Old Reviews – Riu Negril

  Riu Negril   Dave ~ England

July 2009

Arrival: 19 May to 3 June 2009
Tour Operator Thomson Platinum (Part of TUI Group). Booked in Monday night at Gatwick, then parking at Skylane B&B. Flight Tuesday 1st time we had combined Thomson’s day before check in with a B&B. Made Tuesday morning hassle free at Gatwick. Enjoyed our sojourn in the Servisair Lounge with free drinks, papers and nibbles. The Flight had paid the extra Star Class Premier worth every penny. Comfortable seat, entertainment O.K. meals fine arrived fresh at Montego Bay. Only problem was a delay caused by arrest of 2 Passengers at Gatwick and unloading their luggage. 1st time I have seen Customs and Police at boarding gate.

Arrived Montego Bay late and had to battle with rush hour traffic and road works, eventually reached Negril after a fascinating coach journey. Club Riu Check In was the best and most efficient ever by the time I had the cases from the coach Mrs T had the room key, all inclusive band and Bell Boy. A quick fruit punch to unwind and off to our room. If you are having a luxury holiday then pay the Bell Boy to escort you to your room and carry the cases. Never ceased to amaze me all holiday how many tight fisted North Americans want us to tell them where to find their rooms because they were too mean to pay a Bell Boy. Heaven only knows the real and low pay these kind people earn surely we have a duty to help them.

Our Room
Ground floor, first block faced the tennis courts, a bit loud from a soccer game when we arrived but traffic noise was never a problem. Room was good; bathroom had a fine flushing loo and hot water at all hours plus a powerful shower. Wardrobe had 25 proper hangers (well done Riu) great and plenty of storage for our clothes given the miserly 23kg luggage allowance now (used to get 30 kg on premier long haul). Beds were comfortable no problems sleeping, the air conditioning worked all night as did the ceiling fan. Yes I confess my drinking through the cocktail menu necessitated loo visits in the late hours of the night and air-conditioning was still going. Mini-bar well we only had 3 optics not 4 fridge was filled regularly but to be fair we aren’t bedroom drinkers. The Maid did a grand job for 13 out of 14 days, we had clean towels, sheets and swans every day most days with flowers thank you Riu a fine feature. Security the room safe was free but bolted to the ground floor at 59 the old knee joints were tested getting items in and out. Patio doors, many reviews complain about a lack of security. Our patio doors had a twelve inch bolt, recently fitted, the only way a dacoit would enter would be to break the safety glass. We felt safe no worries.

Meals
Breakfast at the Green Island buffet, there was plenty to choose juices, cereals, fresh fruit, fresh blended smoothies, weak coffee, toast machine wonderful selection of bread and cooked meats. There was a very poorly managed cooking station for hot food. I queued every day for a fresh omelette or fried eggs and most days there was bacon, beans, occasionally sausages and other hot food. The omelettes were good nothing wrong with the cooks. But it would not take a very intelligent management, and RIU are an International Brand, to sort out and organise the hot food station. Many returning guests commented to us that a few years ago it was far better and ran without the double and treble queues. Food 71/2 out of 10 management 2 out of 10.

Lunch – There could only be one choice Jerk Chicken on the beach. This was manna from heaven, augmented with rice and peas (well various veggies) and a choice of gravies. Some days we took our Jerk plates to the Shadows Buffet to enjoy proper table and chairs drinks and indulge ourselves with ice cream puddings and cold drinks. When the Jerk Hut was shut we survived at The Shadows Buffet I can’t get excited about it. We felt it was Caribbean 3* we had paid for 4*+Platinum and were disappointed.

Buffet Dinners – Beyond doubt the most disappointing meals, if we did not arrive early there were major problems. Again the choice and quality of the food was Caribbean 3*, not as good as we are accustomed to in Cuba and given we had paid nearly twice as much would take a lot of convincing before paying RIU prices again. Part way through our holiday, management realising all was not well appointed a Captain Peacock (English TV Program Are You Being Served) as Head Floor Walker to try and sort problems out. Sadly the task was beyond him despite his Herculean efforts. Club Riu Negril had received guests diverted from Mexico (swine flu) so seemed full but seemed to be operating on off peak staff levels.

Speciality Restaurants – For non wedding guests booking involved the mad early morning queue system. At least they posted warnings that most days the First Sittings were pre-booked for wedding parties. Many reviews suggest it isn’t worth the time queuing for the food served, if the evening buffet had been better we would have agreed..

Shadows Steak House – went to first and second sittings. First sitting service was fair not good. Food not bad but not gourmet, on par with a Weatherspoons steak quality cheap and cheerful. Second sitting was awful. W e waited over half an hour for our order to be taken. Hence the self service starter station was virtually empty when we visited, the same applied to puddings. The steak was poor and veggies worse. Food 4 out of ten management 1 out of ten. Would suggest Capt Peacock from Green Island is put in charge for a fortnight with dictator’s powers to sort out this “café.” The one good result was we were able to converse with our table neighbours, Alexandra Dery and her sister from Canada who became wonderful Cocktail Bar friends and evening companions for the rest of our holiday.

Sir Andrew – This could and should be the Flag Ship Restaurant at Club Hotel Riu Negril. I have no doubt that a first sitting should be a fine dine. We obtained a second sitting, thank heavens we arrived early and had the second order taken. Our food was fine, but not exciting or exceptional. The Swindon Great Western Blunsdon House would be far better as would every Italian Restaurant in Swindon. The service at Sir Andrew was beyond belief after we enjoyed our soup. A waiter carried in a giant tray with 15 soup dishes and carefully placed them on a temporary serving table. Because the waitress couldn’t read the orders and nobody told her what to do the soups waited for 15 minutes before reaching guests. Our meal was spoiled by enduring their complaints at being served cold soup. Yet again Riu need to provide hands on managers who know how to run a restaurant. Or had the managers sneaked off before the second sitting ended?

The Beach
We regret we were not impressed by the beach. The sand reminded me of the artificial beaches at Belek Turkey. There were plenty of sun loungers every day. We were only troubled by trip and cigarette salesmen. We love swimming in the sea but oh dear me. The relatively small roped off area for swimmers had large areas of weed. Even worse large areas seemed to be more sinking mud than sand. Several days particularly after rain there was a smell reminiscent of a sewage farm. We liked the beach bar when it was open, but it did not cater for those who enjoyed an early breakfast.

The Bars
The Good, Lobby Bar was excellent, late evenings we could enjoy the best entertainment at Club Riu when the bar man who looked my age sang. The only shame was the coffee machine that produced Mocha Chocolate kept breaking down. The Lounge Bar by the “theatre” stage was great for cocktails evenings. Some of the young bar staff were also talented entertainers and far more amusing than the animation team. The beach bar, when open, was adequate. The Bad The Plaza and Acuatic Bars were poor. Service did not exist unless cash was paid up front. After complaints to Reception based management their solution was to move the best young barmen from the Lounge bar.

Entertainment
We felt the official animation team, much loved by some guests, were best avoided. They seemed to think ranting, raving and humiliating guests was entertainment. As mentioned the most talented entertainers were the Barmen.

Weddings
Club Riu might best be described as a wedding factory. There seemed to be at least 2 weddings every day (when we were not out enjoying trips). We went along to one, see photo, and having introduced the groom’s father to Dr Funk cocktails we know he loved his son’s day and could not have been more proud. A local Pastor conducted this ceremony with panache and sincerity. I spoke with him later was impressed by his obvious faith and warm personality.

Trips
We visited Rick’s Café on a Saturday afternoon after sampling the local shopping mal and craft market. We loved it, the ambiance, the divers and the Planter’s Punch. John’s Hall Adventure Trip an enlightening day, worth every $ compare and contrast Montego Bay, The Tribute to Sam Sharpe with the squatters camp by the great quarry. If you go take sensible gifts for the junior school, listening to the children sing was inspirational. We enjoyed the 4×4 off road safari. We also had a great day out visiting Black River, YS Falls ending up at Appleton’s Rum Emporium; taste away to your heart’s content after trying the molasses from the well. I slept on the coach journey back!!! Finally visit Negril’s Anglican Parish Church, St Mary’s. The building was an inspiration ancient font modern building wooden, pews and altar. The Children’s Service gave a great insight into the sincerity and faith of local families. We were made warmly welcome on a very wet Sunday morning worth every $ of the mini-bus fare to take us there.

Conclusion Club Riu Negril was sold to us as a 4*+Platinum hotel and priced accordingly. It has some good features our room. I do wonder if the Roman Statues just beyond the reception area summarise this hotel. As a former classics student I can’t remember Julius Caesar sailing to the Caribbean. It takes far more than a free mini-bar with optics and well manicured grounds to attain 4*+ standard. Frankly we feel that the Sol 3* hotels we have stayed at in Cuba offer better service, food, beaches and cost half as much as Club Riu Negril. Finally for English guests bring plenty of U.S. $. Everything is priced in U.S..$ even in the local craft market, except the hotel changes travellers cheques to Jamaican $. Yes you can go to the bank in Negril but a taxi costs 20$.

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April 2009

We stayed at this resort from April 9-16 and found it to be well worth the value. I would not rate it a five star but it was a nice stay and does not deserve all the bad rap it has gotten from different reviews I have been watching since booking. For the price it is a great deal.

We had no problems with our room, a/c worked, plenty of hot water, maid service is great. Not huge rooms but that’s not what your in Negril for. No Red Stripe in the fridge, only Real Rock or something like that.

Beach is huge and never had a problem finding a chair or someplace on the beach. Best part is you don’t have to play the chair game and get up and save chairs or you don’t get one. There is a beach bar and jerk hut for lunch. We spent most of our time on the beach for the water and the atmosphere. Pools are large as well and could find shairs their most of the time. Prime locations are taken early in the morning here. Pool bar is nice, a bit slow on service (could use two bartenders all the time) I went up top most of the time to get a drink.

Food was good, The buffets were average, had better at other AI but could always find something to eat. Jerk hut is overrated. It is good chicken but not close to real jerk. I call it family friendly. Go into town and get the real thing. We felt Luigis was the best of the three restaurants. Like the four different shaved meats they brought around. Shadows Steak House was good also and Sir Andrews was average. Getting reservations suck!!! Get in line a half hour before they start taking reservations if you want to get your time and place to eat.

Plenty of bars to be found, we liked the Lobby Bar in the evening, make sure you get a chance to hear Paul sing. Grounds are for the most part well kept. Everything is fairly close together so you don’t have to walk a whole lot. Buildings one or two are nice locations, three and four are bit more of a walk. The shows are above average. A couple are a bit corny but for the most part well done. The entertainment crew does a nice job throughout the day for activities. Never to pushy either, if you want to participate great if not they let you chill. They have kayaks, paddle boats, sail boats, wind surfing and snorkeling available. Can walk down the beach and check out The Office of Nature and some venders as well. Grab a Stripe and chill with the locals.

Make sure you get out and go to town/beach. Walk down the beach and experience all the different little bars, shops and restaurants. We did goto Rick’s. As far as we were concerned it is way overrated and over priced. Worth a look but wouldn’t waste to much time there. Wish we could have experienced this place 10 years ago. Oh well. Better times on the beach, or up the road at LTU.

All in all well worth the value.

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July 2008

We stayed at RIU Nigril Jamaica from June 23 to June 30th. This is a beautiful island and the people for the most part are very nice. The hospitality at RIU is great. The restaurants are ok and the down side is the waiting time for reservations at 930am every morning.

The beach and pool are adequate. Lots of shade and chairs at the beach. The grounds are well kept. Lots of activities here.

This is when things turn ugly: During one night during our stay at 400am, 3 rooms got broken into (home invasion / gorilla style). All of the victims were tied with duct tape and all items / $ were stolen. The theives were armed and they even shot at the unarmed security guard when leaving the premises.

There is serious security problem here…..Our neibour accidently open our bedroom door with another key one night. I would like visit this unique island again some day. Unfortunately, my next visit to Jamaica will be without my girlfriend. She is already seeking a safe resort for next year.

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  Riu Negril   Tom and Bonnie ~ Middletown, Delaware

June 2008

My wife and I stayed at the RIU NEGRIL the last week of MAY 2008; We went with 3 other couples, and all of us are in our 50’s. I must say we had an enjoyable time there…..Positives include the "BUFFET"…quite nice selection, fresh, and many new foods that were quite good. The salads were all good. We tried one of the Restaurantes…St Andrews, and it was only ok…we heard the other restaurantes were not worth the waiting line in the am. The Beach is quiet and nice…plenty of shade or sun. Plenty of foreign guests make life interesting, the Brits were always a lot of fun and very friendly. The Pools were nice, uncrowded for the most part in the am, and clean. In the pm, the pool water looks unattractive esp at the pool bar. Wonder Why?

Tennis Courts were nice, easy to reserve. Don’t go here to gamble, cause the casino is a small room with 12 slots. The Fitness room is ok, it was never crowded, but its not like a cruise ship variety. But you can burn your calories.

The rooms were just fine, but this place has no elevators, so get on the first two flloors. Our room was clean, great ac, no bugs, and the maid service was outstanding all week. Our toilet seat broke and they fixed it within 30 min.

Check in was slow, but we used the time to explore, and refresh so the time went fast. All service staff seemed friendly, and they try to get to know you. Plenty of Bars here! Much to Drink!

Entertainment here in pm was fine…not the best, but entertaining enough to watch. The local craft vendors visit in the early part of the week…a nice sidewalk sale, and boy they do bargain! There are many fine woodcrafs, painters, and metal/jewelry arts….

Snorkel out by the swimming ropes, or go into the cove early in the am and you will see some nice fish….there are baracuda in the cove, but they just watch you, or swim away.

Suggestions: bring one dollar bills to tip key people, and you will find it worthwhile! Listerine for bug repellent! It works better than anything. Do not take the boat ride to Rick’s Cafe, go by Tour Bus via Negril…its better and safer. The Jamaican Boaters are far from professional, and we heard many stories about the engines falling off the boats, and people adrift floating towards rocks etc. The tour buses were fine, comfortable, plus you see the country.

As far as Jamaica goes, this is a 2nd rate 3rd world country….I would not waste my time going on long tours here…the roads are poor, many bad drivers, litter everywhere, and the towns are run down with people everywhere doing nothing! This is my second trip to Jamaica, and I believe its gotten worse in 10 years. The Resorts are nice, but thats it. AT negril, we witnessed a horrible car accident, and they have poor EMT service, so they take the injured in a station wagon to the hospital….Parasailing here was cheap, and fun. Kayak here for some exercise. This can be a relaxing resort. .

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March 2008

We have recently returned from a vacation at the RIU Negril (Feb11-18,2008) and were very disappointed. . I did not complain while we were there because I would have spent more time at the front desk than I did at the pool, but we will never stay at another RIU. Our complaints are as follows:

-upon check-in we were given stickers for our luggage and told that because I had requested rooms in close proximity to one another (we have children) they were not ready and to return in 40 min.When we came back-after waiting in line yet again- the new desk person gave us more luggage stickers and was preceding to assign us rooms. When I informed him that we already had those stickers on our luggage, he said oh well what is your room number then? There were no numbers on our stickers-we had been sent away for forty minutes waiting for non-existent rooms to be made ready for us. After much delay and hesitation on his part we were assigned rooms. We were at the end of a hallway which provided us with the sound of traffic all night long.

-the mattresses in the kid’s room was terribly uncomfortable as well as very musty.

– each day of our stay the maid found new ways to screw up : -no hand towel -no washcloths -no bath towels- I mean none -no pillow cases -no top sheet on one bed

– when I requested a second key for each room, we were given a key to our kid’s room that did not work, when I returned it to the desk I was informed there were no more keys available to me.

-on our last evening there, I returned to our room early-4:30pm – to start packing and get ready for dinner and neither of our rooms had been made up yet, so I shuffled everyone back and forth between both rooms so she could do her work.

-we were never once able to get pool towels in the morning. We had to watch for the towel cart, because some would arrive and then they would run out and we’d have to wait for another hour or two for more. Some nights we couldn’t return our dirty towels because they didn’t have any cards to give us for them. That was just as well though because at least that way we would have towels the next day-even if they were soiled.

– food was mediocre at best – even in the al a cart restaurants. We were never able to dine at Sir Andrews-seemed to be always reserved for large parties. The menu never changed all the time we were there anyway. When I go out to dine in an al a cart restaurant I expect to be served the entire meal, but we still had to go downstairs for the usual salad buffet and dessert assortment.

– one morning, at 9:50 AM I asked the bar tender- a lady- for drinks for my kids-10 & 11 yrs.- and she said she could only serve water and coffee until 10:00. I explained that my kids were going out scuba diving and I needed to give my son some gravol and needed some liquid to wash it down with. ( neither of them liked the water and of course did not drink coffee) She refused to give me anything to wash down the tablet with. I was livid as there was not enough time to go elsewhere.

-the morning we were checking out, we had to be in the lobby by 7:00. At 6:50 we walked by the open doors to the main breakfast buffet restaurant and my kids noticed the cereal station for the first time. My son got all excited and had half of a scoop of cheerios in his bowl when a staff member came over and shuffled us out of the restaurant-made him actually pour the cereal back and took his bowl from him. Told us they were not open and to go the next restaurant-Luigis. I encouraged him to have some sort of bread so he would not get motion sick on the bus to the airport. He said he didn’t like the bun, so I took a bite. I also get motion sick and new the importance of having something substantial in our stomachs for the trip but could not swallow it. It was really just not edible. I think it was some sort of croissant. As a result he had the only other food available which was fruit. He managed to keep from throwing up until approx. 15 minutes from the airport and then could not hold it in any longer.

– this was approx. our 6th trip to Jamaica – first and last time at a RIU – and have always enjoyed the people-both local people as well as the staff of the various places we’ve stayed . This time, however, we found the locals to be their charming selves, but only half of the staff to be pleasant and helpful. The other half just was not what we have grown to expect.

-last of all, I was disappointed that no fruit of any kind was used in any of the tropical drinks- except for garnish.

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  Riu Negril   Glenn and Brenda (bda02) ~ Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada

January 2008

Hi all! Just got back from the Rui Negril in Jamaica. We were there from Jan 13 to Jan 20, 2008. There were no problems with our flight as we left pretty well on time and arrived on time. Going through arrival at the Jamaican airport was good. The bus ride to the resort was a little wild but arrived in one piece 1 hour and 20 minutes later. Check in was a breeze as we were 1st to the front desk. We were given the rooms we requested and were on our way to our rooms by the time our husbands got the bags off of the bus.

The resort was beautiful with wonderful staff. The staff answered every question that we had. We have only one small complaint about the resort in the way that they book their ala Carte restaurants. You must stand in line every morning at 9:30 and hope that you get a reservation. There is no limit to how many you can have per week so some people were there every morning and booked every night and that made it hard for anyone else to get reservations. A lot of times you could be sitting there waiting for an hour – what a waste of great beach time! We got one booked for the Steak house restaurant. The meal was good but the buffet was just a good. The buffet restaurant was fantastic. My group that I was with are seafood eaters and they were impressed with the fish, etc on the menu. The one night we actually had lobster on the buffet and it was really good (according to my seafood eaters).

We did a couple of tours during our week. We did the river tubing with Chukka tours and the Black River/YS Falls tour. We hired a taxi driver from our resort and he took us shopping in the afternoon and then to Rick’s Café for the cliff diving and sunset.

All in all our week was wonderful. The weather was hot and sunny every day except for the day we left it rained. Our ride back to the airport was very good. The driver drove slowly so we could see the countryside, as when we arrived it was nighttime. The Jamaican airport was slow getting us through the check in on departure day. Our group felt that they tried to hose a lot of our passengers with the weight restriction. We had our bags weighed in Regina before we left and we were nowhere near overweight there but when we left Jamaica they said that we were 20 kilos overweight. We bought a few tee shirts and some rum and that does not weigh 20 kilos. A lot of the passengers on the flight ended up having to pay extra or move some stuff around in their luggage as we did. Once we were home and unpacking I came across something that really has me disappointed about Jamaica. I had a jewelry case in my luggage that I had kept in the safe all week on the resort and knew that it was all there when we left but when I arrived home all of my gold jewelry was missing out of my jewelry case. My jewelry case has a clasp on it and it was closed and shoved in a pouch in the top area of my suitcase when I packed it up; when we got home in was laying on top of my clothes open. We used to have locks on our suitcases but we were told not to put them on anymore, as they will just cut them to look inside anyway.

All in all our trip was really great and we loved Negril. This was my husband and mine’s 2nd trip to Jamaica and we still love it there but the airport situation has us very disappointed.

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April 2007

Got back on the 16th from paradise! "We had a great time even though it was very hot. Seems hotter in Negril than in Ocho Rios where we went 2 years ago. RIU Negril is a great resort. We did get in building #2 like was reccommended. The buildings 1-4 are all on one side of the resort so there is alot of walking. But it’s probably a good thing cause of all the food and drinking you do while there.

The staff was great! We had a very nice maid named "Marcia" who did our room every day. We always left her a tip, so our room was done early. We had a queen size bed which we thought was very comfortable.

Never got to any of the specialty restaurants. The lines were very long to wait in and we wanted to go to the "Steak House" and only could get in at 9:00 which we didn’t want to do. They said they’d call or leave a note under our door for another night but never did. But there is such a great variety of food on the buffet, that we didn’t care. Some people we talked to who had gone to the other restaurants said they were just "okay".

The beach was okay. Sand is kind of brown and not real smooth. The water wasn’t too clear and the bottom was kind of mucky feeling. But we spent most of our time by the pool anyhow cause that’s where all the action was.

We’ve been to Jamaica twice, and it is a nice place but next time we’ll try something different.

Hope this helps a little for anyone who’s going there!!!

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Riu Negril Mike ~ Maryland, USA

April 2007

My wife and I, along with another couple that are close friends, decided to go to Jamaica for a short get-away this month (3 nights and 4 days). We were looking forward to the sand, sun, beach, and relaxation. We have been married for several years and were looking forward to the time away from the kids and the stress of work. We used the Apple Vacation service and got a great deal using the apple square deal plan. We used apple before and stayed at the Fiesta Grand Palladium Bavaro Beach resort in Punta Cana, D.R. where I fell in love with the Caribbean. Our trip to the DR (twice) was incredible and we knew that it would be a tough standard.

As usual, Apple did a great job of planning out the entire vacation for us, from the airline to the bus to and from the airport to confirming every reservation needed. It takes a lot of the stress away from those of us not so travel savvy. And, like I said using the square deal plan saved a boatload of cash (for those of you not familiar, Apple offers a plan where you pay for a rated level resort in a given area then Apple makes your reservation based on what is available just prior to your departure. You are guaranteed a resort of the level of your choosing, 4 or 5 apple, but you don’t know where you are going to stay until the day of departure. This is great if the particular resort is unimportant to you, the sun and water are pretty much the same since you still chose your locale).

The night before we left, the travel agent called and said that we were booked at the Riu Negril. Naturally we got on line and were up all night looking at pictures and reading reviews.

We left bright and early the next morning and the flight to Jamaica was good, with a great view of the Caribbean sea on our approach (the airport in Montego Bay sits directly on the coast). The airport was a bit chaotic but we found our way through customs and to the bus/taxi stand. The "red hats" who helped us with our luggage were a bit aggressive in asking for the tip but this is to be expected in a Caribbean airport and I was prepared with a modest tip at the ready.

The small bus taking us to the Riu was air conditioned and fairly comfortable. Again, the bus was normal for the Caribbean and the driver was great, pointing out things along the way. The route took about 1 1/2 hours but was nice since it was a coastal road and the Caribbean sea was in sight almost the entire way. As we drove through the city of Montego Bay (the second largest city in Jamaica we were told) and the many small towns, the Jamaican culture was on display through the windows.

Upon our arrival, we checked in but were told that the rooms would not be available for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. We explained to the staff that my wife and I would like a room next to our friends as we were traveling together. The man at the front desk said that he would see what he could do. With that we left our luggage in the lobby along with everyone else’s and enjoyed the buffet style lunch in the nearby restaurant. The food was great and there was plenty to choose from, including self serve beer on tap!!! After about an hour and a half we went back to the front desk to complete the check in. We were given the keys to two rooms, both in the second of four buildings. The rooms were on the second floor and right next to each other like we had requested. The staff member at the desk, upon giving us our keys, said that if the maids weren’t finished cleaning the rooms, we could either leave our luggage in the lobby or store them in the closets in the room. When we went to the rooms, our friend’s room was complete but the maid was still in ours. It appeared as though the maid had just started on our room and was doing a very thorough job so we stored our luggage in our friend’s cleaned room and changed into our bathing suites. We headed down to the beach and spent several hours there. Just before sundown, we headed back to change and get ready for dinner and drinks. After retrieving the room key, I went into our room and found someone else’s luggage, clothing, and toiletries in the room. When we went down to complain, the staff giggled and apologized. My wife was not too pleased at either the event or the staff’s reaction to it. Eventually we got a room about 5 away from our friends and continued our vacation determined not to let this ruin our vacation (and in reality I guess it didn’t).

Like I said, we were only there a short time and were looking to relax so we didn’t do any excursions. The only thing that we did want to do was go to Margaritaville. I’ve been to every Margaritaville that is near any location that we visit. We went on the first night of our stay, a Monday night. It cost us $30+ US for the round trip cab fare. When we got there we found that the place was closing and it was only about 9:30 pm. and no events were scheduled for that evening at all. We got a few drinks, got t-shirts and waited at the bar for our ride. The staff at Margaritaville was very patient with us and didn’t give us a hard time at all while we waited for our taxi, even though the place was closed. Actually they continued to feed us drinks while we waited. I think the driver knew the place was closed because he just so happened to stop by a little early to check on us. We want back to the resort and drank our worries away. The following day, we had our "apple briefing" and were told that on Tuesdays there is a free shuttle to Margaritaville on the hour for the beach party there. Oh well!!

We spent the remainder of our time between the beach and the restaurants and bars. A little advise: don’t bother waiting in the long line for the alacarte restaurants. The food is better at the buffet and the wait to make the reservations will just test your patience. The bartenders seem to have a great time working there and are more then happy to fulfill your requests. A little appreciation can take you along way with them, and I don’t just mean the tips. It seems like not to many tourists treat them with any respect and just a little bit of that can make your time at the bar far more pleasurable.

Another piece of advise to anybody who watches the clock during their vacation: THE CLOCKS IN THE ROOM DON’T WORK. All in all, the vacation did exactly what it was supposed to do. I was relaxed and had a great time with my wife and friends. There were some negatives and some positives:

Negatives include the incident with the room that I think may have been avoided if this relatively new resort had used the key cards with a computerized system rather then actual keys. The beach was not as nice as that of Bavaro Beach in the DR. The beach at Negril had a lot of seaweed and the sea floor felt very soft in places and felt more like river bed type mud than Caribbean sea bed. Although the staff was pleasant most of the time, many seemed to have worked way too many hours and were just not in the mood for tourists. Several of the locals near the beach, on boats, and jet skis claimed to be "farmers" and were offering to sell their wares. This is Jamaica after all and some of this is to be expected, nobody made me feel unsafe and most were smiling even when you turned them down. A simple no thank you got a "much respect" in return. For the al-a-carte restaurants you have to make reservations each day for dinner that night. The reservation line can be extremely long and frankly, the food at these al-a-carte restaurants wasn’t all that good. One of the biggest complaints that I heard from others, and I share it, is that there wasn’t much of a Jamaican feel to the resort in general. The look and architecture, while pretty, was reminiscent of ancient Rome with large marbled statues and columns. Without the language of the workers, you wouldn’t even know that you were in Jamaica. The items for sale at the resort, the airport, and the roadside stands was unexpectedly expensive in my opinion.

Positives include the beach, although the sea floor wasn’t what I would have liked, like I said earlier, the beach itself was plenty groomed and soft. The beach had plenty of room to lay out and tan but also included many palm trees that you can lay under to get out of the hot sun and enjoy the Caribbean breeze. The beach bars were well stocked and staffed with folks who seemed to enjoy themselves. The beach grill serves awesome jerk chicken and sausage. The rooms were cleaned well everyday (the maid actually arraigned our shoes for us) and the in room bar was well stocked and refreshed. The pool bar was pleasant as long as you don’t mind tons of kids splashing around (being a father of two I was used to it – at least I didn’t have to watch these children). I was able to observe, at the pool bar, the way the staff get treated by some of the tourists and I have to say that I commend the staff for their patience. The weather was beautiful, the sun was great, the air was clean, and the atmosphere was very relaxing.

In short, I don’t regret booking the Riu Negril but I don’t think I will make it a point to go back. When you consider all the other destinations in that price range, I just think you can have a better overall time somewhere else. I know that while I was in the DR, I just felt more appreciated and pampered. For people like us who vacation on a budget, the more bang for the buck the better.

Have Fun,

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Riu Negril Antoinette ~ USA

March 2007

Stayed at the RIU Negril with my husband and 8 year old son for 7 days. This was our first trip to Jamaica. We have been to Mexico and the Dominican Republic a number of times. We had a week of beautiful weather. We had a tiny amount of rain late one afternoon which is to be expected in the Caribbean. Before we went we read a lot about bugs and mosquitos, I even packed bug spray. We did not have any problems with bugs, never used the spray. We flew into Montego Bay, the ride to Negril took about 1.5 hour. Our bus driver was great (Reed), very Jamaican-he was a great kick off to our vacation.

The resort was beautiful and well staffed. I’m not sure how many buildings they have, but we were on the 3rd floor of building 2. Building 2 was a great location for us, close to the beach and main buildings. My husband recently had knee surgery so we really appreciated the close proximity. The rooms were cleaned every day, mini bar well stocked, plenty of towels, except for wash cloths which always seem to be in short supply wherever you go! We did leave a tip for the maid every day, but I really don’t know how much (if any) difference it made in service. The safe is in the bottom of the closet which is a little bit of a pain, but oh well. The first evening we checked in the front desk called to make sure our room was okay and if we needed anything (WOW). My husband asked for extra pillows and we actually got them-we were impressed. We never encountered a single rude staff member or guest for that matter.

Food was standard all-inclusive food. We ate at the main buffet for breakfast and dinner and did the beachside jerk shack and restaraunt for lunch. Lots of fruits, ice cream and pizza. The jerk chicken is great, I highly recommend it. The pina coladas are awesome, I really liked the red stripe beer too.

We participated in a few activities at the beach, but didn’t stay up for the evening shows. What we saw of them were pretty much standard entertainment.

The resort sits on Bloody Bay so the beach is pretty calm. This would be a real plus if you are traveling with smaller children. The sand is brown and there are lots of shells in the water. My son snorkeled every day and saw lots of fish and sting rays. Take a float if you go, you will enjoy floating in the beach, the water is very calm. Went to the pool and swim up bar a couple of times, both are very nice for a change of pace, but we prefer the beach.

We went to YS Falls, the Pelican Bar and for a crocodile hunt/ride down the Black River as our excursion. We booked our tour through Talk of the Town Tours before we went. Soloman and Sienna were our guides and they were fabulous. We went with one other family and it was a fabulous experience. Before we have only done the tours offered through the resort or Apple, this was a completely different experience and no more expensive. We got to stay at one spot for as long as we wanted and got lots of personal attention. It was like getting a private history, cultural, biology (marine) lesson-especially for my son. We did the Negril craft market and Rick’s cafe on our own. I highly recommend Rick’s-the cliff diving was awesome (to watch) and for my son.

All in all we had a great time and would definitely go to Negril again.

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January 2007

When: Oct 23 – Oct 30, 2006

Where: Riu Negril

Who we are: A couple from Canada (of European descent), 30 and 33 year old, we are adventurous, easy going, NOT high maintenance, enjoy parties, good times and meeting new people when on vacation

Airport: Fast service

Bus Ride: We were on the bus for probably an hour to an hour and a half. It was a rather scary experience, especially that the bus ride was at night. The bus driver stopped on the way to pick up a ‘stranger’, which turned out to be his friend. The scenery was scary, cars parked on the streets with big men gathered around and music thumping from the car stereos.

Check-in: Very fast…not longer than 10 minutes

Hotel/Grounds/Beach:
Good: Very clean hotel, beautiful flower arrangements in the lobby, excellent grounds up keeping. We were checked in within 10 minutes. Everything is within walking distance. The beach is beautiful, there was only one day when we had some sea weed in the water. It wasn’t too bad though, you could step over it easily. We went for a walk on the beach to some neighbouring hotels, and the amount of sea weed they had was disgusting…you couldn’t even jump over it!. There is lots of shade from the palm/coconut trees, and the loungers were always available, with unlimited towels. Bad: I had over 200 bites all over my body from sandflees!!! YOU MUST BRING A BUG SPRAY!!! The flees come out around 4 or 5pm and after the rain. Also the lights are turned off at night in the gardens area and there are no security guards on the beach at night. WARNING TO THE LADIES!!! It was pretty spooky at night when coming back to my room alone. Once, there was a man lurking in the bushes who attempted to follow me when I started running. I don’t think he was part of the staff, he wasn’t wearing a uniform. Once the security saw me running, they went to check with the flashlights. I never attempted to go back to my room alone at night again.

Rooms:
Bad: The ground floor rooms had a very musty smell. The smell was still in our clothes even after a few washes at home after we got back. The upper rooms had no smell. The air conditioner was turned off at night, the only thing to cool you off was a fan. We checked with the front desk, but they assured us everything was OK. Other people that we’ve met there, had a similar problem. There were flies/mosquitoes and other huge bugs in our room, as the chamber maids leave the door wide open when cleaning. There was no ironing boards or irons in the rooms, apparently you had to sign one out. The rooms were cleaned thoroughly and we had towel arrangements on the bed every time. We are not high maintenance, but it was a nice touch. There is no such thing as a king or queen size bed here, you have to push two double beds together to have some room. In the morning, when the chamber maids were making beds upstairs, we were constantly woken up the beds moving and making the screeching noise. Good: The mini fridge had all kinds of goodies in it, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It was supposed to be restocked every two days, ours was never restocked, until we asked for it. .

Food: The food was great, there was something for everyone. If you are a fish lover, you must try their fish. Some people complained that it is repetitive. True, the food was repeated, but you could always find something good every day…we are not picky eaters, so we were quite happy with the selection provided. They also have a great fruit selection. For breakfast, try their freshly made milk shakes, strawberry, pineapple and others, they were excellent. You must try the ‘Jerk Hut’ on the beach, it was amazing, unfortunately there were always line-ups and they closed around 3 pm or so, depending on how much meat they had. The ‘Pizza place’ was supposed to be open 24 hrs, it wasn’t the case when we were there. Once, after emptying a beer keg, a security guard attempted to make us some pizza, since the place was apparently closed. It was really nice of him and the pizza wasn’t too bad.
The a la carte restaurants were good. You have to make reservations by 11am, and you can make a reservation only for that evening. Also, if you don’t make a reservation, try to show up at a restaurant anyways, a lot of people just don’t show up, if they make other plans, so they can squeeze you in. We went to the Japanese, their sushi was great. We went to another one as well, can’t recall which one, but it was great too. No one got sick from food or drinks and we brushed teeth with their tap water.

Drinks: Anything you want in any amount! It helps if you bring a giant mug with you, their glasses are rather small. So if you get a drink at a bar, the drink is gone by the time you get to the beach ? You can also visit their sister hotel, a short walk away, and enjoy their drinks there as well. Make sure you come back before dusk, it is pretty scary on the beach after dark.

Staff and entertainment: Always friendly, enthusiastic and ready to entertain or just to sit down for a chat…no complaints there. They are working hard from dusk to dawn. The shows at night were fun, during the day you could win a bottle of rum if you joined some of the activities. The bartenders serve you better/faster if you tip them…some even asked for tips straight out.

Disco: Often dead, and sometimes opened only for ‘private’ parties. The music played was mainly rap, R & B, and some reggae. We expected more reggae, since it is Jamaica! The dance floor is really tiny, but it doesn’t need to be bigger, considering that at any given time, there wasn’t more than 50 people at the bar. There were people of all ages.

Other: We went off the resort once, we went to check out their ‘mall’, everything is overpriced there. Ask a cabbie to take you to a local market, we were told the prices there were more reasonable. We ended up at the Rick’s Café, it was fun, although we were too chicken to jump from the cliff. Our friends did though and they loved it!

Summary: All in all, it was an OK experience, nothing spectacular. We have been to other 5 star resorts in Dominican Republic (Punta Cana) and Mexico (Cancun), and they were by far better 5 star hotels than this one. We had a great fun, not because of the resort, but because of the people we’ve met there. We probably wouldn’t come back to Riu Negril or Jamaica again…I didn’t feel very safe there, although some people swear by it!

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Riu Negril Andrew ~ Canada

January 2007

I travelled to the RIU Negril Jan 6th -13th, 2007, with my girlfriend, and we were part of a group of 30 for a wedding that took place on the resort. Our vacation was through Sunquest, which meant our flight was with Skyservice. We paid $1600CDN for the trip.

I have previously been to other all-inclusives in Varadero, Cuba(Barcelo Solymar), Punta Cana, Dominican Rep.(Bavaro Princess, Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort), Costa Rica(Allegro Papagayo) and Mayan Riviera, Mexico(Occidental Grand Xcaret).

Overall, I would rate this hotel at 3.5-4*, comparable to the Barcelo Solymar and Bavaro Princess. The Experience of the whole trip was fantastic, but I think that had more to do with group we were with and less to do with the resort.

Flight/Airport/Transfers: Our flight was with Skyservice, and we were delayed by 3+hours in Toronto. I have now flown with Skyservice for 4 flights, and 3 of 4 were delayed for many hours(1 overnight). The flight went smoothly(by that I mean we got there safely). The food wasn’t very good, even for airline food, they did not have much selection when it came time for the drink cart(wine or scotch, no beer, rum, vodka, whiskey, baileys), and they put the seats so close together that it is impossible for anybody over 5’5” to not have your knees jammed up against the seat in front of you. The movie might have been good, if you could read lips…the sound didn’t work for most seats. I can safely say that, if given the choice, this will have been my last skyservice flight ever. The airport in Jamaica looked kind of shady, but all was well, smooth and speedy. You could see that they have lounges to have a seat/drink for many of the high end resorts in Jamaica, unfortunately, not for the RIU hotels. The transfer to our resort was quite boring, as we got in at midnight and couldn’t see a whole lot. The way back was better, as there was still some daylight…you could see how lush the landscape was, and how poor the people are. When returning home, in the airport they have plenty of shopping for souvenirs and duty-free. They also have a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in the airport, and the food is delicious.

Check In/Lobby: Upon arrival, it is very easy to get into vacation mode, as the hotel lobby is beautiful. Check in was very quick, getting to our rooms within 15 minutes of arrival(of course, it was almost 2am when we got there).

Rooms: I had seen pictures of spacious rooms with couches before I left. I didn’t see any of those when I got there. Don’t get me wrong, the rooms were very clean and you could tell this is a very new resort, but it felt a little like false advertising. It is pretty much a standard hotel room, with a nice bathroom, with plenty of hot water and good pressure. We had a king bed, which was nice compared to putting two doubles together. The housekeeping is pretty standard…tip and you get towels in the shape of swans or whatever. There were a few days when they didn’t have enough towels, so those who tipped seemed to get them first. The room comes with a mini-fridge and drink dispenser. There was 6 beer in the fridge along with pop and water. The drink dispenser had Rum, Vodka, Brandy and Gin. We ended up being in the 4th building(room 4120), which is the furthest from, well, everything. So, I would recommend maybe greasing the hand of the check-in clerk to get a closer building.

Resort Layout/Grounds: As I said before, we were in the furthest building, so we had to do a lot of walking if we wanted to get back to our room. After the first couple of days, you just learn to bring everything with you for the day. The buildings and grounds all look fantastic. Everything is new and the landscaping is kept up nicely. The have these beautiful palm type trees that grow like a giant fan.

Beach: The beach was big and beautiful. Not quite as nice as Bavaro beach in the Dominican, but definitely up there. You can walk for a few kilometres, though I would not recommend going by yourself, or after dark as there are quite a few “locals” who live in the jungle just off the resort, ready to sell you pretty much anything you want. They will ask you to buy things from them, but usually a polite “no thanks” will do. If you do want to buy any “wares”, there are plenty of deals to be had…they will offer a price, and as usual, you can barter with them to get them down to a lower price. You can usually get away with paying half of their original asking price. There are lots of sand fleas on the beach, and I came back with quite a few bites on my feet and ankles. There are a few mosquitoes for about ½ an hour, right after sunset.

Pools: There are two pools, neither of which are huge. The pool bar is a nice touch, as well as the tables built into the pool. You have to watch for kids splashing, as you probably don’t want any pool water in your drink…I saw many people sit around the pool bar all afternoon and not get out once to use the washroom.

Bars : There are plenty of bars around, though one more on the beach wouldn’t hurt. The mixed drinks were pretty good, although the beer was not my favourite(I’m Canadian, so I guess that makes me a beer snob). I can understand the need for plastic cups in the pool, but how about using some glass for the rest of the bars. Again, tipping goes a long way. Throw a bartender a couple of dollars at the start of the day, and he’ll make sure you don’t go empty. Lunic was one of the best(probably why he got the employee of the month for May last year). The hummingbird was the drink of choice for our group. Make sure you ask for Rum, and more specifically Appleton Rum. They also have premium brands(Canadian Club Whiskey, Smirnoff Vodka), but if you don’t ask for them by name, you will get the generic stuff.

Restaurants: The buffet was good, but it got a little repetitive after a few days. They have the standard pizza and pasta station, as well as a Jamaican Corner. It was hit and miss with drink service. There are a few A La Carte restaurants, but the system for booking is the worst I have seen. You have to line up early(they say 10am, but if you aren’t there before 9:30am, you aren’t getting a reservation) and you can only book for that day. We only got one reservation, which was the steakhouse. I had the Beef Tenderloin, and it was very good. Of course, when you do get a reservation, you will notice that they are pretty much empty all the time, so you can tell that they really don’t want people eating at the a la carte’s, as it is more expensive for them to feed you there than at the buffet. I did hear that the other a la carte’s had good food, but I can’t say first hand. The Jerk Hut was the highlight of the food on this resort. In fact, if they kept this open all the time, I probably would have skipped the buffet a lot of the time. It is on the beach, and is open 6 out of 7 days a week for lunch. It is absolutely fantastic. As soon as I finish writing this review, I am going to look for a recipe on the internet for the jerk sauce.

Entertainment: The nightly shows are as good as resort entertainment can be. I don’t really care much for it anyways. I was also with a group of 30, so we tended to make our own entertainment. We ended up hitting the beach most nights with our bottled beer from our room and a guitar. I think we almost made it until sunrise a few times. The Disco is open from 11pm-2am, but it was pretty dead in there even though the resort was at capacity.

Tours: After hearing about “safety” being an issue in Jamaica before we went, and noticing it first hand when we got there, we didn’t really want to do too many tours. RICK’s CAFÉ: We did however, rent a bus as a group($15US/person) to take us into the town of Negril to do some shopping, and then to Rick’s Café. Rick’s was great. They have 2 guys that do some pretty crazy cliff jumping(40ft), and then they even climb a tree another 40 feet in the air and jump from there. Guests are welcome to jump off of the 40ft cliff. They have a few lifeguards…and if there is anybody you want to make sure to tip, it’s the lifeguard. They also had a live reggae band, and plenty of domestic and international booze. The sunset from the bar is fantastic. SCUBA: 5 of us also booked the Discover Scuba Diving course through the on-resort PADI Dive Centre. 2 of the group had never gone Scuba Diving before. We watched a video, and then we did our pool “training”, which lasted all of about 15 minutes. After that, we were told to meet at the boat at 12:30pm, which apparently is Jamaica time, because at about 1:45, we were finally leaving. So, we get on the boat with about 15 other people, and 2 instructors. Next we are told to start putting together our equipment…well, they didn’t show us any of this during the training. Luckily, some of the certified divers helped us rookies get our gear on. Next, they tell us to jump in and swim to the front of the boat and grab on to the rope that leads us down to the bottom. The instructor then started getting ready himself, during which he said, “OK, I’ll meet you at the bottom”. So, the 3 of us that had done it before went down and waited at the bottom for about 5 minutes along with a group of 4 getting certified. Finally the instructor shows up with only 1 of the 2 guys that was new to diving. We couldn’t exactly ask questions, but found out later that he was having a hard time, and went back in the boat. So, next the instructor asks us by way of hand signals if we are OK, and then he starts swimming away. We followed for the next ½ hour without him checking our gauges once. I was well below 500psi when we got to the rope to go back up, and the one guy who had never done it before was running out of air. The coral was nice, but there were hardly any fish or other aquatic life. We paid $125US for 2 dives, but we cancelled our 2nd dive after we completed the first, as it was too shady of an operation. Any other time I had gone diving, I was in a group of 5 people or less, and the instructors were always checking gauges and asking to make sure everything was OK. I would definitely not recommend doing any Scuba diving from this resort unless you are a certified diver. SNORKELLING: There is some good snorkelling to the right of the Riu’s beach. If you start out where the sign says “Fish Sanctuary No Swimming”(don’t worry, everybody ignores it!) and head towards the point, you will see some aquatic life. We saw many blowfish, a stingray at least 2 ft long and many other colourful fish.

Wedding: The wedding was beautiful, right on the beach. I couldn’t imagine a better place to have your wedding pictures done.

General Safety: I have never felt as unsafe as I did in Jamaica. Even the Dominican has police to make sure the tourists are kept safe. Marijuana is not legal in Jamaica, but is accepted. So, having a black market for it is just asking for trouble. I think they should either legalize it, or police it. I cannot mention an incident that occurred(policy: We will remove any mention of crimes, altercations, etc. involving hotel/tour employees) during our visit, but some of our group did see it first hand, and are quite disturbed. Police were not called, and the evidence was mopped up with some bleach.

Overall: Overall, the resort was new and it looks great. Service was definitely not 4.5-5 star, especially compared to Mexico. The food was not as good as I expected from a 4.5* resort(5 according to RIU). The beach was great, the pools were decent, and the weather couldn’t have been better. I have a rule not to go to the same resort twice, but I can say that I will not stay at a RIU again, and I probably will not return to Jamaica, especially since it is so much more expensive that Cuba, Dominican or Mexico.

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Riu Negril Bonnie ~ Lexington, KY

October 2006

I visited the Riu Negril for 5 nights (Sept 26- Oct 1st) and had a fantastic vacation there! I have stayed at many all inclusives including 3 other Riu’s- in Mexico and Dominican Republic-and the Riu Negril is now one of my all time favorites! There were 3 of us- females in our 40’s-and we all had a wonderful time. The staff at the Riu was incredible. We didn’t have a problem with anyone or anything at the resort.-with the exception of the slight inconvenience of the internet being out almost the whole time due to a storm. Not really a problem- just bought a Jamaican phone card from the front dest and called home instead- I think it was about $10 for about 30 minutes. The food and drinks were great. I honestly can’t comprehend how a person could not find something that they like to eat there, the selection and quality was very good. The jerk chicken at the lunch buffet is absolutely to die for! Delicious to say the least! We asked for a room with a good view and we were very pleased with our 2nd floor room #1115. The grounds are really pretty and I love the location at the end of Bloody Bay. There is a fish sanctuary to the right of the swimming area that is pristine and gorgeous. Be sure to take the kayaks out to the little island and to the right to the next bay that is untouched and beautiful. Definitely pack your snorkels and masks- I saw lots of cool fish, several rays, starfish, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins. We did the 2 hour horseback riding at Rhodes Hall, and the canopy tour near Montego Bay- both were fun and were worth it. I highly recommend the spa at the resort for a great massage-they certainly do a great job. We also hired a driver to take us to Negril for shopping and to Rick’s to see the sunset. Just go to the security guy in the booth at the entrance of the resort near the road and he can get you a good driver. It’s cheaper than getting a taxi in the lobby- just negotiate the price before you get in and they will take you where ever you want to go and will wait for you and bring you back. We were gone for about 4 hours and it was well worth $10 each. Ask to go to the Jamaican Style shop for a good selection of souvenirs- we liked it better than the local craft market. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice everyone was that I encountered- from the airport workers to the vendors- almost all of the Jamaicans I met were absolutely delightful. I wouldn’t hesitate to return and I highly recommend the Riu Negril if you want a relaxing, hassel free wonderful vacation.

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March 2006

This is definitely a five star hotel. I read the reviews before I booked my flight and there was a lot of negative reviews.

I can honestly say I didn’t see anything negative about this resort while I was in Jamaica.

Arriving in Negril – Getting through customs was a breeze, the Sunquest rep was waiting on us even though we were delayed two hours leaving Toronto due to a faulty plane. We were on the bus in less than 10 minutes.

Check-In – Check in was less than 10 minutes and our luggage came straight to our rooms with us.

Room/Accommodation – The room was clean and beautiful (except for a musty smell when you first entered). The room was cleaned before noon everyday, there was always a nicely designed swan on the end of the bed complete with flowers. There was always enough towels.

Food – The main buffet was always good with a lot of different variety (it was nice to see a Jamaica Corner). There was always enough all through the day, the only thing I would change was to make the food a little more kid’s friendly for the ten and under crowd.

Grounds – The grounds and surrounding areas were well kept always clean. The pool and beach are was also well kept and there were ample chairs for everyone.

Entertainment – Having stayed at the Riu Bambu in the Domican Republic the nightly entertainment was familiar as they don’t seem to change from Riu to Riu. The Disco was fun and it was nice to have on site.

We really enjoyed this trip – they were seven of us – 4 adults and 3 kids ages 4-10. We can’t wait to go back.

I would recommend this resort to anyone.

If you need to more information e-mail me at jamaicandiva@rogers.com

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Riu Negril Sonia ~ Canada

February 2006

Stayed at the Riu Negril from January 21 to the 28th. We had read several reviews with negative comments and were a bit worried that we would not enjoy our vacation, not the case so here is our honest assessment:

Flight and arrival We flew out of Montreal and due to a snowstorm the flight was 2 hours late, we arrived at the hotel at 1am. Everything went smoothly as they were expecting us and had our room assigned and ready for us.

Location The location of the resort was very disappointing – it is in Bloody Bay and quite far from the 7 mile beach, you can’t walk along the beach to it and along the road is much too dangerous and far. We had to take taxis and be careful – they charge a lot, you need to negotiate down with the taxis across the street from the hotel or flag down a Route taxi – the cost should not exceed $5US and make sure they don’t intend on charging per person.

Resort The resort itself is very nice and still new, it is a long walk to your room if you are in building 3 or 4 (we were in building 3 ocean front) you can get to the beach directly from your building, it is only when you want to go to the main part of the resort – pool, restaurants, bar and front desk. We did not mind the walk at all. Try not to get a room that faces the back road if you are in building 1 or 2 there is a strong sewer smell near the tennis courts.

Room The rooms are quite nice, mini bar restocked as needed, mini fridge, safe. We never had problems with water pressure or hot water. No complaints about the room. It was cleaned every morning and towel art left on the bed. If you need two beds I think that all that is available are two beds stuck together – I guess you can just seperate them. the one thing we did not appreciate was the day we left, our flight was not until 6pm but we were told to check out at noon. At 10:30 the cleaning service called to ask if they could come in, then again at 11:00 and then again at 11:20.

Grounds Again very nice well kept and clean – in a couple of years there should be more mature trees and flowering shrubs but still it is well kept – you always see staff working to keep it clean.

Beach For us this was also a disappointment – the water was murky and no waves – zero it was more like a salt water lake than the ocean. We should have realized this given that it is in bay, but we did not expect it to be so calm. It was great for families with small children. That is one of the reasons we went to the 7 mile beach, but no real waves there either so if you want to do some body surfing or enjoy waves Negril is not the place for you. We did not have problems with sand fleas at the resort but some of the smaller children who played in the sand had quite a few bug bites.

Food/Drinks The food selection and quality was very good no complaints, except if you were looking for a late night snack – one restaurant was open but the food is just kept warm and not very tasty. We did not try the specialty restaurants – the line ups were too long to sign up in the morning and we were quite content with the buffet. The jerk chicken and ribs at the beach jerk shack is the best -that guy works really hard and the food is wonderful. There are several bars and the staff working them are all great, the beach bar was close to building 3 on the beach so we used that one quite a bit – we had a great time with those guys really nice people. The drinks are strong enough for my taste and I found the hummingbirds really good – very rich just like a milkshake.

Entertainment Having been to Rius 5 times before – we did not bother with the shows – they are all so similar from one to the other. I just don’t enjoy the Miss Riu, Mr Riu and the audience participation stuff. I did catch part of the Mexican night and the quality is comparable to all the other Rius – they try their best and give a good performance giving it their all. I would suggest to them to have more Jamaican music – reggae is such fun to dance and listen to. I did however enjoy the beach party – that was a lot of fun. During the day the team is constantly working and providing activities and games, they were all great, I enjoyed the water aerobics (in the pool not in the ocean). We did go to a couple of places at night – walking along the 7 mile beach and had a great time where they had on beach entertainment we also enjoyed Rick’s cafe but the prices are too high.

Staff I think I covered this in the other sections, I really can’t say anything but good about all the staff and workers. They were all friendly and helpful.

People I found the people of Jamaica friendly, but some were a bit too pushy especially the men when they thought a woman was alone.But just be firm and say no and it is not a problem.

I don’t think I would go back to the Riu Negril – just because of its location, and I don’t believe I will return to a Riu – they are all the same and you don’t experience the feel of the country you are in – just the Riu world. It is good if you are not sure about where you are going and don’t want any surprises. If I ever returned to the area I would go for a hotel on the cliffs that area is absolutely gorgeous, seven mile beach is nice but too crowded.

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July 2005

Myself and 11 members of my family stayed at the Riu Negril for two weeks.

FLIGHT
The flight over was fine, food as always was just terrible but apart from that not bad at all. Arriving at Jamaica airport now that’s another story be prepared to cue at immigration in huge cues that seem to take forever and they don’t have Air conditioning ouch it was hot. The ride to the resort was great the driver tells you about the history of the little towns you go through, then he stops at a little road side bar where if you want you can get off and grab an ice cold beer.

CHECK IN
Check in at the hotel was a smooth as silk, get your keys, towel cards and your resort info and your off to your room. Be prepared to tip if you want your bags brought down, they do not expect alot and we were so tired by the time we got there that it didn’t matter that much. The blocks are numbered 1-4 and yup you guessed it 4 being the furthest away. It is a bit of a walk but it was never a problem.

HOTEL & ROOMS
The hotel is just as you expect from a Riu they are imimpeccablylean and tidy as are the rooms, the maids we not as good as when we stayed at the Riu TeTequilabsp;in meMexicowe only had towel animals twice where as we had them everyday before. Its the little touches that make your stay even better.

BARS There are four bars two where the entertainment happens, one in reception and then the pool bar. Nothing much really to say about them just like bars really. Ohhh you must try a Bob Marley shot. The Disco is good nice and cool but does smell a little but you soon forget about it after a few more drinks.

The bar staff hmmmm well there where a few that did have an attitude problem, you could stand at the bar for ages waiting for a drink, as they do tend to prefer the ones that tip large!!! We did have to complain once as we waited for over 40 mins to get a drink but after that incident we didn’t visit that bar anymore. If you wanna drink see Cashmoney at the bar next to the disco he is fantastic, a real pleasure to be around he made up for it all.

RESTAURANT’S Green Island is your main bbuffetrrestaurantwhere you have breakfast and dinner I was very ddisappointedwith the choice of food in the evening. It seemed to be the same boring stuff every night. I eendedup eating Pasta which I have to say was lovely but after 14 nights I was sick of it. I was eexpectingso much more that what I got, having stayed at the Riu Tequila where the food was out of this world something different eevery nightI was hoping that I would get the same from this hotel. We used LLuigi’sfor lunch, this again is the same thing most of the time, Pizza, pasta and salad, you have to book to have dinner in here but I wwouldn’tbother. They bring you out a small bowl with potatoes, beans and ccarrot’sthen ten minutes later they bring you meat on a skewer that they carve in front of you. Shadows Steak House at lunch was oOKthe only problem I had there was the flies on the salad and cold meats. You again have to book here to eat in the evening. Now here comes the fun part we sat down and the table was black with flies and MMosquitoesit was horrible so that was that we left.

Then you have Sir Andrews god this place is good. You get a small starter then you get soup and these warm rolls, then your main meal wow its good try the cCajunred snapper and the steak is fantastic then you get dessert. We had booked again for the ssecondweek then Emily struck ohhh we were upset.

BEACH
Is ok not really much to look at ,plenty of room and lots of shade but thousands of Sand Flies and do they bite no bug spray works so didn’t really go on there much. The sea isn’t very clear there’s lots of seaweed but a huge array of fish and little hermit crabs and jelly fish so be careful there were a few people with jelly fish stings.

I know I have pointed out all of the negative points but I do feel they make a difference to you overall holiday. We did have a good time and some really good laughs the entertainment team are good fun if you do go say hello to Niyanka, Hotdog and Rocky but without them and the rest of my family I would not have had such a good time.

I would not go back to Riu Negril and its sad to say that next year when we go away again we wont be staying at a Riu. Its a real shame after the experience we had in Mexico there wasn’t a thing that you could fault them on but this place has left a rather sour taste.

I hope I have made fair comments and havent put you off seeing it for yourselves, as I am sure that some people will think that the hotel is fantastic but after having such amazing service in another hotel I would have expected the same from this one which is rated as a platinum but such is life i guess.

Riu Negril Hibiscus Girl ~ USA

June 2005

My mom and I just came back from a 8 day trip to the RIU Negril. We are from the states.

FLIGHT:
We flew Air Jamaica, which was interesting, we flew out of BWI our flight down was delayed and wasn’t listed till we got to the airport and our flight home was delayed an hour and we were never told why and wasn’t listed as delayed so our family members were worried.

RIDE TO HOTEL:
The ride to the hotel is an hour and a half, quite long. They do stop at a little shop to use the rest room and buy snacks. My tip is to keep a bottle of water in your carry on bag, and some small snacks (especially if you have children) because everything was expensive.

CHECK IN:
Check in at the hotel was very very quick, we arrived at 2 PM, and were quickly given our keys and our room.

WEATHER:
The weather is very temperamental, it rained, I mean poured our first 2 and a half days, but we made the best of if, and after a certain point you stop caring and everyone was in the water having fun. It does rain everyday but doesn’t last long. BIG TIP BRING BUG SPRAY. The mosquitos are horrible people had welts on them, they do spray for them but bring it cause it cost $10 US in the hotel.

ROOM:
The room, OK we were told we were gonna get an ocean view, DON’T pay for one because there really is no such thing, there a partial ocean views but trees and building block it. We had two double beds pushed together (that’s how they do it) it was clean, we did notice that they don’t clean your sheets all week, only after you leave. If you hang up your towels they don’t take them, so if you want clean new towels you must put them on the floor, and wash clothes are a rare commodity. The mini fridge was stocked daily with sodas, beer, and gallon size bottles of water.

We definitely recommend staying in building one or two otherwise you have a long walk to everything.

FOOD:
The food, I am a very picky eater, breakfast at Green Island is great. Everything you could want. Try the smoothes there great. Go to lunch at Luigis its quieter, and we thought nicer. Lunch at shadows is loud, there are bugs flying around cause its an open air resteraunt. We at dinner at the Green Island every night. Its always something different, and always was good. If you done see anything you like there is a pasta bar in the back. We sat in the same part every day, straight in the back, its cooler and nice, we had the same waiter so we tipped him.

The best bar is the lobby bar, the pool bar is always busy and they mess up your drinks. Try Jamaican Rum Cream on the rocks its a great drink. We even bought some.

BEACH:
The beach is OK, no coverage from the sun, there are plenty of loungers, the water is murky on some days and clear the next but here is what we discovered walk down the beach to the next hotel between our hotel and the next one is a perfect clear beach the water is beautiful and clear and you can walk out so far, we saw stingrays and all sorts of stuff. The water is so calm down there at the hotel you should bring inflatable rafts for you or your kids, cause they cost $10 US dollars at the hotel. And heres a great tip bring your own snorkel gear, you can use the hotels but you have to put down $25 US dollars and you only get one hour, after that you get your money back.

Try the paddle boats we paddled out to the little island saw starfishes, stingrays, huge fish. Its great and a fun workout.

If you have children be prepared to talk to them about topless women. I have been many other places in the Caribbean but never one were they just let the guests do that, usually they move them to another part of the beach. There were breasts everywhere and naked children. Fair warning.

OTHER EXCURSIONS:
We only left the resort twice, we went to Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville in Negril, its fun they have a water trampoline, music two bars. Its a nice atmosphere and great margaritas (the ones at the hotel were horrible). The other time we left we went to Chukka Blue Horse Back riding, it was neat. You go up a mountain see the country, smell different types of leaves one smelled just like pine sol, and then you go in the water with them for like 5 min but its a neat experience.

STAFF:
The staff is great always nice and welcoming. We are Americans and we found most of the Europeans to be rude and not friendly, almost hostile. But we did meet some really nice folks from the UK.

OVERALL:
We had a good time. The resort was great, I give it a 5. Jamaica isn’t some place that I would want to go to again. If you have questions about anything or want to know something I might of missed please feel free to email me at HibiscusGirl82@aol.com.

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Riu Negril Couple, 25 and 28 ~ Scotland, UKI

June 2005

Weather
The first week was sunny and extremely hot, the second was more overcast and rained almost every day, but usually around 3pm for only 1 or 2 hours. We just retreated to the room to watch a film on TV. It was still warm during the rain, it got a bit windy too some afternoons, but didn’t matter, the cool breeze was refreshing.

Hotel
The hotel was beautiful, the standard you expect from a Riu. We have stayed at the Riu Cancun, Mexico previously and loved the whole Riu experience. The hotel is very clean and well presented with beautiful features. The restaurants look lovely, nicely laid tables and well presented food. The pool area is nice and the bars are good too. The rooms are reasonably large with 2 good sized beds and the bathroom is nice with marble fittings. There is a shop and an internet room too, both of which are useful. There is also a gym and hair dresser and doctors.

Food
How could you fault the food! Really, I am a vegetarian (who occasionally eats fish) and still enjoyed lovely meals. Breakfast was great – every possible thing you could possibly want – fried foods e.g. Bacon, sausages etc, cereals, pancakes, muffins, lovely variety of breads, fresh fruit, yoghurt, muffins, eggs, toast…the list is endless!! Lunch was nice at Liugi – pizza, pasta and salad or at the outdoor restaurant – but get there early so there are less flies! (there weren’t many, I am just a bit picky as this didn’t bother my husband) Dinner at the buffet was really good, especially Mexican night, they change the theme most nights to give variety and you will not be disappointed! The al la carte restaurant that you have to book is amazing, you get service at your table an the food is great – 4 courses. You have to be there by 8am to book though. There is also popcorn to snack on during the day and the lunch restaurants are open for a good few hours during the afternoon if you get hungery.

Beach
The beach was nice, not the best I have ever seen (Mexico and Thailand have nicer beaches) but the beach further down the strip is meant to be lovely. There was nothing wrong with this beach, just not as stunning as some I have seen. There are lots of trees so that you can sit in the shade and there is a bar on the beach for refreshment. You may also catch a Wedding while you are there too!! There are ants all over the sand, but these didn’t bother us. The sun loungers are comfy and soft – unlike some we saw on the other hotel beaches. The Riu Tequila, the sister hotel, is 10 minutes walk along the beach and you can use the facilities there. It is no where near as nice as the Club, which I would definitely recommend over the Tequila, as it is newer and more modern. There are beach activities – snorkelling, scuba diving, sail boats, kayaks and glass bottom boat. It is nice to walk along the beach past the other hotels and takes about 30 minutes there and back at a slow pace.

Staff
The level of service varied from seemingly unfriendly and not bothered to out of their way friendly and wanting to help you. Reception staff did not give us a good welcome, they seemed unfriendly. However our maid and the staff in the restaurant were very good and eager to please (possibly because you tip them, I don’t know!??) Perhaps the Jamaican laid back attitude just comes across incorrectly to us tourists! ‘No Problem Mon’

Trips
We did the YS Falls/Black river trip. The falls were absolutely stunning and my husband took advantage of the Tarzan style vine swing into the cool water! There is a nice cool falls pool at the bottom to relax in and cool off from the heat! The Duns River falls would have been spectacular too but were a bit far away for us – 6 hour round trip.

The Horse riding was good fun, along pretty scenery and in the sea for 5 minutes at the end – this was fun!

We also went on the shopping trip, which I would not necessarily advise! You are just pestered by the stall owners the whole time!! The jewellery and perfume duty free shopping mall is nice if you can afford this!! You get to go for a drink to Pirate’s café and watch the guys jumping into the sea from the cliffs and can stay for the sunset.

I would recommend this vacation, it was very relaxing and the weather was quite good. The hotel is lovely and the food is great! Just don’t stand on the scales when you come back!!

I would be only too happy to answer any questions you may have contact me on: Jennyritchie1979@aol.com

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Riu Negril Ron & Mary Ann ~ Milwaukee,WI

April 2005

Flight- Was good Fun Jet or Apple from Milw. is always an OK ride

Air Port Transfer- Going there wasn’t bad, it was coming back at the airport that was a big delay with every thing. Being Easter week I won’t do that week again.

Check In – No problem Mon

Room – We were in building 3 and it was very clean and neat. I liked it and the service was very good, they kept the in room bar full. The walk to the restaurants was good exercise or to where-ever we went it was good for me.

Food- We liked the Buffets the best you always had your choice. We did eat at The Steak House at 9:00 PM one evening but the service was slow and to late for me to enjoy it. We were done eating and there was 2 tables that didn’t get there food yet. The bar and the chicken shack was very handy being right there on the beach.

Overall – I would go back if my children and Grand-kids go to that on. We were at Couples 4 times in Ocho Rio’s.

Riu Negril Mark Tami Tyler and Adam ~ Milwaukee,WI

April 2005

FLIGHT– Ryan International fun jet is always a good expérience from Milwaukee.

AIRPORT TRANSFER– If you’ve been to Jamaica you should know what to expect. arrived easter sunday so we expected delays.bus trip to ressort was’nt bad, one stop for a cold red strip added about 20 min.

CHECK IN- VERY SMOOTH NO PROBLEM MON

ROOM– We stayed in building 3 and thought the rooms were nice, we had an exter bed for one of the kids. I thought the rooms were quiet ( couldn’t hear the rain or traffic)The walk to the main areas wasn’t bad with all the food and drinks who couldn’t use the exercise.The in room bar was also a bonus to have a cocktail before the bars open.

FOOD- we liked the buffets the kids liked seeing and choosing what they wanted, they were fussy eaters but tried and liked most choices. gotta have the chicken from the jerk hut. shadows steak house was not worth waiting for the 9:00pm sitting. wine or water with dinner, no drinks unless you brought it with you or went to get it yourself.The made to order pasta was excellent,you pick the noodles and sauce and any extras you want added they cook it up how you want.

OVERALL– can’t wait to go back

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Riu Negril Marc and Jaimie ~ USA

March 2005

My husband (39) and I (27) just came back from RIU Negril and it was a relaxing and refreshing week. We live in New Hampshire and flew out of Boston.

FLIGHT-We found the Air Jamaica planes to be rather run down (duck taped buttons on our seats, headsets did not work, lines in the tvs) and the flight attendants not overly friendly. This was disappointing. The flight down was canceled at the last minute and then when we connected in Orlando to Jamaica Air, it was 1.5 hours late departing. No apology. The return trip consisted of a three hour delay with no explanation. We do not recommend flying this airline at this time as they really do not seem to put the traveler first and we were constantly late departing. This was the general feeling from fellow travelers as well.

AIRPORT TRANSFER- This was a nightmare. We do not recommend using Tropical Tours for the Shuttle Service as they do not contract with RIU Negril exclusively which means you may (as we did) make many stops along the way to out of the way spots with people that are not going to your resort. Further, we waited at the airport for over one hour after our flight landed to be picked up and we were one of the first from our plane to clear immigration and grab our luggage. The shuttle also had no AC and the traffic is horrendous! It took 3 hours from the time the plane landed for us to reach the resort. We noticed that other resorts contract exclusively with certain shuttles to bring their guests directly to the resort immediately. This is not the case with RIU Negril. We recommend the 15 minute plane ride to Negril for $60/person each way.

CHECK IN- What an effortless process! We were checked in and had a drink in hand within 5 minutes. No problem, mon.

ROOM- We stayed in building 2 on the second floor on the end. You can hear traffic with the slider open but it is really nothing disturbing. The room was simply perfect, mahogney furniture, ceramic tile,etc. Very clean, private, and quiet.. Mini bar was stocked everyother day and the room was cleaned daily with fresh flowers left. Be sure to tip your housekeeper.

FOOD- The food was simply wonderful. Breakfast was wonderful on the terrace. We ate at Shadows Steak House 3 nights and at the Green Island Buffet the other 3. My husband had no problem getting reservations but sometimes you do have to wait in line for like 5-10 minutes. No problem. Shadows is recommended for dinner if you enjoy grilled meats and shrimp. It does get humid eating in there on the second floor though. Sir Andrews was a little to stuffy for us as you can not wear shorts and it is very small so everyone sits rather close. We heard that the food there was just so-so but did not try it. We had a reservation but were turned away at the sitting b/c my husband had on kakhi shorts. No problem. We tipped the guy at Shadows the night before so he made room for us there!

ENTERTAINMENT- If you are going to Jamaica for Reggae (like we were) then this is not the resort to go to as they had only one night of Reggae. Then we were treated to Michael Jackson night, (need I go on?) and other senseless entertainment. We were informed by many of the employees that this resort is Spanish and that very little of the Jamaican culture is prevalent. We were so upset by this (as are the employees) as we went to Jamaica to experience the land, the people, and the culture. We really missed out on that. We actually went into the town of Negril for entertainment as the shows at the resort are boring and really geared towards children. This is wonderful for a family vacation but just the opposite for a romantic get away for two. The bartenders at the Collesum bar are quite fun (at night), be sure to try a "Cream Sip" from one of the young bartenders. During the day, the beach bar is fun especial! ly at 10am when you want to grab a bloody mary or a banana daiquiri. If you are lucky, you may hear a love song or two from Paul. His voice is soothing. If you are really lucky, he may sing you a love song…

BEVERAGES- They will not put enough booze into your drinks unless you tip them. Many guests are rather rude and expect to get waited on immediately. I asked for more booze (as I often saw them put in about a cap full) and was given a nod but rarely could I see them actually even put in a shot. The beer was always cold and the cups seem to always get filled promptly! But, it is hard to "catch a buzz" on the frozen drinks b/c there really is almost no booze in them. And you have to request them to add rum in Pina Collata’s and Strawberry Daiquiri’s or they won’t-they come out of a machine as virgins.

BEACH- Relaxing but nothing compared to the beaches in the Virgin Islands. The sand is clean and there are many palm trees for shade. The 10 am water aerobics are fun to watch. The jerk hut is tasty but you may have to wait in line. Its worth a 5 minute wait.
Could not snorkel as the water was cloudy often and the locals on jet skis would probably not see you if you go out of the roped area… It does get cloudy around 11am-the best times for the beach are 7am-10:30am. There is plenty of room but we found that we were crowded upon by noon which is annoying. Literally, people seem to come up within 2-3 feet of your chair if they want to sit there! We had to go down the beach all they way by building 3 for privacy and sun. While there, we often smelled whiffs of sewerage so stay closer to the beach bar area. Definatley take the walk to the sister resort. You walk for about 10 minutes along a public beach. You will be solicited but its a definite learning experience. Bring some money b/c you just may find something that you like and you can always bargain with them! The sister resort is just so-so but the locals are a blast along the way and we bought a neckla! ce and stopped at the blue tarped hut near then end for a smoke-what a treat! 🙂

POOLS-Who goes to Jamaica for a pool anyways? The only plus is the seats are super comfy and you can often catch a reggae band around noon at the smaller pool! We went to the swim up bar once and it was over crowed and smelt of old beer. This is definitely a kiddie hot spot. Stay clear if you don’t want to be in the middle of a game of ‘marco polo’ etc.

OVERALL REVIEW- The resort is definitely a five star as it is classy and polished. However, it is lacking in entertainment and communication. Don’t be afraid to ask at the desk the times of the shows, meals, etc. We will probably go back again but with our children as it is really an ideal place to go with your family or a big group. It can get borring on the resort after a few days of doing the same things so we recommend taking an excursion for a day or two. Taking a cab to the Negril Craft market place for a couple of hours was a blast! Jerome, a resort Taxi Driver, was super reliable and came back for us exactly when we asked him to! Get him if you can! And, its only $5/person each way with unlimited stops. Also, there is no need to exchange your money- The dollar is preferred and it is much easier! Enjoy your time if you go there! Its really is nice to be in a place were there is constant sunshine, great food and drink, and the on Caribbean. Just bring your own music!!!!!

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Riu Negril Garnett ~ Ottawa, Canada

March 2005

The five of us (two couples late 50’s and 27 year old single) spent a week at each of Riu’s Negril Resorts. Overall we were quite satisfied.

Flight: Skyservice (a charter via Sunquest) from Ottawa … is a very crowded experience. Going down on Feb. 6/05..The flight attendants were pusy and ill informed as my daughter asked if she needed a seperate landing visa..(given out on plane). She was told ..No..even though form stated persons 18 years and over with same address were not covered under family status. Caused a little excitement at Jamaican customs but quickly and amicably resolved by Customs Agent. Return staff on Feb. 20/05 were much friendlier and accommodating.Bus trip was fun and was split at the mid-way point with a "Red Stripe" stop at a location familiar to the bus driver.

Check-In: Express system..very good. Riu Negril was prepared for our request and reminder of 3rd. person in room and had a full bed waiting for my Daugther. Tropical Bay Riu took nearly 8 hours to find a bed and have it set up as we had requested when trip booked in November/04. Desk staff at Riu Tropical were always approachable…results were slow and uncertain. Riu Negril Desk staff were helpful in arranging transfer to Riu Tropical for our second week and were more dedicated to guest satisfaction.

Accommodations: No comparison in the superiority of Riu Negril…much cleaner, more spacious, not musty and well maintained. Bldg. #2 is indeed well situated for access to restaurants, pools and even the beach. We stayed in Bldg.#6 at the Riu Tropical and found it musty and frequented by many mosquitos (we did have a main floor room which might be the reason).Maid service was always good with the usual reminders for extra towels etc.Grounds at both Resorts were maintained and Pool washrooms were kept pretty neat.

Beaches: No doubt the beach at Riu Tropical is quite superior… you can walk out 50 yards and actually feed some form of "Silver-Blue Needle Fish" who made regular school visits. The walk between Hotel Beaches is fun and gives you an opportunity to meet many locals selling their varied wares. The number of beach lounges is never a problem… but Riu Tropical tends to be much less prone to basic house keeping and resort maintenance…bird droppings all over tables and beach furniture. WASHROOMS ARE VERY FAR FROM THE BEACH AT RIU TROPICAL AND LOCATED NEAR FOOD….not quite so bad at Riu Negril but the Riu Resort chain should address their layouts.

Entertainement/Activities: Riu Negril tends to have many more opportunities to win 200ml. bottles of Appleton Rum. Both Resorts have the usual Grease/Michael Jackson/Miss & Mr. Riu & Perfect Couple Contestants. MC at Tropical is much better and is more English / local oriented where Riu Negril has more of the Dominican Management still on site to oversee the newer site.Riu Negril Activity staff were better at beach solicitation for events, Riu Tropical expected guests to register at specific times for varied events…Overall a pretty good two weeks..bochi. horseshoes, volley ball, Olympic Events etc. Pretty girls and energetic guys are everywhere. Tropical staff were accused of being a little mocking of some slow/over weight guests… but in the majority they did their job thoroughly and seemed willing to help make our stay memorable.

Food: Riu Resorts are generally pretty good with the exception of Riu Bacheta, Dominican Republic. Food at the buffets and specialty restaurants was quite good. Sir Anthonys/Sir Andrews, the two premium restaurants on each resort are sort of hit and miss..steaks one night are great..next night overcooked and cold. The Brazilian restaurant at Riu Tropical is really a meat eaters delight..7 different meats served from a skewer/sword like apparatus. Again..usually a little cold and overcooked. Luigi’s Pizza at Tropical has fair pizza and serves as your early morning/late night/departure food outlet. Lamb/Pork/Chicken/Beef/Fish are available at every meal and salads are varied, breads and soups are great. Theme nights add variety and Jerk Huts at lunch are a touch of local cusine and customs.

Off Site Activities: Negril is located a little too far from some of the sites we had seen before..Dunn’s Falls, Rosehall Manor, River Raft Tour etc.We did not bother with the snorkling trips etc.s we are not keen water sport fans. Local Fishing / Glass bottom boats are readily available just off resort property. Walks can be made along beach to Lido/Couples Resorts and allows for morning exercise etc. Jimmy Buffet’s Margueritaville is a local attraction as well as viewing cliff divers and sunsets in Negril near the closed Rick’s Place restaurant now under hurricane repair.

Rating: We would go back. Food was superior to most Carribean islands BUT LOBSTER WAS NON EXISTANT. Weather is more windy and less humid than Dominican/St.Lucia/Antigua etc. Staff were genuinely interested in Canada games, custome etc. and were very willing to discuss their home situations etc. with no attempt to solicit money

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February 2005

We stayed at Riu Negril Feb. 20 – 27, 2005.

Flight: We flew Skyservice (a charter via Sunquest) from Ottawa – it was a 4 hour ordeal as the seats are incredibly cramped. The 1 – 1.5 hour coach ride to the resort provides excellent scenery if you arrive during daylight. Hint: Sit on the right side of the bus for the ocean views.

Check-in: Relatively fast and painless

Accommodations: We were in Bldg #2 and agree with other reviewers that #1 or #2 are preferred as #3 and #4 are a bit of a hike away from the restaurants.

Rooms: We upgraded to an ocean-view room on the top (3rd) floor (you may as well get the view if you’re paying for it). The regular rooms typically have a partial ocean view and a slightly larger balcony. Rooms are large and clean with a free mini-bar and a fridge that is stocked with beer and various sodas. You’re also provided with a large jug of mineral water – so bring a portable container if you wish to have water with you. One source says that the tap water is drinkable; another says it isn’t – so we didn’t take any chances. There’s supposed to be an ice dispenser in each bldg – but we didn’t find it. To be fair, the bldgs are quite lengthy. Hint: Rooms located at the back of the bldgs will likely have a problem with traffic noise as they are right beside the highway.

Beach: The dry sand is ok – you don’t need footwear. There’s plenty of lounge chairs and palm trees so it’s your choice – sun or shade. The sand is raked each day. The bottom in the swimming area is only so-so as there are rocks and squishy areas. There’s a pleasant stroll along the beach to the sister resort Riu Tropical Bay and beyond. We preferred the quiet at the far end of the beach in order to avoid the crowds and disco thumping of the various beach/pool activities in front of the main bldg. At least it should have been quiet. Unfortunately there was an almost constant roar of ^&*! jetskis as outside people tried to entice guests into going for a ride at $40US. There’s a beach bar toward this end of the beach – luv them mango daquiris.

Pools: There’s 2, one with a swim-up bar. Frankly, we don’t know why lounging by the pool is considered to be such a desirable attraction. It’s noisy there and, besides, you can do this at home. Ah well, all the more room for us on the beach under a palm tree by the ocean.

Water sports: All of the usual non-motorized sports are available. We’re not sure about how good the snorkelling is as the sports hut recommended that we take their $25US tour because the @#$$%! jetskis made snorkelling alone unsafe. We certainly saw plenty of marine life (eg. rays) in the water.

Food: In short – terrific! The Green Island buffet has a wide variety of hot and cold dishes and the menu changes from day to day. You just can’t go wrong. Hint: Try to get a table outside on the covered patio – it’s loverly. There are 3 specialty restaurants. You have to reserve a table in person. This begins at 8am on each day. But, with the line-up, you should show up no later than 7:40 or so. Perhaps fair – but rather uncivilized. We tried the Sir Richard gourmet restaurant and, frankly, we were disappointed. We heard the same about the Shadows steak house. I totally agree with other reviewers – you must try the Jerk Hut on the beach! There’s chicken, sausage, burgers and, if you’re lucky, ribs.

Side tours: We took two. The Half Moon Bay picnic ($56US pp) was ok. Hint: Take some bread or whatever from the breakfast buffet for fish food for the snorkelling as they don’t provide you with any on the boat. The Black River Safari and YS Falls ($65US pp) was rather boring – not much wildlife on the safari, the YS Falls were just ok and the bus ride was quite long. Save the Dunn’s River Falls for another trip as we were told that it’s a 3 hour bus ride away.

Bottom line: This resort more than lives up to the Riu reputation for good value and we’d recommend it to others.

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February 2005

My husband and I just came back from a wonderful seven day holiday at the RIU Negril. Seven days of sun and fun. We were very lucky with the weather and we did soak as much of the sun as possible…just a few clouds once in a while and a warm breeze – PARADISE !!!

Upon arrival at the Montego Bay Airport, our Sunquest representative was not there to welcome us so we ended up waiting in the parking lot with our luggage from someone to show up…turned out she was inside a bus, with people from a previous flight. After a few minutes of being re-directed here and there by locals, she managed to show up and we happily hopped on the bus to the resort…hopped is an understatement, as we ended up sitting at the far end of the bus which lacked proper suspension…quite a ride to the resort, you can imagine !!! The beautiful scenery along the way helped, though. The bus ride was approximately 90 minutes.

Check-in the hotel was expedient and well organized…we missed the complementary sparkling wine as we were rapidely helped to our room by an employee who provided a quick tour/explanation of the buildings and services. We were in building no. 3 and our room was facing building no. 2, close to the main road and traffic. We were initially annoyed by this, as we do like to spend time on our balcony early in the morning and/or late at night. We managed to forget about it, and were not that bothered by traffic noise when in the room…the wave sound is much better, but hey !!! The room was well kept, very clean and well supplied throughout our stay.

As we are both "beach bums", we were anxious to "test" it. It is very long and wide, and full of palm trees if you need shade. It is true that the water is murky, and somewhat muddy when you are waist deep…but that did not bother us as we do take a quick swim and then go lie down to soak up the sun. The snorkelling was not that great in front of the resort, and unfortunately, lots of pollution already lies at the bottom (mostly plastic glasses). This is a shame…and something should be done about this. On the right side of the beach, there is a small fish sanctuary where you can easily see lots of different types of small fish. Even though this is forbidden and will affect the fragile ecosystem, people are feeding them bread. Swimming is also forbidden but lots of people were snorkelling or walking around the area. The beach on the right side was much more quiet and (almost) private. On the left side, and all the way along Bloody Bay, the water is transparent, turquoise and wonderful. We did walk along it one day and it was quite nice, despite all the sollicitation by locals along the beach…anything is for sale!!! Some were quite pushy and this was pretty annoying despite our polite refusal to purchase something. We understand that it’s their bread and butter, but this was not pleasant. The jet ski guys were a pain: always yelling to get attention, not withstanding the constant noise from those jet skis which are definitely fun to use, but pollution for the ears. There was steady back and forth driving on both sides of the "marked" swimming area and sollicitation was endless. Locals in fishing boats were not as pushy, but were a constant reminder that they were offering something for sale. Everybody has to make a living !!!

As this is our yearly holiday without our children, we felt quite guilty when we realized that this resort is definitely a family one…the kids seemed to have a ball with all the activities and crazy games going around. Ours would have loved the reggae dancing and fun stuff organized for them…and the employees seemed to have as much fun as the kids. We did manage to handle our guilt, though, and aimed for more quiet surroundings and activities when necessary. We spent most of our time at the beach, and did visit the pool bar (lower and upper decks) quite a lot. Friendly staff at most bars – good drinks when you asked for extra rum…we miss the Mango Daiquiries !!!

Food was great at the main buffet…the best we’ve had so far. Lots of choices and very tasty…not your usual "blant" food. Themes nights were a real success…very good, varied, authentic, etc. We tried the Sir Andrew Restaurant one night and this was not great…so with the choices and variety at the buffet, we sticked to it for the rest of our stay (did not try the Steak House). The Shallows Restaurant was fine for lunch, with lots of great choices. Espresso coffee is available if you ask, and so is a somewhat better choice for wine (instead of those awful "barrels"). Red Stripe was always a pleasure to have. We did not try the Luigi Restaurant at night, which is apparently Italian. We did have some pizza there once and it was average. This is the place to go for early breakfast, or evening snacks. We did use it prior to our departure to the airport for a quick breakfast…the coffee was awful (no espresso then !!!). On the beach, the Jerk chicken is as wonderful as expected…perfect for a late lunch.

Evening entertainment was not bad; talented and hard working dancers offered good shows; the reggae bands were nice to listen too; shows such as Mr. RIU and other crazy games are not what we enjoy, but people seemed to have fun. Unfortunately, the animation crew were definitely TOO pushy…they did not take "no thank you" for an answer and this was again, very annoying. As the Jamaican moto is "respect", they should abide by this…they do not respect the fact that some people do not like to be "forced" to participate. And this was the case for daily activities as well…though their job is not easy in order to achieve the highest level of participation, they surely do not use the right approach by forcing and endlessly insisting that people participate. Lots of people were basically leaving the shows early at night, or moving from the pool to the beach, in order to avoid being persistently sollicitated.

It was our first time to Jamaica and we would like to go back, probably to a resort on the Seven-Mile Beach. Although we found the Jamaicans not as friendly as latins, we definitely would recommend this resort to others…being a very recent spot, the vegetation is not as lush as some others, but will definitely be a beauty in a few years…and the price too, for sure !!!

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Riu Negril Sandra of Hamilton, Ontario

January 2005

I know this is a little late but I guess this website has given me so much information that I felt the need to contribute as well.

My fiancé and I stayed at the Riu Negril on the first night they were opened in April 2004! The bus ride was long as usual especially since it was raining. In the past we have used the local helicopter to get us there in less than 20 minutes but we were trying to save money for our Caribbean wedding set for February 2005.

CHECK IN
The lobby entrance is by far one of the most impressive ones we have seen! Check in was quite smooth considering it we were the first crowd to arrive, at night to boot. It took a little longer than usual but being veteran travelers, especially to Jamaica, we knew about “No Problem Mon and Jamaica Time”. People, you are on vacation in Jamaica, the “Slow down and relax” starts at check in. There was a French couple that was already arguing as the cueing process was a little confusing and the husband lost his place.

ROOMS
My fiancé is 6’2 and we requested a king bed but we found two beds stuck together as one. We decided to stay the night and enquire in the morning as some couples were still yelling at front desk staff when we walked by on our way to get a late night snack. To our surprise, they had not put up the doors to the adjoining room so we literally had two suites which suited us perfectly (double the booze, bathroom, towels and clean beds!). Speaking of drinks, the most impressive feature other than the marble in the rooms was the booze dispenser. Really, really cool! After a couple of days, we went up to front desk and asked nicely and finally got a suite with a king bed contrary to everyone’s belief that there were no king beds at the resort. Sliding doors must be closed for the AC to work. Shower pressure and water temperature was better than home!

FOOD
This was the most important thing to us. The 2 a la carte restaurants were just okay. We got up early enough each morning to make reservations. Presentation was nice but food was a 3 out of 5. My dinner arrived cold one night! My fiancé always ordered a double entrée and they were always more than happy to accommodate. NO LOBSTER to be found :o( Overall, we always found something delicious to eat though. The buffet at dinner was actually better than the a la carte restaurants. The first few days I was taking whole mangos which they used as decorations at the buffet and brought them back to my table and proceeded to cut them with a butter knife. Needless to say, after a few managers saw me doing this, there was also a huge bowl of sliced mangos at each meal! YUM! I ate my money in fruit!

ROOM SERVICE
We were originally going to Punta Cana, DR so we had purchased all these gifts for the maid service. So I brought some along with US dollar bills to tip the maids. We always found extra towels and towels shape in beautiful swans and hearts. We even had our room filled will tropical flowers.

BEACH
We stayed on the Seven Mile Beach the last visit to Negril so there is really no comparison as this resort is new and the beach is not fully aged. There were always tons of beach chairs. In fact, I have never seen so many! Water was warm as usual. It’s hilarious doing aerobics in the ocean as you start sinking and pretty soon; my 6’2 fiance was as short as me!

POOL
Beautiful. Get up early to get a lounger in the main pool area. There’s another pool right next to it with a waterfall but since there is no swim up bar, most people stick to the main pool! Always something to do. Tip: They need another CD. Same songs each day, everyday. Thank goodness is was reggae and some 80’s stuff.

ENTERTAINMENT
The staff work super long hours during the day so it’s amazing that they have so much energy to pull off a show almost every night. I just feel awful as their costumes are made out of polyester and it was always hot and humid at night. This is a resort in Jamaica, not Las Vegas.

OVERALL
Bring your own travel mug as pina coladas melt very quickly as there is more booze than ice in them. It’s also nice to have the mugs since some buildings are situation quite far from the breakfast area and there is no coffee maker in the rooms. Buy your alcohol at the airport as it is cheaper. However, if you want to buy extra and not declare them and place them in your suitcase, then go to the local market. A cab is cheaper than the Shopping Excursion they offer at the resort. Just make sure you get the cab from the resort and not off the resort. We got a cab to take us to some other resorts as we were still scouting out a wedding place. He also took us to the three market areas. In total, we had the cabbie for about 4 hours and it was only $20 USD. We had forgotten a pair of sunglasses at one of the stores so the cabbie drov! e us back to the store even though we were about to pull up the resort. We tipped him huge!

We paid less than $1000 CAD including taxes for 9 days per person. If we got this rate again, we would definitely return. Otherwise, I would not be sure as there are so many resorts in the Caribbean that we have not visited yet. In fact, we are booked at the brand new Sunscape Beach Punta Cana as we are getting married there.

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Riu Negril Rhonda & Steve from Canada

December 2004

We have just returned from Riu Negril , Dec.13/04 This is just a quick overall review {our opinion} The flight down was a typical charter. it was un-eventful and got us there safely which is all anyone wants. A bus ride for one and a half hours, gets you to the resort, which was a little long for us. We have seen all the little towns etc,etc before.

Check-in was the best and quickest we have ever had. Our room had been upgraded to ocean view which was just fantastic. Very clean,good A/C, well stocked fridge, etc. We would strongly suggest building 1 or 2. They are the closest to the main area where everything is, however, if we had have gotten building 3 or 4 , NO PROBLEM

The food was as good as any place we’ve stayed. Typical buffet for all meals and 3 ala carte restaurants. Lots to eat and no one went away hungry.Great BEER and DRINKS at the many available bars. We loved the JERK HUT for lunch. The beach was just OK. It is not Bavaro, Punta Cana beach by any stretch of the imagination,but sufficient. It got nicer down towards Tropical, Couples and Grand Lido, But we also didn’t pay the price tag the last two have so there was nothing to complain about.

The Staff, I can’t say enough, very friendly and hard working, right from the beach cleaners to the maids, entertainment team, EVERYONE, ask and you will receive. Tip a buck or 2 , and receive it quicker. Thats the way it is folks and the way it SHOULD be. They work hard for minimal dollars. The check out was fast and easy, except for what ever reason the "luggage truck" never showed up and that made for a disorganized departure for the 90 minute trip back to the airport; HOWEVER, after the Bus Driver apologized several times for the mix up ,he reminded us that we were there in one piece NO PROBLEM.

As you will probobly read in other reviews, take some bug spray, you won’t be sorry you packed it. But, it’s the same spray you’ll need in all other destinations so go from there. We didn’t change any money over to Jamaican, we just used American that we took.

OVERALL,,, Great Vacation! We never go to the same resort twice but we love the RIU chain of resorts.

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Riu Negril George & Rose — Canada

December 2004

Just came back from a week at the Riu Negril (November 29 – December 6)

Arrival:
The most organized arrival at a resort that we have been too. They met us with a cocktail all our luggage was sorted waiting for us. We had our room keys within 10 minutes. Never seen organization like this at prior resorts.

We had an ocean view room in Building 2 (Room 2120) in front of the beach bar, but the next days there was a problem with our air conditioning and there was no hesitations with them to move us. They put us in a SUITE, and I mean a FULL SUITE in Building 3. We were very impressed of this. It was amazing. (Room 3014 Ocean view)

Service:
Very well, the housekeeping was excellent. Yes they were there between 8 & 9 but then again who wants to spent there vacation sleeping in. The towels were always there for us, they even had housecoats in our suite. The towels on the beach, they were always open at 8 am, and what we did was exchanged them after a day at the beach and they we had clean ones for the next day. Could no ask for better.

Food:
Excellent, there was always something that would please all, so may different selections to choose from. Whether it be for lunch or dinner. They was BBQ Jerk Chicken and Ribs on the beach and it was great. We made it to 2 a-la carts (Sir Andrews and Luigis) and they were great. But at the Buffets I found them the best. Luigi’s was open 24 hrs. and we would have a snack at 2 am, after a night at the Disco.

Beach:
We found our beach at the RIU NEGRIL way better than the beach at Riu Tropical Bay, the beach at the Tropical Bay was WAY TOO SMALL. I don’t know what people are talking about in regards to the beach being murky. We walked over to the Tropical and had no problems.

Entertainment:
Some nights were great others were a bit boring, but the party we were with made our own along with the staff.

Staff:
EXCELLENT, THEY WERE THE BEST! Every one of them had a smile, always greeted you with a hello, would walk by and ask if they could get you anything. They people were amazing.

We will defiantly return to this resort.

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November 2004

Arrival: We had a group of 7 families traveling together 23 people over all. Two days ahead of our arrival we sent an e-mail asking to accommodate us in one building and as close as possible. Next day we received a reply from hotel management saying that while they cannot guarantee they will try to fulfill our request. When we arrived we were all given rooms in Building 1 (I believe the best location) most of them neighboring each other and with ocean view. Check-in was very smooth and quick. The only problem we encountered was at the airport immigration facility where we had to wait almost 2 hours standing with the kids in a live line.

Service:
Housekeepers were coming in really early 8-8:30 am while our family was asleep most of the days. Bathroom towels were a problem. 2 per family of 4. One day we were given none. After call to the reception though we’ve 3 towels promptly and they followed up by calling us. Beach towels were not available after 1 pm.

Entertainment:
It was rather average. Some shows were good some are boring.

Food:
Food generally was good. Seafood choice was very good. The only problem we noticed was that it was hard to find ripe tomatoes, melons, honeydews or pineapples.

We visited all 3 a-la carte restaurants. Have to get up early and be at the entrance of Green Island not later than 7:30 am. Steak House (Shadows in the afternoon) was good.

I strongly recommend meat and fish skewer because will get shrimp instead of fish. Booked it 2 times to let everybody try skewer. Sir Andrew had an exellent service but food was average but the dessert was excellent. The hardest to book was Rodizio (Brazilian style) because it has very limited seating but the effort was worth it. Meat was very good the only surprise was tuna fish at the end which no one even bothered to try.

Beach: This was the biggest disappointment. Water is murky, a lot of weed not much sand. Also there is something in the water either jelly fish or something else that causes skin redness and rush. My wife even got some minor cut. I recommend to include a trip to RIU Tropical Bay beach onto your daily routine where the beach is magnificent. You can walk along the beach for 8-10 min (it was an easy walk even for my 9 year old daughter) or even better take a kayak (5 – 10 min of rowing). We ate at the beach buffet and no one bothered to ask us anything though we did not have a band. Interesting fact that in RIU brochure “World of RIU” where they highlight their hotels pictures for RIU Negril are not real. Tropical Bay beach is shown instead.

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October 2004

Just returned from our Oct 2-9th trip to the Riu Negril resort in Jamaica. Beautiful, gorgeous resort! Looked very rich and expensive in taste. Excellent food – nobody we knew or heard about got sick or hated the food. Almost 24 hour food available. We are picky eaters but we always found lots of good stuff to eat. Specialty restaurants were great, but you have to book early in the morning (i.e. 8A.M.) to get a seating.

Excellent staff. Staff were very polite and very friendly.

Entertainment staff was enthusiastic but the nightly entertainment was not that great.

Vendors came in every other day to sell their stuff – a bit expensive but nice stuff made out of wood.

DO NOT try to walk along the beach to the Riu Tropical Bay!!! Hurricane Ivan destroyed the beach path and you will sink up to your knees in stinky sludge – very gross! Take a cab, it’s only $2 per person. Riu Tropical Bay not really worth going to anyway. It’s more expensive than Riu Negril but not as nice. You can’t use their facilities anyway because their guests wear a different colour wristband. You can use their beach though which was nicer than the Riu Negril’s.

Check in procedure was awesome. Other people complained in the past but they seemed to have taken efforts to fix the problems because our check in was so fast and smooth! They greeted you with a drink as soon as you got off the bus and within 10 minutes we had our room key.

Our room was in building 2 – room 2117. Awesome view of the ocean from this room. Building 2 is the place to be. Beach bar is right in front of building 2. They refill the liquor dispensers and mini-bar in the room every other day. Maids do a thorough job cleaning the rooms. The only complaint is that they sometimes were skimpy with the towels and washcloths.

Fresh warm beach towels were available daily at the pool. Pools were cleaned every morning and open almost 24 hours a day. Pool bar stinks of stale liquor but made awesome drinks. Try the rum runner. Just don’t try running afterwards. Strong but good! Don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot, but all you need to do is ask and you’ll get whatever you want.

Lots of Europeans. English speaking guests were definitely in the minority. The few Americans and Canadians we met seemed to be very friendly and polite.

The beach itself was nice but there was not much sand once you got in the water. Very shallow water with lots of coral and weeds – very disappointing!

This hotel will no doubt get more expensive in the future as it has just opened this year. All in all we would rate this hotel as a solid 4-star resort. Once the trees and landscaping mature and if the swimming area in the ocean is cleaned up it would probably bring it up to a 5 star.

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Riu Negril Rose & Chris — Toronto

October 2004

* Flight: Skyservice flight was fine with some turbulence here and there, a little nerve-wracking …but otherwise fine. We got there safe and sound–that’s the important thing. Leg space is tight and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, food was not good, but I packed some goodies of my own. Stewardesses were exceptionally nice.

* Hotel: Club Hotel Riu Negril in itself, is indeed a 5 star hotel as advertised. It is gorgeous. It is newly built and only a few months old. Rooms came with a walk-out terrace and were just beautiful. We’re definately going to miss the spacious king size bed we had, as we currently have a double bed and my boyfriend’s long legs hang over the edge. 🙂 The only two unfavourable comments I have about the hotel is that the hallways echo and the occassional rude tourists will walk back to their suites at late hours in the night talking loudly and slamming their door, and that can wake you from your sleep. Also, the crickets and crows are unbelievably loud, also contributing to a restless sleep. By the third or fourth night you eventually get used to it…but the first couple of nights were painful cuz they kept me up.

* Service: For a 5 star hotel…I would have to say that the service itself rates a 3. Some tourists required baggage handling (Bell Hops) on our departure day and when they called the front desk for bell hops…none appeared, even though they said they’d send one. So several of our fellow Toronto travellers were upset as they had to lug their baggage down a few flights of stairs.

On one day, the maid did not leave us with enough replacement bathroom towels and so my boyfriend and I had to share. No biggie, except if he showers first, then I have a wet towel to dry off with.

On one morning, we had to wait 45 minutes to get a beach towel (don’t know if they were out of stock or if they hadn’t cleaned all the towels yet). By the time we got a towel, the clouds rolled in and showers followed…so we headed back to our rooms since we couldn’t lay in the sun (which by the way, is a sport we mastered effortlessly. 🙂

The towel service hut on the beach is manned by a lippy young fella. On one occassion he referred to an elderly woman as "grandma" (she was slightly taken aback) and on another occassion, whereby my boyfriend and I accidently lost one of our beach towels –and typically you’re supposed to pay for any lost towels ($20.00 US)–the fella sized my boyfriend up and down and said: "as if someone like you can’t afford it". Just because we’re Canadians does not mean we are rolling in hundred dollar bills. In any case, that’s when I stepped in and gave the wipper-snapper a calm talking to and explained to him that we had been gift shopping on the resort and must have left it in one of the shops… he then replaced the lost towel waiving the fee.

Finally, on one of our dinner nights, the buffet restaurant we went to was busy that particular night and waiters were few. My boyfriend needed a napkin and after a while, when no one attended to our table, he casually got up and walked over to the hostess station just a few feet away from our table and helped himself to a napkin…at which time he was reprimanded by a waitress who said: "Next time ask!".

As for some others on the resort and off the resort (as we discovered on our Dunns Falls day trip)…they had no reservation about coming on to me, sometimes in front of my boyfriend (and one time by the chef at the buffet when my boyfriend was not near). This is unacceptable and it certainly made for awkward moments.

We also found that some members of the entertainment team could not take ‘no thank you’ for an answer. They would make their way across the beach scouting people for games and events. Now I can appreciate that this is their job, however (not to sound like we’re party-poopers) but we simply didn’t want to participate in any games. We just wanted to lie on the beach, take it easy, listen to music, and swim a bit. We tried nicely to decline, but I gotta tell you–it was hard work at times.

My man and I took the paddle boats out on the water one afternoon and one of the jet-ski rental guys scooted over to us and asked if we wanted a discount on a second jet-ski rental, since we had given him our business a few days before. My man agreed but told him that we were going to be with him in 5 minutes, after we paddled our paddle-boat back to shore. Well before you can say "Ganja"…the fella rammed his jet-ski into our paddle-boat and jetted us to shore cuz he didn’t want to wait the 5 minutes that we asked him to give us so that we could paddle our boat back to shore. So much for trying to enjoy a nice paddle together.

In an effort to contain my boisterous self, I turned to my boyfriend and asked him to tell the guy to stop pushing us with his jet-ski, (cuz if I did it…i know i would have said more than just ‘stop’!). So my man tells him to back up the jetski and not rush us and give us some time to paddle back to shore…it’s as if the guy didn’t care cuz he continued to push us back to shore with his high-powered jet-ski. (Don’t worry…when the comment/feedback cards were distributed to tourists near the end of our vacation period–we spared no comments). 🙂

As for getting drinks at the bar … we had to order several rounds at once and bring them back to our table, since they’re a little slow and waiting on each round of drinks can take all night.

On a brighter note, there was one young waitor (Andre), whose restaurant we frequented that was proper, friendly and kind to us. He’s working to save his pennies to make his way to the States so he can get better work. On our last day there, we tipped him well, took a photo together and wished him luck. Good kid.

* Food: On the whole, the was good…some days it was "fair", but overall it was fine. Because it’s mostly buffet…there’s usually something to find that will agree with many tastes (even if you have to have that dish all week). 🙂 Unfortunately, I threw up twice in the week that I was there. 🙁 The cream of mushroom soup caused one throw-up and the shrimp soup caused the second throw-up. I guess they just didn’t agree with me, although they were tastey at the time. We have to say that the icecream was distasteful. We can’t put our finger on what the problem was…but it was definately off, same with a few of the desserts. The fruit punch (popular on the resort) was yummy. The odd time it might be too sugary… just add water. Fruit punch was a good alternative to water, which I drank most of the time cuz I’m not much for pop. As for everyone’s kind warnings about the water: when we first arrived…we had no choice since we could not locate ‘bottled water’ anywhere despite our attempts (not even at the bar)! Seeing that we’re still alive…I can attest that the water in Jamaica is safe for drinking. It was only a couple of days later (after making more enquiries) that we discovered where to buy the bottled water on the resort. Although you have a big jug of bottled water in your room’s mini-bar… you can’t exactly lug that jug around. If you go to one of the two gift shops on the resort, you can get dasani water, drink it or spill it out and re-fill it with the water from the jug in your room so you have water that you can carry with you on the beach.

As for the fruit…we figured because it’s a carribean island that the fruit would be juicy and delicious…but much to our disappointment, it wasn’t. The cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and pineapple was raw every day. It was not ripe or sweet. The watermelon was really the only somewhat ripened fruit tastey enough to eat.

* Weather: H*O*T and beautiful. It was 32 (if not more) everday. We spent a good portion of our waking hours on the beach basking in the sunshine and working on our tans. I even brought along my bedside alarm clock to ensure that we spent equal time on each side. 🙂 The only thing is that it wasn’t a dry heat…it was a humid, sticky heat. (Still, we’ll take that over Toronto’s present fall-like weather any day!). Every afternoon it would shower and that would last about 1-2 hours, which we welcomed, because it cooled things down a bit.

* Beach: A bit murky, but just the same a delight to swim in and cool off in. Careful around the water’s edge…there are seashells and rocks that can hurt your feet if you walk on them full force.

* Tourists: We found that a few American tourists were a bit loud, whereas the European tourists (who, by the way, were shamelessly topless) were generally rude and without manners. Oh well, you get all kinds I guess.

* Transportation: Hold on to your seat and stomach! Driving in Jamaica is nutty and bumpy (at times) and at top speeds! I’m pretty certain the tour bus that drove us to our Dunns Falls day trip has finger nail markings on a couple of the seats!

* Activities: We jet-skiied (which was nice, but only when the boyfriend went at a decent speed). 🙂 We took the paddle boats out (which seats two) and we peddled across the beach and took in a gorgeous rainbow that stretched over the resort. We went kayaking…where my boyfriend did most of the arm work (rowing) because he claimed that I was out of sync. 🙂 Kayaking made me a bit nervous because I cannot swim and am therefore petrified of drowning. The kayak was made out of a lightweight plastic that would rock slightly from side to side. So even though I tried my best to enjoy kayaking…I was a little nervous about tipping it over and drowning…so I did not hesitate to stop my out-of-sync-rowing when my boyfriend asked me to. 🙂

By far, our biggest thrill was when we left the resort, as we signed up for a day trip to Dunns Falls (not advisable, because it’s a poor country and every turn you take, you’re hassled for ganja or hassled to buy a trinket, which is something we did not like at all because we don’t like to be hassled.). Dunns Falls was approx. 2-3 hours away from our resort (I say two 2-3 hours because we cannot pin-point the exact amount of hours since we were traumatized by the high-speed DEATH-TRAP on wheels –referred to as the tour bus– that we were on. 🙂 If you can, get a seat at the very back of the bus, so you don’t see what the driver sees! Dunns Falls is in Ocho Rios, Jamaica (about 3 hours away). We drove through Montego Bay, and through St. Anne’s. Dunns River Falls is a river a little over 900 ft. in height that rushes over rocks. We actually climbed the river rushing falls! Never in a million years did I imagine ever undertaking such a feat–but I’m glad I opened my mind to it because it was definately an experience.

By the way…to get to Dunns Falls, we went on a hand-made bamboo raft down Martha’s River. The raft is quite long, but narrow. On it is a seat for two and a fella who stands at the front of the raft and balances himself on the bamboo and guides the raft down the moving river. Indeed a lovely and romantic experience. Keep in mind…the rafter will try to sell you a trinket as well as others who are lined along the bank of the river and then again when you leave the Dunns Falls area and have to walk through a pathway of vendors. It’s a big bamboozle, I tell ya. 🙂

* Side Notes: Can’t exchange jamaican dollars for US dollars on the resort…and there are no bank machines on the resort. We were therefore tight for money for several days, until a fellow Toronto tourist told us that we could take a cab to a nearby ATM location and withdraw money from there. Of course the cabbie wanted $15.00US for a 7 minute ride. To get a cab, step out the main entrance of the resort and you’ll see cars lined up on the roadside across from the hotel. If you use the cab/car the hotel has designated–you will pay more. Use one of the no-namers on the roadside across from the hotel and bargain with them. We used a fella named Johnny, who came recommended by another tourist.

Bring plenty of small american bills ($1.00/$2.00)…tipping is the norm. Tipping waiters/bartenders/maids, or anyone who takes a photo of you.

You may want to double check the choclate sold in the shop…the Oh Henry’s that we bought were very old. You can tell when choclate goes old cuz it is not light brown (milk choclate) or dark brown in color. It is very very light brown, with a white chalky film on it.

Sneak snacks. If you have a fast metabolism (like I do) and breakfast, lunch and dinner are not enough to sustain you…and you need to snack in between…then do what we did. At breakfast…we wrapped slices of banana bread or carrot cake bread in napkins to eat in front of the tv at night…or better yet…on the plane, since the food is not good.

Also, even though the resort is fenced off to Jamaican ‘unwelcomers’–it does not stop them from pressing their noses to the fence and hollaring for us to come over and buy ganja. Everytime we walked to the Green Island restaurant, or everytime we chose to do water activities (ie. jet-skiing, kayaking, etc)…we would be hassled by the ‘unwelcomed’ pressed against the fence. The hotel might wish to do something about that, as it is a real put-off.

Final thoughts: Overall, we enjoyed ourselves and the sunny weather. We made the best of the trip as we could. Despite any lowlights, we take away some nice memories of our first trip together.

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