Our vacation this year was booked with Sunquest Vacations thru Sell off Vacations & was originally slated for the Riu Mambo. But due to a scheduling change that happened in October, we lucked out and got an excellent price for the Riu Bachata…$1057.00+TX pp for 2 weeks. Our carrier was Thomas Cook flying Jazz Air & as with all Tour Operators, everything is not as smooth as could be. From the time that we booked in August, to the week before we departed from Toronto, our flight time/days were changed 5 times. In the 10 trips that we’ve taken to the D.R., we’ve never had this many changes before!!
Arrival: Flight/Airport Arrival: Departure time was scheduled for Sunday January 9th at 6:20am from Terminal 3 at Toronto Airport. Arriving at the airport at 2:55am, we were directed to the Priority Check-in where our carry-on was weighed & then our luggage was weighed. We had Silver Service Package on our booking and were allowed an additional 5kgs of checked luggage weight per person…fortunately that wasn’t needed, but was good to have. Our seats were prebooked & even though our SSP allowed us to have Complimentary Advance Seat Selection, we opted to pay the additional $20pp for emergency row seating. Row 10BC gave us lots of legroom both on the flight down & on our return flight. We are ticketed & through Security Screening in a matter of minutes, and waiting in the Boarding Lounge 45 minutes later. As I mentioned, our departure time “was scheduled” for 6:20am, but due to a Flight Attendant Scheduling issue the flight was 2 attendants short! After waiting an hour for 1 attendant to arrive, we were allowed to board and then waited for the second Attendant. At 8:10am, with a round of applause welcoming him aboard, hatches were then battened down, seat belts were tightened and we were off !! A breakfast of hot waffles with apples, fresh fruit, whole-wheat roll and beverage were offered, with a refreshing mimosa something of a change. The Flight Attendants were excellent, although a bit flustered due to our late departure. 1:00 pm, our plane touched down at Puerto Plata Airport…. 1 hour 50minutes behind schedule. Once we disembarked, we had a quick turn thru Immigration and then onto the baggage carousel, where our luggage was one of the first one’s off the plane. In a matter of 15 minutes we were waiting in our bus for the transfer to the Riu.
Resort Arrival: The Riu’s have check-in down to a science…. very quick & not time consuming. Everything that we needed was in an envelope and waiting for us in the Lobby when we arrived. After a word of welcome from the Front Desk Manager, the contents of our envelope (2 towel cards, map of the resort, Guest Registration Form, Room Key, Safe Key & tumbler) was explained and we were invited to fill in the Guest Registration Form at our convenience and return it to the Front Desk before the end of the day. Our luggage was tagged & off we went to discover our room. 7 to 10 days prior to our arrival to the Bachata, I had emailed the resort with a request for “a king size bed with good mattress, a 2nd floor room with Ocean view” … we got just that, except the 2nd floor was actually a 3rd floor. Room location was in Building 2, room # 241, a corner room, which looked out onto Maimon Bay. It was quite a hike up the stairs for me, but the view from our balcony was breath taking and well worth the effort that we had to go thru daily. The porter delivered our luggage and after changing, we were off to explore the resort.
Rooms: Rooms: Our room was a good size for 2 people: 2 double beds pushed together to make a King. The mattresses were comfortable, which was important due to my husband’s back problem. Each side of the bed had a bedside table with 2 drawers & a bedside lamp attached to the wall. A wooden credenza with 6 drawers held the television and mirror. A seating area of table & 2 chairs were at the far end of the room, close to the balcony door. The entry way held a closet with plenty of hangers & rack space, with an alcove for the mini-bar and the Liquor Optics. The safe is located in the closet and was free …(if you stay at the Mambo or Merengue, there now is a charge for the safe & the Liquor Optics have been removed from the rooms). The bathroom looked as if it had been refurbished not long ago & we had no complaints. We did request an additional key for our room & that cost us a deposit of $10, which was returned to us when we checked out. Our maid did an excellent job of keeping our room clean & always surprised us with towel creations or flowers. We tipped her daily, leaving the tip on the bed pillow. The fridge was restocked every other day…we would leave a note & tip for the “water guy” with our request and had no problems getting what we needed.
Restaurants and Bars: Restaurants: Bahia de Maimon is the main Buffet Restaurant. Open for breakfast 7am to 10am, lunch 1pm to 3pm & dinner 6:30pm to 10pm. The resort was not running at full capacity and therefor we did not have long line ups for meals. Staff coped wonderfully keeping everything clean and well stocked. We had a very attentive waiter whose name was Melvin & he looked after us for the full 2 weeks of our vacation. In the evening Melvin would watch for us & by the time we arrived at our table, our wine & water would be poured and waiting for us. One evening close to the end of our stay, Melvin had decorated the table with flower petals and candles….a very nice touch!! A la carte restaurants were open 6:30pm to 8:00pm for first sitting & 8:30pm to 10pm for the second sitting. Reservations for the a la carte restaurants are made daily at the desk located at the entrance of the Bahia de Maimon between 7am and 10:30am…seating fills up quite quickly! Steak House- located in the Maracuya Restaurant, which is to the left of the Pool bar when facing the ocean. We did not eat at this restaurant during our stay, so I cannot give a true report. Italiano: is now located in a new area off the outside patio of the main Buffet Restaurant. The décor was welcoming & the whole room had a very nice ambiance. The menu was a hot & cold antipasto buffet, pizza, lasagna, vegetable soup, with breadsticks or rolls. The entrée was a choice of Salmon filet on a bed of spinach with mixed vegetable OR Chicken breast stuffed with eggplant OR Medallions of Beef. I enjoyed the salmon while hubby enjoyed the beef. Dessert was Tiramisu or Citron Mousse, with either coffee, cappuccino or tea. Wine was also available. Bars: There are 2 bars open during the day: the Bikini Bar (10:00 to 12midnight) located in the Courtyard just off the main Lobby & the Los Lirios bar located at the pool from 10am to 6:00pm. The Caramba Bar is located to the left of the Theatre just outside the doors to the Casino…hours of operation is 6pm to 7am. But for us, our favourite bar was the La Plaza Bar located at the Merengue.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beach/Pool/Grounds: At this time (mid January) there were ample loungers & palapas to choose from both on the beach and around the pool. Lots of activities such as beach volleyball, horseshoes, bocce ball, kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling to keep you busy, but if you are like me a good book was all I needed. The “sports beach” is now almost non-existent, as everything has been moved up front to the main beach. The beach area in front of the Bachata is not the nice smooth sand that people crave, but as you move east towards the Merengue and the Mambo, the beaches get much nicer. The pool is always busy with people playing games, swimming laps, exercising or just floating. The grounds are impeccable, gardens & grass tidied daily, new palm trees being planted and maintenance on walkways top-notch.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Off the Resort: Because we’ve been to the D.R. numerous times, we were not interested in any of the “usual off resort activities”. The one that did peak our interest was The Bravissimo Show at Ocean World…a Las Vegas type show of colour, feathers, sequins & music. The evening of dinner and show for the two of us was $117.00US….we did not go to the Casino afterwards, but returned on the shuttle that was supplied. A very good evening and well worth the money that was spent.
Other Comments: Lobby/Reception Area: This is a huge area with lots of couches and chairs or bistro type table & chairs for seating. It’s the hub of activity where you can sit and watch the arrival of excited vacationers as they wait for their rooms or watch the sadness of others as they get ready to leave for home. The Tour Operators have their desks here in the Lobby, with all the information that you need to know of flights and excursions. Also in the Lobby is the store, which has everything from aspirin to alcohol…if you can’t find what you need there, then the shops in Caribbean Street are just a short 2 minute walk. The Internet Café is located in a room just off the Lobby. There are 5 or 6 computers for use & the price is $3.00US for 15 minutes, $5.00US for 30 minutes & $8.00US for 1 hour. If you are a Riu Club member & you book 1 hour of Internet time, you will get an additional 30minutes free. The Internet time must be used within 72 hours. For those who like to read or are like us & don’t want to take their books back home, a book exchange is located in the same area as the Tour Operators. Also off the Lobby is the public washrooms, which are spotless & attached to the washrooms are shower/change rooms. These are an excellent bonus especially if you can not get a “late room checkout”…just bring your luggage down to the secure luggage room, enjoy the beach/pool for the rest of the day & then shower and change in time for your return flight home.
Staff/Management: The staff is one of THE best that we’ve come across in the 10 trips that we’ve made to the D.R. Everyone is friendly, personable and wanting desperately to assist and please you. We had a couple of issues with things in our room that needed to be repaired & they were done expediently and with a smile. Everyone had a smile on their face and love their job….and why not, they have wonderful Management Staff behind them. Friedrich (Freddie) Stieb, Customer Service Manager is a very visible person on this resort. I swear he had roller skates hidden in his shoes, as he was everywhere…at the Pool, along the beach, in the dining room, in the Theatre. And nothing escaped his attention! A very well run resort…thank you Freddie !