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“Amazing Family Vacation”
Review of Hotel Riu Vallarta

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Hotel Riu Vallarta
Ranked #17 of 28 Hotels in Nuevo Vallarta
Certificate of Excellence
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Amazing Family Vacation”
Reviewed April 15, 2012

I went with my parents and younger sister to Riu Vallarta March 17-22nd 2012. We booked through Apple Vacations and the entire experience was amazing! I never wanted to leave the resort, and after returning to Chicago, IL I definitely want to go back!

My family and I were originally hesitant on going to Mexico based on word-of-mouth and other reviews, but once arriving I had no idea what everyone was talking about. From the moment we got off the plane it was AMAZING! The weather was warm and beautiful and the resort definitely had the WOW factor.

At the resort everyone was very cordial and the check-in process was very smooth. As soon as we got out of our taxi we immediately checked-in and our bags were brought to our room. I finally felt like I was on vacation the way they greeted us and took care of our bags.

The room was great and very clean. The bathroom was big and spacious with a very nice shower (very hot water with excellent water pressure) and vanity. The first day we did have an issue with ants on the bathroom counter but they solved the issue immediately.

The room had 1 queen and 1 california king bed. Which brings up my only complaint: the mattresses were super hard, however I never had a bad night's sleep or did anyone in my family. I slept beautifully every night. Our balcony overlooked the the beach and the Riu Jalisco next door (If you stay at this Riu Vallarta you can eat lunch and get drinks at the Riu Jalisco as well) In the evenings you could hear the performances from the room, and they help you drift off to sleep after a long day in the sun.

The food was amazing as well. So many buffets... especially for breakfast. They have 3 restaurants (Chinese, French and Steak House) My personal favorite was the French. While we were there is also was my birthday, and so that night we ate at the Chinese restaurant and the staff was amazing. They sang happy birthday and brought me a cake! In the courtyard that evening they had a mariachi band and dance lessons. Seriously, one of the best birthday's i've had. (Make reservations for the restaurants early and 2 at a time, but if you tip extra you can make reservations for the entire week)

I love this resort because of all the activities they have going on. Defiantly got involved with pool bingo, water aerobics, beach activities, spanish lessons, sailing, evening activities like casino night and mexican game night (you can win cool prizes at the auction which is super competitive even with fake money).

The beach was amazing and the lawn chairs were alway clean (They pressure wash them individually every night). Another nice thing was that they come around on the beach and wake you up to let you know when stuff is happening, so you don't miss out or burn! While we were there my sister and I really got to know the staff. They are amazing people and the better you get to know them the more fun it is!

Things to know:
1) This place is super clean (Seriously they clean everything, including the walls)
2) The staff is amazing especially the activity staff! (Introduce yourself and they will remember your name)
3) They have US electric outlets...So bring your chargers!
4) Free internet in the lobby + 2 computers to use for free
5) Ask for a call liquor when ordering drinks... they are much stronger
6) It is safe to drink the water at the resort...It is all filtered so brushing your teeth in the sink is fine
7) Giving the maid a couple dollars will keep your fridge stocked with water and beer and your room really clean
8) The waiters on the beach are super busy so give them a couple dollars to keep them coming back and order multiple drinks at once. (Get seated at the Buffets first by the host, especially for breakfast)
9) Use the safe. Super easy just don't lose the key.
10) This is a great family vacation if you have older kids (20-25). There is enough for everyone to keep entertained and have a good time.
11) Go into the city. The board walk is amazing and there is a smaller town within walking distance of the hotel, just know what the dollars to pesos rate is if you want to buy something.
12) There is a ton of beach vendors and if you walk or run down the beach towards the little town you can find awesome beach massages for 20-30 dollars.

As someone from Wisconsin, I had a ton of fun here with my family and I highly recommend it.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank SMBUB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2012

The hotel lobby was spacious and beautiful. The pools and the beach were very nice and we had no problems finding lounge chairs each day. There was a good variety of food on the buffets (didn't find the alternate buffet by the ocean until 3rd day) and the food and service at Sir George was exceptionally good. Toppers on the beds made them comfortable and we had no difficulty with noise at night. The family entertainment was fun ;especially being able to interact with locals also enjoying the holiday. We were with a group of families traveling with high school seniors on spring break. They had lots to do; including volleyball; soccer; water polo and the disco. However some of the pool games at the adult pool were a bit too adult for my taste. The water and ice at the restaurants and bars were safe; but we used bottled water to brush teeth in rooms. Several in our large group did get sick; but it appears that the contamination most likely happened off the grounds while on group tours or golfing.

  • Stayed April 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank lovelakemi709
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2012

My husband and I travelled to the RIU Vallarta from Feb 27th -Mar 5th 2012. We also spent a lot of time at the RIU Jalisco that week. The weather was amazing so sunny not a drop of rain the whole time.

Transfer from hotel: very fast only about 15 minute drive, our bus only went to our resort, another bus went to the Palace and Jalisco resorts. Our driver had no beer for us to buy on the bus but mabye because it was such a short bus ride.

Check in: was very fast as the rooms are already assigned, our first room was on the 8th floor not overlooking the courtyard, we asked Marco if we could get a room overlooking a courtyard and at first he said come back and see him in the morning, but about 15 minutes later he found us and showed us one of the 4th floor overlooking the courtyard which we took, we wanted to be overlooking the courtyard.

Room: Rooms are very clean but need to be updated. We had a very hard king size bed with 3 small pillow. You have a fridge in your room with pop, water and beer, plus your liquor dispenser that has tequila, rum, gin and vodka. Hair dryer is very good. Our room had two chairs, no couch. The balcony had two chairs and a table. I would sit on the balcony with my chair to one end looking a the ocean and watching the people in the courtyard.

Courtyard noise: We liked overlooking the courtyard and never found the noise to be any problem, the music you would hear we end at 11 pm, once in a while you would hear the noise from someone having a good time, but to be honest I have heard that at every resort I have been at before. I never needed ear plugs at all.

Pools: You have the family pool and the adult pool, both I found very small compared to other resort, the adult pool we never got a chair by what I call the front room as all those are taken so early, we usually got a sport by the 2nd or 3rd row. These spots where great and just a few steps to the pool. You have the swim up bar and right above that another bar you could walk to. I did notice one day after everyone had left the pool that the water had a film layer on the water but so many people wearing sunscreen it makes sense that it would happen.

Beach: So many chairs at the beach, always a nice breeze coming from the water, I went twice into the water and went out for a bit and never even got to my tummy. They also set up a bar on the beach every day. My husband did play beach volleyball.

Kayak: One morning we where up early and took a walk to the beach and saw someone out on the kayak with dolphins swimming all around him, by the time we got a kayak the dolphins where scared away from the people on jet skies. So get up early and get a kayak, they told me that you can only get one free kayak a week. Sadly the water is not clear so you cannot see the bottom. What a experience it would be to have those dolphins swimming right beside you.

Turtles Release Program: On one of our long walks along the beach we came across a baby turtle making it's way to the water. Then we found out that 5 minutes from our hotel is a place that releases baby turtles every Thur, Fri and Sat at 6:30 pm. When you leave the resort turn left on the beach, behind the hatchery they are building a new resort or condo, we actually thought that the turtle hatchery place was a sales office for the place underconstuction until we got closer. The cost for this was $5.00 US for the two of us. Bring your camera, but no flash can be used at all. Amazing pictures of the sunset and your watching these turtles try and find the way to the water, so go sideways or backwards but some just go straight to the water. Just watch out that on the first night we did this some birds came and got some of the turtles that had made it to the water, so poor child was crying. The 2nd night we went everything went ok. But it was amazing watching about 40 turtles that are only about 4 or 5 hours old try and make it way to the water.

$20.00 US massage: When you leave the resort turn right and walk along the beach for 30 minutes, you will come across a bunch of tents on the beach where they give massages, we skipped the first few places and went to the one place that had 2 tents beside each other. The first time we went we had to wait for about 45 minutes so we took a 3 minute walk to a sports bar in Bucerias for a drink. Actually the sports bar was so cute we went back one day for lunch as well. Well worth the walk.

Lobby: Has two computers you can use for free in the lobby, sometimes you needed to wait but everyone was very good at only using them for a short period of time, the longest I think I waited was 10 minutes. Twice the internet was down so we walked over the Jalisco resort and used the wifi at that resort. The wifi is free in the Lobby at both places. Also you can get free bottle water at the reception desk. Also the reception only takes Pecos and I think Canadian, no US money

A la Carte: We tried the 3 a la carte, was disappointed in the Asian (Nivaha) as it was just a buffet of Chinese and Japanese food. The gourmet (Sir George) and steakhouse (Flamingo) we really liked, I like the flamingo better but my hubby like Sir George. To get these reservations is not the best as you need to line up in the lobby to maybe get one of two reservations and the line up is long as I think it took us 30 minutes the first time and we could only do one reservation, the send time we where able to make two reservations. I think the hours for making these reservations are from 8 till 3.

Buffet: I found the food was great, good variety. No complaints at all. No smoking in the restaurant at all which is nice but you do need to pass all the smoking section to get into the restaurant.

Sport Bar: Was ok, if your hungry they have cold hamburgers, and hot dogs you can put tin the microwave, plus nachos with cheese as well. But we noticed at the Jalisco sports bar they had fresh cut up fruit you could take but we didn’t have that at our resort.

I would probably not go back to this resort as I don’t feel it is a 5 star but it is a very nice resort and have recommended this resort which the people have booked already. It is just that we have only every returned to the same resort twice and that is because the price was too go to pass up. We have so many resort that we want to see. We have also been to which is now the Hilton Papagayo in Libera, Costa Rica. Catalonia Bavaro in Punta Cana. And in the Riviera Maya we have been to the Grand Palladium Colonial plus the Kantenah and last summer we went to Gran Sirenis Mayan Beach.

Room Tip: Ask for a bed topper, also bring down cheap pillow that you can leave behind if you want.
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
6 Thank beachsunsand H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2012

We stayed at the Riu Vallarta from Mar 18 to the 25th, 2012. the grounds and the rooms are kept very clean, the staff work very hard. . Our maid Angela did a awesome job.

We were on the 8th floor overlooking the court yard very noisy from 9 to 11 with the shows, if you have small children they would not be able to sleep.

Our disappointed came when we went to the ala carte (the Steakhouse ) my husband and friend had steak and ended up with Samanella poisoning the last 3 days of our vacation and 5 days at home on strong antibotics.

We have stayed at other Riu's and were disappointed with the vallarta as it certainly took a toll on our vacation. Beware.

Room Tip: Rooms on the south side are quieter
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank June T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Lansing, Michigan
Level 6 Contributor
93 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2012

The Riu Vallarta is located on a beautiful stip of beach in the Bay of Banderas in Nuevo Vallarta a short 15 minute ride from the airport. The lobby is open and beautiful with plenty of seating and a large lobby bar area. The lobby bar makes the better quality drinks, and is open pretty much around the clock it seems.

Positives: As in the other RIU properties I have visited, the fresh food (fruit, salads, veggies) are high quality and very fresh. The buffet offers lots of options with beef, pork, chicken and fish prepared several ways each night. Breakfast is also good with many egg preparations, pancakes, bacon, sausages, etc., and a full array of Mexican style breakfast items. Overall, the food is pretty good for an all-inclusive.

The beach is pretty with Mountains on each side of the bay that reach down and touch the ocean. There are ample chairs and palm trees. The palm trees are the only shade so you must move your chair throughout the day as the sun moves.

The resort has two pools -- an adult pool and a kid pool with slides. Each is very much what you would expect given the designation. The adult pool is full of people drinking and having fun. It is actually quite loud during the day. The kid pool is busy also with toddlers and school-age kids playing games and swimming. In some ways, it is the quieter pool area. At least when we were there (during spring break.)

We were able to get a family room which included a king and double bed. We had a roll-away brought in as we were a party of two adults and three teens. The rooms are medium sized with a stocked mini-bar and liquor dispenser. The liquor is low-grade quality. But, the mini-bar is stocked with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Seven Up, large bottles of water and some mixers.

The spa was minimalist in luxury, but a very good value as far as service. I had a great 80 minute hot-stone massage for $89 (with a $20 discount from Delta Vacations.) I also had a $39 pedicure with OPI polish that still looks great. The amenities, however, we not great. I didn't even get a towel to shower after my massage. I guess I could have asked, but I don't think I should have had to. There also wasn't a very good place to sit and relax as one waited for the services. And, I was not given any flip-flops or sandals to wear between service rooms.

Our room number was 7005. We were on the west side of the building with a large balcony (that slanted?!?) We had a beautiful view of the ocean, mountains and sunsets as you looked off into the distance. I would not want to be any lower on this side, however, as the lot next door is undeveloped and seems to be a place to burn trash sometimes.

Overall, the staff was friendly and helpful even when there was a language barrier. Small tips will get you a long way to excellent service, too.

Negatives: Our room had a very strong mold/mildew. We are used to all-inclusives in tropical climates having somewhat of a musty or mildewy smell, but this was OVERWHELMING. It was so strong that it burned our nose and throat as we tried to sleep the first night. Three family members have Asthma and woke with a cough in the morning. I did talk to our travel guide who had the hotel come and spray what I can only assume to be a fungicide. It did help quite a bit, but our clothes all smell horrible even after washing once.

The pool area got very crowded as the week went on (again Spring Break/week before Easter.) All the chairs were reserved by 6:30 a.m. with everything and anything people could find. I think in such busy times the resort staff must take the initiative to ensure that people are not reserving chairs they are not going to use very much. It was frustrating as we did want to spend one day at the pool.

The drinks at the pool are very poor quality liqour. I am not even sure they have much liquor in the liquor! Stick with the beer. Also, the mixers they use have a artificial sweetner taste. I guess that is good for the waistline, but not great on the palate.

Guests are only allowed one towel a day with a towel card (you can not turn one in and get a clean/dry towel during the day.) If you lose the towel or the card, it is a $50 no matter what. Seriously? They weren't even very nice towels!

It is true the beds are pretty hard -- the king is a little softer than the doubles -- and the sheets and blankets are of minimum quality.

Overall, this is a pretty nice resort, we had a great vacation in a beautiful setting. I wouldn't, however, return to this same resort or even a RIU. This was our second stay in a RIU since February of this year, and I find the positives/negatives were the same at the two different locations.

Room Tip: I guess the courtyard can be quite noisy. I think the best rooms are probably those on the front en...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Magg1ema3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed April 11, 2012

This comes a little late, but thought I would just jot down a few things. We stayed at the Riu Vallarta during the first 2 weeks of December. The employees went out of there way, not only with service but to greet you by name as often as they could. There was lots to do, and we always had something planned for our day. The entertainment team was fantastic.

The downfalls are the entertainment happens in the evening in the main piazza, the noise can be loud until 11 pm so if you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs. The buffets get so busy, and the food is redundant, and lukewarm, and desserts were bland and boring. I am a dessert person. But with that said I always found something to eat.

The hotel was very clean, and you can walk the beach for miles. Walk to Bucerias, about 40 mins down the beach, as they have some awesome restaurants for a good price, if you need to get away from the hotel food.

Would I come back...in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank thewonderseeker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cheyenne, wy
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 10, 2012

The beach was fabulous, boogie boarding, swimming, laying out, all while being promptly waited on. The food was great, maybe the best i've had at an all-inclusive. Adult pool could have been bigger, but with the beach right there, we didn't spend much time there anyway. Drinks were strong but not too strong and the staff was absolutely fabulous. the whole family enjoyed hanging out in the plaza at night : ) i had read a review that said a cab ride was 90 dollars, but it turned out to only be 20 to get to downtown puerto vallarta, and it took less than 20 minutes! Puerto vallarta has really done a wonderful job with the malecon (in town beachwalk) with restaurants and shops all along. we just got back and can't wait to return to mexico!!!!!!!!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank jennifer 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 Vallarta

Property: Hotel Riu Vallarta
Address: Av de Los Cocoteros s/n | Lote Hotelero G, Nuevo Vallarta 63732, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Pacific Coast > Nayarit > Riviera Nayarit > Nuevo Vallarta
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:
#8 Romantic Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#10 Family Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#12 Top resorts Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#12 Spa Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#17 On the Beach Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Riu Vallarta 3.5*
Number of rooms: 445
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* In Riviera Nayarit, overlooking the Pacific Ocean * Located on Playa de Flamingos beach, 2 km / 1.5 miles from Nuevo Vallarta * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 9-story building * 3 km / 1.86 miles from various shops * 13 km / 8 miles from the airport * 1 km / 0.62 miles from Flamingos Golf Club * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Amex ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Vallarta Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
Riu Vallarta Nuevo

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