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Hotel Riu Palace Peninsula
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Reviewed May 18, 2012

I just returned from 4 nights at the Peninsula. This is the 3rd all-inclusive I have stayed at in the last 3 years (including a one week stay at the Playacar Palace 6 weeks ago and 4 nights at the Occidental Xcaret 3 years ago), so I can only compare this stay to those two. This is also my first stay in downtown Cancun.

We booked this hotel through an Apple Vacation package. First thing to know is that when you book a package, after you get your luggage in the airport, go immediately to the exit and ignore all the "official tourism people" near the exit. They will try to sell you anything they can. I absolutely hate the Cancun airport because of this hassle. Go immediately outside to find your transportation (Apple, like the others, is easy to find).

When we got to the hotel, it took 20 minutes of standing in line to check in. This is not an ideal way to start your vacation. They finally came by with a tray of fruit punch while we were checking in. At the Playacar Palace, we were handed nice wet face towels and cold drinks as soon as we got off our van and checked in immediately.

As others have noted, this hotel is very sleek and modern - lots of mirrored tiles and purple everywhere. It looks more like Las Vegas than beach, but it was done nicely. The lobby is very large and air conditioned. The one drawback - you can only get free wi-fi in the lobby, not your room, unless you pay $10/day. Since the hotel has 17 floors, it can be a long trek from your room to the lobby to check the internet. I really disliked this and thought it was inexcusable for a brand-new hotel.

We received a free upgrade to a larger room (probably because I was so annoyed that our room was not ready when we checked in at 1 pm, although they do say rooms are not promised until 3 pm, and we did get one at 2:30 pm). Our room was the farthest from the elevator, but it had a huge balcony, plus a jacuzzi tub (not sure if other rooms have that). We had a large walk-in shower, double sinks, and the toilet was in a separate room, which I appreciated. In all, the bathroom area was a very good size. We also had a little refrigerator which they kept fully stocked with sodas and water bottles, and there were 4 built-in liquor bottles if you wanted to make a drink in your room. The decor was very contemporary - mostly white and plastic - no wood - and purple and hot pink accents. The room did not come with bathrobes, something the Playacar Palace had. We had two double beds, which were adequate (not nearly as good as those at the Playacar or at Hilton Hotels, but comfortable enough). The view from our balcony was spectacular. The room was cleaned by noon each day, and they came back later each afternoon to turn down the beds. The one major drawback which annoyed me to death: They never removed dirty dishes. We finally started putting plates and drink glasses in the hall.

The pools at this resort were wonderful! The pool bar was the smallest and noisiest (to be expected), a 2nd pool had a zero entry ramp (good for kids and handicapped), the 3rd pool had music and activities (entertainment director did a great job, which dance lessons, water aerobics, pool volleyball, bingo, etc!), and the 4th pool, closest to the beach, was quite large, quiet, and great for swimming laps if you like. One of the two beaches was small and had some rocks; the beach on the other side was much easier to enter and better for kids to play in. The resort had tons of beach chairs everywhere, which was great. Service was spotty. It was much faster to get a drink by going to the pool bar. Also, you could not get food at the pools. At the Playacar Palace, service was tremendous and you could eat at the pool or beach, but that hotel is much, much smaller (200 rooms) and only has one pool, so that's the trade-off.

The food was a mixed experience. The buffet was pretty typical for an all-inclusive - ok, nothing great, and they needed more labels so I knew what I was eating. Service was ok. There were 4 or 5 specialty restaurants that required reservations - getting one was difficult. You could only sign up for a 6:30 pm or 8:45 pm seating, and if you did not line up at the concierge desk in the lobby by 8 am, you were out of luck. We could not get an RSVP until the 3rd night of our 4 night trip. We found out from someone on our last day that we could have gone standby, waiting 15 minutes at the 6:30 pr 8:45 pm seatings to see if they had empty tables. The Krystal Restaurant had first rate food, but we only got in on our 4th night, and the service was not good (20 minutes to get another onion roll and ice for our water, no water refills). The Japanese Restaurant had great service and the food was pretty good as well. We were amazed that half the Japanese restaurant was empty at our 8:45 pm seating. The Italian restaurant in the lobby did not require a reservation, although the hotel guide says you need one. We loved the cappucino cafe in the lobby (nice finger sandwiches and pastries, coffees and teas, even milkshakes) and the lobby bar had great drinks. They had live piano music at approx. 8 pm each night (lovely), and the 2 evening shows we attended (9:45 pm at night) were extremely good. One night we saw a Cirque du Soleil type circus show, and the last night we saw a Mayan Dance show at 8:30 pm, followed by Mexican folk dances at 9:45 pm.

We had a very nice trip, but if you want really good service, give the hotel 6 months to work out the kinks and/or go to a Palace Hotel (we were told the Palace chain is known for their service above all else).

Room Tip: I would recommend staying around floors 7 thru 10, so you are high enough not to hear too much noise from the entertainment each night (approx. 9:45 - 11 pm), but don't have to wait too long for an elevator.
  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with family
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7  Thank marvi62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 17, 2012

We’ve returned from Riu Place Peninsula on May 15th. We’ve stayed at many Riu Palaces in the past and have always been very pleased with prompt customer service and friendlessness of the staff. However this time the staff was either overworked or lacking management. Upon arrival our luggage was delivered to the wrong room. Even though we were checking in after 4pm the room was not cleaned and check in took very long. We had someone walk into our room, once she saw us she immediately closed the door and left my husband followed her and later we found out she was a manager. Food was good with a large variety; snack bar was excellent with a variety of coffee drinks and deserts. Crystal was hard to book if you plan to dine there do it in advance. Several people from our group got the stomach flu; I spoke to the assistant manager to make her aware of the situation she said I was exaggerating! My point in telling her was for them to be aware. Spa was great, very nice staff. Beach was small but very nice, I liked the right side even though it looks there is not access to the beach from the pictures there is! During the day resort offered many activities, staff didn’t force anyone to participate. Resort had many sitting areas, umbrellas, tables and nice pools. Overall this was a great vacation with many pleasant memories. I think in the future we will return to Riu Palace Peninsula but will give them time to adjust.

Room Tip: Make sure to specify what kind of bed you want.
  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank jullup_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2012

I stayed at this resort soon after the grand opening from 5/11 to 5/14 and my first experience at an all inclusive resort will probably be my last. I was hoping for the same level of service and food quality found of a cruise ship…but with bigger rooms and a beach. After 4 days, I really started to miss home…which really says a lot and never happens when I’m cruising. Where to begin?

Arrival: I rented a car from CUN and drove along the Hotel Zone road until I saw the Peninsula shining in the distance. A huge relief since there was only 1 review of substance before I flew to Cancun. I had read reports that said the Peninsula couldn't possibly be open for business so early so seeing the hotel in the distance was a huge relief. It's definitely an impressive structure and very beautiful when all lit up at night. You can’t miss it.

Parking: I was waved up the circular driveway by a guard at the entrance but saw no bellmen or valet service so I kept driving until I found the underground parking. The lack of staffing will be the prevailing theme of my review. It seems like valet might be in the future plans because many of the spaces were for tandem parking. I found a parking spot but could not find any elevator that leads to the lobby so my fiancee and I had to pull our luggage up the driveway. After 4 days, it’s safe to say that no elevator exists for direct access to the lobby. No big deal for me since I'm young but older guests might have difficulty walking up the parking ramp. I actually like being able to access my car without having to wait (or pay) for a valet but I wish there was signage to direct me.

Check in: Upon entering the hotel, the lobby is grand and beautiful. Generous use of glass, colorful tile, and granite. The front desk is to the immediate left, an Italian restaurant to the right, bar and coffee/dessert station all the way in the back. I was given a drink while I waited in line to check in which is a great way to start my stay. However, the pleasure of that drink was offset by the fact that I had to wait in line for 15 mins before checking in. Two or three guest service agents are not enough for a hotel of this size. Got my room keys and proceeded to the elevators.

Elevator: There are elevators on both sides of the lobby. Upon entering the elevator, I noticed dried glue marks on the wall, presumably to mount a mirror. Not sure what happened to the mirror this elevator was like this for my entire visit. I gotta say...the elevators are FAST and I love how you can unselect floors but pressing the floor button again. BUT...there are issues with the elevators which I need to point out. On one occasion, the doors would not open until I pressed the door open button once I got to my desired floor. On the last day, there was an alarm that was going off in the elevator for hours. My mom was in an elevator and the lights went out. When it stopped at the 6th floor, she and the other guests decided to walk all the way down to the lobby using the stairs instead of risking getting stuck in the elevator.

Room: My room was 619. I'm pretty sure I was the first person to stay in the room. The crease marks on the pillowcase suggest that it had just come out of the packaging. The room was nice but I can't say it was 5 star quality since I could tell that the materials used in the construction were not of good quality…think IKEA quality. It might look good now but I wonder how it will stand the test of time. The minibar was well stocked, water pressure great, sheets had a nice feel, and the view from the balcony was pretty spectacular. However, I have a big complaint regarding the bed/pillows and the TV. Pillows offer very little support and my back was hurting after the second night. Definitely not a Heavenly bed like those at the Westin. TV had a great channel selection but it was very small and I had to turn off some lights in the room to reduce the glare enough to make it watchable from the bed.

Smell: I have to mention since this is literally my first impression once I opened my car door until I left the hotel. There is a smell that is constant throughout the entire hotel. It's in the garage, lobby, rooms, everywhere. It's the smell of drywall and building material. Being such a new hotel, I can understand the smell and hopefully it goes away with time but some guests might find it off-putting.

Food and Drinks: Probably my biggest source of disappointment. Staying at an all-inclusive resort and not being a big drinker, I had hoped that I could eat until I dropped a la cruise-ship style. Where to start?

Restaurants: When booking this hotel, I saw 5 specialty restaurants and had hoped to try many of them. Unfortunately, you have to book 24 hours in advance, with an option of only 2 time slots (6:30PM or 8:30PM). In addition, the guest services desk starts taking reservations at 8AM. So basically this means that when I arrived on Friday night...all the restaurants were booked up for Saturday and I had to make sure that I got to the desk at 8AM Saturday morning to make a reservation for Sunday. I don't see how guests that stay for 3 nights can even hope to try one of these restaurants...which is probably a blessing in disguise because my experience at the steakhouse can best be described as "regretful". Dinner consisted of Caesar salad, mixed cold seafood tray (mussels, snow crab legs, shrimp, and octopus cerviche) and your choice of meat. Most of my table ordered the surf and turf or the ribeye. Both options turned out to look and taste exactly the same. Our medium rare turned out pretty well done and the grilled lobster had a fishy smell indicative of frozen lobster. I hate to waste food but I did not finish my entree. I instead opted to go to the buffet afterwards and grab some food there. Particularly upsetting is the fact that the restaurant was half full which tells me that the whole reservation system and choice of only 2 seating times is designed to prevent guests from eating at the restaurants where they presumably use more expensive ingredients.

Buffet: Hit or miss but really your only eating option at this all-inclusive resort. I usually found something I liked but they really need signage to identify the food. I wasted a plate of food because I thought I was getting grilled beef instead of grilled lamb which I don't eat. I basically started off each meal by grabbing a tiny bit of everything and trying it out before going for what I truly wanted to eat the second round. I found that the best section for me was usually the Mexican food and I regret choosing the Steakhouse restaurant instead of the Mexican restaurant for this reason.

Other food options: The room service menu is so pitiful that I didn’t even attempt to order. The sports bar is your supposedly 24 hour food option but really it just consists of a refrigerator stocked with sandwiches, a microwave to heat up the cheeseburgers in the fridge, and a nacho station.

Drinks: I found that getting drinks at the pool, the bar, or while watching the show to be terribly slow. The only time it was super fast was when I used the swim up bar and ordered directly from the bartender. On the plus side, they don’t skimp on the alcohol and the brands they use are good quality and don’t come in plastic bottles.

Shows: There’s one show a night at around 9:45PM. Despite some AV problems, they were pretty good. I would definitely recommend arriving early to get a seat as it was packed both nights I watched the show. Also, you’re better off going directly to the bar to order drinks instead of waiting for servers to come around. Not enough servers for the amount of people watching the show.

Pool and Beach: The grounds of the hotel are beautiful. Plenty of pools for both kids and adults. I never had an issue finding chairs and exchanging towel cards for clean towels was a breeze. The beach was clean with some unavoidable seaweed. Another reviewer mentioned the bathroom issue and I agree that it could pose a problem. There is only one bathroom to service the entire ground floor of the resort. This includes the lobby, all the dining options, all the bars, and the pool/beach area. The grounds aren’t that big but I can’t imagine what would happen if that bathroom went out of service.

Wifi: For those that plan to work while they play, this resort is not for you. There’s complimentary wifi in the lobby for only 90 minutes per day, non-divisible...meaning if you log off after 10 mins of use, you have to wait until tomorrow to use the wifi again. I ended up purchasing an unlimited 3 day option for $30 and really wished that it would have just built this into the price of the hotel stay because $10 extra per day is not worth the hassle of signing up for an account, entering credit card info, etc. ..for me at least. I ended up helping another guest in the lobby since she was having problems connecting. The unlimited option is also much faster than the complementary service. Wifi worked in my room but I never got the chance to try it in the pool area.

All in all I was hoping for the same level of service found on cruise ships but it was not to be. They lack the proper amount of staffing /signage and their restaurant policy is atrocious. Perhaps they will sort out these issues in the future but as of now, I can’t say I would be a repeat customer.

Feel free to message me with questions.

Room Tip: At a brand new hotel, you can't go wrong with the rooms. Our 3 rooms 619, 809, and 810 were identical.
  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank genechien
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2012

I stayed here for 2 nights just after it had first opened.
My very first impression was that I was walking into a hotel in Vegas.
The decor is very "hip" and cool, but takes away from that traditional Mexican/Caribbean feel I enjoy from other resorts.
Don't get me wrong - it's a beautiful property and very "cool", but if I wanted to stay in Vegas, I'd book Vegas.
It IS at the end of the downtown strip, but it's only a peso on the local bus, and is a fun experience. The views from every room are beautiful! I had room 1128 and LOVED my balcony oceanview!
The beach to the side is beautiful even if it IS narrow (can't fit a beach chair on the side beach, but great for swimming - very soft sand, no rocks in the water, etc). The other end of the beach does allow for beach chairs, but is a little small. Was not crowded when I was there, but again, property had just opened, so I imagine it would get quite crowded once the hotel is at full capacity.
The pools were lovely and lots of chairs!
I only ate at the main buffet, the Italian restaurant and the steakhouse and enjoyed each one very much.
The only real downside (remember, I was only there for 2 days, so not long enough to really experience the hotel) was that the rooms are not really functional.
There is no division between the bed and the bathroom - all open concept, with the tub directly beside the bed. My roommate stubbed her tow twice, in the middle of the night while we were there.
There's really no way to get any privacy in the room, with this open concept. The toilet is in a room on it's on but it's so tiny that it's near impossible to get undressed/dressed inside. The only option was to step into the shower to change in private!
The rooms are very bare feeling - all white rooms with a splash of fuchsia and purple in the decorative pillows on the bed. Maybe an accent wall in one of those colours would help - or more artwork. Seemed to be a lot of bare, empty space between the bed and couch area. Could have used that space to put a wall up between the other side of the bed and the bath/shower area. Even a sliding door so you could still have the open concept if you wanted, or privacy when needed.

The food and service we experienced was wonderful - but we WERE a group of 14 travel agents, and so that MAY have had something to do with it, but I'd like to think/hope that we would have been treated well regardless of why we were at the hotel.

While here, we also visited the Riu Cancun and the Riu Palace las Americas, and given the choice, I would stay at either of these properties over the Peninsula, as they had a more Mexican feel, better beach area, and better location
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  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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10  Thank tallgirl75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2012

Stayed here from 5/11, four night stay, place is georgous, food was delicious, the "glicks" or "mishaps" are understandable, not enough however to spoil anything. The check in line was the worse part, but I think if you book through Orbitz, (as I did), it was smooth sailing, as others who booked through other travel agents had at least 30 minute time span of getting checked in, from verification, etc., mine was less than 5 minutes, but the line was about 8 people long and it took them one hour (at least) to service me.

Rooms: Just as shown, absolutely georgous to me, walk in shower is great, the maid service was wonderful, beds were nice and comfortable, not too soft, not too hard, lol, did manage to sleep good each night too, and they have this oversized large pillow in the closet that was like sleeping on a cloud, stocked fridge daily, anything you needed, asap they came, didn't see anything wrong at all.

Food: good to great, the usual in buffets, very good food, a large variety and the food was not repetitive as most all inclusives, and they even had octupus. Japanese restaurant the best ever, "Javi" was awesome, he went well beyond to find me the perfect red wine.

NOTE: The worst part if I had to complain is that once you arrive, the reservations for the restaurants are booked for your first two days there, and they will allow you to double book on that third day, but that's not kosher to me. The restaurants only serve 25 people, so of course the reservations fill up quickly, however, you can go to the Customer Service desk and see if anyone canceled, which we did, but to no avail did we get that lucky. But the thing I noticed is that our Japanese restaraunt didn't have 12 people in it, the other tables were not being used, and I don't know why they don't try to fill the seats. We noticed this as we passed the other "reservation" ones, and they don't allow you to just "pop in", even though you see all those seats not being used.

Also, reservations times (from what I understand) is either 6:30 or 8:45, interesting.

Beach: depends on the side you relax in, if you go near the swim up bar side, the beach is too rocky for kids and you can cut your toes on the rocks if not careful. However, its more quiet over there, but there is a side that's to the left that's not rocky at all, swimming is permitted, great weather made everything a super plus for tanning too. You will get approach by the local sellers, but they don't hound you like other resorts do.

Overall, great and nice time, great location, pay only $1 to grab the No. 2 bus (either way), Walmart to the right (about 15 mins. tops) and downtown location (to the left) for everything you need. The Walmart is soooo expensive and they do not appreciate you giving them US dollars.

Enjoy your trip and have a safe one as well.

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank Barbara B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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