Well first off, let me state that we were at this resort for a 2 week stay from April 28 to May 12, 2012 for our wedding. Because of being a large group, all of our rooms were upgraded from junior suites to suites. We don’t believe our review for this resort would change had we not received the upgrades as we saw some junior suites and they were also quite nice.
We had a truly enjoyable stay at the Grand Palladium Riviera. Let’s start off with the resort in general.
As other reviewers have pointed out, this is quite a massive resort, but not unlike what you’ll find in the Mayan Riviera (Barcelò, Bahìa Principe, Iberostar, etc.) or in Punta Cana. What can be commended of this one is the fact that the resort was actually carved out of the mangroves that were there beforehand instead of clear cutting the whole area. This place is alive! What a treat to cross paths with iguanas, raccoons, coatis, etc. The grounds are consistently being kept immaculate – the positive side of walking around so much on this huge resort… more on that later. The layout of the resort is quite ‘’organic’’ is style (as opposed to straight quadrant roads), but can also lead to confusion as to what direction you need to go to get somewhere. I have a good sense of direction, but others from our party still did not know their way around after a two week stay (pay attention to the signs and you’ll be ok)!
What made getting around the resort a bit cumbersome was the lack of consistency from the trolley system. These large golf carts (wheeled trains in between lobbies) followed set paths that ultimately brought you from your villa to the lobbies. Staff told us that it should take no longer than 10 minutes for one to pass by a stop. I suppose they meant 10 ‘Caribbean’ minutes as we’ve waited much longer, and sometimes without a sign. So we walked… Most of our group actually enjoyed the walks because of the beautiful property, but some had minor disabilities and others had children and strollers. If this is your case, I might recommend the Kantenah/Colonial side of the resort because it doesn’t have a lagoon running through the central part of the resort, so no steep bridges to climb up and down.
The lobbies are all quite massive and share many similarities albeit being different in some ways. The Riviera offers the largest of all amphitheatres (the Colonial has the other one) and it also has the discothèque. Other than the buffet, all à la carte restaurants are at the other lobbies. The Kantenah side offers a couple neat ‘’up-scale’’ bars (Hemingway and Churchill) that offer premium liquor selection. Speaking of liquor, the overall selection was quite half decent, with many quality rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey. The Colonial has a sports bar for those who can’t miss a game!
As for food there are 9 restaurants (10 if you’re staying at Royal Suites) that all have different national or regional themes (Japanese, Asian fusion, Mexican, Brazilian, Ribs, Steaks, Mediterranean, seafood and Italian). These are all à la carte and you’d have to be pretty picky to not be able to eat well here. Some of the standouts were the veal and lamb at the Mare Nostrum (Mediterranean), the beef teriyaki at the Bamboo (Asian fusion) and many in our group enjoyed the seafood at the Punta Emilia. Note to self, do not miss the Sumptori food show, rather spectacular and tasty although fairly salty. If you enjoy snacking 24 hours, you’ll enjoy heading to the beach bars where you can get a great selection finger foods. We only did the buffet once for dinner, but the selection was reasonably impressive. The same could be said for breakfast – they have pretty much anything you could crave for from fresh fruit, to eggs (cooked however you want them), to all types of bread, bagels and pastries, from cheese to cereal and fresh squeezed juice. For lunch, your buffet options are the main buffet at the lobby, with a large selection similar to dinner and the pool buffet, where you get a decent, but smaller selection. At either you could have cooked on the spot fish, chicken and pork. Being in Mexico, I found the preparation was pretty blend on typical Mexican food, but they had a wide variety of sauces to spice things up (I suppose they do have to cater to a wide clientele). The guacamole and pico de gallo were amazing!
Let’s get into the rooms. As stated earlier, our room was a full suite. You basically enter in the living room part that has a couch (with roll-a-way bed) a coffee table, three comfy chairs, a desk and Sony LCD TV standing on a unit that holds your coffee maker and mini-fridge (Pepsi products, water and beer). Next there’s a short hall with a two-door sliding closet (with safe) that leads to a mirror on one side facing the bathroom on the other. The bathroom is fairly large with a whirlpool tub, large marble counter with a single sink, toilet and a large enclosed shower area. At the end of the hallway is the bedroom with countertop for a large piece of luggage, an LCD TV standing on top the dresser (not a lot of room for storing clothes), a desk and finally a king size bed with two night tables. Both the bedroom and living room have access to very nice balconies. Upon first impression the rooms are quite nice, but you start noticing many small scuffs and markings on the furniture that gives you the impression that the rooms need a little updating. This is truly not a big deal as the rooms were very clean, but we enjoy a more modern feel – they could easily change the bed covers and paint the walls to neaten things up. Our bed was quite comfortable, we enjoy harder mattresses, and the standard pillows were just fine, although some in our group would have liked something thicker. You have the option of a pillow menu for 3$/day. Also, you could feel that the mattress was covered with a light plastic, of sorts, which did not breathe very well, although we slept very well and, overall, we were quite happy with our room.
We were rather pleased with the beach area as we found it the best spot to enjoy the sun and outdoors with the nice breeze making sure we didn’t overheat – If you can stay in the sun, by the pool, for more than 10 minutes you’re much braver than we are… Anyways, having been to Punta Cana, La Romana and Barbados it’s safe to say that this beach offers something for everyone. The sand is white and somewhat powdery (not so much as in Punta Cana) and can be a bit rocky because of coral formations right close to some of the shore. On the other side of the coin, you get much better snorkelling right off resort (but not a great as that of the Dreams La Romana, DR). The water is probably one of the clearest I’ve ever seen. From one end of the resort to the next resort (El Dorado) you can probably have a good 30-45 minutes stroll on the beach. Staying at the Riviera, our coast was rocky coral, very beautiful in its own right and we had direct access to the salt water pool. This amazing area with chairs and Bali beds was built in the coral sea wall and also has a bar. You could easily spend most of your trip there and if you’re a beach bum you can walk 5 minutes to the beach – probably a further 5 minutes to hit the nicer swimming areas with no rocks or coral. During our two week stay, we never found the waves too much to handle, even when the red flags were out and during most of our trip the water was quite calm.
As an important side note, we never had any problems finding chairs in our out of the sun, nor at the pool or at the beach. The sheer size of the resort never made it feel packed with people.
If you’re looking for nice free-form pools, this is the place for you. The Palladium has two massive pools, both are quite similar except that we found the Kantenah/Colonial pool too deep, but more exciting (more activities). The Riviera/White Sand pool had cooler water (a positive). Many times, by the swim-up bar, we found the bartender overwhelmed by the patrons. He did an amazing job serving all these people, but he could have used more help to speed things up a bit. Definitely one of the nicest pools we’ve been at. There are a few more adult pools interspersed around the complex, but we only took advantage of the one by the main pool for a late night swim. It’s very nice having the option to cool off in a pool at night!
The RenovaSpa was a mixed bag for us. It’s very beautiful and massive, the pool is probably just a nice as the main pools and you have access to all, including the relaxation area that offers steam rooms, saunas and therapeutic pools. The massages and beauty salons were extra… Not bad. The gym is the lacking point, upon first sight it feels large and open, but the cardio machines were not in the best shape and lacked some free weights. Next door was a great looking group exercise room with a big open floor and a section with spinning bikes. We were very excited to see these bikes, but unfortunately all but one (out of 10 or 12) still had fully secured pedals. Hopefully the resort will fix these or at least remove them so that people like us don’t get their hopes up to keep their exercise routine going.
In review, aside from the inconsistent trolleys and a little need to freshen up the rooms, we truthfully enjoyed our stay at the Grand Palladium Riviera. Staff was generally courteous and ready to help and they responded much quicker to requests than what we’ve experienced so far in all-inclusive trips. Although the complex is pretty massive, it is pleasing to the eye walking around the different pathways and crossing path with so much wildlife. We have no problem rating this facility a 4 or 4.5 star out of 5 and recommending this place to others.
* As an aside of our review, we really want to thank Grace, from the wedding team, for her amazing help and work at organizing all the details of our wedding. She attended to all our needs and requests and made sure that everything went flawlessly. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
No room service unless at Royal Suites section.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.