The sole adults-only hotel on the five-resort Riu complex, the Macao has a generally upscale vibe that’s significantly more tranquil than its sister properties. There’s still the requisite poolside entertainment and loud music by the gorgeous, white-sand beach, but couple-friendly amenities (which the other properties lack) include name-brand liquor and a designated VIP section on the beach. While this all-inclusive features sleek rooms and fun nightly entertainment, many guests complain about the mediocre food and the long walk to the gym and spa.
This adults-only resort is tranquil -- when compared to its sister properties.
The Riu Palace Macao is part of the gated Riu complex, which boasts five resorts of varying levels of luxury. Macao is arguably the most luxurious, although the nearby Riu Palace Bavaro gives it a run for its money. But what only the Macao can boast is an adults-only policy. This means that -- while there are still the loud, cheesy water aerobics classes in the pool and the live music by the beach -- this resort has a quieter, more tranquil vibe than the others. It is also the smallest of the five resorts, with just 364 rooms.
Middle-aged couples make up the majority of the guests here, but adults of all ages can be found relaxing by the pristine pool and walking through the lush grounds. Even when we visited during peak season, the resort didn’t feel overly crowded, and there were plenty of available lounge chairs at the pool and on the beach. The fact that guests of the Macao have their own section on the sand helps to ensure this.
This resort still offers party-focused fun -- with numerous bars, nightly entertainment, and a theater -- but the neighboring Hotel Bambu has a slightly younger, more party-centric vibe.
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.
Rooms are spacious and contemporary with modern amenities.
All-white rooms, accented by pops of color, are sleek and spacious. With balconies, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and liquor dispensers stocked with name-brand alcohol, they have a decidedly sleek -- if not over-the-top luxe -- beachy vibe, and large bathrooms with rainfall showerheads and double vanities were designed with couples in mind.
There are three room types, and all include stocked mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, and laptop-size safes (and clock radios versus iPod docks). Upgrading to a suite includes the addition of a sitting room and a whirlpool tub, while Jacuzzi Suites feature all of the above, as well as whirlpools on the balconies.
A long list of all-inclusive features, but some are located at sister properties
This all-inclusive property boasts a long list of features. The standout here is the gorgeous, white-sand beach. The water is crystal-clear, and while there’s plenty of activity on the sand (picture volleyball games and live music), guests of the Macao have a designated section on the beach to ensure they have lounge chairs and room to relax. There’s also a beachside cabana where guests can schedule massages.
Unlike its sister properties, the Macao has just one main pool, but it is large and pristine. There’s a nice swim-up bar, and daily classes such as water aerobics are offered. Guests can also visit the pools at neighboring resorts for no additional charge. The neighboring resorts are also home to the spa and the fitness center that Macao guests have access to, but it’s a bit of a walk. Additional features include non-motorized water sports, tennis courts, a small business center, an open-air theater, and a casino (which was “closed until further notice” during our stay).
While free-flowing brand-name liquor is certainly a perk, the food and drink service at the Macao is less than ideal. Multiple guests complain about the mediocre food at the resort’s five restaurants, three bars, and coffee shop. The similarly priced Dreams Palm Beach, about a 20-minute drive away, is known to have better food and an equally long list of features, so it's worth comparing rates.