My wife and I had our honeymoon here from 1/10 - 1/16 and had a very relaxing, fun vacation. There were few disappointments, and overall the great things about this place made the disappointments acceptable.
The beach on the property is awesome. Fine sand, gorgeous blue water, plenty of beach chairs, and fairly prompt drink service. Be careful of the small crops of rocks underwater. There are only a few to look out for, but I stubbed my toe on one. We walked the length of the beach across quite a few different resorts, and the Riu Palace Las Americas definitely has the best stretch of beach. Hands down.
The service is phenomenal. All staff was extremely attentive and genuinely friendly, giving advice about anything Cancun related, and even helped me with my Spanish.
Drinks are abundant and given to you with a smile anytime of day anywhere on the property. Plus, you have your own liquor dispenser in your room, and beers, soda and water in the mini fridge.
The location is central to everything Cancun. It's walking distance to all the "hot clubs" if you're into that. We personally avoided them like AIDS, but I could see how this would be an attraction for some folks. It's also within a quick bus ride or cab to downtown for some shopping or dining.
Not so great:
The food. The food. The food. We expected amazing Mexican food since we were in Mexico. Not the case. They really try for this gourmet, international menu, and fail fairly miserably. The fusion restaurant, Krystal, which was supposed to be the fanciest, most gourmet of the restaurants was a big disappointment. If you're expecting the same kind of high class food from restaurants back home that know what they're doing, you will undoubtedly want to eat off-property most the time you stay here. I'm sure they really try at Riu, but they either don't have the budget or the talent to pull off the dishes they shoot for. I'm really not a huge food snob at all. In fact, I would have loved cheap GOOD Mexican food. Most their food was Mexican't.
There are other very small criticisms, but they're really not worth mentioning. Instead, I'll just offer some insider tips.
1. Take the bus. It's pretty easy to navigate the Cancun area by bus, and costs about 64¢.
2. Get money from Banamex Bank across the street. The conversion to Pesos will be better than the conversion you'll get from shops and restaurants with your USD or credit cards.
3. The front desk can break large peso bills for you so you can ride the bus or do other things will small denominations.
4. If you're planning on hanging out on the beach, grab a towel before you go to breakfast and plant it on a beach chair to claim it. This seems to be common practice.
5. Eat off site. The food in the Cancun area is incredible, especially Mocambo, which is right down the street. Do yourself a favor and just go there for shrimp ceviche, and Mocambo margaritas (mandarin). Habaneros (KM 11.5) is also super good and cheap, if you love tacos. Avoid the tourist traps, i.e., Magaritaville, Bubba Gump Shrimp, etc. They overcharge and aren't that good. Venture downtown for more authentic flavor (and prices).
6. Don't let mariachi play at your table unless you're willing to pay per song. They have a price for their music, and you need to ask them what it is before they start so you aren't surprised when they ask for it when they're done.
7. Ask for help. Even if you only know basic Spanish, people are very willing to help out a foreigner who is lost. I relied on locals more than a couple times, and they were very kind. But...
8. Don't be a sucker. It seems like everyone has got a scam in Cancun. Be wary of strangers who start talking to you uninvited. Especially locals. Don't agree to go anywhere with anyone unless it has been planned through a tour company. Avoid timeshare ANYTHING. Don't fall for their "if you just come look around our property we'll give you free tickets to a show." I heard you'll get roped into a 6 hour presentation and only get the tickets if you buy something.
9. Don't stop to talk to the "information" people wearing badges at the airport. They work for timeshares and will rope you into "checking out" their property. Ignore them and go straight to your tour person or rental car agency. They can provide you with all the info you need.
Try to get a corner room if possible. The views are great and your balcony will be larger.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.