riu Palace Macao is decidedly more tranquil and more luxurious, but features higher rates. The same can be said for the Dreams Punta Cana about 20 minutes north; the Dreams property is also known to have significantly better food than the Riu properties.
On a pretty, white-sand beach in Bavaro
The Riu Palace is part of a huge complex of Riu resorts located on a pretty, white-sand beach in Bavaro, an area that is largely associated as Punta Cana but is, in fact, just slightly north of it. The resort is about a 30-minute taxi ride (costing about $40 USD) from the Punta Cana airport but once arrived, guests mostly stay on the property: There's not much outside of the complex's gates. Those looking to explore the local culture can drive about 10 minutes to the town of Friusa, which has a few restaurants and bars. There are also several golf courses within a short driving distance.
Dated rooms are dark and drab.
The rooms aren't the best feature at this mid-range property. They are relatively spacious, all feature balconies or terraces, and bottom-shelf liquor is “on tap”; otherwise, there is not much to say in their favor.
Aside from a few sun-weathered tropical prints framed on the walls, room decor is dark: dark, cheap wooden furniture, brown drapes, and thin, brown-and-tan striped comforters decorate the rooms. Standard Double Rooms feature two double mattresses pushed together. Rooms have tube TVs and Wi-Fi requires an additional fee. Bathrooms are equally minimal and dated.
All rooms come with irons and ironing boards, laptop-sized safes, and mini-fridges that are kept stocked with a few sodas and beers.
The Bambu property has all the requisite all-inclusive features, with nothing extra.
Like many all-inclusives in the area, the Bambu includes non-motorized watersports, daily and nightly entertainment, and access to some facilities at its sister properties -- such as a spa and tennis courts -- in its rates. The property also features many kid-friendly amenities; a kids’ club with arts and crafts, a playground, and a fun children’s pool with water features and a slide go above and beyond the kid-oriented offerings at some similar hotels. The Bambu also has two large pools -- one with a rowdy swim-up bar and one with a more tranquil scene -- and a lovely white-sand beach.
All food and beverages are included in the rates. Liquor is bottom-shelf, and can be found not only “on tap” in the rooms, but also at the hotel’s three bars and five restaurants. The buffet restaurant is the main dining option, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the poolside grill is also a popular spot by day. Three themed restaurants serve dinner, but the food at this property is mediocre at best.
A gorgeous white-sand beach, two pristine pools (one to please partiers and one more tranquil), and numerous included features make this Riu property a solid value. But dated rooms, mediocre -- at best -- food, and a pesky fee for Wi-Fi make it worth comparing prices with the nearby Iberostar Punta Cana, or spending a little extra at the Dreams Punta Cana.