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Reviewed January 5, 2013

Let me start by saying I really, really wanted to like the Riu Yucatan. My husband and I(32, no kids, like to have a good time, but enjoy decent food and beverages, cleanliness, and good service) have stayed at two Rius before, the Riu Palace Americanas in Cancun and the Riu Palace Riviera Maya in Playa. We in fact booked the Riu Yucatan in 2009 but were upgraded to the Palace upon arrival. When returning to Playa this year, I saw the Yucatan was about 250 cheaper and it seemed like a fun place from the reviews, so I went ahead and booked it.
The biggest negative was the overall service and accommodations in comparison to the Palaces. No room service, the booze is terrible (watered down beer, terrible wine, average to poor liquor selection), the rooms were way outdated and the beds extremely uncomfortable. Our room key (yes, a key, not a card, that you only receive one of) didn't work for almost 24 hours so we had to leave our balcony open while they had the maintenance come to fix it. Also the safe has a physical lock and key that you have to carry around with you instead of a combination lock. We didn't feel like we were coming back to a sanctuary of comfort when we returned to our hotel room during the day/night. This may be due to our level of expectations after staying at the Palaces and the Royal Cancun last year. However, we won't make that mistake again.
The Riu staff was friendly and helpful as always. The food at the buffet was okay, not as good as the Palaces. There were no mimosas in the morning, which was a disappointment. The NYE celebration party was really fun, probably the highlight of our trip after spending the evening in downtown Playa.

All in all, we had a great trip due to the weather, beach, and Playa itself. However we have realized that staying in a nicer hotel makes a huge difference, and for less than 50 dollars a day I would upgrade to a Palace or another hotel.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank cancunaddie274
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 4, 2013

Went to Riu Yucatan from Dec. 27, 2012 - Jan. 3, 2013. I had previously been to Mexico four times, and this was the most enjoyable. This was my third vacation to Mexico with my husband. We had previously been to Aventura Spa Palace in Riviera Maya (2004), and Barcelo La Joya de Mismaloya in Puerto Vallarta (2009). I should mention that I'm a vegetarian and my husband isn't. We both love (what we understand to be) Mexican food. We booked through Apple Vacations.

First of all, the Riu Yucatan almost appear to be in a jungle - there are all kinds of leafy plants, trees, and vines all over the place. And there were some animals and birds we had never seen. While I appreciate the time and care that goes into the precisely groomed gardens at some other resorts, I loved the natural kind of appearance. Of course all of the buildings and facilities are impeccably clean and I saw lots of service people working early in the mornings. I really didn't care that the TVs were small or not HD because I didn't go there to watch TV. Also, room decor is a little dated, but then, we didn't go so we could spend most of the time in the room. King size beds are two smaller beds pushed together - this was fine since neither of us were disturbed by the others sleeping patterns. We only got one key, which was a little disappointing. And it's attached to a giant rectangle of plastic. Well...we detached it from the plastic, reattached it to the cord that comes with the safe key, and my husband kept these in a velcro pocked of whatever he was wearing.

The beach is amazing! Sand is soft and doesn't burn your feet. This is certainly an improvement over hotels that show what appear to be beach photos that are actually a lagoon. Water is very clear and it was easy to see some fish that were about 7-8 inches long. We went kayaking on our last day - a little rough going out and coming in, but very pleasant. There are lots of palm trees for those who want shade.

Pools are spacious. Lots of umbrellas. There are two swim-up bars with seating areas in the water. The one closer to the ocean has something like tables and booths for groups.There's a hot tub, although it was usually occupied by kids. (Isn't it usually a bad idea for kids to be in hot tubs without parental supervision?)

Drinks by the pool aren't strong, but that's generally to be expected: too much alcohol and too much sun can be a bad combination. Bars farther away serve a larger variety of drinks and bartenders are very friendly.

Food was excellent. As a vegetarian, I found enough that I could eat, and there was a good variety at the main buffet, and at breakfast and lunch. Note that if you want to make reservations at the specialty restaurants, they have to be done the day you want to go. My husband likes steak so we went to the steakhouse. I didn't ask for anything special there since I had eaten quite a bit for lunch that day. But for any other vegetarians: you might want to ask the person who takes your reservations what your options are. And if there's any doubt, make your reservation for the earlier time slot and then go eat at the buffet later if there's not much for you - we did this at the Asian restaurant. Although the vegetable sushi, spring roles, and miso soup were good, the lo mein that was supposed to have vegetables and tofu was just noodles. Hence, we went to the buffet after this, which was right around the corner.

As for Mexican food...In the case of the Mexican restaurant, I asked for a vegetarian meal. They brought out a dish of vegetables, potato, and corn, which was very good, but not very Mexican. The main buffet has a Mexican night - again, a lot of the Mexican food is not vegetarian, unless you want the tomato and cactus dish, beans, rice, guacamole (amazing in of itself), hot sauce (house made - awesome!!), and chips. And I wasn't entirely sure the beans were vegetarian - no ingredient list. BUT - the cheese empanadas served at lunch are legendary and I want to learn how to make them. Now, if only they'd try making vegetarian enchiladas...

All that being said, the spread of food served on New Years tops everything I've seen anywhere else and was phenomenal.

All of the staff are very friendly. My husband managed to break a button of his shorts. Someone from the front desk passed them along to someone who mended them and didn't ask for an additional charge. (We left a tip.)

The entertainment program occasionally includes live bands, gambling, or even fire dancers (really amazing to watch). But the main entertainment was usually dancing. Personally, I can watch this for a while, but I could not stay awake through the New Years Eve show, and went back to the room. I wouldn't have minded a little more variety; maybe more live bands, or maybe even something interactive.

Since we booked through Apple, we scheduled our excursions through them. There were no problems with this, although I wish Apple's web site had a list of ALL excursions available so that I could read up on them. They only list a few.

We went to Tulum - loved it; it's only half a day, we learned some history, and it's beautiful.

We also went to Xplor because I was curious about the underwater river and my husband wanted to try the zip lines. We survived the zip lines! The underground river was pretty, but bear in mind that you're paddling a plastic raft alongside lots of other people through narrow channels who may or may not know how to paddle.The transmission of our amphibious vehicle failed while we were trying to go uphill. We had to be pushed by the people behind us to get back to the starting location. Most importantly: there was not time to do everything available and still get back to the tour bus on time. The park is set up so that you have to go back to the "heart" section after almost everything you do so we spent a lot of time walking. We did not have time to go swimming in the cavern.

Overall, we had a wonderful time in Playa del Carmen, and were sad to leave.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank APittsburgher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 4, 2013

My wife & I stayed at the Riu Yucatan between 6th to 20th December 2012. The service was very good and the cleanliness was first class. Our first point of note that all restaurants in the complex made was the help given for my wife who has a wheat allergy and needs a gluten free diet. One waiter in particular called Esteban was very helpful and understood her needs very well and arranged for the head chef to show what food would be unsuitable for her diet. The chef volunteered to bake gluten free bread rolls fresh each day as needed and both Esteban & most of the sous chefs along with the kitchen manager were made aware of this and did all that they could to be friendly and helpful.
We watched the sunrise at 5.30 one morning and as we returned I noticed in the Margarita restaurant that all the tiled walls were being cleaned at such an early hour! The cleaning was noticed by us to be an ongoing exercise throughout the hotel complex on a very regular and therefore reassuring basis. The rooms were fairly spacious, clean and orderly from the moment we arrived. The alcohol dispenser in the room (Vodka, Rum, Tequila & another spirit were replenished every two days if need- we didn't use it more than once as all drinks throughout the complex are free anyway!).
Mosquitoes were not a particular problem, just one or two which were kept at bay with repellant. However, ants did bite us a few times if we were on the sand under the trees on the beach, or on the terrace by the pool overlooking the sea.
Trips by the tour reps were very expensive, so we took a taxi into the resort of Playa del Carmen costing 70 pesos plus tip each way (ie £8 split between four of us, or £2 each for there and back to hotel), and asked to be dropped at the bus station where we caught an air conditioned coach to the Maya ruins at Tulum for a cost of 66 pesos (£3.30) per person each way. The cost of entering the ruins was 57 pesos (£2.85) per person; total per person was therefore the cost of the trip was only £8.15 each for an excellent day out compared to about £50 each for the 'luxury' of an English speaking tour guide! (Judge for yourselves if this is value or not. Forget their hype about insurance etc, that's what we paid holiday insurance for back in the UK!!)
We did similar when visiting Accumel turtle beach, but this time took a taxi and blew the expense. Total cost for four of us there and back 600 pesos or £30. A couple of days later we returned, but instead of visiting the turtle beach again, took a taxi from Accumel Beach to Yal Ku Lagoon about 1.5miles away for 80 pesos, entered the reserve and spent a fabulous afternoon snorkelling in a safe freshwater lagoon for about £12.50 including life kackets and flippers. My thanks goes to a Canadian lady we met at the hotel who told us about this little known gem as it is unlikely you would just conme across it by yourself as I could find no 'organised' trips that featured it.
I would certainly recommend this hotel. For anyone who has visited Cuba, it is a much more 'homely' hotel and the friendly staff made it all the more enjoyable (although regular tips to the maid etc helped I'm sure!)

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank MaltaKid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 3, 2013

Spent one week at the Riu Yucatan over Christmas. I think the only negative that I would have to say is that it was terribly expensive. It was a beautiful place, but I just don't know if the cost is justified.

For the positives. The food was very good, even compared to other RIUs I've been to. It's plentiful and the staff are very quick to offer a refill of wine, juice, etc. We ate at the Mexican a la carte, and enjoyed that as well. The bar staff at the various bars were very friendly and professional. The drinks were good and they have a good selection.

The beach is absolutely beautiful. We walked up and down through the beaches of other resorts along the same strip, and I really think that RIU Yucatan has the best one. There was a lot of volleyball going on for those who like that as well.

The rooms were great. They were always way too cold even with the air conditioning set very low, but thankfully there's a big blanket provided in the closet. The room we stayed in had the greatest blinds; we would wake up at 7 (already bright outside), but it still looked like the middle of the night in the room. Very good for sleeping. The in-room mini bar / fridge were convenient and refilled as soon as we used something.

I saw a couple of reviews mention the wildlife as a negative. If you don't like the presence of animals, this probably isn't the place. I happen to love animals, and thought it was great that there were monkeys in the trees, iguanas sunning themselves on the property, something that looked like a lemur, and these cute oversized rodent things all over the place. Also, a lot of birds. They never come close enough to bother people unless you are purposely trying to feed them, and even then it takes some coaxing to get them near. But, if you don't like the sounds/sites of animals, don't stay at this resort.

The final positive thing worth mentioning is the location. Playacar is super secure, and Playa del Carmen is a thirty minute walk away. It's a great little city, with tons of food, good shopping, a mix of tourists and a lot of locals. There is a bus station to get to other cities in Playa del Carmen if you want to explore on your own, and the ferry station to go to Cozumel. We loved walking there at night and having dinner, drinks or just shopping and wandering around. You could also take a cab to the city for a fixed 70 pesos rate if the walk seems too long.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank mgrobi44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 3, 2013

We recently stayed at the Riu Yucatan for one week over Christmas with friends. We previously stayed in the Playa del Carmen area at Riu Playacar and the Princess resort, so we had a good idea what we were looking for in this trip...close to the beach, open air restaurants, clean and quiet rooms, and decent food. The Yucatan delivered quite well.

When sitting at the pool you can look out at the ocean, which we really enjoyed if we chose to have a pool day. The beach is pristine white sand, and groomed routinely. Typical of most resorts, you have to get up a bit early to secure the chairs you want around the pool or on the beach...but on the beach they had a lot of chairs, so with a bit of looking we could find a couple. The food at the main buffet in the lobby was good, but the buffet by the pool, closer to the beach was just OK for us. The a la carte steakhouse was decent, and the Mexican a la cart was just OK, We didn't try the asian a la carte.

The rooms were nice, but in need of an upgrade. Four dos equis beers, pop and water are provided in the room fridge, with some hard liquor as well. A short $70 peso taxi ride into Playa del Carmen, and there is a wide variety of restaurants, bars and shopping.

All in all, pretty decent for an all inclusive. With the right price, we'd stay again.

Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
6  Thank Mike P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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