My wife and I booked the Riu Emerald Bay all-inclusive for our wedding anniversary trip July 2013. The resort was not quite what we hoped for. First I will cover the positives.
Some of the resort areas were generally very clean. The staff cleans the place constantly, including a full time person to mop just the lobby floor. So, upon our arrival the place looked very nice. The resort itself is attractive, and our room was a decent size and quite clean. The views from every room are amazing as all rooms are on the ocean side. The service staff in the restaurants were very good and very attentive.
Now the negatives.
The check in/check out process is absolutely abysmal. I must say that it is absolutely the most disorganized mess at a hotel I have ever experienced. We waited in line for an hour just to check in to the room. There were not enough staff people to handle the volume of check-ins, and they all had to go to the back to get each guest's registration package. Quite an incompetent system I must say. The check-out process was also quite disorganized with literally one person handling the check-outs.
The food was not great. The breakfast buffet was decent, but with the number of people, it could definitely be quite a zoo. Dinner was not good at all. Every piece of meat or protein we ate was severely overcooked and lacking in seasoning. DO NOT EAT AT THE ASIAN RESTAURANT!!! The food was utterly disgusting...and this is no exaggeration.
There are not nearly enough elevators to handle the volume of people that this hotel packs in. Our average wait time for an elevator was 14 minutes. This became a running joke, and I began to actually time the wait times to document it. Luckily we were on the 4th floor, so we could walk down the stairs when the waits became unbearable.
The pools were murky and filthy. Also, we noticed numerous naked young children swimming in the pools, which kind of grossed us out. As well as some babies with normal (not swim type) diapers in the pool as well. The staff really needs to police the use of the pools better, and they should be kept sparkling and clear. The pools are, after all where most people spend their time.
The pool swim up bar was typically packed and had horrible bartender service. One incident that occurred which REALLY shocked us was the first day. We witnessed one of the pool bartenders lean over the bar and literally stick his tongue down the throat of one of the guests. It made us feel SO uncomfortable that we decided to leave the pool bar area. Seriously, this is completely unacceptable behavior for hotel staff.
We went to the resort show on a couple of nights. The traditional Mexican dancing show was good. However one of the other nights the show included some quite unfunny vulgar humor involving men beating women. We didn't find this very entertaining.
One day after a going into central Mazatlan we returned to the hotel and after waiting about 15 minutes for an elevator, we decided to hike up the four stories to our room. Upon arriving at the room, there was a sign on the door stating that all of the room keys had been reset, and we needed to go to the front desk to get a new room key. I was quite irate at this point! We walked all the way downstairs again to get our room key. Why the hotel couldn't have posted signs in the lobbies or by the elevators notifying the guests of this inconvenience is just another testament to the sheer incompetence of the hotel management.
The biggest detractor of the hotel, however, was the sheer volume of guests. It was quite obvious that the hotel was understaffed to handle the number of people. And it made for a hectic, not very relaxing trip.
I personally would never stay here again. And...to be honest, if this hotel is exemplary of Riu resorts, I probably will never stay at another Riu anywhere. That being said, if you are a large family or with a large group of people and relaxation isn't really what you are looking for, this resort may be a good value for you.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.