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
Related: Hotel guests Rate Free Wi-Fi at Top of Amenity List

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Windjammer Cruises…Are You Confused?

Island Windjammers Diamant

Island Windjammers Diamant
Photo Credit: Island Windjammers

Many cruisers continue to be confused by the different sailing ship options with “windjammer” in the title.  Hope this summary helps:

Cruise Line: Island Windjammers

Ships: Diamant, Sagitta

Itinerary (Diamant): Grenada and Windward Islands (Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Bequia, Union Island, Carriacou)
Itinerary (Sagitta): St. Maarten and the Leeward Islands (St. Barts, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Anguilla)

Island Windjammers Diamant

Photo Credit: Island Windjammers

Cruise Line: The Maine Windjammer Association

Ships:

    • American Eagle (Rockland, Maine)
    • Victory Chimes (Rockland, Maine)
    • Mary Day (Camden, Maine)
    • Heritage (Rockland, Maine)
    • Stephen Taber (Rockland, Maine)
    • Lewis R. French (Camden, Maine)
    • Nathaniel Bowditch (Rockland, Maine)
    • Angelique (Camden, Maine)
    • Issac H. Evans (Rockland, Maine)
    • Timberwind (Rockport, Maine)

Itineraries: Maine Coast

Cruise Line: Liberty Windjammer Cruises

Ships: Liberty Clipper (Homeport in Summer: Boston), Liberty Star (Homeport: St. Thomas)

Itineraries: Liberty Clipper: Bahamas; Liberty Star: Virgin Islands
Summer Itineraries: Boston, New York City,Great Chesapeake Bay

Cruise Line: Windstar Cruises

Ships: Wind Spirit, Wind Star, Wind Surf

Itineraries: Vary (Destinations include Italy, Mediterranean, Greek Isles, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Northern Europe, Transatlantic)

Related: Cruising to the Caribbean?  Get a day pass to an all-inclusive resort!
Related: All inclusive alcohol on cruises?
Related: The Importance of Travel Insurance

Congratulations to Funjet Vacations for 39 Years!

Funjet Vacations

This week marks an important anniversary for Funjet Vacations–for 39 years, they have worked with travel agents to provide unforgettable vacation experiences to millions of customers.

Since they opened their doors, a lot has changed in the travel industry.  Other competitors are now owned by an airline, online travel agency, competing retail travel agencies, and invested in by a venture capitalist firm. Funjet Vacations remains the only large scale tour operator that is still owned and operated by the family that founded the business. Click the logo to price and book a complete vacation online!

Related: Cruises Are Wonderful, but All-Inclusive Resorts Provide Stress Free Vacations
Related: Funjet Vacations Announces Charter Flights to Jamaica From Dallas
Related: Funjet Vacations Announces 2012 Charter Flights to Jamaica from St. Louis

More Awards for AMResorts (Dreams, Secrets, Now, Zoetry, Sunscape)

AMResorts

AMResorts Continues Award-Winning Tradition with More Industry Recognition for its Luxury Brands–58 awards won year to-date in 16 categories

AMResorts (Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, and Secrets, Dreams, Now and Sunscape Resorts & Spas) continues to receive the travel industry’s most important distinctions by demonstrating high levels of performance and exceptional guest services.  In 2012, AMResorts’ five brands have received 58 awards in 16 categories, with the most recent awards including the prestigious Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards and the Expedia Insiders’ Select 2012. Other award highlights include four Conde Nast Traveler: 2012 Gold List designations and seven 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. Below is a list of the most recent accolades received by the resort collection this year:

  • Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards 
    • Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, Top Resorts in Mexico
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Top Resorts in Mexico
    • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Top Resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas
  • Expedia Insiders’ Select 2012
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
    • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay
    • Secrets St. James Montego Bay
    • Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa
  • TravelAge West 2012 Wave Awards
    • Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, Best New Property or Major Renovation Caribbean
  • Distinctive “H” Award 2012
    • Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa, Food Hygiene
  • TripAdvisor 2012 Certificate of Excellence
    • Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Zoëtry Casa Del Mar Los Cabos, Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana, Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Secrets St. James Montego Bay, Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort& Spa, Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta, Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa, Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, Now Jade Riviera Cancun, Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun, Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa   
  • 2012 MDC Magazine: The Meeting Planners Magazine
    • Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Top 20 Small Luxury Hotels in Mexico for Meetings for 2012
  • Conde Nast Traveler: 2012 Reader’s Choice: Top Spas
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Top 20 Spas in Mexico & Central America (#6)
    • Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, Top 20 Spas in Mexico & Central America (#16)
  • 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Top 25 All Inclusive Resorts in the World (#14) and Top 25 All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico (#5)
    • Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in Mexico (#8) and Top 25 Best Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Mexico (#14)
    • Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Top 25 All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico (#17)
    • Zoëtry Casa Del Mar Los Cabos, Top 25 Best Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Mexico (#20)
    • Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Top 25 Hotels for Families in the Caribbean
  • Conde Nast Traveler: 2012 Gold List
    • Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya
    • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
    • Secrets Marquis Los Cabos
    • Secrets Capri Rivera Cancun
  • Travelocity Excellence Award Winners 2011
    • Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Secrets St. James Montego Bay, Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Adults Only All-Inclusive
    • Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa, Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, All-Inclusive

Related: New Secrets Puerto Los Cabos (Adults Only, All-Inclusive) Opening November 2013
Related: New Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta and Now Amber Puerto Vallarta
Related: Secrets Resorts — There’s an app for that!
Related: New Secrets Adults Only All Inclusive Resort in Cancun
Related: Secrets Resorts & Spas Celebrates Opening of Adults Only Secrets Huatulco
Related: Secrets Marquis Los Cabos to Open November 2011

Funjet Vacations Announces New Value Flights from Dallas for 2013

Funjet Vacations

Funjet Vacations has just announced their Value Flight service from Dallas/Ft. Worth via Sun Country Airlines.

They will offer new non-stop service for 2013 for the following destinations:

  • Cancun/Riviera Maya
  • Cozumel
  • Jamaica
  • Punta Cana

Funjet Vacations offers Charter & Value Flight service to top destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean from other select departure cities as well (Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, San Antonio, St. Louis).  These flights provide many great benefits such as convenient non-stop service, low $50 deposit policy, and auto price protection with their industry-leading All-In-One Travel Protection.  Plus, you will enjoy special airline inclusions like free checked baggage and in-flight bar service.

Contact Island Time Travel for more information or click the Funjet logo above.

Related: Funjet Anywhere Under the Sun – Everything is On Sale!
Related: Save Money with a Mystery Vacation
Also See: Vacation Express announces summer non-stop “Champagne Flights” to Jamaica, Cancun, and Punta Cana

Apple Vacations Announces New Non-Stop Vacation Flights from Detroit to Jamaica

Good news!  Apple Vacations has announced some new non-stop vacation flights for next Spring from Detroit to Jamaica on AirTran Airways.  They will also continue their non-stop charters to Cancun and Punta Cana.  See below chart for exact dates and days of week.  Contact Island Time Travel for more information.
Apple Vacations new Jamaica Flights from Detroit
Related: Apple Vacations Launches Flights to Jamaica from Lansing, Mich.
Related: All-Inclusive Couples Resorts Awarded Apple Vacations’ Coveted Golden Apple Awards for Exceptional Consumer Ratings
Related: Is an all inclusive resort right for your vacation?