We had only been to Mexico once, 8 years ago, and stayed in Cancun. We took our children with us this time, so it was six of us going.
We have never stayed at a Riu resort, but heard only good things about them. The reviews were dead on....amazing resort!!!! So clean, spacious, and very friendly staff. We really could find no fault with much of anything at all.
Rooms: We had two rooms, across from one another, so the girls stayed in one, and the boys in the other. Our room didn't have bells and whistles, but was clean, with a well stocked fridge, large closet, bathroom with two sinks, a deep tub, and we had a fair sized patio. There was one big dresser with 6 drawers, and two end tables with two drawers in each. There is a safe in the closet for valuables.
Restaurants: Lots to choose from. The Italian one we enjoyed the best; the Mexican the least. At the regular restaurants, where you don't have to make reservations, there were 2 times at dinner, that we couldn't sit together due to how busy the restaurant was , but had we gone earlier, we are sure this wouldn't have been a problem. We also have a severely anaphylatic child, who is allergic to peanuts. We brought 5 Epi-pens with us, but never had an issue. We met with the head chef for each restaurant we ate at, and were told what to stay away from if it was questionable. We felt safer eating there, than at restaurants back home. No problems with the ice either. We didn't get sick at all from food, ice, or water.
Pools: Clean, not crowded, but we didn't really use them. Preferred the beach.
Beach: Spacious, clean, and the ocean was fabulous to swim in. You can get boogie boards free for an hour. We loved walking along the beach and just enjoying the view. Yes, the vendors do hound you, and it does get a tad annoying, but we did buy from them a few times, and our girls got their hair partially braided for a very minimal cost.
Golden Zone was a great place to see a more cultural side of our trip, and we had packed many suitcases of premade bags hand out to those in need. We packed boy/girl/mom/infant bags, that had new socks, undewear, crayons, pads of paper, hair clips, candy, bracelets, hair ties, lotion, body wash, stuffed animals in them, and then we had gently used runners, shoes, crocs, sandles for men, women and kids. 80% of the bags we donated to Vineland Church. They distribute items to families that rummage through garbage in the much poorer areas. The rest we gave out personally to people begging on the street. The first being a little girl of about 4 years old. We gave her a Cabbage Patch doll as she asked us for money, and her face lit up like a shining star, as she ran off with doll in hand, down the street. We eventually caught up to her, where she was beaming with the doll to her mother, who was panhandling with two other, younger children. We gave them all bags of items, and the mother looked like she was going to cry. We found another mom, with an infant who was sleeping on the cold sidewalk and did the same. The next time we went into the Golden Zone, we saw our the first family again and gave them some American money. It was great to have our children not only involved in buying from their own money, items for the bags, but to see them take pride in doing good for others. Proud momma moment!
We did two excursions, booked through our hotel. One was whale watching, which was amazing! We saw 10 whales the day we were out, and some dolphins. Some that were together trying to entice a female whale, and a couple mom and babies. The second outing we did was Stone Island....again, a nice change of scenery. We did the horseback riding on the beach, and a banana boat ride in the ocean....Both were really fun, and then we had a nice lunch that was very cultural, and some time on the beach.
Shopping: For silver we went to Golden Zone, at The Real McCoy....you can bargain, and are guarenteed real silver....the hotel jewellery store was very pricey in comparison, and the only staff working there was not helpful at all. Both times we wandered in, you had to ask to see each individual piece that is pinned up on a board, and you felt like you were inconveniencing them, so we didn't even contemplate making a purchase.
Blankets and beaded jewellery we either got from the beach vendors, or the city market in Old Mazatlan....again, you can bargain, but don't insult them by trying for next to free.
The Strip Mall, left of the resort (10 min walk), had the best coffee house, Loney Bean? The prices were so cheap, but the coffee, lattes, and dessert were delicious! The Spa there, Lulus, I wouldn't recommend for a manicure or pedicure....I had one done, and they don't use a new nail file for each customer....they re-use the same one over and over...gross! Even the paddle for getting the skin off of your feet, they did not wash inbetween customers...I watched this, as my hands were soaking, and they were doing a customer before me, and then it was my turn....Its a good way to catch infections....even the scrub that they used on my hands and feet, they went in with their bare hands instead of scooping with a paddle or spoon, so that means that the previous customers germs were in the container. The girl that started my manicure, didn't finish, but got another girl, that had just come out of a room, from giving someone a massage...she didn't even wash her hands, so that was such a turn off. I was the last customer there, as they closed at 6, and because they took me late, I felt rushed....once the last customer for massage left, they opened the 3 doors to the individual massage rooms, but did not strip the massage tables, or spray anything down....the prices might be cheap, and I hear the massages are great, but this place is not sanitary....I would not recommend it. Use the spa in the resort. At least you know they are clean.
We were very sad to leave the resort and know that we will definitely be back again. We have two couples already planning on booking the same place, because of our positive experience.
We really enjoyed our holiday at the Riu, Emerald Bay, in Mazatlan!
We were on the 19th floor, North side, and it was very quiet, and a great view.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.