Old Reviews – Riu Ocho Rios

  Riu Ocho Rios   Ray ~ Ottawa, Canada

October 2009

Arrival: October 2009
Our stay was generally excellent.  Pleasant staff, good facilities, clean.  Ocho Rios is about 90 minutes from the Montego Bay airport.  The advantage of staying at Ocho Rios is that two great natural attractions attractions (Dunn’s River Falls and Shaw Park Gardens) are nearby.  Be prepared for frequent stops on the ride from the airport and on the way back to drop off/pick up other guests.

We arrived after a long day of travel.  Unfortunately we were only given our key on check-in.  The staff that night forgot to give us our wrist-bands (to show we were guests) and our safe lock.  Fortunately, we asked about this the next morning and received these items and the apologies of the staff.  However, we might have been placed in an embarrassing situation.

The rest of our stay at Riu Ocho Rios was very enjoyable.

Rooms are generally very clean.  All the basic amenities were present.  Free Rum, vodka, gin and brandy! Fridge is restocked with water, beer, soft drinks. 

However, cleaning is inefficient.  Often, 2 or 3 visits to the room every day by staff.  One person collects towels, another drops off towels, another re-supplies the fridge.  This can mean it is awkward to visit your room during the day.

Restaurants and Bars:
Excellent food and great selection.  Even if you choose to stay with the buffets, you won’t be bored with the food.  Different combinations daily.

Service at restaurants and bars is friendly, courteous and helpful.

Facilities were generally beautiful and well-kept.  One complaint is the parasols and showers around the pools.  There are no pegs to keep the parasols open.  Guests have to hunt around for small twigs to keep the parasol open.  Surely Riu can provide pegs on a chain for these parasols.  Also some of the showers at the pool and beach dribble water rather than provide sufficient pressure to wash off the chlorine/sand.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Went on the "Highlight" tour of Ocho Rios.  Excellent value for the money.  Craft shopping, duty-free shopping, visit to beautiful Shaw Park Gardens and a walk up Dunn’s River Falls were the activities.  Paid $46US per person.

Evening entertainment was pretty good.  Only problem was than smoking is allowed and there were plenty of smokers at the tables.

Other Comments:
Can’t comment on crowds during winter months but October was a good time for our stay.  Still lots of guests around but not over-crowded at all.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Ken ~ Toronto

May 2009

Arrival: May 16 to May 23
Arrived at Sangster Airport 8pm Very busy, as expected Arrived at resort 11.30ish after a couple of stops for "beverages." Check in went smooth no complaints.

Got the room we asked for.Jr Suite was Clean,comfortable and had a great view of the pools and ocean. Found housekeeping not very efficient( used up some supplies, not replaced for 3 days)Restocking of room fridge very hit and miss

Restaurants and Bars: Clean, food ok, seemed to be same buffet every mealtime Except theme nighs(2) Booking Sir Richard and the others was a joke. Lineup started at 7.30am for bookings to begin at 9am HUGE LINEUPS. Restaurant staff were very cheerful and friendly.Always checking to see if we needed anything. Bar staff worked their butts off. A small tip wasn’t wasted.

Great beach. Clean sand and clear water. For some reason, pools and poolside areas were being cleaned and hosed down well after 8am,just as people were setting up their loungers etc.Surely this could be done earlier. Grounds very well kept. Very clean and tidy.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Didn’t do any resort activities Did the Cool Runnings trip. Snorkeling was a disappointment (More fish to be seen snokeling of the resort beach.) Dunn’s Falls climb was great,very busy, but great.The booze cruise after the falls was a good way to finish off the trip. Also did the Chukka zipline tour. 1st time doing this activitive and the staff there did wonderful job taking care of us.

Other Comments: Know of at least 3 rooms that got broken into (one room in our party)In the week we were there. Who knows how many others took place. They got in using Passcards and KEYS. one couple were in bed and a key was used to unlock the deadbolt.We’ve stayed in much better Riu’s elsewhere and was disappointed with the resort in general.It was our 1st time to Jamaica and it may well be a long time before we go again. At the airport dutyfree, I was TOLD to put money into the tip box.as he wrapped our purchases. Not asked, TOLD to. Needless to say, we left Jamaica with negative feelings.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Mike ~ Cape Girardeau, Missouri

May 2009

Arrival: March 09
Arrival was delayed 1 day due to airline troubles. Resort waived charges for that night and allowed us to stay an extra night at no charge. customs was nice and did not take too long to get through. Bus ride was a little long but driver made it interesting and enjoyable. check in went smoothly with only a small delay due to our arrival a day late.

Rooms are very nice and well kept. not many elevators and some rooms quite a walk from the lobby and restaurants. views from balcony are beautiful. all rooms have at least some view of the ocean. Television channels are few and far between so don’t expect lots of choices.

Restaurants and Bars:
Food was great and many many choices. making reservations SUCKED!! unless you want to spend half of your vacation in line for a reservation that you may or may not get, eat at the buffets. Bartenders were great and seemed to really enjoy their work.

Pools and grounds are second to none. pools are huge and never crowded. grounds are very well manicured and present several photo opportunities. Beach is nice but kind of small and patches of seaweed.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Watersports at the resort were fun and little wait for boats or kayaks. Dunns river and fern gully were nice but I personally didn’t think they were worth the price. (My wife loved it though). there are several different activities and tours available in this area but you can spend alot of money really quick.

Other Comments:
Be very careful who you book your travel through. our agency worked with us when our flight was canceled and did all of the work to get our schedule shifted and got us a refund of our first scheduled night in Jamaica. Most of the people on our flight were not so lucky and had to pay for a room they did not get to use.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Len ~ Ontario, Canada

April 2009

Arrival: February 2009
Customs was very smooth with no long waits. Arrived at resort just after noon, had to wait for for less than an hour but gave us a chance to look around. Staff was as efficient as you will find anywhere, try very hard to accommodate your requirements.

We upgraded to a mini-suite which is well worth the little extra. A small tip for the maid each day gets you little extra goodies. eg: flower peddles on bed corner, extra towels.

Restaurants and Bars
Not a bad experience at any food place. The food is above average with great selection a buffets and a la carte. We sort of adopted our own waitress for the week we were there and she went above and beyond to serve us. (Antonette) our waitress worked late on Thursday to serve at our daughters wedding, when she was supposed to be going home to see her 2 kids. She only gets to see them once a week as she lives 5-6 hours away. Unbelievable !!

First thing in morning there are crews out cleaning beach, pools and grounds are very clean.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went on Bob Marley tour and it was outstanding. found it to be spiritual and informative. Were informed before we went if you have any negative thoughts about weed don’t go because there is lots of it there in the mountains as majority of locals are users. But if you say no thanks they leave you alone.

Other Comments Very much a five star resort. Just remember that the workers make very little and depend on tips for a living and although it is an all inclusive resort and tipping will may your stay just a little nicer. Only negative of our excursion was the plane with it’s WAY too small seats. Not very comfortable. Would return for sure to Riu Resorts.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Dawn ~ Toronto

February 2009

Arrival: Our trip to the hotel was not pleasant. Our flight from Toronto to Montego Bay was delayed by 5 hours due to flooding that had occurred in the Dominican Republic a few days earlier. Apparently the closure of the airport in the Dominican caused a back-up of other flights to the Caribbean.

SkyService really needs to realize that they cannot continue to cram people into the minute space they consider to be a seat.

When we arrived in Montego Bay at 2AM, there were only two customs officials on duty and we had to wait in line for one hour. Once we made it through customs, we had to wait on the bus for another hour of those who were behind us in line to clear customs. The trip to the resort was uneventful (we were sleeping for a lot of the ride) and we finally arrived at the Riu after 5AM.
Once there, we found the staff to be highly organized and were checked in quickly.

We had booked an oceanview room, and had a partial view of the ocean from our balcony. The room was very nice and housekeeping kept it spotless. The bathroom was a fair size with twin sinks and an adequate shower/tub. As noted in others reviews, the bed was quite firm (which I liked) but I found the pillows to be uncomfortable. If you have the space in your luggage, I would suggest that you take your own fave pillow from home. Satellite TV worked the majority of the time, however we did experience a couple of outages where certain channels were unavailable for a while, but this was not really a problem.

If you want to make calls home to Canada, buy a $20USD hotel calling card. There is a $2USD additional connection fee for each call, but if you are making multiple calls in one ‘sitting’, press the # key and you will only be charged one $2 connection fee.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food was amazing. I have never eaten so much in my life. The hotel has really improved the process for booking the a la carte restaurants. We waited in line a couple of times for a max of 15 minutes and ate a Sir John and the Steakhouse. Both were nice and the service was exceptional at both. The buffet and the Italian restaurant were my faves. As a vegetarian I had a wide selection of hot and cold foods to choose from and the desserts were quite delicious as well.

We spent a lot of our time at the pool. We were able to reserve our chairs by putting our towels on them each morning and never had any hotel staff remove them. There were activities around the pool and the events staff did their best to get those who wished to, to participate. Service at the pool bar was great, The beach was large with lots of chairs. We spent more time at the beach towards the end of our vacation because the water was more calm and therefore there was no seaweed washed up on the beach. If you are not a strong swimmer, you should be aware that the water gets fairly deep (even within the roped off area)soon after you wade into it (unlike Varadero where you can walk out quite far before the water becomes deep).

There are some unauthorized ‘vendors’ on the beach trying to sell people jet-ski rides and parasailing. We were also asked if we would like to buy some weed, but if you politely decline, they don’t continue to hassle you.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Dunn’s River Falls: We took a cab there and back. The park and Falls were very pretty, and though we didn’t climb the Falls, we were able to walk along them on a boardwalk (all the way from the top of the Falls to the beach) as well as being able to walk into a section of the Falls for some photos (just be careful because the rocks are slippery). If you go on your own, guys outside the park with try to get you to purchase their services as guides. I would suggest that you wait till you get into the park and get an "authorized" Dunn’s River Falls guide (they have shirts that identify them).

Downtown Ocho Rios: We took a cab downtown. It was quite an experience but I am happy that we saw the sites off the resort. Went to the crafts market where the vendors are very aggressive. I wouldn’t suggest that you visit it if you are easily aggravated. There were some finds there, but keep in mind that the hotel also brings in crafts vendors in on certain nights, so if you don’t want to deal with pushy salespeople, skip the crafts market downtown and opt for the hotel one instead.

Also, people will try to hustle you for various things downtown (women kept wanting to braid my hair), but you need to keep in mind that Jamaica has a large unemployment rate. If you are able to approach these situations keeping in mind you are in a country with a different cultural norms, you will be fine.

Other Comments:
Ironically enough, the negative aspect of our vacation was our Sunquest rep at the hotel (not the rep who held the orientation session). She was rude and not helpful at all and whenever we went to speak with her, she would take personal phone calls in the midst of our conversations or ignore us altogether. We found this to be totally unacceptable considering Sunquest is a major tour operator and should take more care in choosing who is representing them.

All in all, we had a great vacation. The weather was good (except for about a day and a half of rain) and the Riu Ocho Rios is a beautiful hotel with beautiful grounds and amazing staff. I would recommend it and would stay there again.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Tresina ~ Halifax, Nova Scotia

May 2008

The staff at this resort care if everything is satisfactory for your stay. They call you in your room to ask you. They ask you various times during your stay. If you have a problem, they resolve it. One girl wasn’t happy with her view (she had paid for oceanview but got oceanview but a tree was blocking the view) they moved her that day to an amazing view room. She was very pleased. The front reception give amazing customer service.

There were 10 of us who travelled together and all agree that we would definetly go back to this resort. The hotel was beautiful. It was kept very clean. The washrooms each had an attendant in charge of them so they were always spotless. I wouldn’t pay extra for an oceanview next time because most are oceanview or partial oceanview. You could always ask to be moved. We didn’t stay in the delux wing as it was a tad quiet for our likings but if that is what you are after than maybe you should.

We came in at night so our bus trip was quick 90 minutes. We only stopped to pick up a cooler of beer which we needed after the long walk through the airport. I think if you travel during the day it may take longer as they stop somewhere. We also left at night. We checked out at noon and they have shower rooms which were great so we just went up before it was time for the bus and got ready for departure.

The staff really make this hotel unique. From the animation crew Kiki, Apple and Anna to the bartenders Mo (beach bar) Leon (sports bar) to the waitress at the buffet, Jodi. We enjoyed spending time with them. They really make the trip memorable.

We spent alot time floating in the ocean. The water is very clean and warm. The beach is very long. There are a few huts at one end. The prices at the stores of the hotel are reasonable though. I compared them to the ones in town and at the airport. We did go into Ocho Rios for a couple of hours but the market was too aggressive for my husband…so we went to a bar for some Corona and conversation with Christopher. I did barter first for some good prices on Jerk sauce and curry powder only to see them at the airport for the same prices I got! It was a fun morning though.

Some of our group did the Cool Runnings tour and had a ball.

We ate only at the buffet at night. Great selection and good food. The desserts are to die for…very yummy coconut ice cream and cheesecakes. You won’t go hungry here. There is a pizzeria open late at night as well as sandwiches and nachos at the sports bar. They set up grills on the beach for different lunches like hamburgers, shrimp, ribs, etc. I personally loved the jerk hut for the hot sauce on my chicken rice and beans. We would eat normally near the hut at the other buffet for lunch so we could have either. You won’t starve here…that’s for sure.

The drinks….and there are lots of them. Last trip to Jamaica (Sandals Ocho Rios in 2003) I couldn’t find a drink I liked…this time I couldn’t find a drink I didn’t like. Mo makes some great ones…she calls them her specials. She is alot of fun.

If you haven’t booked and are wondering if this is the place for you. Book it. I promise you will love it there. The people make the trip so take time to enjoy them.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Jennifer ~ Ontario, New York

April 2008

We travelled with 14 other couples, some bringing children like we did to the RIU Ochos Rios Resort in Jamaica. To say that their are a HUGE number of review on this resort is an understatement, and many say the same thing, depending on how good reservations handled your file. I hope this review adds a different slant to the reviews and brings a bit more insight.

Flight: One would HOPE that one day SkyService would get the message and realize we do not have the option of removing our legs and sending them as checked baggage. Please, please restore an adequate amount of leg room into your entire fleet!! The isle has also gotten immeasurable smaller so flight attendants must near sit on your lap to get around. Other then that, the flight was event less.

Customs: Jamaica has tourist cards so bring your pen, and fill out BOTH sides, including way at the bottom of the back of the form, completely (for children too) and re-read to make sure it is COMPLETELY filled out, dated and signed, that’s the bottom and small to read. Immigrations seems to LOVE to turn tourists back to an area without pens to fill out missing details and when leaving Jamaica, you have the same scene where one signature or date is missing and customs has smug joy of making you wait in line all over again for that detail while begging for pens. This was not a fun moment for many. Make absolutely sure your name on your ticket is EXACTLY as in your passport (our daughters ticket had two letter transposed) or you will need to have much extra time trying to leave Jamaica.

Airport: Baggage is quickly unloaded and easy to claim. Then you try and find you shuttle to the hotel. Now we can discuss a few tips to understanding the real Jamaica. Jamaica’s tourist industry was and to the greatest part, still is, controlled by the former president Mr. Sangster. Native Jamaican’s love to rhyme that word with a better known english one, for good reasons. The big Jamaica tours buses you may be loaded onto like cattle after being led from one end of the parking lot to the other are all owned by that corporation. Your driver will make next to nothing, so please tip him. Better yet, arrange a private taxi from the airport. They are kind, reliable and reasonable and they have been taught since birth to treat strangers like family and will only be too grateful to help you to you hotel. Round trip is approx $80 to $100 for 4 people and luggage but you will shave a long tour off your time. They do the 108km drive in an hour. Buses, with their break times take 2 hours. If you need an e-mail to arrange transport rather then doing that at the airport, we found Lance Matthews to be above average in his care with tourists. University educated in ‘Texas, he’s a good man. emails to iriematthews@gmail.com or his partner JR at phansotrans@yahoo.com will get you one of them or their driver Fanta. They are great for private tours, more about that later…

Hotel Check-In: The well oiled tourist machine kicks in here too. Impeccably well groomed polite staff everywhere. Everything stacked neatly to pass out to you upon check-in and nearly all were satisfied with their rooms and jah man, are their a lot of rooms at this hotel! A word to the wise, if you require anything above the normal check in, like rooms together or other special requests like the floor you want, please do write the hotel. They do answer. Keep in mind this is Jamaica, and do things the Jamaican way and offer to certainly show your appreciation (you will tip, hint hint) in your email to the resort. Compliment the resort, talk about how impressed you were with the write-up you read online and from Jamaica Tourism etc. Then give the details of your request and thank them for their kindness to assist with your request. Jamaicans are smooth in their manner and take this approach much better then blunt statements demanding things. You are a drop in the bucket at this hotel, so make sure you are the drop of oil that goes to the tip of the bucket. We knew that about Jamaica from 11 years ago. Boy did we mess up with our approach then. This time, we got exactly two perfect rooms, perfect view, enlarged balconies, quiet location, easy pool access, just we requested in our mail. And, yes, we tipped the front desk after we saw the rooms, just as we promised in our e-mail. There were a number of others who absolutely did not get what they wanted or requested, and you read those reviews a lot.

Hotel: Yes, you have read all that, junior suites are indeed big. Some rooms do smell of must, bring fabreeze. AC are often not as cold as some would like. The pool is clean. Food is good but often cold from the trade winds blowing. I thought desserts were above average for the Caribbean, with real Montreal Style cheese cake, super tarts and chocolate mousses. Quick efficient staff clear tables and bring beverages to your table with a smile. This is all the stuff you read before and I don’t need to talk about here. Getting reservations to the a la carte restaurant needs to be made easier, it’s a true pain for all rooms to try and call one extension number and redial from 9am onwards to try and get a table booked. It takes approximately 15 minutes to get through and you can only book for that night. The Steak House was delicious, the Japanese was great, again much of this you will read in other reviews too.

Tours: If you do not want to see a real side of Jamaica, sign up for the tour buses tours. Yes, they will get you there to places, and they are sort of reasonable, if you are travelling by yourself but you will not really experience Jamaica with an inflexible tour bus schedule. Be brave, go and get the taxis to take you. They will show you places you can’t image as Jamaica is not just sand and beach and Dunn’s River Falls. Go see Port Antonio a beautiful town off the usual tourist trek, with friendly shopping, lovely views and colourful people including ladies in traditional dresses. Go and see Nine Mile the Jamaican way. Stop and watch your taxi driver buy a pumpkin from a young rural girl who is bowled over at the bottle of coke you with leave with her after selling the pumpkin(we got her father’s permission and photo). See the school boys who run with your car to see your faces and delight with a small gift of new pencils and small picture books. Admire the Jamaican way to plant on terraces all manner of gardens and be sad with them over the widespread death of their palms from over spraying of herbicides. Stop at a small stand in the middle of looks like nowhere for an ice cold soda pop or beer and watch as all the locals come over and enjoy the treat of you staying for a while to meet with them. The country side there is filled with kind and gentle people who delight in seeing guests. The mountains and hills are beautiful, and go on endlessly. The trip up Blue Mountain is a wonder to see, with the white sand below and the clear sky above.

Keep in mind that while Nine Mile was the birth place of Bob Marley, he lived in a two room hut and that’s that. His bigger home was in Kingston and Miami. There are also his gold records in Nine Mile, but the real way to enjoy the tour is to get Capt. Crazy to lead it. You want his tour. He will show you the real way of Rasta, complete with dance and song. Because of a careless complaint of a tourist, Capt. Crazy once lost his job, so keep in mind how delicate the balance is in Jamaica and you are going to see a faith that smokes Marijuana, not the Mormon Tabernacles Choir. If that disturbs you, don’t go to Nine Mile!!! Go there to admire a man who made a great difference in the world from such a humble background. Take the mandatory walk up the Dunn’s River, now a full tourist attraction. Drive and/or walk down Fern Gully, the "last rainforest" and it is every bit as beautiful as the movie says. See the chaos of Kingston. Get duty free shopping in the town of Ochos Rios – fantastic deals and even a Harley Davidson store. Buy baskets and knick knacks from the flea maket there too, but go on days the cruise ships are not there, the prices are much cheaper. Sit down with the locals there and open a beer or pop, treat a local to another and watch how all around come and ask what you need, find it for you and give it at a great price.

There was too much to see and do to experience it all in this one week trip, so we may have to return soon and see the rest of Jamaica. Personally, the hotel was great, but a bit too big for me. Jamaica was also too big to completely see, but I want to know those places I missed this trip, like the luminous lagoon, the newn band reggae open air performances, Mama Marley’s stops at Nine Mile, local weekend beach trips and fairs and many others.

Return Home: Quick transfer by taxi to the airport. While in Jamaica, we got news of our teenage son being random victim of violence and putting it mildly, I was a nut at the airport. The lines were long, immigration was rude, rumours were that the flight was over sold (it wasn’t) and I lived in panic we would not be able to get on that flight home. My apologies to any and all who may have wondered why they were forced to deal with heat, unreasonable delays and me. Thank you to all who offered their kindness and support for our son. He’s recovering from the head injuring and needs dentistry but we were all very lucky.

Conclusion: Go to Jamaica at least once in you lifetime, and maybe you should go more then once, especially if you never knew where to go besides what the enormous, colossal hotels offer. Always keep in mind that the people who interact with you do no earn much and even at all-inclusive’s, they are promised that for good service, they will get tips. Many don’t get that as tour companies do not promote tipping. Tip those who do much behind the scenes and not just the maids or the bartenders. The lifeguards start their day at dawn to completely perfect the pool deck and lay out towels for your usage. The groundskeepers take care to keep everything at it absolute best for your enjoyment and wedding pictures. The local on the beach trying to sell sea eggs would love a small amount to sell you a shell he’s just cleaned. It puts food on the family table for dinner that night. Make it worthwhile for Jamaican to keep their love of their country and treat them like friends, they respond with overwhelming affection. Any further comments or questions please write me at SoXFiles@aol.com but adjust your browser so my return mail is not blocked by your firewall !!!!!

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Philadelphia

March 2008

Rooms 1 room. Room #3042 It was supposed to be an Ocean view that is what I paid for. Was told that it was partial Ocean View, I saw no Ocean. I had a nice view of trees and grass.

Restaurants The buffet was tired same thing everyday salad the same and no good choices of salad the food was just ok. Very hard to get a reservations for the restaurants I didn’t get one for 2 nights

Bars The bars were great drinks were very good

Beach and Pools Nice and Clean

Grounds Nice and clean very pretty

Activities and Entertainment N/A I heard they were nice

Tours Bob Marley Nine Mile Tour, Dunns River.

Conclusion I would not stay here again. Not worth all the money you spend Riu Cancun is much better

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March 2008

I was a guest for a wedding during Feb 16-23, 2008. This would not have been my first choice to stay, but I went along with the group.

The Resort: Was clean, well kept. The staff were friendly and helpful. My room was always made up in a timely fashion and with plenty of towels. One downer is my clothes and luggage still smell like mildew after being washed several times in laundry soap, fabric softener and dryer sheets! Lots of non-motorized sport activities to do!

The Grounds: Well kept and clean. Easy to find your way around.

The Pool: Clean, busy but not overly loud.

The Beach: Clean, well kept and a nice breeze coming off the ocean kept you comfortable. **Note: if you want chairs by the pool or beach you must get up early and reserve your chairs with your towels no later than 8 a.m.

Food: This is one of the worst parts of the trip. Buffet meals 3 times a day for 7 days was old! The same salad for lunch and dinner and same dressing too all week grew old fast! The a-la-carte restaurants were difficult to reserve. You need to reserve the morning of the evening you want to eat there. Then spend 30 mins. minimum on the phone trying to get through. 2 phone lines for 984 rooms! The Jerk Hut on the beach is by far a great alternative to buffet lunches.

Entertainment: Nightly entertainment was O.K.

Off Resort Things:

Cool Runnings Cruise…Takes you snorkeling, then to the Dunn’s River Falls then back as a Booze Cruise after all the swimming and climbing is done! All in all the was alot of fun!

9 Mile Bob Marley tour: This as well was fun if you are into Reggae music and it’s history and don’t mind the smell of Ganja everywhere! Steve the tour guide was so Funny!

Shopping at the market in Ocho Rios: the 2 hour trip is plenty of time. Trust me after 2 hrs you will want to go back to the resort!

Weather: not as hot as I expected it would be. High 20’s, cloudy in the afternoons, early evenings. Rain only for about 10 mins all week. No control over this area though.

The Wedding: A beach wedding in a Gazebo was BEAUTIFUL! Chandlyn the wedding co-ordinator was a great help! Thanks for everything! All- in-all not a bad trip…Good food, good drinks & good friends= Great times!

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Mike & Mary – Toronto, ON

March 2008

My husband and I returned from our first Jamaican vacation at the RIU Ocho Rios on February 18. As with every vacation that we go on, I had read many mixed reviews on Tripadvisor and Debbie’s Caribbean Resort Reviews, but, knowing RIU’s reputation and having stayed at the RIU’s in Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos, I felt confident we had made a good choice.

We were mostly not disappointed.

FLIGHT – Our late afternoon Skyservice flight was delayed leaving Toronto and accordingly we did not arrive at Montego Bay International Airport until late at night. When we arrived at the airport it took approximately 45 minutes to get through customs and get on the bus and approximately another 45 minutes before we were on our way. Our driver was quick, efficient, pleasant and a very informative tour guide, albeit near midnight and you could barely make out the landmarks. The highway was in excellent shape, the construction having just been completed.

CHECK-IN – was pretty painless. When we arrived, as other reviews mentioned, we went through the lobby, received our welcome drink and were given our bracelets. After we handed our hotel voucher to one girl at a table set up in the middle of the lobby, we then went to a couple of different tables and were presented with an envelope, our room keys, safe key and lock, our towel cards and some orientation literature.

ROOM – We had booked a junior suite and, per a previous email request I had sent to the hotel, we received a third floor room (Rm. 1352), in the Deluxe Wing (Bldg. 1) side of the hotel and central to everything.

The mini fridge and liquor dispenser had not been restocked when we arrived. We left $5 in the mini fridge the first morning with a request to keep it stocked with beer, cola and water as well as replenishing the liquor dispenser. This was done during the day and during the week whatever we seemed short of was replenished in a day or two. The housekeeping staff was amazing. Our maid, Boblyn, was very observant of our comings and goings and if she didn’t see us one day she would point that out the next day. We left her $2 every day and our room was spotless all week. On our last day, we gave her an extra tip and thanked her for looking after us so well. She was very appreciative of this.


There was no limit as to the number of reservations you could book – not like other RIU’s we’ve been to where you were only allowed a maximum of 2 reservations per one week stay – at least the other guests got an opportunity to book as well. The first two days we sat on the phone for a couple of hours trying to get through and when we did, only to find the day and/or the restaurant we wanted were not available. We were also told that only half of the allotted seating was made available for the advanced reservations and the balance for same day. After two days of not being able to get a reservation at any specialty/gourmet restaurants, we decided that was enough time wasted and spent the rest of our vacation around the pool or at the beach.

That being said, I must add that the resort was at 100% capacity the week we were there and although we didn’t get to the specialty/gourmet restaurants, we had no difficulty finding something to eat. For breakfast and lunches, we enjoyed either the buffet at St. Ann’s, Mammee Bay or the Plantation and dinner was at St. Ann’s buffet as Mammee Bay became the Steak house restaurant for dinner. The food was fine but we didn’t find it as fabulous as other RIU’s we’ve been to. Unlike other RIU’s we’ve been to, there were no theme nights (Italian, International, Jamaican etc.) at the buffet’s to spice things up a bit.

BARS – The bartenders were great especially at the Sports Bar and the swim up bars. The best Miami Vice was at the Sports Bar and the Dirty Monkeys were not as great as other RIU’s we’ve been to. Word of advice, bring a large insulated mug from home. This will keep your frozen drink frozen and will prevent you from having to go back to the bar several times. You can order anything … just name it … if they can’t make it, they will ask you how and then do it for you.

GROUNDS – The entire hotel was immaculate, spotless, well manicured and clean, and I have never seen so many people cleaning, pruning – the staff were constantly cleaning everywhere and anything. Beware … the floors can get a bit slippery with the humidity … so be careful.

POOLS/BEACH – There are two beautiful pools – one on each side of the resort each with their own Jacuzzi and pool bar/swim up bar – which were always clean – and for the littlest members of the group there is the Miniclub which has its own pool. The resort seems to be divided into the activity side which played the louder music and has the list of daily activities you can do and the quieter side (Deluxe Wing) (which is where we were) which was perfect for reading a book. Each side had its own towel cabana. There were plenty of loungers around but you needed to get out by about 7:30-7:45 am to get an umbrella. The lounge chairs can fill up, so if you have a spot that you like, place a towel and some personal items on your favorite chair in the morning on the way to breakfast. Very nice beach with white to golden sand, beach chairs, volleyball and the local selling their wares. If you were so inclined there was nice snorkelling off the east end of the beach. Seaweed does wash up on the beach and it is raked and gone each morning.

ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT – We were aware of the activities offered daily. We did not participate and we were not hassled to do so. The nightly shows were very entertaining. Don’t miss them. On the night of the Tropical Show we thought we recognized one of the RIU dancers from the RIU Bambu in the Dominican. As it turned out we were right and Ernesto had only transferred to the RIU Ocho Rios that week. There is a 24 hour sports bar with a small casino, electronic games, internet stations, pool etc. This is also where you can get a snack (sandwiches, popcorn, nachos) around the clock.

EXCURSIONS – Something that you must do when in Ocho Rios, is go to the Dunn’s River Falls. We went on the Cool Runnings tour and highly recommend it. It was a bus trip to the dock where we boarded the catamaran “Cool Runnings”, a short sail to the Crystal Reef for about a ½ hour of snorkelling. Then a quick sail to Dunn’s River for the exhilarating climb up the casacading waterfalls. Then back on the catamaran and at that point they opened the bar and headed out to sea. The rum and beer were flowing.

OVERALL – We will be staying here again or we will try the new RIU that is opening up in the fall of this year (2008) in Montego Bay. It was a great vacation and very enjoyable, the food was good and the staff tried very hard. Remember … you’re on vacation, so relax, have fun, enjoy the locals.

Here are the links to our photos

Part 1: http://travel.webshots.com/album/562672376MhHVqd?vhost=travel
Part 2: http://travel.webshots.com/album/562688398BfTPoX?vhost=travel
Part 3: http://travel.webshots.com/album/562688220kPmXlN?vhost=travel
Part 4: http://travel.webshots.com/album/562688965gcyQDZ?vhost=travel

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Desiree ~ Regina, Saskatchewan

February 2008

We (myself, husband, and 12 year old) traveled to Ocho Rios the last week in January 2008 for a 7-day all-inclusive vacation at the Riu Ocho Rios. This was a last-minute plan that couldn’t have worked out better.

We booked a Sunquest package offerring a direct fllight with Sky Service. The flight crew was great. The meal was adequate. The plane was a bit old and shakey (757).

The shuttle process was easy. The hotel was fantastic. Check-in was fairly informal and seemed to take only seconds :(i.e. "welcome to Jamaica…here’s your arm band…here’s your key…your room is just over there"). Our luggage got to our room before we did.

Our agent told us we’d have a king-size bed or two double beds. However, we were delighted to find we had a king- size bed and a double bed (2 adults and one child). The room was beautiful and clean. We had asked for a room on the second or third floor and received a room on the second floor. We had an ocean view (it looked like every room had an ocean view). There were a couple of crickets to greet us. However, we didn’t see one the rest of the trip. You could certainly hear them when you opened your patio door at night. However, the room was fairly soundproof and quiet with the door closed.

The dining rooms were great. We tried to sit in Omar’s section whenever we dined at the buffet (just in front of the Jamaican grill). There was a great selection of food–even lobster tails. The snack bar by the pool offerred burgers and fries and there was always a great barbeque on the beach to add to our lunch selection. The steakhouse was really good. We had made-to-order omelettes and wonderful fruit dishes every morning. Every snack bar had wine (red and white) and beer on tap.

The pool was huge–plenty of lounge chairs. The hotel did its best to discourage guests from saving favorite spots around the pool–however, it seemed a common practice. Still, we were never without a sunny spot or a shady spot. The pool bar was lively and the busiest bar at the resort. It’s the only bar that require more than a 50-second wait for a drink–the service at the Riu was quite impressive. They were never out of towels, never slow on activities, and alway smiling and trying to please or assist in some way. I’m quite impressed with the Riu and wonder if all Riu Resorts are like this one.

There were some stores at the resort. We did most of our souvenir shopping at the beach-front store downstairs. It was quite painless compared to shopping downtown (the vendors are quite aggressive and all selling the same stuff).

We took the "Cool Runnings" excursion to Dunn’s River Falls. The boat ride was fun and lively. The bar was open and they seemed to really make an effort to keep your glass full. The snorkelling on the excursion wasn’t that great–someone suggested that the reef near Ocho Rios wasn’t that healthy. The snorkelling on the beach in front of the resort was much better–we saw a small manta ray among other things. The Falls were quite an experience that I’d suggest everyone try. However, the guide and photographer were very aggressive in trying to sell their wares and in obtaining their tips. They actually followed everyone back to the boat and pointed out the tourists who had yet to "take care of them."

We didn’t to the dophin excursion as we swam with dolphins in Mexico. We were thinking of going to the water park to watch the shark show and interact with the sting rays. But, we ran into fellow tourists who did that outing and said the shark show was okay but there was only one sting ray. Further, you had to "ask" for the sting ray before they brought it out to pose for a picture with you. Thus, we skipped that outing and saved $200.

We went into Ocho Rios for a shopping out one-half day. Unless you’re into fine jewellery it’s really not worthwhile. Those who like bartering and dealing will like the market. The shuttle rides are the most interesting outings as the drivers interact, entertain, and educate. All of them are quite fun and friendly. I felt much safer on these excursions that on the excursions in Mexico.

We did a golf day–expect to pay about $150 each in total. Okay outing.

The Sunquest reps on site were always available and always helpful.

I highly recommend the Riu Ocho Rios. We hope to return to Jamaica and might try a Riu at Negril.

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Susan ~ Toronto

January 2008

My family stayed at the Riu Ocho Rios in Jamaica (June 3-10) and I thought I would share our experience.

The five of us (my husband, 3 yr old child sister-in-law and her husband) decided on a family vacation and decided to visit my husband’s place of birth and reintroduce our son to his grandpa coach who lives in Kingston Jamaica.

2 hours on the bus not the best but the roads were not as bad as we thought it would be. No tour guide to announce anything so my husband and his sister would fill us in on our surroundings while we drove.

Check in was a breeze

The resort is beautiful and probably the largest resort we have been at.

Lots of recliners no need to save it. It’s actually warned that staff may remove towels if the seat is left unoccupied.

It was a mighty hike to our hotel room which we didn’t realize otherwise we would have asked a bellman to assist us with our luggage.

Room – beautiful, view was nice overlooking the pond, pool and ocean all at once.

Bathroom – was very nice except you had to hold the toilet handle down until it caught. Shower pressure was great.

Meals – The food was not the best that we have every had (Riu Caribe in Cancun) neither was it the worst (Great Bay in St. Maarten) but is was kinda hard for me to judge since I’m pregnant and still experiencing morning sickness. I like the fact that they had a “Jamaica corner” at the St. Ann’s buffet so people can experience island food. We had Ackee and salt fish, my husband’s favourite on our first breakfast at the resort but it lacked in the ackee otherwise it’s was fine. There were also other favourite dishes of my husband and his sister’s offered which was great.

Please do not bother eating at the “Mandalay” Asian food a la carte dining. Nothing was al a carte it was serve yourself buffet and was really bad.

The Mamee Bay restaurant was very yummy I recommend the combination plate (mini surf and turf).

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  Riu Ocho Rios   Crissy ~ Ontario

December 2007

Feb 2007. Arrived late at night. Took a bus from airport to resort. Driver was quick, efficient and pleasant. Travelling with female friend.

Had an oceanview room in the middle of the U. There is some walking to do at this resort which was great. Lots of smiles everywhere. Our room consisted of a king and double bed. The bathroom was gorgeous. Everything was in working order and the maids are extremely polite

Great food everywhere. I was pleased with the buffet and the a la carte restaurants. You can reserve by phone and some days the lines are busy for over an hour. We were not disappointed with either.

The disco is ok, and the sports bar is open 24 hours. It’s a bit musty smelling with popcorn and wrapped sandwiches for snacks, but the bartenders are a hoot!

Beaches and Pools:
There are 2 beautiful pools and the beach is clean. Remember that the beach is public and locals will solicite drugs and merchandise. Don’t be alarmed, they are just trying to make some money but they DO ask daily. Sandals is on one side and Mammee Bay beach bar on the other.

Activities and Tours:
The nightly entertainment is fantastic. Franz will have you up dancing to his music. The shows are very entertaining. Don’t miss them! I met Rupert on the beach at the Mammee Beach Bar. Rupert is a nice gentleman who took 4 of us to the Dunns Falls, shopping, to a local restaurant for some Jamiacan paddys and a tour of the local area. I recommend seeing Rupert for your tour. Great price and he will accomodate your needs. A nice personal touch! They have a nice bonfire at the bar and its safe and fun. Enjoy a local drink. Freddy, Rene, Ainsworth and Richard are some of the great people who manage, work the bar or sell wares.

I’ll be back for sure someday!

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June 2007

We just got back for our wedding at RIU Ocho Rios Jamaica, and I am sad to say this event has been a truly disappointing experience for all parties involved in this Wedding/Honeymoon.

My Wife had been to the RIU Bachata in the Dominican Republic last year, and fell in love with the resort and the level of service that she received at this resort. Because of her experience at this there she wanted to have her wedding specifically at a RIU. Unfortunately we were unable to book at the DR location as we were told there was not a Minister available for the time period we were looking at. Working with our Travel Agent through Maritime Travel, we booked our trip for the RIU Ocho Rios in Jamaica. We were told that as these resorts are all within the same chain and both were 5 Star, that the properties and service would be comparable.

We ended up booking this trip for a total of 16 people, 14 guests for one-week and the Bride and Groom for an additional week. We upgraded everyone to JR. Suites (Ocean View) as we wanted to be located relatively close to each other. Approximately 2 months prior to traveling, we emailed the resort several times requesting that all of our rooms be located in roughly the same area of the resort if possible; we also mentioned in the emails that we would like our room to be upgraded if possible as we were the Bride and Groom as well as RIU Class card holders. We received no responses to any of our emails and the emails were never bounced back to us saying that they were undeliverable.

The Bride and the Groom paid in September of 2006 and the remaining passengers paid in December. Within that group there were two issues where it took over a month for our guests credit cards to reflect the transactions; this was only completed after a number of conversations with our Travel Agent.

The tickets for our flight were not in our possession until the evening of Feb, 7th because of errors; our flight was on the afternoon of the 10th. At this point there was still an issue with one of the tickets. We did receive drink and head set vouchers because of this delay.

On the flight, there were several headphone jacks that did not work.

On the plane they gave out forms to get through immigration, the Flight attendant insisted that is was one per household. Reading that it was for a spouse and children we asked a second time as my brother is 25. We were told a second time that an additional form was not needed as everyone in the household was to be on the one form. Once we reached the immigration desk we were informed that it was only to have a spouse and children under 18. After talking to the immigration agent for a few minutes and explaining the issue, they reluctantly let my family through.

Once we arrived in Jamaica, the bus that we were to take was full and 10 of us and 4 others ended up on a taxi/bus. The driver of this bus was less than acceptable. The driver almost caused several accidents, would overtake vehicles traveling at high rates of speed on blind corners, tailgate and repeatedly cut off other vehicles, needless to say that this ride was very uncomfortable and uneasy for everyone in this vehicle. The only stop on the way to the first resort was at a bar for the sole purpose of picking up the driver’s girlfriend. This was unacceptable for a chartered vehicle to be driven in this manner.

Once we arrived at the hotel we checked in at which point we spoke to the front desk about receiving a room upgrade. As per the information that we had received on the RIU resorts website it stated that for a Bride and Groom that an upgrade would be provided if the room was available. We are also RIU Class cardholders; our understanding is that this also entitles you to a room upgrade if available. All of this information was emailed to the resort 2 months prior to traveling. That night we were told that there was nothing available and to come back in the morning and they would help us then. Once our guests that arrived that night checked in, we found that all 4 of their rooms were on the ground floor in the center of the resort (not adjacent to each other), we were on the third floor in the center of the resort. Several of our guests were upset with the rooms that they received as everyone had paid for ocean view rooms. We went back to the front desk a second time that night to try to get our guests moved and once again, we were told that there was nothing that they could do and that we would have to come back in the morning.

1:30AM our room was called by the front desk, waking us to see if the room was occupied.

The next morning at 8:30 AM we went back to the front desk to ask about getting our guests moved and about an upgrade. We were told to come back in a few hours, as they don’t know if anything else is available as there was a large group of people checking out that day. At 10 AM we went back to the front desk to see if there was anything available, and we were told that there was nothing available for an upgrade or for our guests and to come back again tomorrow morning. At which point my wife offered the clerk $100US if he could find an upgrade for us. He went in the back for a few minutes and came out and told us that there was something available that afternoon and to come back in a few hours. We returned at noon at which point he gave us the room number and told to come back at 2:30 for the key. We once again came back at 2:45, where we were told that the room was not done being cleaned and waited for another 30 min before we received a room key and paid Otis the $100US, and no receipt was issued. We should not have had to pay for this upgrade that the resort claims to offer its guests.

The remainder of our guests were arriving that night, because of the issues that we had already experienced we tried to confirm that their rooms would be in the general area as the remainder of our rooms. They refused to tell us any information even though all of my guests were booked under my party. One of the rooms was to have a cot in it as there were 3 Adults sleeping in the room, once again the front desk refused to ether confirm or deny that this request had been accommodated, just that if it had been requested that they guaranteed that it would be in the room. Once our guests arrived, the room that was to have the cot did not have one. This room was also missing the towels in the bathroom as well. The rooms for all of these guests were all over the resort. 2 rooms on the 2nd floor on the far left end of the resort and 1 on the 4th floor on the far right. Our 8 rooms were spread out over 4 floors and from one end of the building to the other.

Once again on the 12th, based on our conversation with the front desk the previous day we went back to see if there were any changes that could be made, once again we were told to come back tomorrow morning.

That evening, one of our rooms 1305 was leaking water from a light fixture in the ceiling; we called the front desk to report this twice. It wasn’t until 2 days later when the Maid was picking up the glass of water and the towels off of the floor our guests mentioned what was going on, and she called maintenance and they showed up later that day.

On the 13th we went back to the desk again and were told the same thing again “come back tomorrow morning” at which point we spoke to the Front desk manager named Stacey, and once again was told to come back again tomorrow morning. At which point our guests were tired of trying and didn’t want us to waste anymore of our vacation and just settled.

The 15th was our wedding day, the wedding was great, all of the preparations seemed rushed but turned out great. After the ceremony one of our guests went back to our room to put some items away to find that someone from the Resort had filled the bath with bubble bath and flowers. When our guest made it to our room, she found it the floor wet in the hall. When she opened the door she found that whoever filled the tub did not turn off the tap and flooded our room. She called down to the front desk to have someone come clean it up before we got there, after ten mins, a second guest also went up and also had to call to have someone clean it up immediately. When we saw the first guest again we asked if the Fruit basket and gift were up there and she said no. We went to the front desk in TUX and Wedding dress to inquire about this and we were told it would be there. We went to our room still in our TUX and Wedding dress, to find maintenance mopping up the floor in our room, they were very accusatory that we were responsible for this; after denying several times, they turned and starting blaming our guests. This was unnecessary and unacceptable. There was also no Fruit basket and surprise like the advertising states on the RIU website. We did not receive our wedding basket at all at the Riu Ocho Rios and the surprise was dropped off to our door two days after the wedding and while the “do not disturb” sign was hanging on the door.

On the 14th four of us had booked an excursion through our Sunquest rep, for the 16th. That day we arrived at 9:45am as the bus was to depart at 10am. A bus showed up and started loading people and did not announce its destination, at which point I asked if he was going to our excursion that he said no. Before he left I asked a second time and was again told no. The bus left at 10am, we waited unit 10:15 and spoke to one of the other reps as it was Andreas (our reps)day off. We were told that we just missed the bus and found out the bus we should have been on was the bus that the driver stated was not going to our excursion. She called to have the bus come back and pick us up. We sat and waited for an hour at which point the bus returned and the driver gave us a hard time about missing information on the receipt that we were given by our rep.

Upon receiving our rooms several of the mini bars were empty.

Over the week the staff that stocks the mini bars walked in on my wife once without even knocking, and another set of guests while they were sleeping.

Most of our guests were solicited drugs by locals on the beach, I do understand that all beaches on Jamaica are public property; however I watched as the resorts security repeatedly turned a blind eye to these activities time and time again.

Most of our guests ranging from 16 to 50 were also propositioned for drugs by staff members, this is totally unacceptable. One even pulled his stash of drugs out from underneath a stack of towels to show what he had.

On several occasions rooms that were cleaned, did not receive any towels. We would call the front desk throughout the day and would be told there were no clean towels available. One of the rooms were told at the end of their week that they were at the end of the staffs set of rooms and if they had towels left they would get them, if not then they wouldn’t.

Rooms that had the sign on to be cleaned were never touched.

Several staff indicated that they expected tips and waiting staff would give customers dirty looks if they didn’t tip. Even though I did tip when I felt it was warranted, this should not be a requirement to receive good service in an all-inclusive resort.

The rooms on the ground floor, 3rd and 4th floors had ant and sand flea problems we once again had to deal with the front desk to ask if they could have someone spray the rooms, at which point they laughed and blew us off.

The Sat morning all of our guests that were leaving, someone went around knocking on their doors between 8:30am and 9:30am telling them that they needed to check out, even though check out was at 12. In some cases they received a phone call in addition to the person knocking on their door.

At 11am there was a large group of people checking out, my wife went to see if it was possible to be moved to a Jacuzzi suit, also to complain about people being woken up and being told to check out.

At this point she was talking with Stacey again; she showed a general lack of interest in our issues and was unwilling to help with the situations. At this point we asked to be moved to another resort. The only option that was given to us was the Tropical Bay resort with the additional fees for the room and transportation costs. This option was not available until Monday Afternoon, 2 days from that point in time.

We went directly over to Andrea with our issues, and explained that we were not happy with the way that we are being treated and that our guests are leaving disappointed with their experience here. We went over all of the issues listed above with her and told her that we were not receiving the experience that we were promised and paid for and needed to go somewhere else. At this point Andrea took us back over to talk with Stacey. Andrea was only able to stay briefly as she needed to travel to the airport with a group that was leaving, but were to call her at 9pm that night as she would talk to her boss and tell us what our options were. At this point we were not able to resolve any of the issues again with Stacey.

That afternoon, we sat down with the Resort Manager; I believe her name was Susanne. Once again went over the issues with her and she seemed to be surprised at the issues that we were having but she didn’t seem like she really wanted to help us. She said she would see if there was an upgrade available and was told there was not. I had to ask if there was something else that they could do for us at the hotel eg. Scuba Diving at which point she said she could something like that for us. We told her that we did not want to stay any longer at this resort and the only other options she gave us either move on Monday afternoon to RIU Tropical Bay and incur all additional expenses or to move to another resort, pay for the other resort at our own expense and receive a voucher to stay at a RIU at some time in the future for the time remaining.

We called Andrea at 8:40, 9, 9:20, 9:30 and 9:40 with no answer and left her a voicemail to call us back.

Sunday morning the remainder of our guests were woken up between 8:30am and 10am and told they needed to check out. We went back to see Andrea who apologized for the previous night. We told her that we were not happy with the resolution that the resort was offering and that we wanted to move to another resort that day. At this point we were told that it is Sunday and that nothing could be done for us on Sunday. Sunquest Canada and all of the sales offices are closed. This was unacceptable as we told her that we wanted to move about 24 hours prior. At this point she put me on her cell phone with her boss Celest. I explained the same thing again to her and that staying at this resort another day is another day that was wasted on our vacation as my wife did not feel comfortable with a number of the staff. Once again we were told that everything is closed, that she was coming in the next day and to see her in the morning.

After talking to Andrea, we went back to our room to find that both our room keys had been deactivated. We had to go back, get in line at the front desk to get new keys.

While we were in our room for the remainder of the day, with the “do not disturb” sign on the door, a staff member knocked to bring us a mug and a small bottle of rum, at which point he wanted to know what time we were leaving that day, even though we were not scheduled to leave for another week.

Spoke with Celest first thing in the morning, who did not seem surprised that we were having issues. We went through the whole list of issues again, she told us that we should not have had to pay the $100 for this room and was going to try to get that money back. We have not heard any resolution to this yet. I also told her that I expected to be compensated for the additional days I was stuck in the resort. In total in the first 8 days on our vacation, we spent 3 full days dealing with issues that should not have happened. We ended up taking the Tropical Bay choice as all of our finances were already spent on this resort. We were told that the taxi would be paid for and that we would be given the VIP treatment at the new resort and all of our information would be given to them eg that we are on our honeymoon. The taxi arrived at noon for our 3.5 hour drive to Negril. Once we arrived at Tropical Bay they had a hard time finding any information for our arrival, we finally received a room key but did not have any safe key. Upon opening the door, a heavy musty odour hit you. Looking at the room we did not believe that this was the correct room, went back to the front desk and spoke to someone else and they told us that we were given the wrong room and that the correct room is at the other end of the complex. After repacking and retuning the original keys we confirmed that the front desk knew that we were on our honeymoon and they had no record of this either. At this point it was now 6:30 and we had now lost a 4th day of our honeymoon. The next night we received our so-called fruit basket and surprise. The basket consisted of a plate, with some melon, kiwi cut in half and an apple all wrapped in cellophane. All they did was grab some of the food off of the buffet, and the surprise was a $2, 200ml bottle of rum. This was very misleading as on your website you state you will receive a surprise gift and a basket of fruit.

While at Tropical Bay we did not receive any special treatment, the Sunquest rep would show up at 9:30am and leave around 1pm. The day of our flight we were told that she wouldn’t even be at the resort and had to get flight information from other rep. When our guests were departing Ocho Rios, one of the flights was delayed for 3 hours, the guests were informed and the bus was postponed to accommodate this. Our flight was also delayed for about 2 hours however we were not informed about this unit we reached the airport. Once we had checked out, our bus arrived at 5:15 however there was no secure location to put your luggage or a location to hang garments like wedding dresses between 12 and 5.

For a trip that is supposed to be the time of our lives, we are upset at the fact that overall this was a disappointing trip. We have found lack of commitment and accountability through this whole process. Issues have not been resolved, we dealt with staff that could care less and who have shown unacceptable behavior.

We have spent a lot of money on this trip and are upset and disappointed with our wedding/honeymoon.

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Riu Ocho Rios Kathy ~ Toronto

April 2007

We were 2 single ladies traveling to Jamaica for the first time. Although I have been to Cuba many times, Dominican and Mexico. We chose the Riu because it was 1 year old, and had heard good things about Riu properties and this was the best deal for over New Years based on our schedules.

We arrived at night to a very long lineup at the airport customs. It seemed to go on forever. It was a long wait but we got to know our fellow travelers while waiting in line and ended up making great friend for the rest of the trip.

The bus ride from the airport to the resort was 1 hour 45 mins and was over some construction but we knew that from reading other reviews.

When we arrived like another review mentioned – we went through the lobby, received a welcome drink and went very quickly to 3 or 4 different tables which handed us keys, envelope and put on our wrist bracelet and we were done. Very efficient!

The resort is set into 2 huge U shaped sections of rooms so all pretty much look out over the ocean. And both U’s have their own pools/bars, towel service.

We had a suite on the main floor in the middle of the U shape. It was the best room I have ever had at an all inclusive resort ever!! Bathroom was huge with marble like finish and great shower jets. Mini fridge which was kept stocked and liquor bottles above for you to serve yourself. Mirrored closet with safe inside. 2 Twin beds then a small sitting area with couch, coffee table and TV then a balcony. Extremely clean and just fantastic. No problem with towels every day and they provide shampoo too.

There are 2 pools and one was quieter and a bit smaller than the other. The one closest to the “Sandals” resort has a swim up bar and seems to be where the entertainment crew are as well. Both pools are gorgeous! They have some loungers built right into the pool and many waterfalls too. Lots of lounge chairs around but they do get taken by late morning.

The beach is fantastic. A few seaweed patches but they try to clean them up. There are lots of loungers available for everyone and the resort was full when we were there. You can walk up and down the beach and slightly past the end of the resort are some locals selling souvenirs etc. There are security guards on the beach. Many Seadoo drivers come right into the beach water area and ask if you want a ride (cost extra). There seemed to be quite a few while we were there (at least 3-4 all the time). The security guards would ensure they didn’t linger or get in too close, but you did have the smell of their gasoline sometimes. There is a Jerk Chicken hut on the beach close to the Sandals side and this is the best chicken ever! Try it but ask which is the really hot sauce.

Main buffet is large but long and narrow and the food stations do seem to get clusters and line ups. Service there was OK. The food was just fine though and you could always find something to please you. For the dinners the main buffet was also good. Booking the a la cartes was hit or miss as you had to call and it could be busy for ½ hour or you could easily get through. We were able to book and eat at Sir Richards (the best), Steakhouse( very good) and Asian (very good but buffet style which didn’t work when everyone had same 7pm reservations). Snack bar for late night or 24 hour snacks doesn’t have much – you could microwave a hot dog or ham & cheese sandwich but nothing else. There were popcorn machines in a few different places but all unplugged?

By far the best bartenders were at the pool/swim up bar. They were always laughing, smiling and making jokes and so quick. The lobby bartenders were also fantastic. I think all of the bartenders gave the best impression of the Jamaican attitude and service as they were all great.

We went on the shopping trip to Ocho Rios. For $10 or so you are bussed to the city for 2-3 hours to shop. You can shop at some of the duty free jewellery places or go to the market. Note that you will be approached to buy some “smoke” by many both on and off the resort. You can politely look away, but the next guy up the road will also ask you too. Anyway, it is readily available if you want it.

We also wanted to book the catamaran boat trip that took you to Dunn’s River Falls. They overbooked it 2 days in a row so we decided to just go to the Falls. This is a must do if you go to Ocho Rios. Many cruise ships dock here as well, so do ask when they come to avoid the rush. We went in the afternoon at 2pm. We were going to book through our tour rep, but she wasn’t there, so we booked through the local tour company and guess what – it was much cheaper. It doesn’t hurt to check out prices. We did the climb up the falls with a tour guide and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We gave one guide our disposable cameras but he had digital cameras from others and no problem at all and took excellent pictures while you climbed. You may be able to do it on your own, but I appreciated the pictures and being pointed in the right direction and a helping hand. We didn’t exit via the market place as by then we were not interested in trinket souvenirs, just needed a drink!

One night the entertainment staff announced a bus would be going after the show to the Hard Rock Café if anyone was interested. Cost was $10 so we decided to go. Only the 6 of us on the bus plus the bar staff ended up at there. Apparently it had barely opened and hadn’t even had it’s grand opening yet. They were trying to attract customers. They refunded our money and our bus driver took us to the local club down the street. It was a very packed outdoor dance club for all the locals. There were a few other vacationers there, and we would’ve been very uncomfortable if our bus driver didn’t act as our “guide/bodyguard” as well. It was an interesting experience. Not for everyone though but we had fun. On the out, they sell everything on the street including beer and the Jerk Chicken was even better than on the beach. But a tip that we wouldn’t have felt safe being out in a local hangout without a local escort and being in a group.

Shows :
they had a live band playing everynight, then the shows. We didn’t see them all but some were good and the bands were great. At about 10:30

This is my only negative point about this resort. I have been to many other 4 & 5 star resorts and I totally understand the laid back attitude of a resort and different countries. We found that other than the bartenders (and our bus driver) , the service was just not up to par. It almost seemed that speaking in English we were speaking another language as they either didn’t understand or chose not to. This happened at the front desk, with wait staff etc. We also felt a bit “creepy” by some of the pool staff and cleaning staff (men) and definitely when we went into town, perhaps because we were 2 single ladies traveling, but it just didn’t feel comfortable.

Overall: Most beautiful resort that I have been to. Bar and pool service was excellent. Dunn’s River falls was lots of fun and a must do in my opinion. I would recommend this resort to others and we had a fantastic vacation.

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Riu Ocho Rios Debbie and Louise ~ New Brunswick, Canada

March 2007

We travelled to Jamaica from Halifax, N.S. on Canjet March 4 to 11, 2007. The flight was long, almost 5 and a half hours and extremely noisy. There was a wedding party on board of about 40 people. Most of the guys partied the whole way there. There was no delays and we were on time. The return flight was only 4 and a half hours and very quiet.

There was no delays getting through the airport and took an hour to load the buses for the ride to the resort. There was some road construction for the first few miles, then smooth sailing on a new highway. Not bad at all. We were sitting in the front seat and joked with the driver the whole way.

When we arrived at the resort, the rep. told us to send one person to check in while the other gathered the luggage. I was the first in line. I gave my hotel voucher to one girl at a table set up in the middle of the lobby. I then went to another table to get my bracelet. Then another table to get my room key, safe key and information. Total time about 4 minutes. When I went back to the bus, my friend did not even have our luggage yet. We had one form to complete and return the next day. Fastest check in ever.

What can we say about this resort? Absolutely amazing!! The resort is really big. We were on the top floor in the regular section. Our room was right in the middle of the horseshoe shape. We had a fantastic view of the pool and the ocean.

You can call for reservations at the restaurants until 5. I called at 4:50 and got reservations for that night and the next two nights. Sir Richards and Mammee Bay were excellent. The Mandalay (Asian buffet) was not very good. The buffet restaurants were just as good. There was a good selection and they have theme nights. We did not bother to call for reservations again because we were on vacation and we decided we would eat when we felt like it.

The beach is beautiful and there is lots of lounge chairs. Around lunch time, they set up a station and cook on the beach. You don’t even have to leave except to go to the bathroom. We always went close to the beach bar. There are security guards on the beach and we did not have anyone trying to sell us dope. They also have lifeguards. We went to the pool on the upgraded side once and it was sooo quiet. We just walked through and went back to the main bigger pool where there was more action.

The resort is very clean. The maids did an excellent job in our room. We gave her $2.00 tip a day. Even though we hung our towels to use again, she took them and left clean ones. One day, they were out of face cloths and when we returned from the beach, they were in a plastic bag on our door knob. We didn’t even have to ask.

The nightly entertainment was good. A band played first from 8pm to the show started at 9:30. After the show was over, the band would play again until 11pm. On the Saturday night, they have a beach party complete with huge BBQ’s. There was the main bar and 2 others right beside it. The bartenders were a lot of fun and we never had a problem getting drinks. We always sat at the main bar on stools and watched the show. As soon as our glass was empty, there was another to replace it. One bartender, Lawrence, took us into Ocho Rios one afternoon on his day off.

We went on the Cool Runnings tour and highly recommend it. Just be prepared with your dollar bills because everyone is going to ask for a tip.

The service at the resort was A-1. The workers were friendly, polite and couldn’t do enough for us. We met a lot of people and hung out with them at night. We had a really good time.

We have travelled to several other resorts in Cuba, Mexico and DR, and this was the best so far. 5 star all the way. Right now, we are trying to find a seat sale to go back. We can’t wait!!

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January 2007

My G/F and I just returned from a fabulous week in Jamaica at the Riu Ocho Rios. I’ve written a long review in hopes that it will answer many of the similar questions we had before we went. This was our first trip to a sunshine destination and we have very few negative things to say about it. We left on New Year’s Eve and our plane was delayed leaving Calgary for almost 3 hours. The flight was approx. 6 hours long and we experienced no problems. When we arrived at the airport it took approx. 45 mins to get through customs and get the bus on the road. The highway is very slow going for the first 1/2 hour but then smooth going after that. The road is not nearly as bad as everybody says. The only unfortunate part is that we spent New Year’s on the bus…but not much we could do about that.

The rooms:
Check in was smooth and we were given room 1342 on the Suite side. This is a great room location with an unobstructed view of the pool and sea. If you want a quiet vacation like we did the Suite side is definitely the way to go. The keys and safe lock worked fine, as did the air conditioning. I found that if you turned the thermostat up until the A/C cut out and then turned it back down to about 55 the room stayed at a really nice temp. We tipped $2/day and always had fresh towels and water/beer as well as our bed made.

The food:
The food was fine…try to remember that you are in another country that is trying to please everybody’s tastes so occasionally the food may not be up to par, but there is so much selection in the different buffet’s and the jerk hut all it takes is being a little flexible as to when you have to eat. The reservation system has been drastically improved and you can now call from your room. We ate at Sir Richards (great food) the Japanese (fantastic food) and the Steakhouse (ok food). Due to a bag mix-up at the airport I was without long pants for the Sir Richards restaurant. The Sunquest lady (Elva) was working hard to get my luggage back before the Monday night reservation but it didn’t come in time. We went down to cancel the reservation and the doorman at the restaurant went and contacted another manager who took me to the lobby and gave me a pair of long black pants so we wouldn’t miss our reservation. Talk about service. Pretty much from there on there was nothing else that could go wrong.

We spent the majority of our time at the lobby bar that was open from 5-12. Fitzroy "the Doctor" is the bartender to see there. He took care of us all week and our glasses were never empty. Even the day he was working in the disco he came over to make sure the other bartender’s were treating us well. I found the drinks very good. If you see the Doctor ask him for a "life insurance policy"…fantastic drink. We tipped him well, as he deserved it. We also got drinks from Jodi at the Suite side pool bar.

Was fantastic…we watched them practice a bit during the day and the evening shows were really good. We missed the Michael Jackson show due to New Year’s eve but the rest of them were good. The pre-shows were a lot of fun as well with a lot of audience interaction.

Beach and Pool:
We stayed on the deluxe side and the pool there was quieter than the other side. We did have somebody steal our towels and loungers while we went for lunch one day at the pool so after that we took our towels with us when we went. We spoke to a lifeguard named Joey and he took care of us with another set of towels. There are a lot of loungers for the pool and beach. We never had a problem getting one at any time of the day and the resort was at capacity when we went. The only negative thing about the pool is that there were a lot of smokers there and you normally had them polluting your airspace. We found that if you went to the beach and got close to the water the breeze off the sea was really good at keeping the smoke away. The Aqua Gym at noon in the other pool was also a lot of fun.

We did the trip to Ocho Rios via Sunquest ($10) for shopping. It was 2.5 hours long and went without a hitch. We went to the Duty Free shops at and around the Gem Palace as well as a quick trip to the "market". We had no problem in the market however if aggressive vendors at all intimidate you it may not be the place for you. There are good deals there to be had. We also did the "cool runnings" tour through Sunquest ($74). That tour was really good. It was a bus trip to the dock where we boarded the catamaran, then a quick sail to Dunn’s River for the falls climb. Then another short sail for about a ½ hour of snorkelling. After that they opened the bar and sailed out to sea. The rum was flowing and a lot of dancing. Kudo’s to the Dad who was dancing up a storm on the boat…put on a clinic and didn’t spill a drop.

Overall: If you are expecting to have a vacation where nothing goes wrong…good luck. If you can handle the little things that come up and remember that you are on vacation where there’s no stress, kids, work, etc. then you will have a good time no matter where you go. Jamaica was everything that I had expected it to be and then some. The Riu also exceeded our expectations. It is likely that the people who hated this resort will hate the next resort and the next one and so on. If you can’t have fun in a place like this you should look within yourself and maybe you’ll see the real problem. We talked to a lot of people from Canada, the US and Europe and they had no complaints about the resort.

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January 2007

Although there are quite a few bad reviews posted on other travel sites about the Rui in Ochos Rios we had a great time and would definitely return! The resort is huge and in a U shape, which is great because almost all the rooms have an Ocean view. The food was o.k., as expected at a Caribbean resort. You have to try the jerk hut, they have the best chicken!!!!

One downfall with the food is the fact that you have to call to make reservations at the a la carte restaurants needless to say the phone is constantly busy. We gave up after the 2nd day and ate at the buffet (which was decent and had theme night to add variety) There also isn’t alot of selection for late night snacking, if you are the type to get hungry after midnight you may want to consider bringing snacks with you.

When in Jamaica you must go to the Dunn’s River Falls, it is an amazing fresh water waterfall that you climb. For 70 U.S we did the package tour where you take a bus to town, then hop on the catamaran go snorkeling, then to the falls and back on the boat for a booze cruise. We had a great time and it was well worth the money.

While on our trip we had a little bit of rain, and I will warn you to be careful of the slippery floors. I heard some guests complaining of this, but if you know it is wet, be careful when you walk! It makes sense to me.

The staff at the Rui Resort is great and very friendly (look for Omar, he is great and might take you to Margaritaville) don’t miss the Michael Jackson show on Thursdays it is amazing!!!!

Another warning I would have is to watch out for drug dealers on the beach, the will creep out of the water and try to sell you everything and anything. If you aren’t interested I would recommend saying that you already have all you need for the week. They seem to accept this and will leave you alone.

If you can get a good price on this resort, it is well worth the 2 hour bus ride from Montego Bay.

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January 2007

My G/F and I just returned from a fabulous week in Jamaica at the Riu Ocho Rios. I’ve written a long review in hopes that it will answer many of the similar questions we had before we went. This was our first trip to a sunshine destination and we have very few negative things to say about it. We left on New Year’s Eve and our plane was delayed leaving Calgary for almost 3 hours. The flight was approx. 6 hours long and we experienced no problems. When we arrived at the airport it took approx. 45 mins to get through customs and get the bus on the road. The highway is very slow going for the first 1/2 hour but then smooth going after that. The road is not nearly as bad as everybody says. The only unfortunate part is that we spent New Year’s on the bus…but not much we could do about that.

The rooms:
Check in was smooth and we were given room 1342 on the Suite side. This is a great room location with an unobstructed view of the pool and sea. If you want a quiet vacation like we did the Suite side is definitely the way to go. The keys and safe lock worked fine, as did the air conditioning. I found that if you turned the thermostat up until the A/C cut out and then turned it back down to about 55 the room stayed at a really nice temp. We tipped $2/day and always had fresh towels and water/beer as well as our bed made.

The food:
The food was fine…try to remember that you are in another country that is trying to please everybody’s tastes so occasionally the food may not be up to par, but there is so much selection in the different buffet’s and the jerk hut all it takes is being a little flexible as to when you have to eat. The reservation system has been drastically improved and you can now call from your room. We ate at Sir Richards (great food) the Japanese (fantastic food) and the Steakhouse (ok food). Due to a bag mix-up at the airport I was without long pants for the Sir Richards restaurant. The Sunquest lady (Elva) was working hard to get my luggage back before the Monday night reservation but it didn’t come in time. We went down to cancel the reservation and the doorman at the restaurant went and contacted another manager who took me to the lobby and gave me a pair of long black pants so we wouldn’t miss our reservation. Talk about service. Pretty much from there on there was nothing else that could go wrong.

We spent the majority of our time at the lobby bar that was open from 5-12. Fitzroy "the Doctor" is the bartender to see there. He took care of us all week and our glasses were never empty. Even the day he was working in the disco he came over to make sure the other bartender’s were treating us well. I found the drinks very good. If you see the Doctor ask him for a "life insurance policy"…fantastic drink. We tipped him well, as he deserved it. We also got drinks from Jodi at the Suite side pool bar.

Was fantastic…we watched them practice a bit during the day and the evening shows were really good. We missed the Michael Jackson show due to New Year’s eve but the rest of them were good. The pre-shows were a lot of fun as well with a lot of audience interaction.

Beach and Pool:
We stayed on the deluxe side and the pool there was quieter than the other side. We did have somebody steal our towels and loungers while we went for lunch one day at the pool so after that we took our towels with us when we went. We spoke to a lifeguard named Joey and he took care of us with another set of towels. There are a lot of loungers for the pool and beach. We never had a problem getting one at any time of the day and the resort was at capacity when we went. The only negative thing about the pool is that there were a lot of smokers there and you normally had them polluting your airspace. We found that if you went to the beach and got close to the water the breeze off the sea was really good at keeping the smoke away. The Aqua Gym at noon in the other pool was also a lot of fun.

We did the trip to Ocho Rios via Sunquest ($10) for shopping. It was 2.5 hours long and went without a hitch. We went to the Duty Free shops at and around the Gem Palace as well as a quick trip to the "market". We had no problem in the market however if aggressive vendors at all intimidate you it may not be the place for you. There are good deals there to be had. We also did the "cool runnings" tour through Sunquest ($74). That tour was really good. It was a bus trip to the dock where we boarded the catamaran, then a quick sail to Dunn’s River for the falls climb. Then another short sail for about a ½ hour of snorkelling. After that they opened the bar and sailed out to sea. The rum was flowing and a lot of dancing. Kudo’s to the Dad who was dancing up a storm on the boat…put on a clinic and didn’t spill a drop.

Overall: If you are expecting to have a vacation where nothing goes wrong…good luck. If you can handle the little things that come up and remember that you are on vacation where there’s no stress, kids, work, etc. then you will have a good time no matter where you go. Jamaica was everything that I had expected it to be and then some. The Riu also exceeded our expectations. It is likely that the people who hated this resort will hate the next resort and the next one and so on. If you can’t have fun in a place like this you should look within yourself and maybe you’ll see the real problem. We talked to a lot of people from Canada, the US and Europe and they had no complaints about the resort.

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December 2006

My wife and Ijust came back from the Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica just 2 weeks ago and all I can say is "A M A Z I N G" Wow what a great time we had from start to finish the beach is beautiful white sand very calm no waves we even brought the beach lounge chairs in the water. The staff very friendly and happy made us laugh all the time, the 2 giant swimming pools very clean and lot’s of room to swim or just hang out by the swim up bar the maids who take care of our rooms did an awesome job kept our room spotless with each day a different towel shaped heart or swan. The food was also good and the steakhouse was excellent. Last but not least the animation team was totally awesome with a different exciting show every night and special hello’s to SUPERMAN AND CHINA MAN the animations teams leaders who made everything fun and exciting, the weather everyday sunny and hot and we have awesome tans to show for it. We definately recommend this awesome resort we are going to definately go back soon for more fun and relaxation. Totally a 5 out of 5!!!!!

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Riu Ocho Rios Paul and Sharon ~ Virginia

April 2006

We just returned from a week at the RIU Ocho Rios. As background, we are a family of five (kids – 16 and 14 yr. old girls, 7 year old boy) from the US. My wife and I have stayed in about 10 all inclusives in the Caribbean over the past 15 years. This is our 3rd visit to Jamaica.

Pretty much on schedule via scheduled airlines. Trip to resort from airport in Montego Bay took every bit of 2 hours (including stop). In a number of areas, the road is under construction and the pace slows due to the roads.

Perfect. Sunshine every day, high temps betwee low 80’s to mid 90’s. Nice breeze most of the day.

We had 2 rooms classified as Junior Suites, that were adjoining. Although on the first floor, both had a view of the smaller pool at the resort and the ocean. The rooms were good sized, and had a sitting area with a sofa. Huge amounts of tile and marble in the rooms. Bathroom was well equipped and sizable, with 2 sinks. Mini-frig was stocked with drinks and beer, and rooms had access to hard liquor. Gallon containers of drinking water were provided. Rooms were very clean. The entire resort was clean. We constantly saw people washing down the walls, floors, railings, etc. all over the resort, and they were already repainting the resort even though the paint looks fresh.

There was one quite large buffet (at dinner) for the resort (approx 850 rooms). The seating areas were very adequate, but the design lead to some crowding in the food areas and lines for hot food during peak hours. The food was typical buffet – pretty good, but you get tired of it if you eat it too much. Great jerk barbeque on the beach.

For breakfast, several other resturants had a buffet. I found that the large buffet (St. Ann) had more variety – for example, they made a variety of fruit juices and smooties in the St. Ann that I didn’t see elsewhere (they were excellent).

We ate in 3 ala carte resturants – Steakhouse (just ok – nothing special), the Japanese resturant (excellent – not a Japanese steakhouse, but more sushi and tempura), and the Sir Richards (again, excellent). You had to wait in line to sign up for the ala carte resturants, and could only sign up for that day.

Pretty typical. The most fun was the Beach Party on Friday night. There is a sports bar with a small casino, electronic games, internet stations, pool, etc. They worked hard to get folks involved in the pool and beach activities. Of course, being Jamaica, the music was mostly reggae – you hear the reggae beat and bass guitar constantly.

I was surprised – this resort had the most personable, friendly and engaging staff I have encountered. I didn’t have any problems or issues to get resolved, so I don’t know about how they react in that situation.

Pool and Beach
Two large pools, both with swim up bars. Never saw a shortage of towels. Plenty of lounges, but you needed to get out by about 7:30 – 7:45 am to get an umbrella. The beach was very nice – wide, nice sand, plenty of lounges – no umbrellas, but some palm trees that create shade. Constant stream of vendors, but they stick to the waterline and don’t venture beyond. There is a wall between the RIU and Sandals on one end of the beach – you can’t pass thru, but on the other end, you could walk the beach for probably 1/2 mile. On that walk you could be expected to be confronted by various vendors selling spa services and drugs.

Shopping at the RIU was disappointing. We went to the Island Village (at the cruise ship docks). There are 35 or 40 stores there, and the Jimmy Buffet Margaritiville resturant. We found several nice art/craft stores, a cigar store, there made the trip worthwhile.

We took a Dunns River/snorkeling excursion from Scuba Caribe (the watersports vendor at the RIU). This was a fun event. We took a boat from the resort to Dunn’s River falls, and climbed the falls. Our family had a lot of fun doing that. We then continued on the boat to a reef past Ocho Rios for snorkeling. It was a pretty nice reef. Our boat captain gave us a nice tour and narrative about the area.

My 14 year old daughter and I went scuba diving twice. Once, we went past the spot where we snorkeled and dove in about 20-30 feet of water in an area with some reef caves and a shipwreck. On the second dive, we dove near the channel where the cruise ships enter the Ocho Rios harbor in 30-50 feet of water. This was more of a coral garden. Both dives were great.

All in all, a great trip – one of our best all-inclusive experiences.

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Riu Ocho Rios Lorrie and Steve ~ Barrie, ON – Canada

March 2006

We just got back from our awesome vacation in Riu Ocho Rios Mar 21st-Mar 27th.

We read the reviews on-line before going to Jamaica to try and get some idea as to what to expect.

For those people that said the bus ride from the airport to the resort was so terrible, are definitely exaggerating. The bus had air-condition, the ride wasn’t like going over speed bumps, there was some construction going on, which delayed the ride a bit, but doesn’t every place we live in have construction that delays traffic. It was fine, not half as bad as people make it out to be.

The weather was wonderful, sunny and hot! The resort was beautiful! The rooms were very clean, nice marble floors. The beach was well-groomed. The pool areas were really nice, with swim up bars. The people were very friendly and helpful. The bars had enough staff to serve you, and many options of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available. The housekeeping staff was awesome, very efficient. Food was really good. The wait for reservations for the 3 restaurants (Mammee Bay Steakhouse, Sir Richards, and Mandalay) didn’t take very long at all. The most we waited was 20 minutes. Mammee Bay was good, Sir Richards was a little fancier and the food was really nice, and Mandalay was buffet style, but it was really good, a nice change from St. Ann’s. The jerk hut served good chicken for lunch.

Entertainment was amazing. Every night they had some sort of entertainment on the stage. One night entertainment was on the beach. That was a lot of fun!

The resort may accommodate a lot of people, but there was never a time where you felt overwhelmed.

Dunn’s River Falls was a great experience. You have to go do this.

If you are looking to call out of country, definitely buy the calling card ($14.00 US for 27 mins.), because if you just call from your room, you will be charged $3.00 connection fee, plus $3.00 every minute.

Just a little pointer, if shopping for souvenirs go into town, don’t go to the local craft markets. You can save yourself some money this way.

This is our 1st vacation in 9 years so we didn’t go into this with pre-conceived expectations, and everything was wonderful! If you have a sweet tooth like me though, you won’t find a lot of great options for desserts, but there is always a chocolate bar at the store.

I would highly recommend Riu Ocho Rios. Any questions, feel free to e-mail lnsingram4@sympatico.ca

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March 2006

We just got back from a week at the RIU Ocho rios. There is always good and bad anywhere you go but the Riu has disappointment down to a art form. The good stuff, beach well kept with lots of chairs shade under trees or bright sun , raked every night. The jerk shack small but 12-3pm would serve very good jerk chix, pork,sausage, yams & taters. Two different sauces the hot one would leave your lips numb for 30 minutes, but we both love it HOT!!

The resort is new and very nice we a had a water leak in the bathroom but it was fixed in15mins. But on the down side service was poor people would seem to look right thru you we you asked for something. When we checked in they cut my wifes blouse when they trimed the wristband they put on everybody, no apolgy no offer to pay , Just Oh I’ve never done that before. We arrived late and asked where to get food, we were sent to the sports bar ther idea of 24 a day food is popcorn and plastic wrapped sandwichs like in a gas station, but they were all gone the bartender sent us to the italian rest. when we got there we were told there were closed and should go to the sports bar we said they had nothing but they didnt care or offer to help at all. We finally gave up and went to bed. The food was buffet, buffet,or leftovers buffet. You could stand in line for 2hrs to get a reservation at the other restarants but manadaly bay is another buffet, mammee bay steakhouse the soup , salads, and desserts are all still buffet Sir Richards does serves you but it has only 14 tables their are 845 rooms at the Riu so getting in is a long wait in line again. Food was fair nothing gourmet but most was ok. Beverages selection was a joke. vodka,gin,brandy, tequila whiskey all the lowest $2 a barrel moonshine that has ever been bottled. I’m not wine snob but the choice was white or red usally came in a big plastic tub with a spiqot on it. Tap beer only one kind like it or not. Jamacias famous Blue Mountian coffee, Not here, Nescafe machines with instant coffee, soda machines for pop and juice I’m going to stop because I don’t want to seem like nothing was good. But I won’t be back to RIU ever!!

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Riu Ocho Rios Toronto, Ontario, Canada

February 2006

We travelled to Jamaica on New Year’s Day expecting the worst. We had heard horror stories of employees not showing up for work, delays and lost luggage…..Not at all true. Everything was just fine and very well organised.

We arrived at around 11 a.m. and were pleasantly handled by the Jamaican airport and customs authorities. Our tour rep (Sunquest) was ready for us when we had our luggage and accompanied us to the bus for our transport to the hotel.

The worst part of our trip was the bus ride to the Hotel. The journey takes two full hours (don’t expect less) and unfortunately the bus was not air conditioned nor had any shocks and the seats were cramped. I spoke to our Sunquest representative before we left the airport as well as after arriving at the hotel and was assured that this will be dealt with by someone in Toronto when we return. So far I have heard nothing.

I had requested adjoining rooms as our teenage children were also travelling with us and had taken the time to contact the Riu Ocho Rios by email to "remind" them. I was pleasantly surprised to have my email responded to and my request fulfilled. It took 15 minutes to check in and our rooms were ready. (Lucky, as some had to wait till 3.00 p.m.) We chose to take our luggage up ourselves even though they did have a couple of bell hops available.

Our rooms were on the Club side and were beautiful. Everything that was promised was there including the extra bed for my third child. Having the safety boxes included was also a pleasant surprise. The rooms were spotless and cleaned thoroughly everyday and we tipped our room attendants well.

We tried every restaurant in the resort except the Japanese one as it is reserved for their Palace guests. Here’s my review and a couple of tips.

The Steakhouse( there’s two of them serving the same menu everynight) is the best choice – don’t get the mixed grill….get the Filet medium rare (no, it’s not 10 ounces, probably 5) but ask for a skewer of shrimp with it. It’s delicious.

Sir Richard’s is overrated. Fine dining it was (in service & ambiance), but the portions are large and overcooked. The worst part was that they had no choice of wine but the house White & Red which wasn’t very pleasant. I even offered to pay for something better, but they had none. I will say the Glass of Champagne as you arrived was classy and appreciated. And the staff were excellent.

The Oriental Restaurant had some very nice appetizers, but not much else that stood out. The food is greasy so watch out all you fussy people. Again the service and the attention to detail was excellent.

The Pizzeria was our nightly snack at 11.30 p.m. Here’s where you could find some interesting combinations on your thin crust pizza. They also served a full dinner if you so chose.

The Buffet’s were very well staffed and had a lot of variety. If there was something you wanted, all you had to do was ask your wait staff to check with the Kitchen. If they had some, you got it. "Tipping gets you what you want." Try making connections with a couple of wait staff and sit in their sections whenever you visit. They remember you and look after you well. Tip generously. They earn very low wages and appreciate your contribution.

My favourite Lunch spot was the Jerk Hut on the Beach. Paul who handles the Barbeques remembers everybody by name or a nickname that he calls you. The chicken and pork are delicious. Make sure your meat is fully cooked and try the hot sauces. And ask Paul if you want the fiery hot one. He holds it for special customers who can handle the heat.

The Bars were a little short staffed but the service was fast and they made sure they remembered your drink. I was disappointed as they didn’t have any premium scotch or brandy. And they mixed their alcohols so everything other than Gin and Vodka tasted like rum. I had to keep asking them to open a new bottle in my presence so I got the real stuff. (Cheap scotch, Yuck!)

The "Animation Crew" was definitely the tops and we didn’t miss a show. The Michael Jackson was amazing. And all of them worked throughout the day making sure you were having a good time. My family and I really had a good time.

While we did go to Ocho Rios for a day and visited Dunn’s River ( a private tour arranged by our Taxi driver for $50.00) we felt it to be a waste. The resort had enough to do for a week to relax and revitalise. I don’t recommend going off the hotel property (at the beach) for massages or hair braiding as we did. We got caught in the middle of a argument between two different service providers and felt very uncomfortable and threatened. The disco has good music but gets pretty raunchy and drunk. I would keep my young children (under 16) away from there.

Overall, I think the resort needs a little fine tuning, but I would definitely recommend it. Treat the staff well and you get whatever you want. Including dinners at all the different restaurants………….

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February 2006

Hi All, Just back from a fabulous week at the new Riu in Ocho Rios. The weather was fantastic, 30-34C each day except Wednesday. That was the only overcast day we had and we all loved it! The resort is beautiful, I believe there were over 2500 guests when we were down, but the design of the resort is such that you can easily find people. The two wings are horseshoe shaped so that all rooms have an ocean view. If you have a standard room you wear a blue bracelet, the other side wears a white bracelet. The extra amount buys you a big tub in your room, chair cushions for your balcony, and access to a Japanese restaurant. If money is no object this is fine, but there was so much on offer to all, I wouldn’t bother.

There are 7 restaurants, two of which turn into steak houses for supper. In the morning the St. Ann buffet is open from 7-10am, and for lunch there are 3 buffets open from 12-4pm.
If you wish to have a seating at one of the 5 restaurants, you must sit in a line up from 10am-noon to put your name in. We found that we had so much choice for lunch and supper at the buffets that we didn’t bother. We were down for a wedding, so our supper that evening was pre-booked at one of the steak houses. The meals were great! Steak was perfect.

There is a Kids Club and they do special things like, a pj party and get togethers for the kids. There is a spa/gym building as well. The two pools are incredible and each has a swim up bar. There is a sports bar in a lower level of the building with pool tables and such.

A few comments on the hotel.
They were still building one of the bars and the wading pool was not complete yet. They are short staffed on maid service and there were a few quirks we didn’t like.

There were no in room coffee makers. There are no peep-holes in the doors. There were no toothpicks to be found. The ONLY cough medicine in one of the shops was Buckley’s!!! Go figure. I would bring snacks such as peanuts, chips and such. A regular bag of chex mix was US$5 in the shops.

Also, I would bring my own insulated travel mug next time.

The bus ride from the airport in Mo’Bay is 2 hours long on a 100km stretch of "Highway under construction". They figure it will be done in 4 years…. ouch.

Something you must do: Dunn’s river and Falls
We went to Dunn’s River and Falls and did the climb. They tell you kids as young as 4 can do it, but don’t fall for it. The water at some points if hard for adults to take let alone children. I saw one young girl (6-7) have her feet whipped out from under her, thankfully her father caught her before she fell. She was utterly terrified to continue. This is strictly for teens and adults. IMHO. The bus ride and climb alone is $35.00 US.

Don’t do the glowing lagoon…..maybe not until summer. It’s a 1.5 hour bus trip EACH way for a .5 hour boat ride. The dock had still water surround and the stench was unimaginable. Since it was their cool season we didn’t see much glowing (there is phosphorous in the water and when disturbed it glows) the guide said that in the warmer temps, the cultures are closer to the surface. This was $45 US and really not worth it.

We took a $30US taxi (1-4 people) into Ocho Rios for shopping. There is a market, but if you don’t feel comfortable have 3-4 vendors hounding the $^!% out of you, don’t go. we went to Soni’s mall and bought some beer and wandered from store to store.

A note- The resort also brings in vendors on Wednesdays for shopping onsite…. too bad this was one day after our trip in!

If you have travelers cheques, be warned the resort does not change them. You will have to go into town to the Scotia Bank…….very busy and slow!!!!!

The wedding went off without a hitch, the staff did a great job of co-ordinating. It was held on the beach and there were champagne drinks after. The resident photog will charge you $150US for ~25 pictures for weddings. You can go to the photo shop and order single shots as well.

We believe that in a year, the resort will be running perfectly. The people were so friendly and helpful, we really enjoyed our time there. In fact so much so that we are going back to the resort in 2008 for my sister’s wedding. We were that impressed, she decided this was the place to do it!

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Riu Ocho Rios Graeme & Nada

January 2006

Our trip to this fabulous resort began with a horrific ride from the Montego Bay airport to the resort – about 2 hours of road construction and a bus with little or no shocks. But the slower drive helped us appreciate the countryside and local communities. Upon our arrival, we checked in within minutes and were shown to our room within 15 minutes…not bad for a couple of tour operators checking in at once. We stayed on the Palace side (there is the Club side-cheaper; and the Palace-pricier) which gave us a few more options – junior suite with full in-room bar, iron/ironing board, king side bed, jacuzzi bath, etc. We also had the option of eating at the Japanese restaurant that was for Palace guests only. We enjoyed the buffet although it did become tedious after a while so tried to get into as many a la cartes as possible – having to wait in line for reservations was definitely a down side. The only time the line was small, was for the Japanese restaurant as well as the Steak House on the Palace side as our concierge looked after both. A la carte is a term used loosely here as Sir Richard was the only a la carte where it wasn’t mostly buffet with just your entree and drinks brought to you. But the food was good at all the restaurants – just order your steak a little more rare than normal as they have a tendency to overcook their steaks. The beach was wonderful. There were always beach chairs available – something we’ve had to fight for at other resorts. We didn’t have to wait long for paddle boats. We tried the para sailing which was nice. The excursions were great – Dunns Falls is a must as is the Luminous Lagoon. With this resort being so new, there are still some wrinkles to be ironed out, but we had a fabulous time and would definitely go back. If you want any more information, contact us at nloughead@ptbo.igs.net

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Riu Ocho Rios Rob and Kristina ~ Canada

January 2006

We booked our trip through Apple Vacations which recommended this club as it was a five star all inclusive resort. The bus ride from airport to resort was horrendously long and rough. It was an hour and forty five trip and it felt like there were speed bumps all the way there. Upon arrival there were two tour buses checking in at the same time. The line up for check in was forty five minutes long with only two people working the reception desk. After check in there was no one there to take our bags to our room or even send us in the right direction. We eventually figured our own way to the room and settled in. The room was very nice and the mini bar was well stocked. Unfortunately, the was no food included in this mini bar. The resort boasts twenty four hour service but this is far from true. We did get in after midnight and both us were hungry. We called the front desk to ask about where we could get food. We were told the sports bar, this was across the complex and the food content were sandwhiches and popcorn. This was our first hour at the Riu.

The next two days were spectacular, the weather was amazing and the beach was clean and combed every night. They had a beach front bar called the Sea Grape which was outstanding in making drinks and service was always quick. The lunch service was very well done as well. It offered jerk chicken on the beach and numerous buffet choices at different restaurants.

The maid service was outstanding and the room was cleaned meticulousy daily. However, getting extra towels was a lesson in futility. We called for wash cloths and towels and at one point it took over 2 hrs at which we only got 2 wash cloths. The next time was another hour and a half of waiting. We finally caught on and started asking for extra towels whenever we seen a maid.

Then there was the dinner reservations which was a pathetic set up. For dinner reservations we would have to wait in line for one of the five restaurants of your choice. Yes, wait in line on vacation. The restaurants would set up representatives to take reservations for either a 7 p.m. or a 9 p.m. seating. Sir Richards was a steak house where the lines would start at 9.a.m. and could only seat forty people maximum. The resturant of your choice always had a line and even if you did wait in line for an hour or so does not guarantee you a seat. So, it could all be for not. They list these restaurants as ala carte but really are a glorified buffet, you entree order is taken and you have to serve yourself for you beverage, salad and dessert if you choose. With this set up Kristina and I decided not to waste our time and just picked the restaurant that we were most likely to get into. The Plantation was the restaurant we got into after I waited in line for 45 minutes. As we got there right at our 7p.m. seating we were one the first people to be seated. The waiter was prompt and quickly took our order. We got up and got our salads and waited for our entrees. As time had passed, we noticed that several people had came and went after eating their meals. At this time we were getting upset as an hour had passed since our orders were taken. Then finally a manager came by and asked if we had been served yet and we said no and explained that it had been over an hour and they went to check on our order. Then she came back and said they have no record of our orders. At this time they asked for 5 minutes and we would be served. I was furious at this point for having to wait now 75 minutes plus the 45 minutes in the morning line up. We were finally upset enough to walk out of the restaurant and dine on a buffet dinner once again that was usually cold. After dinner we had dessert and this was when we discovered a hair in Kristinas ice cream.

The third night there were further problems, this time was our air conditioning. It was about 11 p.m. when we called the front desk and they said maintenance would be up right away. Thirty minutes later someone arrived and said everything was fixed and "it will snowing in here if we choose so". We waited about a half hour and had the air conditioning as low as possible and no cold air. We called the front desk again and another half hour later a different repair man came up and worked on the system in our room for a half hour and now we are pushing 12:30 a.m. The system finally started to cool at around 1:30 a.m. and did not fall asleep until 2 a.m.

After the dinner fiasco we decided to go to management and complain about everything from waiting for towels, not getting served in the restaurant and the problem with the airconditioning. At this time we explained everything to Stacey at the front desk and as she listened she took notes of eveything that went wrong. She offered to up grade us to a suite at no charge. At this point we had only two nights left and we did not want to pack up our stuff and switch everything around for two nights. We were told to come back after 9 a.m. the next morning and talk to Javier the public relations manager. We got there promptly at that time and we were told he was busy. This led us to explain to yet another person everything that went wrong. At this time we were talking to another public relations representative. I cannot recall her name. She was smug and just did not seem to care at all. She asked was there something she could do for us to get a reservation or something. We said we would like to get into Sir Richards, her reaction was the same as if we asked for a million dollars and said she could not do this. By the time we were done explaining everything we were too late to get in any line for dinner reservations. Yet again we were forced to endure another buffet dinner. I was furious at this point. We went down to the beach and I could not relax and went back to the front desk. At this time I went back to the front desk and finally got in touch with Javier the Public Realtions manager. He said that he was told right away by Stacey about what has happened to us so far and he said he would take care of the reservations. I was so relieved that something would go our way and I shook his hand and walked away. That night we had paid for a tour where we would be back after 8 p.m. and able to go to dinner for 9 p.m. We were happy and enjoyed our tour of the Luminous Lagoon which was amazing. When we get back to our room to find an envelope slid under our door. We got reservations alright, not to the restaurant we wanted. I was again angered at the way we were being treated. We asked for one thing and they could not accomodate us. We went to dinner had a good night and we both decided to give up and settle for the buffet for the rest of our stay, which is wrong considering what we had paid.

Jokingly we said nothing else could go wrong. We were wrong of course. Outside of the resort we are constantly reminded of tipping, which is alright to a point. We went on three tours and each time we had to tip the drivers, the people who drove the boat, the people who took pictures, handled our luggage and so on. At this point all my small bills were gone and I only had two one hundred dollar bills. I decided I would take a walk to the front desk and get change to be able to tip on our tour. The front desk said they could not change the hundred. A five star hotel with 800 plus rooms with not enough change for a hundred dollar bill? Absolutely ridiculous. So, I decided to try the stores. Not one store would make change. Frustration set in again at the poor service.

On a good note the entertainment and stage shows were excellent. The performers and organizers of games were excellent as well. We avoided the pool over preference for the ocean. The other activities such as the sea doo rentals were fun, a little expensive but that is to be expected.

Our final day there was one more inconvenience of course. We needed an iron and we were required to leave a ten dollar deposit and sign two forms in order to get this iron. Getting through the U.S. border is easier then what it took to get an iron. Anyhow, Kristina had forgotten the form in the room when she went back to the front desk and was questioned extensively as to why she did not have the form and whether or not she had left a deposit. She remembered the girls name Sharra and said she gave two five dollar bills and said I had signed for the iron. Finally, the money was returned and we were happy to finally be on our last day. We will never visit another Riu again and we will actively discourage anyone who looks to book there. Jamaica is amazing, the Riu was pathetic.

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Riu Ocho Rios Sue and Marv ~ Plymouth Mtg PA

December 2005

We are travel agents who recently had the pleasure of staying five days at the RIU Ocho Rios, opened in October, 2005. The highway project connecting Sangster International Airport in MoBay to Ocho Rios is only partially completed and, at this time, the transfer time is about two hours – not a pleasant journey. But, when you do get to this gorgeous resort, you will consider the drive worthwhile – it’s worth it!

This is a new four-five star, big resort – 846 rooms and jr. suites. It is situated on a beautiful long beach with soft white sand, calm, clear surf and a few palm trees for shade. More areas of shade are needed at the beach, but there are plentiful lounge chairs both on the sand and at the pools. Lounges in the few prime shady locations are often grabbed by guests before breakfast so stake your claim early. With some coral reefs out front, there are excellent snorkeling experiences right from the beach.

There is an enthusiastic group of activity coordinators called the Animation Staff. Those holding the microphones tend to scream a bit when they get excited directing the adult’s activities and the DJ tends to turn up the volume too high. Beach towels are readily available and the two towel huts are supervised by friendly staff, not the “control freaks” you can sometimes find zealously guarding the beach towels at other Caribbean resorts.

There are inter-connected buildings with the lobby/shopping/restaurants in the center. The Club section is more active, lower priced and will attract of the value-conscious family crowd. The Palace section has jr. suites with Jacuzzi bathtubs – a big plus. We stayed on both sided and much preferred the Palace wing for its upgraded concierge services and amenities and quiet, elegant ambiance.

Pathways are well lit and the signage is excellent. There are a limited number of categories of well and it’s the luck of the draw as to how close or far you are from the action, centered around the two main pools and the dining venues. The garden, pool and oceanview accommodations are easily handicapped accessible.

There is a Kids’ Club with a supervised program and playground. A full-service spa, a small but adequate fitness center, a PADI Dive Center, and two lighted tennis courts keep active adults in shape. The theater has seats for almost everyone and offers nightly local entertainment with lots of involvement of the RIUs staff and guests. There is a sports bar with internet access @ $16/hour. Tour and excursion operators have a large space in the lobby and offer a variety of fun trips and experiences at extra cost.

The quality and variety of the food and beverages are excellent. The elaborate, air-conditioned “St. Ann” is the main buffet with different themes for all three meals. We enjoyed the selection but found the traffic pattern to be a bit chaotic and the “red or white wine” served in all restaurants to be mediocre. The Italian “Piccola” pizzeria was great fun and very convenient for snacking. Our favorite dining spot was the “Sir Richard,” an air-conditioned, refined, `a la carte dining experience. It is way too small, however, and it was a bit difficult to get a reservation there. “Plantation” and “Mammee Bay” are multi-purpose venues offering excellent breakfast and lunch buffets and `a la carte dinners with a “steakhouse” menu. We did not dine at the Asian `a la carte restaurant “Mandalay” or the Japanese “Tushima” (exclusively for the guests staying in the Palace section). There are bars everywhere, including a terrific swim-up bar in each pool with local beer, mixed and blended drinks and premium spirits served up by a friendly bar staff.

American tourists and US dollars are welcomed at RIU Ocho Rios and every attempt is made to satisfy guests’ needs. The public areas are imposing and beautiful with imported tile floors. There is an abundance of lovely, well-manicured gardens and everyone involved with the resort seemed quite proud of the facility.

The place pulses with reggae rhythms and a genuine sense of Jamaican hospitality. This is part of a family owned and operated chain of 120+ hotel worldwide. They have wisely brought in the best of their people from Spain, the Dominican Republic, and from their other resorts in Negril to help them open this great property. As travel agents, we will be recommending it highly to our clients.

Sue and Marv owner/mgrs Marvelous Travel Plymouth Mtg PA

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Riu Ocho Rios Paul ~ Canada

November 2005

Just returned from this resort. It is the largest hotel complex in Jamaica with over 800 rooms. I would not recomend this resort as it is too big and we had many problems on our vacation. If you like being on the beach with 2000 other people and lining up for an empty buffet then this resort is for you. The staff are excellent and will do anything to assist you. We prefer smaller resorts with no kids. -too big and many activities and restaraunts were not available when we were there.

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