First of all, I want to say it was an awesome vacation and we love the Riu Palace! This was our second trip to the Palace so I’ve had a chance to get a good feel for the place and I’ll try to review it without bias. The one recurring theme we experienced during the week was the level of service. The workers there, without exception, from the lowliest maid and maintenance worker up to the head manager and maitre d’ were exceptionally professional & very friendly. I cannot stress this enough, the service we had was exceptional!
Our room – It was a Jr. Suite which is slightly bigger than an average hotel room. There is a nice separate sitting area with a TV and a balcony. The view you get depends on what you pay for. We paid for an “ocean view” but wound up with an “ocean front” – just luck of the draw I guess. An “ocean view” can be deceiving though. You may only get a glimpse of it or you may get a full on real view. The only way to be sure is to pay for ocean front, if the view matters to you. The maids do a nice job of making up the room daily and turning down the bed each evening. The mini bar was stocked almost daily and we never ran out of anything. You’ll have beer, water and sodas in the fridge and 4 different bottles of booze to choose from, not bad.
The food – Here’s where you’ll have a lot of different opinions. I thought the food was just fine. It’s not great, even at the specialty restaurants, but it is good and there’s lots of it. Most of what you’ll find is typical buffet type food. Breakfast was the best of course because it’s hard to mess up eggs and the usual American type of stuff (pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, etc.). There was always a lot of pretty decent fruit, cheese, and breads. The specialty restaurants are decent and a nice change of pace. What they lack in quality, they make up for with exceptional service and atmosphere. If you’re a wine connoisseur, you’re SOL. They offer “white” or “red”, sort of funny really. But I did find the Cabernet to be very good, it’s from some place in Chili. For you beer enthusiasts (as I am), stay tuned, I'll share some thoughts on this below.
The grounds – They are awesome! I found them to be very well maintained and groomed. There are two huge pools and two other smaller pools with swim up bars. All have the nice infinity view of the ocean. The pool staff was, again, very friendly and attentive to the guests. The drinks are served in pretty small cups, but you can have all you want and I even saw that some guests brought their own larger cups with them. The bar tenders did not hesitate to fill them. The waitresses will even take them and bring them back full if you ask.
The entertainment – Every night there’s some type of show. Sometimes you’ll get an off-Broadway (way off) type of show like Momma Mia or Grease. I found them to be a bit cheesy, but entertaining, especially if you like that sort of thing. They really do try to do a nice job and some of the dancers are pretty talented. My wife loved them. Sometimes, though, you get what seems to be almost an impromptu show and they’ll pull audience members up on stage and have fun with you. Sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes not so much. Overall though, we enjoyed most of the evenings there.
The activities – So here’s the negative part of my review. I have learned by experience how to avoid being ripped off and how to have a much better experience with a few things. If you want to take a water taxi from the Riu Palace to where ever, I would highly recommend walking past the beach side activities counter at the Riu and just walk out on the beach and yell for a taxi. I promise someone will come running. The problem with getting one from the Riu directly is that for one, they make you lug around a life vest and return it to them. This can be an issue if you’re taking the taxi to town to shop or goof around. Also they’ll make you walk a mile down the beach to get the taxi and won’t drop you anywhere close to the Palace. Depending on how high the waves are that day, you could wind up walking half way to town or the best case scenario will be next door at the Riu Sante Fe. If you go out on your own, with cash, you’ll get far better service, a closer drop off point, no life vest, and you won’t have to wait for the taxi to fill up before leaving either. I found the same to be true for renting a wave runner. If you have cash and want to walk just bit down the beach, there are better deals to be had and you’ll get the same experience cheaper and without all of the resort rules and hassles.
Other misc tips –
• Be especially nice to the gal who makes the reservations at the specialty restaurants and she’ll bend over backwards for you. If you are demanding or rude with her, you’ll get what’s coming to you. That little lady has the power to hook you up with reservations or make it nearly impossible to get in where you want.
• Check out the station making Mexican coffees during the shows. It’s near the bar area and pretty cool to watch. My wife loved the drinks.
• A taxi to town is $12 (up to 4 people) each way and is a very convenient way of getting around. The bus to town, which can be caught from the Riu Sante Fe is less than buck each way. It seems safe (during the day) but it’ll be an old school bus-looking thing with no A/C. It’s actually kind of quaint and a good way to save some pesos for in town shopping and drinking. The front desk at the Sante Fe can provide all of the details you’ll need to catch the bus.
• This is not a good hotel choice for people who have trouble with stairs because there are lots of them. There are elevators and a few ramps, but it’ll be very inconvenient if you have to use them all the time. This is a big resort and you’ll definitely get a work out getting from one end to the other. Not necessarily a bad way to work off a few of the unlimited cervezas, but a real hassle for elderly people or anyone who can’t do stairs.
• And finally, BEER – this is my passion. I am a home brewer and fancy myself as somewhat of an expert in good beer. There’s none at the Riu though, at least not what I would consider really good beer. However, the good news is that if you like the standard Mexican lagers, you can have all you can drink. I did drink more than my fair share of Dos Equis amber (even average beer is good when it's free) There’s plenty of the usual suspects you’d expect as well like, Corona, Pacifico, Negra Modella, etc. You’ll even come across Budweiser and some Miller products in town as well. The ONLY microbrewery down there is Baja Brewing (based in San Jose Del Cabo) and no one knows about it. The only location in Cabo San Lucas is on top of the Cabo Villas in town and has one of the best views in all of Cabo San Lucas. If you’re used to good microbrewery type of ales, you’ll probably find the beer to be just average. But for Cabo, it was pretty darn good. Try the Cactus Wheat if you get a chance. The best I had was their Pale Ale, which goes well with the thin crust pizza, which was very good.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the southern Baja California peninsula, 4.5 km/2.8 miles from Cabo San Lucas. 5-storey building. On the beachfront. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 32,000 m2 garden. 3.5 km/2.2 miles from downtown Cabo San Lucas. 40 km/25 miles from the airport. 500 m/1650 ft from a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa, Diners. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas Hotel Cabo San Lucas
- Riu Palace Los Cabos
- Riu Cabo San Lucas
- Riu Los Cabos
- Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas Los Cabos