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“A Beautiful Hotel with Great Service and Fabulous Food!”

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Hotel Riu Palace Mexico
Ranked #35 of 216 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Reviewed March 11, 2013

We’re a couple in our 50’s with a liking for modern 5 star hotels! The Riu Palace Mexico is one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in! I am particularly hard to please so there were still things I didn’t like but nothing that in any way spoiled our 11 days spent there!

We checked in on Jan 24th this year. It rained hard several times throughout our stay but never for long and it dried up very quickly! Very comfortable heat around 29 deg.C with a constant breeze.

We personally loved the newly refurbished look! The theatre appears to have had the least renovation and we felt that the chairs in there were a little tatty and dated, but elsewhere everything was brand spanking new! The overall feel is very spacious, modern and bright! If you prefer a more rustic, traditional Spanish look then the sister hotel the Riu Palace Riviera Maya a few minutes walk away would probably suit better. We visited all 4 nearby Riu’s. Quite honestly the food, drinks, cleanliness and service is equally as good in all of them. Our only dining disappointments were the speciality restaurants at the RPM (more on them later!) We quickly found that it was a real bonus to be able to use all 5 hotels! After breakfast we’d take a long walk around the area (loads of lovely villas to admire and unfamiliar wildlife to spot!) Playa del Carmen town is a pleasant 30 minute brisk walk along the roadside pathway or beach, don’t believe anyone who says it’s less than that! On our return we’d stop for a drink and lunch in one of the other Riu hotels! We loved the convenience and choice that facility offered!

To sum up the main likes and dislikes:
We loved:
• The rooms! Much bigger and brighter than we expected and nicer than any pictures show! The open plan bathroom worked well for us; we could still chat and laugh together whilst getting ready to go out! Spacious, luxurious shower and always plenty of hot water! Ample toiletries (loved the fragrant massage soap!) Adequate storage and best of all the hangers were normal ones that you didn’t have to carefully thread through a tiny hole each time you wanted to hang something! Fridge well stocked with water and soft drinks. Optics (tequila, brandy, Bacardi rum, vodka) topped up daily! Nice balcony with afternoon sun but be aware that some have nice half-height glass panels (better view!) whilst others have solid half-height walls. Our 2nd floor room (highest floor) was not at all damp and had a side view overlooking a pleasant walkway where a golf buggy regularly transported guests between the road and the beach.
• Entertainment was also better than we expected both daytime and evening. Plenty of activities laid on during the day. No pressure to join in but there if you want it. Entertainment staff make sure everyone knows what ‘s about to start and easy to find out what’s on in advance! Evening shows are put on by the entertainment staff or outside entertainers (acrobats, comedians, a cultural show etc). Enjoyed everything we saw; even the dreaded karaoke turned out to be fun and some great talent emerged from the guests! A live band played on the outside stage afterwards and some guests would dance, but the loud music stopped at 11 on the dot! The more lively Riu Tequila across the road has a nightclub though we didn’t use it. In the daytime there was always a film showing on a good sized screen in the theatre which was handy for the odd rain showers!
• The service was perfect throughout the hotel. Every member of staff greeted us each time they passed by. This created such a lovely happy atmosphere all around the hotel! The restaurant and bar staff work like whirlwinds and your glass will never be empty for long whether you’re at the pool, restaurants or any of the bars.
• Wi-fi: Worked well all over the hotel, even on the beach! I did find I had to keep inputting my passcode whenever we returned to the hotel but not a big problem. I also managed to log-on within some of the other nearby Riu’s.
• The food: I could just sum this up in one word...EXCELLENT! but I feel I should elaborate (a bit at least!) So much choice at every meal, imaginative, tasty, regularly replenished and well presented! Food quality plays a big part of our holiday enjoyment and at this hotel we found we really looked forward to every meal . We couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t available at some point throughout our stay. Steak, lobster, pasta, pizza, Mexican, Chinese, sushi, soups, salads and always a vast array of desserts and fresh fruits etc. etc. My favourite was the daily evening chocolate fountain (with marshmallows and fresh fruits!) To re-cap, THE FOOD IS EXCELLENT!!! Don’t believe anything else you read on here...I just cannot imagine what anyone could possibly complain about! The chefs prepare amazing food and clearly take great pride in doing so!!!
• Loved the Cappucino bar! This relaxing little cafe is situated to the back of the lobby area . A good choice of delicious coffees and a selection of little cakes and pastries if you can still find room! A great place to relax with a book in the afternoon with a coffee and a cocktail to follow! A great idea Riu! There is also a 24 hour sports bar type lounge with 2 TV screens and (pay) computers, a constant supply of snack foods and help-yourself optics. Here you can get gin ‘on tap’ if you really want it, which is not available in your room! It was never busy in here and we never really found a need to use it! It’s also newly refurbished and done out in a very colourful, trendy design!
• The pools and beach are beautiful, clean and spacious with plenty of loungers. We walked along the beach quite a few times both ways. It’s simply lovely! The walk into town or back is an easy stroll along the beach passing many other hotels and villas. The beach/pool towels were always readily available though some were a bit worn and stained, but they did always smell clean! The beach hammocks were fun! We didn’t use the spa, gym or watersports but chatted to the Riu approved guys on the beach a few times who were all very pleasant. We spent many an afternoon around the 4 pools. We found our favourite spot was at the pool nearest the only loos! Sadly there IS a lack of toilets around this area and by late afternoon they did get very grubby and the floors got very wet. This was the main reason we didn’t sit on the beach much as the trek back when needed was just too far!
• Playa del Carmen town was bigger and livelier than anticipated. Plenty to look at and endless shops from tacky souvenir shops to classier designer brands! Lovely to be able to see the turquoise sea down the side roads and fun watching the Cozumel ferry come and go. Entertainers perform regularly in the main square and along 5th Avenue. No annoying timeshare guys to be seen but the shop-keepers do stand outside and pester passers-by a fair bit! The bus station is right in the centre and you can easily get a very reasonably priced bus ride to Cancun and other places of interest. Always felt very safe walking into town and back including later one evening. No public buses to the hotel but plenty of taxis around. Was told the hotel to town or back is a fixed price of $7 or 70 Pesos. The only negative when walking is that the footpaths double up as cycle tracks which is annoying when you have to keep jumping out of the way! We felt the hotel could do with providing a courtesy bus even with a small charge as it would probably be well used.
Now for the not so good bits...
• Our room had 2 double beds pushed together making one huge bed! I didn’t feel my bed was that clean as there was always a musty smell coming from the gap between the beds. For some reason my bed had an uncomfortable plastic mattress cover! After 3 days I investigated and discovered the stretchy mattress cover was filthy and had clearly not been changed for a long while. I immediately found a maid who acknowledged the problem and changed it that day though the plastic cover annoyingly remained! The musty smell didn’t disappear but at least the bed felt cleaner! Otherwise the room was cleaned efficiently and the nice white towels were regularly replaced.
• This hotel is not children free...even in term time. Sadly the kids we encountered from tots to pre-teens were horrendously badly behaved. We frequently witnessed kids running around the bars and restaurants, picking up/putting back buffet food with hands, needlessly piling their plates with food then leaving it, shouting, tantrums, standing on chairs and even the dining table on one occasion, sticking fingers in the choc fountain, carrying overfull bowls of cereal and slopping milk (and ice-cream from the machine) on the restaurant floor, talking throughout the evening shows, frequently playing in the cloakrooms and leaving taps on, dragging pool towels along the ground, kicking a footballs around the bar area, playing on the stairs...all so infuriating and so disrespectful to the hotel. Sadly the parents did absolutely nothing to control them (and some of them were actually just as bad!). A constant irritation for us to the point we chose carefully whenever we positioned ourselves around the hotel! This hotel would be so lovely if it was for adults only but I guess it’s all about filling rooms. Such a shame really as it is definitely going to look used and abused before too long.
• The new white plastic covered outdoor seating is far too high off the floor and in the evening it’s covered in condensation! Consequently not many people used it! The soft purple fabric indoor chairs already have dirty marks and stains on them. Not a very practical finish so won’t look good for long! The same goes for the room curtains; they are incredibly hard to open and close and in time the rail will just end up being pulled out of the ceiling and the curtains will get ruined as guests constantly pull hard to open/close them!
• Mostly we were impressed with the drinks we tried but some are just like children’s ‘slush’ especially one called Blue Coral. Also the Caribbean Orange was like weak orange squash! Some of the drinks tasted good but that was it, no effect at all! Others nearly knock you out! All in all a bit hit or miss but the mojitos and margaritas really were always very good ;-)
• The huge display of desserts looked amazing every lunch and dinnertime. Sadly although a lot of them look like works of art, they are quite tasteless! After 11 days you get to know which ones to avoid (and which ones you can’t resist)! The dessert portions are sensibly small so you can try a bit before you decide which ones to indulge more of!
• You may have already read that the grey tiles dotted around outside are lethal when wet. This is true, even when you’re really being careful! So best to simply avoid them altogether! We saw work being done on some tiles so hopefully the slippery ones are now all being replaced!
• Some activities were very badly organised including the afternoon bingo when Sindy was hosting it! If you can understand her you’ll get past the first hurdle but the game is so boringly slow there should be a prize just for finishing! We gave up after 10 minutes! The entertainment staff were mostly bubbly and friendly but unfortunately Sindy lets the team down by being a quite abrupt and unhelpful. Another shambles was the mock-up Casino laid on one evening. The procedure to register and play was so unclear and vague! The staff didn’t seem to know what was going on. We duly queued up to register but when we eventually got our ‘free’ chips the games ended after another 2 minutes! It was a chaotic and a waste of half an hour!
• Noise can be heard from the corridors but nothing that earplugs at night can’t sort out! Guests don’t tend to come in very late so it’s not really a problem after midnight. In the very early morning it’s the maids chatting loudly along the corridor to each other that was the biggest nuisance!
• Some tables in the dining room were reserved and specially decorated each evening for ‘special guests’ who apparently return regularly to the hotel. The staff made a big fuss over them all the time and we felt it a bit unfair that they received preferential treatment over other guests.
• Annoying little things worth a mention; the body lotion is lovely but the hard plastic bottles require muscles of steel to squeeze anything out! The toilet paper throughout the hotel is dreadful...so thin it shreds in your hands when you try to remove it from the roll!
• We tried 2 of the speciality restaurants, Krystal and the Steakhouse. Krystal was nicely done out and the Steakhouse just used a small section of the lunchtime restaurant. Steakhouse food was great but Krystal’s food was minimalist, boring and pretentious. Both had slow service and a dull atmosphere so we didn’t bother trying any of the others! We actually really missed visiting the buffet on both occasions! We had no trouble getting 2nd sitting reservations but early sitting reservations are more popular.

I hope all this helps anyone who is trying to decide whether to visit the Riu Palace Mexico. I would definitely recommend this hotel to couples who enjoy luxury hotels with a high standard of food and service! Just go soon while it’s still looking new and avoid the busy school holiday times if you can!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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18  Thank mazzap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 11, 2013

Stayed at the Riu Palace Mexico from March 1st to the 8th.

Let me start off by saying that NO ONE can complain about the food. The buffetts were fantastic! Lots of choices. We ate at the Mexican restaurant one night, which was great, but I still choose the buffett over the restaurants. You will not go hungry at this resort. There is also a nice lounge where we met up before dinner every night.

Rooms - yes, the bathrooms are a disaster! I don''t care if you are honeymooners or not, no one should have to hear or see what goes on behind bathroom doors! I would love to meet the person who signed off on this "open bathroom" concept. One night my husband got very sick and had to throw up (sorry if I'm being to graphic) but the way the bathroom is set up, he could not close the door behind him. So I had to see and listen to that for over an hour. I have posted a picture of the bathroom with the door closed... I am about 5 foot 4 and my knees were almost touching the door when closed! The shower was very nice and the beds were comfortable. We had a nice courtyard view. Thank goodness we dont spend to much time in the room.

Beach - beautiful beach...no more than 15 minutes would go by and there would be a server with a large tray of drinks. Excellent service. Tons of loungers everywhere. I admit I am one of those people who would wake up early and reserve lounges for the day! No need to do that here... there is always available loungers near the pool and by the beach.

Pools: a little on the cold side... but there is a swim up bar pool which was nice and the infinity pool overlooking the beach was nice.

Entertainment: the activities staff were beyond courteous... they would ask if you wanted to play volleyball, or participate in the beach excercises but they would leave you alone if you said no. They were very respectful of that. Nightly entertainment can use a little pick me up...

I would say that this hotel is not really for small kids.... I saw maybe a handful of young ones. Not much for them to do. Having said that, I travelled with my 2 teenagers and they kept themselves occupied (parasailing, jet skis etc.) In addition to that, I would also say I found the crowd to be a little more mature. Which is fine with me! If you want a younger crowd.. stay across the street at Riu Tequila.

I had read all the reviews before going and knew what to expect. I had emailed the Riu Palace Mexico and asked for a curtain in the room (I reallllly recommend this!)

There is a small gym (that I used once!) It has a few treadmills and ellipticals and some weights.

The renovation is nice... not sure why they chose modern over Mexican theme. It is a little on the tacky side.... but overall this hotel exceeded my expectations. The waiters/servers were beyond friendly and deserve all the tips we left!

Room Tip: We stayed in room 1138... view of the courtyard/fountains. Make sure to ask for a room with curtain...
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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7  Thank Nadia246
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 10, 2013

The hotel is excellent and the staff and food are great, but we tried to call from Canada to the front desk staff; to reach one of the staff in specific or the manager at the front desk. We were following a previous conversation that we had earlier that day, and on March 10th around 330 pm Cabo Time the person we spoke to this time was extremely rude, we called a few times and asked for a the manager at the front desk area and they refused to get the manager and we even ask for Sonia one of the manager and they said that she was on vacation, and finally they hang up on us.
We explain that it was not for a reservation, but it made no difference with this fellow and he was really rude for no reason.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Rosa155004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2013

After many years of my sister and her husband visiting this resort, we were interested in taking our vacation here as well.
I'm so glad we did as it was the most beautifully done renovations. We had seen all the past year pictures of my familys visits here and with the new updates, they were spectacular.

From the first time we walked in and were greeting by Manuel, (who my sister and brothr in law have gotten to know over the years.) it was breathtaking.
The check in went very well. We arrived around 1pm, and were handed a drink and a smile. The process went very smooth, for anyone that had said that the front desk employees were rude, they must be snooty people and expect much more then the high standard that is already visable. They all were great.

The food was absolutely wonderful, again, anyone who had a complaint is out of their minds. We never once made reservations for the specialty restaurants, because the buffets were so full of a little bit of something for everyone. It was amazing!
If you wanted steak, there was always some sort of steak being served, seafood, mexican, and the pasta bar was to die for! As was the omelette station in the morning! Again, anyone complaining about the mediocre food, must have such a rich palet that they think that the food there was below their standards!

The rooms, were sooo nice, every thing I read prior to going said they were damp and that was the main complaint. Yes they were damp, but nothing to get bent out of shape about. It actually felt good after being out in the sun all day!

The staff were all wonderful! Always greeted you with a smile!

Our room was on the lower floor facing the fountains, it was so relaxing coming up from a day on the beach/pool, and relax on your balcony overlooking the beauifl fountains!

We did visit other resorts, and I was very happy we stayed at the Palace, our staff seemed more happy and upbeat!

Overall, our visit was amazing. Ended all too soon, could use another few days there, but will return again.

Only one small con, the tiles are very slippery, we did have one lady fall and broke her wrist the first day we were there. Everytime we seen her she looked like she was making the best of a bad situation. I just wore low shoes and walked slow!

Room Tip: lower courtside view! Stunning
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank slbuchanan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013

This was our second visit to Playacar but our first to this hotel.The Palace has been refurbished and is excellent if you like purple.. The food is very good quality, the hotel bedrooms spacious and the whole hotel is gleaming. All the staff are very friendly and will do anything to help. The grounds wiith the fountains leading down to the pool area and sea are immaculate. Lunch can be taken at the poolside restaurant or at the barbecue on the beach. There are plenty of sunbeds around the pool or on the beach. You can sunbath in full sun on the beach or amonst the palmtrees which gives some shade. The beach has been much improved since our last visit. It is possible to walk into Playa de Carmen either along the beach or by road. This takes about half an hour but is a pleasant walk. The hotel has 5 speciality restaurants. The downside is that you can only book the morning of your intended visit to them. The two most popular being the Steak restaurant and the Italian. Unless you are prepared to get up about 7am and wait to book from 8am then you have no chance of getting to visit them. We ate in the Mexican and the Krystal which were both excellent and the service was top class. I celebrated my Birthday evening in the Mexican and they gave me a lovley cake and the staff sang happy birthday which was lovely. Our bedroom was decorated with baloons and flowers by housekeeping too.There is live entertainment outside every night. There were a niggles it was nosiy with groups of very loud Americans who didn't know how to behave in a nice hotel and seem to forget that there were other guests at the Hotel. Also in the refurbished bedrooms the bathroom is integral. The toilet and shower are in cubicles but the washbasins and the bath are part of the room. The whirlpool bath was only feet away from the bed so you have to be careful if you get up in the night that you don't walk into it. As the Palace is a 5* plus we wished that the dress code was more formal and that shorts, tshirts and baseball caps should be banned in the evening. I thought it was rude to eat ones dinner still wearing a baseball cap!!!!

Room Tip: All the balconies get the sun part of the day but overlooking the fountains is a good place to be al...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Jacqui S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013

We just got back from a week at the Riu Palace. What a terrific vacation! Yes, the bathrooms take some getting used to (we knew about them before we got there), but in all the years that we have been going to Mexico, and of all the resorts that we have stayed at, this was the best. The staff were absolutely fabulous, the hotel was spotless, the food terrific. We really enjoyed the music in the evening, having a drink under the stars. We thought that the rooms were very comfortable, the bed was probably the most comfortable we had slept in. The rooms were extremely quiet. I am not sure if this is a resort that I would take small children to, but for my wife and myself, we couldn't have asked for anything more. We really look forward to going back next year.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Prfbruce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013

We spent 4 nights/5 days at the Riu Palace Mexico 2/23-2/27. We ended up here by an upgrade from the Playacar. The hotel was overbooked so they sent us here. Thank goodness is all I have to say! We stayed at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya a few years back and we enjoyed it. This hotel was great!

The atmosphere is just stunning. The motif is white, pink , and purple…and lots of chandeliers. It makes a great first impression. The rooms were very nice, much nicer than the Palace Riviera Maya. The check in was easy and the front desk was very pleasant. We were offered a glass of champagne on arrival. Nicholas at the front desk was amazing and very helpful. We wanted to upgrade to stay another night. No one was really able to help us without a big run around except him. He made what seemed like a complicated process so seamless. Big thanks to him!

Breakfast buffet was great-anything you would want you can find. Lunch buffet was really good to. Much variety and a different cooking station every day. We really enjoyed the fresh tacos! We ate dinner at the buffet 3 nights and it was very good. They do a good job with their themes. The only place we made a reservation for was the steak house. It was pretty decent. The service there lacked though. They looked very overwhelmed. Try the turkey club in the room service menu-very good!

There were several bars there. We liked getting a few drinks at the lobby bar with their extensive martini list. Entertainment was decent, typical resort acts. We did walk over to the tequila for the nightclub and that was a good time for late night. There is also a coffee bar not to be missed. Remember to ask for the good booze because if you don’t ask you get the cheap stuff. They only have one beer at the resort0Dosequis-can get a bit tiresome.

The pool area was great. There are 4 pools you can choose to sit at. The pool bar can get rowdy but there is a bar around the corner where you can sit and look at the beach that is always good for a drink. The beach was gorgeous. We have been to Mexico 8 times and this was the best beach! Just be careful, the riptide/waves were very powerful. There is a waiter who walks across the beach with all sorts of mixed drinks, beer, and water. Waiters won’t take orders though. There are vendors walking the beach trying to repeatedly sell you all sorts of things. Though, the appreciate the words no thank you and will let you be.

Why I say Thank goodness that we got to switch to this resort…..well we always stay at decent hotels and I know you get what you pay for. Though this was a short vaca and we knew we would be going away a few more times this year so we tired to save a bit. We walked over to the Playacar. The resort was nice and tropical. Though the pool was very rowdy. I got a margarita and asked for cuervo-well this was a dark brown tequila in a cuervo bottle and certainly did not taste anything remotely as cuervo. That was disappointing. The Palace was much more our speed and caliber of hotel. I would certainly go back.

Room Tip: Request a top floor corner room...hallways can get noisy
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank ERCLADY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Mexico

Address: Avenida Xaman-Ha, Manzana 3, Lote 4 | Condominio Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#19 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#20 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#24 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#28 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#29 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#32 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $311 - $561 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Mexico 4*
Number of rooms: 434
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located on the Yucatan peninsula, 3 km / 1.9 Miles from Playa del Carmen * Within the Playacar resort, along with the Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Riu Yucatan, Riu Playacar and the ClubHotel Riu Tequila hotels * 2-storey building * Surrounded by 20,000 m2 / 24,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * Located on the beach * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 200 m / 650 feet from Mexican Street * 55 km / 34 miles from Cancun Int. Airport * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Mexico Hotel
Riu Palace Mexico Playa Del Carmen
Riu Palace Playa Del Carmen
Riu Palace Mayan Riviera
Riu Playa Del Carmen
Mexico Palace Riu
Riu Mexico
Rui Palace Mexico
Hotel Riu Palace Mexico Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen

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