Flight: Skyservice direct from Ottawa. The plane was a 757 this year; a big improvement in seat room. I could go on about the service etc…but we got there and back safely, and in this case, it is about the destination not the service on the journey. Enough said.
Arrival at Resort: Sunquest rep easy to find at the airport, just after you collect your luggage. You just tell them which resort, and they tell you which number of bus to get on. Bus from airport went just to Riu Bachata, so it was a quick trip of approx. 25 mins once we left the airport. Check in was well organized, room key, towel cards, safe key and map of resort all ready in individual envelopes. Our room was not ready, but our friends was, so we dropped off our luggage in their room, changed and headed for lunch and the beach. We could have checked our luggage or had a porter bring it, but as we knew the resort well, we just took the luggage with us and found our own way.
Rooms: We had sent an email with a room request, and we were given our requested location, (thanks Hector) and our friends were just across the hall. We were in building 6, facing the ocean. Safe included with room, bathroom has ample room and hairdryer provided. The room was very clean, kept clean all week – I can never believe how they clean away all the sand that seems to get into the room, but they manage somehow. We had towel sculptures most days, and always shampoo, soap etc was refilled. Our mini-bar was restocked daily, including water, beer, Pepsi and tonic. The drying rack on the balcony was well used again this year. (hint- bring some clothespins, we did and left them there) . The balconies are quite big, and have 2 chairs and a small table on them. There are 6 large drawers in the room, and the closet is huge with about 25 plastic hangars. We appreciate the screens on the window and patio doors – I can’t comment on the air conditioning because we slept with our patio door and window (we had a corner unit, so had both) open and listened to the sound of the waves each evening. Lovely! The sunset over the Bay is beautiful.
Food: One complaint. It was all too good and we ate too much!!! The selection is outstanding, and one of the reasons we returned to Riu after trying other resort. Can’t say enough about the variety of food, presentation and quality. They have different theme nights – one night was Mexican, one Dominican and one Asian as I remember. Lots of fresh fruit at each meal, at dinner there is more than one kind/preparation of beef, chicken and fish, as well as at least one roast being carved, huge salad bar, soup, vegetable dishes, pizza, and made to order pasta. (this is not a complete list) One night there was a large presentation of paella, other nights there were mussels and smoked salmon available. Always a large selection of desserts and ice cream.
We had lunch every day in the beach restaurant which suited us well. It is open air, and close to the beach and pools. They serve sandwiches, salad, burgers, hot dogs, pasta, chicken, fries and more. Ice cream always available, along with other desserts. A couple of days they had cooking demonstrations near the beach restaurant at lunch time, and one day a beach bar-b-que. Evenings and breakfast we enjoyed tables on the outside deck of the main restaurant. Breakfasts had cold cereal, fruit, made to order smoothies, cold meat, cheese, huge selection of assorted breads and pastries, omelettes made to order, other types of eggs, bacon, sausages, French toast, pancakes and fresh donoughts (I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things) We had one meal in the Steakhouse; easily made a reservation one morning. They take reservations from 7:00am just for that day. There are two fixed seating times at the specialty restaurants, 6:30pm and 8:30pm. The salad bar and hot appetizers are buffet style, and then you are served your main course and dessert. The atmosphere is quieter than the main restaurant, which was a nice change. The steak was just o.k. – tasty but very thin. The onion soup was delicious, as were the other hot appetizers. Our son had the ½ chicken dinner which was a bit hit – tasted like rotisserie chicken. We did not try the other specialty restaurant which is Italian. Menus for both restaurants are posted just outside the main restaurant.
Pools & Beach: The main pool with the swim up bar is very busy in the afternoons; the other pool with the waterfall is always quieter so we used both at different times. Both pools are very large. The pool with the swim up bar was sometimes sandy by the afternoon, but the pool staff were continually cleaning floating leaves etc out of the pools. We also spent a lot of time at the beach. The small beach in the cove beside the Bachata has good snorkelling, and wonderful shells. Too bad they have removed the beach chairs from this beach. The main beach has lots of shade, and some areas are a bit rocky. Neither of the kids in our group needed water shoes, nor did the adults. The last 2 days we were there the sea was as rough was we have ever seen in Puerto Plata, and the waves were something to see. Unfortunately, we had to stay out of the ocean, but still enjoyed walks on the beach.
Staff/Animation Events: We found everyone we had contact with to be helpful, friendly and polite. The animation team works hard to include everyone; and is continually in circulation and chatting with guests. They always seem to be laughing, or trying to make you laugh. Great fun! Many activities available throughout the day including darts, horse shoes, volleyball, aerobics, to name a few. We had quick service at each bar. The kids enjoy the self-serve pop, water and juice. We noticed staff cleaning continually – in all areas. The washrooms all have an attendant providing hand sanitizer, and this is available at the entrance to the dining room as well. The evening show schedule is posted in the main lobby, as well as notices regarding daily special events such as the beach party, street party etc.
Tours: The only time we left the resort was on a tour we arranged with Isaira Tours, which was recommended to us on this site. We set our own agenda and pace, the driver spoke English very well, and we had a great day on a tour that included the fort, amber museum, cigar factory, market, Brugal, and other sightseeing. Highly recommended this tour company.
Shopping: This was our 6th trip to the DR, and we don’t go for the shopping. However, the rum at Brugal is I think the best price going, and we found that for the few things we did buy we had a price in mind, and stuck to it during the bargaining process. As usual, there were times when we did not agree on a price with the vendor, and we pleasantly thanked them for their time and moved on. Now, a few times this worked well for us as when they realized we were ready to leave the price became acceptable.
The Caribbean Street on the resort has a lot of selection – we browsed through, but the bit of shopping we did was in town. Also, one night additional vendors come in to the resort. A craftsperson making glass ornaments and small animals was in the lobby a few evenings as was a cigar vendor every evening. We had a great trip, and have come to depend on Riu to provide consistent service which they have. We hope to return to a Riu property in the future!