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:
• 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!
- 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