My wife and I have always wanted to stay at a resort in Negril but wondered whether we would receive good value for our hard-earned money. Would we really have the time and energy to enjoy all the things that come with paying a premium price? If not, then it would seem like money not well spent. With the global recession, the prices have come down so we decided to celebrate our anniversary there. In addition, our favorite hotel in the main area of Negril changed their policy to only accepting stays of 3 nights or greater so we couldn't stay there. We then decided on the RIU and we were pretty impressed. The grounds are fairly extensive and beautiful. The staff are friendly and most easily remembered my name. The rooms, while not extraordinary by any means, were comfortable, large enough and clean. The rooms had cable TV with many of the main U.S. channels. There was a free minibar in the fridge with several Red Stripes, water and some soft drinks. There were also 3 bottles of hard alcohol (light and dark rums, I think).The rooms weren't extremely close to the water but my ocean-front room was only about 12 meters from the balcony to the waves. As we arrived at the front the first day, the staff greeted us cheerfully, asking us what cocktails we wanted. The check-in area is huge with big chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and space for 50 people to move around easily without bumping into each other. There were also 3 bars within a one-minute walk from the check-in area. The drinks aren't especially strong and they don't have a lot of major brands of alcohol like Tanqueray, Patron. Same for beer. They had Red Stripe, and, I believe, Heineken, but no major U.S. or other international brands.
We made two huge mistakes which have nothing to do with this hotel but it's good information to know. First, we exchanged money at the airport in Montego Bay. It was a HUGE ripoff! The rate at the hotel was about TEN Jamaican dollars higher! It makes a big difference if you are exchanging a large sum of money. Second, we rented a car (later) from Hertz Jamaica. AVOID HERTZ JAMAICA AT ALL COSTS!!!. I had missed seeing some minor chips in the windshield of the SUV we rented and they weren't noted on the damage form. Upon returning the vehicle, they said the(obviously old to anyone not trying to rip someone off) chips were not there when I had rented the vehicle.They charged me $800 U.S. dollars!!!! Yes, you read that correctly -EIGHT HUNDRED U.S. DOLLARS - because an attendant with no qualifications said the chips would spread and be a danger. They showed no paperwork for anything and no supervisor ever came to speak with me as I had requested. They have not even responded to my complaint, nor my request for photos, paperwork, etc. Do your due diligence and check everything! Don't let the attendant just show you where the damages are. Check inside and out. Sorry for going off on that tangent but it was necessary.
I was at the RIU when the storm that was supposed to be minor, Hurricane Sandy, hit Jamaica. The staff handled everything smoothly. There was no loss of power and they even brought meals to our rooms so we wouldn't have to venture out during the storm. Nothing fancy, but still very thoughtful. They gave detailed information on what the hotel was doing and made sure we were all safe and comfortable. The storm only brushed by that part of the island and there didn't seem to be much damage other than the odd palm frond broken off the tree. The rest of the island was devastated.
Other information - the all-inclusive price does not include the snorkeling or scuba diving as stated on Expedia. You have to pay extra. The property is very well kept and they do a good job of keeping the sand flies away, although the smoke they use can kind of choke you. The wet bar seemed nice but also seemed almost impossible to get to due to the group of noisy people who hogged the area almost throughout the day. There is an outside kitchen right on the beach and the gentleman there cooked up some fairly tasty jerk chicken with a smile and lots of banter. There was also a small hot tub, a gym and a small room with slot machines. The food was good but they served very little authentic Jamaican food and even the Jamaican food they served lacked the real flavor you will find at some of the small restaurants along the main road going into town. They seem to cater to a more European taste. I am not complaining, I understand you have to take care of your main clientele but maybe it would be nice to show them just a little more of what the native flavor of food is like. That is why I rated the food as average. They had a wide selection of appetizers, main courses, desserts, salads and drinks but they lacked the island flavor. I didn't see common Jamaican drinks like sorrel and sour sop when I went to the main restaurant.
The beach is not anywhere near as good as the one on the seven-mile main and that's why I've selected 'average' for location. The hotel is just too far from the main drag and the beach is lacking. By the way, the walk takes about 2 and a half hours into town if you are so inclined. There was no trouble from the natives except for the 'taxis' always beeping their horn to ask you if you need an overpriced ride into town. Taxis cost about 100 JM dollars (about $1.20 U.S.) for natives from that location but I gave one driver double. The fare for foreigners is usually sky high from what I've been told by the guard at the gate. Ask a native about prices, distances, reliable drivers, etc before venturing out. Back to the beach - the sand is not as white as on the main 7-mile beach, the water not as turquoise, and in the water it seems the bottom is composed of clay or something. It feels like you are standing in quicksand or mush. Very displeasing. If you are going for the beach, I don't recommend this area. I did not like it at all. It will definitely deter me from staying there again. I do recommend the hotel but my wife and I mainly went for the beach so that part was very disappointing. Still, the RIU was really nice.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Renovated in summer 2008 * Located in Negril, on Jamaica's west coast * On the beachfront * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 1-storey main building and 2-storey buildings * Victorian-style architecture * Surrounded by 47,000 m2 / 56,500 sq. yards of lush gardens * 7.5 km / 4.7 miles from Negril West End * 6 km / 3.8 miles from various shops * 80 km / 48 miles from Montego Bay airport ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Tropical Bay Hotel Negril
- Riu Tropical Bay Jamaica
- Riu Palace Tropical Bay Negril
- Riu Tropical Bay Negril Jamaica
- Negril Riu Tropical Bay Hotel
- Riu Jamaica
- Riu Tropical Jamaica