I travelled to the RIU Caribe Sept. 30-Oct. 7/2006 with my family (4 adults – two of us in our 20’s & 2 in their 50’s). We were very happy with the hotel, the reasonable price we paid & the excellent service received from the hotel staff. We are frequent travellers, who have stayed a wide variety of hotels over the years from 2 stars up to 5 stars + . At the end of the day your vacation is what you make of it & there are some really picky, critical people who post negative reviews here – if you want the Ritz Carlton, please just stay there (I believe in Cancun it’s about $599 USD per night + tax, no food/drinks included). We paid about the same for a week all inclusive at the Caribe and it was great – I would give it a 4-star + rating.
Our room was an oceanview deluxe (#435), very close to elevators & high enough up to have a great view of the pool areas & the ocean. It had 2 double beds – yes they are hard as mentioned in past reviews – I took the comforter off of my bed , folded it into 4, & laid it under my bottom sheet – problem solved! Our maid continued to make up my bed this way each day, which was nice. The A/C was cold, we also had a fan, telephone, cable tv, hot and cold shower and tub, mini refrigerator with coronas, pop & water (ask for Diet pop if you want it, they will provide it), liqour dispenser cabinet w/ vodka, rum, whiskey & tequila, safe , a balcony & marbled floor. The rooms was great although we did find the magnetic door keys were problematic at times – we had them re-programmed at least twice during our stay. Also our maid was very nice and did a great job cleaning. Tips are a good idea, they really appreciate it.
The beach was fabulous outside of this hotel, much nicer than the beaches in front of some of the other hotels we walked to. You can usually get a palapa (sun umbrella) if you are out there by 11am. This time of year there is some rain but when it hits it usually doesn’t last more than 30 mins, so go grab a drink at the beach bar & wait it out – you’ll be back in the pool or ocean soon. One point, the waves can be great at this beach location especially later in the afternoon so if you want to bring a blow-up innertube or raft I’d highly recommend it. You can buy them at the mini-mart adjacent to the hotel but they are expensive ($25 approx). We used the free snorkelling equipment as well as the sea kayaks during our stay – lots of fun!
Food and drinks: We ate at all 3 a la carte restaurants during our stay, Japanese, Mexican & the Steakhouse (which is the beachside buffet during the daytime hrs). They were all good and worth trying. There is also a pizzeria at the bar near the amphitheatre – pretty tasty for lunch! Overall we enjoyed the main buffet, Albatross the most. The buffet is extensive at all meals – I like the breakfast spread the most: smoothies/fresh juice bar, omlettes, fruit, nachos, waffles, french toast, bacon, sausage etc. There are self serve juice, pop, Corona & water dispensers as well as cappuccino/espresso machines – LOVED THAT – we like our coffees so we usually aimed to get a table near the expresso machines. The main courses at lunch & dinner always included a variety of options, fish, chicken, beef, local specialties etc. The desserts were good, & they have a good variety of ice creams.
The bar we frequented the most was the beach/pool bar. They make pretty much anything you want but there are no cocktail menus so you have to know what to order on your own. We drank a lot of Miami Vices (strawberry daquri/pina colada mixed – but asked them to add the coconut rum or it will be virgin. Also good were the mudslides, mai tais, margaritas, riu caribe, banana daquiris etc….. Tips are appreciated. Also if you want extra booze in your drink ask for it, they do not mind.
The gym/spa area opens up early in the morning. There are eliptical trainers, treadmills, stairmaster, bikes, which are all new-ish and in good condition. The weight machines are older & they are those combo machines – not very clear on the directions to adjust the equipment to do different excercises but we made do. They also had a good variety of free weights & benches. There is one mat for stretching or abs – you’re better off asking for a towel & using that instead. All in all it’s a pretty good hotel gym and yes there is A/C in there. Others in my party bought tennis balls at Walmart and played a few games during our stay – they said the courts were good.
Internet access is available in the Sports Bar. It’s pretty smoky in there at night so be forewarned if that bothers you. It cost $3 USD for 15 minutes – if you sign up for a RIU class card (a points card) at the front desk you will get double the time on your internet time purchase. You also have the option to just pay $8 for one hr, with this purchase you get a timecode & can use your time over the week instead of all at once if you go the $3 route. The guy there at night is nice enough, pretty happy go lucky – he plays video games all night long & gets paid for it, I guess I’d be happy too 🙂
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The nightly shows were enjoyed by everyone we spoke to although we skipped out on them all week as we were more interested in relaxing on this trip. We did head to the nearby Isla Mujeres which was a great day trip. The cheapest way to go (& so easy) is to take the bus from out front of the hotel to Puerto Juarez (the oldest port in Cancun). The bus is labelled clearly in the front window to where it goes & it costs only 65 pesos (65 cents approx). From there they have high speed ferries that only cost about $7 round-trip (it is $15 rt from other more touristy areas & the ferries are run-down – stick with Puerto Juarez ). On the island you can rent a golf cart for the day for about $40 and ride around the island stopping where you please to swim, shop & site see. Near a small ruin/carribean village site there is a walking tour you can take down near the water for about $3 pp – it is so worth it – spectatcular views of the ocean & the waves breaking against the rocks – make a point of doing this.
Buses are only 65 pesos pretty much anywhere you want to go & they run 24/7. This is the best way to go anywhere. We visited Market 28 (downtown flea market shopping), the club zone (Coco Bongo, Big Daddy O, Senoir Frogs), La Isla Shopping Mall (higher end mall, stores like Zara, Lacoste etc.) all by taking the buses that come right outside of the hotel.
Finally: f you forgot to pack anything, i.e. toiletries, sunscreen, over the counter drugs or such, take the bus that says "Walmart" on the window, downtown and it will drop you right there – at least the prices are reasonable (unlike the hotel store) and it’s only a 10 min ride. This is also a good place to buy liquor to take home if you want to. Our tour company reps from Signature Vacations were friendly & helpful – they are the guys in the lobby wearing the hot pink t-shirts 🙂 LOL If you miss you "welcome meeting" – we did – it is not hard to find them to ask questions. We did not book any excursions however you can arrange those through them – the club hopping tour & Chichen Itza seemed to be popular ones. One final tip, don’t wear your watch when paddling a raft in the ocean….I lost mine 🙁
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