Stayed 8 nights April 28-May 6, 2012 with wife and 9 friends.
I’ll start by saying I’ve been on multiple cruises and many all-inclusives in Mexico, Punta Cana, Jamaica, Costa Rica, etc. This was one of the most fun we’ve been to, of course with the exception of the rough ocean water. Also this place is loud – so if you’re old and cranky or young with kids and want to have a family vacation – I recommend you look elsewhere. We went knowing that swimming in the ocean would be tough, but everything you’ve been told is pretty accurate and the waters are very rough outside the resort. The top part of the beach is nice and flat with plenty of chairs and beach volleyball, but closer to the water there’s a good 25 degree slope which makes it really difficult to walk down the beach far distances. We walked to Cabo one day – we went halfway on the beach, and eventually made our way to the road to finish out the hike. Took a cab back ($25 for 10 of us). For you health nuts, I’m sure it’s no big deal – however we’re a relatively fit group and were exhausted and wishing we had some sort of sand-shoes along the lines of snowshoes to make the walking easier.
Check-In was painless – it was quick and included a welcome drink. The lobby is nice and big and impressive. The grounds are immaculate everywhere – down to the point where you’d see guys with scrub brushes on the sidewalks and with rags washing every inch of intricate iron benches. The restaurant reservation process is for the birds – it’s very A) Complicated and B) Just a pain. It’s OK because our group took turns assigning duties and we got in every of the “specialty” restaurants 4 nights in a row (Asian, Steak, Italian, and Mexican). Our reservation times were for 9pm each night for a group of 11, which is the same time as the nightly “show” - but believe me you aren’t missing anything with the live entertainment here. We stayed at the Riu in Guanacaste (Costa Rica) and the shows were equally as painful to watch. Granted it’s something to do, but if there were ONE area where Riu could really invest and take things to the next level: it’d be to for out some cash & put together some better shows. A few laughs here and there, but 90% waste of your time.
We showed ourselves to our rooms which were in building 7. Building 7 is the furthest from the lobby, but the closest to the beach and infinity pools. It’s somewhat of a hike, but only a 5 minute brisk walk to get to the building. We opted for a standard room, while some friends had “Oceanview” – which consisted of a neck jarring look to the left to catch the ocean & cabo out of the corner of your eye. They agreed it was a waste of money and in hindsight would have opted for the standard room. Our balcony faced the main pathway and was often very loud at night into the wee hours (like 4:30am) with late night party animals stumbling their way back to their rooms making a ton of noise. Noise carries thru the balcony into your room and bounces loudly! We managed to (accidentally) time our trip around Canadian spring break (Eh?!?) – which filled the resort with Canucks. All were fun & friendly, but I’ll stress again – this was the heartiest partying atmosphere of all the all-inclusives we’ve been to. We were told the resort was only booked around 40%, however the infinity pool bar(s) and plaza bars were generally JUMPING with people depending on the time of day. Our room was nice – although as I said we were in building 7, and all of us in that building had 2 double beds pushed together. We made it work, but a king would’ve been nice. Our friends who had 3 rooms in Building 4 all had king beds, and they also had a 3rd outside door which they could close & lock which allowed them to treat their rooms like adjoining rooms. The balconies were all large and the safes functioned well. For all of you who need conditioner for your hair, please bring your own – they only provide shampoo & body wash in small individual size packets (slightly bigger than ketchup packets), and bar soap. Not that you’re there to watch TV, but I was also surprised to see the TV’s were not flatscreens. I should also mention one of the people in our group had a few problems with their room, and called for maintenance 3 times each time being told they'll be right there, only to wait 45 minutes with nobody arriving. They ended up switching rooms.
As with any place like this, we were dying for anything but a sugary drink by the 5th day, so we did our best to bounce around the drink menu. The bartenders were generally very friendly and prompt, however sometimes at the busier times it was tough to get a drink. As with all places like this, do yourself a favor and visit your bank before you go, and grab a stack of $1 bills for tipping. If you’re in a group, ask for the “rainbow shots”. If you’re not in a group, make friends with others at the bar and still order rainbow shots – pretty slick watching them get poured!! The shot glass washing process at the bars consisted of the bartender running the shotglasses under the sink water and wiping them out with his fingers. Pretty disgusting really… but what can you do other than say no to the shots or bring your own! Oh and don’t break a glass at the bar – or you’re forced/peer pressured via CHANTING into chugging a triple shot of house tequila. The beer brand is Dos Equis, and in some places you can find the “amber” version for a different taste. Brands of liquor included Tanguary Gin, Cuervo Tequila, Smirnoff Vodka, Jim Beam whiskey, and a variety of other medium shelf liquors and no name recipes for hangovers. The sports bar serves drinks all night long – which is nice – although the atmosphere is so BRIGHT that it’s totally un-inviting – but maybe that’s on purpose. The food options at the sports bar should only be used in EMERGENCY situations – because it’s JUNK. Literally pre-cooked burgers & hot dogs, and stale sandwiches in plastic containers which melt in the microwave. They also have stryrofoam plates which also melt in the microwave – so heating up this mess is not easy! Only if you’re completely wasted and starving does this food option taste good.
Service is great – the staff is constantly cleaning your table with a smile on their faces, sometimes before you’re ready. We ate at each specialty restaurant – all of which we were satisfied with mostly all the entrees we chose. I’d say of all the all-inclusives we stayed at, this was some of the better food we’ve had. Not quite as good as you’d get on a cruise ship, but less crowded and better than most people eat for dinner on a night out. Plus bottomless beer, wine, and soft drinks on tap at all the buffets & restaurants which you’d bend over for on a cruise! Buffets got a little repetitive as expected, but they did add some new variety each day which helped break the monotony. The red wine was not very good, but the white wine was decent. The Dos Equis gets a little old as well, but I’m sure they could get a lot worse of a beer on tap.
The infinity pool seemed to be colder than the other main pool, however the infinity pool offered a view of the beach, ocean, and beautiful southern tip of the Baja peninsula. So, we spent some time at both pools. The main pool offered more quiet, however the swim up pool bar was not open. You had to get out of the water and walk around to the other side of the bar (boo hoo) to refill a drink. Down at the infinity pool(s), there are 2 swim up bars and they both open at 10 and close at 6 (same hours as the main pool bar). There’s a bathroom convenient to the infinity pools, but it’s definitely a chore to get to a restroom from the main pool – my wife said the one near the buffet there was stinky & disgusting on multiple days which kind of surprised me.
We booked a boat shuttle through Olympus Tours in the lobby for $12ea which included a van pickup (we got 11am), over to Baja Sports where you hop on a boat, they take you around the arch, give you some history, then drop you off over at Lovers or Pelican beach where you can hang out & snorkel. You have to schedule your pickup though, which we opted for 2:30 shuttle back which didn’t give us enough time – so in hindsight we’d allow ourselves some more time over there. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & a GREAT DEAL for this at only $12 per person for all that! If you don’t do anything else, do this. 10 of us also booked a Zipline tour which was fun, but nothing special compared to the awesome ziplining I got to do in Costa Rica. The zipline place also makes their own tequila, shows you the process, and lets you taste 3 nice tequilas – normally it’d make me puke and have flashbacks from when I was 21, but not this stuff – it was nice! Also spent a little time in downtown Cabo, but not much time. Walked around a bit, checked out Cabo Wabo (Cool place, but beers are $6 in there, or across the street for 5/$10). From what we learned at the zipline tour, Cabo Wabo is garbage tequila and you should always look on the label for 100% Pure Agave for the “good stuff”.
I would recommend people to go, but coming from the east coast of the US, I’d rather stick to the Caribbean where the waters are calmer and swimmable. But now we can check Cabo off the bucket list! Thanks Riu! I’ve stayed in Ritz’s and I’ve stayed in Motel 6’s… this place is a lot closer to a Ritz than a Motel 6 – they make you feel extremely welcome and like the guest is the priority. You’ll have some fun here, that’s for sure.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Located in the southern Baja California peninsula, 4.5 Km/2.8 Miles from Cabo San Lucas * Opened winter 2007/8 * 1-story main building and 3-story and 4-story annexes * On the beachfront * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 3.5 Km/2.2 Miles from downtown Cabo San Lucas * 40 km/25 miles from the airport * 500 m/1650 ft from a bus stop ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Santa Fe Cabo San Lucas
- Riu Santa Fe Los Cabos
- Riu Sante Fe
- Hotel Riu Santa Fe Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos