Let me start by saying that the wife and I pushed the boat out a boat out a bit to be able to afford this hotel so this review comes from the perspective of someone who is more used to 3/4 star accommodation and service. We traveled from Glasgow at the end of June.
My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful 2 week stay at the Riu Palace Peninsula. We are both 33 and were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary during our first trip to Mexico and were immediately welcomed at the front door by Alex who walked us in to the impressive and modern looking hotel lobby and got us a couple of drinks as we completed check in speedily without any hassle. Our room was ready on time and our bags were taken there immediately and we were left to settle in. I had requested a high floor so was slightly disappointed to find that we were allocated a room on the 3rd floor but, after mentioning this to the front desk, they arranged a new room for us the next day on the 10th floor. What a view! To be honest the 3rd floor view was perfectly fine too though!
The rooms are beautiful, clean and spacious and, because it's still a relatively new hotel - what you see n the net and on brochures are actually what you get! The alcohol optics are a nice touch too and if your own spirit isn't in there then they are happy to provide it if you leave a note. The fridge is checked daily and restocked with beers, water and juice if required.
The drinks selection at the hotel is terrific and all popular premium brands are available. Drinks are as strong as you want them to be and they are most certainly NOT watered down - the condition I got myself in to in a couple of occasions is testament to this! :) They have cocktail lists but the bar staff seem happy to make anything you want.
There are 6 bars; one in the lobby, one at the pool, one at the beach two at the evening entertainment area and of course the 24 hour sports bar. I spent most time at the beach bar during the day and Diego the bar man was terrific. Friendly, warm and, most importantly - good at making drinks! We spent many a day lazing on our loungers on the beach and Cruz did a great job of keeping the Mojitos, Caipirinhas and Daquiris coming!
The coffee bar in the lobby is excellent too and I had way too many Iced Coffees! They offer an exhaustive variety of teas coffees and milkshakes.
The staff are all fantastic and work so hard to keep the place as immaculate as it is. The gardens are always being tended, the cleaners are always well ... cleaning, the maids clean the rooms and change towels daily (they actually ask if you need more towels a second time later each evening), waiters keep the drinks coming and the entertainment team do a good job of putting on activities for those who want them. I even observed a guy with snorkeling equipment on going around scrubbing the walls of the pools a couple of times!
The food is what really surprised me - it was absolutely fantastic. The breakfast is served in the buffet restaurant "Las Olas" and is pretty much the same thing every day but how many things can you really want for breakfast? They have a wide and varied selection or warm and cold food, cereal etc and there is no way you won't be able to find something you like - I recommend the omelette as you can select your own ingredients and then pass your bowl to the chef who cooks it in front of you. Delicious!
Lunch is served in the "Isla Mujeres" restaurant and is again buffet style. I ate a wide variety of meats; pork, chicken, beef, various types of fish, shrimp and many other things and enjoyed everything. My wife is much more fussy than I am but even she loved the food and never went hungry.
The Dinner buffet in Las Olas is exceptional. All foods are fresh and well cooked with tremendous variety on offer. I couldn't even begin to list all the different things I ate but I will mention that Thursday is Lobster tail night! :)
We ate in four of the à la carte restaurants; Mexican, Steakhouse, Japanese and Italian (you do not need a reservation for the Italian but others must be booked via customer service at the front desk). All of these were delicious but if I had to pick a favourite then it would be the steakhouse as the surf and turf was fantastic as was the seafood platter that receded it (king crab claws, shrimp, mussels, octopus). They tell you to book the restaurants two days in advance but on two of the three occasions I made reservations for the next evening without having to wait in any sort of queue. I have read a few people complaining about this process but I found it to be relatively painless and think it's a decent way of dealing with reservations in a hotel that is so huge.
You will not be disappointed if you don't eat in any of the restaurants though as the buffet is so, so good.
The pools are all fantastic although I stuck to the one nearest the beach. Not that there was anything wrong with the others.
The beach is great for chilling out at there is never any shortage of loungers here or at the pools regardless of time - you can walk over to the rockier area and feed the friendly iguanas a banana or two if you like. You can also easily walk along the beach to the Riu Caribe next door and use their facilities too.
The hotel location is great - far enough away from the main clubs to relax during the day but it's also no more than 5-7 mins to Coco Bongos etc by bus if you fancy the wilder side of Cancun. It would be walking distance if it weren't for the unbearable heat! The bus service is tremendous and costs 8.5 pesos (around 45p) regardless of where you are going. We went to Coco Bongos one night and got the bus back too after 3am a little worse for wear!
The Riu Palace Peninsula is a top drawer hotel and is certainly the best I have stayed at. I was gutted to leave the place and will be back next year, wallet permitting!
Anyway, I could talk about this hotel forever as I have only just returned and am still buzzing! If you have any specific questions then please feel free to drop me a note and I'll do my best to answer.
Oh and one last point - the room is equipped with quite a nice Panasonic Viera TV which has an SD card slot which you can use to look at photos or play mp4 video files and mp3s. I didn't watch any TV myself but if you have kids then it could be handy to charge an SD card up with some movies/cartoons for them to watch later at night. Just a thought.
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