I’ve just returned from an 11 night trip to the Dominican Republic with my wife, staying at The Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium. We booked this hotel mainly due to the fact it was adults only, but like most hotels in Punta Cana, it also offers all-inclusive board by default. We were really looking for a restful break spent on the beach or by the pool in late April / early May and we took a chance with booking in the Dominican Republic, despite this being the end of the high season. In the end our gamble paid off, with only a couple of days of rain throughout out stay.
The Royal Suites are part of four hotels forming the Grand Palladium complex around 25 minutes drive from Punta Cana airport. A taxi transfer costs around $35, don’t both taking Dominican Pesos, as everything is charged in USD. The complex is absolutely massive and although we didn’t really leave it for the 11 nights, we never felt claustrophobic in the slightest. As stated earlier the Royal Suites are the adults only section, the other hotels do allow children, but only Royal Suites guests can go into that part of the complex.
The hotel fronts onto the blue flag, Bavaro beach, with the hotel having its own 1Km long section. It takes around 20–30 minutes to walk from one side of the hotel to the other, a nice stroll as long as its not the middle of the day.
Reading the hotel website you’ll see there are plenty of room types on offer. Reading other reviews recommended the swim-up rooms, so we went for a Deluxe Junior Suite swim-up room and we definitely weren’t disappointed. The rooms are large and include an open bathroom area with dual sinks, an open jacuzzi bath, absolutely massive four-poster bed and seating area that contains a sofa-bed and two chairs. Given these were swim-up rooms the large patio doors open onto wooden decking, again with two chairs and table and this moves directly into the shallow area of the swimming pool with two sun loungers.
Overall you get a great impression when walking into the room, although its fair to say on closer inspection the rooms are starting to get a little tatty in places — although this doesn’t really detract too much. On entering the room the sinks had flower decorations round them adding to the impact. The rooms come with satellite TV (around 150 channels in many languages), air-conditioning and ceiling fan as well as a stocked mini-bar (refreshed daily). Part of the perks of the Royal Suites section is 4 bottles of premium spirits in your room per week, although the pool bar brings any drinks during the day if you’re sat on your terrace. There is also a Nespresso machine as well as a filter coffee machine (including Dominican coffee) if you prefer.
The bed was very comfy overall, a memory foam mattress and feather pillows (other pillows available on a pillow menu). We loved the fact it was large and felt very roomy. We used the jacuzzi bath, but found it to not be that great, with only a few small jets. In general, the slightly dated nature comes out in some of the accessories, the iPod dock is fairly dated and we didn’t use it.
There are some nice extras such as an umbrella (for the occasional rain storm) and weighing scales as well as the obligatory electronic safe. The rooms also come with butler service (more later) and a cupboard to put the food into so that you don’t have to invite the person inside your room. We were in building 58, the furthest from reception, but we found it to be pretty quiet outside. We did keep the air-con on overnight to act as white noise as the lobby area of the rooms was fairly noisy at night with doors closing and people returning to rooms. Aside from this we were pleased by how tranquil the building was.
There is free wifi throughout the hotel and we never had any issues connecting. It’s not the fastest ever, although it is good enough for streaming Netflix (which has a good selection of programming in Dominican Republic).
Beach and Pool
With the swim-up room we spent most of our time on our own private terrace. The pool is very private, and only shared with a few rooms. We rarely had other people swimming past. You can get pool towels (blue in colour) from a hut just around the corner from the room next to the pool bar each morning, although we did find they ran out quickly, so getting in there early is important. The pool was generally kept clean, although after a day of rain ours did get a little green (which went after the filters were turned up).
The beach is everything you expect from a Caribbean island, white sands and blue seas, lined with palm trees. The Royal Suites has its own area of the beach, with slightly upgraded beds and palm umbrellas. We did go on a couple of occasions but found it more noisy that our private terrace and a little more crowded. The sea is nice, although you can’t swim out too far due to buoys marking a swimming area from that used by motorboats. There isn’t really any snorkelling directly on the beach, although boat trips do go to other areas for this.
One of the most amazing parts about this hotel has to be the grounds, which are really nicely looked after with stunning plants, buildings, decorative items and animals (peacocks and ducks). Every day you see how much effort goes into keeping them in this condition, but in my opinion its really worth it! The area around the hotel is partly jungle and the hotel has done its best to keep the area as natural as possible, including keeping many of the tall palm trees. All plants have small plaques with the name and country of origin, in some ways its more like a botanical gardens than hotel!
On the all-inclusive basis we had access to around 11 a-la-carte restaurants, buffet restaurants and many bars. The Royal Suites has two restaurants for exclusive use, one of which is the buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch (although they also have a-la-carte options at lunch). Both are open in the evening for different a-la-carte or buffet options. We were very impressed by the selection of food. Each meal gave plenty of choice from salad bars, cold meats and cheeses, hot items, fresh fruit and desserts. We were particularly impressed by the fruit selection and we ate plenty of this.
The 11 a-la-carte restaurants are all themed to different cuisines from French, Mexican, Asian, Japanese (Sushi and Teppanyaki), Brazilian Rodizio, Spanish Tapas, Steakhouse, Italian and Indian. They offer a limited a-la-carte menu and we found them to be of different levels of authenticity. Our personal favourites were Tapas, Steakhouse and Rodizio, all of which were great, with our least favourite being the Japanese where we had sushi, which was not that great.
The Royal Suites come with 24 hour room service and we used this on one evening. The food arrived in the quoted 30 minutes and was hot and tasty as well. It’s definitely an option if you don’t want to leave your room!
The bars have plenty of choice of drink, from cocktails to local beers and the wine served with meals is not too bad. You can order premium wines with meals, although these are pretty pricy and we didn’t really see anyone doing this.
Overall you’re really spoilt for choice at every meal and were never bored during our stay (although perhaps a little full at times!).
While The Royal Suites are a 5-star resort, it’s fair to say the service is best described as hard working and friendly rather than perfect and professional. It’s definitely different to a 5 star hotel in London and often led to comical incidents — but it’s not through a lack of trying! We definitely found that all the staff we met were very friendly and definitely cared about giving you the best holiday possible.
The Royal Suites have a butler who is based at a desk in your building. During our stay we had three people who rotated on the job. We had various experiences with one brilliant (had a conversation each time you went past), one good and one fairly awful (barely even said hi). I think its fair to say this inconsistency goes through the other roles as well with waiters in restaurants. We always found the gardeners to be the hardest working (and probably least rewarded)!
Overall we always felt well looked after, but don’t go expecting the same service you would get in other 5-star hotels in different countries.
We really enjoyed our 11 nights at The Royal Suites Turquesa in Punta Cana and would definitely recommend a visit for anyone looking for a luxury, relaxing retreat. I would definitely recommend booking a swim-up room, you won’t be disappointed by the small extra cost. Making the most of the all inclusive by trying the different restaurants is also something you won’t regret!
Palladium are constantly upgrading the hotel and we saw one small area of another being renovated while we were there. To improve, I’d definitely recommend a complete renovation of the rooms over the next few years and also to look at the overall staff service. Don’t remove the friendliness, but look at how you can improve on this and increase the professionalism!
We would return here again, although I know that’s unlikely given how many other places we have to visit!