Old Reviews – RIU Tequila

  RIU Tequila   Theresa ~ Michigan, USA

May 2009

Arrival: March 2009

Rooms: Hotel was nice…good food….relatively clean..EXCEPT out of a group of 15 students and 13 parents there were three cell phones stolen from our rooms. VERY disappointing.

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  RIU Tequila   Toni ~ Toronto

March 2009


Comments Stayed at the Riu for 1 week on feb 30/2009 & loved it. The food was good & with enough options that you could have something different every day. the bar staff was excellent & very attentive to your needs. They were extremely entertaining! The room which was a normal room was quite large & very private since it was facing the golf course. The mini bar & alcohol dispensers were nice to have. Over-all, myself & my partner would pick another Riu hotel in the Carribean for our next vacation.

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  RIU Tequila   Steph ~ Canada

February 2009

We just celebrated our 25th anniversary with friends at Riu Tequila. We were a bit sceptical about this not being on the beach but it truly didn’t matter. The beach is only a short, enjoyable 5 min. walk down the road and we were thankful as it was very windy the week we were there, Feb 5th – 12th/2009. If you don’t want the 5 min. walk there is a shuttle ‘bus’ that can bring you there and back. It was warmer up by the pool at the beginning of our stay. We found the Riu Tequila a very clean resort. Although it has 640 rooms it never seemed that there were that many people there. The rooms were immaculate … I loved the way they ‘decorated’ the room each day. The meals at the buffet had a wide variety to keep everyone happy. The staff were gracious and the shows were wonderful! I would not hesitate for a second to go back and enjoy other out trips that this part of Mexico can offer … and the resort. You can be as lazy as you want or as busy as you want. Something for everyone. The pools were fine … those that complain about it being cold … suck it up … after 15 sec’s. you enjoyed a leisurely swim that refreshed you when you came out to enjoy the hot sun that greeted you. You won’t be disappointed!

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  RIU Tequila   Naz and Caroline ~ Manchester

February 2008

We have just come back from a 2 week holiday at the Hotel Riu Tequila and thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

Accommodation was as the brochure and the maid cleaning room service was exceptional.

The buffet food was very good to a high standard with a wide selection of meals. There could have been more varieties of fish but everything was fresh and hot.

The pool was crowded and so was the beach but the live shows and staff entertainment at this complex made up for it. Highly recommended for singles,couples and families for a memorable stay. Would definately contemplate this same hotel again just to see the staff performing in the evenings. Bravo

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April 2007

We just got back from 2 glorious weeks at the Riu Tequila. We were there from March 17 through to March 31, 2007. The resort is beautifully planted, with lots of lush vegetation everywhere. The service was fantastic and the food choice was varied. We at no time found ourselves lacking for anything. The rooms are a nice size, with the 2nd floor rooms having cathedral ceilings, adding to the illusion of size. The balconies are a good size and have the Riu expandable, drying rack on them, a very handy feature.The short walk down to the beach only took us 6 minutes at a leisurely pace, the whole time sheltered under arbors. The tram only takes a couple of minutes should you go that route and is on a load and go system, rotating 2 trams. There is a nice shopping area just a 2 minute walk to the left as you leave the resort – the Plaza Playacar. It has a nice selection of stores and there are a few on the Mexican Street over at the Yucatan. The walk into town only took 25 minutes again at a leisurely pace, or you can grab a cab at the hotel main entrance for just $5.00US each way. Where they drop you off, for the return trip you will find lots of drivers across the street waiting for you. The shopping in Playa del Carmen and in Cozumel is fantastic. The vendors are not too bad – Jamaica is far worse. There seems to be a jewelry store at every turn and their prices seem good – don’t forget to barter for everything at these stores. The tours offered by our tour operator can be had more cheaply by going in town to Sergio’s or at the GrayLine kiosk at the Plaza Playacar – ask for Angel there.

On the whole, we have always liked where we have vacationed and have made the best of our time and taken advantage of what the various areas have had to offer. This was no exception here. We took the ferry to Cozumel, toured Chichen Itza, Tulum, Xel Ha, Coba, Xcaret and enjoyed them all. We have liked other places in the past, but not to the extent we would return to the same resort, if we returned to the same destination. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Riu Tequila and for the first time have said it is a resort we would go back to. This resort gets our recommendation.

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January 2007

Just returned home from a week at the Riu Tequila. Very happy with the outcome. We arrived as four families( thirteen people, five siblings ranging in ages from 9 to 20 yrs. old) Initially we were spread out from one another but a simple request at the front desk put us all in the same small apartment complex virtually side-by-side.

It’s a great lay-out for families because you can have two rooms side-by side with a small private hallway and door separating you from the main hallway, so you can leave the two apartment doors open and still maintain family privacy.

This is not really the place to party if that’s what you’re out for. Far more family orientated. Not to say that you won’t have a good time at the outside bars. There is no shortage of people looking for a good conversation over drink.

The entire grounds of the Tequila are out in beautiful lush gardens. You can sit on your balcony and watch the Iguana’s, the “Rat-bitts” (look like half rat, half rabbit) and the other furry creatures that climb out from the trees (looked like a monkey with a snout) play with each other in the grass (well, the other two stayed clear of the Iguana)

During the day at the beach, the Yucatan is the place to party. If you get tired of just lying around on your lounger, jump in the pool, go up to the pool bar, get a Miami Vice (with a hit) and mingle mingle, mingle. After the day though, it’s still nice to retreat back to the oasis of the Tequila.

Food – certainly no shortage of variety. We enjoyed the main dinning area and the preferential treatment for our waiter Pedro so much that we didn’t even bother to try out any of the other eating establishments within the complex. Each evening we’d arrive at 8pm and Pedro would greet us with a big smile and have our table for thirteen all set up on the outside patio. I found the pork fatty, and the beef? well, have you ever seen a fat cow in Mexico?

Entertainment – We were quite impressed with the caliber that we saw. The staff who during the day arranges the games and activities by the pool double as the evening entertainment and I must say, wow can they dance. The most impressive was the Michael Jackson impersonator. Although he mimicked the songs, that’s not what the show was about. It was his movements and mannerisms that were so captivating, he was bang on. He did Michael better than Michael did Michael.

Children’s Activities Supervisor – The young kids in our group absolutely loved “Chico.” When we weren’t at the beach, they were off playing soccer, or volleyball, or table tennis and so on, He kept them occupied for hours. I thing our one 11yr. old girl in the group experienced her first crush and was devastated when she came down to the pool on our last day only to find that Chico was off for the day.

Outside trips – Only got to the ruins of Tulum. I ‘m a history and archeology buff, so for me, I loved it. The other’s who came along? I think they could have left it out.

Beach – Three shades of colour from turquoise to dark blue, lots of palm trees, soft sand, absolutely beautiful, but be prepared for topless sunbathers.

Complaints – I’ve read about other’s issues concerning the hard beds, yea, they are, but they’re clean and I like a hard bed anyway.
The cold pool. I don’t like a cold pool either, yet, I had no complaints.

My only complaint? The shop keepers in Playa del Carmen. They will try to rob you blind. I was dumbfounded by there ability to be able look you straight in the eye and tell you that that tin vase that you are holding in your hands and admiring is really platinum lacing in gold and that he’ll reduce in price for you because he likes you more that any other tourist just because, so he’ll let it go for a mere $500.00 US. All I wanted was a small ornament to add to my travel shelf at home, but I was just so sick of there outrages pricing demands that out of principle I refused to buy anything.

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RIU Tequila Scott & Mary ~ Canada

September 2006

About Us -Middle aged couple with over 30 years of foreign travel throughout Mexico and the Caribbean, from extended (3 Months) to one week in hotels, apartments, sail boats and camping, on your own to all inclusive.

In summary, the Riu Tequila exceeded all of our expectations from beginning to end.

We booked a month ahead through Bonnie at Healey Travel in Smiths Falls, Ontario. We got a reduced price but we had to drive to Montreal from Ottawa to get a flight. Hotel (in Montreal), flight and arrival were as good as it gets these days. Beer at the Cancun airport corner stand (expensive) and beer on the bus (cheap) eased the scenic 45 minute drive to the hotel. We checked in on the bus (simple) stored our bags in the lobby, changed into beach gear in the washrooms, had another beer and hit the beach by noon.

An easy 10 minute walk to miles of beach, under a hot sun finally brought us to the mostly deserted area south of the hotels. After a few hours of beach time to unwind, we walked back, checked in (no lineup) with friendly competent desk staff. The porter took us and our bags to one of the two storey units, (we lucked out with a top floor) and we were home. Nice rooms, well laid out with shower, separate toilet, large beds, balcony and minibar (rum this round), immaculately clean and orderly.

After unpacking and a shower, we explored the grounds-superb, pools-great, found the dinng room and bars and got ready for dinner. For the entire week we ate mostly at the buffet dining room, usually on the patio, and often had lunch at the other RIU on the beach. The dining was perfect in selection, variety and presentation. We never ate the same meal twice unless we wanted to. We never did go to an a la carte restaurant as the buffet was too good to miss. The waiters were attentive and friendly. As a matter of fact, we never had any interaction with staff that was lacking in any way. I read other reviews critical of the food, staff or bar service at various resorts. In our experience, if you complain about the RIU Tequila, you are likely the problem.

The rest of the week was just as pleasant especially the birthday decorations in our room for my girlfriend’s birthday. She thought I had arranged it, (I should have shut up and got the brownie points) but we found that the hotel gets your birth date at checkin- nice touch. A typical day-breakfast on the patio (no reservation required, sit anywhere), hit the gym for an hour, on to the beach (lots of chairs), or usually we walked to the secluded end, swam, read, had cold drinks from the backpack, people watched until noon. We went to one of the two beach bars, ate a variety of tasty lunches, back to the beach or the pool at the Tequila. A shower and sundowner (sometimes several) on the balcony, dress for dinner (casual) and off for another wonderful supper.

We went to town a couple of times, toured and shopped. One tourist town is much like another, Playacar is typical. We did not tour.

A few observations: Your destination is not like home; that is likely why you went there. They have their own language, customs, money and social system. You are a guest, try to behave like one. Errors occur, some people are dishonest, incompetent and bad natured wherever there are people. You probably have run into them at home; you may be one. I wish that the Canadian airline industry, custom officials and airports were as efficient as those in most tourist areas that I have visited. At least they try. (When we left Mexico, the airline checked through over 200 passengers in 20 minutes. Beat that Air Canada). Money- go to any ATM, put in your card, just like home, take out pesos. The exchange will be on your next statement with a small charge. The rate will be the best you can get. Timeshare and tour sellers. It’s like drugs and sex- JUST SAY NO! (Unless you want it.) Be polite (as long as they are), it’s their job. Remember we work too. Slow bar service? Not here. The bartenders all work at warp speed. (I have done extensive research in this area of tourism.) No doubt about it, we recommend the Tequila, unreservedly.

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July 2006

We picked this resort because we had been to the RIU Bambu in Punta Cana and were quite satisfied with the level of service. We booked and flew with Sunquest vacations, and found that this was a great resort overall for us to stay in while enjoying the Mayan Rivera, with some notable exceptions.

On the plane, you will be given your customs and immigrations forms to fill out. These must be presented when you get off the plane. In many airports, it is fairly obvious where you have to go once you disembark from the aircraft. Not so in Cancun. You emerge from the plane into one of the shopping centres of the airport and must look for the sign that says ‘Immigration’. This will point down an escalator. Once downstairs, you have to line up for the Mexican Immigration official, who will stamp your Visa.

After this, you must go through Mexican customs, which seems to be done completely at random. You walk up to a yellow traffic light (yes, literally), and press a button. If it flashes green, you go through. If it turns red, you must go see a customs official for further questions.

After you leave here, follow the signs leading to busses. There are many porters offering to carry your bags – politely decline as the bus is not very far at all. Once you’re outside by the bussing area, look for anyone with your tour operator symbol/name on a clipboard. You may have to ask a couple people, but the bus will not be hard to find. In addition, whoever is there working for your tour operator will be looking for their clientele, and if it’s obvious who you’re with, they’ll find you. We grabbed a couple Sunquest luggage tags on our way out of Toronto and the Sunquest reps spotted them right away, came and got us and directed us where to go.

There is a cart selling Coronas by the busses. Don’t buy them here. Wait till you’re on the bus, where our reps sold them for 2$ — much cheaper. The bus from the airport to the hotel took about 40 minutes. On your way out, you can tip the driver & baggage guy in a little basket at the front.

In terms of money, both US dollars and Mexican pesos are accepted everywhere. But you should refrain from using USD wherever possible. Some of the more established stores will post their prices in both currencies. More often than not, it winds up being slightly cheaper pricing in pesos. In addition, while many merchants are fair in their conversion, some vendors will try & rip off the customer – sometimes at well known international establishments. One of these incidents was over two ice cream cones that totaled 12 pesos. When we asked how much it was in USD, the lady told us 2$. But on average, about 10-11 pesos = 1 dollar; which simply doesn’t convert correctly. We had a few incidents like this on the first trip into town and after that started paying solely in pesos.

Although you can convert your money at the front desk of the hotel, it’s best to go elsewhere. On the first day there, our Sunquest rep told us that the hotel had the best rate, though this was certainly not true. Go into Playa Del Carmen and convert your money there. There are many booths offering decent conversion rates; all of which are better than the hotel’s. But the best rate we found was at the Scotiabank across from the bus depot on 5th Avenue, right below a McDonalds.

The RIU Tequila is part of a big complex that you have access to. Surrouding the Tequila is the RIU Playacar, the RIU Yucatan and the RIU Palace. If you follow this link: http://www.riu.com/?hotel=TEQ&lng=es

And click on the orange icon that looks like a magnifying glass (it’s next to the words ‘all inclusive’; also in orange), you will see a map of the entire complex that may be helpful to refer to in this next section.

Our tour operator informed us that we have access to all of these resorts; which is not exactly accurate. You can enjoy the beach at the Yucatan, Palace or Playacar. You can eat lunch, hang out at any pool, and drink at any bar from the Tequila, Yucatan and Playacar. You cannot eat dinner at any other resort buy your own (the Tequila). In addition, you are not supposed to be in the Palace resort at all. They will ask you to leave. We walked through it a couple times, but after our tour rep instructed us incorrectly, we tried to drink there and were told we couldn’t. That’s a shame; because we did manage to have a few cocktails before getting booted; and their bartender was the best we had out of all the resorts.

Once at the Tequila, check in was easy. They greet you with a drink and explain things you need to know; but only briefly. Keep reading stuff on this website and you’ll be much better prepared.

Typically, rooms aren’t available until 3pm. But we arrived at 1pm and ours was ready. They gave us our room key and safe key (no charge for the room safe) and we were set. We lost our keys when our kayak tipped (don’t laugh) and found out that if you lose the room key, they give you another. If you lose the safe key, a guy has to come and drill out the lock. This costs 50$USD.

A porter takes your luggage to your room for you. As soon as we got to the room we got a phone call welcoming us to the hotel and asking if everything was all right – a nice touch. The rooms are fine here and are all the same – two double beds put together, a TV that gets a few English channels (including two movie networks), a curtained off section of the room blocking off the closet, minibar, vanity, toilet and shower. There is no bathtub here, just a rather spacious shower stall; which was fine. The toilet is in its own little room with a door for privacy. The safe is in the closet, and one should make good use of it – you have no use for ID, huge amounts of cash, passports, etc on a daily basis; so keep them locked up. In addition, during the day hours, loads of people come into your room – the minibar crew, cleaner, towel person, perhaps dry-cleaning; so security is a must.

If you find the map at the link above, you’ll notice that at the Tequila, there are a bunch of rooms bordering on the main road. We were in one of these, and it can be a bit noisy at night and in the morning. Nothing compared to city noises of North American urban centres, but horns, car alarms, etc. make noise late at night and in the early morning. If we were to go there again, I would avoid Cabanas 22, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, and 31; which all border on that road (these numbers will be on the Tequia’s map that they give you upon check in – the cabanas are not numbered on RIU’s website. You might want to ask your travel agent to request any cabana but these). The rest would be very quiet. In addition, we like to leave anything wet outside on the balcony to dry overnight. If you’re going to leave anything out there, ask for a second floor room to avoid theft.

Service at this hotel is quite good. Our TV had a problem with the cable which was fixed on the same day we mentioned it. When we lost the key to our safe, it was taken care of within the hour. The cleaners are excellent and work their tails off. Though you’re not encouraged to tip, we tipped our cleaner every day. They are also very courteous. During our first day, they wanted to clean our room around noon, but they quickly learned that we like to go out for the morning, come back to the room for a couple hours of rest, and then go out again. For the rest of the vacation, they cleaned our room before we were back around noon. They also clean the rooms quite thoroughly; they scrub every inch, organize your items on the dresser, night tables etc., organize your shoes, and leave nice towel sculptures in the shape of swans, dogs, etc.

The minibar is excellent. RIU hotels are the only ones to my knowledge that have 4 bottles of hard liqueur in dispensers that you can use to mix your own drinks in the room. This is great for a midday rest or nightcap. In addition to this, the fridge is stocked every other day with club soda, coronas, pepsi, some orange soda, 7up and water. We left 2$ in the minbar with a note asking for only certain items and it was done for the rest of the week.

In case you need it, the Tequila has a few computers for internet access, located in the Sports Bar. It costs 8$ USD for an hour, or around 3$ for 15 minutes. The Sports Bar itself is okay; it has a few TVs, a tabletop soccer game, a couple video games and two pool tables. The latter is rather expensive – it costs 3$ USD for one game of pool. They also serve some food here – just sandwiches and nachos at night in case you’re hungry. I went looking for some late night food once; there was really nothing good there.

Don’t bother booking an ocean view room at the Tequila; if you look at the map at the link above, you’ll notice that this is not a beachfront hotel, which became a major annoyance for me. The others in the RIU complex are beachfront properties. The Beach is a 10 minute walk from the front of the Tequila. There is a special, tree-lined path leading to it between the Palace and the Yucatan (also visible in the map). If you don’t feel like walking, there’s apparently a shuttle every 10 minutes that will drive you down that path to the beach. However, we rarely saw the shuttle so ‘every 10 minutes’ is not accurate at all. We waited at the lobby for the shuttle a couple times, but so many people wait for that thing that you’re lucky if you get a seat. Consequently, we always wound up walking. This wasn’t so bad the first day or two, but if you’re a person who likes the beach (we are) it gets really annoying after a couple days.

The beach itself is beautiful, and no matter what time, there’s never a problem getting a beach chair to recline in. The water is a beautiful blue as well, and there’s barely any seaweed. The water does get a bit busy around noon as that’s when more people tend to go kayaking, windsurfing, parasailing and jet skiing (latter is quite pricey at 55USD for 30 minutes). There is a Scuba Caribe activity centre where you can pay for activities like snorkel/scuba tours, etc. If you don’t want to pay to take out equipment, you can take out windsurfers, kayaks and paddleboats for free.

The pool was fine – we liked the solid tiled platforms in the pool that you can lie on and still enjoy the water around you. It was difficult at most times of the day to find a recliner around the immediate pool area. There is a sandy area off to the side of the pool with 50 or so recliners that is a nice quiet area for those who don’t want to walk to the beach, but want to still be close to the pool. We spent a couple hours there and it was actually much nicer than being right beside the pool itself.

In terms of drinks, there are quite a few bars at the Tequila – no matter where you are on the resort, a drink is never more than a minute away. The swim up bar is always full, of course, and so we never really bothered. Each bar has both low-level and premium alcohol; but you have to ask for the premium brands (for example, ask for a rum & coke with Bacardi). Do yourself a favour and avoid the domestic alcohol they have – it’s all garbage and makes the drinks taste like crap. Though a drink menu is at each bar, feel free to ask for other drinks not on it. The bartenders know how to make a wide variety. The only thing I had to instruct them on was a chocolate martini. If you like irish cream, they don’t have Bailey’s, but a very good copy of it is called ‘Willy’s’. I happily had quite a few of those after dinner. The biggest downside was the wine, which is some of the worst I’ve ever had. If you’re a serious wine drinker, do yourself a favour and take a bottle or two with you (there’s a limit as to how much you can bring into Mexico – check the Mexican customs website for information).

If you’re looking to go buy booze to take back with you, it is quite cheap in town. The best prices are at Costco, but Wal-Mart is also quite good. You can still save some money buying from the smaller stores on 5th avenue, but prices are far better at Wal-Mart.

There are a few choices with regards to where to eat when staying at the Tequila. The breakfast buffet is served in the large dining hall (the Jalisco room) from 7am to 10:30am. It is excellent, though there is very little variety from day to day during breakfast hours.

Lunch is served at the pool restaurant. Here you can get some fish, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, and some healthy stuff as well. It’s pretty good, though there is little change from day to day. However, for a lunch menu, it is quite diverse. You could also eat at the Yucatan’s beach restaurant for lunch, though the variety and quality is far better at the Tequila. The only problem is that the Tequila’s pool restaurant is plagued by lots of birds looking for leftovers. They look like ravens and are rather brazen; diving in the restaurant to get at whatever you leave on the table before the busboys cart it away. For that reason, we would grab lunch and take it back to our room.

You can have dinner at the buffet only in the Tequila’s Jalisco room. You are not permitted to go to the buffets at the other RIU resorts. However, the buffet was excellent. The variety of food also changes every night (with the exception of dessert, which was always the same), so you are never really bored; and the quality of preparation is terrific. While preparing for our trip, we read that you are assigned either an early seating or late seating for the buffet, as well as a specific table, and must stick to these for the duration of your stay. This used to be true, but now things have changed. The buffet is open from 6:30pm to 10pm, and you can go anytime you wish, and may sit anywhere you wish. There’s also never a lineup to be seated. However, if you’re picky, go early to get the food while it’s fresh.

You may also try the two specialty restaurants, the steakhouse (located at the pool restaurant) or the Mediterraneo (a seafood place that is located at the Yucatan’s beach restaurant. If you want to go to either, you must get up early and go to the podium outside the Jalisco buffet to make your reservation for either their 6:30 or 8:30 seating. They start taking reservations at 7am, though we went at 8am and were able to get a reservation at the steakhouse, which was okay for a Mexican resort, but if you are expecting an exceptional steak, lower your standards. My steak was cooked perfectly, though was quite thin and had not been seasoned. My wife’s pasta was okay, though we both left thinking the buffet was far superior for food quality.

Regardless of where you eat, there is a dress code at dinner prohibiting guys from wearing sleeveless tops. They are required to wear either dress pants or dress shorts as well.

After dinner hours, there is some food in the sports bar, though very little. I went there for a snack at around 11pm a couple times and found only a few nachos – that’s it.

There are a number of good day trips you can take outside of the resort including tours of ruins, snorkeling trips, adventures through the Mayan jungles, tours of Cozumel, etc. You will be given all of the trip info during the bus ride from the airport to the hotel.

But unless you’re rich, or just like spending money frivolously, don’t bother with the tours offered out of the hotel. They’re incredibly overpriced, though your tour operator will tell you different. They will tell you that their tours are the best deal available and offer the most for your money, that there’s much more convenience in taking their tours, and that it’s not safe taking any other form of transport. This is not true. The bus system in the Mayan Riviera is safe, excellent, and you can buy a cheap ticket to any of the destinations, just by taking a 5 minute, 5$USD cab ride (cabs are really cheap also) to the Playa Del Carmen bus terminal. By doing this, we got the same experience of the hotel based tours, and often paid less than half of what they would charge. The other option is the local shuttle busses that seem to be everywhere. They are much cheaper than you would think. We were done at Tulum way before the bus was scheduled to pick us up, and we weren’t allowed to go on an earlier bus back to Playa Del Camen. A couple of these white vans were just hanging out looking for fares, and only charged us 10$USD to go back to Playa Del Carmen (an hour drive) – you can’t go wrong there! Another option is of course to rent a car for 30$/day. We didn’t, but many did, and no one had a bad experience.

The ruins of the Mayan civilization are absolutely incredible. There are three larger sites in the region, including the famous Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum. Chichen Itza has the largest pyramid of the Mayan Riviera, but the bus ride to get there is about 3 hours from the Tequila; and then you’re only given about an hour and a half to explore. Coba is a better choice to explore – there’s an awesome pyramid there, and lots of other ruins. In addition, not as many people go there compared to Chichen Itza; and you are allowed in more parts of the ruins. This one is hard to get to by the local bus, though; as we found there was only one bus that would go there at around 8:30am and pick us up at 4:30pm – though I’m a history buff; that’s way too long. A good strategy would be to rent a car for that trip.

Tulum is breathtaking as well, and is less than an hour away from the hotel and has lots of interesting ceremonial and residential structures. Tour guides are hit and miss, though. Ours really didn’t say much more than we could have learned from the many books for sale in the store at the admission gate; however other people had guides that knew an incredible amount about the site. If you go to Tulum, wear your bathing suit as it has an incredible beach that must be enjoyed. The problem is that there’s no change room in sight, so wear your suit under a t-shirt and shorts; and pack a towel.

For us, Tulum was a great example of the hotel tours inflated pricing. We took a 5$USD cab ride (tip is included in cab prices) to the Playa Del Carmen bus terminal. We bought a round trip bus ticket on the ADO bus – that’s an upscale bus with a lavatory and air conditioning. You need to pick a departure time, and pick what time you want to be picked up. The ticket costs 60 pesos (around 6$USD) to Tulum and back. The bus dropped us off a 10-15 minute walk from the ruins (you just walk down the street – you can’t miss it). Admission to Tulum was 38 pesos. We got a tour for around 38$USD. All together, we spent around 60$ USD for both of us to experience Tulum, compared to the hotel tour cost of 90$/person. It got even more interesting when we overheard a couple asking their vacation representative what the advantages were of taking the hotel tour over doing it the way we did, and they were told that it would be a pain to go and get the bus in town, that the walk in the hot sun to the site would be over 30 minutes, that you wouldn’t get a tour guide going independently, etc., none of which was accurate. If you’re going to Tulum on your own, count on spending a couple hours there – maybe 3 hours at the most. We booked a round trip bus ticket that allowed us 4.5 hours there; and it was way too much. We wound up hanging out at a local bar killing time.

If you love the water, Xel-Ha is a must. People in the region call it a ‘water park’, but it is unlike any water park you may have experienced. There are no man-made water slides here; all the attractions are natural, and quite breathtaking. There’s a very large inlet where you can snorkel around for a couple hours looking at fish. After that, you can go on a jungle walk where you get to see some beautiful cenotes – areas where underwater bodies come up to the surface. Though it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, it is something we’ll always remember. Along that trek, there’s an underwater cave you can explore, and a place where you can dive into one. It doesn’t look like you can do so safely, but it is actually quite deep. Find the ‘Paradiso’ cenote and explore until you see the elevated wood bridge. It’s a beautiful photo opp from the ground; but go up on that bridge for an even more breathtaking view.

At the end of the jungle trek, you find the start of the lazy river. Here, you get a tube (either a single or one built for two) and just float down a river to the main complex. They have a great system in place where your belongings go in a plastic bag. That then is put in another, more durable nylon bag, which is numbered and locked. They then give you the key, which is also numbered. As you float down the river, your bag is being transported to the end destination, where it awaits you. You just show them the numbered key, they get your bag, you open it and take your stuff; all free of charge. While floating down the river, there is a spot where you can stop, climb some wooden steps to the top of a 30 foot cliff and jump off safely. We did this a couple times and it was awesome.

There are other activities at Xel-Ha as well, though they get a bit pricey. You can swim with dolphins, but it costs around 100$USD, and you really don’t do much but tread water as they swim around you. There’s also an attraction where you can walk on the sea floor in a deep sea diver suit, but that costs 40$USD.

Again, we went on our own and avoided the tours, but regardless, this place is a bit pricier than the other attractions in the region, so carry some extra US Dollars (strangely, in this place, it costs slightly more to pay in pesos. For example, keeping in mind that 10 pesos roughly equals one US dollar, snorkel rental costs 10$USD or 115 pesos. Locker rental likewise costs 2$USD or 25 pesos).

Basic admission is 33$, Monday to Friday, and 23$ on weekends. A locker will cost you 2$. Snorkeling equipment costs 10$ each for rental and requires an additional deposit of 20$; though this is a bit negotiable. We didn’t have that much on us, so they held onto the 15$ we had left (this covered gear for the two of us). They would also take your hotel room key, or ID as well; though with the growing problem of identity theft, the latter was not an option for us. You can also get an all – inclusive pass for 59$ that included admission, lockers, and lunch. Some people reported that Xel-Ha had too many lines to wait in and too many people. Perhaps they went on the weekends when it’s cheaper. During the week, lines were short and it wasn’t overcrowded at all.

If memory serves, the hotel based tour to Xel-Ha would have cost us around 80$USD/person. For transportation by bus from Playa Del Carmen, paying basic admission, we spent around 100$ for both of us. Not a bad savings. If you go independent of the organized tours, bring a towel, dress light, and plan to spend a whole day there. We bought a round trip bus ticket that allowed us 4 hours there and felt rushed – we could have easily spent another 2 hours exploring and swimming.

This region of Mexico was amazing – enjoy your vacation.

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RIU Tequila Danielle ~ USA

July 2006

I am a travel agent in the US and must say that I really enjoyed the Riu Tequila! Here is a rundown of our wonderful vacation! We traveled in a group of 8 and stayed in 3 rooms.

Airport-the arrival was a dream at the airport and the departure was nightmare!!!!! The airport is still operating with about 50% up and running, so everything is crammed into one section, however the 5 days of bliss out weighs the 2 hours of hectic chaos! Just be sure that you arrive 3 hours prior to your departure!!! Yes I said 3 hours!

Transfers-We opted for private transfers with AGI tours, we emailed them to set up our transfers prior to our vacation they were a great price, and had excellent communication prior to our trip, they were there waiting with a card with our name on it even though we got in early, and the driver was safe and courteous, and they had a baby seat for our son already strapped in for him! The vans were very clean and the air conditioning worked great! The return was just as perfect with the driver arriving at our lobby just when we asked…This is a great company from start to finish.

Check-in and out was a breeze, the front desk staff speaks excellent English, they honored our emailed room request for my brothers special needs, and placed us in an excellent room closest to the pool and lobby! It took less then 5 minutes for check-in and less then 5 min for check-out.

Grounds and buildings- The grounds are really beautiful, tons of tress, flowering bushes and plants. There are always workers out trimming, watering, etc. to keep everything looking very lush and tropical! There were also tons of little animals roaming the grounds that look like a mix of a raccoon, and a monkey! The buildings were in Spanish styling, with stucco exteriors, they were accented with arches and decorative Spanish tiles on the steps and the walls; the room numbers were hand painted tile. The doors are beautiful stained wood and have a very massive feel

Rooms- Rooms were very clean, not very large, but honestly, we only use our room to sleep in. The rooms have 2 full beds pushed together we really liked the 1 “huge” bed, because our 2 year old stayed in bed with us! However, they can be separated if you don’t want the affect of one giant bed. The rooms also have a small table and 2 chairs, a clock (this was a surprise as most places in the Caribbean don’t have clocks!) My brothers had a rollaway bed in their room which was provide at no extra charge. We really liked the bathroom area, this housed the refrigerator, that is restocked with Corona, soda, water every other day, or if you run out in between days, simply call the front desk and they will send someone out. There was also the liquor dispenser; although we never used it (I prefer just getting my drinks at one of the many bars!) The sink in the bathroom is a nice size and granite. Off of the bath is a large shower…with literally the STRONGEST water pressure that I have ever experienced. And a separate room for the toilet. There was also a large closet in the bath with extra blankets, the safe, and a large golf umbrella. The staff was great at bringing extra towel at your request! Off of the room was an average size balcony with 2 chairs and a small table as well as a handy clothing drying rack.

Pool-There is a total of 3 pools, 2 that were very similar in shape and located on either side of the Lupita Restaurant. These were great, one being used for the activities and having a sloping area with a railing that made getting in and out of the pool for my brothers a breeze, it also providing a play are for our 2 year old. Both of the large pools also have a really neat area where the in pool loungers are, this was also a good area for our son to play as the water was only about 2’ deep and it had a fountain in middle that he loved! There was also various other seating areas in both pools and one of the pools also has a small waterfall! The 3rd pool is a small children’s pool, it only gets maybe 18’-24’. One really great thing about the lay out of this resort is that all the rooms are close to the pool! As the rooms are located in a circle with the pools being in the middle! One thing I guess that I should mention here is the topless sunbathing at the pool, you can always expect it on the beach but most resort do not allow it at the pools, however because of the large amounts European guests at this resort they do not enforce this! So there were topless women at the pools. Also, we were always able to get loungers by the pool, however if you have a certain spot that you want I suggest that you put towels out around 7am. But, there are always tons of chairs together open in the beach area. We never had a bug problem at the resort, and noticed that around 6:30am they misted the area around the pool…I assume that they were misting some sort of bug spray.

Beach-As I’m sure you all know this property is located behind the other Riu’s and use their beach. This was the first time that we have stayed somewhere that was not “beach front” but, it was really not an issue for us, because we NEVER stay at high rise resorts, we opt for bungalow style resorts set in tropical environments, so we have always had some kind of a walk to the water. I even consider the walk as part of enjoyable things to do on our vacations! The beach was fairly busy during the day and very quiet in the early morning. The waves were quite ruff during our stay, but the water was absolutely beautiful! The only complaint that I might have is that the walkway to the beach does not open until 7am, and we like to go to the beach around 6am to 6:30am, this was not a huge deal however because we just walked through the Riu Palace to get there! The tram to the beach runs from 7am to 1pm and 3pm to 6:30pm, this could be a problem for people with a walking problem, because the Mediterranean restaurant is located at the end of the walkway/tram path, and the first seating is not until 7pm, this means that you will be able to get a ride down there, but you are on your own for the walk back! Because of this we did not get to try this restaurant during our stay.

Food- I can not say enough good stuff about the food at the Tequila, it truly has been the best food that I have had at an all-inclusive! We ate at the steakhouse one night; they prepared a special table for our group since it was my parent’s 39th wedding anniversary, and made a cake for them, decorated the table, and popped open 2 bottles of campaign…a very nice touch! The buffets were so good that we just LOVED going to eat! I think I gained 5lbs! Breakfast at the main restaurant was really great, with omelet’s, fresh fruit smoothies, and about everything else you can think of, the main restaurant was from 7am to10am and on Sunday they have a champion breakfast! Then at the Lupita continental breakfast from 10am till12pm. Lunch at the Lupita was great…I love the guacamole, quesadillas, fajita’s, they also had pasta, fruits, soups, hamburgers, hotdogs, nachos, etc. Dinner was superb! Buffets were beautiful with ice sculptures, cooking stations, and really delicious food. We have normally experienced at all inclusive’s where all the food looks good, but tastes awful, but I am happy to say that it tastes as good as it looks!

Service-the service at this resort is truly top notch! It has been the same as at other Riu’s that we have stayed, they really have the best service! The bartenders were wonderful and very fast, the waiters were all very attentive, and everyone was extremely friendly. When you leave, you will feel like you are leaving your friends behind!

Side Trips- the only thing that we really did this time around was shop at the little shopping area right next to the Tequila. It is expensive to shop there, and you will find things much cheaper in Playa Del Carmen, but if you are not planning on buying much you might as well save the taxi fare and just pay a little extra for your goods. But all of the shops have the same items so shop around; the stores at the back had cheaper prices! We also did Scuba Caribe ATV tour, it was a blast! We just did the 2 hour tour, we went into a cave and swam in a cenote (area of fresh water part of an underground river).

My only disappointment was that my picture developing (in the US) was horrible, and the CD that they made was even worse! So, the none of my pics accurately represent the beauty of this resort! Please feel free to email me with any questions!

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January 2006

We were at this resort from Nov 26 to Dec 3/05 and just loved it. This trip replaced our holiday at the Rius in POP (Puerto PLata), Dominican Republic last year and we were so hoping that it would be much better and it was.

We found everything about the resort wonderful. The staff, the grounds, our rooms, pool and the food at the restaurants were fantastic. We did find the beds hard like someone had mentioned in another review. The only complaint we heard was from someone who said they’d never go back because their kids complained about not enough food that they would eat, like McDonalds!!! We had the hamburgers and they were delicious unlike the hamburgers we have tried in Cuba and the DR. We never tried the a la cartes because we enjoyed the selection of foods at the buffets and we can’t be bothered to get up early to book although it wasn’t crowded so we could have easily booked when we were eating breakfast.

Because of the health issues last year at POP we (my husband and I) took bismuth tablets at every meal. I assumed my kids were too but at the end of the week I asked if they had been using them and much to my surprise they said no and none of us were ill.

The only noticeable damage at the Rius from the hurricanes was the tree tops and they were growing their leaves back. When you walked down the street or on the beach you could see damage done to the other resorts. Other than the Viva Wyndham salesmen bugging you to go in there were no problems.

It wasn’t crowded the week we were there so there was no worries about finding a decent place at the beach or pool or long lines for food. We didn’t have to book a seating time for supper which was great, we just went when we wanted to. Probably when it gets busier they’ll go back to seated times.

The beach didn’t have much shade, people were using chairs to make shade and the water was fairly rough with a constant undertow which you could feel even just walking in the water. Once the tree tops fill out then the shade will be more abundant. We walked on the beach daily and even though we love the beach we spent most of our time at the pool because of the rough water. The 8-10 minute walkway to the beach was great for exercise and was well shaded.

If anyone is wondering if they should go or not, definitely go. From our experience we’d go back tomorrow. We don’t usually return to a resort because we enjoy going to different areas but we would definitely return to the Tequila and the Playa del Carmen area.

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Sharon ~ Ottawa, Canada

December 2005

I would like to echo the previous review by saying that anyone who has booked a trip to Riu Tequila (and other Playacar Rius – i.e., the Yucatan, the Playacar or the Palace) need not fear they will encounter any significant post-Wilma damage to these resorts.

On December 14, I travelled to the Riu Tequila with my sister and a friend to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday. My sister has travelled fairly extensively throughout Europe, Canada and the U.S., but had never been to an all-inclusive beach destination. Her assessment of the Riu Tequila was that it was a little slice of "paradise" and that I could not have picked a better location for her 40th birthday. Her friend agreed.
Neither my sister nor her friend noticed any hurricane damage, and I had to point out some instances of the tops of palm trees having been trimmed, to show the effects of Wilma. Other than that, the resort grounds are as lush and lovely as I remember.

I picked this resort due to my very fond memories of my previous trip here in March of 2003. For this trip, the facilities, the food, and the service were as good or better than I remembered! (My sister thought the quality and variety of food was fabulous and she is a picky eater)

Some observations:
The Riu Tequila pool still has plenty of shade and/or sun – it’s as you wish. The sun loungers have newer mattresses, and they are very comfortable (discourages you from getting up!) The Riu Yucatan pool has been expanded since my last visit, and I think they have added another bar to the pool area.

The beach at the Yucatan is still lovely, but there is not much shade as the palms have lost their longer fronds. This was not a problem on a December trip as the breeze was strong and the temperature lower than at other times of the year. (I did however still get a tan even using factor 45 sunscreen)

Riu Tequila animation staff were very friendly, but also courteous and respectful. You might be asked to participate in activities, but you were not pushed or hounded.
Drinks were even better than I remember, and the consistent availability of a good cocktail list at all the bars eliminates any language barriers that might arise. (Try "Doctor Funk" for a refreshing day time drink)

All areas of the resort were immaculately clean, with staff constantly sweeping, washing, scrubbing, etc. Other hotel guests were friendly and chatty, and we met great people from the U.S., England, Canada and Holland.

The town of Playa del Carmen (5-10 minute cab ride) is as busy and as lively as ever, with both tourists and vendors. Lots of high-end shops have moved in and set up business over the past few years.

In summary, all three of us had a great time and our only regret was not being able to stay longer!

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Rex & Allene~ Oklahoma

December 2005

We made our third visit to Riu Tequila from November 18-25. We had watched the boards to see how they were doing from the last hurricane. The ride from the Cancun airport to Play del Carmen and Riu Tequila you could still see the clean up was happening. Once at the resort, the only thing that appeared to be different was the lack of leaves on the landscape materials. The grounds at Riu Tequila is still just as lush with new leaves and growth from the plants that will shortly be back where they were before.

We ate at the specialty steak restaurant three times during our week. We really enjoyed it. The resort buffet was so frustrating because of all of the great looking and tasting food and the many, many choices of what to eat!! We also ate at the Mediterranean (seafood) restaurant that is located on the beach at the Riu Yucatan. We also found that the lines at the reservation desk at 7am were almost nonexistent and we saw people making reservations at 9am or so when we finished breakfast.

The staff at the Tequila couldn’t be nicer and there to serve you from the bell boys to the bartenders to all of the servers in all of the restaurants. The food is wonderful all the time and so many choices it is hard to choose.

We spent most of our time at the beach in front of the Riu Yucatan. It is wonderful. The addition of the new pool last summer is really nice and the bar is very convenient to the beach. They have really improved on the pool area at the Yucatan. The beach still has all of it’s palm trees. Some were missing leaves by still provided shade to those that wanted it. We watched them plant 3 or 4 palm trees the first day we were there to replace trees that did not make it through the storm. The beach is still one of the best we have been to in Mexico. The water is so clear and blue green and the sand is white and cool even on hot days.
They have new sun loungers on the beach which are really nice. The walkway to the beach from Riu Tequila does not have all of the plants and covered walks it once did. Give it a month or so and it will be back to normal.

All Riu resorts in the area are up and running and ready to serve you. The Tequila has an Internet room that they didn’t have on our last visit. They also just opened a new Sports Bar that is to be open 24 hours. Plan a trip to Riu Tequila and you will have a great time!

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Sheryl and Scot ~ USA

June 2005

We stayed at the Riu Tequila in Playa Del Carmen from June 14th through June 21st of 2005 with our two children who are nine and twelve. The Tequila exceeded our expectations and the positive reviews we had read on this site were true. We felt pampered during our whole time there. The food at all of the buffet meals as well as our meals at the steakhouse and the seafood restaurant were excellent. We enjoyed kayaking and paddleboating on the ocean. Not being right on the beach was a positive for us because we enjoyed the jungle setting of the Tequila and seeing the agouti, coatumundi, and the iguanas added to the tropical feel. We enjoyed the pools and especially appreciated the amount of shady and sunny spots that were available. We were very content hanging out at the pool and also appreciated the activities like ping pong, Bingo, volleyball, water aerobics, etc. that were offered by the entertainment staff. The Mayan show in the evening was very good as well.

We visited Chichen Itza and went on the Mayan Adventures snorkeling tour. We would recommend both again. The only negative about the Chichen Itza tour is the three hour bus ride each way, but the ruins are impressive and it seems a necessary experience when in the Yucatan. The snorkeling tour was great because we were taken to three snorkeling spots: a lagoon with a coral reef in the ocean, an underground cave (incredible), and a cenote (sinkhole). Lunch and all equipment were provided.

We cannot say enough about the variety and quality of the food. There were so many choices and the staff worked so hard to make every dining experience a positive one.

We are recommending the Tequila to everyone and intend to go back.

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RIU Tequila – Playacar James and Sarah

April 2005

ClubHotel RIU Tequila, Playa Del Carmen/Playacar
Stay: August 30th through September 2, 2004
Room: 415
Guests: 1 26yr male, 1 27yr female

(continued from Golden Crown Paradise)

We arrived from Cancun (6.5 pesos for the city bus to the bus terminal, 32 pesos for the ADO bus to Playa Del Carmen, 40 pesos for the taxi to the RIU) on Monday afternoon, around 5:00PM. We checked in with no problems. Went over to the buffet to choose our seating for the dinner buffet (take the early seating so you have time to get changed before the evening show). That night was full but the squeezed us in for about 7:40. What happens is your table is reserved for you at that time, all week. If you eat there a lot, the staff would get to know you and what you drink. Once you’ve left, the table is allowed to be used by others. Anyway, we got our stuff to the room and explored a bit before going to the buffet for dinner. The mini-bar and liquor dispenser in the room is cool, mostly for the bottled water. Tap water is not drinkable here. The water was also good for excursions. The carbonated water was gross, and the quinine water had been in the fridge so long that there was mildew or rust under the cap. The liquor was nice to have but we didn’t make much use of it. Your first night, leave a note for your housekeeper, and a couple of dollars US requesting what you want in the fridge (ie if you only drink pepsi, trade the other pops) and be sure to request 4 or 5 bottles of water. You’ll use them at the beach, in town, and if you go on a tour. They only provide sample packs of soap and shampoos so don’t forget yours.

We went back to the lobby; it’s kind of a plus shape. Inside the main entrance is the front desk on the left, gift shop and courtesy rooms on the right. In the centre is the fountain (open-air) with the buffet to the right and the bars/theatre/disco to the left. Straight through takes you to the resort itself. The dinner buffet was fantastic, with tonnes of selection and lots of variety. Different theme (we ate there twice) each night with cooked on the spot features. That night’s entertainment was Mexican dancing which was OK but my GF was bored. There are two bars (kiosko and maguey) that serve the theatre area. For a real show, watch the bartenders at the Kiosko bar during the show. You’ve never seen people work so hard, and fast, and still be friendly and efficient. Think "Cocktail" the movie. You order a drink (or a few if you’re in a group) and it’s like you’ve triggered something. We usually ended up ordering all different drinks, so whomever you ordered from starts calling things to the other guys, and throwing things around, and wow! The show usually starts around 9-930 with a preshow, and awards from he day’s activities. The show itself begins at 10, ending around 11, which is when the disco opens. The disco was crowded every night, variety of music being played, OK size dance floor but enough. Good bar, no problems with the drink service (if you prefer, there is a disco at the RIU Yucatan as well. It’s a little smaller, and freezing cold though whereas the Tequila’s is very hot. Same layout, different people.) The disco closes at 2AM. If you need to party later then that, then head into town earlier on and find one of the clubs that’s open late. Outside the disco is a "snack bar" that runs from about 1030 till 1am. This is burgers. That’s it. Just burgers.

In the morning, be up early if you want to eat at the a la cartes for dinner. There are 2 – La Lupita steakhouse (which is the pool lunch restaurant) and El Mediterraneo (which is the beach club lunch restaurant). The setting is virtually identical at either (so are the lunch menus actually) but they have different dinner menus. Each restaurant’s menu does NOT change nightly. The whole restaurant is smoking and very hot (open air sides with fans) The end result is everything (hot food, cold drinks) is luke warm. We ate at each restaurant once and had no desire to eat again compared to the fantastic buffet. Appetizer, salad, soup and dessert are fixed; your only choice is the entree. We felt quite rushed as, because you don’t need to make choices, appetizer and salad show up almost as you sit down. What we had was OK, but the food in the buffet was better. At Mediterraneo we had an avocado stuffed with shrimp, some sort of orange coloured soup, our entree – I think I had shrimp pasta, and some sort of dessert. I can’t even remember what we had it was so non-memorable. At La Lupita we had "fried chicken" which was a plate for each of us that had 2 wings, one fried cheese stick, one zuchini stick, one mushroom cap and blue cheese dressing; Caesar salad which was one plate for both of us: 3 whole romaine leaves, dressing, and two toasted slices of french bread; i had a "10 oz" steak that was good but was more like 20 ounces, my GF had chicken that she didn’t like. Dinner was a cake that they called baked alaska. At both restaurants, all I could focus on other then being rushed, was how much I needed to get out of the heat to change out of long pants and closed shoes (enforced dress code for men) and to get away from the smoke. Having said all that, if you’d like a reservation, be down by the buffet around 730 (they say 7 but 730 or 8 seemed OK) to get reservations. I was thinking it would be better to pay more to stay at the Palace and have a selection of 6 or 7 specialty a la carte restaurants, but if it’s a lot extra, you could just eat in Playa Del Carmen some nights.

Breakfast is served at the buffet and is wonderful – almost as much selection as dinner. Lots of made to order stuff too. We loved the fresh donuts dipped in raw cane sugar, and don’t miss the "dulce de leche" sauce for pancakes and ice cream (at dinner) it’s a delicious caramal-ish taste. Standard fare, bacon, eggs 20 different ways, sausages, also breads, cheeses, fruits and fresh juice, yogurt, cereals, mexican dishes, etc. Breakfast doesn’t change much day to day but we like to start with a bit of a routine so that’s OK.

Lunch is either at the pool restaurant or the beach restaurant (or around the corner form the beach restaurant at the Yucatan’s pool restaurant) the menu is basically the same at each, and only changes a little day to day. snacks, salads, desserts, entrees and more. Pretty good meal.

Days were spent at the pool which is quite large, but divided into two by the pool restaurant. One side has swim-up bar where we spent some time. There’s a little alcove jacuzzi, another alcove with submerged loungers, a volleyball alcove, and a waterfall at one end of the pool. There’s also a section of manmade beach (sand area) where they have activities like volleyball, salsa lessons (Emmannuel is a good teacher) and one day a fiesta party with sangria and fresh seafood jambalaya.

To get to the beach, you actually go out the front entrance, and either catch a shuttle, or walk across the street and down a shaded walkway between the Riu Palace and RIU Yucatan. it’s only about a 3 minute walk, and sometimes it was faster to walk then to wait for the shuttle. At the beach, which is immense (the hotel next to the RIU Yucatan is much closer to the water and had hardly any beach) there are lots of loungers and palapas for shade. We stayed in front of the Yucatan, but you could stroll down past the Riu palace, past the Viva hotel, over to the RIU Playacar and use their area. You could use the beach in front of the Palace or the Viva, but you wouldn’t have bar service available, and at the Viva they wouldn’t want you to use the chairs either. Beaches are public property so you can walk as far along as you wan though. At the Yucatan, the pool and lobby bar are right there for drink service, the beach club restaurant (which is connected to the Yucatan’s "margaritas" restaurant and has the same food and service) is available for buffet lunch and snacks. You can eat breakfast and lunch anywhere at the RIU Tequila, Yucatan, or Playacar, same for using their pools, disco, bars, theatre show (If you don’t want to see the Tequila’s show) etc. The only things you have to do at the Tequila is dinner and towels, which are by the pool. You can’t get towels from the towel hut near the Yucatan at the beach. Also at the beach, there is a Scuba Caribe activity centre (there’s another the Playacar which you could use, and another at the Palace that you probably can’t use) where they sell scuba and snorkelling tours, but they also sign out free: sea kayak, catamaran, paddle boat, boogie board, and snorkel gear. You can use each activity for 1 hour per day> be advised they close at 3 in the afternoon.

Also at the Yucatan is the Mexican Street which is where the spa and gym are located.

We only left the resort twice, once to go into Playa Del Carmen (taxi is 40 pesos each way, or it’s a nice walk and there are some free ruins on the way). Take lots of water. Don’t let sales people pressure you. TO cool off head into McDonalds for a 5-peso ice cream cone. Best exchange rate was at Scotiabank below McDonald’s across from the bus depot. We didn’t buy much because everyone’s selling the same stuff, but it’s still fun. The other time we went to Tulum to see the ruins. Well worth it, very affordable. Taxi to the bus terminal (40 pesos each way) bus to Tulum (32 pesos each way) Shuttle train up the hill 40 pesos roundtrip, entrance 38 pesos. Total was less then US$30 for the two of us. We would love to have seen Coba too but didn’t have time.

Some nights there are vendors in the lobby area. Beautiful stuff at some tables, other tables have the same stuff as in town. Very expensive though, and they don’t like to negotiate at the hotels. Make sure you sign up for "RIU Class" while you’re there. In future stays you’ll have credit towards incidentals like phone charges.

Any questions or to see pictures, email me sparky4@telus.net

(Continued at Blue Bay Getaway)

Food: We weren’t impressed with the a la cartes, but the buffets were all fantastic. Lots to choose from, great tasting, fresh.

Drinks: Lots to choose from. Good menu. SUPER-TIP!! The RIU includes domestic and imported beverages. They have a basic, medium and best for most alcohol. If you don’t ask, you get basic. Example: Rum drinks are made with Mexican "HomeRum" unless you ask for Bacardi, or the high-end, Havana Club Cuban rum. Vodka – generic, something else, and Smirnoff. Tequila: Orendain, Cuervo, El Jimador. All the other alcohols are like that too. Favourites: Miami Vice con Havana; daquiri de fresa con havana; melonball con smirnoff; ruso blanco con smirnoff. If you order the mojito (con havana of course) then ask for it sin azucar (no sugar because it’s way too sweet.)

Staff: Very very friendly and hard working. Be sure to say Hola to the grounds staff and housekeeping – many guests overlook them as if they aren’t there. Stand-out commendations: Roberto from the pool bar, also at the lobby bar during the shows. Nicolas – takes dinner reservations in the morning then helps or supervises during the buffet breakfast and dinner. We received top-notch service and we weren’t spreading tips around like some guests. We left a bit for Elvis the housekeeper, both when I asked for extra water and when we checked out. If we return I would likely leave something for Roberto when I left.

Beach: Great. You might be thinking it wouldn’t be because it’s shared with 3 other RIUs and because of the distance. But it’s only 3 minutes to walk, and the RIU Yucatan is built so far back from the water that there’s tonnes of room.

Pool: Big, good temperature. Pool bar is only on one side, and the whole are can seem like a maze sometimes. Lots of dead bugs but staff are always cleaning.

Activities: Some good some not-so-good. "Target shooting" is lame; don’t waste 90 minutes of your time to shoot a pellet rifle twice at a target. Try to take in Emannuel’s salsa lessons. We didn’t really do any other scheduled activities but we wanted to. If you’re doing the free watersports, get to the beach early, the loaner desk closes at 3pm every day. They have kayaks, catamarans, paddleboats, snorkel gear, and boogie boards. You can use each type for 1 hour, each day.

Entertainment: Sometimes good, sometimes not. The show always starts with the audience, including kids, on stage dancing, then the animacion staff give out the awards for the days activities. After the show the audience always goes onstage to dance 2 songs with the staff. It’s the same two songs every night and they can get a little trying but it’s fun to watch. Mexican dancing night wasn’t too good except for the young rope dancer. Michael Jackson is a must-see. The impersonator was every bit as good as one I saw in Vegas a few years ago. International night was good, and mariachi night was OK – they followed it up with the RIU staff doing some show tunes which wasn’t too bad. The disco was packed every night, good music, good drinks.

Great things about RIU Tequila:
The staff, the drinks selection and premium alcohol, the staff, the fantastic buffets, the entertainment (some), the stocked fridge in the room, the size and layout of the resort, the staff, the beach, the exchange privileges with the other RIUs (Yucatan and Playacar. palace is not included, but the new Lupita might be.), the large pool. Nice walk to town with free ruins on the way.

Not-so-great things:
Tap water isn’t purified so be careful in the shower. I’m not partial to kids being around, but if you are taking a family, the kid’s club seemed kinda pathetic and unused. Target shooting is a waste of time. If you’re in the lobby bar area during the day you can hear the tour operators/destination reps droning on about their really expensive tours that they sell. The food in the a la cartes wasn’t great, very limited selection, it was too hot to enjoy, and we felt rushed. The Tequila’s towel card are only good at the pool, so you have to get your towels there and carry them to the beach. You can trade them for fresh ones at the Yucatan, but to get the cards back you have to carry them back with you. Getting up at 7:00 to make dinner reservations. Choosing a seating for the buffet dinner for all week, and being limited to that timeframe when you go to eat (although I can also see the advantages of this if you’re staying for a week or more.) Soap/shampoo is trial packets so be sure to bring some.

Restaurant info:
Breakfast (in theory you could also eat breakfast at RIU Yucatan or Playacar): Jalisco buffet: 07:00-10:30 La lupita (pool): 10:30-12:00 continental Lunch (Lupita, Beach Club and Margarita all have roughly identical selection): La Lupita (pool): 12:00-15:00 buffet Beach Club (beach): 12:00-15:00 buffet La Hacienda (at Riu Yucatan): 13:00-15:00 unknown style Margarita (connected to Beach Club but officially part of Riu Yucatan): 12:00-16:00 buffet Turquesa (at Riu Playacar): 12:00-16:00 unknown style


La lupita (pool): 15:00-18:00 buffet, very similar to lunch Beach Club (beach): 15:00-18:00 buffet, very similar to lunch Margarita (next to beach Club, at Riu Yucatan): 16:00-18:00 buffet, very similar to lunch Turquesa (at RIU Playacar): 16:00-18:00 unknown style Pinata (outside disco): 23:00-01:00 approximate, burgers made to order

Dinner (daily reservations needed for Seafood and Steakhouse, general reservation made for buffet on arrival):

Jalisco (buffet): Seatings at 19:00-20:30 and 21:00-22:30 (30 minutes earlier in winter) Steakhouse La Lupita (pool): Seatings at 19:00-20:30 and 21:00-22:30 (30 minutes earlier in winter)

Meditterraneo-Beach Club (seafood): Seatings at 19:00-20:30 and 21:00-22:30 (30 minutes earlier in winter)

Bar info (also access to all bars and discos at RIU Playacar and RIU Yucatan: Maguey (beside theatre): 18:00-24:00 El Kiosko (lobby): 10:30-24:00 Acuatico (pool swim-up): 10:30-17:00 La Lupita (pool, connected to pool bar): 10:30-23:00

La Pinata (disco): 23:00-02:00

Amenities info: 2 pools with Jacuzzi, loungers, and volleyball mock beach area for volleyball and activities beside pool watersports at beach including kayaks, paddleboats, snorkeling, catamarans and boogie boards (open till 15:00 daily) theatre 3 restaurants 5 bars

gym (on Mexican Street at RIU Yucatan)

1) When shopping, catching a taxi, etc. You will usually be given the opportunity to pay in US dollars or in pesos, and for simplicity most people use a 10 to 1 exchange rate. ie. 100 pesos, $10 US. Since you should be getting 11 pesos to the US dollar or more at the exchange house (the best rate I got was 11.28 at Scotiabank in Playa Del Carmen) by paying in pesos you’re getting about a 10 % discount. Whenever possible, use your pesos instead of US cash or even instead of credit cards. In chain stores like Plaza La Fiesta (a tourist shop) you’ll notice on the price tag they’ve factored in a proper exchange rate.

2) Tours: unless you are rich or really need the guided package, everything is more affordable to go on your own. Some examples: Bus tour from Playa Del Carmen / Playacar resorts to see the Tulum ruins is US$49 per person including lunch. On your own: round trip taxi from hotel to bus terminal, first class bus round trip to tulum, shuttle train to the ruins, entrance to the ruins, total for two people $28 US. Similar prices apply throughout the region.

3) Transport: At Cancun airport, you’re pretty much stuck paying 90 pesos per person for a shared shuttle to your hotel, unless you leave the airport and get out to where the taxis are or beyond that to where the city bus runs. I didn’t see any other option for that part of the trip. In the hotel zone, the city bus is 6.5 pesos (only 4.5 pesos if you’re not in the hotel zone) or around 60 cents US. The R-1 and R-2 and I think R-27 go almost everywhere you’d want to, and the destinations are listed on the front of the bus. Wal-Mart, plaza Las Americas (big mall where the locals shop, including Chedraui market) and the Terminal Del Autobuses can all be reached by city bus. The Wal-Mart bus says Wal-Mart. For the bus depot, take an "Av. Tulum" bus and get off at Av. Uxmal. To get to Costco, get a taxi on the street from Wal-Mart for 15 pesos. Getting back to the hotel zone should be around 50 pesos. Returning to the airport from the hotel will be around 180 pesos. Taxis in the hotel zone, and shuttles at the airport, are fixed rates (each of the hotels will have a price list posted by the door). If the doorman summons the taxi for you then you should pay exactly that amount (again remember to pay in pesos to save money) but if you grab the taxi then it might be more. If you get a taxi in the city, or in Playa Del Carmen, or anywhere else, be sure you and driver agree on the rate before you go anywhere. It is negotiable, but not much. Tip is built in, you don’t tip the cabbie. The intercity bus system is great. Service is provided from the bus terminal by ADO (1st class, A/C, etc.) and Riviera/MayaB (second class, more stops, etc.) There’s also playa Express that is a shuttle and is cheaper. Sample rates: ADO 1st class, Cancun to Playa Del Carmen 32 Pesos every 20 minutes, same price returning every 10 minutes. The MayaB is about 12 pesos less, but less frequent. Playa Del Carmen to Tulum or Coba 32 pesos each way by ADO, less by MayaB. Playa Express should be less but I couldn’t find their depot and didn’t really care at these prices.

4) Alcohol: If you’re buying alcohol, start at Costco, followed by Wal-Mart. Example prices: 1 litre Kahlua. At home about C$45. In the tourist stores and mini-marts, around 90 to 200 pesos. At Chedraui 81 pesos, At Wal-Mart, 73 pesos. At Costco 61 pesos. Likewise, Tequila starts at around 65 pesos per litre and goes up.

5) Things to take with you: Lots of sunscreen. We took 3.5 250ml bottles for 1 week, and went through 3 of them. I’d suggest taking a mix. We took SPF45 normal, SPF30 sport sweat proof, SPF30 eco-friendly (needed if you’re going to one of the eco-parks.) Caution: Don’t forget a hat, even in the pool, and sunscreen lip balm. If you put sunscreen on in the morning before dressing for breakfast, put more on when you take your shirt off at the pool. That’s the only way we got burned was having our t-shirts absorb all the sun block off our shoulders. Also take after-sun gel and bug-bite cream just in case. Disposable waterproof camera for pool, ocean activities, and snorkelling. Thermal mugs for drinks at the pool. They hold more and keep things cold, and keep the sand and crawlies out of the drinks. A backpack for carry water and stuff if you do a tour of the ruins. Immodium, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol. Especially the tylenol! Instead of taking pepto or immodium every day as a precaution, start eating yoghurt every day 2 weeks before you go. You can continue this when you’re there. Lots of shorts and shirts because you’ll sweat a lot. At least one pair of long pants and closed shoes for the men for dinner.

Chargers/spare batteries for any electronics, like digital cameras.

Any Questions, or to see pictures, please email me sparky4@telus.net

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Santo and Krista ~ Canada

March 2005

We vacationed at the Rui Tequila from February12-19,2005 with our 2 daughters aged 6 and 9 and had a fantastic time.

We travelled with Skyservice departing from Toronto on an early morning Saturday flight. Flight left on time and was uneventful.

We had made a room request via e-mail close to the pool centrally and on the second floor in one of the small villas and were delighted that our room was ready when we arrived at the resort at approximately 1:00 p.m.

The accomodations were adequate and clean. The rooms had a little musty odour due to the humidity but cleared with the fan on and room deordorizer. The small changing area near the bathroom was convenient for a family of 4 when showering and changing for dinner.

The pool as we had read in other reviews was a little cool but very refreshing after sun bathing. We liked the fact that the pool areas were divided into 2 areas one more for families with the other side having the swim up pool bar which got a little wild and crazy at times. There were lots of lounge chairs and food and drinks always close by at the poolside grill. The girls enjoyed the activities and social interaction with other children at the children’s centre.

The Jalisco dining room was where breakfast and dinner was served and there was always an abundant selection of different dishes to pick from. As guests you are assigned a specific table for dinner and that is your table for the duration of your vacation. We had a Valentine’s Day dinner at the steak house and it was a nice atmosphere however the quality of the steak was abit on the tough side and we had better beef served in the dining room and other guests that we talked to also agreed.

Each night there were evening shows in the auditorium as hosted by the entertainment staff at the resort who also work very hard during the day to keep interested guests involved in a large number of activities-volleyball,bingo,horseshoes,ping pong,pool aerobics,dance lessons etc.

The beach was incredible. Soft powdery white sand, aqua-blue water, warm breeze, swaying palms and shade as needed with a grill nearby for drinks and snacks. Who could ask for more!!! Lounge chairs available but generally advisable to get there by 10 am.

We went shopping in Playa Del Carmen twice. Good selection of small stores for gifts however the merchants can sometimes be a little aggressive so be prepared.

The girls did get their hair braided and we were able to negotiate a reasonable price at the market area compared to the resort. Just an FYI for all of the March Break vacationers.

We also saw several iguana’s around the resort which was an interest to all children.

We have travelled to Florida, Aruba, Punta Cana, and other areas of Mexico but this vacation easily ranks in the top 2 and we plan to return again in the near future.

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Laura & Daniel ~ Canada

February 2005

We visited the RIU Tequila in Mexico, from February 6 – 20th 2005.

We visited the RIU for the first time with our 15 month old, and 5 year old, after hearing many good things about it from others in our travels. 2 weeks was great…and I could have stayed longer.

The food was amazing, very tasty, lots of choices, abundant portions, and never ending. My favourite was the pizza, which is available at lunch, in the afternoon and evening…had a few pieces every day. (Probably why i gained 7 lbs).

We loved the lush tropical grounds, and could walk our baby around in the shade or sun, without a problem, all over the resort in her stroller. We had requested a room on the ground floor because of easier access, and that was not a problem. We took nice walks to the beach, and NEVER had a problem getting a chair at the beach or at the pool, in our hotel, or any of the others.

We could not get our 5 year old son out of the Kids Club, he spent all day, almost everyday there. We were able to bring the baby in too, for coloring, playing ball, sand, in the little kids pool, and she loved it as well. We parked our chairs outside of the club, so we could see our son, and, we have to say that the kids club was the best we’ve seen yet for kids, and we’ve travelled to Aruba, St. Lucia, Costa Rica and Saint Marten.

We met some nice people from the US, Canada and UK. We visited Playa Del Carmen for our shopping trip, and got a lot of nice gifts for friends back home, very unique things I’d never seen before, and prices were negotiable. While we were there, we visited the RIU Palace, Yucatan, and Playacar, and were impressed by all of them, and are definitely planning our next vacation in Mexico.

I’d have to say it is definitely a 5* in our books, for the kids club and food.

The only 2 bad things I’d have to say are that the rooms are a bit musty smelling, but if you leave your fan on, it makes a big difference. The other thing was that we had to check out at 5:55 a.m., and were told we could get a cold breakfast, but when we arrived at 5:30 in the dining room, there was nothing but coffee, so had to get breakfast at the airport…a little disappointing, but not earthshattering.

Anyway, it is a must see and stay kinda place.

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Linda ~ Canada

February 2005

My name is Linda and myself, my boyfriend and three other couples (between the ages of 28 and 39) went to the RIU Tequila for one week and had a fabulous time!! Three couples came from Halifax and the other couple met us there from the North West Territories. We booked with Sunquest and the flights were with Canjet, which was fine. No frills at all, but no problems either.

The hotel itself is just beautiful!! The nicest out of the three we were allowed to play at – the RIU Playacar and the RIU Yucatan. The food at our buffet was FANTASTIC and a special thank you to Melio who made amazing fresh, hot donuts to dunk in sugar, for breakfast every morning!!! The eight of us had no problem finding different foods for our differing tastes each meal. We did not go to the seafood a la carte restaurant, but the steak grill was great!! You have to be up early to get reservations. Not a problem for us, since we were up at 7-7:30am.

I can’t say enough about the staff. The staff at the lobby bar worked their tails off. This is bar where everyone comes to before dinner, after dinner and while watching the show. The four guys in our group knew this staff very well and loved them!! All staff throughout the resort were always smiling and saying “Ola” and giving great service. And they kept the grounds, restaurants, washrooms, and guest rooms immaculate.

Our rooms were great. There was a curtained off area from the main part of the room, where your mini bar, liquor dispenser, sink, closet with safe, shower and toilet room with a door were all located. This layout was perfect. The towel animals were sooo impressive.

The beach was beautiful and we did not mind that the location was across the road from the resort. It was a five minute walk, and you could have food and drinks at the other two resorts, which were on the beach. The other three couples bought a package at the resort’s dive shop for $58 US per person for a parasail, banana boat ride and a boat trip to Xcaret for an hour snorkle (including equipment). They thought it was all great.

The only complaint that the group had was that the pool was COLD. You couldn’t spend more than an hour in the pool, you would get chilled to the bone. Two of us did the water aerobics each day and the hardest part was getting into the cold water.

All eight of us decided on a tour that I would HIGHLY recommend. It is called Pac Chen through a tour company called “Alltournative Tours”. This is for people who want something a little adventurous and some time away from the tourist areas. We travelled by van to the town of Pac Chen, paddled a canoe for about one half hour, had an easy hike through the jungle, took a zip line over a lake, had another easy hike, repelled down into a cenote (sinkhole) and then was pulled out, ate a traditional lunch in the town of Pac Chen (wonderful meal and people) travelled to Coba, and biked to the tallest pyramid in Mayan Mexico and climbed it. Our guide, “George of the Jungle” is what he called himself, was great. Lots of information, fun and just an all around great guy. All of us loved it. And the tour was only 12 people (our group of eight and two other couples) and with such a small group, we all had such a wonderful time and we met four wonderful people who we spent some more time with back at the resort.

One guy of the group scuba dives, so he did an additional tour to dive off Cozumel. He paid $125 US with the Sunquest rep and he said the dive company itself was great. My friend was very impressed at their organization – the number of people they had going that day and how perfect everything flowed together. Sorry, I don’t know which company.

All in all, I would highly recommend this resort, and I would definitely think about another RIU property for next time…(too many places in the world to return to the same area)

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RIU Tequila – Playacar Anna and John in Ontario, Canada

February 2005

Just returned from the best vacation we have ever had in the Caribbean! We went to the Riu Tequila in Playa Del Carmen Mexico on the Mayan Riviera Jan. 21/05. As always the Rius are the best, guaranteed satisfaction here! We went for 7 days and we wished it had been longer, next time we will book 10 days or more if we can.

Food was great, lots of variety, and just lots of food. Staff were exceptional, in all the restaurants ( if you get Dago in the main dining room at dinner he was great!! ), and front desk staff were great and staff cleaning rooms did a wonderful job as well. Bartenders always quick and eager to serve you. Have a tequila boom-boom. or a Mexican Flag when you get there!

The rooms were beautiful, ours was on the second floor with it,s own balcony which faced the golf course, large and comfortable beds, and great shower/bathroom facilities.

On our first nite we had a wee little geccho on our ceiling that I eventually caught and put back outside. Rooms have a safe for your passport/monies/valubles as well. Cable tv if you need and it,s own stocked bar! Fridge too with pop and filtered water etc.,beer.Air conditioned as well , how-ever, the nites are cool in January so you can sleep without the air if you want.

Weather was fantastic!!! Sunny every day we were there, and hot. The ocean was that beautiful aqua blue that you see in the travel photos( but don,t always get.) The sand was white and powdery, you could walk to the ocean in 5 minutes or take the tram over . Lots of seating available in the AM than got busy in the afternoon. Water so clear that you could see the fish around your ankles! Very lovely coast!

Swimming pool was great and no problem getting a chair here either. We took a trip to Chichen-Itza which was awesome! Trip was 3 hours to get there and 3 back so you do not get alot of time to see the Mayan ruins! But to see and climb a pyramid…what a thrill..we are sure that one of these years they will not allow people to climb them anymore…so GO NOW!!! To touch stone carvings that date years before Christ is unreal…to lay your eyes on this history…is unbelievable and so life changing!!! When we first walked into the Chichen-Itza site we could not get our eyes off of that main pyramid. My husband and I both climbed it and yes, it is steep but worth the climb! I am afraid of heights but I went up and am glad I did! There is a rope to hang onto up or down. When you get to the top the view is breathtaking…you,ll see! Our guide did not tell us to bring a bathing suit but we could have swam in a cenote…I still climbed down into it and dangled my legs in it. What a site that cenote was…clear water, lush garden around it. Chiche-Itza has become a tourist attraction, complete with an entry gate, stores, public bathrooms and a museum…takes away from such a piece of history…all roads leading into and around this site had vendors begging you to buy their wares…kind of sad I thought. In the end though, it was still awesome and we wonder why it is not one of the wonders of the world?

Xel-ha was great too and more for the snorkelling enthusiasts. Also did a catarmaran trip/sunset cruise with a bunch of fellow Americans. Again, a splendid time on the ocean, drinx, hor-douvres, and a lobster dinner on the beach! What a way for us to end this short vacation!

Good shopping up and down this area and easy to go into town nearby and eat with the locals and shop! We highly recommend this Mayan Riviera area and we know that we will go back to it as we need another trip to see Coba, more of Chichen-Itza, and Xcaret. Forgot to mention that we stopped in a little village, Valliodad, and also saw local history…old churches, schools…just no time to get off the bus to browse. Had a group dance for us and feed us lunch on that trip as well…saw local costume etc. All of this just an hour south of Cancun. Airports great in Detroit and in Cancun. Did not get to check in to your room until 3:00 on arrival day but you can leave your big luggage in the lobby and take your carry-on with you and change in the bathrooms. Again….you must go…..Mexico is wonderful, such a history and the people are eager to have you!

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