With a cluster of Riu hotels within walking distance of each other in Playacar, we took our time choosing the one that we thought would suit us. We chose the Riu Yucatan and we think we got it right. From the moment we arrived until the time we left, we enjoyed the experience of staying here. I'll say more about the entertainment later, but, in short, it was exceptionally good. I've suffered through many dreadful hotel shows over the years we've been travelling (I'm sure you have too) but some of the evening shows here wouldn't be out of place in the west end of London, or on Broadway.
We arrived, tired, after a long flight from the UK and were grateful for the efficiency with which the hotel managed registration for quite a large group of people. There was no queueing: a large table in the centre of the lobby had everyone's details all ready in named envelopes. A member of staff welcomed us, gave us a brief introductory talk about the hotel (along with a complimentary cold drink) and within ten minutes we were en route to our room. Our room was large with plenty of hanging and drawer space and two very comfortable beds. The free safe is hardly a miracle of modern technology but it's easy to use and, unusually these days, it has sufficient space for a netbook or small laptop. Sheets and pillowcases were changed every day and the room was always cleaned exceptionally well. There was a four-position optic in the bathroom (gin / tequila / rum / vodka) and a range of soft drinks and beers in the minibar.
Mosquitoes will be queueing up to make a meal (or several meals, more likely) out of you. So go well prepared with creams and sprays. We took a plug-in mosquito killer for our bedroom and found it useful. But even so, we were bitten several times. We put most of these bites down to sitting at tables outside in the dusk - mosquitoes seemed to lurk (not sure if a mosquito can "lurk", but you know what I mean) under the tables. We noticed that one couple had come better prepared than we were: they had brought a citronella spray with them and sprayed underneath their table every half hour or so. That's a good idea and if we went back, we'd do the same.
This is an all-inclusive hotel and if you had the stamina to do so, you could drink 24 hours a day. Bar staff are friendly and polite, work amazingly quickly and there's a good range of cocktails on offer. The pool bars are delightful and were well supported every day whilst we were there. The beach is wonderful - white sands which were never crowded and this hotel, of course, is right on the beach with plenty of free sunbeds available. Once you're in the water, the beach drops quite steeply away, so it's worth keeping an eye on small children if they're playing close to the edge of the sea.
The title of this review refers to the fact that, on more than one occasion, we saw a troop of monkeys in trees within the grounds of the hotel. In fact, there's quite a bit of wildlife in the grounds and it's charming to see a variety of small animals foraging in the grounds whilst you're out walking from your room to the hotel and vice versa. The dining room is in the central part of the hotel and it is air conditioned. We thought the selection of food available was very good and opening times for both breakfast and dinner were very sensible. There are three other restaurants open to residents which need to be booked at breakfast in the dining room for accessing the same day. The steak restaurant appeared to book up more quickly than the mexican or asian restaurant, so on the day you fancy a steak it's worth appearing at breakfast a little earlier than usual (unless you're an early riser, of course).
More about the entertainment. Most of the evening shows were very professional and the standard of dancing was superb. I put this down to a very able professional dancer who, I think, is on the staff of the hotel. She is the choreographer for the shows and the athleticism of the dancers, and the use they make of a stage modest in size is exceptional. The Michael Jackson tribute show is a tour de force and very enjoyable. The only criticism I have is that, at the end of every show, the entertainment staff launch into what appears to be the Riu hotels "corporate" song ("I want to go to Riu" I think it's called). If there is anything that would make we want to book at a different hotel chain it's that song . . . . .
There's a pleasant walk into Playacar of about half an hour via the road outside the hotel, but taxis are plentiful and cheap if you'd rather travel that way. About half way to Playacar, and on the other side of the road from the hotel, is the Playacar Plaza. The Plaza has a range of tourist shops and a couple of booths selling trips. We actually saved a lot of money (about 40 US dollars each) on our tour operator's price by booking a trip to Chichen Itza at one of these booths. The salesmen work on commission only, so if you decide to book here, don't accept the first price suggested. We played hard to get and secured a considerable reduction on their first offer to us. The trip to Chichen Itza was very good, although that was the only one we booked in this way so I can't comment on the quality, or otherwise, of any of their other excursions. It's worth knowing that trips depart from, and return to, the Plaza and they won't drop you off at your hotel - unlike trips booked via your tour operator.
All in all, then, the Riu Yucatan is a very good hotel. We were there in late November / early December 2011 and I wouldn't hesitate to book this hotel again if we were to return to the area. Finally, if anyone from Riu hotels reads this review, I just wish to point out to you that your company policy of apparently not allowing guests from Riu hotels (like the Yucatan) to visit hotels in the Riu Palace series without prior appointment was an unwelcome surprise to me and made me feel very much like a second-class guest. There appears to be no similar restriction on guests from the Riu Palace visiting other Riu hotels. I'm not sure that a policy which made me, your paying guest, feel inferior is the kind of policy which would necessarily encourage me to book again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located in the Yucatan peninsula, 3 km/ 1.9 Miles from Playa del Carmen * In Playacar's resort area, along with the Riu Palace Mexico, Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Riu Playacar and the ClubHotel Riu Tequila hotels * Main building and 2-storey buildings * Mexican "Hacienda" style architecture * Surrounded by 40,000 m2/44,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * On the beachfront * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * Next to the Mexican Street * 800 m/2,650 ft. From various shops * 55 km/34 miles from Cancun Int'l. Airport * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Diners ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Yucatan Playacar Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Riu Yucatan Playa Del Carmen
- Riu Yucatan Mexico
- Rui Yucatan
- Hotel Riu Yucatan Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico