New Secrets Resort to Open in Panama (adults only all inclusive)

New Secrets Resort to Open in Panama

Photo Credit: Caribbean Journal

AMResorts is expanding to Panama, with the Secrets Playa Bonita Panama; it will be the first Secrets property in Central America.

Secrets will take over the existing InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort and Spa, which will operate under that name until Dec. 2015, when it will debut under the Secrets brand.

The 303-room hotel has a 10,000-square-foot spa. It is owned by Bern Hotels and Resorts.

Read the full article from the Caribbean Journal here.

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Trip Report: Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana, adults only, all inclusive resort

Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana beach view  Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana  Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana main building
Just back from six nights at the Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana.

Pros:

  • Absolutely beautiful resort, well maintained, spotlessly clean, with excellent food and service
  • Room: our room, a second floor suite, was very large, clean and insect free, a mini bar + liquor, coffee maker, Jacuzzi tub, robes, large walk in shower, safe, two balconies, two flat screen TVs, bidet, great air conditioning. I did miss having Fox News; had to settle for CNN.
  • Beach: one of the best I’ve ever been to. Very clean, with no rocks, no seaweed, no sharp seashells, plenty of chairs, palm trees everywhere. Great walking beach if you like that.
  • Pool temperature; cool enough to be refreshing, yet not so cold that it shocks you going in
  • Pool chairs: plenty to go around, including many in the shade; so many chairs in fact, they are pretty close together in spots, but as per usual, there are those guests who insist on getting out there at 6am, claiming their perfect spot, only to never be seen again for the rest of the day. One of these days, I hope to find a resort that doesn’t allow guests to put a towel down and leave for the day. Having said that, we always found chairs available when we got to the pool after breakfast about 10:30 am.
  • Massage on the beach, including champagne, was amazing, best massage we’ve had in our travels
  • Food: RIU resorts have great buffets, and this one was no exception. We tried the steakhouse, the Japanese restaurant, the Italian restaurant, and the Krystal fusion restaurant, and while they were all fine, we liked the buffet the best. It had different themes each night. The meals in the ala carte restaurants were carefully prepared and beautifully presented.
  • Service/tipping: the service was prompt, efficient, and friendly, and while I believe the bartenders and servers very much appreciated tips, I did not at all get the impression that the level of service depended on tipping. Special shout-out to pool bartender Juan and server Yasdenys! Regardless, do not go to any tropical all inclusive resort without taking at least $50 US in one dollar bills and another $50 in five dollar bills; you will thank me for this “tip”.
  • Vacation Express: this point is not related to the resort, but Vacation Express was a great tour company to work with. Everything went smoothly, including the check in, the flight, and the transfers. We were not expecting the free alcoholic beverages on the flight, e.g. Presidente beer, mixed drinks!

Cons:

  • Having to wear wristbands, make restaurant reservations (also see below), and worry about towel cards: once you have been to a Secrets resort, you will appreciate what I’m saying about these three items
  • Poor Wi-Fi: yes, it is free, but you have to be in certain spots in the lobby to get good service. Do not go here specifically for the offer of free Wi-Fi, you will be disappointed; it rarely worked for us anywhere except the main lobby
  • Loud drunks at the pool with the swim up bar: contrary to other trip reports, these were not just Americans. We saw many loud groups of drunks from all over, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and USA. It’s almost as if they’ve never had a few drinks before. Especially annoying was when they pull out their own Bluetooth-connected speakers and blare their iTunes music, assuming that everyone at the pool that day wants to hear their choice of music. We were never sure which pool was supposed to be the “quiet” pool. The larger pool is where all the dancing and animation activities occur, while the smaller pool with the swim-up bar has too many loud, obnoxious drunks and personal stereo speakers. Forget trying to read a book. This is why I always listen to audio books with my earbuds.
  • Restaurant (ala carte) reservations must be made in person (at the Japanese restaurant) from 7:30 am until 10:00 am, and you can make them only for that evening and the next three evenings. We were offered only two seating choices: 6:30 pm or 9:00 pm.
  • Poor shopping options: the free shopping trip takes you to one store (one owner) divided into three rooms: a jewelry store, cigar store, and very small disappointing souvenir shop. In summary, this is a beautiful, spotless resort, with excellent food and service, but after having been to a Secrets Resort, an Excellence Resort, the Jewel Dunn’s River, one Sandals resort, and three of the four Couples Resorts in Jamaica, I think we’ve now been “spoiled” as far as adults only all-inclusive resorts. The Riu Palace Macao is a great choice for those on a budget but still wanting an adults-only property.

Feel free to email me with any questions.

Related: Riu Palace Macao Punta Cana 2015
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