Old Reviews – RIU Yucatan

  Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera   Bev ~ Ontario

February 2008

Our vacation started off very badly due to a 17hr NON WEATHER REALTED delay by Skyservice (flight 5301 out of Ottawa). Our flight was to leave at 6:30am, we arrived at the airport at 3am as requested only to find out we were being delayed until 2pm due to mechanical difficulties (frustrating but $$it happens). We were in line to check our luggage at 11:30am when we were told the flight was delayed until 5pm, once again the excuse was mechanical difficulties, (at this point the Ottawa Police showed up as many, many people were fed up with either the lack of information or the abundance of mis-information being supplied by Skyservice). I spoke with several people who had been been told Skyservice was bringing in a aircraft from: Cuba, Dominican Republic. At 3am I was personally told that they were getting one in from Toronto. In hindsight all of this was false. They let us check our luggage and clear security only to sit around a different area of the airport waiting to board for a 5pm flight. Any guesses what happened next? Yep, you guessed it…..late in the afternoon they announced a further delay until 10pm. At this point I had been awake since 2am and sitting in the airport for about 12hrs and had finally had enough of the bull$$$t so I demanded to speak to a Sunquest representative. It took 3 requests to finally speak to Sunquest’s rep on the phone. She was very sorry for the delay but it was out of the control on Sunquest, (not as sorry as I was spending the entire first day of my vacation sitting in the airport) When she realized I wasn’t going to be appeased by the standard by the book answers she was trying to make me believe, she got rid of me by giving me a customer service phone number to call. I called and couldn’t believe it when a recorded message told me they couldn’t take my call right now, please call back later, apparently Sunquest’s customer service is as good as Skyservice. We finally boared about 10:30pm and after and were in the air about 11:30pm. The meal on the flight was barely edible but at least they didn’t have the nerve to charge for drinks. I should point out that at the airport Skyservice did give each passenger meal vouchers, I guess a sandwich at Tim Hortons is a good as a Margarita and a buffet meal in Mexico……. I cannot stress this enough when I say, I WILL NEVER NEVER NEVER fly Skyservice again.

Arrival – We checked into the resort at 6:30am Ottawa time on Monday and had now been awake for 28 1/2hrs. If I were 20 this may have been not too bad, but I am way too old to be up that long. I slept all day Monday and had now lost 2 days of my 7 day vacation. I met with the Sunquest rep on Tues and the first thing **** said to me was "I have already checked with my boss and Sunquest will not be offering refunds to anyone due to the flight delay". ****had the nerve to tell me that my problem was with Skyservice not Sunquest. I quickly reminded him that I booked with Sunquest not Skyservice. If Sunquest hired a subcontrator that was not able to fulfill its obligation, that was Sunquest’s problem, not mine. I think **** could use some training in customer relations.

The staff at the Yucatan are great. Most understand English even is they don’t speak it. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.

Rooms – Our room was amazing, we were in a suite in building #6. We were so happy with it we didn’t bother to take the 2 different upgrades we were offered. This building is located beside the stage so if you are a light sleeper, you won’t be happy.

Restaurants – We ate that the buffet all week and the food was fantastic. As with most places the menu as basically the same with a few different things each day, but it truly did have something for everyone. I loved the seafood which was served every day. We did not try the specialty restaurants. The service was great and the staff was very friendly.

Bars – If you go look for Benito, he is great. He will put on a good show while serving your drinks and his is very funny and friendly.

Beach and Pools – The beach is in the process of being rebuilt after storm damage. There is a 5-6′ drop from where to old beach was to where it now is and there a huge sandbags in the water in front of the resort. They appear to be pumping sand in behind the bags to rebuild the beach. At first it looks a bit strange but after a while you really don’t ever notice them. There is plenty of room for chairs and it is still very beautiful. The beach is a least a few kms long and you can walk the entire length.

Grounds – The grounds are beautiful and the staff at this resort is always cleaning.

Tours – If you are in this area do not miss the Coba Mayan Village tour. It is a full day but is well worth the time. Our guide Louis was fantastic. During the 2hr bus ride he told us the history of the Mayan people and many many other interesting facts. We were able to climb the pyramid in Coba and then visited a family in the Mayan village. If you are thinking of doing this tour they ask that you bring pencils, books, or other supplies for the village children. They ask that you don’t give the children money as that encourages them to beg.

Conclusion – I would absolutely stay at this resort again. Once we finally arrived we had a wonderful time.

I have contacted my travel agent and he has asked me to write a letter to Sunquest which he will forward for me along with his comments concerning the fiasco with the flight. I will be requesting a refund for some of my vacation as I did not get what I paid for. I am willing to give Sunquest an opportunity to correct this. They cannot give me back the 2 days I lost but a show of good faith on their part will go a long way in determining if I ever book with them again. There are many tour companies out there, time will tell if Sunquest is interested in repeat business or not.

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera Sheri

April 2007

Just got back from this wonderful resort. First time we stayed at a RIU resort and we will definitely go back.

Flew with Sunquest / CanJet from Halifax. This is the first time I ever flew with CanJet and I would do it again – much more leg room than Skyservice and I have short legs and I found Skyservice crampy last year. Meal was a little much to be desired on the way down but on the way back the meal was better, not that I really expect much from a meal on an airplane anyway.

Arrived at airport at Cancun, was expecting to be hounded by those "time share sharks" but we wasn’t – this surprised me after everything I had read about them. Was told a bus # to get on to go to the resort, found it, it was just a van, didn’t have our paperwork and they driver was very helpful trying to call around to see who had it, never did find it, but he loaded us in and took us anyway. We were very thankful for this as we had our hotel voucher from our TA anyway.

Arrive at the RIU Yucatan – this place is very nice. Luis Miguel checked us in, our room wasn’t ready because it was ony 11:30, no big deal we had to wait until 3:00 – we expected this anyway. They have an area that you can put your bags so you don’t have to carry them. We took our carry on bags though, as they didn’t have locks on them. Luis was very helpful in explaining everything to us and everytime he seen us that week he would ask how everything was. We get to our room and it is clean and nice – no complaints at all. I have never stayed at a resort where they had so many people cleaning all of the time. They are constantly putting down clean ashtrays, sweeping leaves and grass and scrubbing. The food was fantastic at the buffet, and all 3 a la cartes. We enjoyed the Asian restaurant the best. We stayed in the #6 building and our room was right across from where they held the shows at night. There was only 2 night we didn’t attend the show, the first night we were very tired from the early morning flight and went to bed early – I got woke up with the music and thought man, I won’t get any sleep tonight but I was so tired I laid back down and went right back to sleep and didn’t hear anything else. If you are a light sleeper this wouldn’t be a good block for you, but it didn’t bother us. Beds were a little hard, but we didn’t go to bed until we were out of fuel so this didn’t bother us either – didn’t bother our backs. What I liked about this resort was the fact that you were never far away from anything. The beach, pool, lobby everything was nice and close. We could use the other RIU hotels in our area, but we were so busy we didn’t even get a chance to go see them.

Because of the weather conditions in the US the ocean was really rough for about 3 days – it sadly washed away a lot of the beach and a couple of palm trees. The drop off to get down to the beach was probably about 4.5 – 5′ after the rough weather was done. We didn’t get snorkeling as we had planned on doing it off the beach. Made for good fun with playing in the waves, they had up the yellow flags so we didn’t go out very far.

I found all the staff very helpful and friendly, as I mentioned above, I found Luis to be very helpful and welcoming.

We went to Cozumel for a day on our own, not through a booked tour. I had stopped there for a day about a dozen years ago so I wanted to see the changes. Wow, it has really grown – it took us all day to do the one street with all the shops and found that there were no real bargains compared to what you used to get, even with bartering, we found the same thing in Playa del Carmen on 5th ave. I’m sure if we had gone off the beaten path we would have had better luck. I did find, however, people didn’t hound us as badly as when I was there years ago, they would ask a couple of times, you say no gracias and that would be it. Carlo’s & Charlie’s in Cozumel – when we stopped there with the cruise you used to get beer for a buck now it is $4.00 US – guess that is tourist inflation!

We spoke with a rep, not ours because she never seemed to be there at the resort, but his name was Ulrich with worldwide vacations(?). He was helpful in helping us pick out an excursion for the ruins. We booked for the Coba but unfortunately didn’t end up going as my hubby got sunburned – chest and back – the day before and was sick from it so we decided it would be better not to subject him to a 12 hour day in the hot jungle. Just a good excuse to go back next year so we can go see them.

I would highly recommend this resort – we loved every minute of our trip.

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera Marlene ~ Canada

November 2006

Sunquest Vacations from Toronto on Skyservice

Nine of us left on a Skyservice flight destined for Cancun on October 14th. We were lined up on the runway at 6 a.m. with another Skyservice flight due to leave 10 minutes behind us. Who would make it there first, we wondered. The flight was uneventful and went by quickly. We landed 15 minutes ahead of schedule and ahead of the second Skyservice plane due in so Customs wasn’t busy on arrival.

At the airport, if I hadn’t known the routine of having to run the gauntlet through the timeshare people, I would have been lost. They tried to make us believe that the Sunquest bus had already left and another one would be here in 20 minutes. We said, no, no, that can’t be right to them and exited the terminal. There was no Sunquest sign in sight for directions to our bus. After passing a lot of people holding other signs, I finally spotted our Sunquest rep holding a tiny sign in front of his stomach instead of up in the air. He told us which bus number but not where it was located. We finally found it around back of the terminal. We had to wait almost an hour for four people. The timeshare vultures probably consumed them. Our bus had people to be dropped off at the Yucatan and RIU Palace only.

Arrival at the RIU Yucatan was by 11 a.m. We were directed to a corner of the lobby, given welcome drinks, we filled in the required paperwork, got our wristbands and headed to the front desk to get room keys and stickers for the luggage that showed our room number. The operation was seamless.

Our group was split between building 5 (front row centre block of rooms) and building 8 (back towards the front entrance and street side of the property). We all headed to the buffet for lunch at 1:30 and to the beach for the afternoon.

I had requested a cot in our room as I was sharing with another couple. The room was spacious enough that the cot really wasn’t necessary. The room set up was perfect having an alcove separated by a curtain, which contained the sink, wall to wall closet, stand-alone shower and toilet. There was always privacy if required when my friend’s husband was in the room at the same time.

It’s true about the early morning towel saving on the pool loungers by 7 a.m. Pickings were slim even at 7, especially to keep our group of 9 together when we were scattered across the resort. We gave up trying to do this because we were either in the swim up bar or in the ocean together anyway and always managed to find each other for supper. The resort isn’t that big that it was a problem finding anybody during a walk around.

The three a la cartes were excellent. Our favourite was the Mexican, ending with the flaming Baked Alaska presented to the whole room with the lights turned off, closely followed by the Steakhouse and then the Asian. What spoilt the Asian that night for us was a group of 12 women celebrating an upcoming wedding on Saturday; they called it a "hen party….a British tradition, I’m told. They pulled snap crackers the entire time and were so noisy, it was difficult to have a conversation at our table even though they were at one end of the restaurant and we were in the middle. The food at the Asian was very good and there is much more than just sushi…that was just a small area of what was offered. Their feature dessert was baked ice cream. It reminded me of a deep fried chicken ball but with ice cream in the centre instead of chicken, lol.

The main buffet was split in half with duplicate food stations for each half. Ice sculptures and carved watermelons graced the serving tables. The service was too good. After waiting a short time for some pasta cooked to order, I returned to my table only to realize I would like some bread. My plate was cleared by the time I returned with the bread. When my friends noticed it gone, by the time Gail caught up to the waiter he was dumping the plate into the garbage as she was telling him "stop", lol. Lesson learned! Don’t leave the table if you are not finished with your plate.

All the wait staff and bartenders were always smiling.

The weather for our entire week was in the 30C range. The ocean waves ranged from calm as glass for snorkeling right off the shore (a school of angel fish came in for bread that people would throw them) to a couple of days that the waves were so rough, you got a good pummeling when knocked over. After those two fierce days of heavy wave action, the beach was eroded to the point there was quite a drop-off as you exited the water.

We saw four weddings that week; one on the beach and three in the garden. All beautiful and well planned by the coordinator. One wedding party from the UK, the groom had full tux with tails, black, very formal and he was uncomfortably hot as was the fathers of the bride and groom. That heat is just too much for traditional wedding attire for the men. They really suffer in the sun and no air conditioning in the lobby.

There was lots of action on the beach from vendors selling massages to air gliding to banana boat rides and jet ski rentals for those looking for something more than reading a book, catching a nap or just jumping in the waves.

The two swim-up bars were always busy but the bartenders always had a smile or some antic to amuse their patrons.

The week went by in a flash and now I can’t wait until "the next time".

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera Jason ~ Minneapolis

March 2006

My friend and I arrived in Cancun on Thursday afternoon for a long weekend at the Riu Yucatan. We had arranged our transfers through Lomas Travel (www.lomas-travel.com) who we’ve used in the past. We paid a small premium of only $10 per passenger for a “private transfer”….it was well worth it at twice the price. Rather than waiting around for a van to fill and stopping 2-3 times prior to arriving at our resort, we were put in our own air-conditioned sedan (after a short wait, just long enough to grab a beer) and got us to our resort in record time.

On arrival, there was no wait to check in and no wait for our room. Our very cheerful desk clerk took care of everything and explained in great detail all the dining, bars, where things were located and such. The bellman took us to our room immediately. Quick glances at the minibar revealed no diet soda, so we gave him a tip and were kept in diet Pepsi (“Pepsi Light”) for the week; he also got us ice.

Our room was standard Riu; somewhat compact but certainly roomy enough for two….a family of four might be a bit snug. Everything was very clean. Two extremely firm double beds pushed together (why do they do that?), very sufficient drawer space, good-sized closet with plenty of hangers. Nice sized lanai with table and two chairs – we were on the ground floor. We were able to sit outside and sip cocktails in the shade and watch those little rabbit-like creatures (what are those things anyway?) wander around. The area around the rooms was also pretty quiet. We were about halfway between the main building and the beach.

We weren’t overly wild about the bathroom. The sink, vanity, and minibar were separated from the sleeping area only by a curtain (which did close), with a separate tiny room for the toilet. There was a shower, but no tub. Not really an issue, but the shower had a very slow drain and there was no light, and only a very tiny space for soap, shampoo, etc. Shower gel and shampoo were provided in little paper packets; I would have preferred bottles or a dispenser.

The pool area is very spacious and close to the beach. There are two pools that are connected; one is a “quieter” pool while one has more activities and such. Personally, I would prefer one be an adults-only pool, but that’s just me. Chair-saving was REALLY bad; if you hadn’t saved seats by 7 a.m. you were out of luck. If you wanted space under a palapa, you needed to be out by 6. I wish for once some of these places would have the cojones to actually ban this practice AND enforce it. Four different bars were located around the pools; both the walk-up and swim-up variety. Bar service was cheerful and pretty efficient. We liked Maribel at the swim-up bar, who liked to chat and practice her English on us. One point – unless you ask, they poor rather cheap domestic liquor that’s really pretty dreadful. They do carry international brands, you just need to remember to ask when you order.

The beach is in excellent condition. We stayed at the Riu Palace right next door last year, and the beaches are bigger this year than they were last year, even at the Riu Playacar, where there beach erosion was pretty severe last year.

The only evidence we saw of the hurricane was some slightly frazzled palm trees, otherwise you’d never know anything had happened. In downtown Playa the damage was a little bit more in evidence, but not severely so (other than the total destruction of Senor Frog’s). Most noticeable was the lack of crowds.

Dining was a pretty positive experience. We ate our breakfast each day in the main restaurant, which had a good selection, including some rather odd items that probably appeal to their more international clientele. Lunches were at the poolside buffets; there was one larger and one smaller; the smaller one is a little more hidden and therefore quieter. We were there four nights in all; we dined in the main buffet the first night, which was fine. The specialty restaurants at the Riu are sort of a set menu and require reservations. Again, if you wanted reservations for the early seating (6:45 p.m.) you needed reservations made by 7:30 a.m. or so, otherwise dinner was at 8:30, a bit late for us. We dined at each of the three; first at the steak house which had a set menu for salad, appetizer and desert, with a couple of different steaks to choose from, along with chicken and ribs. We each had a rib-eye, which was tasty though a bit tough – one doesn’t expect great beef in Mexico, especially when you’re from the Midwest. Next night was at the Mediterranean restaurant, which was an all-seafood menu….again similar, with the salad, appetizer, and desert all set, and a variety of seafood dishes to choose from. This was excellent. The final night was the Asian restaurant, which was my least favorite. This one was served buffet style, starting with a selection of salads and sushi, miso soup, a few entrée items and desert. Only benefit in my mind was higher-quality wine in this one than the others; my companion liked this one more than me, but mostly for the sushi.

We were advised we could use the facilities and restaurants at the Riu Tequila and Playacar, though not for dinner. We did have drinks at the Tequila one evening and were in the disco there on two evenings. Though the info I’ve seen on the indicates that they do not accept spring break students at these properties, we discovered otherwise; not so much at the Yucatan but the Tequila was loaded with them. Security kept a close eye on them but it made the disco not-so-much-fun.

Overall, a very positive experience; I’d go back.

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera NL ~ Toronto

January 2006

Hi there, we stayed at the Riu Yucatan Dec 17 – 24, 2005

We stayed at this resort last year too, just a brief update on their renovations.

Cancun Airport – Beware of the time share people. After you clear the customs green light/ red light area do not stop and speak to anyone until you exit the doors to go outside! The time share people are located in the airport building and wear white polo style T shirts. Do not stop and speak to them. Once outside, look for your holiday rep (he/she will be holding up a sign of your tour company) to show you to your bus that will transport you to your hotel..

Beach – beach is fine since the hurricane and no beach area has been lost in front of the Riu Yucatan and Riu Palace. Some damage to palm trees on the beach, lack of shade in some areas, but handy tourists use the lawn chairs as a sun shield, simply stand them up in the sand – works great!

The hotel dive centre on the beach has boogie boards you can sign out.

Main buffet restaurant – you no longer have to reserve your seating time for dinner; can have dinner when ever you wish.

Specialty restaurants – book in the morning the day you want to go, reservations taken at main buffet restaurant.

Pool area – they have more that doubled the pool area with the addition of a second pool that has a pool bar. The pool bar is not connected to the pool. This is great because it keeps out small children while you enjoy a cold one.

Theatre – there use to be one large bar in front of the theatre it has been replaced with two new bars.

Playa Del Carmen is up a running, the one thing that I heard that was not operational was the Sub Sea Tour out of Cozumel, apparently it will not be open till February.

Hope this is helpful,

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera JT ~ Canada

February 2005

My husband and I just returned from a week stay at the Riu Yucatan. We left Toronto Jan. 27. We have travelled numerous times to Mexico and the Caribbean. This however, was the first time at a Riu resort….and what a great choice it was. I can’t say enough for the genuine hospitality of all the people employed at the resort. Everyone did their best to make our stay happy and memorable. They succeeded 100%. I e-mailed to request block 5 and we got it. Check out Rusty’s Riu Reviews…you’ll get the map showing the layout of the hotel, you can also listen to the Riu theme song, get a virtual tour of the place etc etc. I would try for a second or third floor next time around as rooms on the third floor tend to be a bit musty smelling. Blocks 4 and 5 are the ones closest to the people. Make sure you don’t get 7, 8 or 9! This April the Riu will be closing for a few months. I understand they will be enlarging the pool area and hopefully adding a bar on the beach. A good idea either way is to bring an insulated mug. There are two sit down meal times: 6:30 and 8:00. We chose 6:30…this way we had time to visit the nearby plaza or visit the other Riu hotels before the nightly shows at 10:00…make sure you don’t miss these. Each night was different and very enjoyable. Food in the "Hacienda" was super…..great selections and prepared well….forget the coffee…the best cappuccinos are at the bars. We always arrived at the Hacienda around 6:10….The "Animacion" group would put on a short demo of the night’s 10:00 show then the doors to the Hacienda would open and all the servers etc. would line up on either side and welcome everyone to enter….it was such a special welcome! Breakfast and lunch time are very flexible…often we chose to eat lunch at the buffet by the pool…same food as inside. Some people whowere not big eaters just went to the buffet and filled a pllate with food and ate on the beach. the staff didn’t seem to mind although I think it would be nice if you did this you should atleast bring back your own plate…even if you don’t thereis always someone collecting. The resort is an all inclusive…tips aren’t necessary but my husband and I went down with a number of one dollar bills…besides tipping the maid on a daily basis we tipped the bartenders and yes, at times I even tipped the women who kept the washrooms near the restaurants etc in tip top shape….they were always scrubbing. (think about it the minimum wage for most of the workers at the resort is $4.50 a day!!!!) Another tip: I brought a bag full of goodies from the dollar store and left a few things each day along with my tip…I know the maid who did my room really appreciated it. If you want to use the internet don’t bother using the one at the hotel..way to expensive….outside the hotel there is a plaza (10min. slow walk) lots of cute stores.. a mini outdoor plaza across the street from the Riu Palace just past the Riu Tequila….there you will find an internet cafe…$1:00 for 10 min…..not bad when phone cards are $10:00 min for about 20 min plus you get charged a connection fee each time you make a call unless you use a phone outside your room. One of the things I kept reading about the Riu is that the beds were hard…I did not find this to be a problem. The rooms are small when compared to some but each has a balcony and heck who wants to go on holiday and spend time in the room. If staying at the Riu Resort you are allowed to drink and eat at the other two except the Palace…apparently one is not even allowed to go and visit…well we did anyway. We walked through the hotel one night. It was nice. One morning we visited the back of the hotel (we entered from the beach)…very very beautiful it’s worth the look. do yourself one big favour when holidaying …DON"T bother to check the weather report….it’s never correct….unless of course you go during hurricane time….My husband and Ioved our stay at the Riu Yucatan and definitely plan to return!!!!

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera Joe — USA

February 2004

We traveled to the Riu Yucatan the week of Feb. 15 2004. The hotel is located in the Playacar area, just south of Playa del Carmen Mexico.

We flew from Cincinnati to Cancun via Pace Airlines as part of a Vacation Express package. The flight was on time and uneventful. I’m just glad that I’m not very tall as conditions are pretty cramped. The flight time was just over 3 hours.

The immigration area of the Cancun airport was empty when we arrived, so we breezed through. When we claimed our bags we got the green light and were on our way.

This was the first time we’ve used Vacation Express. We’ve always traveled with Apple Vacations in the past and have been very happy with them. I’d have to give Apple the advantage in handling airport transfers. There seemed to be some confusion on the part of the Royal Tours people, who were working for Vacation Express. We waited a half hour to 45 minutes; this isn’t bad but just not as speedy as we’ve experienced in the past with Apple.

Check in at the Riu Yucatan was quick and trouble free. Our rooms were ready right away. I’d e-mailed the Yucatan a week or so prior to our arrival and requested 2nd floor rooms in a certain range of buildings. I did not receive a reply but we were given 2nd floor rooms in building 4, which is closest to the beachfront restaurant. It was a great location.

Our room had 2 double beds pushed together to form a giant king-sized bed. The room had a small balcony with chairs and a drying rack for wet swimsuits. There was plenty of storage including a large closet. There’s a safe inside the closet big enough to hold valuables including a camera or camcorder. It’s probably too small for a laptop computer. There’s a TV that receives quite a few satellite channels. Most of them are in Spanish, but there are a couple that have English language content.

Riu includes a stocked refrigerator that has beer, soft drinks and water. It’s restocked every other day. There’s also a dispenser that holds 4 different kinds of liquor.

Upon arrival, our first interest was food. The restaurant closest to our room, and the beach, is open from 10 am to 5 pm, for a continental breakfast and lunch. They offer hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries and other entrees, as well as salads and desserts.

Since the Riu Yucatan and other resorts in this area cater to an international clientele they do their best to offer things that appeal to a wide array of tastes. Some foods may not be exactly like we’re used to in the US. Some of the combinations or presentations may not be things we’re used to. Overall, we found the food to be good and very enjoyable. The best things were the fresh fruits and vegetables, especially since they’re unavailable to us this time of year.

Drinks are available all around the Yucatan. Beer is on tap at all restaurants. Beer and mixed drinks can be had at a swim up pool bar or at a bar near the pool in the building where the shows are performed. It would be a nice addition if they’d add a beach bar so you wouldn’t have to walk as far to get a drink. Knowing this was the situation in advance; we brought insulated mugs that held a lot of liquids. In addition to keeping our beverages cold, they screamed to the other guests “We’re Americans!”. It’s true that people from other lands aren’t as obsessed as we are with cold drinks.

Corona is the only beer that I saw being served. They have quite a few name brands of liquor including Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker, Cuervo, etc. I’ve heard complaints of drinks being weak. I’d have to dispute that. We drank mostly tropical drinks and none were light on alcohol. I would highly recommend the caiparina. It’s made with rum, lime, sugar and soda, and is very refreshing.

There is a disco at the Yucatan that opens at 11 pm. It’s very small, but the night we were there, it was pretty lively.

Internet access is available from 10 am to 10 pm in an area near the front desk.

The Riu Yucatan has a shop in the lobby that sells sundries and another that sells clothing and beachwear. Other shops are available outside the Yucatan in a “Mexican Street” area. They include a photo shop, another internet café, a spa and hair salon, and others. There’s a small gym here too.

There is shopping galore in Playa del Carmen. It’s a $4.00 cab ride to town and just takes a few minutes. The shops range from tacky t-shirt shops to upscale jewelry and art vendors. It seems that the farther north you go on 5th Ave. the nicer the stores become.

One downside of staying at an all inclusive is that Playa del Carmen has a lot of good restaurants. One night we ate at Palapa Hemingway. It has very good food and service and a really cool jungly atmosphere.

The pool is not the focus at the Yucatan. It’s nice with lots of lounge chairs and shady palapas around it. It does have a swim up bar. There’s a Jacuzzi and a kid’s pool also.

The beach is the main attraction at the Yucatan. It is wide, with very soft sand. There are lots of palm trees. Some areas are in shade most of the day. It can get pretty a little crowded but that’s why everyone came here, right? It is a beautiful beach.

I did not see a lot of the early morning chair claiming here. There was some, but when we were there, you could still come down by 9:30 and easily find chairs. Any time after 10 would be more chancy.

There are a variety of activities available at the beach. There are 2 volleyball courts. The staff holds stretching and aerobics sessions. You can take out boogie boards, kayaks, or pedal boats free of charge. You can take out Hobie Cats if you’re proficient in their use. If not, you can get a lesson for $35, which qualifies you to take them out.

They also offer parasailing, or banana boats for a fee. Scuba Caribe runs their dive operation including snorkeling trips. We didn’t do any of these, so I can’t comment on their price.

The staff at the Riu may be their best feature. We interacted with probably a hundred individuals over the course of a week and not one seemed surly or indifferent. On the contrary, all were friendly and cheerful. Even the maintenance guy painting light poles had time to say “hola” as you passed. Since this is an all inclusive, tipping is not an issue, so it’s not like they’re shilling for tips. All of the staff, from the housekeepers to the front desk to the bartenders, seemed genuinely warm and accommodating.

We mostly just hung out on the beach, but we did make a trip to Cozumel one day. The ferry ride is $18, round trip, and takes about a half hour. My wife is prone to seasickness and had no ill effects on the trip to Cozumel or back.

On Cozumel, we took a taxi to Chakanaab Park which offers pretty good snorkeling. We knew there were several cruise ships arriving in Cozumel the day we went, so we got there early. We were able to enjoy the snorkeling and beach areas before it got too crowded. Chakanaab has a lot of activities including diving, a dolphin swim area and a restaurant. We’ve been to Xel Ha and like Chakanaab better.

Before we ferried back to the mainland we had lunch at a place called Poncho’s Backyard. It was excellent. It had a nice atmosphere and good food and drinks. It’s right on the main street, just a few blocks up from the ferry pier.

I have read a lot of trip reports by others. Many of them were unsatisfied with their trip and had numerous complaints. I think most of these people were either inexperienced travelers or they hadn’t done enough research before booking their trip. We knew what to expect going in and we’re unpleasantly surprised by anything. Overall, we were quite satisfied with the Riu Yucatan. We felt we got our money’s worth.

Here are some sites that I found helpful in planning our trip: http://www.playadelcarmeninfo.com/ http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g150812-d154739-Reviews-Riu_Yucatan-Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html http://www.riubambu.com/ http://mytravelboard2.com/playa/

http://www.cozumelinsider.com/

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at jmckib@cinci.rr.com

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Riu Yucatan – Mayan Riviera Canada

January 2004

Our family returned from an amazing 2 week stay at the RIU Yucatan last week. We travelled with our son (9) and my brother and sister-in-law and their 3 boys ages 7, 6 and 4. We have done numerous Caribbean vacations and can honestly say that the RIU Yucatan is outstanding. Everyone had a blast!

The food was excellent with lots of variety. Must admit that I was getting a little tired of the buffet by the end of the second week BUT I know I would feel exactly the same way if I had to eat every meal for two weeks at even the BEST Canadian restaurant. We tried the two a-la-carte restaurants which were also great. We had lunch at the RIU Tequila and the RIU Playacar. Both were mirror images of the Yucatan from a food standpoint.

The beach was amazing. Most days the water was quite wavy but very warm and enjoyable. The kids loved building in the wonderful, soft sand. It was difficult to get lounges by the beach and most were gone by 9am. There are beach vendors but they are not at all aggressive, a simple "no thanks" and off they went. Watersports were good, but somewhat limited (catamarans, kayaks and pedal boats). I was very surprised that they allowed you to take out a catamaran without even asking if you had experience (I am use to resorts where you are basically interrogated about your sailing skills first!)

The pool was a bit disappointing (but we are use to the huge pools found in Cuba). It was cool and small but never crowded. It is too bad that the RIU’s have not incorporated the giant, interesting pools that can be found at other locations. However, with the outstanding beach, we can forgive the second-rate pool.

Service was exceptional. We never waited more than 5 minutes for anything – drinks, towels, check-in, etc. If something was to happen at 7:30, then that’s when it happened (not 8:05 like many destinations we have visited). Everyone was willing and happy to do everything they could to help you enjoy your vacation.

We visited the Kid’s Club once and did the mini-disco three times. The coordinator seemed excellent and offered a good selection of programs. My 9 year old feels too "grown-up" for these activities and the younger ones with us were happy playing at the beach, so we really didn’t use the Club as we had expected to.

The drinks were good but got a bit boring after the first week. If you ask for rum, ya get the cheap stuff, if you ask for Havana Club then that’s what you get. The glasses are smallish and the bar is quite a distance from the beach. No problem here as we needed the exercise anyway. A few of us used insulated mugs and the bartenders were happy to fill them.

We did two day trips on our own (note the tours are WAY overpriced, in my opinion). We took the ferry to Cozumel and then a taxi to Chenkanaab Park (well worth the trip and you can do amazing scuba diving with a guide for $50US. You do not need to be certified, they give you a short lesson and then the guide is with you all of the time. This sure beats the $146 US that I was quoted for an intro dive at the resort). The park has outstanding snorkeling, great wildlife and is VERY unknown to tourists. Another day we went to Xel Ha (took the local bus and went on the weekend. It cost us $2 US for the bus each person, each way and $22 per adult to enter the park. The tour from the hotel was priced at $86 each. It was very easy to do on our own, we could come and go at our time and we saved mega-bucks). Xel Ha is amazing. We floated in tubes, snorkled and admired the wildlife. Xel Ha is not for those who don’t like the water, though.

Totally personal opinion – we toured the Palace and I did not feel it was worth the extra money. If it had been $200 more per person, then sure but NOT for the almost $1000 difference for our two week booking. The food looked much the same, beach was the same, pool was bigger but nothing great (who would make a pool that appears to have lovely bridges overtop but instead of having water access, you have to get out and cross the bridge and get back in???). To each their own.

We flew Skyservice out of Toronto and had great, on-time flights both ways. The representatives at the airport were great. Our Sunquest Rep at the resort was outstanding – way to go Bridgette!.

We never go back to the same resort twice, so won’t be returning to the RIU Yucatan BUT we would highly recommend this resort to anyone.

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