Our first visit was Oct 2012 and second visit Nov-Dec 2013 to this particular resort. We were returning to Negril to get married. The first visit was a holiday with a bit of reconnaissance 'work' thrown in to see if it was somewhere we'd be happy to get married. We made our decision after ALOT of research and the opinion we formed from our first stay.
TRANSFER: took approximately two hours from MoBay to Club Riu. We arrived in MoBay before schedule but still ended up waiting for other travellers which was annoying. At this point, I regretted not paying for a private transfer, we both agreed that next time a private transfer is a must. The journey to the hotel was fine. If I remember rightly, we only stopped at one hotel on the way to drop other guests off. We also didn't stop for a lavatory/red stripe. This wasn't the case the first trip. The driver and baggage handler were professional and friendly. We tipped them $5 each.
CHECK IN: we were immediately handed a lovely fruit punch, icy cold and refreshing. We then proceeded to a temporary desk to check in. The girl who actually checked us in surprised us with a complimentary upgrade. Check in was smooth and we were heading to our room within ten minutes.
ROOM: we were in Block two, directly opposite the beach bar (handy) on the first floor. We decided to carry our own bags so we could get to our room and unpack as quickly as humanly possible. We were pleased with the location of our room. We had the best room for ocean view and also a great balcony to people watch from. The room had two double beds that were pushed together, i couldn't really tell there was a gap in the middle so, for us, it wasn't a problem. The mini bar was stocked with: Coca Cola, Diet Coca Cola, Bigga (fizzy orange), two large bottle of Wata (water), four red Stripes, tonic water and ginger ale. There was also four optics, vodka, rum, gin and cognac (I think it was), these were topped up every other day. If you catch the mini bar guy or leave a note, they will leave the things you like and not the things you don't like. For example, we just wanted coca cola, vodka, red stripes and water. We tipped him $5 (when we saw him). The room was spacious, clean and the air con worked fine. The only negative was that one of the drawers kept sticking and also there was a lamp shade missing off one of the wall lights (no biggy). There was 3 bath towels, 4 hand towels and two face cloths. The electronic safe (set your own code) worked fine, initially (see comment below). The television was an old fashioned chunky one.
WEDDING: we had a very personal wedding, it was better than we expected. We purchased the Royal package. Our wedding coordinator was lovely, professional, very calming and thorough. She really is fantastic. We met with her the first morning. All details were finalised and we were set to get married on Monday 2nd December 2013. We chose the beach gazebo for our ceremony and it was perfect. The groundsmen rake the sand and move any loungers and people from the immediate vicinity. The gazebo was beautifully decorated with a white organza type material and two beautiful arrangements either side. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Dionne brought me round the back way of the accommodation blocks so I wasn't seen by anybody until I was ready to do the "walk" when the music started playing (and the tears started rolling). We made friends with another couple from the UK who kindly recorded the ceremony and everything on the iPad, thanks C & R. We also had a photographer who took professional photos, we had a package of one hour of photos which resulted in 135 photos. We got married on Monday and had the photos by Friday on a disc (would've been nice to of had one or two printed out) but we also purchased 5 photos (7" x 5") for $12 each that were on the disc. I couldn't wait until I was home to have some pics of the day!. We were also given a Riu photo album (also available to buy in the shop), a "Just Married in Jamaica" t-shirt, a couples massage (20 minute Swedish) and complimentary Club MoBay for departure. Nice touches!. Our wedding meal was in Shadows steak house, I wasn't impressed with the meal at all. For small weddings I think you should be given the option to dine in any of the a la carte restaurants. The cake wasn't very nice. It was a basic chocolate cake that was iced in marshmallow type stuff, it didn't have any flowers or decoration on it. Very disappointing.
FOOD: there is literally something for everybody. Fish, meats, vegetables, salads, pasta, pizza, soup, burgers (avoid the hamburgers, our friend was very sick from eating one of these- it ruined the last 4 days of his vacation), cheese, biscuits, ice cream, desserts, smoothies, jerk chicken, the list goes on. When I say there's everything from Linguine to lobster and creme caramel to callaloo, there really is something for everyone. You can get food 22.5 hours a day at this resort. Personally, we love the barbecue chicken on the beach that's served at lunchtime. We'd have chicken from the hut and then walk up to the lunch buffet and get salad (hubby was allowed chips on holiday, they're banned at home lol). The a la carte system is annoying. You have to book two days in advance. Due to this, we only ate at one of these which was the gourmet, Sir Andrews. My husband had the fillet steak which he enjoyed very much. The staff are friendly and professional.
STAFF: professional, friendly, courteous, humble, willing and eager to please. Most importantly, they work SO hard to ensure you have a nice stay at this resort. They make you feel as though nothing is too much trouble. No problem!. They really do work hard and do their best. I witnessed a few times the staff being friendly and chatty and then the guests being down right rude. Not once did we feel as if we had to tip, we chose to tip when we'd received good service.
ENTERTAINMENT: the team work day in day out to put on a variety of shows in the evening as well as doing various things during the day. Jamaican dancing, aerobics, water aerobics, volley ball, pool games, there's always something going on. If you don't like this type of thing, you can go to the quieter part of the beach, the fish sanctuary and it's more quiet there. This is the beach in front of block 4. I wouldn't advise going in the sea here though as there are ALOT of fish, literally thousands. There is a sign that states "no swimming" but I did see people in the sea here. There is a resident Heron who likes to 'snack' here - Fantastic to watch at such close proximity!.
FACILITIES: there are two pools, the pool with a swim up bar is much more lively than the other, larger pool. The pool with a swim up bar has seats at the bar and also seats and tables around the edge where you can sit or put your drink without getting out of the water. The people who sit in the swim up bar drinking from 12 noon until 4/5pm clearly don't care that they are increasing the water level of the pool instead of taking a short walk to the toilets. Really, it's gross!.
There are 3 a la carte restaurants and there's also A buffet for breakfast (main restaurant) a buffet for lunch (Shadows) and the jerk chicken on the beach (from 12 until he runs out of chicken) a buffet for dinner (main restaurant) and then Luigis (the Italian a la carte) is open for late night snacks from 10pm to 6am. There is a beach bar, a bar in the lobby (check out Paul the barman who sings at 7:30pm most nights - he's world class and needs to be recognised for his fantastic voice), a bar opposite the main stage and the swim up bar. There are also drink stations in all buffets where you can get beer, wine, tea, coffee, soft drinks and ice. In all of the buffets, a waiter or waitress will get your drinks for you. We used to leave a couple of dollars for our waiter/waitress when we ate. There is a Spa on site that we used and were very happy with (see separate paragraph). On the beach, there is a variety of watersports. Kayaks, little sail boats, peddle boats (all included), Scuba diving centre (they lost my business as they failed to turn up for the 3pm meeting at the pool) as I wanted to get certified this trip, when I went to the Scuba centre I was told the instructor had just gone out. Yea, thanks for sending someone up to tell me, I'd just wasted an hour waiting for someone who was never going to come (this happened 3 times on my last trip to). So, if you are already certified and are ready to get your cash out you'll be fine. If you're a learner and need to start from scratch, good luck and be patient!. There are jet skis on the beach that are NOT part of the hotel. You use these at your own risk but they are FUN. We used a jet ski each for 10 days out of the 14. They are ALOT of fun. Negotiate with the guys though, you'll get a good price, eventually.
RENOVA SPA: as we were getting married I was apprehensive about hair and make up. I booked my appointment a month before arrival. I had to pay a 50% deposit to secure the booking via paypal which I found a bit odd but that's the system they use. I had no problems with it. We also had a couples massage (part of the package) that we had done the day before our wedding on the beach. It was lovely.
My hair and make up was done by Vanessa, what a girl!. She really did make me look like a proper bride. I was so impressed. I went in to the spa, met with Vanessa and she made me feel at ease straight away (or was that the two large Coco mania and coke I had in hand???) by chatting happily away. I didn't have a clue how I wanted my make up, all I knew was I wanted my hair up. In two hours she worked wonders. My hair was all curled and pinned up and my make up was lovely, very natural looking but enhanced my features. I was very pleasantly surprised how much I liked what she had done as I hadn't had a trial or anything. Vanessa isn't just a beauty therapist and hair dresser she is a lovely woman who is fantastic at her job. She really is an asset to this resort. For any future brides, ask for Vanessa, she is superb.
All in all, we had a lovely wedding-moon and wouldn't change a thing about the ceremony itself. I hope this review helps people in some way make a decision. We've been to this resort twice, it's served it's purpose, it does what it says on the tin. However, we won't be staying here again as it's time to try somewhere new. My all inclusive big resort days in Jamaica are done. Time to try the smaller boutique types on the cliffs!.
In my honest opinion, this hotel is great for families who want lots of things to do without venturing off the resort itself. In my opinion, it's like a 3 star hotel. Apparently it is undergoing renovation work in 2014. Maybe the Reno work will push it up a star?!?. The Palace hotel next to the Club hotel in my mind is not as nice as the Club hotel. It says a lot when there are guests coming to the Club hotel from the palace to spend their days and eat. Why would people go to the less expensive hotel after paying for the more expensive hotel to eat and use the facilities??
NB Management- out of 14 days, fresh mint for mojitos was only available for 2 days. It was totally unacceptable as I drink Mojitos and fresh mint isn't exactly hard to source!. I was informed by a staff member they get 2 pounds of mint delivered daily. This was an outright lie!. Maybe they get two pounds delivered per month?!.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located on Jamaica's west coast in Negril * Located on the beach front * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * Main building and four 2-story annexes * Surrounded by 45,000 m2 / 56,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * 9 km / 5.5 Miles from Negril's West End * 7 km / 4.4 Miles from various shops * 80 km / 48 miles from Montego Bay airport * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa, Diners ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Hotel Negril
- Rio Negril
- Riu Negril Jamaica
- Riu Resort All Inclusive Negril