We stayed at the Hotel Riu Mambo from 15th June – 29th June 2008.
It was the best holiday I have had yet by far. Everything about it was perfect (Apart from having to come back home!!!!
The hotel is definitely worth it’s 4* in my opinion probably more. Out of the 3 Riu hotels there my favorite one was definitely the Mambo, I found it smaller and more personal than the Murengue or Bachata, which are bigger.
I had emailed the hotel a week before we went over to request a top floor room as close to the beach as possible. When we arrived on the late afternoon of the 15th we found we were in the front building right next to the beach but on the ground floor. I went to reception to see if they could change it to the top floor, by 2pm the next day we were in a top floor room in the same building – top class service as was the service all over the hotel..
Also it was my big 40 while we were there, firstly when we first arrived into our room there was a little gift bag with a birthday card and some gifts from the hotel for me which I thought was very thoughtful. Also on my actual birthday they decorated our room with balloons and sent a huge plate of tropical fruit to the room and when we had dinner in the evening the waiters and the head waiter (Freddie) came out to the decorated table singing “Happy Birthday” and presented me with a cake.
We spent most of our time when not out on excursions on the beach but the pool was very nice, though I did like the pool at the Bachata as they had a pool bar where you could sit at the bar in the pool!
Some of the times they had people with stalls set up in the hotel selling souvenirs. Though this is a good idea, I have a feeling that some of their stuff, mainly the Amber and Larimar could be fakes as they are “Cheap”!! My suggestion for Amber, Larimar and Brugal rum is that you do the Puerto Plata City Tour and Cable car trip, there you will visit the Brugal rum factory, the Amber factory and Larimar factory where you can then buy these products knowing they are the real thing as they will tell you how to spot fake merchandise, for example with Amber, if you get a bowl of sea (Salty) water true Amber will float and fake Amber will sink! Buying your rum to bring back with you the cheapest place is the Brugal rum factory where you would be looking at between $7 - $10 a bottle compared to double this amount at the duty free at the airport!! There is a Brugal rum called “151”, this is very potent at 75% proof!! And as such you are NOT allowed to bring this back on your flight as it is highly flammable. Cigarettes (Marlboro) are cheapest at the airport duty free though at $24 per 200 where as at the hotel and around Puerto Plata they range from $28 - $35 per 200. You will also have the opportunity to be photographed with either Macaw (type of parrot), Iguana and monkey.
FOOD & DRINK
The food was brilliant with a good selection. Each hotel (Mambo, Murengue and Bachata) has 2 a la carte restaurants and buffet for the evenings and 2 buffets for breakfast and lunch. The only thing I was a little disappointed about was that they did not have a big selection of seafood, like Lobster, Prawns, Oysters, etc. They had a little bit of fish and octopus. We ate like kings while there and had no problems stomach wise at all other than just getting used to it. Every thing was clean at all times and there were ladies giving hand wash when ever you entered any of the dining areas and also when you exit the toilets. Hygiene is a priority there, which I have not come across anywhere else so far.
They have a wide selection of cocktails, which are generally fairly weak, but if you were to ask they would make them strong. This applies to all their drinks though if you have say a Cuba Libra (Rum & Coke/Pepsi) it will be moderately strong! When you are out on excursions though they make them VERY strong, one of the lunches we had I asked for a Cuba Libra and the put ¾ rum and ¼ Pepsi, which nearly blew my head off!!!!!!
All the staff at the Riu Mambo were absolutely fantastic. They work so hard to ensure that you have a perfect holiday and a lot of them work long hours yet have a big smile and cheery.
The Maid that serviced our room was brilliant and left a different towel art each day and if we left any clothes on the bed would create “art” with them as well. The room was always spotless and our drinks were replaced every other day or sooner if we requested.
The Entertainment team (Animacion) were the best, I cannot praise them enough – they worked very long days, starting at around 8 – 9am and would not finish until midnight! (Obviously with some breaks through out the day). They were so energetic, friendly and smiley the whole time despite the heat. It is really hard working in the heat, even for a normal day (I know as I come from Kenya which is very similar to DR weather wise) but to do a 16 hour day and still have the energy and cheerfulness that they do is amazing. The evening shows they do are awesome, yes they do mime a lot but very well and you are definitely kept entertained.
The Caribbean Street party is well worth attending and a lot of fun. They also arrange beach bonfire parties as well which is also a lot of fun.
I would definitely highly recommend Isaira Tours (www.isairatours.com). We booked 4 excursions through them. They came on the 2nd day we were there and collected us, took us to their office in town to go through the various different excursions and then returned us to the hotel afterwards. They were always on time and the staff are very knowledgeable and fun. Martin, the owner, called us at our hotel half way through our holiday to ensure we were happy with their service, which I thought was great. Isaira were somewhat cheaper than the hotel reps. I will most definitely be using them again when we do go back to the DR. Also, we emailed them a few times before we went with questions and to book our dolphin encounter and they replied very quickly to answer our queries. We did the Puerto Plata City Tour and cable car excursion, Ocean World, Monster Truck Safari and Paradise Island through them.
Talking about Paradise Island, please look at the reviews, especially if you have young children! The Island is exactly what it states “Paradise” and is amazing and well worth the trip but it is approx 2 hours bus drive there and 2 hours back and bumpy (As the tour guide called it “Free Massage”!!) and could be very hard work with young children. We had a family in front of us where the poor little girl suffered travel sickness and the little boy was very restless!
As stated above, this has been the best holiday we have had yet and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone and will be going back as soon as we can.
The only issue we had with the holiday which for us turned out not to be a problem is that both the Thomas Cook reps were on a day off on the day of our departure so if we had any major issues that day it would have been a problem. In my mind they should have split their day offs so as there was someone available every day. As it was we just had a couple of queries, which we managed to work around.