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Hotel Riu Palace Aruba
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Reviewed 12 June 2014 via mobile

This was my first trip to Aruba and we chose to stay in the Hotel Riu Palace Aruba. Very nice and a great location! We stayed at the Riu in Punta Cana last year and I must say that the food at the Aruba location was much better. Also, it was so much fun to get out and walk around at night and visit all the vendors that were out selling stuff much cheaper than we found on one of our excursions. For example, on our bus excursion my partner wanted to get a tank top for our dog sitter and I told him to wait on that. The tank top on the excursion cost $19. Later that day, just down the street from the Riu, we found similar tank tops for $10. For all inclusive deals, the Riu is the place to stay. You can do everything on the resort or wait until night time when the city comes to life just down the street. All in all, we had a great time and definitely look forward to visiting Aruba again and staying at Hotel Riu Palace Aruba.

Stayed: June 2014, travelled with friends
2  Thank JMDewitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 June 2014 via mobile

This was our 1st time in Aruba, so weren't sure what to expect. It was a pleasant surprise when all staff we came in contact with was friendly and helpful. Felix the bartender and liana the housekeeper were great! We even had turndown service nightly!

Stayed: June 2014, travelled with friends
3  Thank Heather D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2014

After reading some of the reviews, I was a little apprehensive as we debarked for our trip. But the Riu Palace was fantastic. You couldn't beat the pool, the view, the staff, or the weather. Yes, it's windy, but you need the wind with the 90+ degree temps.

The pool was gorgeous and very open, which allows the guests an opportunity for social interaction, which was a change from some of the other resorts we visited where seclusion seemed to be the chief objective (not that that's a bad thing--just a different vibe). We definitely felt like we were in more of a "palace" setting with the grand walkways and expanse of the pool area.

When we arrived, we specifically asked to be away from the construction per the other reviews. They were VERY accommodating and put us in the main tower on the top floor (larger, sunnier balcony) with an outstanding ocean view.

The beach was perfect, easy to find a seat in the sun or shade because we were there during low season. Similarly, we did not have to fight for chairs around the pool, although I would advise getting to the pool earlier than later to have your choice of location. Really though, there is no "bad" seat around the pool because every chair offers full views and close proximity to the pool.

The crowd is a good mix of Europeans, Americans, and South Americans. We had a good time meeting several other guests from around the world. Lots of young couples on their honeymoons, but also a good age range of anywhere from 25 - 65. It's not a "party" resort, but there is a social aspect to it, with lots of people hanging out in the swim up bar and in the outdoor bar in the main tower at night. The "Activities" people are a lot of fun and certainly very good at getting the guests to join in. At first we smirked about the zumba by the pool and afternoon pool games, but by the second day we were joining right in and having a great time.

The food is OK. It's very tasty and there are options for everyone, but it isn't gourmet. For an all inclusive, I was pleasantly surprised. Dining rooms are clean and well staffed, and you have your choice of the buffet, room service, or dinner restaurants. We found the "restaurants" to be a bit cheesy, kind of like eating in a set designed to look like a restaurant rather than the real thing. And, the food at the buffets was just as nice in quality. Had we been there for longer than a few days, we may have ventured out around the island if we had wanted a truly gourmet dinner experience.

I agree with the other reviewers that the furniture needs updating, but the room was VERY clean. Beds are hard--bring sleeping pills unless you plan on letting the free-flowing alcohol do the trick for you. Speaking of which, the drinks are wonderful, available to you from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave. No top shelf alcohol, but not just the cheap stuff either. A friend had warned us about "all inclusive watered-down drinks". Not the case at all! We had wonderful service in every area of the resort, from the bartenders to the waiters at the restaurant to the concierge. You'll make fast friends (and earn personalized service) from the bartenders when you tip well.

In conclusion, I would recommend Aruba and the Riu Palace to anyone looking for a beach vacation. We've been to many 4 and 5 star hotels and this one isn't the most exclusive, but definitely did not leave us wanting of anything (except a softer bed!).

Room Tip: Pay the extra few dollars for Ocean View junior suite. Ask to be on floor 9 or 10.
  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank lissalle77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2014

This place is far from being a palace but me and my husband took to calling it the "Riu Taj Mahal." You will know what I mean, if you decide to stay. Upon arrival, the reception staff greated us warmly. However, most of the dissatisfaction started after getting to our room. The room was dirty/dusty. We actually had to wipe down our drawers before we could unpack our clothes. Additionally, the cups in our mini bar were dirty (lipstick stains), part of the ceiling was cracked/crumbling, the tub had several deep cracks/rust, and the BED--I can't put it to words. The pillows weren't really pillows; they were stuffing in pillow cases. The comforter was thread bare. On one side of the bed, a yellow foam pad stuck out haphazardly. We did make one complaint about this to the front desk but it was never fixed or taken away. When I opened the curtains to reveal our partial ocean view, I was greated by the lovely construction site directly across from us. Over the course of our stay, we would listen to the melodic sounds of the cement truck backing up very early in the morning, until about 8-9pm. Also, we had to keep the doors to our terrace shut at all times, lest we face the large dust plumes blowing over. After walking around the resort, we noticed the miserable expressions of the staff members. Not everyone was like this; some people did great us or smile. However, the overwhelming majority looked like they were participating in a work release program. It was only after going to the bar that we found out: 1. tips dictate how staff treat guests; 2. most of the employees are not native Arubans. As for the pool--DIRTY. I can't tell you all of the things I saw floating in there: cups, straws, a plastic bag, and the milky white scuzz buildup alongside the edges was very off puting. The beach is very nice and the water is beautiful. BUT try finding a spot. This was a problem for us at both the beach and pool. At one point, my husband was going down as early as 7am to reserve us spots by the pool (we gave up on the beach). By 10am, all of the spots at both locations were "reserved" by yellow towels. As for the food, there are four restaurants; all require reservations. I would highly recommend Milano (Italian) or Krystal (Asian fusion), avoid the sushi place. The rest of the food is uninspiring, buffet style. We saw most of the same choices, day in and day out, at both lunch buffets. The drinks barely come with alchohol but if you ask the bartenders, they will double up. If you get a chance to leave the resort, there are very nice restaurants just outside (about a 5 minute walk). The night time "entertainment" is mostly dance numbers. If you're just looking for a pool and place to eat "blah" food for a week, consider the Riu Palace Aruba your best bet. Side note: if you want a relaxing beach experience, you won't find it here (unless you want to get sand blasted). It wasn't the worst place I have stayed but I would never go back.

Room Tip: Avoid any of the rooms facing the construction site.
  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Lita T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2014

My family and I recently took a vacation to Aruba. We chose to stay at the Riu. When we arrived at the hotel, we were told that we had to pay for my 5 year old daughter. I wasn’t happy, and asked to speak with the manager. I spent my first 2 hours in the lobby arguing with them about the extra charge. I asked to speak with the general manager. The general manager came and was really mad that he had to come and speak with me. It said that he is busy with other things and this is a waste of his time. He said that I already spoke to others in his organization and that if we didn’t like it, "we could leave and go to another hotel." I was truly amazed that a general manager would speak to customers like that. My first impression and experience was awful. I felt stuck and had no choice. So I decided to pay the extra charge for my 5 year old daughter.
When we arrived in the hotel room I noticed that the screen door was broken. I called and complained about the door being broken, since I have 2 young childern. The maintance guy said he would be back in an hour with a new screen door. Later that evening I went to take a shower and discovered a crack in the tub. I called the front desk and let them know that screen door wasn’t replaced and reported the crack in tub. They let me know that they didn’t have an extra screen door and that if I wanted to move they would have a room available for me the next day. It was my option and after speaking with my wife we agreed to stay since we had already unpacked our belongings. They disgregarded the crack in the tub. On our third day, when we went to bath our kids, I realized after I burnt my children in the tub, at that second I realized there was no cold water. I called front desk, to ask why we didn’t have cold water, and they didn’t offer an apology and said it was a plumbing issue and they were working on it. I was disappointed that they didn’t notify the guest that there was no cold water. I ended up rinsing my kids off with bottled water that was at room temperature. On the fifth day I was taking a shower and we heard a knock on the door, one of the maintaince guy had come to look at the crack in the tub. My wife explained that I was in the shower and he could come back later to come and see it. Immediately we received a call from the front desk letting us know that the water from the tub was dripping into the lower floor and the room below complained about water in their room. We explained that we were heading out to dinner and that we would come by the front desk to discuss our options. After dinner we spoke with the front desk and they told us we had to move. I asked them what would they do for us. Her response was moving us to another room. I was so surprised and disgusted by the level of service. I explained to her that it was 10 PM and I had 2 small children and it would be an absolute inconvenience to move. I asked to speak with her manager. The manager came over and gave us the same answer that they need to move us to another room and that they couldn’t do anything else for us. I explained to the manager that I reported the crack in the tub the first night I arrived and they should have come to look at it then. I explained to the manager that I understood the issue but that the hotel would need to do something for us. I let him know that it would be fair for them to at least compensate me for 1 nights stay. Manager explained that he didn’t have the power to do so, and said that the general manager is the only one that has that ability. This is the same general manager, that told me that I could take a hike and go to another hotel. I knew at that point that this hotel is poorly runned and the employees cant do anything for the customer. The manager said that he would have the general manager come and speak with us in the morning when he arrived to discuss our options. We stayed an additional 3 nights and the general manager never came to speak with us about our options. I couldn’t believe that a general manager wouldn’t want to resolve the issue. I was surprised and very confused that they didn’t want us to have a good experience at their hotel. They rather cause more damage to their hotel rather than do something for us. During our stay we also ran into other issues, like waiting over 2 hours for extra pillows and extra towels.
This is our 10th year in Aruba, and we wanted to stay at the RIU and give it a chance eventhought we read mixed reviews. I was surprised with the level of service I received. I figured since this hotel was built 7 years ago that the structure or issues with the room would be minimal. But I did experience the total opposite.
Bottom line, if you want to have a smooth vacation and want to stay at a well managed hotel, this isnt the place. The general manager runs the show and doesn’t do anything for the customers. If the general manager doesn’t treat his customers right, you can imagine what the emploeyess that work there are like. Talking to others that were staying there, they experienced the same lack of service. There are better hotels on the island with exceptional service.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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9  Thank Toti1079
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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