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“Grand luxury, great beach, crappy diving”

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Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya
Ranked #38 of 213 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
drwendy
Level Contributor
67 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“Grand luxury, great beach, crappy diving”
Reviewed October 29, 2012

Just returned from a week at Riu Palace with my husband and some friends from across the sea. The hotel is located in Playacar, a ritzy development just south of Playa del Carmen, you can see the Cozumel ferry from the beach. It is much smaller than the huge spreading resorts you find further south in the Mayan, and though there are 4 sister properties very nearby, they are all a bit of a walk and none are as nice as the Palace (the sister Palace Mexico is currently closed for renovation) so we mostly stayed at this one. It is very grand and beautiful, not Mexican style at all but more classical italian/greek influenced decor. The public areas are all shining marble, everything is clean and beautiful.

The room:

The room is typical, they call it a Junior Suite but actually it's just a largeish hotel room with a small sitting area. The bathroom has double sinks, the tub is jacuzzi and quite deep (might be a challenge to get into if you have knee issues, there's a big step to get in), minibar is stocked daily and the mattress was the softest I've had in Mexico.

The pool:

There are two pools, one is the lower pool with the swim-up bar, and a higher infinity pool that dumps into the lower pool. Both were nice and chlorinated, which is helpful in the presence of people drinking that much beer in the pool. The infinity pool needs a good scrubbing and re-grouting but we felt comfortable in both. There are a lot of umbrellas and palm trees, so we never had trouble finding a lounger in the shade. Note that there are ONLY loungers available, no straight chairs except in the bar area itself, which became an issue when my husband threw his back out and couldn't lounge. The usual towel game applies, get out there early. There is waiter service all around the main pool.

The beach:

This is the nicest beach for miles, plenty of palm trees for shade. The water entry is fairly deep but there are no rocks, no need for water shoes. There is quite a bit of surf, you can't snorkel on this beach.

The food:

It was pretty good. Krystal fusion restaurant was the best ala carte, followed closely by Chili's steakhouse and their amazing surf and turf. Even the buffet was better than average. Everyone is expected to eat lunch in Chili's, which gets overcrowded around 1 PM. Maybe that's just an off-season thing. Breakfast is the best meal as usual for all-inclusive. Servers are universally kind and helpful. You do have to go at noon (well, line up at 11:45) to the main lobby to make your ala carte dinner reservations. You can only make 2 at a time, up to 3 days in advance so if you don't want to eat buffet every night (which is still a fine choice) you have to be aware of the time and leave your beach/pool fun every other day to stomp up and stand in line in the lobby. This is really stupid and it is one thing I would advise the management to change right now.

The dive shop:

The folks at the dive shop are wonderful, they can't help it if the reef is in terrible shape all around them. The diving on the mainland is very disappointing, we went over to Cozumel on the ferry (organized trip from Scuba Caribe, the onsite shop) and it was as wonderful there as ever. Mainland corals were bleached and dead, very minimal fish life and only 2 turtles at the divesite called Tortugas, where we dove 5 years ago and saw at least 20. Not sure what has happened, but from now on if I'm not staying in Coz, I'm not even going to bring my gear. WARNING: there are no piers in this part of Playacar, so to get onto the dive boat you have to swim through the pounding surf (at least on the days we did it) to the boat anchored offshore. They take tanks for you and your fins, but swimming against the surf in the rest of your gear is very challenging, and swimming back from the boat after the dive is just as difficult. If you have any health issues (bad back, tire easily) you will not be able to dive here. They don't have any alternative to get you on the boat, you have to swim for it, which gets exhausting fast. If you're a diver, this is not a great resort choice, go to Cozumel instead.

Overall this is a lovely resort and if you aren't coming for diving you will love it. It's one of the nicest resorts we've stayed in (including Dreams Tulum, Barcelo, Grand Palladium, Iberostar, Occidental). When we return to the Mayan Riviera we will probably go back to Palladium before we would return here, but if you like a smaller more intimate resort with elegant surroundings and an excellent beach, this is a great choice.

Room Tip: All floors are hard surface so stay on the 3rd if you don't want anyone tapping above your head...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank drwendy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
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St. Louis
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed October 29, 2012

My wife and I stayed at this resort 10-22-2012 through 10-27-2012 and had a great time to say the least. The resort is well maintained and beautiful and the staff is really great. Everyone is always smiling and friendly from the moment you are dropped off at the entrance to when you step up to the lobby bar to grab a Don Julio margarita (which I highly recommend). I recommend spending the few extra bucks and upgrading your package to a superior room which gives you a garden view instead of an outside room. We were in in room 2103 and had a great view of the ocean and the beautiful gardens and fountains. The food was pretty good compared to most other all- inclusives we have stayed at. Main dining buffet had a good selection of dishes to choose from even for the picky eaters. We loved the Krystal fusion restaurant and also the Japanese restaurant. Make sure to make your reservations early because they fill up fast.
I have to say my wife and i have traveled all over the Caribbean and the beach at this resort, entire area in general, is spectacular. The ocean is turquoise blue and great for swimming. You can walk 40 yards off shore and the ocean is still only waist deep. We also liked that you could walk the beach in either direction and the ocean doesn't change. Head south and hit up the Riu Yucatan for a drink or use their pool. Fifth Ave. shopping is only a short distance away as well.
If you are having second thoughts about this hotel have no fear, you should book it for the location and beach alone. Halfway through our week's stay we were already planning our next trip back in the spring to bring some family along and stay even longer. This was our first time at a Riu hotel and definitely won't be the last thanks to the great staff and wonderful location.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank clandestinetravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Magor, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2012

Just returned home yesterday after 10days in this wonderful hotel. The hotel is stunning and very well looked after. The staff are cleaning constantly and are always happy as are all the waiters and animation team. The food is wonderful with so much choice and you've also gt yr speciality resturants. I am well travelled and anyone complaining abt this hotel obviously has a problem. I wd say this hotel is on par with some hotels in Dubai, so if yr thinking of booking id go for it....we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!!!

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank jbarnston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maidenhead, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2012

This is my thrird trip to Playacar and my second to this hotel. I have nothing but praise for everything The trip went smoothly and was return visit.

The thing that always hits me is the entusiasm and friendlynes of all the staff from the waiters round the pool "Another drink sir?" every 30 minutes is very refreshing to the different Towel Animals by the room staff every day - evrything from an elephant to a mermaid complete with stick on faces. - brilliant.

Food is plentyfull and very varied with themed nights most evenings. There are a number of specialist restaurants a s well Try the Steakhouse Grill Chillies - The Suf and Turf is to die for.

Typical Riu entertainment every Evening with prsentations of certificates to the winners of the events that happened throughout the day from Rifle Shooting to Bingo followed by a show put on by the animation staff.

Would I go back again - you bet - Also the sister hotel just a couple of hundred yards up the beasch The Riu Palace Mexici is closed for six months and is being fully refurbished and the plans look very interesting.

We trvelled independently asI used to work in the Travel trade and have some consessions, But check out Thomson Holidays who have some good pacages.

There is only one slight downfall and that is the rooms have hard tiled floors and the noise from above or next door, although not excessive can be distracting Moving beds and what I can only describe as the 4AM fornication (in and out in 10 minutes) frpm the room next door did make me smile.

Room Tip: We stayed in a room with a Courtyard view and a jacuzzi bath - cost was an extra $5USD per night pe...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Lee M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2012

No issue with hall noise since resort was not overbooked and our suite had two doors, one into small entry, then another to suite. Blocks noise from hallway. Not all rooms have two doors.

Liked that hallways are open to outside, environmentally conscious liked this very much since it always seemed a waste to AC the hallways.

loved palm trees between hotel and beach. Provides nice shade and you don't feel exposed to too much baking sun.

Beach sand and water was lovely.

Yummy chocolate martini

Checkout was easy and casual. They allowed us to keep our inclusive arm band which meant we could casually enjoy a few more drinks and lunch before departing.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank dm3019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nottingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2012

We have just spent an amazing 2 weeks here, the hotel, staff, food, entertainment was great and can not be faulted at all. The beach was beautiful and the gardens in the hotel are all kept very well. We met lots of lovely people from all over the world and can not wait to go back. Would like to say a special thank you to Shwemie, who always made sure we had a lovely cocktail when we were sat by the pool.

Room Tip: Try the Vision bar in Plays Del Carmen, nice cocktails served on the beach.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank MandyBro21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2012

Amazing my boyfriend and I spent two weeks, could not find fault, spoiled for choice for food. Staff so friendly, drinks served at pool they knew what you liked and were always bringing you fresh drink. Even took part in activities, beach was bliss, rooms cleaned daily and fresh towels twice a day. Had towel shaped animals every day, chocolates and turn down service. Hotel area was always spotless, pool area, staff were on hand 24/7. Nice location can walk to main resort, would recommend ferry trip to gozemel. Only little complaint, I am g&t girl, and mini bar had everything but, oh well small price to pay for wonderful time. And entertainment staff brill, bobby joe not sure if his name funny, and best bar staff David in sports bar and suemi at pool.

Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
6 Thank Teresa M
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 Riviera Maya

Property: Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya
Address: Av Xaman-Ha Mza 9 y 10 Lote 1 Int.Fracc. | Fase II Solidaridad, 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 High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#21 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#28 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#29 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#29 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#29 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#30 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya 4*
Number of rooms: 400
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Riu Riviera Maya
Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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