This review is a bit late as I was having issues getting past the confirmation code on this site.
This trip was our first to the Riu Santa Fe, but our 7th stay at a Riu. The Riu Santa Fe is a very large property (over 1000 rooms). The rooms are spread out over 7 buildings with building 7 being the only one on beach – the rest are in behind the Riu Palace. This was the first time we’ve booked our Air and Hotel separately – we had no problems with our transfers or reservations.
After the 45 minute drive, we arrived at the resort. Upon arrival we were checked right in and even though they had to process payment the process went quite quick. We finished filling out a partially pre-filled registration form, and were given our room keys and towel cards. This hotel has moved to digital safes so no safe key is needed (1 less thing to lose!).
Rooms: I had emailed ahead and asked for ground floor in building 7. Upon arrival we were scheduled for building 5, however due to a lower occupancy (only about 40%) and my Gold Riu Class card, we were given a free upgrade to Ocean View. We were right in the middle of Building 7, looking out at the 3 pools that ended at the beach. Our housekeeping person was good. The room was clean every day and that’s what matters the most. For some reason they flipped the main power switch each day after cleaning, but the room didn’t take too long to cool off again once you were back and turned the power back on. We did notice that while the in-room mini bar and fridge were to be restocked every other day, ours was done daily. Each afternoon when we’d wonder back from the pool it was fully stocked!
Restaurants and Bars: The resort has 2 buffets for breakfast and lunch and 1 large buffet for supper. The first morning we had breakfast at the main buffet and the rest of the time we had breakfast and lunch at the building 7 buffet. It’s a smaller buffet but always managed to find something to eat. There were a couple days that fish was the main item at lunch which made it harder for me to find something but I still did. Supper was always a different theme each night at the buffet so that was good. We got reservations for the Mexican and Italian restaurant once. We tried for the Steakhouse and Asian but they were full and as it’s the low guest time they weren’t open each night. The only real complaint that I had about the food was that there were days in which it seemed one of the chefs used too much salt in some of the dishes – normally some of the soups and or gravies. Otherwise the food was always good. Snacks – The sports bar is open 24 hours and is stocked with fruit, sandwiches and microwavable food (burgers, and hot dogs). NOTE: Supper at the Buffet: Men can wear shorts but must have a shirt with sleeves. We did see men in tank tops turned away. For the a-la cartes men are to wear pants, however we did see some men in shorts – not sure if it was due to the summer heat that they relaxed the rules or if they are generally lax about this. There are at least 6 bars, with one being open 24 hours. There are 2 swim up bars at Building 7 (along with the amazing infinity pool), at least one at the other pool – perhaps 2, 2 in the main courtyard and the 24 hour Sports Bar. We always asked for the top shelf liquors and got them no problem. Definitely not watered down. During the day around the pool they’d have a mobile bar stopping by with a limited selection – this was a nice touch.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The Beach The beach looks nice, but given how hot it was while we were there, the sand would burn your feet if you were barefoot. The ocean in front of this resort has an extremely strong undertow and as a result there are red flags flying all the time. We did venture into the water once and the water literally knocked me over and rolled me up the beach! Towards the end of our stay we saw waves that had to be close to 15 feet high crashing into the beach. Pools We made use of the infinity pool each day of our stay. The pool is huge! Given it was a slow time of year, the towel wars were not in use (at least not blatantly) and we never had an issue getting front row chairs at around 10AM so we didn’t worry. There is also another pool next to the infinity pool that has built in sun loungers and is where they do the water volleyball. We never ventured to the main pool so I can’t comment on that one other than to say it’s the quiet one as there are no animation team members at that pool.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Entertainment The resort offered live singers each night between supper and the evening show, they were okay – not something I’d buy a ticket for, but better than nothing. We did see some of the shows and they were good. We tend to avoid the “embarrass the guest” nights and go for the real show nights. Activities The Animation team posted a schedule of activities going on throughout the day outside of the buffets. Between us we took part in the lazy games, dart tournaments, horse-shoes, and bingo. These guys work hard and several of them would stop over and chat with us for a bit while other ones just kept to themselves. Trips Other than relaxing by the pool, the only trips we did were to go into town a couple times and wonder around. There are some good deals in the mall but you can also get the same deals in the flea market area too. Walked around the marina – there are sure some nice looking boats docked there! Getting to or from downtown is a $12.00 US taxi ride.
Other Comments: I’ve seen people mention cockroaches in other reviews, I saw a total of 3 the entire trip – 2 were in the hallways of building 7 and one in our bathroom (which met an untimely death). Never once did I see one near food or drink areas. My only concern was bringing any back home with me and all we did was shake everything out before we packed up and nothing was found. We didn’t make use of the free WiFi (90 minutes a day in a 24 hour period). I did see a few people talking to the front desk as their connections were constantly being dropped. Not sure if that’s typical for the resort or if it was technical issues that day. We had a great time. All the staff were friendly and those who spoke English would often stop and chat with us. The only guest issue we had was a noisy neighbour who went for a week of partying and would slam doors and yell up and down the hallway at any hour of the night. I’d have no problem returning to this resort again.