We went on a family vacation July 13-20. 2 grandparents, my husband and I and 2 kids 10 and 5. If it weren't for our pets, the kids might have stayed forever.
The grounds are gorgeous. The hotel staff are friendly and extremely hospitable. I asked for a cappuccino, not knowing it was only available in the Sports Bar and my waiter at the buffet walked over and got me one even though he didn't have to, I gladly would have done it myself after breakfast.
The rooms are small, the beds are a bit harder than usually and the pillows are flat, but I'm a pillow person. I didn't see or hear any construction and could hear the howler monkeys in the morning - we stayed on the side closest to the Riu Palace. Our air condition was ice cold and our rooms were always well maintained.
The beach is different. Its 'black' sand which was a little off at first but we found snorkeling to be a blast - we saw puffer fish, octopus, and all kinds of fish (bring your own gear but it gets a little rough by the rocks on the right side of the beach). It was beautiful, wonderful and honestly we wondered off and a guy who worked nearby and spoke no English walked with us about 1 mile to show us the home of a about 20 Howler monkeys near the Monkey Bar. He hung out, showed us the monkeys and off he went. These are the kind of people that you will encounter in this amazing country.
Out of all the restaurants, I have to say that the Asian was my favorite we ate there 2x. The steakhouse was good, but got a very rare, somewhat salty steak instead of my usual warm pink medium. But it was ok. The Mexican place was my least favorite, and the Italian was pretty good. Even the main buffet was very good - we went on international night and there was lots of seafood and pasta that was delicious. The house wines are nothing special, but the drink were good. We took bubba mugs to eliminate multiple trips to the bar for all of us.
The pool was amazing. We spent about 2 hours a day at the beach and the rest of the time at the pool. It was huge, beautiful and warm.
The highlight of the trip was getting away from the resort. We used Alex on the beach. He was wonderful, tailored our trips just for us. Was so knowledgeable and friendly, the kids missed him (we saw him 3 days! - we all did) when it was time for us to go. We did the Mega Combo tour. It was spectacular, and I highly recommend it and the 1/2 day trip to the waterfall nearby (about a 45 min drive). Do the zip line in the megacombo tour. Life changing, and we ALL did it (ages 5-60+)
We have stayed at Grand Palladiums before and this was more hotel like, but very welcoming and we would come back in a heartbeat!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.