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Reviewed December 22, 2007

Check in-
Very quick and easy. They gave us yummy mixed drinks as we waited in line. The only thing was that we "upgrated" to a Oceanfront room and at first they gave us a room far, far away from the ocean, it was oceanVIEW not oceanFRONT. I explained to him that the room was obviously not oceanfront and he agreed to give us a different true oceanfront room. It was room 157 and it was AMAZING!!! Our balcony overlooked the beach and the quiet pool. At the end of the week we asked to see a honeymoon suite and they ended up just upgrading us to the honeymoon suite for our last night! YEAH MON!!

Room-
Very comfortable beds. Shower/Bathroom is nice but there is no light in the shower so it is kind of dark. Nice sitting area where we would watch TV before heading out to the shows at night.

Food-
Good food for an AI!!! At other AIs I have left 5 pounds lighter because I am picky and could not eat the food...NOT the case at the Riu! The food was awesome! We loved the Italian buffet for lunch, the jerk chicken hut on the beach is also very good for lunch! Dinner was good at the Chinese restaurant...the sweet and sour chicken was better than any at home! They will only let you eat at each restaurant for dinner once per week. We did like the gormet Sir Aurther for the ambiance, the mussel app was awesome! If you want a snack late night the sports bar has 7-11 type nachos and popcorn 24/7...stay away from the casino in the sports bar as we lost $50 and talked with a lot of other people who also lost all of their $ without ever going up.

Beach- BEAUTIFUL!!! There are plenty of chairs. Super clear water and white sand. A few times during the week they would have special things going on at the beach such as fresh coconut drinks or grilling out. They have a photographer taking pictures once a week of you with a parrot if you chose to do it. Our pics turned out really cute. Yes, the vendors will talk to you and try to get you to buy. Honestly they made the trip SO MUCH FUN! We ended up talking with a lot of them and they make Jamaica different than any other place we have been. It was soo funny to watch them yell at the guards, dance around, and one of the was singing the hookey pokey all slow in his Jamaican accent..they are a trip! If you want a quiet beach with no locals this is NOT the place. But trust me, they make it different!! If you want to get good deals on souveniers, walk down the beach to the left and follow it all the way to the end by the rocks and go seeJR! He is awesome and will tell you great stories while making you a custom bamboo bracelet/anklet. Tell him Leslie and Jay from Baltimore sent you!!!

Pools-
THE BEST!!!!!!!! They have loungers in pool and always have plenty of seats at pool bar!!

Entertainment-
SOOO GOOD!!! We really enjoyed all of the shows....by the 5th night it did begin to get old but the staff trains really hard to do these shows and you can tell! We loved Reggae night!!! You will come home obsessed with the Cupid Shuffle, down down do yo dance do yo dance!!

We will be back!!!!!!!!! It's Irie Mon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  • Stayed: September 2007, traveled as a couple
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17  Thank mdcuite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2007

This was our first trip to Jamaica and although the property is about 1 1/2 hrs. from the Sangstar Airport is was definitely worth it. We thought this was a beautiful resort from the open air lobby with very friendly staff to the restaurants and rooms.

Our room was a Jr. Suite and had tile floors and a king size bed that had two double beds pushed together. My only complaint was that our bed didn't have a comforter on it? No problem, mon. It also had a mini bar that had Appleton Rum, Jamaican Brandy, Vodka and Gin. The fridge was also filled with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Wata - that's what they call it :), Orange soda, Tonic and Club Soda. The grounds of the property are kept immaculate and we seen someone trimming the hedges every day we were there.

The food was really good with a nice variety at the buffet each day and had an excellent jerk hut. I will have to say that my favorite meal of the day was breakfast! Great fresh fruit smoothies, an abundance of fresh fruit, made to order omelets, french toast, pancakes, you name it, they probably had it. Even at the buffet one night for dinner they had "all you can eat" HUGE lobster tails that were amazing. One problem we did encounter and is no way associated with the resort is we came across some people without manners. We would be waiting in line for a while and people would just butt right in front of us. So just a word of forwarning and nothing to do with the Riu. Anyway, We also made reservations (with no problem whatsoever) at Sir Richards and Tushima's. My husband has never ate Sushi and really liked it there.

There are two pools and both have built in lounge chairs and a swim up bar. We didn't use either pool because we would rather enjoy the ocean. We did come across a few hustlers on the beach selling drugs (of course,), necklaces and seashells but a firm "no thank you" did the trick. The beach is very nice and was cleaned daily. It is a bit small compared to what we were used to but the snorkeling was great!

We did two excursions- Bob Marley Tour and Cool Runnings Dunn's River Falls. Both were worth it. It was great to see the "Real Jamaica" on the drive to Bob Marley's mausoleum in Nine Mile. There were a few times that my husband and myself were a wee bit scared of the cliffs with our crazy jamaican tour driver. The people in Jamaica are so friendly and willing to help in anyway they can. I just cannot see how anyone couldn't enjoy themselves here.

All in all this was a great vacation and I think everyone should experience it at least ONCE in their lifetime.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank Jillybean1101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2007

I stayed at the Riu Ocho Rios from November 16th to 22nd 2007. It was my first time to Jamaica and my first time travelling alone anywhere (I'm a 35 year old female). I flew from Toronto to Montego Bay - only a 3.5 hour flight but delayed due to Air Canada's computer system being down. When I arrived late in Montego Bay, I picked up my bags and proceeded through customs and immigration without incident. I was worried they might hassle me as I was travelling alone, but I also mentioned I was visiting my friend and her family who lived in Ocho Rios which may have made a difference. I had booked my transfer from the airport to the hotel through Exclusive Holidays in Jamaica. You'll find the porters at the airport quite assertive about wanting a tip. I was prepared for that and gave him $2 US which he was happy with. The driver Ian was nice, but we had to wait almost an hour for other flights to arrive so he could fill the van up with other travellers to Ocho Rios as it wouldn't have been worth his while to just take me.

The drive from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios was about an hour and a half, as others have reported. You're struck by the poverty as you pass the shanty shacks that line the highway in Montego Bay. Jamaica is a very poor country, so know before you go there that that's the context. The people are poor and you look like a millionaire to them and potential resource.

When we pulled into the Riu it was dark but I was absolutely stunned by the beauty and size of the resort. It was lit up beautifully. Check-In was easy and the staff were very welcoming and personable. I left my bags in the lobby for the porter to bring up and although they didn't come up right away, I received a phone call from the desk asking if they'd arrived yet so I felt they were aware of the situation and hadn't just forgotten. The room was very nicely decorated with dark wood closet doors, headboards and nightstands as you'll see in people's photos. The floor is marble and quite slippery from the humidity. Don't leave your patio door open and leave the air conditioning on to keep things dry. And if you plan to handwash bathing suits and other clothing don't count on it drying too fast due to the humidity. The one complaint I have about the room, other than no coffee maker, is there is no peep hole in the door. As a single woman, I would have liked to have the security of knowing who was knocking at the door.

The beach was beautiful. Unfortunately, it was overcast most of the time I was there and rained some of the time as well. And when it rains in Jamaica it pours! I only saw about 3 vendors the whole time. Security was on top of the situation. There are lots of lounge chairs. The bar staff keep the beach clean picking up empty glasses left on the sand. The activity coordinators try to get you off your lounge chair for aerobics or horseshoes but they aren't too aggressive about it.

I only ate at St. Ann's Buffet and Mamee Bay Buffet. St. Ann's was great. Omar was my waiter most of the time and took good care of me. I had breakfasts and dinners at St. Ann's. The food was varied and quite good. Don't expect gourmet fare. Expect what you'd get from a decent casino buffet. You can't expect mass produced food at an all inclusive to be top notch, really. I wasn't too keen on the lunch buffet at Mamee Bay. There was very little selection and it tended to be french fries and hamburgers and hot dogs.

The bars were all good. The drinks were tasty and the pina coladas had a decent amount of rum in them. Mind you I tipped about $1 US per drink so that may have made a difference. The bartenders were friendly, although once I mentioned that I was there alone one of them left for a few minutes, came back and suddenly a Jamaican guy playing in the band showed up and started chatting me up. He was nice enough, but it didn't take long before he suggested he come to visit me in Canada one day. If you're a single woman you have to keep in mind that these men are poor with few opportunities and they see you as a resource. Jamaican men are smooth and quite charming, but understand that they are probably wanting something more from you than your company. My friend who lives there told me that a lot of them have wives and families at home while they're romancing you at the resort.

As far as venturing off the resort, I did with my friend who came to pick me up a few times. The security at the resort is tight, which is a good thing. I had to have the front desk leave her name with the security guard at the gate. We did some shopping in Island Plaza in Ochos Rios, which is where the cruise ship travellers all go. I felt safe in that shopping plaza. In other parts of Ocho Rios, even my friend, a local, wouldn't get out of the car as she said people would hound her for money. I was able to see some of the residential areas and a Jamaican school where my friends' kids attend, so I was fortunate. I wouldn't do it alone though or with another tourist. Whatever you do, don't take pictures of the locals. They find that very insulting and can be aggressive if you do it. My friend's husband, a Rasta with long dreadlocks, actually grabbed a woman's camera once and pulled the film out. All in all, show respect for the local people, their history (i.e. slavery) and understand their economic situation and you should be safe.

  • Stayed: November 2007, traveled solo
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19  Thank Suzeq601
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2007

Just returned from a 2-week family & friends holiday at the riu, my first all-inclusive experience, and first visit to Jamaica. Overall I was very impressed with the running of the hotel, and I would return to a riu hotel, though not in Ocho Rios, as it is very touristy. If you like to go walking, it can be frustrating because often you are warned of the consequences of straying into unsecured areas - we encountered no trouble, everyone was friendly, but the lack of freedom to explore hampered the experience. When you escape Ocho Rios, you experience a much more pleasant, laid back atmosphere.

We spent half of the holiday on the hotel beach, which is very good. There are few public beaches in the area, and the coast is generally inaccessible (due to all the hotels & houses), so look elsewhere if you want to go for a coastal walk.

As for the hotel, the negatives are few and far between:-
- Buffet food is good, but not always hot.
- Restaurants are average (gourmet and steakhouse are best by far).
- No tea/coffee facility in rooms, no room service - you have to eat in canteens.
- Evening entertainment dull.

One word of caution - I had some money stolen from my wallet whilst in the sauna, the locker had been opened and my bag explored, and unfortunately I was carrying all my English money ready to convert to dollars, although only one note (the most valuable one!) was taken, which was some consolation :(

To summarise, if you are just looking to relax at the hotel, or do some of the organised excursions, then this is a good choice. If you want to explore on your own and see the real Jamaica, look elsewhere.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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7  Thank grep_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 19, 2007

It was our 1st time to Jamaica and my husband is quite picky so we decided to book a 5 star. We went with our 16 month old baby girl and it was an amazing vacation! We would recommend it to anyone! The staff was so friendly and welcoming. In regards to the food... fantastic! As I said, my husband doesn`t eat just anything and he loved it! The "a la carte" restaurants were great as well as the main dining buffet.
It was FAR from bland!
We loved it and we would go back for sure! Enjoy it and there really won`t be any problem mon!! :)

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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9  Thank Mikacat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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