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“The RIU needs a lot of improvement”

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ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
Ranked #8 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
A TripAdvisor Member
“The RIU needs a lot of improvement”
Reviewed February 23, 2006

This was my first trip to the Carribean, and I had high expectations, and the RIU Ocho Rios fell short by quite a bit. I do have to complement them where due. THey have a beautiful facility, everything is very well laid out. The ground work has been laid for a wonderful all inclusive experience. They staff was very helpful, clean, and polite, and a pleasure to be with. They have a team attempting various sporting activities and shows at night. This could use a little help, but I guess I can't expect a Broadway musical. I would hope for more than a high school production, however. There isn't a lot to do at night, especially if you don't like to drink a ton. I wish the pools were open at night or the beautiful beach was lit. It is not though, and natives are free to come in from one side of the beach, and it really doesn't feel safe. I also found the Jamaicans that invaded the beach daily to sell their items to be a disturbance to the peace I was looking for. I looked longingly at the Sandals next door, with its brick wall and security guard that kept only the paying customers in. And the pools, although beautiful, were almost useless. I wanted a picture of myself at the swim up bar, but the water was far too cold to spend more than a few minutes in the pool. The temperature was really cold. But the bigest disappointment by far was the food. The resort was only half full, and we had to wait in line for an hour and a half one morning to get reservations to the most popular restaurant. Less popular restaurants also required a wait of at least a half hour. Not how I like to spend my time on vacation. The restaurants requiring reservations served very good main courses, but side dishes still need improvement. And the buffet was not what I had expected for $2500 for 2 people and 4 nights. Really was more like a cheap brunch. There were also different times of the day when food was very difficult to find. We had plans to leave for the city of Ocho Rios at noon one day and wanted a quick bite of lunch before we left, and there was no lunch to be found, the restaurants had put breakfast away and was still making the lunch food. Also, when we arrived at the resort after a long flight and bus ride, we had to wait almost an hour before supper was available. And Red Stripe beer is terrible! PLease RIU, get more brands of beer!!! I like to have a few drinks now and again, but I never got even a buzz while I stayed there. Overall, it was a very disappointing experience. I was going to rate the resort Okay, but some problems, but in hind sight, I have to change it to terrible. I expected more for my money, and won't return to this resort. If you have more questions, I would be happy to help!

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Toronto ON
Level 5 Contributor
20 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2006

Just returned from Riu, February 6 to 20. Jamaicans are great people. The guests are very friendly, we met some fun people from Minnesota, the Mid-West and Long Island.

PROPERTY: I tried to attaching a map of the main floor but I don't own it, so it wasn't allowed. If anyone wants it, post your e-mail. My tour operator listed the rooms available as Standard, Oceanview and Jr. Suite. The map shows the Ocean and where the buildings/restaurants are located. The main pool is between the ocean and the Standard rooms. The abandoned fish pond is in the "U" of the building. It is quite unattractive. If you are staying in this building, ask for a higher floor when booking. The Oceanview rooms are in the section to the right of the pool (above the main restaurant). We had room
2315, beautiful view of the ocean and pool. Building 2, floor 3, room 15. If you are in this building, the best rooms are from 01 to 17. There is a slight obstruction (any floor)with room 18. The worst room is 29(any floor) as it is almost totally obstructed by a section which juts out.

GOLF: We played Sandal's Golf Club. We arranged transportation through our Tour operator on site - $15 US per person return. The Riu gets a discount on fees. The total price for two persons was $147 US for green fees, cart and caddy. Plus a decent tip to the caddy. My husband advises that is about the average price in the Toronto area. The conditions were good - not excellent.

TOURS: We did Ocho Rios highlight and shopping tour which included climbing Dunn's river falls, a visit to the Coyaba River Gardens (very pretty) and three shopping stops. The best prices were at the Gem Palace (for souvenirs - not jewels). The "Craft Village" was the first stop and we were bombarded by vendors trying to show us their goods. The quality of their products weren't great compared to the real stores. I recommend this tour. The price was $40 US per person including admissions. SECOND we did "Real Taste of Port Antonio". Anyone who thinks the road is bad from Montego Bay has seen nothing yet. But, if you can handle it, very scenic. Visits many small towns, Somerset Falls, Frenchman's Cove (a dream) where lunch is served on the beach. Then a raft down the Rio Grande. While it was beautiful and relaxing once we got away from the vendors. No less than 5 persons tried to sell us something or ask for money on the bank of the river. Very sad to have children run into the river, hand you a flower and then start chanting "tipping, tipping". Noel Coward's home "Firefly" is mentioned in the literature, but never seen. This tour was $100 US per person including lunch.

BEVERAGES: The wine is TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE. The white wine is sweet, only palatable when really cold. The red is like Welch's grape juice - watered down. I met a lovely woman from the mid west who loves cruising. She offered this tip:she takes along two boxes of wine in her suitcase. If I ever went to the Riu again that is what I would do. There is no other wine available for purchase. I agree the liquor drinks are watered down. Very difficult to get tipsy. The liquor dispenser/bar fridge was refilled every two days. At the bar I asked for the name brand liquor, either Gordon's and tonic or Smirnoff and mix. Rum cream is good too. Great service if you tip.

RESTAURANTS: Ridiculous to line up from 8:15 to 10 AM at Sir Richard's. My husband asked which day has the most people checking out/in (Sunday) and that's when we got in the line - only 45 minutes. We ate there once and it was excellent. Mandalay (Asian) is excellent - but a buffet - no service. At the Mammee Bay only the main course is served. It was good. I have been told that the line up policy is applicable at all Riu hotels. The waiting time at the main buffet was fine until the last few days. Until then, the hotel was not at capacity. There is no way a buffet that small can handle the # of guests. On Sunday Feb. 19th we went to dinner at 8 PM and there were approx. 25 people lined up at the buffet. We had drinks and came back at 9 PM. Tuesday night is Caribbean and Thursday Mexican - excellent.

ENTERTAINMENT: The dancers are fabulous and work really hard. They do need a couple of singers (nix the lip synching). The band, which plays before the main entertainment, is really good. The MC is terribly annoying - no wonder they call him Mosquito. There are silly games before the show which take way too long. Often the entertainment didn't start until after 10 PM.

SPEAKING OF MOSQUITOES: If you are susceptible, bring the spray and the anti-itch cream. I received no less than 17 bites, mostly on one leg.

SCUBA: Last point, the Divemaster Everton is great. We had a Scuba tune-up as it was two years since our last dive. He's very patient.

QUESTIONS WELCOMED. ASK AWAY. GIVE ME A DAY OR TWO TO ANSWER.

WINTERBLAHS

  • Stayed February 2006
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25 Thank winterblahs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 21, 2006

My husband & I arrived Feb. ll and left Feb. l8. The hotel and swimming pools and beach area were all great. The service was awful. You had to stand in line to make reservations for dinner, if you ate at their specialty dining and not the buffet. They only take reservacations in person and from l0 am to l2. I stood in line for 2 hours to make reservations,only to be told that the 7 oclock seating was full. I took the nine. They only had l3 tables in this one. Who wants to stand in line for dinner reservations when you are on vacation? The food wasn't any better there than the buffet. The food at the buffet was very bland and never hot. The salad dressing was watered down. I asked for decafe coffee and was given a cup of warm water and a packet of instant Sanka coffee. It was so hard it wouldn't disolve. The soap in the public restrooms was watered down. We were given one bath towel each. I asked for two each and was given 2 only once. Two days we had no hand towels or bath mats. We called the desk 3 times in a period of four hours before they finally got us the towels. There is no room service. They do not have enough help to run a good resort. While sitting around the pool area, glasses are not picked up until the end of the day. There were not enough activities when it rained.

  • Stayed February 2006
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 21, 2006

We vacationed at the Riu Ochos Rios from Feb 5-12 and had a great time, significantly better than you would expect from some of the reviews I read. We have 11 year old twin girls, a 15 year old son and 17 year old daughter. This is a great family resort if you want to kick back and enjoy the hotel and beach, although the older 2 were often bored by about 9 in the evening. Despite the size of the hotel, there were few teenagers.

We booked 2 adjacent rooms ( none are adjoining ) which were great---clean, spacious,nicely furnished. FYI, note that if you have more than 2 people in the room, ask for a room config with a king and a double. Our first rooms had 2 doubles and we switched.

The food is quite good, variety and quality better than average. Make sure you hit the jerk chicken hut on the beach and take your BBQ'd chicken to the outdoor restaurant. The buffet at St. Anne's has a broad selection. We ate at each of the specialty restaurants and apart from the wait to book at Sir Richard's, all were fine. One caution if you like wine---the wine at the hotel is manufactured in Jamaica ( no kidding )and is undrinkable. Bring some of your own or buy locally in Ocho Rios.

The hotel has a very good gym, which was underused every day I was there.... I used the treadmill every day, with no wait.

The beach was great, water warm. The local vendors aren't too bothersome. Smile, be friendly. Bring some small bills to buy necklaces, bracelets etc and they will be very appreciative.

Lastly, make sure you go to Dunn's River Falls. It is worth the trip. It will be cheaper if you go a la carte. Book a cab from the hotel and pay admission separately.

We would go back to this hotel.

  • Stayed February 2006
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18 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 21, 2006

I have read most of the comments on here about the Riu before and after I went. They were very helpful before I left. We stayed at the Riu from Feb 12-19 and yes it did rain for 2 1/2 days but I found the staff to be very accomodating they offered games in the entertainment section everything from Monopoly to Yatzee to Scrabble. Also Table Tennis, and Bingo. The food was anything but horrible awesome waffles in the morning, we only ate at two of the specialty restaurants (only the Sir Richards was an hour wait the rest about 10-15 minutes). We went into town shopping one day and did Dunn's River Falls (Cool Runnings Tour) great time. This resort was absolutely beautiful and I was afraid that it would not meet my expectations from other resorts that I have been to. And we didn't let the rain get us down. It was to downpour just spitting and cloudy, so we swam in the ocean it was great!

To those who complain here is a note for you - YOUR VACATION IS ONLY WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

Stayed February 2006
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Moncton, New Brunswick
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed February 20, 2006

What a great vacation! Just got back from Jamaica on February 20th....we stayed at the Riu Ocho Rios from the 12th to the 19th. The 2 hour ride to the hotel is over roads we certainly aren't used to, but the bus driver took his time and we felt safe and relatively comfortable. Arrived at the airport at 3:00 am so didn't see much on the ride to the resort. But was the ride ever worth it! Fabulous property, clean well-kept rooms, great service, gorgeous beach, wonderful pool, lots of great food! We ate at the buffet St. Ann's, and the Pizzeria. Thoroughly enjoyed the meals! Especially the desserts!!! Wow! The staff at this hotel are friendly and never hesitated to smile at you! Loved the Jamaican people! The vendors on the beach are not pushy, and extremely appreciative of your business. Shopped in Ocho Rios, that was fun! Did the Cool Runnings trip!! A must do! We had a fabulous time and my husband loved the climb in the falls! Although we had rain for the first three days, we found lots of ways to entertain ourselves. The entertainment crew on this resort deserves a big thumbs up! They are a great group of people who are amazingly talented!!! We would recommend this resort to everyone! Thanks Riu Ocho Rios for a fab vacation!!

  • Stayed February 2006
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Helpful?
15 Thank Luzdasun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 20, 2006

We just got back from the RIU yesterday! After reading mixed reviews here I was a bit apprehensive but decided to try and go & have no real assumptions either way. We had an AWESOME time and the RIU is BEAUTIFUL! Following are some highlights and hints:

-The trip from the airport to the RIU is long and sometime bumpy... its Jamaica and thier 'highway 2000' project that is in its 6th year!!! BUT... No Problem Mon!!! Enjoy the scenery, the drivers comments and the rest stop for jerk chicken & red stripe beer. You will get there in one piece (believe it or not at the time) and don't have to worry until you head back home.
-Check in was easy and quick; we had no problem with any keys (room or safe), not enough towels (as you will hear from people) but more were sent up to the room within a couple hours).
-The entertainment staff is GREAT!!!! Chaz (Chin) and Andy are our favorites... they are all enthusiastic and try to get everyone involved. The shows are not broadway but they are fun. The magic show was awesome, the ice breakers beforehand where hilarious (take it from someone that was up on the stage!!).
-The drinks are no problem... we took large thermal mugs we bought at 7-11. They filled them up w/o a glance. Anyone who thinks the drinks are weak... whoa! what do you usually drink??? I had to ask for them 'light' most of the time.
-The food... well, its mass produced for lots of people! If you keep that in mind then it is very good and plentiful. Great fresh fruit at all meals, the jamaican corner in the ST Anns buffet was always good w/ local food, the Jerk hut on the beach is a MUST. Very good and, like other people put out, get your meat there then up to the Plantation for other food.

Hints:
-Dunns River falls on the catamaran COOL RUNNINGS thru 5-star watersports is a worthwhile side trip.
-Anyone that said the staff was surly... don't know what they were talking about; treat them with respect and a smile/hello and it goes a long way- they will be the same way in return and go out of their way to make sure you have what you need. In other words, treat them like PEOPLE not servants or lower class citizens!
-Towels... true that sometimes you don't have enough, grab some off the maids cart and stick them in a drawer!
-Dress code; the reservation restaurants you do have to dress nicer (no shorts, slaps, etc) but the buffets you can get away w/ shorts at dinner even. More relaxed than I thought it would be.

I hope this helps. Email me at sbernin@hotmail.com if you have more specific questions. I'm happy to help!

  • Stayed February 2006
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios

Property: ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
Address: | Mammee Bay - St.Ann, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#8 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios 3.5*
Number of rooms: 856
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

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