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Reviewed September 17, 2008

my wife and i stayed for 5 nights. i was skeptical because of the reviews and the price. however the overall stay was great and i would in fact go back, this review is coming from someone who travels freq.
getting off the plane you want to sprint to the customs line....this could save you an hour or more of waiting....dont worry about the people looking at you....once they get to the customs line they will know why you were jogging.
the drive to the resort was scary, almost 4 head on collisions, they drive crazy and freq change lanes into oncoming traffic. i would not advise renting a car and trying to drive with them, i travel and consider myself an aggressive driver but i would never even try....they drive crazy dont do it.
upon arrival....check in was actually nice, a bit overwhelming because of all the people but they offered rum drinks to make the 10 minute wait go smoothly.
the room: was great, i was very skeptical.....we had a 3rd floor suite and it was nice, marble floors, jucuzzi bathtub, couch, flat screen tv, large bath towels very relaxing. the fridge was refilled the 3rd day not 2nd like they state. 4 self serve bottles on the wall, rum, vodka, brandy and gin. we left a 5 dollar tip everyday for housekeeping and the towels and toiletrys were plentifull....did not have to ask for anything...not even once. if you are too cheap to tip.....then thats your own fault.
the casino: small but the slots always seemed to be hitting....roulette was electronic but fun. great deli sandwiches and nachos and cheese for when you have the munchies at 3am. the sports bar is 24/7.
the food: this would be my only complaint....the dinner buffet not the best, they do have alot of variety....the desserts and fruit are great but the main course items...good luck. the breakfast buffet was great. but for dinner make sure you make your reservations for the nicer places.....the food at these places are the quality most of us are used to. make this the first thing on your to do list.....you will be glad you did....and make sure to do it everyday to avoid the regular buffet....its really bad....i would have paid dearly for a meal from a high school cafateria if i could have avoided the buffet the first night.
the pool and beach: the pools were clean and well kept and jacuzzis worked great. though a family resort there are topless women at the beach and sometimes near the pool. it was laid back enough were nobody said anything on the beach.....if you were to do it at the pool you are taking a chance if the female bartenders are working, the male bartenders did not mind it.
ganja: if you smoke....its all around. i would suggest asking the bellboy or a bartender. the guys in the water are annoying.....they will try and sell it to you while you are swimming and they are aggressive. if you walk down the beach smoking a cigarette you will get offered ganja. the guys in the water will try and gouge you on the price. haggling on the beach at night could get you a weeks worth for 20 dollars. but watch what you do, even though nobody minded for those who were discreet.....remember its still not legal.
bring anything you need with you....the resort charges crazy prices...11 for a pack of smokes, 25 for sunscreen etc.....come prepared.
the drinks: bring your own big mug. disregaurd all the travlers knocking the drinks. here is the deal: by bringing your own mug they will fill it to the top. this means less trips to the bar, and less tipping. yes, i said tipping at an all inclusive. tipping will ensure a full drink, tell them how much rum or vodka you want, they will do it. i liked the rum punch....never had it in america. yes the bars are busy at peak hours. walk up, lay your arm on the bar holding a tip, you will be helped 1st if 30 other people were ahead of you. its great....all the sad people that complain they should not or will not tip....look more sad while the bartender is making your drink !
dont overpay for some tours, you can haggle with the cab drivers in front of the resort lobby. 100 dollars will get you a private tour for 8 hours. but be safe about it, the taxi drivers with red license plates are insured.
haggle on all purchases, if they say $100, offer $20....if they dont accept they will counter offer not much above your original offer. you will be happily suprised by what you save if you are a good haggler.
LEAVE TIPS! if you dont then you deserve poor service. a dollar goes along way when these people work for $10-15 a day!
overall: it was a really nice resort, i was suprised because its one of the cheapest. only complaint was the food and i wish there was less people with kids. attn travlers take your kids to disneyland or leave them at home....do not take them to jamaica....if you do dont be offended by the topless or the ganja....you knew where you were going so dont gripe.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank aanogood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2008

My fiance and I stayed at this hotel in March to celebrate both our birthdays. The hotel is enormous and very nice compared to the Sandals hotel next door that looks like is about to fall apart. The hotel has nice amenities including the beach and pools. But we were very dissapointed with the room and the food. The room was decent but it smelled like a run down motel. Then we noticed that the electricty goes out sometimes thus causing the musky smell. The other issue was the food and wine. The only decent meal was breakfast. The food tasted like yesterdays meal and the wine was either red or white and both tasted like cooking wine. For being spaniard owned, they really know how to be cheap on giving their guests quantity as opposed to quality. We noticed we weren't the only ones having the waiter take the food and the wine back. I will definitely not stay at an all inclusive hotel or resort.

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tita0305
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2008

My boyfriend and myself stayed at the riu for 6days. We loved every single moment of it. We were sceptical at first because we had read that some of the hotel guest had been robbed, but we took a chance anyway and had no problems.

We arrived at ocho rios early like at 10am and even though our room wasnt ready we were able to make our selves at home by walking around and having breakfast. We got upgrated to a suite, so that was a great start. Our room didn't have a COMPLETE view of the ocean but it still wasn't a bad view. The staff is very friendly and outgoing. We were told that this hotel was only 3years old and the Riu in Montego Bay just recently opened up like 2 weeks ago. So I was very pleased with the cleanliness of the room, the friendliness of the staff....Just beware if you or on the beach, you will get offered a jet ski ride for a VERY CHEAP price but they ride with you and will drop you off at a lil hole in the wall shop where the vendors are very pushy and agressive. If you do decide to shop, make sure to bargain with them, they will always bring down their price.

If in Ocho rios, you should definately climb Dunn's River Falls, the Bamboo raft down the Martha Rae river was awesome, along with the Green Grotto Caves if you want to live a piece of Jamaican history. Also the Botanical Gardens is a must, where you will be able to see an amazing view of Ocho Rios.

Overall our trip was incredible. Make sure to make reservations at the gourmet restaurants, it is well worth it! Sir Richards was the best. Make sure you try the Jerk Chicken. The Riu entertainment was worth the trip. Every night there is an incredible show, they involve the audience so if you're shy do not sit near the front. lol and you can enjoy their disco tec every night after their show.

Don't forget to take a waterproof disposable camera, you may buy one in the states for about $10 or buy one from the hotel for $27....

Last but not least, this is not an adult only resort, but be prepared to see a few topless women getting a tan...Sandals is right next door, but I was not impressed by their resort. Riu is a 5 star all inclusive resort that is open 24 hours, so you will never go hungry! & they have an incredible mini bar. I will definately go back to Riu....maybe in Negril next time.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank noeandyvetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2008

I honeymooned at Riu 9/2 - 9/9. Its my second Riu stay (Dominican 2006).

Positives: Food was very good, especially the dinner reservations (Tushimi, Mandalay Bay, Sir John and Mamee Bay) all had quality food well prepared and the service was fantastic at each. So you have to wait in line at 5pm for reservations the next day - bring a drink (or two) - Its Irie mon!!! Jerk hut - awesome chicken with jerk sauces and rice - ate it nearly everyday for lunch - still missing it. Tuesday was all you can eat lobster tails, crab legs and peeled shrimp - very nice.

Because of the layout of the beach and the resort, never felt crowded nor had to get down early for a chair; entertainment staff was busy all day, but never pressured you to participate. Beach is fairly clean although too many smokers tossing their butts in the sand - the staff tries to keep up, but its the vacationers that are the problem.

Yes there is topless girls - most no one wants to look at; and guys are in speedos - no one wants to look at that either; but hey, its irie mon, no problem.

Alcohol was plentiful, bring your own cups if you want, they'll fill them up. Capirina` are very good.

great ocean views from my room (2308)

a few negatives:

the beds and pillows are very hard!!!

the locks on the door were a pain in [-].

there is a slight "smell" (its called caribbean humidity) - we brought a plug-in air freshner and that solved the issue.

the cleaning staff stole a pair of my wife's fake diamond earrings (moral of the story is don't bring anything of value that you don't put in the safe) - we reported it to the manager who said he would raise the issue, but if its not in the safe, they are not responsible. We didnt tip the cleaning staff since they stole their tip for the week.

Dunn's River Falls is about 10 minute drive, so that was very convenient excursion.

Besides that, the staff was awesome; the food was great; drinks were plentiful; beach was nice; resort was above average compared to other all-inclusives I've stayed at, so I would definitely recommend it for all types of vacationers (definitely looks nicer than the Sandals next door)

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Bengals9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2008

My cousin decided to have a destination wedding at the Riu Ocho Rios (during the height of hurricane season!). No worries, right? Well, the wedding was scheduled for 8/31/08, with the majority of the wedding party and guests arriving on 8/28/08. My family arrived either 8/26 or 8/27, but my daughter and I were scheduled to arrive in Montego Bay on 8/28! Needless to say, everyone was chewing their fingernails off! But, no worries, mon - our plane was one of the last ones to land with ease before Gustav hit and the airport closed!v

Arriving to cloudy skies, with on and off showers, we took Lee's Taxi (excellent service, by the way!) to the resort. On the way, the winds continued to pick up, so by the time we arrived at the resort, check-in was somewhat challenging, with the open air design and 30 mph sustained winds.....

The front desk staff of the Riu kept their composure, especially when dealing with papers flying everywhere, and guests attempting to check out and get home, which wasn't happening, since the airports were all closed. The rest of the staff was busy at work securing the chandeliers, removing fan blades, tying up trees, etc. in preparation for the storm. The lobby, and the resort in general, was GORGEOUS, even with the winds and rain...

After checking in and surprising our family with our presence ("I can't believe you made it!"), my daughter and I made our way to the Piccolo Restaurant for a quick lunch. I was not very happy with the food choices there (I have a somewhat limited diet), but ate what I could, though it wasn't very good. I was disappointed, and after reading reviews here about the food, I feared the worst.

We arrived to our room, after gingerly walking along the rain-slicked marble floors, where our bags were waiting. We had a Junior Suite, which was quite nice, though the smell was a little off, but tolerable. Also, I would have liked to have at least on little rug, as the marble floor always felt like water was spilled on it. Thankfully, I'd brought an extra towel, which I used to run across the floor to dry it. The mini bar was fully stocked with more than we could possibly drink, and the view from our balcony was lovely!

Dinner was much better than lunch. We went to St. Ann's (the best buffet, in my opinion) and the selection was wonderful! I overdosed on the fresh fruits, falling in love with sweetsop (or custard apple), which I'd never had before. The service was excellent, despite the ever increasing wind and rain. We were all given snack bags (sandwich, drinks, fruit, snack foods) on our way out of the restaurant, but we were assured that breakfast would be served in the morning.

The power kept going on and off throughout the day, causing our door key to stop working. I went down to the front desk and immediately got new keys. Problem solved. My nephew decided that he was tired of hanging around his parents and wanted to stay in the room with my daughter and I. Went back to the front desk, requested a cot for our room, then went back to the room. Less than 15 minutes passed when the cot arrived and was set up within 7-10 minutes, including the movement of furniture and putting on the sheets. Needless to say, the young man got a tip for that!

The rains came later that night and flooded out the Sports Bar/Internet Cafe, which was out of commission the rest of Friday and part of Saturday. On Friday, the winds died down, but it rained all day, though it was quite warm. Breakfast at St. Ann's was wonderful and the staff was gracious and friendly. They stayed at the hotel overnight, since trying to get home would have been very difficult.

Wedding day came (Sat., 8/30), and so did the sum. After another sumptuous breakfast at St. Ann's we hopped into our swimsuits and headed for the beach. As we staked out our piece of sand, the staff got down to business clearing up the debris from the storm. The beach was clear before we knew it, and the entertainment staff was going around, rallying people to beach aerobics, volleyball or horseshoes. My brother-in-law and I tried to get snorkeling gear, but we weren't allowed to, as the boats were not available, partially for our safety. Later that day, we went to the Jerk Hut on the beach - if you go to this resort, you MUST go to the Jerk Hut! The jerk chicken was delicious! Plus, St. Ann's was closed for lunch, which left the Piccolo - I was very happy to have the Jerk chicken!

We were able to move the wedding back an hour to 5pm, since the groom's parents and other guests were arriving later, due to their flights being canceled on Thursday. The setup at the gazebo by the pond was just lovely, and it was funny seeing other resort guests on their balconies, or lining up along the sidewalk, waiting for the wedding to start. The only problem was with the sound - the wireless mike needed a new battery, but the wedding coordinator at the resort didn't know how to work it, so we either had to scream (well, I did, because when I was reading, a bird decided to screech at the same time!), or we just didn't hear what was said. My main problem with the wedding was the presence of the photographer and videographer - they were in the way almost the ENTIRE WEDDING, so we couldn't see what was going on. Re-enactments just for photo shoots is my recommendation, so that the guests who spent a LOT of money and time coming down to attend a wedding, could actually SEE the wedding!

Reception was at the Mammee Bay Steakhouse. Our first table (there were about 25 total people or so) was right by the beach, but with the good weather came the bugs - LOADS of them! No one was comfortable and we were swatting more than anything. My sister (the wedding planner/organizer) asked our server if we could move, and he IMMEDIATELY moved us to a location further inside the restaurant. Hats off to him!! The food was excellent! I had the steak - tender with a choice of toppings - I had the chimichurri, though the other two choices were good, too.

We moved to the poolside bar on the Deluxe side of the resort, where most of us were staying. Our servers were again, excellent, and we even got them to dance with us! We all had a wonderful time!

The next day, check out was a breeze (which I would have loved to have had, as it was VERY hot!), and we were on our way to the airport. Our flight was leaving at 12:15, so we needed to leave the resort at 8:30. Lee's was there waiting for us. Took about an hour and a half, and we even got to see a few members of the bobsled team getting ready to go practice somewhere (of course, the sleds had wheels on them).

I would definitely go back to the Riu Ocho Rios, though I would NOT go back during this time of year. Early spring would be my choice, before it gets too hot and where the threat of any tropical storms are low to non-existent. BUT, since I was caught in a tropical storm, I can think of no better place to be than at the Riu - they treated us wonderfully and we were well taken care of. I do recommend this resort.

One tip - if you pay cash of any type at the front desk, you will get Jamaican money back. I hadn't planned to use cash at all, but due to the storm, one of my cards didn't go through correctly, and we couldn't contact the bank via phone. But those were extenuating circumstances also. All in all, our experience was wonderful. I love all-inclusives!!!

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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5  Thank g33k7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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