Let me start by saying that this is my 3rd stay in a Riu Hotel and despite my previous 2 stays at the Riu Cancun and Riu Tikida Palmeraie being very enjoyable, this will likely be my last.
We chose the Riu Palace Aruba to celebrate our 5 year anniversary due previous experience at other Riu's and Aruba has always appealed due to the idyllic white sandy beaches and turquoise water.
Aruba is a wonderful (if a little windy most of the time) island. Plenty of sunshine, nice people, glorious beaches(some of the best I've ever experienced but not THE best). Also to my surprise, there is plenty to do off resort too, unlike Dominican Republic for example where you pretty much stay on resort unless you're booked on an organised trip. I think you could quite easily stay at a bed and breakfast resort on this island and eat out of an evening.
So, why such a negative review?
Rooms- our first room (502, Jr Suite) was terrible. There were stains on the wall below one of the air con vents which looked disgusting. The furniture is dated and TV old, but that's not a major issue. What is an issue is broken draws on the dresser units, the plug sockets that don't work properly, the balcony furniture is not standard in every room. We had 2 chairs which looked like they were taken from a 1980's working mans club. We asked for these to be changed as most other balconies had recliners. 2 days later, nothing had been done. We and our rep asked on multiple occasions until finally someone came up with a single, cheap white plastic chair (still no recliner) and took both the "Phoenix club" chairs away, so we were left with 1. Fortunately on this day, our rep Jaz had arranged a room swap anyway. She along with my partner viewed another room (619) which was better but had a restricted sea view (we paid for a full sea view), before finally being offered room 1004. We decided to take this room as it was a massive improvement on 502. At first we were delighted but then when my girlfriend wanted a bath we noticed that the taps weren't connected properly meaning only the shower was working. Considering one of the main features of a Jr Suite as advertised was a whirlpool bath, to not have this working was a bit ridiculous. This was reported straight away and to the hotels credit was repaired immediately, however I suspect that this sudden upturn in efficiency may have been down to the hotel General Manager arriving on site (he didn't look happy most of the time) and seemed to improve the aesthetic standards of the hotel whilst on site. What he did not do however was address the more underlying problems within the hotel. A few staff have bad attitudes. Most are very good, Luis in the main buffet hall particularly so. Main reception staff are the worst though. Also having been offered a free spa treatment for my girlfriend and myself 4 days into the holiday as a goodwill gesture for our inconveniences we thought things would improve. Unfortunately a week later we were still chasing this up as nobody would give us a straight answer on what we were allowed. Finally we went to the Spa to book something (a stress relieving massage each and my girlfriend wanted reflexology on her foot, a grand total of $370) we were told by the girl that Richard would not allow this and would only authorise up to $190. Fair enough. We decided to cancel it along with our booking to the Riu Palace Peninsula next year where we had a booking for 4 people in a VIP Villa. For the sake of $190 he is obviously happy for the Riu Hotel group to lose a $15,000 booking. Some manager.
General state of hotel- At first glance, the hotel seems of good standard (once you look past the dated furniture, which is not an issue). However, once you start looking a bit closer, all is not well. Bare wires were a fire alarm switch should be mounted, covered by a bit of cardboard. Not only is this a serious breach of Health and Safety due to possible electrocution of a guest but also how are you meant to raise the alarm in the event of a fire on that floor? Despite the staff working endlessly to keep the place clean and tidy, you do find a lot of empty cups around the place, especially in the pool. I think the wind has a lot to do with this though. My suggestion for that would be to give out proper cups and glasses instead of plastic and polystyrene cups which I don't think should have a place in a 4/5 Star hotel anyway. I hate drinking coffee out of polystyrene cups and won't even do this at a greasy spoon in England let alone a holiday resort which costs around £5000 per couple.
Upon arrival the pool looked very dark/dirty and had lights hanging out under water. This was improved once the GM did his walk around though. The worrying thing though was that he looked very angry (again) when looking at a water sample and within minutes the filter system was working away and the pool boys were scrubbing away also.
The reception area at first looked very grand. However after a couple of days you realise that this only applies to the appearance and not the manners of the staff. 3 words to best describe the reception staff are unorganised, abrupt, forgetful. We were made to feel like pests to get our Spa vouchers which were meant to be a hotel good will gesture.
Entertainment- if you want a nice quiet relax by the pool, this is not the place to be. If you want Gangam Style and the Vengaboys blaring at full volume during aqua Zumba then you'll love it here. That's not for me though. Also, I think a lot can be said of having separate pool bars now as when the people in the swim up bar spill the drinks in the water, it tends to find its way to you whilst having a dip and looks like a slick of vomit in the pool. Also, the pool can look like a rubbish tip with the amount of cups, straws and cigarette ends in there.
The Beach- this is the highlight of the whole resort. It has soft white sand, warm turquoise blue water, palm trees blowing in the breeze. It's so relaxing. You do however need to get up at about 6am if you want a beach hut and about 5:30am if you want a good one. Good selection of activities on the beach from banana boats to para sailing.
If you're going here in the next couple of months with Thomson, Jaz, your rep, is excellent. She doesn't just accept whatever the hotel says and really pushes the case of the customer more than any rep I've ever known before. Very friendly and approachable and I can't speak highly enough of her. She helped sort out our room change as well as get us a few free spa treatments for our troubles. Unfortunately the hotel manager even managed to mess this up as it took over a week to sort out after constant harassment from ourselves and when we were told to just go and book our treatments it was refused by the manager. In the end we just went to a different Spa and payed for it ourselves. Time which could have been better spent relaxing which is what the holiday was meant to be about. Jaz really is a credit to Thomson.
Now for the grand finale which many may find it hard to believe, it was that extraordinary. Upon checking out of the hotel I was sitting in the lobby when I noticed a guest trying to get the attention of the manager as he walked across the lobby. The manager (Richard), then answered his phone and totally ignored the guest. The gentleman then went to the reception and asked if he could speak to the manager. One of the girls on reception told him to knock on the managers door. The gentleman knocked, nothing. Then the girl walked over and knocked a little louder. Within seconds, Richard came charging out of his office shouting at the poor gentleman who stood there shell shocked. The whole lobby (which was packed) turned to see what was happening. The girl who had knocked then told Richard it was her and Richard went berserk. He told her to get of his reception and within minutes she was walking away in tears. Most people including myself were under the impression she had been fired on the spot. I had a quick word with Richard regarding the whole scene and said that that kind of scene had no place in front of guests at a 5 Star resort. I also tried to bring to his attention some of the problems listed in my review. Things suddenly went sour and before I knew it he was trying to provoke me into hitting him, threatening to get me arrested if I did. When I told him I'm really not that stupid he had the audacity to say that "I didn't have the balls". I had to just bite my tongue and walk away. The staff were really sympathetic and said that that kind of scenario happened all of the time and the staff live in fear of Richard. I can't see how a successful business can flourish in this kind of environment. It was like something from faulty towers.
Overall, our stay wasn't terrible, it was average at best and I would have given it 3 Stars up until the Check Out debacle. The Staff in general are really friendly and work tirelessly if you tip them or not. The food is excellent, the best of any Riu Resort I've been to and the hotel location is perfect. Like I say it's just the little things that bring it down and make it more like a 2/3 Star hotel than a 4/5 Star. Also after speaking with around a dozen other couples, all of which English or American, they all say that they will not be back to a Riu Hotel due to poor experiences here.
- 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