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“Careful with your credit card...& worth upgrading to Jacuzzi suite” 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 #13 of 76 Hotels in Mazatlan
Palo Alto, CA
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Careful with your credit card...& worth upgrading to Jacuzzi suite”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2010

Really important info first...My partner and I both used our credit card at the spa in Riu Mazatlan. He got a call yesterday from his credit card company for fraud alert and I got a call this morning saying that someone has spent close to $5000 in Mazatlan after I left Mexico. During our entire trip to Mexico(Mazatlan), he has only used his credit card at the spa in Riu Emerald Bay and I did too.

We stayed at the following resorts and here is the order from the one we love the most to the least: Dreams Tulum, Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton in Jamaica, Dreams Puerto Vallarta, and Riu Santa Fe

Riu Emerald Bay is between Dreams Puerto Vallarta and Riu Santa Fe.

The resort itself....We upgraded to the JACUZZI SUITE and it was very very worth it. The Jacuzzi suite, the beach, and Mr. Lionzo down the beach were the highlight of our trip. Staff and service was great.

Don't both with the a la carte restaurants. Buffet is your best bet. Pretty good food. Pretty decent variety with lots of fresh fruits. The Christmas and New Year special buffet were great.

The entertainment was just okay.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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  • 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
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4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2010

This was our 6th trip to Mexico but 1st time to Mazatlan. We traveled as a 3 families (14 total ages 9-50). We are not overly demanding travelers but do expect a clean and comfortable resort with good food and we were not disappointed. We were very happy with the overall trip as for the location, weather, beach & resort in general. I will try to break down the basics and provide details of interest:
1) Check in - Although this is not a huge deal to me I was impressed that the Riu had prepared for a bus load to arrive and check in. They immediately took the group to the lobby bar where we received a 5 minute welcome/orientation and then were given our package that contained our room keys, map, towel cards, and bracelets. We were on our way to the rooms & beach as fast as possible. Nice touch.
2) Rooms - All rooms have a great view as the resort is right on the beach. We had a 2 level room that had 2 full baths, 2 TVs, 2 pull out couches on the bottom level and a king bed on the 2nd level. These rooms are apparently only on the first floor but the view from the room was great from upstairs. We were as close as possible to the beach/buffet/bars etc. and never had to take an elevator which was a bit of a pain for our friends on the 11th floor. Noise was not an issue.
3) Beach - This was the nicest part of the resort. I have been to both sides of Mexico and was very impressed with the beach. The sand was soft and the beach was huge. You could walk as far as you wanted and feel some seclusion. The waves were red flag every day but still allowed the big boys to play in the big waves and the young girls stayed closer to shore in the shallow waves. There were also life guards on duty that kept on eye on everyone to stay within a safe distance. The downside of playing in the ocean was the shortage of Boogie boards. The resort only had 5 and then rented other boards for $8 USD/hr. We worked out a deal for 3/$10 a few times but ran into problems when they were in higher demand. We went downtown and bought 3/$60 USD. I would suggest taking your own if you want to have easy use.
4) Location - The location is great providing you are primarily staying at your resort. There is no resort to the north and the nearest building is some distance to the south. As a result there is little congestion in the area. If you walk to the north there is a seafood restaurant and a little down the road from there is a small plaza with shops, a coffee shop, and a few pub type restaurants.
5) Resort - The resort is new and clean and even when it was busy you could still find a quiet spot on the beach or around one of the pools. The pool bar got very busy when the resort was full on the weekend but was nice with the hot tubs within the pool. There are piles of wasps attracted to the fruity drinks when on the beach & at the beach bar. They did not cause us much grief other than their presence. The beach VB court was nice and away from everyone so it did not interfere and beach soccer didn't cause a problem because the beach area was so large. The bars and buffets were easy to access and the lobby bar at night was very quiet if you were looking for a relaxed atmosphere. There is a large staircase that goes from the lobby to the buffet and then to beach which could be slippery. The shows were the typical resort shows but perhaps more painful. The fitness center was basic & got busy after 8 am.
6) Food - The food was fine. This is a 700+ room resort and like all other buffets & all inclusive resorts there are limitations and common items. This is simply a reality and if you find this a problem then I would suggest you avoid all inclusive resorts. There was always a large selection of food with beef, chicken, pork, and fish every meal. We went to 1 a la carte & it was no different than the buffet. No one had any stomach issues or walked away hungry.
7) Service - This was sub-par at the beach bar and very good at the buffet. There was little, to no, beach service. The resort went from 40% capacity to 100% over the weekend with locals coming for the short period.
8) Downtown - We went in to town 1 night and left 2 hours later. This is nothing like Puerto Vallarta, Playa Del Carmen, or Cozumel where there are shops and bars everywhere. There was not much to do or see downtown as we expected. There was also the market area but we did not go to because it was too far to walk. If you are expecting to go to a hustling & bustling tourist area you may consider doing some more research.
10) Deep Sea Fishing - We rented a 42' 8 person boat for $375 USD for 8 hrs but had bad luck & caught nothing but did see some whales.
All in all, if we found the same great deal to the Riu we would likely go again.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2010

This is the 3rd RIU I have been to in the past 3 years - RIU I do not think is top of the line, but overall I think they do a nice job, have great staff and keep things clean. This hotel has only been open 8 months - so I think they lacked a bit in friendliness and customer service (my experience with staff in the past has been great). They did not have any waitstaff at the pool - which was a bit of a bummer (something I really enjoy), however they do let you bring food by the pool if you would like (perk).
There are a ton of locals - which I don't mind - makes it seem a little less "Touristy," however there were a ton of kids. If you do not like children on your vacation - I would be very cautious of this place - there were a ton of small children.
We did the sunset horseback riding with Ginger - she rocked - just up the street! There were only 4 of us, and the tour guide was awesome took tons of photos and was friendly.
There is also a place on the beach about 1/2 mile - great place to grab 2 for 1 margaritas and food was yummy! It's right on the beach, right next to Ginger's horse stable - also fun to watch surfers. Diane the concierge gave a really lame recomendation for NYE - oh well!
Overall my experience was enjoyable - we had a great time.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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20 reviews 20 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2010

The Riu is a very nice hotel, service was very good, food was average, warm pools, oustanding beach. SkyService Airlines was an outright disaster. 23 hour delays, lost luggage, over charges - awful. The Riu has all the potential to be a 5 star however here are some of the reason's it is not quite a 5 star:
- All Restaraunts are buffet style except the Steak. Almost no table service
- Very very little Seafood and mostly pan fried fish or mussels
-No Room Service
-No Pool side drink service (everything was self serve)
-No bottled beer except in the room
-No Robes in the room
- No Coffee Maker in the Rooms
-Furnishings are inexpensive looking (painted wood). Decor is Mexican Country
- You can't drink the tap water though they are generous with bottled water
-No High Speed Internet expect in the lobby and the bandwidth is to low
-The food is average and uninteresting at best

Here are the highlights:
-Exception sunset's over the Sea of Cortez. We saw Dolphins from our balcony
-5+ miles of uninterupted beach to walk if that is your thing
-The staff are excellent - helpful, engaging. (I wish I could find a cleaning lady who cleaned as fast and furious as the ladies at the Riu!)
-All the pools are different temperatures, Cold, Warm and Bath Tub - that was nice
-24 hour alchol in the sports bar
-Brand name alchol at the bar (Smirnoff, Bacardi, Johnny Walker etc)
-Well stocked fridge with Rum, Gin, Vodka and Tequila in each room (This was the no name stuff)
-Rooms are spotless
-Nice balconies
-Great views (Don't get ripped off for paying for an Ocean View Room - They all are!)
- Great beach and easy swimming
-Down the beach within a 5 minute walk is the BEST place to get Lobster. $22 USD for a 2 Lobster meal and 2 for 1 drinks at $2.50 USD for 2. Great fun and worth paying for your meal!

I would consider coming to this resort again if they did somthing about the food and I wasnt flying SkyService. We lost an entire day and our luggage....

Just a quick note that the service and food really picked up on the weekends when they have intra-Mexico travellers. Not sure why but it was annoying that the food was boring on the week days and effort was made only on the weekends.

This resort has potential for more but since we paid about $950 per person incl tax, it was good value for the money.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2010

We stayed from the 21st to 28th of Dec. The first 3 days the hotel was probably near capacity. With 700 rooms more or less that makes for alot of people. Even with all those people the only complaint I would have is the poor elevator service. There are 6 small elevators to service the Hotel. We were on the 6th floor so wasn't a problem we could always resort to the stairs. Food was generally good, but we did tire of the buffet near the end of our trip. We did eat out several times. Mr. Lionis just down the beach and a place across the street from the El Cid called Gus Gus. Everyone we talked to said Mr. Lionis was excellent our experience at Gus Gus was far better. We ordered beer battered shrimp onion rings a daquiri and a couple beer all of which were excellent for 18.00USD.
The room we had was a Jr. Suite and was very nice with a double size balcony which face both west and northwest so was great for late day sun and beers on the deck. Room had a decent king size bed with a nice flat screen tv and plenty of room for in room entertaining. Room also had a fridge with beer pop and water along with 4 bottles of liquor in jiggers. Rum, Gin, Vodka and Tequila. Wasn't the best liquor but still nice to have something like that in your room.
Beach was great. Never any problem getting a nice spot. Alway had lots of lounge chairs available. Our group was as big as 11 at times so getting that many chairs around the pools all togeather was sometimes difficult. Pools were nice with the exception of the swim up bar. It was small and generally crowded. Not really my bag anyway so no big deal. Service around the pools could have been better. Only on a few days did I notice a cart serving drinks making its way around the pool area. Again not a big deal as we could always find drinks at one of 2 bars near the pool. Self serve beer near the lunch buffet was great if all you needed was a beer. It did run dry frequently. No service on the beach at all, but again you could get them nearby so no big deal.
The hotel is massive and decorated with massive artworks which I really enjoyed. Large paintings or prints in the lobby bar, large vases, aguave's and statues were a nice touch. Even more so in the evening as the lighting highlighted them even more.
There was entertainment every night which we took in a few times and yes it was entertaining.
We had no security issues as I had read on here prior to our trip. We obviously used the safe in our room. We did tip our housekeeper daily 5.00US as well as our bartenders and servers in the buffet. Don't think we got any better service doing so other than the guy who stocked our beer fridge. Gave him 10.00 on the 3rd day of our trip and did'nt have to worry about having the room stocked with beer after that.
All in all a very nice Hotel. Would rate a 4 star not 5 on account of service around the pool and beach. A true 5 star would have service in these areas.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2010

We just returned from the Riu Emerald Bay. It was our second trip in four months because my little daughter kept asking me to take her back, she's five. Driving up about a mile away you'll see the hotel and you really can't miss it because it looks Grand, Vegas style. However, not long after you enter the gates you are very quickly reminded that this is only semi- luxury. You pull-up to a lobby, step out of your vehicle, get the kids out, your bags, etc, and hand the keys to valet ... oops, there aren't any valet, you're told that there's only self parking so park your vehicle yourself.

Yes, the main buffet (we always eat there) is good. The lunch buffet only so, so. Actually, you have to be careful in the lunch buffet. My daughter and wife had to spit-up the corn on the cob because it was rotten. Most of the food is alright, though.

Back to service, that's where Riu falters. Most of the employees are friendly but to be five stars improvement is needed. You sit by the pool (cold water) and if this were actually a five star hotel a waiter/waitress would walk by and offer a drink but not here. And some employees make it very clear that they won't try to please you. Other Examples: We go over to the Oriental buffet one night which was only about 40% occupied, ask for a table and explain that we don't have reservations; we're told ,"sorry can't help you" without a second thought, ask a manager 20seconds later and he says "O.K., I'll try, come back in fifteen minutes. " When we arrived our fridge was empty, asked the room attendant to have it refilled and her response, "you have to go to the front desk and ask them." At check out, " give us the keys, sign here" no thank you, "did you enjoy your stay" or "have a nice trip," the clerk just cuts teh plastic hand bands and looks at you with a blanck stare like, "so, go."

By the way, the internet is a joke. It works only by the front desk so you have to sit close to the front desk ... very close... and even then you lose the signal. The Riu hasnt figured-out that you may want to sit outside by the pool since you're on vacation.

Bottom line, good for kids cause they can run around, eat, drink, and play all they want so it's good for families with young childred. If you're seeking truely first class or five star service stay elsewhere.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2010

I understand every traveller's experience is different. I can only write about my own experience. That being said, I wish every guest at the Riu Emerald Bay shared my experience as it was truly amazing.
I was travelling with a very large group (18) of 21-60 year olds.
As the title suggests, this was my first all inclusive trip. I had heard horror stories about such trips and even read many of the reviews on this site. I decided to approach the trip with an open mind and try to experience it as best I could.
It's about a 60 minute bus ride from the airport - short enough that it wont test your patience but long enough that you can sneak in a little nap if you need one.
Walking into the lobby, the sheer size will amaze you. I swear it has 35-40 foot ceilings. Massive columns are scattered throughout and giant windows at the rear of the building give you a hint of the view and beach you will call home for the rest of your trip.
Check-in can be a bit trying as 3 bus loads of people line up in the lobby bar. A welcoming glass of champagne helps to ease the wait.
In some other reviews I read, people had stated there are only 3 elevators. I'd like to clarify that there are actually 6 elevators- a set of 3 on either side of the hotel. Being on the 4th floor, I could always take the stairs. I realize this isn't an option for those on higher floors. During peak times (afternoon generally) the elevators may take a couple of minutes to arrive as a result of all the people wanting to use them. If wait time may cause a problem i recommend requesting a lower floor.
The rooms are very nice. Large bed.There are only 3 pillows though, so you may need to ask for more if sharing a bed. Very clean. The bar fridge is stocked with lots of water, pop and beer. We didn't need to call and have it refilled once as it seemed to be refilled daily. We left tips for the housekeepers of $5 in the middle of the week and at the end and don't have one complaint as far as cleanliness goes. There is a towel rack on the balcony to hang any wet clothes which came in very handy. The only complaint I have about the room itself is that there is no fan in the washroom, don't think I need to elaborate on that one.
The food was great. So much to choose from. We ate in the main buffet 6 out of 7 nights. Our group ate in the reservation only asian restaurant the other night. Was pretty good. Only complaint was that there is not as much selection as the main dinner buffet.
Some people do eat like slobs and as a result, create quite the mess behind them. I dont believe this to be a sign of poor cleanliness on the hotels part, rather poor cleanliness on some of the guests part.
Service: If there is 1 thing that made this trip worthwhile I would say without a doubt it was the service. Sure their English isn't the greatest (we're in Mexico, why would it be?) but every single employee I came in contact with went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed. Always smiling, always willing to help. I found myself saying this time and time again throughout my trip, but the employees really do work their butts off.
The pools are very relaxing. Depending on daily forecast the water temperature seemed to vary. Warm day = warm pool water. Cooler day = colder pool water.
On days when the sun is in full force, the ''lines'' for drinks may be a bit longer and as a result, your wait time will be as well. Its nothing outrageous. I dont think I ever waited more than a couple minutes for a drink from the pool bar (seemed to be busiest one)
There is a beer tap just beside the lunch buffet as well, never had to wait there.
As for as activities go, there always seemed to be some kinda dance lesson on the beach, pool aerobics or something like that going on. The entertainment crew does a very good job to make sure you enjoy your trip. There is plenty of beachfront to throw a football or frisbee around. There is always a beach volleyball game going on as well. A bunch of us also went zip lining. I definitely recommend that. It takes about 4-5 hours when all is said and done but without a doubt, worth every penny ($75 US) This can be set up in the lobby at the Sunquest desk. It is a must do. So much fun. We also went golfing at a very nice course. Transportation from town (a short cab from hotel will get you there) 18 holes plus club rentals and cart for only $105 US. For those interested we played Estrella del Mar which has breathtaking views as it is right on the coast.

All in all, I couldnt have imagined my first all inclusive trip behing this enjoyable. the service at the hotel was through the roof. i dont have a negative thing to say about the people that work here, only some of the people that stayed here.
It really was a truly great experience. I recommend it to everyone!
I hope my review has been helpful.

  • Stayed December 2009
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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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
#10 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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