Riu Bachata…November 14 to 21, 2012 Ruth (mra)& Dave, Belleville Ontario We had the chance to take an extra vacation to the D.R. this year & decided to return to the Riu Bachata in Puerta Plata. The price for one week fit the budget & the dates fit the work schedule. Although our trip was booked through Signature Vacations, we were to fly Sunwing Airlines…not one of our favourites. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised & very impressed with the flight, service & all-round attitude. Flight/Airport Arrival: Departure time was scheduled for 6:20am on Wednesday November 14, as stated, flying Sunwing from Toronto. We had a very quick check-in at the Airport, my husband flying Elite Plus & myself and our friend flying Economy. Elite Plus seating is Row 1, seats ABC, & Rows 2,3,4 & 5 seats DEF. Hubby had Row 3D on the outbound flight, with plenty of leg-room & our friend and myself found that we had ample leg room in Row 5BC. It was on the return flight when she & I sat in Row 6DE, that "the sardine can effect’ came into being & we were quite cramped for leg room. Departure was on time as we taxied into position at 6:30am with take off at 6:40am. 11:30am we touched down at Puerto Plata Airport & a few minutes later we were off the plane & heading to Immigration. We 3 were the first through the "new" Tourist Card line, as we had purchased our TC on-line prior to our departure and then on to the luggage carousel to retrieve our belongings. In a matter of a few minutes our luggage was in our hands & we were out to find our transfer and on our way to the Bachata
I still say that the Riu Hotels have one of the best check-in systems going. We arrive at 1:00pm & everything that we need is waiting for us. 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 & we were directed to our room. 7 days prior to our arrival I had emailed the resort /General Manager Friedrich (Freddy) Stieb, with a room request for ourselves & our friend. ….a room with Kingsize bed, comfortable mattress & close to amenities. Our rooms did not disappoint…Building 10, Rms 1004 & 1006. A nice garden view from our patio.
Rooms: Since our last visit to Riu Bachata in January 2011, the whole resort has had a refurbish. Everything was cleaner with a fresh coat of paint, tiling & flooring repaired where needed and a new colour scheme in the rooms. What a lovely surprise to have crisp white bed linens with a Royal Blue “scarf” across the bottom & 2 Royal Blue décor pillows greet you as you walk in the room. The drapes on the window/patio door was also the new Royal Blue colour & this made the room very regal. 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 a new flat screen television and mirror. A seating area of table & 2 chairs were at the far end of the room, close to the patio door. The entry way held a closet with hangers & rack space, with an alcove for the mini-bar and the Liquor Optics. The safe is located in the closet at floor level & if someone has mobility problems, then this could be an issue for them. The bathroom had been refurbished & we had no complaints. Our only complaint, which we did not discuss with Reception, was the hard mattress & the quality of the pillows. Since we were aware of the quality of the pillows from a previous visit, DH brought his own. I think that this should be something that the owners/management should look into. 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 some unique towel creations. We tipped her daily, leaving the tip on the bed pillow. The mini-bar 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: Main Buffet & a la carte Restaurants: Being “off shoulder season” the resort was not at full capacity. The staff did a remarkable job keeping everything stocked & clean. Elvin was our very attentive waiter for the 7days of vacation. He would watch for us each night & have a table ready with water & wine before we even had a chance to sit down ! Steak House a la carte: located in the Maracuya Restaurant, which is to the left of the Pool bar when facing the ocean. We ate here on a Sunday evening & it wasn’t busy at all for the 6:30pm sitting. The Filet Mignon with vegetables was very good…cooked to our specifications. Our friend had the Lamb Chops with vegetables & she was disappointed, as they were over cooked & quite dry. We would fore-go dessert here, for a “diabetic creation” that was waiting for us in the main Buffet. Italian a la carte: located in an area off the outside patio of the main Buffet Restaurant has a welcoming décor. A varied array of appetizers & antipastos greeted us after we had placed our order for the Entrée. The Rose’ wine that we had during the week was one of the best & it went perfectly with our ‘Grilled salmon on a bed of spinach’ & the ‘Eggplant stuff Chicken Breast’ The 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
As I mentioned previously, our stay was during “shoulder/off season”. There were plenty of loungers available at the beach and around the pool so the “towel game” was not as prevalent here as at other resorts….although the palapas were taken up rather quickly. The gardens & lawns were well groomed, palm trees well maintained and maintenance on walkways & public areas was top-notch.
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 excited vacationers wait for their room packets or others drag their heels 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 about your flights and excursions. Also in the Lobby is the store, which has everything from aspirin to alcohol and if you still can not find what you need, then the shops in Caribbean Street are just a short 2 minute walk. There is no Internet Café located in the Lobby, but a lap-top computer is available at the Reception Desk for short usage. I had been told at our Orientation Meeting that there was an Internet Café available on Caribbean Street, but I wasn’t able to locate it during my walks. As I had my own NetBook with me I wasn’t in a panic. Free WiFi is available in the front Lobby and during our stay at the Bachata WiFi towers & routers were being installed around the complex. By December, WiFi connection would be available in the rooms for a fee. 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 12 trips that we’ve made to the D.R. Everyone is friendly, personable and wanting desperately to assist and please you. Smiles were abundant especially when you made the effort to speak to the staff in their language. These employees 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 think his shoes had faster roller skates hidden in them this year, as he was everywhere…And as always, nothing escaped his attention! A very well run resort…thank you Freddie.
Food:The food at the Riu’s is very enjoyable…In the 7 days that we were there, I don’t think we had a bad meal at all. Breakfasts for my husband was the highlight of the day, while for me I looked forward to the homemade soups and bread at the evening me: We enjoyed our week’s stay at the Riu Bachata. The weather was perfect, although that was not the case prior to our arrival. When it did rain, it was in the evening or later at night. This trip was fun for us, as we were able to “see” our favourite destination through the eyes of our friend, a ‘first time traveler’. What an experience…for the 3 of us. Would we return again? Absolutely !!