The Riu Vallarta is located on a beautiful stip of beach in the Bay of Banderas in Nuevo Vallarta a short 15 minute ride from the airport. The lobby is open and beautiful with plenty of seating and a large lobby bar area. The lobby bar makes the better quality drinks, and is open pretty much around the clock it seems.
Positives: As in the other RIU properties I have visited, the fresh food (fruit, salads, veggies) are high quality and very fresh. The buffet offers lots of options with beef, pork, chicken and fish prepared several ways each night. Breakfast is also good with many egg preparations, pancakes, bacon, sausages, etc., and a full array of Mexican style breakfast items. Overall, the food is pretty good for an all-inclusive.
The beach is pretty with Mountains on each side of the bay that reach down and touch the ocean. There are ample chairs and palm trees. The palm trees are the only shade so you must move your chair throughout the day as the sun moves.
The resort has two pools -- an adult pool and a kid pool with slides. Each is very much what you would expect given the designation. The adult pool is full of people drinking and having fun. It is actually quite loud during the day. The kid pool is busy also with toddlers and school-age kids playing games and swimming. In some ways, it is the quieter pool area. At least when we were there (during spring break.)
We were able to get a family room which included a king and double bed. We had a roll-away brought in as we were a party of two adults and three teens. The rooms are medium sized with a stocked mini-bar and liquor dispenser. The liquor is low-grade quality. But, the mini-bar is stocked with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Seven Up, large bottles of water and some mixers.
The spa was minimalist in luxury, but a very good value as far as service. I had a great 80 minute hot-stone massage for $89 (with a $20 discount from Delta Vacations.) I also had a $39 pedicure with OPI polish that still looks great. The amenities, however, we not great. I didn't even get a towel to shower after my massage. I guess I could have asked, but I don't think I should have had to. There also wasn't a very good place to sit and relax as one waited for the services. And, I was not given any flip-flops or sandals to wear between service rooms.
Our room number was 7005. We were on the west side of the building with a large balcony (that slanted?!?) We had a beautiful view of the ocean, mountains and sunsets as you looked off into the distance. I would not want to be any lower on this side, however, as the lot next door is undeveloped and seems to be a place to burn trash sometimes.
Overall, the staff was friendly and helpful even when there was a language barrier. Small tips will get you a long way to excellent service, too.
Negatives: Our room had a very strong mold/mildew. We are used to all-inclusives in tropical climates having somewhat of a musty or mildewy smell, but this was OVERWHELMING. It was so strong that it burned our nose and throat as we tried to sleep the first night. Three family members have Asthma and woke with a cough in the morning. I did talk to our travel guide who had the hotel come and spray what I can only assume to be a fungicide. It did help quite a bit, but our clothes all smell horrible even after washing once.
The pool area got very crowded as the week went on (again Spring Break/week before Easter.) All the chairs were reserved by 6:30 a.m. with everything and anything people could find. I think in such busy times the resort staff must take the initiative to ensure that people are not reserving chairs they are not going to use very much. It was frustrating as we did want to spend one day at the pool.
The drinks at the pool are very poor quality liqour. I am not even sure they have much liquor in the liquor! Stick with the beer. Also, the mixers they use have a artificial sweetner taste. I guess that is good for the waistline, but not great on the palate.
Guests are only allowed one towel a day with a towel card (you can not turn one in and get a clean/dry towel during the day.) If you lose the towel or the card, it is a $50 no matter what. Seriously? They weren't even very nice towels!
It is true the beds are pretty hard -- the king is a little softer than the doubles -- and the sheets and blankets are of minimum quality.
Overall, this is a pretty nice resort, we had a great vacation in a beautiful setting. I wouldn't, however, return to this same resort or even a RIU. This was our second stay in a RIU since February of this year, and I find the positives/negatives were the same at the two different locations.
I guess the courtyard can be quite noisy. I think the best rooms are probably those on the front en...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC