Just returned from a week at the Riu Mo Bay. We are a family of five with three kids 8, 7 and 2. This was our fourth trip to Jamaica and a third time staying with Riu so I consider myself a seasoned veteran in both the island and the Riu company.
For those who have done all inclusive in the past or stayed with Riu I will just sum up by saying that this a standard 24hr all inclusive Riu. It does not exceed any of its sister resorts and it doesn't fall short. We managed our expectations well and had a fantastic family time. I hope my review serves as a one stop shop for anyone to be well prepared and have a great time at Riu Montego Bay.
Location - everyone knows from all the posting that this resort is located near the airport. 2 miles away to be exact. For us the location of this property was the primary reason we chose it because having traveled to Negril and Ocho Rios before we did not want to subject our kids to a 2 hour bus ride from the airport. This was a great 7 minute ride. Of course the price you pay for the convenience as a lot of people pointed out is the low flying planes taking off during the day. The flight path of the planes is directly over the resort. You can expect to see AND HEAR on average 3 planes taking off each hour during the afternoon hours. Morning and evening are a bit less busy and there are no planes leaving at night so there is no noise issue then. If you think this will be a bother then just stay at a resort which is a little outside of the Mo Bay and then it will not be a problem. For us it was not an issue at all and actually was very exciting for the kids, especially my 2 year old son to watch the planes fly so low.
The property is located right in the town and across the street from a large shopping center and a supermarket which makes it another great reason to stay there and be able to just walk there instead of taking a taxi as we had to do in the past.
For those who are interested there is easy access to local restaurants and nightlife outside the resort.
Rooms - Rooms are nice and comfortable. We had a triple garden view room which accommodates 5 people and was great for our family. The room was very clean with a nice size bathroom and a balcony. We stayed on the second floor, but a note for US travelers the second floor is really a third as the first floor is called a ground floor. Each building has either three or four floors and there are no elevators so make sure to ask for a room on ground floor if stairs is an issue. We stayed in building three (there are six all together) and had a view to the gardens. it was very peaceful and we heard no noise from the daily pool and beach activities when the kids took naps in the afternoon.
Pool - This is always a highlight at Riu. The Pool is beautiful. It is actually two identical pools separated by and island. One of the pools has a swim up bar. Plenty of loungers and shade around the pool and we were in less of a busy week so there was no issue to get seats in the morning. I can see the shortage issue during the busy times but as with all these resorts you should consider putting your towel down on the way to breakfast and you should be fine. Because of the proximity of the bar and available shade there is more demand for these loungers but there are plenty more on the beach.
Beach - I would not call it the best beach I have ever seen but it is ok. The water is a nice color not as clear as in some other places but still nice. For me the issue was seaweed which the staff does a good job of clearing in the morning but there is still some left over and with the water not too clear it's hard to predict when you will step into a patch and that is unpleasant to me. Otherwise the swim area is great, the water is warm and the nearby private island which belongs to Sandals serves as a natural wave breaker so the water is very calm. The usual inclusive water sports are readily available as well as local people offering motorized activities at a price.
One thing to note here as some other people commented are the locals who offer goods for sale. Apparently the resort property line runs out at water edge so the sellers walk along the beach and invite you to come over to see their goods. They do not go up on the sand near the loungers and if they call you and you come over they will leave you alone as soon as you say no. Two people spoke to us the first day and then no one bothered us for the rest of the stay.
Food and drinks - the amount and variety of food was your typical all inclusive. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner offered in the buffet and an additional three a la carte restaurants for dinner which you have to reserve.
The a la carte restaurants are Asian, Italian and Steakhouse offering 7 and 9 o'clock sittings. You reserve them in the lobby and I suggest doing it as soon as you get there. We simply said we want to eat at 7 when are these times available for each place and the lady gave us three dates and we were done. If you wait too long to ask then you risk not having any reservations at all or maybe only the late sittings. The Asian restaurant is actually a buffet style but it was very nice. The Italian and Steakhouse is offering starters and deserts buffet but the main course is a waiter service at the table.
The main buffet offers a lot of variety to choose from and during the day the open air buffet by the beach and the pool offers good option for a quick bite.
Of course there is also the jerked chicken on the beach which for me personally was the lunch choice every day.
There is a total of 5 bars. By the pool, on the patio, two around the stage area and one sports bar on the second floor where you also find an internet room and a small casino room (no tables just a few slot machines). The drinks at the bar are pretty good. The bartenders are very easy going and always ready to adjust the amount of rum according to taste.
Entertainment - there is plenty to do all day if that is what you like. The program starts at 10 with aerobics class on the beach and continues throughout the day with various activities and games all through the showtime at 9:45. The quality of shows varied from the cheesy movie songs theme to a pretty well done African culture show with the fire effects performed on the patio to an outstanding steel drums band which has gotten a standing ovation from the entire audience. I never have high expectations for these shows but we enjoyed them. The entire team works really hard to keep everyone entertained and they deserve a lot of credit for their work.
Kids Club - this is one of the weaker sides of Riu. Their kids club program is very weak in my opinion. There is a small area which is a kids club but we hardly ever saw any kids there and most of the time it was kids with their parents using the kiddie pool. You do receive an official schedule of activities for each day but I never saw any kids actually engaged in any. The one time my kids wanted to participate in the face painting the person in charge had to make sure we came on the right day and then she said yes we'll do it. No other children showed up. So in general the kids program is not great but it exists in case you want to use it.
Service - Overall service is good. I cannot say that anyone went an extra mile but it was satisfactory. We did have to wait for a long time for our luggage to make it up to the room, but our housekeeping lady was fantastic. We did have to remind the front desk twice about sending us a return customer gift basket but then they arranged a cake for my daughter's birthday in the dining room. The ground keepers make sure the grounds are very well maintained, the rooms are clean. We never had shortage of towels at the pool. Everyone was very friendly and polite. The staff works day and night and they work very hard.
Overall this vacation was a good value for the price and we had a great time. Ya Mon :)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Opening September 2008 * Located in Montego Bay, on Jamaica's northwest coast * On the beachfront * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 2-story main building and 3-story and 4-story annexes * Surrounded by 40,000 m2 / 47,840 sq. yards of lush gardens * 4.5 km / 2.8 miles from Montego Bay * 350 m / 114.8 ft from various shops * 2,7 km / 1.7 miles from Montego Bay airport * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Montego Bay Resort
- Riu Hotel Montego Bay
- Hotel Riu Montego Bay Ironshore, Jamaica