My wife and I stayed at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya from March 1 to March 8. Tour operator was Sunwing and we were flying from Toronto.
Having stayed 3 years ago at the Riu Tequila just down the street we were familiar with the Riu setup and Playa del Carmen in general. It's the only southern destination we've ever returned to. Easy access to town, nice beaches and great food make for a pleasing vacation for us.
Beautiful lobby greeted us as we entered and very friendly and helpful staff at the reception desk. We checked in to our junior suite, facing north on the outer perimeter of the hotel overlooking "The Reef" hotel. Nice and quiet. The room was very clean with the bedroom (king size bed) on one level and a seating area with Sony LCD flatscreen a couple of steps down. Nice enough room but to be honest I wasn't "wowed". I expected a little more of a Palace. Despite
Arriving at 11pm we decided to walk around the grounds and they were truly immaculate. There are two pools - an infinity pool overlooking a regular pool. Both very nice but we preferred the former as it was slightly warmer. Lots of chairs available but the best spots go quickly. Lots of shady spots available under the palm trees for those that need respite from
the sun. Swim up pool bar available as well as waiter service.
The beach is framed by palm trees on either side for shade and closer to the water it becomes open. It was very windy during our weeks stay and we were happy to have the palm trees provide some protection from the sand whipping across the beach. The beach is very nice. We did find that the ocean floor was very uneven, and in combination with the high waves (due to the wind) and undercurrent meant that you had to be careful. The padding on the beach chairs could do with replacing as some were getting a bit worse for wear. Waiter service is available on the beach closer to the hotel (a fence divides the two sections) but service is a little less frequent than around the pool.
Reservations for the specialty restaurants are taken in the south east corner of the lobby bar between noon and 3pm, for the same day and the next. Seatings are at 6.30 and 8.45 (except for the steak restaurant which is 7 and 8.30). We tried the Japanese, Brazilian and Mexican restaurants, the latter two being our favourites. I have always found that the hotels try hard to replicate international flavours but don't quite manage with those cultures that are not similar to their own. E.g. in the Japanese restaurant the sushi had no raw fish - smoked salmon was the closest to raw, and some of the rolls contained cream cheese - a very odd ingredient. The buffet restaurant is excellent for both breakfast and dinner. Lots of options and nobody should have any difficulty finding something that they like. Service in the restaurants and throughout the hotel is excellent and the staff are very friendly - our best experience of any hotel and any southern destination.
Claudia, the bartender at the bar where shows are performed was fantastic - very funny and provided excellent drink suggestions and service. We had a few memorable nights propped up at the bar watching the very good shows (Michael Jackson, Broadway and Disco).
Internet access is free in the lobby, supposedly for max. 90 minutes but I don't believe it's regulated at all as I was never kicked off. In-room wi-fi costs $10/hour, $15 for 3 hours or $39 for 3 days, although don't quote me on that because I couldn't find it listed anywhere and I'm going on what I was told in person by a staff member.
Guests are predominantly Canadian and US with others from South America and Europe. We only encountered one staff member whose English wasn't very good. Guests tend to be on the older side but there's people of all ages staying there.
Overall I would definitely recommend the RPRM. Apart from a few minor gripes we were very happy with the hotel. Sunwing on the other hand had a delayed flight to Mexico and another (3 hours) on the return leg - we'll think twice before using them again.
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Riu Riviera Maya
- Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya Playa Del Carmen, Mexico