“a HUGE disappointment... not worth the trip”
We booked at Riu based on the company's reputation and appearance of their published photos (as well as a number of other photos appended to reviews on this site). I am no novice to travel in Mexico, having vacationed there well over a dozen times, so this review and my opinions should not be construed as the impressions of a first-time Mexico visit. I do not expect a Four Seasons Hotels experience in any place in Mexico (no matter the rating), and I will be honest in my reporting to you here. Nor do I really take the time to write many reviews, but in the spirit of advising fellow travelers appropriately, here goes:
Reception / Reservations:
We reserved for three rooms at the "Resort" and like most (supposedly) upper-end establishments, it's certainly not "bargain travel".... nor were we looking for any bargain. However, bells and whistles might have gone off when we phoned a week in advance to inquire about transportation from the airport, and the response we got was, "we don't know" . . . essentially you're on your own..... without any help, suggestions, or input by them. Maybe a little thing on its own, but in the scheme of things, it was consistent with everything else we encountered in our foreshortened stay.
Arrival / First Impression
When we arrived at the hotel, the appearance of the lobby should have been a clue. The huge area which doubles as a lobby, bar, and night club area echoes like a cavern in the entire area. The lighting in the area is weird. The lobby area is lit with vapor lighting, which is more appropriate an outside basketball court or summer softball game.
The desk staff were nice and reasonably efficient, but little did we know, almost to a person, the rest of the staff we encountered had very negative and sour attitudes, and were generally unhelpful.
The elevators on the way up to our rooms were old, didn't smell good, had broken button, and were slow (it seemed as if at least one elevator was out all the time).
The rooms each, to a differing degree, constantly smelled of mold. I am used to some degree of this at pretty much this smell at all beach resorts ... but this was very strong, as if there were serious mold issues in the walls due to leaking pipes. Even leaving windows with wonderful ocean breeze flowing through hardly diminished this unpleasant smell.
One of the selling points for Riu was that all the rooms had been "remodeled" in 2012. From being there, the only remodel which appears to have been done was that the color of the bedding and drapes went from pattern to solid blue. Nice in pictures... in person, the rooms look like glorified versions of old Club Med rooms. Nothing special at all.
The Beds: My wife and kids described them as like sleeping on a box spring. Hard, uncomfortable and awful. Sheets were old and stained. Very rough. Had the beds been comfortable at all, the rooms might have been tolerable, but we actually all dreaded sleeping in the rooms because of the beds.
The layout is nice with nice glass block design on showers. Nice granite (as in most places in Mexico). The problem is that the water running from the pipes constantly smelled rancid .... almost like sewage. Very unpleasant.
The main dining room, as the lobby was, was horribly lit, something akin to a feeling of being at Boy Scout camp. The food was less than mediocre with the "trough" offerings overly sauced and overly cooked. When asking for anything specially grilled fresh, you are either ignored or rejected. (one time after checking with three different people, they did cook some chicken for us - - - but see chicken reference below). When asking for a staple in Mexico - - a corn tortilla to be cooked with a bit of cheese on it, you would think we were looking for an act of Congress....
When we did get chicken grilled, it was soaked in some sort of salted marinade which appears to have been meant to mask the fact that the chicken had somewhat passed a freshness expiration.
As it turned out, after a few meals at this "all-inclusive" my family took to eating out of the hotel in a mode of self-preservation. Breakfast was the only meal which was at least passable.
Further, when trying to make reservations for the "specialty" restaurants on site, we were told that in order to make reservations and be assured of being able to do so, you had to see the reservation person starting at 7:00 a.m. When we did, we were told that each of the restaurants were full for days in advance. Probably for the better, as I doubt any different quality of food would have been served.
The staff, with very few exceptions, (not just at the restaurants, but throughout the resort), acted as if they were angry to be there. Perhaps Riu underpays their employees and they have a grudge (which is interesting in light of the fact that the itemized billing from the resort shows a hefty charge for "Propino" . . . or "Tips" .... which likely never find their way to their resentful employees).
This is not to say that there aren't a few exceptions.... There were a few good people at the bell desk, a couple of the bar staff, etc., but otherwise, not a happy bunch of employees.
The gym is a joke. The hours are limited and the machines and equipment are in disrepair. I had tried three different cardio machines in succession which were all out of order.
THE POOL / BEACH
The one good thing at the hotel is pool (which is not fantastic, but pretty and reasonably roomy), and the beach, which is fairly nice (though not if you want any real waves).
The pool / entertainment staff are generally rude (typical at this resort), and even made a nasty comment when my daughter had a nose bleed and got blood on the towel (she was called "disgusting"), as if somehow she meant to do this
There are other places more deserving of your vacation time and money. Staying here was like the equivalent of staying at an old neglected hotel in Las Vegas where they are just offering a place for those who can't stay at a more well-maintained property. The thing is, however, that unlike staying at a Circus Circus, or a Wild Bill's or a Dunes or Flamingo, you're not spending considerably less to stay at this RIU, and they aren't being up front with anyone that this is really a dive of an establishment.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.