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“One of our best trips ever”
Review of Hotel Riu Vallarta

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Hotel Riu Vallarta
Ranked #17 of 28 Hotels in Nuevo Vallarta
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 9, 2010

Although we've stayed at several resorts in Mexico over the last few years, this is the first review I've ever wanted to write. I traveled to PV in February for 11 days with a group of friends, staying at the RIU for 6 of those days and loved almost every minute of it. Breaking it down for the pros and cons;
PROS: Great weather - (not a resort thing, but it IS the reason we left the upper midwest in February) and a great beach. At low tide, there is a large flat beach where even toddlers can sit and play safely. At high tide, the surf is kind of rough, but with a large shallow beach where you can walk out quite a ways and still be only waist deep. We enjoyed the beach every day. The staff - I don't know how these "kids" do it, but there were about 8-12 men and women that kept us happy all day and half the night. Between some fun times at the adult pool, the various tournaments (volleyball, ping pong, etc), the evening "pranks" on the plaza, and the nightly shows, I don't know when these guys slept. They were always so much fun! (a shout to J.J. and Jessie for all the laughs!) Each night has a show that runs about an hour. We saw a Grease dance show. A Michael Jackson show and a Fiesta. All of them were very good. Following the show there is a musical group and dancing (weather permitting) on the plaza until 11 pm. The bartenders are very competent, cordial, and always in a good mood, even when inundated with half drunk gringos looking for 6 different drinks. And they poor good quality here. Also, they keep the ground and rooms really clean. At some resorts, we've felt sand on the floor of our room after a couple of days (understandable at a beach resort) but not here. I was in the room once when the cleaning crew came in and I saw the way they cleaned every area. Related to this, after working out in the spa, I went to eat and left some cash and our digital camera on a ledge in the room (not in the in-room safe) and when I returned, there was a security guard in the room with the maid writing a report on the situation. The maid saw the cash and called security to be with her as she cleaned just because. The food was pretty good at the buffets, above average for resort food. I was especially surprised by the quality of the beef. Being a midwesterner, I know what a good prime rib is supposed to taste like, and this was a pretty good one.

CONS: Not many, but a few. The beds are hard, really hard. I like a firm mattress so it didn't bother me, but the others in the group thought them too hard. The management seems to be "pressuring" their subordinates on costs. There were no mimosa for breakfast according to one of the staff because "the boss" had to cut back on expenses. Also, they had cut back on wait staff in the buffets for the same reason. The only hitch in the restaurants offerings was the Asian which is a small buffet that, while good, was little different from the Great Dragon buffet at a local strip mall. The adult pool can get a little feisty some times, but there is a family pool that doesn't have a bar or blasting music. People save chairs at the pool with towels and such very early in the morning, but we never had any trouble getting chairs on the beach at any time. Lastly, while the management all spoke english and in some cases other languages, many of the lower rank employees such as cleaning crew did not understand even the rudiments of a second language (english, french, german).

So all in all I give this place a 4 out of 5 across the board. We had a great time, and would go back again without hesitation.

Related information - if you go during the whale migration and want to take a whale watching trip, hook up with "Wildlife Connection" on the internet. They have small boats and get you some great looks at the whales and dolphins. They also let you swim with wild dolphins as a part of the trip. We did and it was way cool! Our guide took about 300 photos of whales, dolphins and us swimming and sent us about 70 really great photos.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled with friends
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1  Thank FDCaptain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 9, 2010

First of all, this hotel is very nice. Some of the reviews in the past were a tad brutal, so please read all reviews before you make a decision. My friends have been to the Riu every year, so I was open based on their personal experience at the Riu Vallarta.

Here is my take on my experience -

Arrived at the airport, wow, reviews were right! Timeshare hell walking through the 20ft hallway! I put on my sunglasses and powered through the crowd. Our guy was just outside this area with a Riu sign, greeted us, put us in a taxi and we were on our way to the hotel. Dont we fooled with them telling you they are with the hotel, look for a rep with a sign outside of this area. (our package included transportation back and forth to hotel from PVR). I booked through riu.com, found the pricing very competitive versus other websites.

Once we arrived at hotel, check in was a breeze! My first room was a standard room overlooking the parking lot/condos. No biggie to me. My room was spotless! No musty smell. I called down and asked for a mattress pad and extra pillows. Within 20 minutes they were in my room making up my bed. The beds are a little hard, but with the pad, not so bad. My issue was the family next to my room, they had a baby! Well, at 1 am, screaming baby! 2nd night, 2 am screaming baby and fighting parents. I had enough so I called the front desk and spoke to front desk manager. He was wonderful and asked me to give them two hours to move me. I went to breakfast and pool, came back and they moved me to the 8th floor overlooking the courtyard. I was impressed with customer service from the front desk.

Our group of nine didnt go the the restaurants. Just too much thought and energy to make reservations to eat. We went to the buffet each night. We requested Ramone to be our server each night, he took great care of us. All food was good. Not one complaint from me. I found the food better than most cruises that I have been on on three different cruise lines (14 past cruises)

Bring a insulated mug, they work out great. The pool bartenders were so sweet! Each day they came to work with a smile on their face. Please note, that the drinks were normal strength, but If you want a stronger drink, just ask! If you want call brands just ask, the bartenders will go the extra for you. Tips are appreciated by all. I personally brought down 50.00 in ones for tips, I left tips for housekeeping. My friends also left candy and a tip (nice touch).

We had a great time, pretty much hung out a pool everyday. We had our own Pirate day which was fun. We hung out with some fun people including some crazy Canadians. Beach was very nice. Basically, no complaints, just a lot of laughs. A vacation is what you make it.

Bucerias was a fun afternoon, we took a cab, shopped and had lunch. On Thursday, I ended up going to PV on the tropical tour from the hotel. This tour was a lot of fun. Got to see PV etc, well worth the money. Next year, I will feel more comfortable going to PV and shopping now I know where to go.

I personally do not like to go to places with a ton of kids. I'm a mom, but screaming kids non supervised are not my idea of a vacation. This hotel did have kids there, but not bad at all. When I was leaving, HUGE families with TONS of kids were arriving (bus and car loads). Mexican holiday was starting, so it was crazy when I was leaving for the airport. Just a thought, I know they advertise to locals if hotel is not full, so pay attention to the Mexican holiday schedule. I dont mean to offend anyone, but if you dont like to vacation with a ton of screaming non supervised kids, take note.

Hope this helps.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled solo
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4  Thank LuvAirShows
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2010

First time in PV and first at Riu Vallarta, Feb 19 till March 5 - room 7070....Good ocean view (without request it!)
We loved it! Incredible buffet, lots of choice! Around 9 food stations at the Rafael buffet!!!
We live in BC and we used to eat sushi and Asian food...so, we love the Nirvana Asian restaurant.
Any complain at all..
We visited PV and unfortunately, you cannot see anymore Taylor & Burton houses. The only thing left is the small pink bridge. They were doing renovations on those 2 casas.
So, yes, I highly recommand that hotel...

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CelestineBc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2010

This is a lovely hotel although huge in comparison to other places I have stayed at, primarily because all rooms are in one main building as opposed to being spread out. All hallways are tile and open plan which means you could hear movement 5 floors below even with the door shut in your room. I was travelling with a good friend and my 12 month old son, our room was slightly bigger than some although not really an upgrade but we had plenty of room for a crib and the two sinks and space in the mini bar for his food & milk was much appreciated.
The buffet was excellent for breakfast, we thought lunch was great the first couple of days with a bbq going but that only seems to happen at the weekend and the rest of the week was not particularly interesting. Dinner was also good over the weekends and Monday was seafood night, fantastic but Tuesday - Thursday was not so great.
Beach was clean and we felt safe in the resort, my son loved the kid's pool (not the baby pool) although smoking was almost everywhere and not very nice when you are trying to relax. Would not have wanted to be in the adult pool towards the end of the afternoon if you catch my drift...
We had two babysitters, girls from the front desk who were wonderful, as I said the service was excellent
Not sure we would return to this location as might prefer somewhere in Puerto Vallarta rather than north, it is a bit of a construction zone at the moment with huge apartment blocks going in obviously not intended for the local market.

  • Stayed: February 2010
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Thank Flyawaysomeday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2010

My son and I had an amazing time at the Riu Vallarta. The hotel itself was impeccable, and people were constantly cleaning everything. The food and drinks were plentiful (I gained 6 lbs from all of the mango margaritas) and between the A la Carte and buffet restaurants, there was something for everyone's tastes.

They had entertainment each day, and because the sister hotel the Riu Jalisco is down the beach, you can also go to that resort to eat and play. Two resorts for the price of one!

The housekeeping was great, the rooms spacious and bright, but sometimes you could hear people out in the hallway.

All in all, a great place to take your vacation!

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank missp_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2010

This was our third year at the RIU Vallarta and we are booked for next year. It is the best value for the money in the area. The food is good, bars are good, service is exceptional, rooms are good, beach is exceptional, pools are exceptional and the people are outstanding.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank knotmytime
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2010

My family and I stayed at RIU Vallarta from Feb 25-Mar 4 in celebration of my mom's birthday. It was the first time and probably not the last time in PV for my family. I have previously stayed at Dreams PV, so I think it spoiled me just a bit when comparing to this hotel/location.
While at RIU Vallarta we stayed in room 7040 and my brother and his wife were in 7038. We had Jr Suites with oceanview rooms. The upside was the room and view were beautiful! The downside is that we overlooked the courtyard and we were on the 7th floor. Everything actually amplified up to our room. The noise pretty much starts around 10am and doesn't quit until about 11 PM. During the day it is fine because we were usually out of our rooms and on the beach, but at night after a long day it was very frustrating. My brother and his wife said they could not sleep until around 1-2 AM in the morning because it was so noisy! Another downside to our rooms was that the bathroom didn't have very good ventilation so the ceiling of the shower had mold issues. It wasn't horrible, but it was enough to give us pause. The room otherwise is very nice! I do recommend bringing a can of Lysol or a room deodorizer due the bathrooms poor ventilation.
Food wise....they now take reservations in the lobby from 8 AM to 3 PM everyday outside of the gift shop. We booked only 2 of our specialty restaurants (we were allowed 3). They do let you book up to 4 days in advance. If you aren't picky, we got reservations no problem for all 3 if we would have wanted. We went to Sir George the Gourmet...this was excellent! If you are looking for a special meal or romantic dinner, this would be your best option. We also went to the Flamingo which was the seaside grill....we were not impressed with this one at all. I had the shrimp and steak kabob and mine was good, but my mom ordered a steak and it was not very good quality and my brother and sister-in-law ordered chicken and it was dried out. We walked by Nirvana the asian restaurant and didn't bother making the reservation as it appears to be buffet except for the sushi. We stuck to the buffet the rest of the nights. It was GREAT if you get there when it opens at 6:30 PM, the later you wait to eat the more the quality goes down. One night they had Jumbo grilled shrimp and Prime Rib, another they had ribs, another they had roast chicken and crab claws...just to name a few of the sought after items. As for breakfast and lunch: Breakfast your best bet is to go to the Don Rafael buffet (it opens at 7 AM and closes at 10:30 AM), from 10:30 AM to Noon they have a continental breakfast at the Flamingo (not very good...basically fruit, stale cereal, breads, and coffee). Lunch you only get the option of the Flamingo. It was pretty good...we usually went for the salads or pizza. As for the snacks at the Sports Bar....GROSS, do not waste your time unless you need to sober up! The burgers and hotdogs were worse than gas station quality food! The nachos were okay, but again not so great.
As for the drinks....they were good, but do recommend either ordering yourself 2 right away or bringing a insulated mug (doesn't have to be the huge one) and having them make it right in the mug. The glasses they give you for your drinks are basically like 10 ounces. I don't fault the people for their Bubba's as much as people make fun of them on here. When I saw people with them, they usually actually shared it among friends or with their spouse and used it as a pitcher so they didn't have to stand in line at the swim up bar. Plus due to the fruity/sticky drinks, it keeps the bugs out having it in a pitcher with a lid. There are typically 2 bars open during the day, one on the pool and one on the beach. There is a waitstaff that comes around and takes orders and also someone that comes around with a variety of drinks. If you do go to the bar, expect to wait in line for a bit at the pool. The staff works very hard and they clearly need a 3rd bar so be please be patient!
Beach...it is a nice walking beach. The waves are a bit rough and the water is very murky. If you want nice water, you probably want to stay at Dreams PV or take a day trip to Las Caletas. The water is much nicer over there. Also, my brother did actually encounter 2 sea snakes burrowing on the beach down from our resort....no biggie, they do exist, it is the ocean.
Location wise, if you want to be near Puerto Vallarta, stay elsewhere. It is about a 1/2 hour taxi ride that will cost you $20 US one way. If you just want to shop somewhere you can either walk up the beach or take a taxi for $7 US each way (5-10 minutes) to Bucerias. This was a very cute town and the people are so nice!
Tours...while at the resort we booked a couple of tours among my family through Apple Vacations. Note: We were told by our Rep to book directly through tour operators online, such as Vallarta Adventures (the main tour company used by Apple) or through places such as your tour company. The tour operator on the beach can be very unreliable and we found this out! My brother and his wife wanted to scuba for the first time so they signed up for the PADI class at our resort. The scuba guy who actually teaches at Vallarta did a no call- no show to work so they ended up having to go over to the Jalisco resort....thank goodness that they had another instructor. Than they were poorly taught because certain things the instructor said your Dive instructor would show you, they did not. They sell the same tour, so they should know. Bottom line, my brother and sister-in-law got to Las Caletas to scuba and ended up not being able to scuba as they were poorly taught and were not ready...the last place you want a problem is 30 feet under water with no way to communicate your problems other than hand gestures! So they ended up losing out on like $60+. As for the tours...we did book Las Caletas by day. Beautiful Island! You actually have to go to Vallarta Adventure center ($7 us each way taxi ride from RIU Vallarta) in Nuevo Vallarta. Than board a huge catamaran to go there. I would not recommend this island though if you are handicap or elderly as there are stairs everywhere and no ramps. My mom just turned 70 and although it is a small island it tired her out! You can snorkel, kayak, swim, learn to make Paella and guacamole, or just lay in a hammock. They also have an open bar and very good buffet lunch there. Another tour my brother and his wife did was the Canopy Tour. They really enjoyed themselves. One final thing that we did on our own was took a taxi out to the Botanical Gardens (way out by Mismaloya). The taxi cost $45 to get out there, than we took a bus from the Botanical Garden back into Old Town for $2 per person and a taxi from the Malecon back to RIU for $20. The admission to the Botanical Gardens was $5 US per person. BEAUTIFUL place. They have trails all over and a swimming hole (very nice actually). We also witnessed a children's ballet performance while there for free. They also had a restaurant, bar, and gift shop on site. Again, the only downside is this is not very handicap friendly. LOTS of steps, steep inclines, and ruts in the dirt paths.
Overall, this was a great Birthday for my mom and vacation for us! The staff at RIU is awesome, so hardworking, and cannot be praised enough! RIU Vallarta was nice getaway, but would be great for the beach bunnies and people that like to party. If you want peace and quiet, maybe ask for a quieter room or choose another resort.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled with family
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2  Thank suzies28
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
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
#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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