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“Mediocre at best, but staff made it worth-while.”
Review of Hotel Riu Vallarta

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Hotel Riu Vallarta
Ranked #17 of 28 Hotels in Nuevo Vallarta
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 3, 2009

My husband and I booked the Riu Vallarta for my 30th Birthday/Valentine's Weekend get-away. It was our first trip to the western side of Mexico and we enjoyed it very much. The Riu Vallarta was clean, and the staff was very friendly.

Rooms were adequately sized, although the beds in the room were horribly uncomfortable. Be sure to ask for the egg-crate upon check in so you don't have to spend one night sleeping on that hard mattress. The shower/bathroom was clean and roomy, and we even had a little patio with furniture where we could sit outside and enjoy the sunset.

Restaurants were decent, but not the best all-inclusive cuisine we've ever ate. We went to the Nirvana which was an Asian restaurant...be sure to ask for the flaming icecream, very tasty. The other restaurant is a buffet during the day (on the beach) called Flamingos and then a steakhouse at night. It was okay, nothing special. The buffetts had pretty much no variety, and were the same stuff everyday. I did, however, enjoy the service...Oscar was a wonderful waitstaff attendant who would greet me every morning and walk me to our table. He was such a sweetheart. The worst part about the a la carte dining experience was making the reservations. As you read in the other reviews, it is true that you must wake up around 7 a.m. to get in line to make your dinner reservation for that night. Not exactly how I want to spend my vacation waking up early.

The pool was fun, neat swimup bar and plenty of alchohol in the beverages. Tip: Bring an insulated mug as the cups are about 8 ozs and plastic, and melt very fast in the hot sun! They had fun activities in the pool everyday. We did rifle shooting on the beach in the morning, which was really fun. The beach was beautiful, but don't expect clear water like in the Carribbean...it was not as blue and you could not see many fish. We took out a wave runner one morning around 8:30 a.m. and we were among 30 or so dolphins, which was amazing. Reasonable price on the rental too. Adult pool was seperate from kids, which was great.

The nightlife was okay, the shows were fun and they did have a mariachi band playing in the courtyard on all the nights we were there. The discotech at the Riu was fun, but my favorite was Christian the bartender that was at the big bar in the courtyard. He was a blast! Vendors would come in and sell expensive souvineers--save your money and take a taxi into Puerta Vallarta--you'll find things are cheaper there and you can barter. While in Puerta Vallarta, I recommend dinner at Pipi's in Colonia Centro. Awesome fajitas and hugest margaritas I have ever seen!

We did have a bad experience with the Spa, however. We had booked a couple massage on the beach. We went down to wait for the reservation time and apparently one of the massage therapists called in sick. So rather than tell us this and ask us if we wanted to wait until they found a replacement, we sat there for 45 minutes before we had to get up and find out what was going on. It was a total waste of time, and usually I get really upset about poor service, but since we were in paradise, I quickly tried to "let it go" and went down to the pool instead.

Overall, I would recommend the Vallarta to couples and families. It is not the most beautiful resort, but the staff really made it worthwile. I would recommend it to a friend, but I would also encourage them to look at all their options. If you could get a good last-minute deal, Riu is worth it. But if you are looking for a romantic get-away at a high-class resort, you might want to pass on the Riu.

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Luv2traveloff10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,224 - 4,230 of 5,416 reviews

Reviewed July 28, 2009

For sure, I would read all other reviews before booking this hotel, I rather go to a nicer place, no problem if its more expensive. Now.... About what we experienced last week.

Unfortunately there is an inevitable trade off between occupancy and quality of food and service. Try to skip June and July

About food and drinks:
1) The breakfast restaurant “don Rafael” was way too crouded, a very busy staff, there is so much people that you will struggle to get a table, long lines for you to get your food, the quality of food is lower based on any regular standard for a hotel of this class.
2) The brunch restaurant was ok, a great grill and salad bar, good deserts, the grilled meat was great. As it is an open area, you will see some fly’s and a very busy staff collecting the dishes and silverware from the tables.
3) The “reservation only” Restaurants, we went to Nirvana (Asian) and Sir George (Gourmet). Nirvana is ok, just like any other Asian food buffet, the only remark according to my girlfriend was the Fried ice cream, it was great, I agree even though I am not an ice cream fan. Sir George was great on service, good quality of food, but not a great variety to choose from.
4) About the drinks, do not expect greatness, all inclusive is a trade off on this subject too. Beer was cold enough but not my brand of beer. Mojitos were fair, cocktails were so so, not a cocktail guy neither.

About the pool and beach:
1) Was too crouded, lots of people and kids. Meaning the pools were dirty enough for you to think twice to dive into it.
2) One of the most annoying things was about guest (Mexicans) reserving the pool chairs with their towels, they wake up very early and get the best spots for themselves, that is not permited by the hotel but management does nothing about it. We got into an argument with some people, a group of persons, we were only a couple, they gave us a hard time for taking away their place. We had to go away, we went to the beach for a couple of hours and we ended up in the next door hotel ( Riu Jalisco) which was nicer, but also their pool was dirty too. Don’t get me wrong on my judgment about Mexicans, I am a Mexican too. And I don’t think they will behave the same way in other places outside Mexico, I feel ashamed.
3) The beach was very nice and clean. The sea and waves were very calm.

About the Customer service and personnel:
1) The waiters were too busy to draw a smile, in some ocassions they did, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out they are not having a good time serving that big amount of customers, in addition, it seems they don’t get any tips, just the minimum wage.
2) Bar tenders were cool enough.
3) Lobby personnel and maids, were very friendly. They did engage in any conversation with no problem. Overall personnel was great, very serviceable and caring.
4) One big issue is that we requested THREE times water to the front desk, they did not send any. I had to go down the front desk and only got two small bottles. That makes them look very cheap.
5) Forget about room service, there is no way in earth they can send something to your room.

About the facilities:
The building was built strong, the decoration is kind of heavy but you get use to it. It was clean enough if you take in count the amount of people they host.
We were assigned a very nice and clean JR Suite in the 8th floor, sea view, no complaints at all.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank MexicanMexico
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2009

This was our 2nd trip to the Riu Vallarta - we have also stayed at the Riu Jalisco.

Let me just say that our experience was not what we had hoped it would be. My boyfriend and I are very laid back, all we look for in our trips to Mexico are - sun, the pool, entertainment and of course endless drinks! With the economy in the toilet, the Riu (like most places) is scrambling to stay afloat - one way they have found is to offer great savings to the people of Mexico. Well, that's fine except the Mexicans aren't exactly friendly, in fact rude is a much better term. I am not a racist, nor am I discriminatory, but when people treat me that way, I get very irritated.

Every other time we have been there, the staff spoke perfect English and the entertainment catered to (by speaking english) the group as a whole. This time, they spoke entirely in Spanish and over half of the audience spoke only english and had no idea what they were saying. We found out later there was a lot of USA bashing going on, which is funny because we are the ones paying more to visit their country.

Bottom line is, unless you want to compete with locals and deal with rude vacationers who believe they are "special" because they are from Mexico, don't waste your time and money even if it's a great deal.

Until the recession subsides, we will be staying here in America.

Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
3  Thank hayden00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2009

I have traveled to PV several times and this was my first experience with Riu properties. I was sorely disappointed. First the good – we had a junior suite, which was spacious enough for 2 people. The room was decorated nicely and we had a great view (9th floor.) The hotel was running a special so the rates were great. You get what you pay for!!!
Locals filled 90% of the property. I visit Mexico 2-3 times a year, so I have no problem with locals. Culturally, they tend to be more aggressive and less courteous, in my experience here. Pushing in front of you for buffets, at drink lines in the bar, shouting over you their drink order, when you’re standing in front of you, just unnecessarily rude behavior. People eating off the buffets with their hands, as they wait in line for meals, dropping food on the floor and ignoring it – really offensive behavior.
The pool was filthy! Water was murky and hazy, with a thick film of suntan oil around the edges. I approached the staff and ask if they had trouble with the filter system. They informed me it was because the rainy season made the pool hazy. I had been there 3 days, and can tell you not a single drop of rain water hit the resort. No staff to serve drinks around the pool – they barely picked up the empties.
Buffets were mediocre at best – although the food was plentiful. Guacamole was great!
I realize there are some things beyond the control of the staff – however, there was no consistency in what they could control. On different days we had to ask for washcloths, soap, shampoo, our a/c would come and go – you never knew what the room would be like when you opened the door. Food dishes left in hallways for 2 days at a time, elevators that had plates and drinking glasses in them. Just an overall lack of attention.
I always heard great things about Riu – I will not be returning.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank KCandMSYguys
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2009

My husband and I went for a week to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and realized we were in the wrong place for adults. The resort is nice but has some flaws which I believe is driven by management decisions.
Let's start with the good. The wait staff was wonderful, especially Leo, Paublo, Paco and Manuel. The lobby, rooms and grounds were well kept also.
Now on to the not so good. We arrived on a Saturday to find out we were there during Mexico's school holiday (they are on holiday for 1st 3 weeks in July) and we definately felt out of place. Though the other patrons were very nice, it was difficult to meet people. They had wait staff that served drinks poolside on Sat & Sun but not on the weekdays. You always had to make trips to the bar. The adult pool always closed at 8 PM and they stopped serving poolside at 6:30 PM. On Tuesday the management staff made a decision to turn the adult only pool into a family pool for families were complaining the kids pool was to crowded. Did not matter what the adult only people wanted. This policy was in affect the whole rest of the week also.
The buffets were a mad house. By Wednesday I was in tears. The only way you could handle the buffets is to get up early in the morning for breakfast and eat a late lunch and an early dinner. Not such a good schedule when you just want to relax. There was no sort of sanitizer offered in the buffets either and they sure could have used it for kids were in everything and not a careful as they should be.
Our room was not very cool. If it were not for the ceiling fan, we would have been in big trouble.
They seemed to forget to clean the stairs and elevators on the poolside for there were dirty plates left on the stairs and food on the floor of the elevator. On the 2nd day we finally complained.
In order to make reservations at one of the three specialty restaurants you had to go to a table in the lobby with one worker between 8 and 10 AM to make reservations for only that 1 night so you had to do this every morning and sometimes the line was long and you could not get reservations.
I do not want to paint this as a bad experience. We did meet some great people and had some really good times but if it were not for the people we met, it would have been a long week and things would have looked even more dismal.
Do not get me wrong, I love kids. We raised 3 of our own but wanted a trip with some adult only time and the pool was to be the place to get away but it did not happen.
Would I go back, most likely not for I figure, I have been there, done that and do not need to go back.
If you have children this could be the place for you, otherwise I would suggest to search a little more and possibly pay a little more for you get what you pay for.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank cayson1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2009

Do not stay at this hotel. It is overbooked by locals with many children in tow. Both the adult pool and the kids pools are filthy. We noticed poop in the adult pool and informed the manager. He laughed and did nothing about it. On another occasion we were at the beach and there was a guest (a local) under a palm tree he proceeded to change out of his bathing suite into his shorts in broad daylight. Another night we were enjoying drinks in the lobby bar and noticed a guest with a bundle of bed sheets and covers. The guest opened the bundle and presented to the reps. at the counter and explained in disgust her sheets were filthy. The buffet lines are a joke. There are kids running in the dining area and they stick their hands in the food. Food is all over the floor. The waiters ignore you and you have to get yor own silverware. The food at the reservation dining rooms is mediocre. We asked for limes at the beach bar at the barman yelled he was out! He expressed there were too many guests and not enough service people to attend the guests. That was evident! One afternoon there were at least 100 people trying to get checked in. It seems they are running a local special for families. They run out of towels and glasses. The hotel is nice property but since it is overbooked the service is horrible. The best bar service is at the lobby. Do not waste your precious time and money here. I was on the phone an entire morning with our travel agent to get us transfered to the Riu Palace at no charge. Finally we checked out and moved to the Palace. What a difference! We are members of Riu Class frequent travelers program and have booked our vacations with Riu Hotels for the past 12 years. We have never encountered such poor service like our experience at the Riu Vallarta. It seems this hotel is not turning away any over bookings and are running a special to make up for lost business due to the flu scare. They are overbooking the Riu Jalisco next door (a lower grade of hotel if you can imagine that) and are "walking" guests from the Jalisco property to the Vallarta property. If you are lucky on the day of your arrival if the Vallarta is overbooked you will be "walked" to the Palace property but make sure it is at no charge. Do not take a chance and ruin your vacation here. It is a vacation nightmare!

  • Stayed: July 2009
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4  Thank beachfan722
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2009

Overall the place did not live up to its standards. To begin with, the food was mediocre. Out of the two main restaurants open throughout the day had mostly snacks and few healthy options. NONE of the restaurants are very vegetarian friendly, and especially not for vegans.
Even thought we asked and paid for a room for 3, we were given a queen sized bed that formed two twin beds, and after asking for a room change they seemed reluctant and in the end did not do so. The also removed some of the utilities from various room of people in our group, such as the iron.
The staff lacks professionalism and organization on the reception desk. In fact it was as if they choose to attend or not attend whoever was up on the desk, and ignored customers at times.
The directors are also unfriendly and arrogant, not kind to their staff or approachable to customers. Also, they did not respond to complaints given about the food service. When a family member of mine took a complaint to the front desk they just laughed at it and did nothing about it.
There are very few options for night or daytime entertainment, being that the hotel is about 45 minutes from the centre or strip, and that the entertainment staff was scarcely active. They had few activities, such as playing loud music by the pools, card games and aqua aerobics. The night club seemed more like a birthday party than a club, even children were on the dance floor, and they played the same music all of the nights we were there.

Overall our groups experiences was very disappointing, being that they have nice facilities but lack quality of service and food.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank nriv04
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

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
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
#9 Family Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#12 Spa Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#12 Top resorts Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
#17 On the Beach Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta
Price Range: $181 - $282 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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