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“Jamaica Rules!”

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ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
Ranked #8 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Reviewed 3 March 2009

Just got back from a week at the Riu. It was our first time to Jamaica and we would definitely return. We would try a different resort - likely an adults only place.

We were quite happy with the Riu and had a really nice trip. Here are some specific comments:

Three 5-6 storey buildings, two pools, whole resort is on a private part of the beach. This resort is located right beside Sandals but there is a wall so the beachfronts are separate.

Our room was quite basic but we had a nice king sized bed which was quite comfortable, a bathroom with double sinks and granite countertops, a TV, balcony, bar fridge, safe (you get a lock and key when you check in), large closet and drawers. Above the bar fridge were pure alcohol dispensers - rum/vodka, etc. The bar fridge had beer, soft drinks, tonic water, etc. All was included. The maid service was great and I felt like our room was always kept clean, fresh towels daily, extra efforts made to leave flowers for us, etc. We tipped a few dollars each day. Our sheets were changed once during the week.

I am a vegetarian (not vegan) so I never have high expectations for the buffet style food at all inclusive resorts. I felt like the food was certainly on par with other all inclusive resorts and there was good variety and lots of options. At breakfast there was an omelette and crepe station, at dinner a pasta station and always a grill station with some theme for the night (in addition to the regular options). The a la carte restaurant system was poorly organized, in my view. You sign up the day of for the restaurant (but there is no limit to how many you go). You would supposedly sign up between 8-4 daily but people started lining up at 7 a.m. so if you got in line after about 8:15, your chances of getting a spot were not great. Lots of people made reservations for large groups, sometimes for other friends at different restauraunts, etc. Only one of the restaurants had ANY vegetarian options so we only went once. The food was quite good and it was a nice change from the buffet.

They have one buffet restaurant which is open for breakfast and dinner. For lunch they have an Italian/pizzeria snack place and another buffet style lunch restaurant - Mammee Bay. The a la carte restaurants include - 2 "generic" restaurants/no specific theme, one asiana restaurant, one japanese restaurant, and one steakhouse.

I felt like the variety of drinks was very good. My favourite drink was a slushy, fruity mixture called "Miami Vice". The bartenders were laid back and friendly.

There are two pools on opposite ends of the resort. One was more for adults and one was more for kids/families and this was the noisier pool where the entertainment staff did aquafit and various other activities and announcements would go on throughout the day. It was nice having the two options depending upon what you were looking for and despite being on opposite ends, it's all very close. Chairs were snatched up pretty early but not crazy early (by about 9:15 you'd be out of luck). Only one pool - the more "adult" pool - has a swim up bar. The other pool has a bar pool-side though.

I was quite impressed with the beach as this resort is truly beachfront. Some all inclusives say beachfront but are so sprawling with so many outbuildings that depending upon where you are it can be quite a trek to the beach. Not so with this place. Everythings is minutes to the beach and there are tons of chairs. At different times there would sometimes be bits of litter washing up but for the most part the water was clear, the beach was clean and the resort staff was great about coming by to pick up empty glasses and garbage. Sand bottom - not weedy. People would hang out on their seadoos in the ocean and try to get you to go for rides. They were pretty chill and not too invasive. Resort spa, photography and scuba staff do wander around and ask if you're interested in their services but they were not invasive either and were just friendly and moved on when you indicated you weren't interested.

I highly recommend the Chukka tours. You can book at the Riu or through independent operators. For the Chukka tours, the prices are the same regardless. They have zip line ones, ride 'n swim (horse ones), 4 wheelers, etc.

I did Dunn's River Falls and would not recommend this. Unless you go very early so you avoid the big groups. Otherwise, you get stuck in groups of 15 people, holding hands walking up the falls. Takes a long time and I didn't find it that enjoyable.

Didn't do any spa services. The fitness centre is pretty crappy. No free weights whatsoever. A few weight machines, some of which were broken. Some ab mats. 4 treadmills, some bikes, some ellipticals. Not for the super fitness buffs. Okay for those who just want to put in some sort of workout while on vacation. I went one day and was so unimpressed I didn't bother going again.

Can't say that we took part in the nightlife much. We were more into the relaxing on the beach by day and going to bed early (we're lame!) That said, the resort does have a "disco", there are buses to Margaritaville, and there was always some kind of show put on by the entertainment staff. There is a sports bar and a few other bar. I can't really speak to them but it was definitely a reasonably lively resort.

As indicated herein, we tipped our maid daily while we were there (USD). $2 each day and $5 on our last day. We also tipped randomly the restaurant staff. We didn't feel compelled to tip every day or every meal (except at the a la carte where I think it is likely common to tip) but we left a few dollars for various servers many days. I never got the impression that tips were expected, although they are certainly welcomed and deserved.

We brought US cash (though we're Canadian) and we used that for excursions, tipping and in the resort shops. If you go off the resort and pay for things in stores, etc., they will give you Jamaican money as change. There is an ATM in the casino on the resort (the word "casino" should be used loosely - it's not much of a casino) which dispenses US currency but there is a $6 service charge. Best to bring sufficient funds so you don't need to do that.

Check out is at noon which concerned us at first because we had a really late flight (9:50 p.m.). Fear not - there is a baggage room in the lobby where you can store your luggage. They let us keep our beach towels (normally you would turn in your towel cards when checking out) all day and there are change rooms with shower and fresh towels so you can shower and change at the end of the day before heading to the airport.

Overall we were quite happy with our trip, we loved Jamaica, and we felt that we got decent value for our money at a nicer resort.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank tigerseye66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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6,737 - 6,743 of 8,853 reviews

Reviewed 2 March 2009

We went here on a 5 apple square deal and it was a very good deal but it is not a place that we would not have ever picked or stayed at otherwise. It was nice but the rooms were moldy (on the curtains ceiling) the drinks and the staff were very good and friendly! The beach is nice, calm water and not a lot of people so you always have a spot to get a chair on the beach and the pools. The food was good especially the jerk chicken on the beach that was great! I am a very picky eater so the restraunts are very hard for me as I do not eat stuff that don't look good! But my hubby really liked the Japanese food! Overall it is a very nice place but it is not a place that we would go again we liked Negril way better! Not a whole lot of night life unless you go into town which was fun to by the way!!!!!

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank FrstMate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2009

We left Toronto on February 15th Via West Jet...this was our first experience with West Jet and it was an Exellent way to start our vacation. The flight was on time and we arrived at Montego Bay actually a little ahead of schedule. In no time at all we had cleared Customs and had our luggage in hand no waiting around.
We had contacted Lee's Tours prior to actually going to Jamaica to arrange transportation from the airport to the RIU property. No problems here either, the driver (Michael) arrived shortly after we did (remember we had arrived a little earlier than expected) and soon we were on our way to the resort. Lee's Tours had ice cold Red Stripe Beer, Rum Punch, Water and Pop on board and it was much appreciated. The driver even stopped so that we could take a picture on a bridge. Nice way to be welcomed to Jamaica and we would highly recommend Lee's Tour for your transportation needs while in Jamaica.
We had also contacted the RIU property a couple of weeks prior to our vacation asking them if it would be possible to have rooms close to each other. Once again we were not dissapointed they had us all on the same floor and only a couple of doors away from each other. The first impression of this resort was fabulous, very clean, beautifully decorated and very friendly staff. Our rooms were large and had a beautiful view from our 5th floor balconies of the Caribbean Sea, the pool and the grounds were they have a gazebo that was used for serveral weddings while we were there. They have elevators so being on the 5th floor was not a problem, in fact it was really great. We even had a wonderful view from the entrance to our rooms of the Blue mountains and the enterance way to the RIU absolutely breathtaking.
We spent most of our time at the pool were the "Rastafari" pool bar is located. The staff at this bar were a lot of fun and right on top of the situation, how they remember what everyone is having to drink is beyond me. If you go to the RIU visit Raymond at the Rastafari Pool Bar you won't be disappointed.
The "St. Ann." buffet restaurant was the place to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, exellent choices never went away hungry. We expecially enjoyed the Caribbean Night Lobster Buffet ...Wonderful don't miss out on that event. We also frequented the "Plantation Restaurant" for mid day meals again an excellent choice on the menu there. The "Jerk Chicken Hut" is also located behind the Rastafari Pool that was a great choice for lunch also, the chicken wasn't too hot but the sausage Yahoo! Still very tasty.
The only restaruant we actaully bothered to book a dinner at was the "Mammee Bay Steak House". One of our gals stood in line to make the reservation for over an hour and the only time we could get a reservation for was 9:00 pm. I must say we were a little dissapointed in our dinners that night. I had ordered the shrimp dinner and the shrimps were so spicy hot I couldn't eat them. Also the staff looked like they just wanted us to finish our meals and get out of there so that they could clean up and go home.
If I was going to the RIU Ocho Rios again I wouldn't bother making reservations at the specialy restaurants I'd just go to the buffet.
Only one suggestion I would make to RIU regarding the buffet, they need more than one as it gets rather crowded during peak meal times. If they even opened up the "Plantation Restaurant" for dinner it would ease the load at the "St. Ann".
The entertainment...enjoyed most of it and really liked the night they did the tribute to Bob Marley..Didn't go to the Michael Jackson Show, I think the resorts need to find something different to do. We have been to 3 different resorts during the past year and a half and each one does a Michael Jackson Review. The Beach Party was the show I really wanted to see and SEE is the key word here YOU COULDN'T. It was so dark down on the beach that is you weren't sitting right up at the front you couldn't see anything except shadows. They did do a torch
presentation and you could see that part okay but the rest of the show like I said all we could see was shadows.
Excursions: We had Lee's Tours to take us into Ocho Rios to shop and that was a lot different from what I remembered from 13 years ago. (I know a lot of things change in 13 years) Ocho Rios has grown and I'm not sure if that's all good. We went to the Bob Marley Shop, Harley Davidson Shop, Hard Rock Cafe, The Tajmahal Shopping Centre (this is a Duty Free Mall) and then we made our way over to Island Village and "Margaritaville".
We also did Dunn's River Falls...At the resort you will find "King David" he arranged for us to go out on a catamaran from the beach at RIU Ocho Rios with "Scuba Caribe". The price was resaonable and included the catamaran ride to and from Dunn's Rivier Falls, entrance fee to Dunn's River , Snokeling and Rum Punch on the way back to the resort with very lively music. It was a great adventure and some of us said it was for sure the Highlight of our vacation.
Soon though it was time to pack and start our journey back to the Cold Canadian weather. Lee's Tours provided our transportation back to the airport and Michael delivered us to our departure area. Our West Jet flight back home was once again excellent, can't wait to fly with them again. We arrived in Toronto again a little ahead of schedule and would you believe within an hour we were at the post waiting for the shuttle to take us to the Hampton Inn.
Would we go back to RIU Ocho Rios probably, but we have a few other areas of the Caribbean the 6 Amigos would like to investigate. But by all means if you have never been to Jamaica the RIU Ocho Rios is an excellent place to start your Jamaican Vacation.
Jamaica Me Crazy....
RIU Ocho Rios....One Love....6 Hearts!

3  Thank BarbieAnnR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2009

After reading several write ups I was a little upset about our choice,until we arrived. The staff at the hotel were very friendly, the rooms very clean (Junior Suite). We left our maid $5.00 every day and our room was always clean and always had towels. We also left the bar man $5.00 for the two times he filled our fridge and we left him a little note with what we wanted and we were never disappointed (keep in mind folks all inclusive does not mean you do not tip the staff we tipped a lot of our servers as well. They only make $50-$60.00 US $ per week. )The front desk staff were not very friendly and we were upset to learn they would not cash our travelers cheques into US$. The entertainment staff work very hard and their shows were great. The food in St. Ann's buffet was always good and the Japanese restaurant was fairly good. The beach is okay and the water is a beautiful turquoise, but you don't get great waves because of the break wall. Unfortunately it rained for 3 days we were there but that isn't the hotels fault! Negril next time or ?You can't get a great walk either because the hotels block their beach! We met a couple the last day, it was their first day and they suggested a hotel in Maya Rivieria, Grand Palladium but there is two - White Sand Resort or Kantenah.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank beachcomber250
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2009

For starters, the hotel was beautiful and the beach was gorgeous! It is definitely a nice place, but the service and food sucked. First of all, the rooms were very nice but the maids didn't come clean them until after 3 pm every day and they never left all of the towels, we were usually missing washcloths. When I would call the front desk, they said no problem we will send some. Yea, I never received washcloths and had to bathe with a bar of soap becuase I was going to miss our dinner reservations. The front desk was not helpful at all. When we got there, the lock to my safe did not work so I called them to come fix it and they said they would be there right away. They never came. We were with friends so I used their safe instead. The staff in general was NOT friendly or helpful and always acted as if you were bothering them if you asked for something. The method for making dinner reservations was horrible. You had to stand in line at 7 am for an hour to make reservations for a restaurant (which is the only place on the resort that the food was even remotely tasty.) Thats not relaxing to me, and thats what I want when I am on vacation. I was expecting an easy, carefree, relaxing week. It was almost stressful. I mean I had a blast anyway, but it was not convenient at all. The craziest part came when we were checking out. The lady at the front desk tried to charge me $8 for phone calls made out of the room. (which I never figured out how to call out, their directions did n'ot work) She told me the phone number that we supposedly called and it was a local number. I told her I was not paying that because I never did figure out how to call out and even if I did, I would not have called a local number, I don't have anyone to call in Jamaica! It is obvious the maids used our phone when we were not in the room. They are so scatterbrain they never know what is going on. I put everything on the desk when I was checking out. (my room key, the safe lock, and my towel cards) When she was typing in the computer another worker came up and took my lock off of the desk. When she went to grab my stuff to turn it in, she thought I didn't turn in the lock. I said I swear I just put it on the desk. She thought I was not telling the truth. (As if I wanted to keep a lock that didn't even work) I think it was just a bad experience. We were staying at an all inclusive resort and it just seemed as though everything had an additional fee, or everyone that even looked our way or pointed a finger in the right direction in Ocho Rios expected a tip. The resort in general was not horrible, just the service. My friends and I have both stayed at different resorts other than RIU on the island and that is what were comparing it to. We were just used of being waited on and it didn't happen at RIU.

On the upside of things, the entertainment was AMAZING!!!!! The entertainment staff made the whole resort. They would do daily activities such as beach volleyball, aerobics, and other fun stuff. They would put on a show every night that was awesome!! That's what I looked forward to every day.
Overall, for someone who has never been to a resort, it probably would have been great. Like I mentioned before, my friends and I had previously stayed at Couples Swept Away, and Sandals, both in Negril. After staying at those places our expectations were very high. Riu didn't even compare. But they say, you get what you pay for!

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled with friends
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2  Thank nabshire02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2009

I went to the Riu for a wedding in March 2008.

I'll start with the good.

Rooms: Clean, all the amenities and stocked daily with pop, water and booze (even though we don't drink). We had an ocean view overlooking the wedding hut which was perfect and an upgrade from what we paid for. The bathroom was new, clean and well supplied with towels and soap. A/C was easy to use and worked nice. Limited musty smell absolutely nothing above average for the Caribbean.

Beach: CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN! And water that was crystal clear and beautiful blues and greens. No water shoes required once you were out just a few steps. Swim just 20 feet out and you can snorkel to see lots of fish! It's quite busy to the one side but we stayed further down nearer the wedding hut and we never had a problem getting chairs and a little privacy. We were a big group so I think people thought we'd be loud and stayed away. No annoying sales people bothering you and if you keep walking for about 5 minutes (put shoes on!) past the wedding hut you'll reach a tiny market with trinkets and very kind sales people. Friends of ours went even further down to the ruins and found some nice hand made jewelry and enjoyed a beautiful walk.

Now the not too great

Restaurants: The buffets were HUGE and well stocked as well as clean and they had a person attending to each row insuring they were kept that way. I'm Pescatarian and I never had any problems finding lots to eat.

HOWEVER, as with many all inclusive we had a lot of trouble getting restaurant reservations. Usually this doesn't bother me but the fact that we were there for a wedding was upsetting. We'd all ready been forced into having the stag/staggettes there and then they came to us to say that the wedding reception would be there too! A wedding reception in the buffet hall? Come on guys. So after A LOT of complaining and speaking to the manager we got into the steak house for the wedding reception and ended up getting a sushi dinner one of the nights too which we originally were told was booked. So troubles to get in aside, the food was good and the service was OK. During the wedding reception they brought out guitars and bongos and entertained us and let some of us jump in.


Staff: Overall I'm sad to report the staff was rude, un-helpful and un-available. As noted above we had much trouble with our restaurant reservations. But it gets worse. The day before the wedding we had to go to the front desk to request they come fix our phone. Two service men showed up (or one service man and one who knows who as we later found out) and picked up the phone said "yup it don't work" said they'd come back and left. Baffled we said whatever and left. I went back to the room about half hour later because I realized I'd forgotten the camera out and sadly it was too late. But our phone was working! We called security and told them what happened and found out that one of the people that came to our room did not work for the hotel because he did not have the correct color uniform on. We had three other friends get useless things stolen, a camera case (maybe for my camera!) a blackberry charger, an empty day purse. Basically it looked like our rooms had a grab and go in them. Unlucky for us it was the one time we didn't lock up the valuables.

Overall though, we were happy. The beach is one of the best I've ever been too. I'd return to a Riu

  • Stayed: March 2008
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Thank lilsweetieflyin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2009

There are some good things about this resort and some bad things. First the good things. The hotel is clean, the beach is good and a reasonable size, the pool is very nice and best of all the staff is very friendly. The entertainment a few nights was very good. We had a steel drum group and they were excellent.
We stayed in the oldest part of the hotel right above the dining rooms and the room was very nice and centrally located to the pool, dining and entertainment and it was very nice.
The problems we had with the room were that the maid did not clean the room until after 4PM each day. In the morning they would come and get the towels and in the late afternoon we would get new towels. Unfortunately we never received a full complement of towels. The first day it was bath towels, the next day it was hand towels and we never received wash cloths. The bed was so hard I woke up every morning stiff and sore.
The arrangements for signing up for a specialty resturant was poor. Ever day you had to go stand in line to reserve a resturant. They don't take reservations except for the current day or the next day and you can only make one at a time. To get a reservation people would be in line at 7:30AM. That's not a relaxing vacation to me.
Then there was the food. In no way is it familiar to an American. I don't mind trying other countries foods but I do want good food. With 846 rooms and about 1700 people and only one buffet for all the guests there were always long lines. By the time you got your food and sat down the food was cold. The meats were fried well done so that they were very tough. As an example of the food, my husband tried the deep fried baby octopus which was tough and chewy.
Lastly they only have outdoor activities planned so when it rains there is nothing to do except sit around and drink. Unfortunately we had three days of cold, wind and rain and found the only place to stay warm was in our room.
You may think that the hotel is horrible from my review but I want to be fair and say that with some improvements in service and food this would be an excellent place to stay because the buildings, pool and beach are beatiful.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank WIRelaxed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios

Address: | Mammee Bay - St.Ann, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#8 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range: £164 - £291 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios 3.5*
Number of rooms: 856
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated in northern Jamaica, on the beachfront. Two 6-storey buildings and one 5-storey building. Surrounded by 90,000 m2 / 107,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 10 Km / 6.2 Miles to Ocho Rios. 4 Km / 2.5 Miles from various shops. 105 Km / 65 miles to Montego Bay airport. 600 M / 1,970 ft. From a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Hotel Ocho Rios
Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica
Riu Ochos Rios
Rio Ocho Rios
Club Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
Rui Ocho Rios
ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica

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