My husband and I had a wonderful 1st anniversary vacation in Aruba at the Riu Palace. It was our first time to the island and we can't wait to go back!!! This review may be long, but I want to provide details! The negative comments others have posted are ridiculous - so if you're thinking of booking a trip here, just do it! :)
We flew from Toronto with Sunwing, flight delayed by about an hour or so, otherwise no issues. Arrival was very smooth in Aruba. The flight crew announced the procedure before we left the plane (ie: where to go, what to do), and they told us to avoid the time share sellers in the terminal - however, we did not see any when we got there. We got through customs and got our luggage quickly. There was a Signature Vacations/Sunwing rep waiting with a sign and he directed us to our bus. There was a separate truck for the luggage - our bags did not travel on the bus with us, which was fine. The ride to the hotel was about 20 mins or so. Upon arrival at the hotel, they had a separate table set up for our check-in, as there were two flights arriving at the same time, and the lobby was packed. The table was divided alphabetically by last name and the process was relatively smooth. There was some confusion afterwards though, regarding actually taking our bags and going to our room. There were only a few bell boys, but we were told to have one of them show us to our room. My husband got tired of waiting, so we just took our own bags and went to the room ourselves, which was fine. Other than this minor issue, our arrival was fine.
We had a junior suite in building B, with a partial oceanview and a view of the Westin Hotel next door, lol. Unfortunately, we did not get the side that had a pool view and an oceanview, but it was okay. The partial oceanview we had was awesome as it faced the sunset every night! Furthermore, we hardly spent time in the room anyway. It was a good size, decent storage/closet space (in the closet, there is an electronic safe that you can set your own code for), huge bathroom with double sinks and a jacuzzi tub/shower combo. The king size bed was enormous but very firm/hard. We tried sleeping on it for the first two nights, but I couldn't continue, it was just too hard. We called the front desk for a mattress pad and within 30 mins, it was delivered to our room and set up on the bed. It made a very very big difference for me!!! There were no issues with the elevators while we were there, they worked fine. There was a mini bar fridge in the room which was stocked every day with water, pop, and beer. There were also liquor dispensers in the room which were great to use! The hotel was having problems with the internet while we were there, as our travel rep told us. We were able to log on at times in the lobby, but even this was not consistent. Not a huge deal for us though. The maids kept our room extremely clean (the entire hotel was very well kept). Our towels were changed twice a day and the maid also left little mints for us. For our anniversary, we were surprised with some flowers, a bottle of champagne, and a little note from the hotel. I think this was because our travel agent informed the hotel that it was our anniversary beforehand.
The food was spectacular! No complaints whatsoever! We tried all 4 of the a la cartes, the steakhouse (Nautilus), Japanese (Sayuri), gourmet (Krystal), and Italian (Milano). Our overall favourite was the Italian because it had a hot/cold appetizer buffet in addition to the seated menu. However, my favourite main course was at Krystal - the beef sirloin with sweet potatoes. Yummy! The service at all of the restaurants was just superb! Yes, you do have to make reservations each morning that you want to eat at a speciality restaurant, and the desk is only open from 9am-12pm. However, it was not a huge hassle. There was usually a short line right at 9am, but shortly after, around 10-11am, the line completely died down, and I just walked up to the desk and made my reservation. There were never any issues getting the restaurant and time that we wanted. There are only two times/sittings available, 6:30pm and 9pm.
The buffet was also amazing! My husband even said that he preferred eating at the buffet due to the amazing selections! Breakfast at the main buffet consisted of every variety of egg, including a make-your-own omlette station, breads, cheeses, french toast, pancakes, waffles, pastries, fruit, fresh fruit juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, yogurts, cereals, bacon, hot dogs, other meats/veggies, etc. Lunch was served either at the main buffet or at the Nautilus buffet (this is the steakhouse a la carte at night but during the day it serves as the beach/pool buffet). There was always so much variety, fish, chicken, steak, potatoes, fries, pastas, veggies, breads, cheeses, hamburgers, hot dogs, endless snacks, etc. Dinner at the main buffet was also fantastic, there was a theme each night. We ate at the buffet for three nights, Mexican night, Gala night, and Chef's night. We are not sure what the other theme nights were. Every time we ate there, it was awesome, no complaints, but our fave was the Mexican night! Nachos, quesadillas, fajitas, tacos, oh my!!! Everything was extremely tasty! The buffet staff also offered impeccable service.
There is also unlimited snacks (sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn) at the 24-hr sports bar, which is attached to the lobby bar. The sports bar also makes awesome drinks! Our fave bartender, Ana Victoria, made the best Coca Rosas at the sports bar, which was our number one drink for the week!
Honestly, we are glad that we did an all-inclusive. Aruba's food is great and I know there are tons of awesome restaurants around. But, we didn't want the hassle of having to think about food. The value that you get at this hotel is superb. The food is top quality for the price of this hotel.
The pool is huge and gorgeous and there is a pool bar (swim-up) as well. The beach is also very wide and very beautiful. However, if you want to get a decent spot in the shade at either the pool or beach, you have to wake up early and reserve your chair or hut with towels and other items. Although there are signs everywhere saying this is against hotel policy, nobody listens and it is not enforced by hotel staff. Therefore, get up early if you want a good spot. We never did this and we paid for it. We couldn't get a spot until the afternoon, after 1pm or so, when people left for lunch and took their stuff with them. It is pretty windy in Aruba at times, but the place is scorching hot so the breeze is welcomed. Just secure your towels with towel clips!
The beach is pretty long and many other hotels share the strip, the Westin, Occidental Grand, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Radisson, Mariott, etc. We took a walk once and were met with several time share sellers who work at the different resorts. They will try to get you to come watch a presentation and if you do, you will get a "free gift". We just politely told them no thanks, and kept walking. But beware, they are persistent and will really try to persuade you. We even had one come up to us while we were relaxing and laying on the beach, not cool. But again, the beach is public so, there's no stopping them.
It appears that entertainment was lacking at this hotel, compared to the other resorts we've been too. During the day, the staff did activites by the pool, which seemed to have good participation. But at night, there really wasn't much going on. Sometimes, they had some live singing and other times they did a few shows, which were just average. My husband and I preferred to hang out in the sports bar for drinks and to play pool (they have two pool tables and some arcade games, but you have to exchange dollar bills for tokens, these games are not free). There is a casino attached to the lobby, but we did not go in. We were thinking of watching a movie at the cinema which is just down the street from the hotel, but we did not get the chance to. We heard of other people doing this and it seemed like a popular night time activity.
We did a few excursions that were offered through our travel company, the full-day jeep safari, the Atlantis submarine, the full Jolly Pirates snorkelling cruise, and parasailing. All of these were totally worth the money and were completely unforgettable experiences! The guides were all terrific and nobody demanded or expected any tips, which made us all the more happy to tip them! We also took the public bus and travelled downtown to sight see and shop on our own. Aruba is so safe, we felt comfortable, and it is almost impossible to get lost. Just ask your travel rep or the hotel front desk and they will give you all the directions. There is also another shopping area/mall down the street from the hotel, where the cinema is located as well. We walked there after dinner one night, it's only about a 10-min walk, and it was very busy. We felt safe with all of the other people around. The stores are great but I found that I got better deals on souvenirs at the downtown shops.
Our flight was delayed by an hour or so again, the hotel had this information in the morning and we learned of this when we got to the desk to check out. They had delayed the time that the bus would be there to pick us up. We still had to check out and turn in our wristbands but they gave us day passes to use, which enabled us to still eat, drink, and use the facilities. We had brought our own luggage to the lobby as we didn't want to bother to wait for a bell boy. The luggage was loaded into the separate truck again and we picked up our bags at the airport. There were no issues with this. Everything went smoothly at the Aruba airport as well. There is a small food court there and some duty free shops to keep you busy while you wait for your flight.
Overall, we had an awesome time in Aruba and we will probably go back one day!!! :)
Rooms in building C are the standard/lowest category and do not have proper balconies. Rooms in buil...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.