Great time at the Riu Palace!
I honestly cannot understand how anyone could post a bad review. Let me address some issues:
First, you’re going to Jamaica. It’s a foreign country. It’s a 3rd world country. Do not expect your food to taste like “back home”. It will taste different. You’re not going to a Gordon Ramsey restaurant. Homosexuality is illegal there, and the people are very homophobic. Having been to Jamaica 4 times previously (this was my fifth), not only did I know what to expect; I also did more homework on my destination. So, if you think that because the resort has 5 stars, do not think you’re going to the equivalent of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Remember that the “stars” on your booking website or travel brochure are provided by the resort itself, not by any sort of standard like Michelin. The number of stars typically refers to the amenities the resort has. E.g. pool bar, a la carte dining, room service, etc. It is not a reference to quality. Even the star ratings here on TA are not 100% accurate because they are “opinions” based on personal perceptions and preferences. What is terrific to one, may be deplorable to another (e.g. beach vendors). So, do please keep that in mind. Further, some of the reviews are by the resort itself, or (a bad review) by a competitor. You do not have to have been to the resort to post a bad review.
One of the greatest things about Jamaica is that while the people may be poor, they are still proud, happy and very friendly! Remember, you get what you dish out. A little respect goes a long way!
We used a private transfer (Joe Cool Taxi and Tours) for 8 of us. Cost was $30 per person, round trip and included a red stripe! Our drive took about an hour and 10 minutes each way, and was early both times.
The resort is gorgeous – just no other word for it. Add to that there are staff cleaning everywhere constantly – a very good sign. The check in was quick (with a beverage), and our bags arrived at our room just after I poured my first drink from the mini bar. From the moment we walked in, the resort staff was very friendly and always asking how we were doing and if there was anything they could do.
The pools are indeed small, but we liked them (if I want to go swimming, I’ll hit the ocean!) The swim-up pool bar gets pretty busy mid-afternoon and yes, people will spill their drinks. I noticed the lifeguard testing the water hourly. The pools are cleaned daily, and properly treated so no health worries.
The drinks at all the bars (yes, we hit them all – we ARE Canaidan!) were excellent. Top shelf liquors available, just ask for it. I wouldn’t mind more of a wine selection though. Oh, and don’t forget, you can have a mimosa (champagne / orange juice) in the morning, and plenty of champagne for dinner too!
Room service is a tiny menu, a couple of sandwiches, salads, or desserts is all that is available – nothing hot. But, it is quick – about 15 minutes.
There are no elevators – so if you have stair issues, opt for a ground floor room.
The service is nothing short of outstanding!!
Having been all over the Caribbean – this is by far the best I’ve been on. Crystal clear, calm, shallow water. You can walk out 100 feet before you’re up to your neck. Plenty of shade for those who want it, and never a problem getting a beach lounger, or even a little side table. The loungers were all in great condition too. In the early (7-ish) morning, you can see the hotel staff out raking the entire beach by hand, picking up trash and/or debris that may have washed up. A truly fabulous beach. One of the things we enjoyed was seeing the odd sting-ray swimming along. Relax, they’re harmless. Yes, there are vendors on the beach, but they are not allowed to approach past the high-tide line – and they know and respect that limit. They will try to sell you anything from crafts, to jet ski rentals, to marijuana. A simple “no thank you” and perhaps a “respect mon” and there’s no issue. In fact, one of our favourites was the cigarette guy – he’s got quite the voice! “Cigarettes … cigarRRs, its gonna be hot hot hot hot” ! A very pleasant fellow, and not pushy at all. Also, watch for Donovan Dalrimple with his guitar.- a very happy and friendly guy who will play you a few tunes. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, maybe even make a friend. Many of the vendors that I didn’t buy from I chatted with and as they walked by day by day, they’d give me a good morning shout and a wave.
We had an ocean front junior suite, block 4, middle floor. Room was very clean and well kept. Yes, we had two doubles pushed together, no biggie. Mini bar had rum, brandy, vodka and gin. Fridge had red stripes, soft drinks and water. Coffee and coffee maker too. No tea though – there’s tea at the resort, just not in the room. A/C TV worked fine. It seems the clocks have trouble working there – but who cares? I’m on holidays! WIFI is FREE and works just fine!
If you cannot find anything you enjoy there, trust me – its you NOT the resort! The buffet was amazing with so many choices and with the wait staff bending over backwards to help – how can you miss? We hit 3 of the 4 a la carte restaurants. Bloody bay (steak / seafood) was my favourite, followed by Rimini (Italian). The Italian restaurant has a self-serve buffet for appetizers including beef and salmom carpaccio, salads, pastas, and anti pasto. The main course and dessert is sit-down. Hakuchi, the Japanese restaurant, was quite good too. You can have warm or cold sake there too!
Now, for lunch you have to try the hotel’s jerk shack on the beach. Excellent – everyone loved it! There is also a lunch buffet with all kinds of choices including cheeseburgers and pizza.
Food wise though, my feeling is why would anyone go to Jamaica for Italian or Japanese food? Not to mention cheeseburgers and pizza? – but I digress. Suffice to say that I tried all the Jamaican dishes there and all were great!
TIPS and STUFF
My best tip is to simple get off the resort and explore! Walk up the beach to the “original” office of nature and have a pint under the tarps at a homemade bar with the locals – great guys! We actually popped over three times during our time there!
Walk to the road and grab a taxi (red license plate) into town or get droppped off on the long bay portion of 7 mile beach. From there you can walk, explore, meet people (tourists and locals alike), grab a meal and/or a drink.
Do the “One Love Pub Crawl”!!!! (look it up on trip advisor) Just email Lenbert at email@example.com for a pick up date/time! We visited 7 “off the touristy-beaten-path” bars and had a fabulous time!!
DO tip the staff! You tip your bartender / waiter / cab driver back home don’t you? Why wouldn’t you there? All inclusive typically means room, food, booze. There is only ONE resort that I am aware of where tipping is prohibited (but you pay big $$ for the resort!) A dollar here and there goes a long way.
You can do a la carte dining every night if you like. Even if they’re “booked solid”, they only hold the reservation for 15 – 20 minutes. So if you want to dine at 630-7ish, just walk up about 645 and ask for a table. We got into the “booked solid” steakhouse with 5 of us, no problem. We also noticed empty tables at other restaurants too. I supposed people book their dinners, then either forget or change their minds (or spend too much time at the bars LOL).
There is much more, all positive !
block 4, middle floors are best - go for ocean FRONT.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.