I haven’t stayed at a RIU hotel since I was a child so booking one this year for our anniversary trip to Punta Cana seemed like a good shout, especially as there were six RIUs to choose from. And trust me I’d know because our coach stopped at every single one (one of the cons of inclusive airport transfers). Anyway, the RIU Republica caught my attention being a fairly new complex and better still an adults only resort, which is great for people like me who are easily irritated by splashy kids in the pool (sorry). Turns out adults aren’t much different after a few frozen cocktails.
So, what do you need to know about the RIU Republica? Here are a few quick facts before I break it all down…
- 5-star RIU resort
- Built in 2016 with a large extension in winter 2017 (1300 rooms across 3 buildings)
- Exclusive to adults over 18 years old
- All inclusive food with 9 restaurants, a 24 hour snack bar and BBQ beach bar every lunch time
- Direct access to Arena Gorda beach
- Eight outdoor pools, some with swim-up bars
- Water park with several slides
- Indoor gym and outdoor gym
- RiuFit, group fitness activities and various water sports
- Two options of evening entertainment per night
- Spa facilities, hair salon and a shop
If you don’t like walking more than ten metres from your room to the beach, this may not be the place for you. Don’t get me wrong some rooms are located close to the beach and various pools, however some aren’t. We stayed in room 1326 which was the ‘new bit’ (also known as the party end, I’ll get to that) which was a ten or so minute walk from the beach, five of the pools and several restaurants. We didn’t mind, but I know some people might. They built the ‘quiet side’ of the resort in June 2016 and I believe it was in winter 2017 that they began to extend it to include a ‘party side’. The ‘quiet side’ closest to the beach has 5 pools which are fairly relaxed however still offer pool bars and in-pool games/entertainment, but it was still far quieter than the ‘party side’, which had music blaring from 10am and two party pools, one of which saw guests stripping off their swimwear to slide naked across the bar. No I was not one of those guests. It’s ok though, as long as you don’t mind a few drunks people and slightly gross pool water. As you can see from the list above, they also had and indoor and outdoor gym, spa facilities, a hair salon and a fairly large shop. Three words to describe the complex? Huge, inclusive, modern.
We were lucky to get an end room, which meant we had a slightly bigger balcony and a view across the inside of the resort, as opposed the road on the other side. It was clean and modern and the beds were unbelievably comfy, however I did have a few little niggles with it. The bathrooms didn’t look like they were only six months old (grubby tiles and a slightly dated fit out), the shower didn’t stay up when in use and flooded after the second use, the fridge was really loud and the cleaner often forgot to give us floor and hand towels. All of these fixable issues were raised to reception, some of which were attended to, some weren’t. The unlimited alcohol dispensers were a nice touch, but given that you can get alcohol anywhere anytime in the resort, we hardly used them. I also wasn’t a fan of the corridors which were long and bland (student halls vibes), and every night about 2am I heard people tearing down them screaming and laughing. The room was good, but it wasn’t a 5-star.
Food & Drink
There is absolutely something for everyone and with so many restaurant and snack-bar options, how can you ever get bored? What you can do however is overeat, which naturally I did at every opportunity. The jerk chicken from the beach snack bar is a dream (though no knives and forks which is weird), and the 24 hour Sports Bar did ok packaged sandwiches, hotdogs, burgers, nachos, fruit pots and some sort of pastry. We also ate in most of the nine restaurants. Here’s what I thought of them all:
- Sports Bar: Food 3*, Service not applicable
- Beach Bar: Food 4*, Service not applicable
- Small Buffet (near party pools): Food 4*, Service 2*
- Large Buffet (near beach): Food 4*, Service 5*
- Italian: Food 3*, Service 3*
- Asian: Food 4*, Service 4*
- Spanish: Food 3*, Service 3*
- Steak House: Food 4*, Service 1* (we left before dessert)
- Indian: Food 5*, Service 4*
Drinks wise the alcohol didn’t touch us, so they either really water down their drinks, are stingy on the measures or we ate too much to possibly feel the effects of alcohol. As a lightweight, this baffles me. That said, the drinks were amazing. You could find pretty much everything you could think of, and most of the cocktails were frozen. Seriously holiday vibes. Get the Pina Colada, Chocolate Martina, La Mumba, Banana Mama (with rum) and the Sammy Sosa.
I’m never that fussed about the holiday entertainment, but the shows at this hotel were pretty decent. We watched everything from Michael Jackson tributes, to magic shows, to Dominican dancing, and with the help of a Mama Juana to get through the jet lag feels, if you know you know, it always ended up being a good night. The entertainment was hosted in two places; by the Saona bar (party end) and in the Amphitheatre closer to the beach. Both had a bar with table service and the shows usually started around 9.30pm, which for someone like me who never goes out was a little bit late, but when you’re on holiday, do you care? Some nights the shows were replaced with a beach party, white party (you dress in white, did you guess?) and a foam pool party. All three were amazing but the pool party was definitely the best for us. I never thought I’d been flailing around to a DJ set in foamy pool at 11pm in the pouring Dominican rain, with a beer in hand and balloon hat on my head, but there’s a first time for everything and it was a 10/10. I really hope the entertainment team are on good money because they work around the clock every day getting everyone involved. I honestly saw them all every single day for our entire 11-day stay.
Pools & Slides
There were eight pools to choose from (listed below) which meant if you wanted peace and quiet or a drinking fest, you could have either or both. We tried four of the pools and ended up sticking to the Latin pool, which was definitely more of the chill pools. Each pool had a bar, food option and toilets close by, so you never really had to move too far from your sun lounger. That’s another thing, I was amazed at how many loungers were left even by late morning. Either we went in low-season or they stocked well, either way it worked for us. Some had no shade and some had crappy virtually transparent umbrellas, but most had fixed canopy-style awnings which were left to provide shade until about 5/6pm when the pool guys came and closed up for the night. All but one of the pools either had activities in them or in a shaded area close by. The pools were really clean (well, except maybe the one at the Saona bar) and I always saw them being cleaned and maintained.
- Pool at the Saona Bar (party end)
- Party pool with activities (party end)
- Water volleyball pool (party end)
- Latin Pool with a second pool at the Ola Bar (quiet end)
- Quiet pool (quiet end)
- Activities pool with a second pool at the Aquamar Bar (quiet end)
You also had an area dedicated to water slides which are manned at all times. There are four to choose from and despite saying “no way in hell am I going on those”, by the end of the first week I’d conquered them all. Some were scary as hell but honestly, it was a good laugh and I’d recommend having a go. They’re closed on Wednesdays, FYI.
The beach, what a dream! Clear waters, white sands, it’s everything you want to see in the Dominican. The ocean is the Atlantic (you only find the Caribbean Sea at the South of the Island) so it’s not the warmest first thing, but it’s not exactly like being on a British beach as I’m sure you can imagine. Shaded beds went quite quickly here, but if you’re not phased by a bit of sun then there’s plenty of beach to go around. It’s also a fairly long sandy walk in between two dunes to get back to the facilities at the resort, so bear that in mind. A wooden path along there would be way better for people. If you walk left you pass the Hard Rock Hotel, and if you walk right you pass numerous other hotels. Don’t forget to get up early to catch a sunrise to the right of the beach, too! The beach isn’t private, but each hotel has its own section. If you want to see a more secluded beach that’s out of this world, book a trip to Saona (post coming soon!).
Overall we loved our stay and would recommend it to anyone who loves somewhere with a good vibe all day and night. Just avoid going during Spring Break, because it takes a bit of a different turn during that season.
How would I rate the RIU Republica?