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“Better all-inclusives than this one out there” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Emerald Bay

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Hotel Riu Emerald Bay
3.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Av. Sabalo-Cerritos #3404 zona costera cerritos | Nuevo Mazatlán - Sinaloa, Mazatlan 82110, Mexico   |  
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Ranked #14 of 76 Hotels in Mazatlan
Calgary, Canada
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Better all-inclusives than this one out there”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2013

Stayed here from Feb 1st to 8th, 2013. I've stayed at 3 all-inclusives in Central America so far and this one is my least favorite by far.

The Riu is, in a word, gaudy. It's probably the largest hotel I've ever stayed in and probably the largest I've even seen. I guess its rather imposing expanse is just not my style. It seems to rise up from an area that is otherwise sort of bland in terms of scenery- and because of this, the whole experience at the Riu "paradise" seems very contrived. Mind you, I can't go to an all-inclusive and expect anything natural, but the Riu was just so over the top, I felt very uncomfortable. The main lobby areas are ridiculously huge and out-dated. Restaurants were also huge with high ceilings and it was very difficult to maintain a nice intimate dinner conversation over the loud hollow noises all around us.

The food was simply not what I expected. Sure, there was lots of it with a few tasty dishes here and there, but it was very hard to find true Mexican-like food with any real taste, since the Riu seems to cater very much to what they believe American/Canadian tourists want. I don't really care to see burgers and fries- I can get that at home. The desserts were beautiful but that's where it ended...they were actually shockingly tasteless! And the alcoholic drinks seemed VERY watered down.

Rooms were tidy and fairly nice- but certainly not 5-star. Cleaning staff only pushed the dirt around on the floors each morning. And the TV did not have a remote.

Pools consistently had oil-slicks on the surface and the water itself actually felt noticeably greasy! Never set foot in the cloudy bar pool as my party realized early on that no one ever seemed to actually leave the pool when nature calls even after many hours of drinking! Doesn't lead me to think it is a very clean pool to swim around in :-)

Internet is only free in the lobby- and you are limited to only 90 mins per day. If you log on once for only 1 or 2 minutes or so and then log off again, you are done for the day despite not using up your entire 90 mins. Made it difficult to get those annoyingly unavoidable and necessary things done back home through the net. Yeah- I know, I was on vacation, but much as I'd like to have otherwise, life still goes on at home!

Night shows were for the most part pretty fun, but they really need to lower the volumes of their mics and their music!!!!! It's hard to sit back and enjoy when your ears are hurting (and we were at the back of the audience most times). Speakers on mics can simply not be heard well because of how loud the mics were set.

Out-trip offerings were rather bland compared to other Mexican areas, but this is certainly not the fault of the hotel rather a result of the rather bland area in and around Mazatlan. Don't even waste your time/money trying to snorkel- there's nothing to be seen!

The only saving grace would be the staff- they are wonderful all around. And also the spa- I recommend the spa at the hotel.

Overall, I won't bother going back. There are much nicer, more intimate hotels out there for the same price.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,798 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (469)
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English first
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2013

The Riu is really clean, their buffet food is varied and well prepared, and their staff is really helpful. The grounds are spotless, the pools are well taken care of, and the building is really well maintained. There's a great kids' program, but there's enough space that you can simply go off by yourself and have an absolutely quiet vacation. My room was always clean, the mini-bar was always stocked, and the sound of the surf from my 6-floor balcony was entrancing. There's a massage/spa attached to the hotel and the masseuse is thorough but pricey - a few days later, I got a massage as good in the tent on beach in front of the hotel for less than half the price. This is a great place for a single traveler, a couple, or a family, and I'd go back to the Riu in a hearbeat.

Room Tip: Try and get a room on the sixth floor or above.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oliver, Canada
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

Hotel was very nice and really clean with great pools & bars . The staff were all friendly & the food choice & verity was endless and very good (its buffet style so don't expect 5 Star dinning) even the specialty restaurants were buffet but also very good, our fav was Bamboo (Asian). We went on whale watching tour (ask the Sunwing rep) and it was great. The blue agave tour was nice too & we had a fab lunch at El Habaleno Restaurant but don't expect a big working Tequila distillery or big leather factory this is small village style stuff. The boys had a great time at golf twice (which you can book in the lobby-just watch out for the cab fare.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto Canada
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

We stayed at the Riu this past week. I will admit that even though I try to take the negative reviews on TA with a grain of salt, I was slightly nervous and wondering if I had made the right decision. Now I know for sure that we made an excellent choice. Be warned, this is a very lengthy review but people around here seem to like details. Lots to share so I'll break it down.

AIRPORT – Great place to use the bank machine to get your pesos. Good exchange rate.

The timeshare “sharks” were anything but, at least in our experience. There were people there from Pueblo Bonito and they were all behind a counter. But it you ask a question of the few guys standing on your side of the counter, they will direct you to the other guys and say “they can help you”. We got sidelined by that at first but the guy actually did answer our question and once we caught on that he was timeshare he was polite about us leaving. If you keep on truckin’ and don’t talk to anyone, you’ll be fine.

CHECK-IN – We went with Sunwing and check-in was absolutely brilliant. Wristbands on the bus and pretty drinks and tequila in the lobby on the way to pick up our keys. You can leave your luggage for the bellguys but the elevators are right there so we grabbed our own and were in our room in less than 10 minutes. Check your envelope before you go upstairs, they had only given us one keycard and we had to ask reception for a second.

RECEPTION – Very helpful. For anything. Sometimes I just had a question or wanted them to break down my pesos into smaller bills. Very quick and efficient.

RESORT AND GROUNDS – Beautiful place to say the least. Immaculately clean, staff was always puttering about.

Pools are great and the beach is gorgeous. Sunsets are stellar every day and if you’re an early bird you’ll even catch the sunrise from the hallway outside your room. There are plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of beach and pool loungers. And lots of shade. The beach was red-flagged our whole week. You can go in and they won't necessarily stop you, but they will wave you back in if you get out too far. There are vendors that stay behind a giant rope, not an invisible line as someone else mentioned. They hold things up hoping to catch your eye. If you're going down to the water, just say "no, gracias" and they are generally respectful. But be warned, if you show any interest in anything the vendors have, it's open season and they will all come flocking to you.

Yes, there was an obvious influx in people on the weekend (and this was even a Mexican long weekend). While it was noticeable, it did not really affect us. No long lines at the buffet, no extra wait times. A little louder around the pools, but plenty of the Canadians were loud too. Our suggestion, do your excursions on the weekend if you think a few extra nationals will bother you.

In my opinion, the incessant complaints about the elevators were totally unfounded. Never did we wait for more than a few minutes and more often than not, we were the only ones in it.

ROOMS – Very clean, staff did a great job and always left pretty beds and towel animals. Views were fabulous. If you want a great view, pay the $30 extra for the Oceanview category. As has been mentioned before, yes all rooms technically "face" the ocean. But it you only pay for a standard room you will be on a lower floor and may very well end up with only a pool or tree view, or worse yet, the roof of the restaurant, lobby or theatre.

I really don't get the few recent reviews about the slope of the bathtub. It's sloped at the back so you can recline while you’re in the tub which I thought was awesome. If you're just using the shower, get in at the front.

As for the beds, don’t understand the complaints. Ask for the foam mattress toppers when you arrive. We slept like babies all week. One of my pillows was slightly lumpy, but I generally travel with my own so it really wasn’t an issue for me.

We never even used the in-room liquor. Why make your own basic drinks when there are wonderful bartenders to make pretty little cocktails for you?

BARS – Speaking of drinks and bartenders, the drinks for the most part were great. And strong. The most extensive bar menu I have ever seen for an-all inclusive and top shelf liquor. Never much of a wait at all and the bartenders were extremely quick and pleasant. Go see Pacho at the theatre bar. He was fantastic! Ask him for the Rainbow or Domino Shot when there are lots of people at the bar to watch and have your camera (set to video!) ready.

SERVICE – Top notch for sure. Staff are very friendly and helpful. We tipped a lot of the time but not at every single meal, and the service never suffered. Don't forget to tip the towel guy every once and a while. Nobody tips the poor towel guy.

FOOD – Omg, it kills me that people actually complain about the lack of variety in the buffets. There were days I didn't even see everything, there were so many choices. The biggest buffets I have seen anywhere. Beautifully displayed, all sorts of flowers and garnishes made out of fruits and veggies.

Dinner and breakfast are best, lunch is a bit smaller and slightly more repetitive. If you can’t find something you like at mealtimes, you’re either hard to please or have a genetic anomaly where your taste buds are broken. Seriously. Breakfast and dinner are in one enclosed dining room, lunch is in a more casual, partially open-air space.

We only went to the Mexican a la carte as we had heard the other ones weren’t anything to write home about. The food was ok but expect to be there about 2 hours as the service was incredibly slow.

The booking procedures for the a la cartes was probably one of our biggest complaints. As Sunwing guests we were told that we were guaranteed two bookings. When we went they only had 2 of the 3 available and only on specific days. Turns out that there is only one a la carte open each night. So if you aren’t available one of the few nights, then you’re out of luck. And you have to get up at the crack of dawn and can only book for that night or the next. At most AI resorts, you may have to get up early one day, but at least can book for your whole week. This was the main reason we didn’t bother with the other two, just couldn't be bothered with the hassle.

ENTERTAINMENT – Typical all-inclusive shows, the entertainment is fun and a good way to spend an hour in the evenings. If you're looking for Vegas style entertainment, then pay $150 per show and go to Vegas. As stupid as the name sounds, the "Crazy Show" was hilarious and our favourite. The theatre is very well constructed. Covered, but open-air with comfy chairs and tables where you can watch the show with your drink. We only went to the disco once but it was really fun!

ACTIVITIES – A previous reviewer said they saw no activities all week. Sorry, they must have been spending way too much time with the in-room liquor dispenser. There are activities all day every day, often 2 or 3 programs at the same time. If it was rock bottom season there may be less, but our week was by no means full occupancy.

EXCURSIONS – We took one trip on Saturday of the Golden Zone and Old Town. Well put together and covered a lot, although you do get taken to places they “carefully selected”, aka places that get kickbacks. But lots of photo opportunities and our guide Miguel was great.

I took the bus myself into the Golden Zone the following day to hit the Mega grocery store and spend more time in the Zone. Quick, cheap and perfectly safe.

We did the trip up the beach for dinner at Lionso’s. Great ambience. The food was ok, but not spectacular, maybe we just didn’t order the right things, but loved the place itself. Massive Margarita’s though and the drinks are always 2 for 1. The little market has good stuff cheap (easy to talk them down) and the $22 massage was better than the $49 one I got at the resort. While the idea of a beachfront massage at the hotel may sound good, I wasn’t so impressed. The massage itself was ok but the hut is well back from the ocean’s edge and very close to the swim-up bar. Lots of noise and constant music. If you want a quiet massage, opt for the inside spa or head up the beach to Lulu’s.

TIPS – Our only other complaint was the free wifi. Yes it’s free, but the service was slow and sometimes unreliable. You only get 90 consecutive minutes every 24 hours and it’s only good in the lobby. So if you use the wifi at noon today, you can’t use it again until noon tomorrow. The only good thing about this is that the 90 min is per device. So if you have a tablet and an iphone, you can essentially use the wifi twice a day. No email attachments and no downloads allowed but ok for the odd email or Facebook update. Not sure if the in-room wifi was any stronger but that will set you back $70 a week.

I discovered by accident (after leaving my AC charger for my reader at home thinking my iPhone USB plug would work) that there is a USB port on the back of the television. And it worked! Works for iPhones or anything that charges with a USB cord. The TV does have to be on, but we would just charge things up while we were out at dinner or something.

If you’re going with Sunwing, skip the orientation. It was pretty much an overview of Mazatlan (which we heard on the bus anyway) and descriptions of the tours which you can read about at the Sunwing desk anytime. You do have to fill out an info card that they say you have to bring with you but you can drop it off at the Sunwing desk. We basically only went to book the a la cartes and that was a disappointment and the “orientation” was a waste of 45 minutes of beach time.

Overall I was very impressed with this hotel. I wouldn’t go back, only because there are too many other places in the world to see for me to want to go to the same place twice. But I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this place to anyone looking for a great vacation.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Top Contributor
168 reviews 168 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

So first of all the food was excellent - we found the buffet superior to the 3 specialty restaurants. 2 of the 3 specialty restaurants were buffet anyway. I'm gluten free but found LOTS of choices. We had beef 3 times and it was all good. There were certain staff that went above and beyond - Fabian at the pool bar was fabulous always. Staff at the front desk were amazing and attentive. We had calls to make sure that we received the water we asked for and pillows. As well I was stung by a bee and the first responder on staff was very attentive (although it required out helpful Sunwing Johnny for interpretations).
The beach is amazing and the vendors were good with a simple NO they didn't bother you.
Walking the beach both ways was awesome.
The rooms and facilities were super clean and very well maintained.
The senior managers were always around and very approachable and answered all questions - we were impressed.
We stayed on the 14th floor and the view was impressive - you could see for miles.
The wifi was only in the lobby BUT hey you're on vacation - you shouldn't be doing work.
We enjoyed the lobby bar - although it was only open in the evening.
The entertainment was lame - preferred the dancing nights over the lip synching - really who does that any more?
There were always chairs available, the beach towels were large and new.
We loved the resort and would recommend.

Room Tip: I think it's worth paying for the oceanview room as we were up high enough to enjoy the view. Th...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

I stayed at this hotel a few months after it opened, with a friend of mine. The deal was great, we paid only about $700CDN. I loved the room and the facilities all around the hotel. We were there in February and unfortunately we were the youngest people there, the rest of the guests were 35-70 years old. Perhaps this has changed since. The food was very good - hearty soups, delicious breakfast of your choice, even smoked salmon during dinner time. Al a carte restaurants were also pretty good, but of course you have to be careful of steaks in Mexico. Other than that, I was very satisfied with the food, the beach, the staff, the pools and beach activities.

Room Tip: All the rooms in this hotel face the ocean, 100% of them, dont fall for "ocean view upgrades&qu...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Medicine Hat, Canada
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

Had a wonderful time at Riu Emerald Bay. Food, service and accomodations are all topnotch. Clean spacious rooms with great views of the Pacific. All rooms are ocean view. Food was mostly via buffet, but selection and quality were very good. Service was extremely accomodating and friendly. Pools were great as was the beach area. Had a great time riding the waves in the ocean too.Cheap bus or cab ride to old Mazatlan or the Golden Zone (shopping area). I recommend taking the City Bus Tour, get to see all the hilites including the Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, cliff divers and Old Mazatlan, as well as the Golden Zone. Also recommend leaving the resort, turning right and walking (about a half mile) to small open air strip mall at the end of the street. Restaurant/Pub called The Last Drop has all you can eat lobster meal every Wednesday for 250 pesos (About $22 Canadian). I ate 15 lobsters! We tipped 20 pesos most times when getting drinks, service even though its all inclusive, and 40 pesos per day for the maid, though there is absolutely no pressure to tip. Spa is wonderful. We had a couples massage for an hour for $110. Couple of cool, windy days, but can't control the weather. To all the petty nay sayers that give negative reviews I say grow up and get a life. You are visiting paradise....why not enjoy it? IMHO!

Room Tip: All rooms are oceanview....We were on the 14th floor and the view was spectacular!
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Emerald Bay

Address: Av. Sabalo-Cerritos #3404 zona costera cerritos | Nuevo Mazatlán - Sinaloa, Mazatlan 82110, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Pacific Coast > Sinaloa > Mazatlan
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Mazatlan
#6 Spa Hotel in Mazatlan
#8 Romantic Hotel in Mazatlan
#11 On the Beach Hotel in Mazatlan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Riu Emerald Bay 3.5*
Number of rooms: 716
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Opening summer 2009 * 12 km / 7.45 Miles from Mazatlan, overlooking the Pacific Ocean * Located on Playa Las Brujas beach * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 20-story main building * Surrounded by 13.500 M2 / 16.15 Sq. Yards of lush gardens * 10 km / 6.2 Miles from various shops * 12 km / 7.45 Miles from Mazatlan * 32 km / 19.87 Miles from the airport * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Emerald Bay Mazatlan

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