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Reviewed March 19, 2013

Before travelling I'd read a lot of reviews both good and bad so I didn't set my expectations too high, but I do not understand how this hotel can be considered a 5*, as the quality is 3.5*. I have travelled around the world and stayed in everything from 1* hostels to 5* luxury so I have a lot to compare it to.

The journey from the airport took about 90 minutes including a 15 minute restroom stop, but we had no other drop offs. This meant an entire coach of British tourists arrived at the same time as an entire coach of American tourists and check in was organised chaos. There was one lady offering drinks to the American queue and only about 6 people from our coach were offered a drink. We were told to take our cases to our room or find a bell boy, which was impossible when over 100 people arrived at the same time and there were only 2 bell boys on duty. Not a 5* service at all. This was my fourth stay in a Riu hotel and I'd emailed asking if it was possible for a sea view room, I understand this is not always possible but we were placed in a room as far away from the sea as possible, and upon arrival it had the strongest musty smell which was disappointing. We unpacked all of our valuables into the safe after 17 hours of travelling we wanted dinner and bed, but we then found the safe key did not work, so we had to re-pack and go to reception. We waited in line for 25 minutes to be seen despite there being only one person in front of us and 2 staff on reception, and the woman on reception tried 7 different locks in front of us, all of which were broken, with no apology or smile.

Room: It had everything we needed, the aircon worked but it stunk when we arrived and it was full of mosquitoes. Despite spraying 50% deet every night we were bitten while we slept. The beds were not very comfortable and the top sheets were not changed for the entire 2 weeks we were there (I knew because my sheet had a black stain along the bottom from the day we arrived).The floor was always sandy despite us cleaning our feet before entering. One day we were on a trip from 0800-2230 and returned to our room to find the door unlocked and left open, which was either by the cleaner or mini bar staff. Luckily all of our valuables were locked away but it could have ended badly. Shower is small and wasn't very powerful. Minibar had a good selection of drinks and was refilled every other day. Because of the shape of the hotel sound travels so we were always interrupted by people walking in heels or shouting as they returned from a late night.

Beach: The beach was nice, it isn't the best beach I've seen nor is it the worst. It's just a shame so many people treated it as a giant ash tray. I also found large shards of glass in the sand on 4 different occassions. The snorkelling was good around the reef, we saw huge string rays, a 5ft barracuda, puffer fish, an eel, and many others.

Food: The variation was brilliant. I'm vegetarian and often struggle trying to find food but there was a huge selection. The only problem was that because there was so much choice the quality tended to be poor and the food was often luke warm at best. Breakfast was by far the best meal of the day, and the salad selection was excellent at other meals. The fruit tended to be a bit under ripe. We ate in Sir John's which was a nice change to be served at the table rather than a buffet and the food was nice. We went to the asian buffet twice, the first time was extremely disappointing as many of the trays were empty and the food that was out was cold. You'd think since they have set dining times they would ensure the trays were filled up for people arriving but clearly not! The second time we went we were in the earliest slot which made a huge difference, the food was piping hot and tasty.

Bars: The service on the whole was good, drink selection is brilliant and the bar staff will make you whatever you want.

Entertainment: I appreciate the staff work extremely long hours and its hard to please everyone but every day it was 'Everyone from England shout heyyy' 'everyone from Canada should hooo' 'everyone from America shout heyyy' and always ended in a game of Canadians vs Americans whether it was a dance off, arm wrestling match, or popping balloons on their partners... Not my idea of 5* entertainment. If you like Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On you're in luck as they blast it out at least once an hour, every single day. That said they were all very good dancers and some of the shows we saw were good (if you could manage to sit through another Canadian vs American game before it started).

Pool: We never went in the pools as they were always very cloudy and we never noticed people sitting at the pool bars getting out to use the bathroom. The duluxe pool was much nicer, but it was difficult to find beds there. There were always beds available on the beach, it was sometimes a struggle on the none-duluxe side.

The gardens were beautifully maintained and the pond was lovely to sit by and feed the birds, turtles and fish. The gardners would cut down coconuts for you to drink which was a nice touch. Some staff were extremely friendly whereas others were just rude.

This hotel would be nice for a week and I can understand the attraction for Americans and Canadians with such a short flight, but considering the amount we paid and the length of time it took to get there from England it was not at all worth the money and not what I expected for a 5* hotel. I realise my review makes the hotel sound horrible, and it wasn't, we had a lovely time but it was far below the standard we expected. The weather was cloudy, windy and rainy for a week which meant there was very little to do in the hotel and so we went on a lot of trips, so feel free to send me a message if you want to know anything about them. The main problem with the hotel was it was just too big, and so the standards of customer service, food and entertainment was far lower than it could have been in a smaller resort.

We booked a trip through Pauline the Thomsons rep which cost $112 each and we could only go on the one day. It was meant to be a 16 hour trip so we were up early ready to go but the bus didn't turn up. Long story short the message was not passed on to the company that we had booked so it did not come to pick us up and would not return for us despite being only 15 minutes away, which was extremely disappointing as we were looking forward to the trip. We were refunded at 3pm that day but it meant we were without the money for the days we'd had the trip booked and then had no time to rebook to go elsewhere. Not the top class service I've read everyone else received!

Overall this hotel is in my opinion a 3.5 star, but I guess it depends on your standards and what you expect from your holiday. Would I go back to Jamaica? Probably not. Would I stay in a Riu again? No.

Room Tip: I don't think you really get a choice
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank Nixxypies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

This was our first time visiting Jamaica and our first stay at a RIU. I am a bit spoiled but I am also realisitic and temper that with the reality that we do visit developing countries and nothing is ever perfect anywhere. First of all, do not put too much stock in the negative reviews of this resort - I was a bit worried about things after reading some of the complaints but I honestly say the good by far outweighs any minor compliants we had.

MoBay Airport - Easy to find your way but beware of buying drinks at the bar out by the buses. A lady in our group bought 2 drinks for $18 USD because she didn't ask the price up front!! Rip off!

Bus ride to RIU from MoBay was looong - over 2 hours due to number of stops to drop people off at other resorts. The driver was delightful and provided information on the way, pointing out points of interest etc. One stop at a small roadside cafe to grab a drink/use washroom was a bit early in the trip so heads up - use the washroom at this stop if you need to because it's a long ride!

Reception - was fairly seemless. Greeted with a cold rum drink. Reception had room keys all lined up and ready to go for 99% of those checking in - they were off to their rooms in minutes. Some people, ourselves included, didn't have rooms ready (probably just an error on the resort's part but can hardly blame them because of the sheer volume of people they check in/out in a day). Despite that small delay, we were on our way to our room within 15 minutes. Some of the front desk staff weren't overly friendly and could use some customer service training but were not outright rude. Some were very polite and friendly too.

Room - we did not stay in the deluxe side and our room was gorgeous. Clean, very nicely decorated and we got the king bed we requested which was an actual king bed, not two twins put together like some of the deluxers complained about. The bed was a bit firm but not uncomfortable. The AC worked perfectly. There is a slight moldy smell but hey, you're in the tropics and it wasn't too bad at all. Very clean. Maid service was excellent. We tipped a buck or two each day. I hear they ask you not to bring food back to your room and I understand why - we accidently left some snacks in our carry on and left unattended for even a few hours tiny little ants are all over it! No biggie because once discarded we had no ant problems.

Food - we didn't bother making reservations at al a cartes and and only ate at at the 3 buffets and jerk chicken hut - there was plenty of choice and a vast majority of the food we tried was quite good. Lots of fresh fruit - very nice. Didn't make reservations at al a cartes because the line up to make reservations each morning was too long and didn't feel inclined to stand in line when we were perfectly happy with the food at the buffets. BTW - one complaint - we checked with the front desk and was told there is NO seafood night! Pretty disappointing. We ate at bamboo blu right next door to the deluxe side. Beautiful ambience. Live acoustic entertainment. Very charming. Excellent seafood and the price was comparable to what you'd pay in Canada.

Beach - Absolutely stunning and well maintained. No problem finding loungers. Water was very warm and small waves if any. Sun sets early in Ocho - only downside to visiting this side of the island. LOTS of urchins in the seaweed beds, coral so beware of that. Can borrow snorkelling mask for an hour at a time for free with $25 deposit/set which is fully refunded when items returned. We ended up just buying our own sets at the beach gift shop just beside bamboo blu for $25 for mask and snorkel. Nice souvenir because they say "Jamaica" on them. Really good snorkelling, mostly at the coral on the deluxe side of the beach. Saw tonnes of colourful fish and some sting rays! Recommend water shoes due to urchins. Vendors in the water only - not allowed on the beach/sand. Very friendly and not too aggressive. Once you say no thank you they are polite and leave you alone.

Pools - seemed lovely and clean though we didn't set foot in them - why when the beaches were soooo gorgeous? Did get cloudy in the afternoons but not overly and no surprise with all the people/sunscreen/tanning lotion that they use. Lots of entertainment/activities at the pool every day.

Bar service - drinks were always very good. Sometimes a little on the strong side but if you tip and go to the same bartenders they quickly get to know how you like them mixed and are very accomodating. They do appreciate the tips and the service reflects it!

Entertainement - The staff work their butts off and try very hard. The shows are pretty good. Sometimes a bit cheesy but still a lot of fun to watch. DO NOT miss steel drum night - EXCELLENT and the best show we saw by far.

Gift shop - DO NOT buy from the on resort gift shops if possible. Way over priced. Go to the market in town - well worth the trip. Bought a tonne of stuff or 1/3 or half the price of the gift shop prices. DO NOT forget personal toiletries - the inventory in the shops is tiny and ridiculously priced ($21 for suntan lotion! $18 for suave shampoo!)

Overall a wonderful trip and hubby and I agreed we would go back to this resort if we go back to Ocho in the future which says a lot because we usually like to try various resorts. We are also likely to book with Rius in the future. We're told the quality is similar from one to the next and we were very happy with the service, amenities, rooms, food etc. Well worth the trip indeed!

Room Tip: We stayed in Room 3520 (not in delux side). View was pretty despite not having the rails on the balcony but rather a brick enclosure which obstructed view if you want to sit and see the ocean. This room DID have a king size bed and NOT two twin beds squished together which we heard some deluxers were stuck with. If you book ocean view make sure to ask for a room with a rail balcony if you want to sit down and enjoy the view.
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank Deanna L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

We paid extra to be on the deluxe side of the hotel. Room had a good view, but when trying to listen to the ocean - all we heard were the dishes banging around in the Mammee Bay restaurant. Also, they clearly had different wrist bands for regular and deluxe side, yet didn't enforce it. Several people from the regular side were reserving lounge chairs at the deluxe pool, then didn't show up to use them until afternoon. Wi-fi was free in the deluxe rooms but it took several times to get signed in everyday, everytime. Faster to go to the lobby, but timed there. No pineapple at the buffet, food just average. No local vendors like previous times I was there. Was hoping to replace some earrings I lost previously to match a shell necklace. Had to pay for a shopping trip, then just took us to the TajMahal strip mall (everything from China and all the same stuff in every store). Overpriced junk. Entertainment started too late every night and just dancing. Not enough comfortable seating. Very boring. No coffee makers in the rooms. No room service. Buffet didn't start until 7am so if your an early riser the only place to get coffee was to wake up the guy in the sport's bar. Like everywhere else the quality has gone downhill. The cleaning people were the only bright spot, they all did an excellent job.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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1  Thank lindenhill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

We travelled to the Riu ClubHotel in Ocho Rios in February 2013. This was our second trip to this resort and our fourth stay at a Riu Resort.

We booked and paid for an oceanfront deluxe room. Imagine my surprise when we entered our room,.sat on the balcony chairs and all we could see was the cement wall on the balcony, you had to stand up to see the water. Not acceptable! I went back to the front desk immediately and they told me there were no other rooms available, but to check back the next day and they should be able to move us. Slightly inconvenient, but we were reassigned to an oceanfront room the next day.

Other family members travelling with us also had trouble with their rooms. They paid for an oceanfront deluxe room with a double balcony and outdoor jacuzzi on the upper balcony. On the fourth day of their trip they finally were moved to the room category they booked!

Staff: The staff are polite, accommodating and always pleasant.

Beach: The white sand beach is beautiful, never a problem finding chairs on the beach, snorkeling on the reef was great, lots to see and easy access, no need to take an excursion to go snorkeling.
Very little to no seawood. There are vendors in the water, however they are not allowed on the beach and if you just said "no thanks" they left you alone.

Pool: We used the pool at the deluxe section which was usually pretty quiet, great bartenders. Although often it was difficult to get a chair around the pool unless you went down early and put your towels out. The other pool had more activities and tended to be louder, with the games, etc.

Spa: Some family members used the spa services and were very satisfied with the service and the staff. A little known fact is that the spa has two jacuzzis available, one cold and one warm as well as a sauna. There is no charge to use these, but you must book in advance through the spa. A nice quiet oasis at the end of the day.

Entertainment: Entertainment staff worked very hard, in the mornings they were on the beach and around the pool chatting to the guests and making everyone feel welcome. For the most part, the evening shows were the same as most Caribbean resorts, a Michael Jackson show, Caribbean dancing show, Jamaican show, Around the World featuring the music of contemporary singers. But don't miss the steel band "The Silver Birds" they are wonderful and well worth seeing. A different steel band was often playing in the evenings outside the buffet and they were good as well.

Restaurants: Steak house very good, however the first night we were there the service was extremely "SLOW", the second time was much better.

Japanese was just okay, very warm and little to no airconditioning.

Gourmet was the best of all - nice atmosphere and great service and great food

Italian - pizza and pastas were good and they stayed opened late so you could always get a late night snack. Our bus picked us up very early in the morning and although there were closed they did get us some cheese and crackers to take with us.

Buffet - lots of choice, you won't go away hungry.

Jerk Hut - open for lunch don't miss it - very very good!

Drinks: try a marengue, hummingbird, chocolate monkey and always ask what the bartenders special drink is

Rooms - deluxe rooms were spacious with separate sitting area, also a balcony that had two chairs and a small table, stocked minibar and alcohol dispenser. Bed was comfortable and the air conditioning worked well. Cleaned every day and plenty of fresh towels. Overall not bad but needing a sprucing up, sometimes we weren't able to get our door open as the lock didn't work well. Noise most of the time was not an issue, however when the room next door decided to party on their extra large balcony at 2:30 am, security was called and they arrived immediately.

Overall - the hotel is getting a little tired looking, cracked tiles around the pool, and in some of the walkways, beach lounge chairs have seen better days, and many were broken, or badly sagging. A general sprucing up would do wonders.

Excursions: Make sure when taking an excursion try to go on a day when there are no cruise ships in, otherwise the line ups are busy busy busy!

Also, if you are a group of 4-6, it makes sense to hire a private taxi and driver. The driver will take you to the different attractions and wait for you. It is a more inexpensive way to visit, Dunn's River Falls, Mystic Mountain, river tubing, shopping, etc.

This was our fourth trip to Jamaica and although we will come back, next time it will be to Negril.

Room Tip: Deluxe wing oceanfront - 4th floor
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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3  Thank sc_halifax_2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

I have stayed at this hotel back in 2009 with both of my children and to be honest it was impeccable, the quality, service and attitude of the staff were second to none!

It always seems to be risky returning for a second visit, so easy to be disappointed! But, not this time, the staff are all so friendly and courteous, they simply can't do enough to help, should you need it.

The hotel is impeccably clean, whenever you wander around, you will see staff cleaning and not just the tables, Bar tops and floor, it's akin to a continuos spring clean going on, even scrubbing the grout lines in the tiles!

This hotel is in a great location for most of the attractions on offer in Jamaica, thus minimising the time sitting on a coach, Dunns river falls is a must see attraction, not to be missed!

If you do decide to stay at the CLUBHOTEL RIU OCHO RIOS, then avoid room number 3456 as there is no hot water to the room in the morning and after the 1st few mornings, the cold shower becomes much less than invigorating! I was offered a room change but loved the extra large balcony that enjoyed the early evening sun!

The buffet restaurant serves a good selection of international foods, alway hot and well presented with plenty of choice, the alternative restaurants of of an adequate standard, try them all, but make sure you join the line to make your booking and book as many as you can on the first visit to alleviate the need to join the line again and again.

The St. John restaurant is ok, but service is extremely slow, the food is ok, nothing to write home about, but worth a visit, if however you ask for an espresso and a brandy after you've eaten, you will be DISAPPOINTED, you can however walk the 15 yards to the Italian restaurant nod help yourself to espresso and on another 15 yards to the bar for your brandy! A little futile!!!!

I have stayed at few RIU hotels in the last couple of years, all in the Caribbean, and have to say, the experience I have had at all of them has been pleasant and welcoming and the food has always been excellent, not one upset tummy! The drinks at the many bars are excellent, you will however require a fairly large roll of one dollar bills to get served before those pushy American and Canadians! Oh and if you can't live with our North American friends, don't visit as 80% or so of the hotel guests fall into this category.

The hotel is extremely children oriented, so great if your bringing the family, but a little busy and noisy if your looking for a quiet getaway!

One HUGE GRIPE, all RIU hotels are now charging for WIFI Internet access after a brief free period, unfortunately email is blocked as are some other websites on the free period, so it is of limited use, ("chocolate fire guard comes to mind") this is another attempt to extort fairly large sums of Money from guests, $50 for 7 days! GREED is setting in here! Disappointing, wifi is pretty much a necessity these days!

I hope this helps you make your choice and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Good luck, Enjoy!

Stayed: March 2013, traveled solo
7  Thank PaulGD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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