We were at the Riu Ocho Rios in the last week of June and had a great time. We have travelled to numerous all-inclusive resorts and we would consider the Riu Ocho Rios for a return trip.
We arrived and they had everything ready for us including a separate check in table for those arriving on the bus. They gave us our room assignment, wrist bands and safe keys in less than 10 minutes. Our rooms however, were not ready but well before we left for our trip I understood that rooms would only be available by 3:00 p.m.so we were ready with bathings suits in our carry-on. If you're a seasoned traveller, you should know this anyway as there are many places we have visited that do not have an early check in unless they have room availability.
We stayed in the deluxe area of the hotel and had two rooms, one for us and one for our children who are 23 and 22 years old. They were very spacious, large bathrooms and clean. They had a separate living room area and the balcony view was of the ocean and the smaller pool. The safe was in the closet and perhaps that's one of the few downfalls of this hotel. The lock was removable and had a traditional key. You had to insert the lock to secure the safe and then were left carrying around a key. I much prefer the digital safes and then you don't have to worry about the key. We had no bug issues at all. With the hallways being open, at night you would see the occasional moth but that's totally to be expected on any island.
Food & Bars
Food choices were plentiful. We thoroughly enjoyed the jerk chicken hut on the beach. Couldn't ask for anything more!! The buffets had several choices. Of the specialty restaurants we tried: Sir Richard's (for deluxe guests only), the Asian, the Japanese and the Steak house. I would say the Sir Richard's and the steak house were the best bet. If I return, I would only go to those two. The buffet always had plenty of choice and my only comment would be that the trays would empty quickly and you would have to wait until they refilled. Sometimes they were fast and sometimes slower. Being in Jamaica, you have to understand that you are on Jamaican time. We never had a problem with bar service. We tipped at the end of our meal and there was never an expectation that we should tip. The waiter at the dinner buffet got to know us and would immediately wave us over to his section when we walked in. Yes, we know it was because he figured out that we tipped but at the same time, he prepared our table (for 5) and got our drinks and made our dinner that much more enjoyable so why not tip!? It was the same with the bartenders. If we had a day of drinks at the beach we would always give the bartenders a tip at the end of the day. We believe in helping those who help us!
The entertainment crew really try hard to do their best but its the same sort of 'all-inclusive resort' type of entertainment. We watched the first parts of a few shows but did not watch any right through. We enjoyed the "Miss Riu" night! By the time we've had a day at the beach, a nice dinner and some drinks, I'm only interested in reading my books and having a quiet night in my room so the entertainment is not a priority for me. The band that plays in front of the stage before the show is fabulous. It was great to listen to live music with a drink in hand and have the opportunity to dance too!
The beach is absolutely spectacular. Crystal blue water, warm and calm. What more does one need? There are lots of beach chairs and we never had a problem finding enough of them. We were a group of 5 and there were always lots available. The vendors in the water are just part of the culture. They were actually quite entertaining and if you just said a polite no thanks...they moved on.
I don't really use pools while on vacation as I feel that I can go to a pool any time at home but occasionally like to sit in the pool at the end of a beach day. The pools are perhaps where the Riu should really focus. The big pool was often dirty, murky and we went on several mornings before the start of the day and it was still dirty. The smaller pool was a bit better but the pool bar patrons probably have a lot to do with the water issues in that pool. Even still, I did not feel comfortable enough to go into either pool and was quite surprised to see a hotel of this calibre and size have pools with such poor water quality.
I am writing a review on the front desk simply because, aside from the pools, the front desk was another area that this hotel failed miserably. They had a separate front desk for the deluxe guests. One word for this: useless. Most times, we were redirected to the main front desk because the deluxe front desk had computer problems and the person sitting there was often on the phone or chatting with a co-worker before turning their attention to you. The second reason the front desk was an issue was the room keys. The room keys are the electronic cards (credit card type). Either we, or our kids, often misplaced them and we had to request new ones or get our existing ones reprogrammed. We were never, never once, asked to confirm our identification. We simply said we need cards for rooms 1233 or 1234 and they gave them to us. Or we would say "our card is not working", gave them our room number and they would reprogram them without even confirmation of what our names were. We commented on how this was a significant security issue. We had the same experience whether at the main front desk or the deluxe front desk. We kept thinking "what if"...what if someone else requests a key to our room?? Quite possible!! At one point, we had issues with our internet (see next paragraph) and went to the front desk to inquire. They phone the internet service provider and then handed us the phone to speak to them. It wasn't our service provider, but theirs, and they felt it was our responsibility to deal with them!
The internet access in the deluxe area of the hotel is included 24/7 but it is not always available. That being said, its a vacation and not having internet access all the time is not something that would ruin my vacation. It was always available in the lobby area.
Overall, it was a great vacation and the resort was nice, large and had a beautiful beach front property. I was worried about the negative reviews and don't think anyone should have any problems with this hotel. If you expect the same food as at home, same service as at home, then you're not experiencing the culture or the benefits of travelling to learn how other people live or what they eat. Yes, there should be an expectation of service and quality and this hotel meets or exceeds that.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated in northern Jamaica, on the beachfront. Two 6-storey buildings and one 5-storey building. Surrounded by 90,000 m2 / 107,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 10 Km / 6.2 Miles to Ocho Rios. 4 Km / 2.5 Miles from various shops. 105 Km / 65 miles to Montego Bay airport. 600 M / 1,970 ft. From a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Hotel Ocho Rios
- Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica
- Riu Ochos Rios
- Rio Ocho Rios
- Club Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
- Rui Ocho Rios
- ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica