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“Liked the area but not the hotel or food”

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Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya
Ranked #39 of 214 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
McHenry, Illinois
Level Contributor
101 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Liked the area but not the hotel or food”
Reviewed December 15, 2012

Spent the first week of Dec. 2012 at the riu palace. Booked an Apple vacation. Flew Frontier airlines. Great flight with roomy seats and a TV in the back of the seat in front of you. Arrived in Cancun and was wisked away in an Apple van. Was sort of shocked to go through a roadblock of local policemen armed with machine guns. In the town of Playa del Carmen they also carry machine guns on the street.
When we arrived the rooms were not ready so we were given wristbands and told to go have lunch in the buffet. Was disappointed at the food but figured it was closing time and dinner would be better. Went back to the front desk after 3 as told only to find out the rooms were still not ready. We were granted access to get out of the heavy clothes we were wearing. Right to the beach! While in the beach chairs we were constantly approached by hotel staff and outsiders trying to sell us fishing trips, jewelery, cigars, parasailing, snorkeling trips, hats and countless other junk. Got so annoying we moved off the beach to the pool area. Just the hotel staff hit you up there.
Dinner at the buffet was no better. They use poor quality ingredients and most of it lacks flavor. Went to 4/5 specialty restaurants. The Brasilian restaurant was the best meal of the week. The Mexican restaurant which should have been excellent was only so-so. The Steakhouse was poor and I got violently ill with Norovirus that night. Two days later me wife contracted it. We walked out in the middle of the meal at the Japanese restaurant and resorted to the buffet. Skipped the Fusion restaurant.
The hotel is all tile and you can hear service carts being pushed down the halls and rear walkways from 6am-midnight. Also every one in the halls and close rooms, hard to sleep. Hard beds do not help. While the beach and pool areas were nice and the service was great it is hard to see past the poor food and lack of sleep.
They make you go to the lobby for your free 90 minutes daily of internet access. That was annoying, it should be unlimited and in the rooms. While bedridden with the Norovirus my wife brought me some food. I ate a little and set the rest down on the knee wall next to the bed. In 15 minutes it was covered with ants.
The return to airport bus was was very comfy. Odd thing was Apple is all inclusive including tips and the bus driver and his director got on the PA and hit us up for tips.
The airport was EZ to navigate and got to stock up at Duty Free. First stop at home was Burger King! Second best meal of the week. That's BAD!!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank drrot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed December 13, 2012

Short summary: Excellent place to visit and to have relaxing vacations.

Longer version.

It was my third trip this general area. Last year I have spent time in Riu Tequila and enjoyed it immensely. This year we decided to ante up and to splurge a bit more... which we did. Trip for two To Riu Palace Riviera Maya costs about a $US 1000 more than one to Riu Tequila for same duration and accommodation. Riu Tequila has the same beach area, not THAT fancy, but very friendly.

Is it worth it?... Possible, depends on the person and preference.

HOTEL: Words coming to mind when you walk in the lobby of Riu Palace RM are: Opulence, Great Gatsby, Establishment etc. Chrystal chandeliers?!!! I haven't seen those a while.

BEACH: Whitest and softest sand you can imagine, moderate waves and turquoise water. Plenty of beach beds and space with various degrees of solar intensity.

FOOD: Mostly good. Plenty to eat and for various tastes. SInce we had privilege of dining in all other Riu properties I should admit that Riu Yucatan buffet is a bit better than Riu Palace RM. Also, you can have sushi (which I like a lot) in buffet in Riu Palace Mexico which you cannot have in any other Riu buffet in Playacar. Fruits are fresh but mostly not tasty.... A la carte restaurants are hit and miss. We went twice to Chilly Mexican Steakhouse and had two very different experiences, once meat was great, the other time meat was so hard, I looked on the back of the steak expecting to find logo "Reebok" on it. Japanese restaurant is subpar, Krystal is excellent though.

DRINKS: Best drinks are served in main lobby, no substitutes, Islas is the best. All other areas are just O.K.

SERVICE: This is probably more negative part. Unlike previous trips to Riviera Maya, I felt indirect pressure for tips. You could instantly feel difference in the service depending on whether you tipped person or not.... there is a sense of tip entitlement in the air. I do not mind tipping occasionally if service is exceptional... but do not like to be pressured into it, especially if service is just average, and service was average for geographical zone.

BEDS: Hard, but you can ask for a pad which helps some.

ROOM: Room is nice (ours was a suite with “King” size balcony) well lit. Everything works fine, including faucets and Flat Screen TV. Some artwork was missing from the walls though.

We travelled Dec 27th to Jan 6th. We are couple in mid 50ies, it was our 30th anniversary together. Looking back, I think that next time I’d rather save 1000 dollars difference and go back to Riu Tequila or Riu Yucatan.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Victor U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester
Level Contributor
18 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed December 12, 2012

First time in Mexico and loved the place, people and hotel. The Palace is as good as it looks and sounds in the brochures. We got allocated a room on the first floor with a view of gardens at the side of the hotel. Only found it noisey one night with some late nite revellers next door to us! Our maid was great and kept the room so tidy replacing towels daily and always made a nice animal out of the towels/flannel. Branded drinks in the optics. The Bacardi went down well. Beer, water and soft drinks in the fridge. We ate at the buffet restaurant most nights though did try the Mexican (Agave) and Brazillian (Botafogo). Mexican was very good, but not that keen on the Brazillian. Buffet was open from 6-30 through to 10pm so was never too packed and the food was fantastic. Plenty of choice and good service. Breakfast and lunch also very good. Went in the Sports Bar a couple of times and even caught live english matches on. Loved the piano player in the Lobby Bar and daily courtyard entertainment. Watched couple of shows. Michael Jackson and Circus ones were the best. I did aqua aerobics a few times and my husband did shooting and beach volleyball. I also did a kitchen tour which was interesting.
Really safe to go off complex and tried the bars at all the other nearby Riu's. Had a good night at the Tequilla which is a bit more lively but overall the Palace is the best. Walked into Playa Del Carmen few times and went to Senor Frogs for a night out, good change of scenery and a laugh. Got the ferry to Cozumel and went to Chakanaab Park where I did swimming with dolphins. Always wanted to do it and it was a memorable experience. There is also a Sea Lion show there, Crocodiles, Tequilla village and Mayan Gardens. Fab day out all in all.
Definately want to go back and would recoomend this hotel.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank kaththered
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thornton, Colorado
Level Contributor
27 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed December 11, 2012

We love this property! Great staff and the beach is better this year then in the past. You can tell they have worked to lengthen.
Excellent location for walking to town or a quick 5 minute cab ride.
Better food this year as well do to a change in head Chef's. It was awesome to see the Chef actively engaging with customers!!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank patty2011_50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
White Rock, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed December 11, 2012

Everything about this vacation was great. The food, especially the buffet, the drinks, the service, the staff- Hola Santos! The location is great- easy beach walk or road walk to Playa del Carmen. The room was spacious and clean. The beach is wonderful. I would recommend this all inclusive for couples, or families maybe not for young adults- just that it's a bit quite.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank aimhi4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed December 8, 2012

Stayed at the this hotel from Nov. 28 through Dec. 5. It is a really great place to stay. We book a transportation to and from the airport through USA transfers, which provide excellent service. It was just my wife and I, and they still used a van both times with only us as the customers. The hotel is beautiful inside. It's only a three story hotel but the court yard has lovely fountains, a stage where a band plays every night, and you could see the evening entertainment without having go inside. The court yard has a bar outside that features a differnent drink everyday....our favorite was the tequila sampling day. The pool is very clean and gets a through cleaning each day which was nice. You can see the light blue water and white sand from any place around the pool area. If you like to sun bathe there are many places to catch rays, or if you like the shade the palm trees more than enough.

Pros:
-Very friendly service.
-Excellent location. With the RIU palace you can see the other 4 RIU resorts also.
-Food was excellent. We did the buffet everyday, and the main course was changed every day.
-10 minute walking into town or a 2 minute cab ride (70 pesos...about $7 USD)
-Excellent pool area. Great swim up bar. The service around the pool never lets you have a warm drink.
-Ocean is rather calm. The water in the ocean is warmer than the pool.
-The band that plays in the courtyard each evening is just loud enough.
-The entertainment works are always fun to watch.
-Try a chocolate martini.....!!!!!

Cons:
-The sports bar is open 24 hours, but it's really not that nice. Free food in it.
-Credit card machine in the gift shop was always broke.
-The room service menu is not worth the trouble. Go to the buffet.

Tips:
-If you forget pack something, don't go to the gift shop in the hotel. There is a min mart directly below the front desk out in the parking lot. It has a convience store and pharamcy.

-Beware of Scuba Carbie people trying get you to book excursions. We fill for a VIP to tour to Isla de Mejuras that was only going to have 14 people. There 14 people cramed into a van all the way to the Cancun Marina, then we got on a miget kataraman, and they fed us poor lunch all for about $200. This company has no association with the RIU.

-If you need to make change is US dollars. The bartenders can mostly like break twenties into tens, fives, and ones.

-If you want an ATM that gives US dollars. Walk towards the RIU Tequila and you'll a little shopping center about 5 minutes away. There is a ATM in a sunglass store that despense USD. There is also a money exchange, so for $100 USD I got $1215 pesos.

-If you want to see the NFL, try the Tequila Barrel in town.

-There is a bathroom to the left of Chilis at the pool. Might not make sense now, but trust me you'll set what I mean.

Room Tip: Stay away from 1002 and 1001. They are on the second floor and right by the ice machine. I didn...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Paul B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Loudon, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
121 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 185 helpful votes
Reviewed December 8, 2012

This was our third year vacationing at Riu Palace Riviera Maya, the week after Thanksgiving. This hotel is so very consistence with all services. The food is always presented well, its fresh and plentiful. The beach is soft powdery sand and a joy to watch the sunrise from, not many people up at that time of day (its the best part of our day.) The pool area had been spruced up a bit with new lounger cushions and most umbrellas had been replaced and had the necessary pins to engage the umbrella. The rooms are cleaner than clean, for a resort that is so busy. I walked barefoot in my room and never once had dirty feet. Every morning several staff are up and working to clean the lobby and common areas. Ricky Boby (entertainment) is the best, he gets everyone involved and having fun.

New things we noticed this year, cold food at beach restaurant is now kept inside of glass coolers (nice touch) keeping any bugs at bay. In all public bathrooms, hand dryers have been added, cleaner and less trash to pickup. New sturdy plastic cups at the beach bar. Entertainment walked around with signs about activities, no talking unless you were interested in participating and had questions. Spa staff did not bother your, or offer discounts around the pool all day, as they had in the past.

All in all, consistency is the message about this hotel. They keep the place up and services is fantastic. We arrive each year, settle in and it feels like we never left, still very clean, extremely friendly and inviting ... and we never go hungry.

On a side note we visited the refurbished Riu Palace (hotel next door), they have managed to ruin it with the ultra modern updates. Feels more like you are in New York City than Mexico. Updated with grey/purple/white, ugh. I found the refurbishments to be very distasteful to even visit, we toured one of the rooms - shocking - !!

Riu is getting ready to refurbish the Riu Yucatan (down the beach a bit), I hope that goes better and that it remains consistence with a Mexican flair.

Room Tip: Get a courtyard room (Deluxe Superior) if you can afford the upgrade. Otherwise you are looking out...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank PlayaDelCarmenFreak
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
#30 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#31 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
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* The hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya is located directly on the white, sandy beach of the Playacar residential estate, along with the Riu Palace Mexico, Playacar, Riu Yucatan and the ClubHotel Riu Tequila hotels. The 400 spacious and elegant junior suites are set in the 3-storey main building, with its delightful architectural style and surrounded by extensive tropical gardens. * Next Village / Location Playa del Carmen 2.0 km approx. * Next City Cancún 60.0 km approx. * Airport Cancún International Airport (CUN) 55.0 km approx. * Main Building 3 floors 400 rooms * Accepted Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa ... more   less 
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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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