When a five-star resort opens at 90% occupancy in its first week, it must be offering something exceptional. In the case of Riu Hotels & Resorts' latest all-inclusive property in Punta Cana, the Riu Republica delivers an adults-only experience marked by relaxation and personal choice amid the natural beauty of the 62-mile coastline known as La Costa del Coco.
Nestled between the Caribbean and the Atlantic in the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana has become a booming tourism destination with more than 50 megaresorts served by the busiest airport in the Caribbean. The Riu Republica, which opened in June along Arena Gorda Beach, features more than 1,000 guestrooms and three massive pools as well as four restaurants and five bars and cocktail lounges. And yet, despite its size, the resort exudes a pervasive sense of gracious hospitality.
One of the 1,000 guestrooms at the hotel, which opened in June.
A vision in sun-bleached white, the four-story resort's capacious rooms open onto broad balconies with panoramic vistas. Included in every room is a wall-mounted liquor cabinet with upended bottles ready to pour and a minibar consistently restocked with mixers. The in-room beverages are complimentary, and all the liquor is top-shelf: Stolichnaya and Beefeater, for example. Furnished in a palette of teal blue, white and gray with maritime motifs, the stylish rooms evoke the soothing atmosphere of a Greek isle.
The resort's contemporary entrance portico blends seamlessly into a spacious open-air lobby with commanding views of the expansive property and plaza courtyard. A grand allee of royal palms leads to the pool grounds and the ocean beyond where more than 200 palapas (thatched-roof huts) line the shore.
A sizable portion of Riu's clientele comprises repeat guests who appreciate the brand's signature focus on service and particularly the all-inclusive resorts that account for 70% of the company's holdings. "Some Europeans spend two months each winter at Riu because it can be cheaper than living at home," said Armin Kaestner, Riu's vice president of sales.
Riu was founded in Mallorca in 1953 and operates more than 100 hotels and resorts worldwide in various configurations that include Riu Palace, Riu Plaza/City, Riu Adults-Only and Riu All-Inclusive.
Tarantella is the Republica’s Italian restaurant, one of four restaurants at the resort.
The adults-only, all-inclusive Riu Republica caters to couples and individuals who relish the romance of a world without screaming and crying children. Soon after arrival and the signature welcome cava cocktail, guests invariably sink into a state of relaxation, though it might take 24 hours to realize that at least some of this bliss is a consequence of the absence of anyone under 18. Suddenly, couples are free to be who they were before they became parents, while newlyweds, the newly romantic and the happily single luxuriate in an environment void of adolescent angst. A peaceful civility reigns throughout the public spaces.
Evenings at the resort include live music and entertainment on a huge stage in the hotel courtyard, followed by disco nights at Pacha, which is located alongside the sports bar that remains open 24/7. For those suffering on the morning after, Renova Spa is conveniently situated off the lobby to offer a variety of treatments as well as a beauty salon. A private Jacuzzi lounge is a serene sanctuary with garden vistas.
Located between the ocean and the hotel, the extensive pool area includes Aquamar, a swim-up bar complete with built-in tables and sun loungers, and a deejay who hosts a variety of activities such as aqua-fit exercise classes. The palapas and sun loungers are arrayed in rows along the white-sand beach where a variety of activities are available, including windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, pedaloes (small paddleboats), party boats and catamaran sailing.
Meanwhile, at the neighboring Riu Resorts complex, chocolate fanatics congregate at Chocolate & Cia, where chocolate workshops and tastings feature some of the best 100% organic chocolate in the world.
Chocolate & Cia at Punta Cana’s Riu Resorts complex features chocolate workshops and tastings of its 100% organic chocolate. Photo Credit: Courtesy of MRNY
Guests who venture beyond the addictive comforts of the Riu compounds will discover the diverse topography of this tropical maritime nation. A day tour with ScubaCaribe, founded in 1991 to provide watersports and scuba diving for Riu, showcases the beauty of lush tropical cays and offshore islands such as Catalina.
At Casa de Campo in La Romana, the Mediterranean-style village Altos de Chavon overlooks Rio Chavon, which is accessible via paddleboat. Opened in 1982, the cultural center has featured performances by entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Julio Iglesias and the Pet Shop Boys at the 5,000-seat, Roman-style amphitheater.
Even with the broad array of options, it's just as likely that happiness at the Riu Republica will be found beneath a palm tree with a tropical cocktail as vibrant as the sunset.
Through Dec. 23, rates for a standard double room with king bed begin at $99 per night, double. Visit www.riu.com.