Let me start by saying that I've been to many AI resorts in Dominican, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico, and for the first time, Aruba.
All are a little different, each with its advantages, depending on what your preferences are.
Aruba, by its nature, is the best destination I've been to for certain things. The gorgeous beach, warm, clear water, proximity to safe walking/shopping/downtown - is by far the best i've experienced.
The RIU itself featured friendly staff, was very clean, and was the best food I've ever experienced at an AI. We stayed in the oldest building i believe (the one to the right as you walk down the central staircase) - it was simple, a little dated, but clean and had a fridge stocked with beer and in-room rum, vodka, scotch and water. We had an 8th floor beautiful ocean view - a tiny french balcony but we weren't there for that.
Everyone has a different take on this, but I feel better about tipping here and there. Friendly staff, of course, will become a tad friendlier and you'll generally get faster service at the bars. No surprise there. I should note though that without tipping , I didn't notice a significant drop in friendliness or service levels so kudos to the staff.
As a comparison, by far my favourite resort for room and resort layout was the Excellence in Cancun. Rooms were way above par (in room jacuzzi / walk in shower, large balcony,etc), and it was more spread out, meaning it was quieter, which i like. The RIU's design means everything's more centralized around the 1 pool, and it's therefore quite busy near the pool bar and fairly loud, particularly when larger groups and generally louder people decide they can be as obnoxious as they want, taking certain spots hostage for their stay, which is what occurred the week i was there Apr 20-27. One main group from Chicago dominated, much to the obvious chagrin of others. In fact, one of these group members commented to us that she's "apologizing in advance for her group". Nice. But here's my issue. And btw, trust me - i'm no teetotalling prude - I get that the poolbar will be livelier. But there's no real need to be constantly yelling and screaming drunkenly, or in one case, exposing one's junk in an attempt to be funny (it's true - a seemingly 'roided up dude actually did that - and there were kids nearby)
In any event, that isn't the fault of the resort, it's the thoughtlessness of the group.
Bu overall, a fantastic resort - here are a few more thoughts:
*If you want a shaded hut on the beach, you better get up about 7am to reserve it.
*If you're looking to see the island and want the security of a group but with some independence, go on a guided Jeep tour that you drive yourself.. You can also rent a Jeep and go it alone.
*I tried to book a Jeep tour but it was all sold out. I then opted to rent an ATV for the day from Melchor's - an off site operator near the super mall place about 5 minutes from the resort. It was by far the best excursion I've ever taken, but it may not be for you if you like the security of a group, and you like things a little less "rugged" (you need to drive on the main roads to get anywhere which may be intimidating for some). For me it was fantastic as I loved the freedom - it's nearly impossible to get lost since it's a small island (plus they provide a map), and I drove to Baby beach in the morning, and then to the california lighthouse in the afternoon. Rugged, beautiful and a hell of a lot of fun. I also stopped at a few non tourist spots/beaches in between. $100 for the entire day, plus $10 in gas to fill it back up. What a deal.
*I felt a bit crowded around the pool/beach, but that's just a preference. Some people like that type of critical mass
*Best food for me was Italian - went twice -excellent antipasto bar.
*No issues with ice/water, and buffet eats were top notch, with excellent produce, fruit and vegetables. (i personally ate about a thousand kiwi last week)
*It pains me a bit to see Dunkin Donuts, Wendy's and such, but I get it. Some folks like the familiarity of it I suppose.
*We went to The Sopranos Piano Bar about 5 minutes from the RIU. Was fantastic. Wish it wasn't branded that way, but i think one of the show's producers owns it or something.
*Ironically, you won't find Aloe products in the supermarkets the locals go to. It's a tourist thing I suppose. You can find it , however, in the new super mall place I mentioned near Melchor's ATV rental place.
Any questions for me, I'd be happy to answer!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- > * Opened: summer 2007> * Situated in Palm Beach on the island of Aruba> * Two 10-story buildings, one 8-story building> * Located on the beach> * Complimentary sun loungers and parasols on the beach> * 4 km / 2.48 Miles from Oranjestad> * 700 m / 2296.7 Ft. From various shops> * 10 km / 6.21 Miles from the airport> * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Diners ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Aruba Hotel Palm/Eagle Beach
- Riu Aruba
- Riu Palace Aruba Resort
- Hotel Riu Palace Aruba Palm - Eagle Beach