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Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas
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Reviewed November 1, 2013

This was our 3th time staying in a Riu (previous stays were at Riu Santa Fe (Cabo) and Riu Tequilla (Playa del Carmen)). The Palace is a nice resort with stunning views of the ocean and the famous Cabo cliffs (although you can't see the arch since it's only viewed from the ocean). As with all Riu resorts, the staff is friendly and helpful (I even noticed the dinner staff addressing some guests by name).

People tend to have very polarized views on the food at the Riu's. When people say that they didn't like the food, I'm guessing that they were more bored of the food than truly displeased. The food is good, but it gets very boring after a few days. I enjoy fine dining and consider myself to be a bit of a foodie, so trust me when I say that you will find plenty to eat that you will like. However, after eating the same things for a few days, you'll be craving different food and flavors (so plan on eating lunch or dinner in town a couple of times to break up the culinary monotony). The food at the palace is very similar to the food at the other Riu's, but with a few upgrades. At the buffet, they serve some nicer items like crab claws and filet mignon. We went to the mexican and Italian restaurants, both were good.

I'm sure you've noticed that the Riu Santa Fe is right next door, and it's quite a bit cheaper (the Santa Fe was 30% cheaper during the dates that we were there). Having stayed at normal Riu's previously, I was very curious about what the differences are between the Riu Santa Fe and the Riu Palace. Here is a summary of the differences that I noticed:

Better location: The Palace is right on the beach, even the worst rooms are just steps away from the beach and probably a third of the rooms have ocean views. Only a fraction of the rooms at the Santa Fee have a view of the beach, and some rooms are a 10 minute walk away.

Better drinks and dining: I already mentioned that the Palace has slightly better food, but it also has slightly better booze. Rather than the gut-burning "Blue Ice" brand liquors, your rooms are stocked with better brands like Smirnof and Cuervo. But, watch out when you order drinks at the bars - unless you specify a brand you will get whatever off-brand is in the bartender's well. The Palace also serves champagne, which I don't remember being able to get at the Santa Fe. At breakfast, the Palance serves bloody marys and mimosas. I was dissapointed, however, than you still can't get a real drink from your server at dinner (just beer, wine, or champagne).

Service: If you're relaxing by the Palace's pool on a lounger or if you're seated in one of the bars, cocktail waitresses will occasionally come by to take your order. At normal Riu's, I've always had to go order drinks myself from a bartender.

Rooms: The rooms look and feel very similar at both resorts (tile floors, tasteful wood furnishings), but I think the Palace's rooms as slightly bigger. They also feature flat screen TVs, although unless you enjoy Mexican television, you probably won't use your TV at all (there were no English speaking channels). As previously mentioned, the rooms have better booze.

Room Service: We were pretty excited to hear that we could order room service at the Palace! At the Santa Fe, if you want a late night snack you're stuck going to the Sports Bar and eating nachos or a crappy pre-made sandwich (if there are any left). However, the room service food was pretty bad so this really isn't much of a benefit unless you're REALLY hungry at 2:00 AM.

WiFi: I'm not sure if all guests get free WiFi in their rooms, but we did (I don't know if it was because I booked through American Express Travel or if that's standard). The WiFi coverage was a little spotty (it was best in the bathroom), but it was very nice to be able to text and make Facetime calls for free.

The Demographic: The Santa Fe deffinitely has a younger crowd than the Palace which is almost entirely comprised of the "newly-wed or nearly- dead". The majority of the Palace's patrons looked to be in their 50's, and there was no shortage of overweight middle aged men sporting T-Shirts from various Mexican destination cities.

Overall, if I was going back to Cabo and was choosing between the two properties, I'd probably just save the $70/night and stay at the Santa Fe (and use the savings to go eat a couple of nice meals in town). However, if the view and immediate proximity to the beach is very important to you, it might be worth it to spring for a room at the Palace.

A few minor complaints about our stay at the Palace:
-As mentioned, we got very tired of the buffet (so try to get reservations at the restaurants).
-Every drink that has any kind of juice in it has an odd, artificial sweetener taste. After a few drinks, this was very off-putting.
-It's difficult to get reservations at the restaurants
-Lots of stairs! Make sure you find the elevators or you'll be getting a lot of cardio (which isn't a bad thing, I suppose).

Things I liked about the Palace:
-Very clean: No bugs or vermin, the grounds are immaculate and the maids are constantly cleaning the common areas.
-Service: Staff is very friendly, I loved being served at the pool and lounges
-Views: Incredible!

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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7  Thank SLC-Sammy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2013

We stayed at The Riu Palace for 8 days. The rooms were very clean, spacious and well serviced with a well stocked bar and fridge, ample towels etc.. .Turndown service was especially nice. We had an ocean view overlooking the quiet pool and central to the restaurants, main entertainment area. The view is spectacular. Travelled in October - was told only rains in Sept and at 30 minutes each time. When we were there - absolutely no clouds, bright blue skies. 10 minutes to the town which was safe both in day and night and less than 40 minutes to the airport. Beach is clean and empty given you can't swim due to strong undercurrent. But walk 20 minutes to the right - is a swimmable section. Recommend the glass bottom boat tours to see Land's end. Can even beach and sun there and they will pick you up on another return trip. Food was really good and true to form (i.e. Sushi was like sushi at home). Lots of variety. Ala carte's even open for lunch which was nice. Shows were good and entertaining and Disco on site hopping! Music was modern so that was nice to hear. You didn't have to tip to get great service. Pool service was frequent and they aimed to please. Denis and Texas were especially good. Before my glass was empty they were there to offer me something else.
I would recommend this to adults and families with older kids. While they had a kids club, this was more for families with kids over age 10-12.

Room Tip: Built on a hill so Reception is on the 3rd floor and rooms then go 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0. We were on the 1st floor which is one above the beach. Perfect access to everything. There is an elevator for easy access to all the floors. The courtyard is beautiful - great place to hold a reception if you are considering this hotel for an event. Everybody tends to have it on the beach or restaurant - but the courtyard with some white lights would be magical!
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Thank Sandra D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2013

This place is pure paradise. We went here for our honeymoon and the view is the best in Cabo! The Land's End Arch/Sea Lion Colony/Lover's Beach is directly across the ocean as there is an inlet right there. I would venture to say that there isn't a bad view from any room as the hotel is horseshoe shaped. So even if your room isn't facing the ocean directly, you'll likely have a side view of it from your balcony. We requested to be on the 3rd floor or above and were in room 4058, which had an AMAZING view of the ocean and was located over the "quiet pool" area. There is a quiet pool area where kids/families/the elderly hang out. Then there is an "activity pool" on the other side of the hotel where they play music, have aqua aerobics, water volleyball, etc. There is a swim-up bar near both pools, but the one by the activity pool is way more crowded. For those who are drinkers...the activity pool side is for you. There are servers constantly walking around taking drink orders and delivering drinks. Between 1 and 4 are the busiest hours, so that's when you'll have to wait the longest for a drink. We always tipped so we got good service, but people we met who didn't had a longer wait time. If you don't like a bunch of drunk people around you, chill out by the quiet pool.

We spent a few days by the pool, but we also did a lot of excursions. We did snorkeling/paddleboarding/kayaking and saw humpback whales on the way back! We also did a sunset cruise our first night, which was amazing. It takes you right by the arch and there is a taco bar, drinks and music/dancing. We also did the Dolphin Discover "Royal Swim Plus" and had 2 dolphins to ourselves for an entire hour! The "Dolphin Encounter" had 15 people sharing one dolphin, so they did a lot of waiting around. The cost is about $199 per person, but it is TOTALLY worth it. We signed up for these at the Funjet activities desk, which is in the little hallway off to the right of the front desk.

Also! A sea turtle rescue group releases baby sea turtles down on the beach a couple evenings a week at 6 pm. That was a sight to see! Amazing! They released like 400 of them. They announced this at the pool earlier in the day that they were going to do it...so listen closely to announcements!

When we arrived our room wasn't ready yet, but they told us our room number and put our all-inclusive plastic bracelets on us and we went to the bar off the lobby and enjoyed the view while we had a few drinks. We came back an hour later like they said and the room was ready. And we got there in the afternoon around 1 pm, so I was impressed at the early check-in. When we walked in, we thought the room was just amazing. There was a king-sized bed with a little towel animal (penguin) they had made sitting on it and then there's a step down to a living room area with a loveseat, coffee table and flat-screen TV on a dresser. Then you go out the sliding glass doors and there's this fantastic ocean view. It's just breathtaking!

So, Pros: The staff say "hola" every time they see you. They pull out your chair for you and place a cloth napkin in your lap at dinner. The place is the cleanest hotel I've ever stayed at. I sat and watched a staff member of the lobby bar wipe between every space on the bar stool backs and wipe off every spindle on the balcony fence. They are sweeping/mopping the hallways/lobby all the time. The grounds are just very well-kept. The drinks are plentiful. Every restaurant you go to gives you a drink when you walk in the door and then brings around bottles of wine to choose from and they just keep always asking if you want more. Like I said, the view is breathtaking.

Cons:
The staff likes to just walk in your room if the do not disturb sign isn't on the door and the door isn't deadbolted. One night my husband and I were on our balcony in the evening and he said, "Did you know a maid just came in our room and dropped off a bath mat and left?" I mean, my purse was sitting open on the bed with cash in it. I didn't think they would come in after they had already serviced the room earlier that day. My husband called the front desk and complained. We felt this was very inappropriate. Our first night we had people open the door 3 different times for different things. Word to the wise...always put your do not disturb sign on your door and lock it when you're in your room.

The water pressure in our shower was terrible. It was like a dribble.

The steakhouse is TERRIBLE!!! I mean TERRIBLE. My husband was all excited to get steak, and so we made reservations for that place and the Mexican restaurant. The appetizer they serve is a cold seafood platter. I was really excited about this, but I bit into the cartilage in the crab. You could tell the crab was days old. The vegetables were so hard, my husband hurt his teeth trying to chew them. And they had zero flavor. And I ordered my steak medium well and got it medium rare. They took it back and seared it again. I cut it again and it was still bloody. So my husband and I just got up and left. The food was just awful. I don't understand why you'd need reservations to this place. The upstairs show area was playing Grease songs and doing a Grease show, so we went up there and caught the last part of that. Then my husband got called onstage because he'd won the air rifle shooting competition by the pool earlier that day. He got a certificate and a hat. That was awesome.

When the maids serviced our room, they never restocked the mini-fridge with water and pop. And then never brought us coffee packets. We had to go down and get our own or order some up every single day. And when we had room service breakfast, they never brought creamer packets. Just milk. And their milk was whole milk. I didn't much care for it.

Also, our room keys (cards) would just randomly stop working. I'd walk all the way up to our room and then neither key would work. We didn't bring cell phones, so that wasn't causing demagnitizing (what they said it was)...they just stopped working. It was so annoying to have to go down and wait in line at the front desk just to have our room keys recharged. This happened THREE TIMES in our week there.

But overall, this place was just fantastic. Other advice...there is a little desk just to the right of the front desk. This person makes all the restaurant reservations. As soon as you check in, go over to her and make reservations for the Mexican restaurant. We went to this place twice and the food is just fantastic. You get a buffet AND a meal at your table. There was even a mariachi band one night...and they were REALLY good! Don't bother making reservations for the steakhouse. The Japanese restaurant is really good and you don't need reservations there. We went once for lunch and once for dinner. Krystal, the fusion restaurant...it was really good food, too. But you need to be down in line at the desk at 6:30 am the day you want to eat there to get reservations. There's a line of like 40 people by 7 am, when the desk officially opens. There is also a buffet for lunch and this turns into the steakhouse at night for dinner. There were like 50 flies INSIDE the glass case on the food and the flies kept landing on our food while eating. I didn't care much for this. The breakfast buffet is an entire room, but we had trouble finding it and we also got sick of the same food every day. But for an all-inclusive resort...this is the best for your money. I highly recommend it!

Room Tip: Ask to be on the 3rd or 4th floor to see above palm trees. Ask for an ocean-facing room. The Junior Suite is what we had, and it's amazing!
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank KaceyK603
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 31, 2013

The RUI was great! The ride from the airport is about 20-30 min. depending on traffic. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Our room was large. We had an ocean view overlooking the "busy pool". The buffet food was excellent, better than cruises we have been on and that's saying a lot! The food in all the specialty restaurants was good. The ocean is beautiful but it's not safe to swim in the area of the resort which is a downside for us. We stayed by the pool most of the time.
The drinks were ok but we are not big drinkers. It was a very relaxing trip. The night time entertainment is very weak. We are not "night owls" so it was not a big deal for us. The only time we had the TV on was at night before bed but there was only 2 channels that were in English and they were news channels. Our friends enjoyed it too, and we would all go back.
We would like to stay in the RIU in other cities.

Room Tip: The quiet pool is on the south side, more for families, older couples and smaller kids.
  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Ranger76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 30, 2013

My hubby and I spent a week in late September and loved every minute of it!! We will definitely be back. I have seen posts that say the food is not good and the rooms and grounds are dirty. I did not see anything like this. There were always plenty of people cleaning and the wait staff were always there to get you something to eat/drink. There were always plenty of great choices on the buffets to eat and our room (bedding, towels and all) were always clean. We were happier with the buffet choices than with the specialty restaurants, but the Sante Fe was really good! Our only bad food choice was the Japanese. The food tasted great but it made us pretty sick. I do wish they had better wine choices, but there were plenty of other things to drink.
It is true that you can't swim from the beach at the resort, but that is true of most of the resort beaches in Cabo. The pools more than make up for not being able to swim in the ocean.
Be careful when booking tours through the hotel. Be sure to ask how long the tour is and whether that includes travel time to/from the destination. We got stuck on a 6 hour tour that we didn't think would ever end.

Room Tip: We were on the 1st floor and it made us really close to anywhere we needed to go. However, it also made us close to the noise from those who had partaken of too much. I think a room on an upper floor might be a bit quieter.
  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Bruner01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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