Old Reviews – RIU Palace Riviera Maya

  RIU Palace Riviera Maya   Jim ~ Boston

February 2009

The arrival was great. The staff took care of eveything, including check in and sending our bags to the room within 10 minutes. The staff was very courteous and friendly. They could have explained more about the property, but we caught on quickly. The ride from the airport is one of the drawbacks, as it takes at least 40 minutes in a cramped van.

The rooms were nice, clean and well decorated. Each room included a king-bed, small lounge area and patio. Each room has a full-stocked bar. The beds are hard, but you can request a pad (highly recommended).

Restaurants and Bars: One Sports Bar, one lobby bar, one at the entertainment area (where shows are featured) and one pool bar. Look for Islais in the maint lobby bar. He is the bartender and very entertaining and mixes a great drink. Additionally, there is a fully stocked in-room bar. The property offers six restaurants, four of which are specialty restaurants that require reservations. The reservation system takes some getting used to, as you have a small window to get reservations.

This is between 12 pm and 3 pm. Additionally, there is room service 24/7. The food was delicious, whether in the specialty restaurant or buffet.

Unlike some properties, there is only one pool and it is very limited on the space of the lounging area. There is a beach that is clean and accessible, however, it is small compared to the size of the resort.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The resort is centrally located (within 5 minute taxi ride to Playa Del Carmen), within walking distance to shared resorts and shopping area. Cozemal is only a ferry ride away.

Other Comments: Venture into Playa Del Carmen at least once. We enjoyed our stay immensely and highly recommend the area and the resort!

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RIU Palace Riviera Maya LoonSong

April 2007

Just returned from an awesome week at Riu Palace Riviera Maya (our first time) and have spent a week editing several hundred photos. Thanks for all of the helpful information I rec’d through this review. The weather was beautiful and the resort absolutely gorgeous and the food and service were great. The beach was large and plentiful for the first two days of our stay but by day three the wind and surf had changed direction causing the beach to totally disappear overnight down to sandbags. According to people at the sailing signup hut – this is an ongoing problem and is totally at the mercy of the wind direction , when the wind comes in from the north east for several days straight, the beach erodes when the wind begins pushing the tides from the other direction the beach rebuilds itself. The resort also lost it’s boat launching area thus cancelling all catamaran and wind surfer use for the remainder of our stay. I’m including a link to my website which includes a photo of the beach after the erosion had occurred. Enjoy the photos at http://loonsong.smugmug.com/ and click on the Mayan Riviera Album.

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RIU Palace Riviera Maya USA

February 2007

We just returned from an incredible stay at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya. There were 6 couples ranging from 37-55, We loved it. We are all tennis players and they advertised (Apple Vacations) that there were 3 courts. There was one, so we shuttled daily to the Riu Lupita. Also Apple Vacations advertised gorgeous beach, there was none! Beautiful sand area above the breakwall but definitely not a walking beach and definitely no huts with shade, unless you were at the pool.

The resort is laid out perfectly, everything within walking distance. The food was incredible! The service also was great. We have traveled to Riviera Maya for the past 7 years and tried several resorts and thought this one was terrific. Next year we would probably not return only because of the beach, tennis and no disco. Also the shows were great and very professional!

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RIU Palace Riviera Maya A. D.

December 2006

Great resort, but not for beach lovers

We just came back from a great 7 day vacation there (Dec. 14-21, 2006). In order not to repeat too much of what others have written, just the points that stuck out to us:

This resort is much more subdued than others, probably due to the fact that it is a RIU Palace, also we found that the ages were very mixed, there seemed to be quite a lot of people our age (late twenties to mid- thirties), maybe also due to the fact that at least 3 weddings took place while we were there ?

Guests were international; majority seemed US American, but also lots of Europeans (the weak Dollar = strong Euro buys them a lot over here nowadays.) You’ll see quite some Speedos but not very many top-less women ? 😉

The whole resort feels more hotel-like than any other resort we have been to (Paradisus Punta Cana & Coral Marien Puerta Plata, both Dom. Rep.), most likely due to the fact that it?s all in one large U-shaped building, with short distances, not so much tropical landscaping, more palace like fountains, a great European Café ambience in the courtyard etc.

Hotel rooms & bathrooms are very nice and well kept, impeccable maid service with ?turn down service? with Hershey kisses at night.

Service in restaurants and at pool was great, very attentive and fast, no need to tip. We just tipped for extraordinary service plus the maid twice per day ( + bell boy, for room service, driver of airport transportation). I am pregnant and they were almost insulted when you ordered your drinks without alcohol but when I told them why they acted overjoyed and kept congratulating us ?

Pool is a lot of fun with the sun loungers and the little table nooks near the swim up bar. It was never a problem finding a chair in the shade or sun no matter what time we showed up. But this pool does not intertwine with tropical landscape like at some resorts.

The food is very good, with lots of choices. We ate once at each one of the a la carte restaurants and one night at the buffet almost wished we had done that more often, it was great with lots of almost gourmet choices. The gourmet restaurant Sir Oliver was very good, but didn’t seem truly gourmet to us. It was better for example at the Paradisus Punta Cana?s Gourmet Restaurant. We made reservations right on the first day and continued doing that (you can only make two at a time) and didn?t have any problem getting into all restaurants during our week there.

The walk to 5th Ave in Playa del Carmen is about 20 min and very nice, although you might want to take a taxi (for $5) during the day, it does get pretty hot ? we felt very safe walking even at night and in the dark. There is quite some police presence on 5th Ave and the Riu is in the gated Playacar zone although anyone can walk in, they just check cars more carefully. It seemed like only other tourists were out walking in Playacar, occasional joggers (tourists too?). The walk leads you by some Mayan ruins, if you follow the foot path on the right at the second set of ruins (coming from the hotel zone going towards 5th Ave) down it comes out at more ruins close to the beach.

If you want to save money on the tours, check out the travel agency Solatino on 5th Ave in Playa del Carmen, they were $10 per person cheaper for the Tulum Explorer (1/2 day tour for $28) and also considerably cheaper on other trips. Be aware of other offers, some are from time-share companies ? usually the ones trying really hard to get your attention. No one at Solatino chased us down or followed us out when we didn?t buy the trip on our first visit. When we tried to bargain with our Tour Rep at the hotel, he did offer us a special ?Mexican? price on the all day trip to Tulum and Xel-Ha, but said he couldn?t compete with Solatino and advised us to buy the œ day trip there for that price and confirmed that they are a reputable travel agency.

We could always find a computer at the sports bar (5 stations, one empty one for laptop), although they seemed quite busy. It?s $8 for 1 hour which was just enough for us to check our e-mail almost daily for a week.

The beach! There is one, but only behind about half of the sea wall and right at the waters edge there are rocks covered with algae = slippery, unsafe to go into the water there and we hardly saw anyone doing it. You can?t walk the beach from there to any of the other resorts, because there is none to the right or the left. You are stuck! That?s what we really disliked most. We loved being able to walk the beach at the other resorts we have been at. You can of course go to any of the other RIU properties, the Playacar is closest or the Palace Mexico, they have a ?normal? beach, but it was pretty packed on the sand and in the water. And it?s not that convenient to have to walk there on the street ?.

So if a beach is important to you, this resort might not be for you.

The central air-conditioning seemed to be turned off between 3 & 6 am in our room. We woke up several nights in a row around that time really hot, turned our air further down, without any effect. However it would always be cool when we went to bed and when we woke up in the morning (around 12 – 1 am and about 8 am). We asked at the front desk, they said it’s only turned of in the common areas, promised to send someone to look at our room, nothing happened. We were on the top floor, that probably didn?t help.

The animation team is not as active or obnoxious as at some other resorts (where they might not leave you alone until you agree to enter the beer drinking contest ?), BUT they are also hard to find unless they have a scheduled activity right then and there. There is no central location where to find them and you might be just out of luck. They don?t have any waterballs you can borrow, there is just one table tennis table out on the beach which seemed to be either occupied when we wanted to play or we couldn?t find anyone to provide us with rackets and a ball (much better e.g. at the Coral Marien in Puerta Plata).

They only play louder music at the bar during the scheduled activities like ballroom dancing or water aerobics (both in the pool), it is pretty quiet otherwise.

My suitcase didn?t make it there the first day and we did’?t get to the resort after many flight diversions until 10.45 pm, I had packed my toiletries (inc. toothbrush) in the check in luggage because of the new restrictions well, I thought they would have a toothbrush for me at the front desk possibly ? no chance, only at the gift store which was already closed then. I found one there the next morning ? for the price of $4-5.

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RIU Palace Riviera Maya Bill ~ Rockville, Maryland, USA

July 2006

I visited the Riu Palace Riviera Maya in the first week of June, 2006. I’m a man in my 50’s and have stayed at the Riu Tequila several times, which is nearby, and many other all inclusives in Playa del Carmen and Punta Cana. This was my first visit to one of the Riu Palace resorts. I was traveling with three other people, a couple in their 50’s and a 22 year old nephew.

The lobby is very large, elegant and impressive. Check in was a bit unusual. When we entered the hotel we were escorted to a nice seating area near the beautiful lobby bar, and after a few minute wait, during which we all had a drink, we were “checked in”. We arrived at the hotel about 10:00 am so our rooms weren’t ready, but we were given some information about the hotel and told to check back at the front desk after 1:30pm to see if our rooms were ready. We checked back at 1:30 pm and after some checking were given our rooms. The front desk said the hotel was 100% full. I believe all rooms are junior suites. They are good sized rooms with a sitting area. The bathrooms are larger than most with a whirlpool tub. The rooms are nice with dark wood accents and furniture. As with all Riu hotel’s there are is a stocked fridge and liquor in the room. Unlike other Riu’s the liquor was name brand.

There are more dining options than other all inclusives I’ve been too. There is a buffet restaurant but because there are five other “reservation only” restaurants. The buffet restaurant wasn’t as large or crowded as is typically the case. I thought the food in the buffet was very good with a lot of different choices. One night we ate at the steak house restaurant. The food was good there also. I have rarely had good beef at an all inclusive resort, and the steak at the steak house was pretty good.

I’ve read conflicting descriptions of the beach. Some reviews say it’s a small beach with the water coming right up to a sea wall and other accounts say it’s a large and beautiful beach. The reality is that there is a very large and beautiful beach between the hotel and a sea wall and then about 50 more feet of beach between the sea wall and the water. So there is a very nice beach and a smaller so-so beach right at the waters edge. There are about 250 lounge chairs on the large beach area and a large number of palm trees. The palm trees are fully grown but have only been planted for a few months and as of June they are only providing a little shade. Perhaps this was why of the 250 chairs only about a dozen were in use. It was odd to see such a large amount of beach with so many chairs with no one using them. Until the fronds grow and provide more shade I think it would be a good idea for the hotel to provide umbrellas or some other method of providing shade. The pool is good sized with a pool bar. It is surrounded by chaise lounges and umbrella’s and this is where the majority of guests spend the day.

Like many beach hotels, the resort is shaped like a three sided rectangle with the lobby being at the top and the two sides of the rectangle holding the rooms and the beach at the bottom. The resort has a central courtyard with several fountains so about ½ the rooms over look this lovely courtyard, while the other half look out towards the neighboring hotel. The courtyard is impressive and like the rest of the resort, very elegant. Even thought the resort was 100% full it never seemed crowded. Considering almost none of the 250 chairs on the beach were in use it was a surprise you could still get a chair around the pool, although the ones closest to the pool or with a beach view were taken early in the morning.

Although there are several dining choices we ate at the buffet restaurant every night but one. I thought the food was very good. Each evening there would be some type of entertainment. The shows were better than most I’ve seen. Unlike most all inclusive resorts the shows were put on by professional performers rather than the person who was refereeing volley ball or teaching water aerobics earlier in the day. There is no disco at the Riu Palace but you may go to the one at the Riu Tequila if you wish, but that’s a pretty good walk, probably about six resorts away. There is a sports bar with TVs and pool tables which is open 24 hours. You can microwave a burger or hot dog or get a pre-made sandwich if you find yourself in need of food at 3:00 am. There are computers with internet connections which you can use for $5 for 15 minutes in the sports bar. I thought the Riu Palace was an excellent resort with an amazing lobby, nice rooms, good food, large beach and better than average entertainment. It would be nice if it had a disco that was on site or closer than the one that is available. There were not a lot of children there but there were a few. The guests were mostly couples in their 30’s and 40’s and also a few wedding parties. It seemed there were many fewer Europeans than other all inclusives I’ve visited, I don’t know if that’s because it’s new or what. I’d recommend this resort highly for couples who want a relaxing vacation at an elegant resort.

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RIU Palace Riviera Maya Connie

April 2006

Just returned from a fantastic trip enjoying a week and the new RIU Palace Riviera Maya in Playacar. April 15-22

The weather was as beautiful as the resort. The food was plenty and there was no problem finding something to enjoy, in fact I think it was more problematic to find something you didn’t want to put on your plate. The service was great, the rooms were clean and if you enjoy a firm bed, you’ll be happy.

My bestfriend got married at this resort on the 19th and the wedding planning, including photography went extremely well as far as I know. The only hitch was the bride had to get ready in the spa bathroom and there wasn’t really any aisle to walk down to the gazebo on the beach. That area landscaping still wasn’t firm so we all sunk in our heals and needed a good foot scrub afterward.

It would be my suggestion to future brides to ready themselves in their rooms and come out the door/stairway closeset to the gazebo so you can walk on the walkway. It would also be a good idea to bring pictures of makeup and hair you want done if you want it done at their spa. I had mine done and it was reasonably priced as well as a good job.

Room Service is included in your stay but if you should order it for breakfast be ready for an early or late breakfast. I think our breakfast came on time once, every other time it was early… or late. Regardless if you have any problems (like not even getting it) you can express your concerns to the Managers at the resort of whom are wonderful.

The pool gets busy! So if you desire a chair or two, an early bird gets the chair by placing a towel, shoe, book, hat whatever on it! It was sad to come down to the pool at 8am and not find one chair that didn’t have something on it to save it. I ventured to the beach where the chairs and breeze where plentiful and headed to pool an hour or so later to find that most of the chairs still remained empty with the items "to save" them still on it.

Needless to say I found the beach to work just fine and it was much quieter for reading and just as close to the bar as being around the pool.

Enjoy yourself!

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RIU Palace Riviera Maya Bob

March 2006

We just spent 5 nights at the RIU Palace Riviera Maya and it was incredible. For a new hotel open less than two months, its entire operation was flawless. Everything was perfect. While they seemed to be at about 60% capacity, there was no problem to get reservations at the restaurants and overall the food was very good.
The most impressive area was the efficiency and friendliness of the staff. They were always smiling, hard at work and ready to serve you without asking. We travel extensively and this facility and staff were by far the best that we have encountered.

The pool and beach were excellent, plenty of lounges and the ability to wander in the neighborhood outside the resort was a refreshing extra. You could also easily walk about a mile to the town of Playa Del Carmen which has grown effectively in the last 10 years since we were there last.

The only downside was that you could not walk very far on the beach as the ocean came crashing into sea walls. The 500 yards or so of beach at the resort however were very good and it was easy to enjoy the surf as it rolled into the shore. We recommend this resort highly and hope to return soon.

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