I had the pleasure of staying at Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas for one week in February 2013. As usual, I chose this resort based on what I felt were reasonable reviews on Trip Advisor. Having travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, I will provide you with my thoughts on this resort.
Check in/Checkout was as smooth as could be. After a 45 minute bus ride, including one stop to the Riu Santa Fe, we were escorted off our bus by the Sunwing rep, taken to the sports bar, served a fresh drink and handed our room key, along with getting our wristbands. By 10:45 am, we were in our room with our luggage, and by 11:15, we were already on the beach! One thing to note, is that Riu Palace patrons do have an advantage over the Santa Fe patrons in that we had use of both facilities and a bit more "preferential" treatment. I will provide more insight to this later in the review.
Rooms were as many others had stated. Dated, but clean. A simple change of bedspreads/curtains would give these rooms a good makeover, as the floors and bathrooms were beautiful marble and the furniture was decent, with the exception of an orange couch, which we jokingly referred to as the DNA couch, due to some stains. TV was the old box style "Zenith". But we didn't go to Cabo to sit in the room. We had requested a room away from the lobby and were happy we did. I would recommend a 3rd or 4th floor room for better views.
Noise was definitely a factor in the rooms. Every morning, we could hear the maids' carts going down the hallway starting at 7 am....not sure why sound travelled here, but it did. On another occasion, we had an alarm clock that had gone off in an adjacent room at 7:20 am. The patrons of this room had since checked out and even though we called the front desk to check it out, the raging alarm went off for an entire hour. Same thing the next day, until they finally located the room with the blaring alarm.
Maid service was fantastic! They cleaned the room in the morning, and turned down the bed at night. When they turned down the bed, they replaced towels/toiletries again if required. We always had 4 or 5 clean large towels on hand.
Food and service were the BEST that I have ever had in an all-inclusive hotel. If you can't find something to eat here, then something is wrong. We also enjoyed the options of restaurants. For lunch you had 3 buffet options plus the Japanese a la carte. For dinner there was 1 buffet and 4 a la cartes to choose from. The Japanese restaurant does not need a reservation at anytime. We noticed on several occasions that people were lined up to make reservations at 10 am or so, however we lucked out (heck we were awake at 7:20 every morning) to get into Krystal (gourmet restaurant), and the Steakhouse restaurant on the days we wanted. Krystal was by far the best, with both food and service. The steakhouse was good, however, the servers seemed very rushed...actually running from table to the kitchen to keep up with the schedule of 3 seatings. I would think this could be eliminated if they staggered reservations. Initially, it gave me a uncomfortable feeling, but after about 30 mins, they stopped running. The Japanese restaurant was pretty good, with very good service.
Drinks were average to good, depending on which bar/restaurant you were at. Our first day, I had a glass of wine, that I could not stomach. It tasted like white wine vinegar. Most wine throughout our stay was like this, with the exception of the wine at Krystal restaurant. I would think at a so-called 5 star hotel, they could provide better wine. The best (and most potent) drinks were from the Sports bar. They had an extensive list of 12 martinis, which we are happy to report we tried each and every one! They also carry port and top shelf liquor. Drinks by the pool were average fruity/slushy drinks. I've had better, but also had worse. It was nice to have service for drinks by the pool and beach.
The beach was interesting to walk on. The sand is very coarse and the slope is very steep. Not the easiest to walk on, but after a day or 2 of walking each day, we got used to it. Of course, we had to walk towards town, to make a stop at The Office or Mango Deck for a lime margarita....real lime margaritas! There are many beach bars/restaurants within a 20 - 30 mins walk down the beach. It was a great reward for walking the beach! I would also recommend the food at Mango Deck. Fantastic!
We went right into Cabo San Lucas twice, once to go whale watching (incredible), and once to go for dinner at Lorenzillos (fantastic seafood restaurant overlooking the marina). I highly recommend both, although recognize that a dinner for 2 at Lorenzillos with a couple of drinks will cost you over $125 USD minimum. We booked our whale watching excursion in advance through whalewatchcabo.com - I highly recommend this Canadian company. All tour guides have a marine biology background and are very knowledgable. We also hired a boat from Dario at Full Speed Rentals on the beach to go to Lovers Beach and snorkelling. For $15 each we had a return trip including snorkel gear. Dario's a lovely man who has a white canopy on the beach, about 15 mins walk from Riu.
I mentioned the options of going to Riu Santa Fe. We chose to do this one night to see a show. It appears that the evening shows would play one night at Santa Fe, then the next night at the Palace. The difference between resorts was like going from an Ivy League fraternity to an "Animal House" fraternity. The Palace is very calm and quiet for the most part, and Santa Fe is loud and rowdy. The option is great if you feel like experiencing that, and then go back to the peaceful Palace. We actually heard the crickets walking back to the Palace one night....which was the perfect analogy.
As for the shows, this is another area where I feel Riu could step it up....pretty cheesy, low budget shows. We saw 2 shows in their entirety, and 2 shows where we left to go to the Sports bar after 15 mins.
All in all, we would definitely return to Riu Palace for the friendly staff, beautiful grounds, great food and proximity to town. For the price we paid, it was well worth it!
Request a room on the 3rd or 4th floor, away from the lobby (where it can get pretty noisy).
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.