Hello again from the beautiful Riu Ocho Rios! Once again, I have to thank RIM (Research in Motion) makers of my Blackberry 7100 Cingular Wireless, and Cable & Wireless for providing me with technology to connect my laptop to the internet while in Jamaica.
It’s now day 7 and still no internet café available on the premises. Hopefully, this service will be up and running by the time that you arrive at the resort.
Thursday’s weather was very sunny with a few clouds and HOT, HOT, HOT! Come to think of it, I didn’t hear that song played a single time while in Jamaica. Most everything was Bob Marley. I did manage to hear Jimmy Buffet a few times. Hail to the chief of Island music from Biloxi, MS!
Because of such a wonderful day, the guests are dispersed throughout the property and it did not seem crowded throughout the resort today! We once again took advantage of the weather and decided to spend the day out by the pool. After all, it was our final full day at the property and we wanted to relax.
SIR RICHARDS GOURMET: This establishment is truly offers fine dining cuisine with an atmosphere to match. You will find your palate to be more than satisfied! For starters, we had shrimp bisque, which was prepared in what I typically call the traditional lobster rue based sauce. This is more of a tomato based rue rather than cream. Salads followed, which were spring leaves tossed in light vinaigrette accompanied with goat cheese. The entrees were next and Stephanie had a sliced chicken breast that was stuffed with what appeared to be ham and cheeses. I had the grilled red snapper surrounded by rice, veggies, and a nice blended sauce.
The place was WORLD CLASS and I highly recommend that you make your reservations EARLY! The restaurant only holds 44 people so If you plan on dining here you need to make reservations the day that you arrive to the property. I was talking to some guests in the lobby who stated that this restaurant was already booked out a week in advance. I can not say enough about the food quality or the service provided! AAA+
THE LOBBY BAR BARTENDER: The man to visit is Antonio, who is located at the lobby bar and works evenings. He is very experienced and took excellent care of us throughout the week. We always come up to us on busy nights and remembered what we drank the night before. When he completed making and serving our last beverages, I extended my sincere appreciation and slipped him a $20 even though I tipped him well all week long. He gave me the Jamaican handshake and said that he would always remember us.
THE MICHAEL JACKSON SHOW: As most of you know, there is nightly entertainment provided at AI resorts, as well as cruise ships. In our opinion, the AI resort shows are not that “flashy” or the choreography is a bit lacking. I personally do not think that most of you will be overly impressed with the entertainment. Although, the dancers have incredible work ethics and are in excellent physical condition.
THE show that you will not want to miss is the Michael Jackson show. However, you will need to arrive EARLY because the place is packed for this performance. I mean not an available seat in the theater, lobby bar, or outdoor bar, which all surround the outdoor amphitheater. The individual who portrays Michael Jackson has all of his moves down to perfection and even looks like him. At times he just needs to be a bit more energetic. The show consists of Michel and his entourage dancing to a number of hits, including Billy Jean, Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough, Bad, Thriller, Beat It, Black or White, etc. Michael “lip syncs” throughout the performance and does a much better job than Britney Spears. We both found the show to be somewhat flashy and very entertaining. The crowd really gets into this one! Show time throughout the week is at 9:30 PM and you will want to get there no later than 8:45 PM.
FRIDAY CHECKOUT: Check-out went very smooth at the resort with no problems at all. We had scheduled 10:30 AM bus transportation back to the Mo-Bay airport but it did not arrive until 11:00 AM. However, we did manage to get back with ample time to clear Jamaican immigration, security, etc. For those of you who ask about roundtrip airport transportation, the main company is Island Tours but I believe that you will need to book in advance. Transportation was provided by the wholesale tour company, Apple Vacations.
TRAVEL AGENT: If you need a travel agent I highly recommend that you use ours. We have been extremely satisfied with her customer service and attention to detail. In addition, she always seems to beat everyone on price enough though that we are loyal to her. I typically send out 48 hour bids to many online travel companies and she still continues to beat the price. Her name is Lori Lawhead and is with Go Away Travel. You can reach her at 888.314.2929 Ext. 172 or by email at email@example.com. You can visit them on the web at www.goawaytravel.com. There is even an online chat feature in which you can request to be transferred to Lori directly.
The third and final shopping stop is at the Taj Mahal, which is a plaza of duty free shops. The tour guide gives you two coupons, one for a watch/jewelry store and the other for a souvenir type of shop. This stop is scheduled for 20 minutes and again the intent is to give you enough time to only go in these stores. As a matter of fact, when you get off the bus in front of the jewelry store the guide basically pushes you in the store and says, “Don’t forget… we go here and then we go next door”. Again, we went into the watch shop and then ventured off into all of the other little shops in the village.
FINAL CONCLUSION: My how time flies when you are having fun and fun is what we had. Although we were displaced from Cancun due to hurricane Wilma, we had an excellent time in Ocho Rios. This was our fourth trip to Jamaica, three of which had all been in Montego Bay. This was our first time to stay with Riu, who I thought overall did a great job, especially since the resort just opened. In fact, they more than exceeded our expectations as I personally did not feel that the resort would run as smooth as it did and I was very concerned about the construction. Folks, for those of you traveling within the next few weeks or even months, you will not have anything to worry about!
Now, the most popular question that you all are going to ask is, “Will you be going back?”, right? I will lay out my opinion of the pro’s and cons. But for those of you who may have not read my DAY 1 review I am going to refer back to it so that I can once again try to explain our expectations, tastes, and preferences, which are outlined below.
Accommodations: We travel twice a year to vacation destinations. One with and without the girls. If we were going to Disney World we would most likely not stay at the Grand Floridian but would typically stay at the Polynesian, Boardwalk, or Yacht Club. Vegas, we typically stay at The Venetian, Mandalay Bay, or Paris Las Vegas.
Dining: We typically don’t eat at chain restaurants, such as O’Charley’s, Chili’s, Logan’s, Lonestar, Macaroni Grill, etc. However, the chain restaurants that we would eat at are Bucca Di Beppa, Stoney River, Carabba’s, Maggiano’s, Flemmings, Morton’s, etc. We like to dine at local eclectic restaurants.
Our typical “weekday” bottle of wine is typically in the $12-$15 range. We typically stock the top shelf liquors and cordials. OK, well enough about our preferences so let’s get on to our experience with Riu Resorts!
PROS: The accommodations are fantastic, a la carte restaurants are better than average to excellent, fine architectural detail, cleanliness of property, friendly and courteous staff,
CONS: Cheap liquor, no beach umbrella’s, pools need to accommodate large crowds, layout of the property, overcrowded bars, no complimentary shuttle service into Ocho Rios, repetitive buffet options.
Will we go back? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong and this is not in any way to deter you from having a GREAT vacation because we did and we know that you will too.
For the folks asking about children. In my opinion, this resort is more for adults than kids. There didn’t seem to be a lot of options for the younger ones. The “Kid’s Club” is pathetic and you will see a picture of it when I post the vacation pictures to my website. Although we were not traveling with kids this was not an issue or concern.
Not to be critical, but in my opinion the resort did not match-up with the clientele. In fact, one night I saw a gentleman wearing a “Rebel Flag” bandanna at the show. You can draw your own conclusion when you arrive. I spoke to one of the representatives who was from Spain (corporate) and they want this hotel to be the signature property.
The Yucatan Peninsula is more to our liking and I believe that we are going to put together a family/neighbor trip pending on the conditions of the properties. We stayed at the Iberostar Lindo, which has a wave pool, lazy river, and many more options for kids. We will probably be returning to the Lindo in June.
I hope that you all have found our daily journal to be entertaining, as well as informative. If you have any additional questions that you would like to ask, please post a question to me in the forums. So it is easier for me to find your question please use this format. Liquorman: How is the snorkeling? Be sure and start of your post with Liquorman:
Stephanie and I hope that you all have a wonderful vacation at the Riu and perhaps we will see you on a future vacation destination!