Travel advisors know there’s no substitute for experience. Marketing material, websites, social media, videos, press releases, trade news – they all serve to provide different pieces of the overall puzzle, but nothing beats a candid conversation with someone who’s been on the ground and able to answer questions about a property in detail.
We at ALG Vacations® sat down with Sarah Whitmore of Cupcake Castles Travel Company to ask her about her impressions of the new Elite Club at Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana following her #ALGVFAMs trip with our social media team. Here’s what she had to say.
What was your first impression of the new Elite Club at RIU Palace Macao?
For those who don’t know, Elite Club is a new upgraded concept within the RIU brand of hotels and resorts, offering upgraded amenities and services, the best rooms, special lounge access, exclusive restaurants, and more. And to stay selective, it’s available in select locations only. Whitmore’s first takeaway was, “How inviting it felt! It made you want to come in and experience all it has to offer.” And as the days went on, she was delighted to do exactly that.
What did you think of the new addition of swim-out suites at RIU Palace Macao?
Swim-up/swim-out rooms are extremely popular room categories, and for good reason. What better than an anytime dip off your private terrace into a semi-private pool within arm’s reach of towels, robes, your liquor dispenser, and room service delivery? And Whitmore agrees.
“The swim-out suites are amazing! A small pool just steps from your bed … how could you go wrong?,” she said. But as an Elite Club room category, it doesn’t end there, she notes. “The extra amenities were a nicei touch. I loved having liquid soap with lotion in the bathroom. Having upgraded liquor in the room. And snacks for a quick bite without having to leave the room.”
What was the Elite Club Lounge experience like?
One of the best benefits of leveling up any stay to an elite category is access to a private lounge, often stocked with snacks and offering drink services. Elite Club at RIU Hotels & Resorts is no different … except, of course, in the fact that they offer service and amenities beyond the expected.
“The Elite Club Lounge was probably my favorite place of all!” raves Whitmore. “The staff treated everyone like family. They got to know your tastes and would have amazing drinks ready in a snap.” Furthermore, she tells us, “They were also wonderful in helping us get pictures and video to show others the amazing addition the Elite Club can be.” For travel advisors, having a partner on the ground eager to help you gather information and content to show your clients can be clutch!
How as the RIU Pool Party?
This unique headlining program is a tremendous draw for guests of all ages looking to kick back. Only certain RIU Hotels & Resorts offer #RiuParty and pool parties, which feature DJs, performers, and themes enhanced by special touches from the brand. For instance, the Jungle Party offers wild entertainment poolside, the White Party usually features aerial performances, the Neon Party is a blacklight-lit dancefest, and the Pink Party is a daytime soiree designed to make you move.
But what Whitmore reports is that while it’s definitely a grand time, the scene isn’t intrusive. “It was so much fun! But it was nice that the Party was separate from where everyone was staying, even though it was a very short walk. It made the resort a quiet and relaxed experience, but a great way to ramp up the fun for those who wanted to.”
Overall, how do you feel about the new renovations for this property?
After months and months of extensive upgrades and construction, RIU Palace Macao finally unveiled the changes just before Thanksgiving. So what Whitmore and her fellow ALGV FAM attendees experienced was the launch of the improvements and a totally fresh makeover of this once-classic adults-only property.
The addition of the Elite Club was one of the most major enhancements, but co-listed on that lengthy list is now the largest wellness center in the hotel chain; including a new gym, a spa with two water areas; a transformed, contemporary lobby and Cuban-influenced lobby bar; a refreshed buffet restaurant; updates to existing favorite à la carte restaurants and the addition of a 24-hour sports bar and an aperitif bar; RiuFit outdoor workout spaces; and a jazzed up performance theater.
Whitmore sums it all up nicely. “The new renovations created an inviting space that makes you want to come back. The Elite Club dinner was probably the best meal I’ve had in a long time, although all of the dinners at RIU Palace Macao were great.”
In other words, she’ll be recommending this property to her clients, and thinks her fellow advisors should, too!