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“New Years week at Riu Bambu”

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ClubHotel Riu Bambu
Ranked #76 of 113 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed 8 January 2006

We just returned from a splendid week's stay at the Riu Bambu.We found this property on Orbitz and were a bit hesitant at first as we were unfamiliar with Riu properties and with Punta Cana. We were there from 12-29 to 1-4 and celebrated New Year's at the property.
I want to thank everyone who wrote a review as we(two couples that went-ages 27-40) read every review and this really helped to prepare us for the week. Some of my thoughts from the week..

Arrival at Punta Cana-luggage was quick to arrive and airport was surprisingly modern.We took a cab to the property(approx 35 minutes) and paid $30 US dollars.
I have been to several Caribbean islands and I know the drivers are usually crazy and the roads are usually too narrow so the first thing we did when we got in the cab was ask the driver to stop so we could have some beers for the ride to the resort. We picked up dos cervesas(Presidente's) for $2.50 each at the first roadside stand and enjoyed those in the cab on the way to the resort.

Arrival at Riu Bambu-Very quick check in and help with our bags was immediate.We were met with a welcome cocktail on arrival. We were quickly off to our room to get settled.
NOTE-thanks to an earlier review, we called ahead to request a specific bungalow. We wanted something that was closer to the front of the resort and away from the new palace under construction. We also wanted a second floor as we were warned that there would probably be less bugs, etc on the second floor than the first.We were thrilled when they gave us the exact bungalow we had requested.Also, even as we walked around the resort all week, we NEVER heard any of the construction being done at the new palace.

Dining-While we had most of our meals at the Colonial Restaurant, we had no problems finding something to eat on each particular night.We are not the fussiest people so we were certainly able to choose between all the fish, pork, beef, pasta, and salad options each night. We always tried to save room for the ice cream at the end of the night. The dining room was a little warm but not as bad as I had read in an earlier review.There were plenty of fans circulating to help keep things cool.We did eat at the ala carte restaurants on two nights.I would highly reccomend the Caribe restaurant which is in a spectacular location overlooking the water with a great ocean breeze. It is a 5 course meal and it is nice to be waited on after so many buffets. I would not reccomend the Steakhouse which is in the Mamajuana restaurant. Food and service were pretty bland. If I had to bring one thing for dinner(and this is minor), I would have brought my own salad dressing.The salads were great but none of us could find an acceptable dressing we all liked(see, I told you it was minor)
We also had lunch each day at Mamajuanas as opposed to the Colonial.They have a no shoes, no shirt lunch and this was preferred over getting dressed in the middle of a hot afternoon.

Bar/Liquor-There really were 4 liquor dispensers in each room. They were brandy, vodka, gin and rum. They would restock your room fridge every two days.In the fridge is 3- bottled beers, 3- 7-up, 3 diet pepsi, and 3 pepsi's. There is also a 1 gallon bottle of filtered water that is for drinking.Do not drink from the sink in the bathroom.They will refill your fridge and bar every 2 days or whenever you call them and request them to. NOTE-Once in a while, I would go to the convenience store on the property and buy some Bud Lights, Gatorade, and Diet Coke.I am not a big Pepsi fan so having Diet Coke available for a small fee was a huge relief.They also have bottles of Dasani water available and they both cost less than one US dollar.The bartenders were great and would give you whatever you wanted. Be sure to ask for the top shelf stuff like Stoli or you will be served the local liquor.We are big wine drinkers and we didnt expect much and we were still a little dissapointed.They had wine taps in all the restaurants and it was a step below Charles Shaw. It had a very vinegary flavor. While we were there, there was one group from Canada who brought 3 cases of Coors Light.The bartenders were happy to keep the beers behind the bar on ice for them.I wish I had thought of that! The only thing we couldnt find for drinks was Cranberry Juice. If you enjoy Cranberry Juice, you may want to bring your own. From many of the previous reviews, it was mentioned to bring a cooler or thermos. This was the best idea of the trip.I bought two Nissan thermoses on line..


These are the best I have ever owned.I would fill the thermos at lunch and it would still be cold with ice cubes intact 4-5 hours later. This came in very handy throughout the trip. I would fill it up for plane trips, beach trips, etc.

Rooms-Rooms were just average but we spent so little time there. The bathroom door opens backwards into the toilet and we didnt love the two beds pushed together.We would have preferred one queen bed as opposed to two doubles. Probably my biggest complaint of the trip was the firmness of the mattresses. We all thought they were way too firm and some people had trouble sleeping.The pillows are also real thin so some of us requested extra pillows.The AC and the fan kept the room very cool at night. We would have a cocktail on the patio before dinner as well.One nice surprise(for me, not my girlfriend) was the amount of US TV channels in the room.They had ESPN,CNN, ESPN News, TBS, WGN, and a few others.We didnt watch alot of TV but it was nice to be able to catch up on what was going on in the world.I also got to watch the end of the Rose Bowl even though the announcers were speaking Spanish.

*German tourists could be pretty rude at times.We only encountered this twice but I am sure other countries say the same thing about Americans.It just depends on the person.
*Only about 20% of the visitors were US.My guess is that Canadians were another 20% and Europeans were about 60% which leads us to..
*Topless sunbathing-Nothing we had a problem with but you should be forewarned if you have young kids, etc. All the topless bathing was at the beach and not at the pool.Unfortunately, it is usuallly the ones with their tops off that should have them on and vice versa.
*The beaches are spectacular and where we spent most of our time. We were there during a busy week and had to be there by 10:30 or so to insure we could reserve a beach chair
*We also brought about $25 in one dollar bills to tip people.We also left a little something for our maid and our server in the main dining room.
*There is no ATM on the resort so make sure you have what you need.
*We were able to negotiate prices on all jewelry, cigars, etc. Normally, we would negotiate up to 50% of the asking price. We had some nice Cuban cigars on the trip but did not bring them back to the states.I did buy some Romeo&Juliet Dominican cigars at the duty free shop at the airport.
*No one was sick at all the week we were here.We drank the bottled water, ate the fruit, and ate the salad.The harm is not drinking any water and then becoming dehydrated.We also brought our own medical kit from home(Immodium, Nyquil, Aspirin, etc) and were happy that we didnt need it. Guys may want to bring some hydro cortisone as wearing a wet bathing suit all week can lead to chafing or a rash(I learned that one the hard way)

Overall, we had a great trip.The resort is wonderful and the staff is extremely friendly. While I would definitely come here again, my preference would be to try a Riu at another country to experience something different.If you have already booked your trip here, feel confident that you will have a wonderful time.

  • Stayed: December 2005
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52  Thank robm44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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A TripAdvisor Member
Milton, Canada
Reviewed 6 January 2006

We had a wonderful week in Riu Bambu. I don't understand that somebody would complain about food. We had a duck, turkey, fish, crab, caviar, salmon, shrimps, special pasta, pork chops, steaks....There was a lot's of variety. Regarding to a review from Jan. 1st I would like to know what these people are eating at home.! It really upsets me that some people are never happy. Everybody at the resort is working very hard and also very long hours. They have always big smile on their faces and try to make everybody happy. To me you must have stayed in different resort. We had 2 teenagers with us and they absolutely loved the place. Staff was friendly, we asked to be moved closer to the beach and next day we were able to move.
Our room was always clean and decorated with different animals made out of towels. So please when you go for holiday be happy and enjoy your stay. Don't try to look for negatives because you are not only ruining your holiday but also giving people wrong idea about this place.

  • Stayed: December 2005
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29  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 January 2006

If you have been to the Riu Bambu before you will know why I chose this title!

My husband and I, along with our three teen boys aged 19,16 &15 stayed at the RIU Bambu Dec 8-23rd.

We found the rooms always clean and never saw a bug in them! We went for a good time and certainly had it. It is not a "party place", but the boys still found quiet abit to do at night and connected with some fellow Canadians! The language (spanish) was a barrier for them, they probably would have enjoyed their time in the DR alot more had they listened to their Mom and taken some spanish classes!

The night time entertainment was ok, the staff work so very hard you just had to appreciate it!

Food - all of us found the food excellent (we mostly ate at the buffet) and the wait staff fabulous.

Bars - we also had no problem getting a good drink, we did learn (thanks to some regular Bambu travelers) that you need to ask for "top shelf" when ordering liquor, this ensures you get the good stuff!

Beach - Oh wow, this was my favorite part of the whole vacation! It is really beautiful, I am so sad not to have it in MY backyard! We never had a problem finding a chair at the beach, or near the pool for that matter.

I could go on and on about this place, but if you want a beautiful beach, good food and great service book at the Riu Bambu. The only way you will be disapointed is if you are an extremley fussy person!

Relax and enjoy yourself!

  • Stayed: December 2005
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31  Thank iwanna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2006

Where do I begin, this place is amazing. We traveled there during the Thanksgiving holiday which was 3 adults and two children. We arrived at the airport mid day and they greeted us warmly with the local music playing and the ladies were dressed in traditional dresses. It was A 20 minute bus ride to the hotel through the town which was a bumpy ride as the roads do need some improvement but it gave us a chance to see the local community and their lifestyle. The Hotel was a grand place where we were greeted with open arms and a fresh drink of our choice, the rooms and the staff was prepared and ready for us with no problems. We checked into our rooms and they were great, the rooms had a large bathroom with all the necessary items. You will need an adapter for the plugs are different which you can pick one up n the airport along the way. The rooms had a nice view of the area and the grounds were well maintained as they were constantly working to improve the landscaping. The beds are a bit firm but not uncomfortable at all. The maid service was detailed and they were always pleasant. There is a small bar in the room for drinks, snacks and alcohol, all free of charge and can be restocked at any time. It was just a short walk to the beach area and there was abundant space if you wanted to be alone or plenty of action if you choose to participate in the daily activities. The area around the pool was spacious and plenty of loungers in the area to choose. There was a swim up bar in place where and you could relax and have your drinks without ever leaving the water. They begin serving drinks at 0900 everyday and you are welcomed to drink your heart out if you so desire. The meals are grand, there are three different areas where you have your dinner and you make your reservations the morning of the meal. Each one had a big variety of choices, was well prepared and the staff was exceptionally nice. For breakfast and lunch you could just choose which one and when you wanted to go without any reservations. No one got sick during our trip, many reviews discuss this issue so I will as well, anytime you travel and you are new to an area if you drink a abundant amount of the local water, stomach virus are bound to happen, if the locals traveled to America they would probably encounter the same thing from our water as it is just different things in the water that our body gets used to. If you want to prevent this drink bottled water only and you will be just fine. The restaurants are very clean and sanitary and no one should have any problems with the way the meals are prepared. They were nice and had plenty of choices as well. Breakfast and lunch is casual dress code, swimsuits are fine as well as flip flops, however for dinner dress clothes are strongly urged, this is a great opportunity to mingle and get dressed up with all your new found friends. There is always something going on till the late night if you are into late nights and activities. There are plenty of things for the kids and the facility is surely kid-friendly as there is plenty to do with them. There are three other RIU complexes in the area and you are welcomed to share there facilities as well but the Bambu was the best overall in our opinion. There are shops in the area were you can find just about anything you need or want as well as the gift shops. Some key things to note for the trip are drink bottled water only, bring zip lock bags to prevent your valuables form getting wet while on the beach. This is a tropical island and you will have frequent short rain showers but they will quickly pass. The beach is topless at your discretion so be fore warned if this is a problem for you and there is no ATM machine nearby so bring plenty of cash and they can exchange it for local currency if you need. Most all places there will accept dollars if you choose to buy anything. The staff has some parrots and others to take pictures with if you like. Overall we had a blast and did not want to leave at all. I give it two thumbs up for sure, loved every minute of it.

  • Stayed: November 2005
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26  Thank rrrcoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2006

We stayed in Riu Bambu from 18-26 December and had a great relaxing time.

The beach is beautiful, amazing how far you can walk, especially if you go left! The sea water becomes clear as soon as you have passed the last hotel. It is as nice as on the postcards. We wanted to walk all the way to the end, but after 1.5 hrs walking we decided to turn and go back. After the last hotel, there were just 5 other people walking there. Incredible!

Rooms were nice and clean. As we always turned off the a/c the humidity smell wasn't that wonderful, but after opening the doors it was perfect. First time that I've seen so many clothes hangers in the cupboard!
The negatives: the bathroom is quite small and matrass is too hard.
A big disappointment: 1 day I forgot to put my NEW watch in the safe and yes.... it was stolen. I probably won't get any money back from my insurance as I didn't go to the police.

The staff is extremely friendly, even though they hardly get any tips.

The buffet restaurant is good, the theme restaurants are terrible. I found it really weird that they serve the same meal every day.
Mamajuana restaurant for lunch is excellent. I still miss the hamburger and fries....

Entertainment: not so impressive. I thought the magic show was boring. I am not into the "adult entertainment", I find that so childish and kind of vulgar.

Bar: of all the pina coladas I had, I guess there were only 2 or 3 that had rum in it. Even if I asked to add the rum, they would "forget" it. In the end I started drinking Cuba Libre.
The house wine was like vinegar. The bottled wine was a bit better.

We did a bus tour to Santa Domingo. It took 4.5 hours to get there and we were not very impressed. We now know how the people live and what the island looks like, but it's not worth the trip.

  • Stayed: December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
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13  Thank BianchiNetherlands
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Bambu

Address: | Playa Arena Gorda, Punta Cana 23000, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#65 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#69 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#70 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: RM685 - RM1,521 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Bambu 3.5*
Number of rooms: 740
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located in Punta Cana * Situated on Arena Gorda Beach * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * Within the Riu Resort, along with the Riu Palace Punta Cana, Riu Palace Macao, Riu Taino and Riu Naiboa hotels * Main building and 1-story bungalow complex * Surrounded by 46,000 m2 / 50,300 sq. Yards of palm groves, adjacent to the beach * 50 km / 31 miles from Higley * 600 m / 1,980 ft. From Caribbean Street * 30 km / 19 miles from Punta Cana Intl. Airport * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Bambu Punta Cana
Riu Bambu Dominican Republic

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