Riu Palace Macao is an adults-only all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana with two particular highlights: many affordable ocean view rooms and a spectacular à-la-carte beachfront lunch. Furthermore, this Punta Cana resort is particularly interesting as it has access to the entire Riu property in Punta Cana, which includes one of the biggest water parks in the Dominican Republic as well as the famous Riu party events. Furthermore, it is a particularly compact resort, which means your room is hardly more than 2 minutes away from the beautiful beach of Arena Gorda. But what to expect when booking Hotel Riu Palace Macao? Is it suitable for all kinds of adults? How is the quality of the food and the drinks? Those and many more questions are answered in this extensive Riu Palace Macao review.
This is an extensive review of Riu Palace Macao. If you’d like to know some general information about accommodation in Punta Cana, you can continue reading all the insider tips on how to find the best all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana and my recommendation on how to save money during an all-inclusive holiday in Punta Cana.
There is also a separate review about Riu Palace Punta Cana and Riu República here on Punta Cana Travel Blog.
If you’d like to party, definitely check out the article about the Riu Party events.
Where is Riu Palace Macao?
Riu Palace Macao is located in the Arena Gorda area of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which is known for its beautiful beaches. In fact, due to the hotel being a very small resort, the main accommodation building is located super close to the beach, so close as in hardly any other all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.
Hotel Riu Palace Macao is approx. 15 miles away from Punta Cana International Airport, which means you can reach the resort in approx. 25 minutes. You can find all the options for airport transfers in Punta Cana here.
The best option to get to Riu Palace Macao All Inclusive Adults Only if arriving for the first time at Punta Cana Airport is to prebook your transfer. While budget-conscious travelers can reserve a shared airport transfer* where you will be put together with other passengers who have the same or similar destination as you, the best price-value ratio is offered by conventional private airport transfers in Punta Cana, which brings you straight to the resort. You can check out your airport transfer to RIU Palace Macao here*.
When it comes to the location, it is important to know that Riu Macao is located within the large Riu Punta Cana property. You’ll find some further information about which hotels are part of this property in the next section here in this Riu Palace Macao review. Riu Palace Macao is located between Riu Bambu and Riu Palace Punta Cana.
When leaving Riu Palace Macao by foot, there is not much to do around which is typical for the Arena Gorda area. First, you have to walk around 800 yards from the Riu Palace Macao lobby to the main entrance of the Riu Resort when you want to leave the resort individually, afterwards you have to walk another 800 yards until reaching a very small area of local shops and food stalls. However, nothing here is catering to international tourists.
Alternatively, if you’d like to venture out to explore the La Altagracia province and Punta Cana on your own, there is a public transport connection very close to the main resort entrance which brings you straight to Higuey, the capital of the province where Punta Cana is located. You can find more information about public transport in Punta Cana here.
Definition of Riu Palace Macao
Even though Riu Palace Macao is part of the huge Riu resort in Punta Cana, it is a stand-alone hotel with all kinds of resort services. While you can read about the different interchanging facilities further below in this Riu Palace Macao review, I’d just like to give you a quick recall of which resorts are part of the general Riu Resort in Punta Cana:
– Riu Palace Punta Cana
– Riu Bambu
– Riu Palace Macao
– Riu Naoboa
– Riu Palace Bavaro
This review is only about Riu Palace Macao, which is sometimes also referred to as Riu Macao, Hotel Riu Palace Macao, Hotel Riu Macao or Riu Palace Macao All Inclusive Adults Only.
Overview of Riu Palace Macao
When talking about Riu Palace Macao, it is important to know that this is one of the most compact all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic. Contrary to other huge all-inclusive resorts such as Hard Rock Punta Cana, Secrets Royal Beach or Grand Bavaro Princess, where you easily walk up to 15 minutes between rooms, beach, restaurants and other amenities, Riu Palace Macao is very small and does have everything in 1-2 minutes walking distance.
When entering Riu Macao, you can directly feel that this is a particularly small all-inclusive resort, as you can see the beach and the palm trees right from the lobby. The distance between both is just a bit more than 400 feet, which means you can walk from the lobby to the beach in less than 2 minutes.
When moving around in the lobby, you can also feel immediately that Hotel Riu Palace Macao is one of the older (but well-maintained) Punta Cana resorts. If you come here to find extravagant design and contemporary art, you will probably get disappointed. In this case, the newer Riu Palace Punta Cana might be a better pick.
From the lobby, you can also directly reach the coffee shop, the main bar and the theatre as well as plenty of outdoor seating, which is particularly famous at night when people are socializing here.
Between the lobby and the beach, you’ll find the three pools of Riu Palace Macao: the main and activity pool, a quieter pool and the social pool (with a swim-up bar).
To the left of the pool, you’ll find the two lunch restaurants – one of them is super special as you can read further below in this Riu Palace Macao review.
From all those places, you have direct access to the beach, which is home to the watersports center and also connects with the other Riu Punta Cana properties.
Something which shouldn’t be forgotten when talking about the amenities and areas of Riu Palace Macao All Inclusive Adults Only is the water park, the Riu Party venue and the disco. All of these facilities are between 2 and 5 minutes walking away from Riu Palace Macao.
The beach at Riu Palace Macao
As you can see, the beach is never far from Riu Palace Macao, which is one of the unique points of this resort. And, it is not only your average Caribbean beach, it is a beautiful stretch that has a particular abundance of palm trees. Without an exaggeration, this part of the beach at Riu Palace Macao could be easily named a palm tree forest, as it is more than 300 feet wide.
The Riu Palace Macao beach itself is part of the Arena Gorda Beach, one of Punta Canas’ beautiful beaches. Sunloungers are available, same as some umbrellas, even though most of the shade comes from the trees.
As everywhere at Playa Arena Gorda, the ocean is pretty calm with just some occasional waves.
If you’d love to have long beach walks along Punta Canas’ beaches, Riu Palace is the perfect place for you, as it is located exactly in the middle of the wonderful Bavaro Beach. You can walk more than 5 miles in both directions, which makes it particularly suitable if you’d like to explore the surrounding areas along the beach.
The rooms at Riu Palace Macao
As you can see, a lot of things at Riu Palace Macao are about the beach and the proximity of everything – and that is continuing for the rooms as well.
While Riu Palace Macaos’ rooms don’t feature an ocean view category, you are very likely to get a room with at least a partial ocean view – or maybe we shall better call it beach and palm tree view, as the high palm trees are mostly covering the view of the water. This is because the hotel is built in a U-shape pretty close to the beach, hence particularly the upper floors have an amazing view of the pool, the garden, the palm trees and sometimes also the beach and the ocean. To give you a better idea, this was our view from our room on the upper floor, which was just an ordinary Junior Suite. The ocean is right behind the palm trees you can see in the photo.
The room itself was pretty unspectacular, particularly considering that the suites are not the newest ones. But, as already said at the beginning of this Riu Palace Macao review, maintenance is pretty good, hence it doesn’t matter that much that you won’t have the most high-end room with the latest technological gadgets. More important is that the housekeeping really takes care of your room, the beds are comfy and the bathroom works perfectly fine.
Besides this, two special amenities are worth mentioning when talking about Riu Palace Macaos’ rooms.
First, you have your own liquor dispenser (with international brands) in your room, which means even if you just feel like relaxing on your balcony, you always have your drink right there. This is a standard feature in all Riu Palace hotels as well as at Riu República as well.
Second, the balcony has a separate sliding door with a mosquito net. This being said, you can leave the balcony open, but close the mosquito door and therefore can enjoy – if you want – the tropical sounds of the waving palm trees and the crushing ocean while in the room. We love this feature and always sleep with an open door at night when possible.
When booking your stay at this adults-only resort in Punta Cana, you can choose among the following Riu Palace Macao room categories:
- Junior Suite
- Junior Suite Deluxe
- Suite Jacuzzi
All of Riu Palace Macaos’ rooms are equipped with an in-room safe, flat-screen satellite TV, coffee-making facilities, liquor dispenser, minibar, ceiling fan, air-conditioning, telephone, hairdryer, bathrobe, double-sink bathroom with shower, turndown service, iron and ironing board as well as a balcony or a terrace. Wifi is also included, which works perfectly well, as you can connect up to 4 devices per room, without the necessity of regularly reconnecting – you’re always online.
The Junior Suite Deluxe rooms additionally feature a bathtub with hydromassage amenities.
The Suites have an additional lounge area with a sofa and the Jacuzzi Suites feature a bathtub respectively a whirlpool on the balcony or the terrace.
Room service is also included at Riu Palace Macao, but this is something you shall better disregard. There are only a few salads and sandwiches on the menu, which are not pretty attractive. The sandwiches are also available at the coffee shop, hence you’re quicker heading down there and getting a quick snack whenever you want.
Booking and Prices at Riu Palace Macao
Have you decided on your favorite Riu Palace Macao room? Then let’s check where you can book your holiday in the Dominican Republic.
Compared to other Punta Cana all-inclusive resorts, Riu Hotels & Resorts are still not bookable on all booking websites. However, at the following online travel agencies and booking websites, you can check the best prices for Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana.
(mobile users: please turn your device to landscape mode to enjoy the best view of this table)
|Website||Your Advantage||Riu Palace Macao|
|Apple Vacations||Great package deals and interesting promotions|
|Expedia||Online travel agency with great deals, personal service and good reputation|
|Hotelscombined||Powerful hotel search engine by Kayak|
|Tripadvisor||Compare prices and reviews on one site|
Usually, prices at Riu Macao start at around 200 USD in the low season, which is usually during May, June, September, October and November. July, August and December are shoulder seasons and from January to April, you pay high season prices which begin at approx. 275 USD per double room per night. Considering the quality of the resort and comparing it with other Punta Cana hotels, those prices are pretty reasonable and guarantee a great price-value ratio.
Furthermore, considering that the high season prices are only less than 40% higher than the low season prices, the pricing structure is even more attractive during the peak season months, particularly compared to other resorts which raise their price by 60-70% or even more.
As Riu Palace Macao All Inclusive is an adults-only resort, I assume it is without a question that it can’t be booked with children. The minimum age for check-in is 18 years.
To know where you can find the best prices for Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana, we have checked 3 different scenarios on various websites:
Scenario 1: a couple traveling in low season (01-08 December)
Scenario 2: a couple traveling in high season (15-22 February)
Scenario 3: 3 adults traveling during the summer holiday (20-27 August)
(mobile users: please turn your device to landscape mode to enjoy the best view of this table)
All prices were taken on the 14th of August 2022.
As you can see, prices vary slightly on different websites. In 2 of 3 scenarios, Expedia* and Hotelscombined* score the position No. 1 when it comes to the best prices. In the third scenario, Tripadvisor* is the leader with Expedia and Hotelscombined being the runner-up.
Very important: Prices can vary from one day to another, they might also be different depending on the country where you are located. Make sure to check booking, payment and cancellation conditions, as they might vary widely. It pays off to compare different platforms, but it is also worth to skip some of the cheapest offers if you don’t know and/or trust the company. If booking directly with the hotel or with renowned platforms like Booking or Expedia or leading tour operators like Apple Vacations, Sunwing Vacations or Virgin Holidays, you are usually making a good decision.
Last but not least it is also recommendable to check if a package booking is cheaper. Sometimes you get a better price when you book your flight and hotel together – but not always. That’s why it is important to compare the prices.
Restaurants and bars at Riu Palace Macao
Let’s get to the food section in this Riu Palace Macao review, something which is always important in Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ resort reviews’. In the end, you have paid for all-inclusive and probably would like to enjoy some tasty meals and delicious drinks.
Riu Palace Macao features the following restaurants:
- Buffet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner (not always open for lunch) with indoor and outdoor seating area
- Poolside buffet restaurant for lunch with outdoor seating (the same restaurant turns into two à-la-carte restaurants at night)
- Beachfront à-la-carte restaurant for lunch with outdoor seating (the same restaurant turns into the Fusion restaurant at night)
- Japanese à-la-carte restaurant for dinner (indoor dining)
- Italian à-la-carte restaurant for dinner (al fresco dining)
- Fusion à-la-carte restaurant for dinner (al fresco beachfront dining)
- Steakhouse à-la-carte restaurant for dinner (al fresco dining)
In total, this makes 2 buffet restaurants and 4 à-la-carte restaurants.
While this doesn’t sound too much especially for a longer holiday, you have to consider that Riu Palace Macao is a pretty small hotel with just a bit more than 300 rooms. Furthermore, it is important to know that there is a no-reservation policy for the à-la-carte restaurants, which means you can dine as often as you want in all the restaurants. However, it is recommendable to be there before 8 pm as otherwise the waiting time might be a bit longer.
We would rate the overall quality of those à-la-carte restaurants as very good. While the steakhouse was only mediocre, we had a very satisfying Italian dinner and a wonderful and absolutely delicious session at the Japanese restaurant. Not only had they some great sushi, but I also ate the best (raw) tuna steak I have ever had in an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.
If you don’t want to dine in an à-la-carte restaurant at Hotel Riu Palace Macao, you can also visit the main buffet, which is open for breakfast and dinner and sometimes also for lunch. There is a large selection of everything and the quality is exactly what you can expect from an adults-only resort in the medium price range of 200-300 USD per night per room.
Also from the photos of the buffet you can see that Riu Palace Macao is home to a more traditional design. While it might appear a bit antiquated, especially to young people, the whole restaurant feels homey and elegant if you appreciate this kind of design.
For lunch at Riu Macao, usually, the poolside buffet restaurant is open. Especially the outside location close to the beach and the pool makes it a true Caribbean experience to eat here. The choices are also abundant with lots of fresh options, including sushi, many salads and various meat dishes.
However, the true highlight of Riu Palace Macao when it comes to food is the Krystal beachfront restaurant, which is open for lunch as well. Interestingly enough overlooked by most of the guests, you can enjoy a full à-la-carte lunch here in a prime beachfront location. The dishes are freshly prepared, among them sushi, seafood or fresh pasta, and you can even ask for special creations if there is not much going on (like on our first visit). Look what beautiful plates we got in such an amazing beachfront location! This is something you hardly find in other all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana.
When it comes to drinks, your next cocktail is never far away, even though Riu Palace Macao All Inclusive Adults Only has “only” 3 bars. But considering that this all-inclusive hotel is so compact, even 2 bars would be enough. There is one between the beach and the pool, which is a combined dry and swim-up bar and serves as your go-to place for all your drinks during the day. The other two bars are located in the lobby (which is open during the day as well until around midnight) and in the theatre.
Riu Palace Macao offers a lot of premium spirits, hence you have a good choice of alcohol and drinks. Smirnoff Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, José Cuervo Tequila, Cointreau and Barcelo Imperial are some of the brands you can expect. As always in Punta Canas’ resorts, let your waiter know what particular preferences you have to get the perfect drink.
Entertainment and service at Riu Palace Macao
When it comes to entertainment and activities, we have to mention a few things in this Riu Palace Macao review that makes this hotel very special.
In general, Riu Palace Macao is a pretty quiet and relaxed hotel. As in every resort in Punta Cana, there are activities during the day and the evening, but in general, everything is pretty chilled. This is also one reason why Riu Palace Macao is famous among best agers – which doesn’t mean that there are no young couples or guests below their 40s. You’ll find a mix of all age groups here at the hotel. Particularly the swim-up bar of Riu Macao is a perfect place if you’d like to meet new people.
However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have fun at Riu Palace Macao – you can have a lot of fun! First of all, you have access to the Riu Party venue, which is just 3-4 minutes walking away from Hotel Riu Palace Macao and where you can experience the greatest resort parties in entire Punta Cana. You can find more about those unique events in the separate Riu Party review.
Second, you also have access to the Riu Splash Water World. While this might not sound that important for an adults-only resort like Hotel Riu Macao, it marks a great option for some fun with your friends, as the slides at this water park in Punta Cana are pretty steep and thrilling.
Another special characteristic where Riu Palace Macao is different than other resorts in Punta Cana is the theatre. This venue has such a special old-school vibe, that it is a refreshing change from the typical stages at the other hotels and resorts. Even though it seems much like in the 80s, this theater features a very special atmosphere where it feels like being a guest in an elegant show instead of just the typical resort entertainment.
Riu Palace Macao also features a casino. As this is the casino for all the 6 Riu Resorts in Punta Cana, it is a bit bigger than some of the typical resort casinos in Punta Cana and also more visited, even though it can’t compete with some of Punta Canas’ biggest casinos like Hard Rock Punta Cana or Avalon Casino.
The same goes for the Pacha Disco. It is the nightclub for all the Riu Hotels in this property and therefore is bigger than your standard resort disco. It is even publicly accessible. However, it doesn’t compare with the packed crowd Riu República’s disco is featuring on most nights.
Other activities and entertainment options are similar to other all-inclusive hotels in Punta Cana, such as the daytime entertainment program (incl. dance lessons and group games) and the options for sports, such as beach volleyball, tennis or non-motorized water sports. There is also a gym at neighboring Riu Palace Bavaro to which you have access.
Btw, if you’re looking for a much younger crowd than at Riu Palace Macao, you can also check out Riu República or Riu Bambu.
Concerning the service, we were pleasantly surprised by the level of customized interaction and personal service. You can feel that this is a small all-inclusive resort, which is why the staff can take more care of you. You might be greeted with your name after a couple of days and you likely see a certain type of staff members, especially waiters, bartenders and the entertainment staff, every day, hence it is much easier to make connections.
Privileged advantages at Riu Palace Macao
As in all the other Riu Resorts in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic, there is no VIP tier, Preferred Club or special guest program, which allows for certain advantages for only a certain type of guests or rooms. This means, all guests are enjoying the same privileges as everyone, it doesn’t matter which room category you book.
Interchanging facilities between Riu Palace Macao and other Riu Resorts in Punta Cana
As mentioned Riu Palace Macao Adults Only is located within the large Riu property in Punta Cana. This comes with certain exchange privileges, which means you can (partly) visit other Riu hotels as well.
As a recap, Riu Resort Punta Cana consists of the following hotels:
– Riu Palace Punta Cana
– Riu Bambu
– Riu Palace Macao
– Riu Naiboa
– Riu Palace Bavaro
Riu República is NOT part of the Riu Resort, it is approximately 2 miles away.
As a guest of Riu Palace Macao, you can use all the common areas (pool, theatre, beach, etc.) as well as have lunch, snacks and drinks in all the other Riu hotels within Riu Resort (hence all of the above-mentioned except Riu República). However, breakfast and dinner are only allowed at Riu Palace Macao. You can also use the gym and spa of neighboring Riu Palace Bavaro, as Riu Palace Macao doesn’t have its own.
The same is valid for other Riu Palace hotels, such as Riu Palace Punta Cana and Riu Palace Bavaro. If staying there, you also have lunch, drink and activity access to all the other Riu hotels at Riu Resort, but breakfast and dinner are only possible in your respective hotel.
Furthermore, it is important to know that you have access to some of the amenities at Riu Resort which are shared among all Riu hotels, such as
– the Riu Splash Water World (water park with slides)
– the disco “Pacha”
– the Riu Party venue
– the Caribbean street with shops and stores
Safety Protocols and Hygiene Standards at Riu Palace Macao
Since February 2022, all restrictions and regulations related to Covid-19 in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic are terminated by the government of the Dominican Republic. This means that not only face coverings or social distancing are not mandatory anymore, but also that all events and activities have been resumed. This is particularly important for the Riu Party venue, the disco and any other activities which include social interaction. Rest assured, Riu Palace Macao is fully open, there are no Covid-19 restrictions in Punta Cana anymore.
Excursions from Riu Palace Macao
When visiting Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana, you should also not forget to venture out of your resort to explore a bit more of the Dominican Republic. There are several excursions and activities you can book from this adults-only all-inclusive resort. Some of the best Punta Cana tours are the following:
– an excursion to Saona Island (book here*), which is one of the must-do excursions in Punta Cana. You see scenery like paradise and will experience some of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic. If you want to experience Isla Saona with less tourists, make sure to choose an excursion which includes Mano Juan.
– a tour to Los Haitises National Park (book here*), one of the most beautiful national parks in the Dominican Republic with a huge biodiversity. Los Haitises National Park is a perfect destination for nature lovers.
– a tour to Santo Domingo (book here*), which is particularly interesting if you’d like to know more about the history or the culture of the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo feels (and is) like the melting pot of the country.
– visiting Montaña Redonda (book here*), one of the off-the-beaten-track excursions in Punta Cana, where you visit a unique mountain with great views and unique photo opportunities thanks to the giant swings on the edge of the hill. Particular when admiring the 360° panorama view you know why it is called Montaña Redonda.
– a helicopter excursion (book here*), which is a very special excursion in Punta Cana with gorgeous views from above. There are different helicopter excursions in Punta Cana to choose from.
Alternatively, if you feel more adventurous and want to explore Punta Cana on your own, you can rent a car in Punta Cana and head on some DIY adventures, such as the highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic, Salto de la Jalda, the beautiful fishing village Boca de Yuma or head to some of the pristine beaches in the north of Punta Cana, such as Playa Esmeralda or Playa La Vacama.
Riu Palace Macao is a great choice if you want to combine an affordable all-inclusive resort with an adults-only experience, quality food and a mixed, slightly older crowd. Furthermore, it is a great choice if you prefer your room super close to the beach without paying extra for an oceanfront room and if you want to have all the amenities within 1-2 minutes of walking distance.
However, the highlight of our Riu Palace Macao stay was definitely this amazing beachfront à-la-carte lunch, where we had some amazing fresh pasta and delicious Dominican food. Usually, you only receive this kind of service in the premium or Preferred Club sections of some of the better resorts in Punta Cana.
In general, Riu Palace Macao is a great choice if you want to be sure to receive a great price-value ratio and if you value a compact all-inclusive resort, where you quickly get familiar with everyone and everything. However, this doesn’t mean you have to refrain from any services as you find all the amenities such as the Punta Cana water park, a gym, the Riu Party venue or the disco within the limits of the Riu Punta Cana Resort.
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Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad
Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.