I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to give a less than favourable review for the first time. For those of you who are already booked to stay at the RIU Paradise Island, I hope my review is helpful in providing tips to avoid the problems we encountered. This resort certainly doesn't deserve the 5 star rating it has been given by Sunquest but on the other hand it has enough redeeming qualities that you can still have a great vacation with a little luck and if necessary some specific requests at the resort.
We stayed at the RIU for 3 nights with a large group in early February 2006.
TRANSPORTATION TO/FROM RESORT: Our flights were with Canjet. The flight there was about 3 hours from Toronto and a little less on the way home. The plane was pretty small and of course as with all charter flights the seats weren't exactly roomy but that is to be expected. Luggage pick up and the customs drill was quick and efficient. We were transported to the resort by bus. The bus ride was about 30 minutes and it was an interesting drive mostly along the coast. It was really unnerving at first to be driving on the "wrong" side of the road though.
ROOM: Our room (216) was probably one of the worst I have ever had the misfortune of staying in. The only reason we did not demand a room change was because the trip was organized and paid for by someone else and we did not want to appear unappreciative or be overly demanding in those circumstances. If we had paid for the trip ourselves we would immediately have insisted on a room change, failing which I would have switched resorts. Where to start? The worst aspect of our room was the "view". Our balcony (very small) was right on top of a huge duct work and air conditioning system. It was ugly beyond belief and to add insult to injury, the huge air conditioning units were so loud even with the sliding glass doors shut you could hear the noise. The room itself reminded me of an older Holiday Inn type room with carpeting on the floor (as opposed to ceramic tile which is the usual flooring at tropical resorts in my experience). The room was reasonably clean with the exception of the tub which had mold (mildew??) in it. The bathroom was so small that two people couldn't be in there at the same time and it was a challenge to open the door if the bathmat was beside the tub. We were provided with wash cloths only the first day we were there which was a pain. We only got one little bar of soap during our entire stay and only once got shampoo which was a tiny little bottle we received on the second day. That was very inconvenient because I had forgotten to pack shampoo and was forced to buy a bottle in the gift shop for $7 (and the same bottle would have cost $2.99 in Canada). There is no coffee maker in the room which was a disappointment. There was a hair dryer provided with the room (not attached to the wall like most) and it only worked the first time I used it. After that it was dead.
The room access cards were simply a joke. They were obviously old and should have been replaced a long time ago. It took us an average of 5 to 10 minutes to get our room door to open each time. I finally went down to the front desk and when I explained the problem instead of just replacing the cards they sent up the "engineer" to give us a lesson on finessing the cards in the slot to get it open faster. That little exercise was absolutely useless. One couple in our group finally demanded new cards which solved the problem for them. I regret not having insisted upon new cards ourselves us because it was ridiculous how long it took us to get in our room each and every time.
If upon arrival you find you have been booked into either room 216 or 214 I would strongly recommend you request another room or you will regret it. Also, if you run into any of the other problems I have mentioned don't take no for an answer in getting the issue resolved. The rooms at the back of the hotel are closest to the beach and will afford the best view. I understand from speaking to other guests that the rooms facing the pool were quite loud (music and loud voices from the pool area) but that would have preferable to what we ended up with.
BEACH: The beach was the best part of the resort in my view. The beach and the water were both very clean and beautiful. The waves were simply huge most of the time and we had a great time body surfing. I would have been concerned if we had our kids with us though because the waves were so big and the undertow was incredibly strong. If you don't like big waves that will knock you on your butt you might not like the beach but we just loved it.
The sand on the beach is very dense and sticky. The beach is very long and wonderful for a walk but it is quite a work out because the sand texture made it more difficult than usual to walk in. There is no bar on the beach so you have to walk up a large set of stairs to get a drink at the pool bar. There are lots of beach vendors wandering around but I didn't find them to be too pushy. There are jet skis for rent on the bench but they are not connected with the resort. My husband rented a jet ski and the engine blew up out in the ocean and they had to go out to "rescue" him.
WEATHER: The weather was a mixed bag. There were often clouds but we got enough sun and warmth to satisfy us most of the time until the last day. The third night we were there it started pouring rain in the early evening and the rain lasted for a long time. There was a leak in the lobby area with water pouring in and a bucket in place to catch the water. The last day we were there we were planning on spending the morning on the beach but to our surprise the lobby doors to the beach and pool area were locked and there was caution tape stretched across the doors. I have never been to a resort before where they lock the guests in! We eventually went out the front of the resort and accessed the beach by the public beach path. It was incredibly windy to the point where it was difficult to walk and the sand was blowing around so strongly it was like you were being sandblasted. The sand really hurt when it hit the skin and it was absolutely freezing. Basically the beach and pool area were off limits for most of the day.
FOOD/DRINKS: We ate at two of the a la carte restaurants and I would have to say the food was definitely above average for an all inclusive resort. The beer tenderloin was very good. We did the buffet for breakfast and lunch but never tried it for dinner. It was comparable to other AI resort buffets although I ended up with cold pancakes and french toast each time I tried them in the morning. I found the mixed drinks to be quite strong but that wasn't a problem for me. I was rather disappointed that they only had one kind of beer (Miller Genuine Draft) which I didn't particularly like. It would have been nice if they had the local beer to try (Kalik). I eventually went out to the liquor store to buy some.
POOL: There is only one pool. Compared to the other pools we've seen at other resorts, I would describe the RIU pool as being on the small side but it is reasonably attractive all things considered. When the weather co-operated we spent most of our time on the beach but there were lots of people by the pool. The lounge chairs are very close together around the pool and the pool area is pretty small. The pool deck was very very slippery most of the time.
AREA ACTIVITIES: Atlantis is a short walk from the RIU either by beach or by road. We walked down the beach to the casino one night and wandered through the resort a bit. It is a very beautiful resort. At night they don't have security checking bracelets so we weren't stopped as we explored. If you go during the day though you are restricted as to where you can go.
We took the ferry over to Nassau one morning which was an interesting excursion. The ferry ride itself was fun. They guide on the ferry was a fountain of interesting information. The straw market and the shops are just a short stroll from where the ferry drops you off. The straw market had lots of touristy souvenirs and if you are a good bargainer you can get some good deals. There were a wide variety of "knock off" designer purses in addition to the usual souvenir stuff. I found that the prices though were much higher than you would find in New York City for the same faux purses. There are lots of little shops to check out and I have never seen so many jewellery stores in one place. If you want to shop for jewellery Nassau is the place to be!
We also did a boat cruise which was a blast. The whole area is definitely a boater's paradise.
SPA: I had a massage at the RIU spa which was just wonderful. It was done on a little hut beside the beach and it was so relaxing to hear the waves pounding in the background. The spa offers a wide variety of services so there's something for everyone.
RESORT & BAHAMAS GENERALLY: The staff at the RIU were reasonably friendly most of the time and the service was not bad. Some of the staff were better than others. We've stayed at a number of 4 and 5 star all inclusive resorts in other countries and the RIU Paradise Island just didn't even come close to comparing (with the exception of the beach). I think it would be generous to give the RIU a 3 star rating frankly. The resort is pretty small and tired but the beach really does compensate for some of that and I can't say that we had a horrible time because we accepted the problems early on and focused on the positive. I will admit we would likely have been a lot happier if we had been given a better room. (In all honesty, I just can't believe that they would put ANYONE in rooms 216 and 214.) I have written glowing reviews for each of the other resorts we have stayed at but unfortunately I cannot in good conscience do the same for this resort.
Overall we loved the country and there are some beautiful beaches to enjoy. The Bahamian people were very friendly and welcoming wherever we went which we really appreciated. We would likely return to the Bahamas but would definitely stay at another resort.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located on Paradise Island (the Bahamas), 3 km/1.8 Miles from Nassau * 100 m/328 ft from "Atlantis", the largest casino in the Caribbean * 14-story building * On the beachfront * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 3 km/1.8 Miles to downtown Nassau * 200 m/656 ft from various shops * 25 km/15.5 Miles from the airport * 200 m/656 ft from a bus stop * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Discover ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Paradise Island Hotel Paradise Island
- Riu Hotel Paradise Island
- Paradise Island Sheraton
- Paradise Island Riu Hotel
- Riu Paradise Island Bahamas
- Hotel Riu Palace Paradise Island Bahamas