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“Out of This World !!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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Hotel Riu Palace Mexico
Ranked #28 of 209 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
New Jersey
Level Contributor
34 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Out of This World !!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Reviewed 26 December 2004

My husband & I stayed at the Riu Palace Mexico from December 18 to December 25, 2004 and after reading countless excellent user reviews I can unequivically state that they were all on the money. Throughout the week we were constantly comparing everything with Secrets Excellence in Punta Cana, DR, where we stayed the same week last year and loved also, so I'll write this review in a comparative manner.

Physical Plant: The Palace was just that and far surpassed the photos you see on the internet. Every surface on anything, was spotless and flawlessly maintained. One thing I read time after time was how slippery the tile/marble floors and walkways were and this was no exageration. I saw more than one person who had injuries too recent to have come from anything else but a fall there. I know it's tough to wash the floors and walkways at a time when there's no one around but certainly 8-10am when literally everyone is up and about, isn't it. Be careful! I'd give the edge here to the Riu although Secrets was gorgeous also.

The Beach: The nicest and largest in the area, including the Royal Hideaway two hotels to the left if you're facing the ocean. The water was the clear, turquoise you see in brochures often but hardly ever encounter once you get there. Temperature was perfect and the combination of small waves in a calm sea made it perfect for swimming or just floating around. We spent 95% of our sun time there. In comparison with Secrets, the latter had a great beach also. Not as deep (this hotel is set way back and the sand started very far in, with many palm trees) but the biggest difference was in the amount of action on both. The Riu was really busy-lots of people, as it was shared by the other Riu properties nearby, para-sailing, speedboating, windsurfing, catamaran sailing, cruise ships docked nearby, etc. The Secrets beach was just perfectly peaceful with literally nothing happening. The water there was beautiful also but remember, it's the Atlantic not the Caribbean, so the water was not quite as blue or clear. For me I liked the peace and quiet at Secrets but my husband liked the sea at the Riu. Some of the nearby resorts had literally no beach when the tide ws in and I would have absolutely hated that.

Food and Liquor: The food at the Riu was wonderful and the main eating place was Don Julian, the buffet, which we liked best. We went to two of the specialty restaurants, Sir Edwards and the new Japanese one which opened when we were there. I had to get up and be downstairs by 6:30 to get a reservation which is sheer stupidity when you're on vacation and for my money not worth the effort for a second, considering the vast anount of choices at the buffet. I also didn't like being tied in to a particular time to eat and at the Riu you had to choose an early or late seating. In this area, Secrets was far better as you could go to any restaurant at any time without reservations and the most that happened was that you might have to wait a few minutes to get in. You'd just have yet another drink! The liquor at both places was top shelf although Secrets might have a small edge there. I was amazed that at the Riu they had no good brandy, i.e. Courvoisier or Remy. If you wanted Don Julian tequila at the Riu they took out a bottle from under the bar-it was obvoius that they were discouraging anyone from seeing/wanting it. I usually drink Jose Cuervo Especial (sp?) but am ruined after the introduction to Senior Don Julio. All rooms were stocked with Smirnoff Vodka, Jose Cuervo, Bacardi Rum and a brandy I can't remember and didn't recognize. This was not an amenity at Secrets. The best bar at the Riu, by far, was the Cubano Bar and the best bartender, hands down, was Miriam who worked there every night. I really hope management recognizes her talent as she was totally efficient, friendly while being professional and used excellent judgement in every situation. If she were being secretly videotaped the higher-ups at this resort wouldn't ever find fault with her performance. She was an absolute pleasure, made the best drinks and was one of the high points of our visit.

Rooms: At the Riu, were spacious, clean and well maintained but Secrets clearly had the edge here. Riu's bathrooms were adequate but Secrets' were gorgeous and every room had a two person jacuzzi which was great. Also, we stayed on the top floors of both resorts but Secrets' had cathedral ceilings which gave the feeling of much more space. Also, the latter was decorated nicer and had a much better TV with many more channels than the Riu. We didn't watch much TV but when we did there was a disappointing number of options. My husband, who's a real sports face, had to watch the football games in Spanish. Secrets also had better water pressure which was really bad at high usage times at the Riu.

Gym & Spa- Secrets, hands down for both. It had a great, well equipped gym that was air-conditioned. The gym at the Riu was a joke and although I'm a workout nut I didn't bother at all for the whole vacation, ergo, the five pounds I gained. One guy we met at the Riu cabbed it to a place downtown to go to a gym there.

Clientele: We, as Americans, were in the vast minority at the Riu, which is a chain owned by Spaniards and definitely caters to Europeans, especially Germans. This was certainly no problem for us and we met many lovely people. The one major problem for us, and it was a biggie, was the number of children at the resort. I had been reading reviews for a year and the impression was definitely, that although this was not an "Adults Only" place, there were very few kids due to the fact that there are no children's programs or much for them to do. The other Riu properties nearby, the Tequila and Yucatan, were much more kid friendly. I guess because it was Christmas, and visitors consisted mainly of families, there were many more kids than we anticipated and it was the only low point for us. Please don't get the impression we're anti-children. But, we don't have any and we had no fun sharing the formal bar with 8 year olds at 10.00 p.m. ordering milk shakes, or waiting 10 minutes to get a drink at the pool bar because kids were ordering every fruit smoothie they could think of and then leaving them because they didn't like them. We were told that, at other time of the year, when there were almost no children, that the ambience of the hotel was considerably different. So, it's just a matter of what you're looking for but consider this possibility if you'd be visiting when school
is out.

Pool: I'm not a pool person when the beach is as beautiful as it was at the Riu Palace. It was fine but nowhere near the calibur of the pool at Secrets. It is supposed to be one of, if not the, best in the Caribbean. The pool at the Riu was cold as was the jacuzzi, which drove people nuts. They should really do something about that. Secrets here, no contest.

Service: Wonderful! Unlike most people we saw, we tipped. We probable went for a bit over $200. in a week and I wanted to give more. In my mind, "All-Inclusive" where "gratuties are included" just means you don't have to give them anything. It's not like they get any of what you give the resort above and beyond their tiny salaries. I saw everyone get great service and just don't understand how, that at the end of a 6 hour day at the beach with your party/family, sucking down endless drinks, you can't leave the bartender ANYTHING! A DOLLAR!

Summation: This is a top notch, beautiful resort where, everyone we spoke with, said they had the best time. I don't think you will find a better place in that area, including the much touted Royal Hideaway. We were given a personal tour by the manager there, who was so gracious, that I'd consider staying there if everyone was half as accommodating as he was. However the Riu Palace Mexico was far prettier, the beach was twice as nice, and all of the restaurants at the RH were ala carte. We loved the buffet at the Riu. I like to see what I'm getting and get as little or much as I want and the quality of food and presentation was fantastic. The RH, however has the peace and quiet we would have loved as it only allows children over 13 and there were very few of those. The atmosphere couldn't have been more different, so, once again, it depends on what you are looking for in a vacation. I'll leave my e-mail address even though I'm probably risking hate mail on the kid thing! Feel free to ask questions. Whew!

15 Thank coxy29a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 105 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 December 2004

My husband and I have just returned from 2 weeks at the Riu Palace and we were very sad to leave. Like everyone else I found this site very useful and the tips made our holiday all the more enjoyable.
Firstly the hotel is SPECTACULAR. We have stayed all around the caribbean before at Sandals, Moon Palace etc and found this hotel really beautiful and spotlessly clean, its true they clean from dusk till dawn. The room we started off with was overlooking trees/scrub etc which although the room was nice didn't particularly impress me as the courtyard was so pretty. We asked to change and had to wait 2 days but were then moved to room 56 which was lovely on the ground floor near the pool end and overlooking the courtyard which was just beautiful at night with the fairy lights and a bacardi and coke! We were spoilt with towel animals in the first week which were lovely! I did not find an unpleasant smell in our room and my plug in air freshner did not work from the uk anyway so I wouldn't bother with that! I did however ask for the pads on the beds which the same maid put on for us in both rooms and I'm sure she thought we were crazy! they did however make the bed much more comfortable.

Second. Entertainment, the piano bar was just lovely and the guy who played the piano was fantastic, memories and my heart will go on will always remind me of the riu! also bubbly refills every time your glass was empty, amazing service. The shows were quite amateurish though and I did not understand why the piano playing stopped so early, I would have rather listened to the piano all night than some of the shows. My husband and I are in our early thirties but didn't mind the early finish, also boules on the beach with Katie were cool.

Third.Food, this was some of the best food we have had in the caribbean, my one criticism is the number of restaurants, I don't eat a lot of meat so did not try the brazilian meat restaurant, sir edwards was nice but would not have gone more than once and although food was fab on the buffet I did miss the number of restaurants from places like Sandals St.Lucia where you can 'dine around'. Especially with no room service just to have a 'chill out night' and not get dressed up it can get a bit monotonous. We had table 85 and the waiter Edoardo was just great, he filled our glasses up endlessly with bubbly and brought us champagne and water as soon as we sat down. He was so nice and friendly, give him a bonus you riu guys if you read this! If you see him say hi and tip his great service!.

Lastly. Overall the service was amazing and once again we found the mexicans to be lovely friendly people who work really hard, so please tip them. Get out on a trip we visited xel-ha and tulum for the second time and enjoyed it just as much, you must swim at tulum it is so beautuful! we went to chichen-itza twice on other trips and that is a MUST too . We did a catamaran trip too which was nice.

You will have a great holiday if you go to the palace, its just so nice it goes too quick, but heh I have christmas to look forward to in the snow after 30+ degrees! We may go back but not right away as I want to see other place too, but many brits we spoke to were already planning there next vacations. A definate plus (sorry to all you americans!) is the lack of rude and loud americans which we have seen on other vacations, the European crowd definately makes for a quieter and more relaxed holiday!.

Have a good holiday! Tripadvisor fan, Derbyshire UK

11 Thank uktripfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Greenville, South Carolina
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 December 2004

My wife and I just returned from our stay at the RIU Palace Mexico from 12/13-12/20. I will discuss the hotel shortly but before I do I must discuss something that was a hot topic quite often amongst the guests.

Playa Del Carmen is a very international tourist destination, primarily european based (probably around 65%-35%, Euros to Americans) though that seems to be changing since the word has gotten out around the states how awesome this place is. Anyway, this message is aimed mainly towards my German, French and Dutch sisters out there. I know that it is culturally acceptable to go topless to the beach where you come from but just because you can does not mean that you should. I assure you that no one wants to see overweight, out of shape women bare their saggy mammaries for all the world to see. It is highly offensive and pretty gross to be quite honest. Now before someone calls me a xenophobic, prudish American I am the son of a Greek immigrant and married to a Filipino woman. We hung out with Americans, Canadians and Europeans. I love all people. The beach at the RIU Palace is very multicultural and includes very young children. For the women who feel that I am just picking on them, your men are not much better. Euro men, I ask you, why do you feel the need to wear tiny bathing suits the cover nothing and accentuate big bellies and little assets? It does not look good. Decency, tact and class should be universal values shared by all. Trust me, my wife and I heard this common complaint from Brits, Yanks, Canucks, etc. Lets make this place the best it can be.
I'm glad I got that off of my chest (pun Intended), now about the hotel. The RIU Palace is set in a gated community filled with all inclusives, condos, homes and a golf course called Playacar. It is adjacent to Playa Del Carmen. The topography and climate are very similar to South Florida. Pictures do not do this place justice, it is beautiful. The grounds are immaculate, the beach is awesome, water gorgeous and the rooms are nice. I can understand why people never leave the resort, but please see the sites and walk into Playa. The food is plentiful, too plentiful actually. It encourages gluttony. The food is good not great however. It is very rich and heavy and usually the same thing every night just packaged differently. After about four days my wife and I desperately craved Asian food. Good news, they're putting in a Japanese restaurant. Bad news it hasn't opened yet. I read complaints on previous posts about the lack of entertainment and activities for children. Hotel managemnet must read Tripadvisor because they had shows every night, most were quite good. One night their was a Michael Jackson impersonator. He was pretty good but the timing with Jacksons pedophile trial was a little questionable. Apparently the Saddam Hussein impersonator was not available that week. Their were plenty of activities always going on, salsa lessons on the beach, beach volleyball, darts, ping pong. All sorts of water soprts. I could go on and on but you get the picture. According to the people with kids (hi, Ken and Amy and daughter Rachel) there was plenty of stuff for the young ones too.
Now my few very minor complaints, the pool was cold, not needed most months usually, but December is cooler. The jacuzzi is luke warm and closes at 7pm. We were hoping to have a pina colada at night in the jacuzzi like our honeymoon in Maui, oh well. On last thing the smoking is disgusting. Thank God I live in California where you can't smoke in public buildings. One show in particular we were sitting behind a man who was chain smoking and we couldn't switch seats because the showroom was full. He could have smoke out side, oh well. In summation this place is awesome. Go and have a great time. Hi, Chris and Marla.

  • Stayed December 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4 Thank ShySpy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 21 December 2004

First of all the reviews here were extremely helpfull and accurate.

My wife and I had room 2126 which is a Jacuzzi suite facing the ocean. Its the one on the north east corner. I tipped the front desk $10. and was moved there (after a minimal complaint) from one facing the courtyard.....that was the only thing that bothered me the entire stay....especially since I specifically reserved one with ocean-view.
THIS is common and expected in Mexico at all HOTELS.

NOW the room was nothing short of spectacular. Had towel swans with flowers on the first day then since we didn't tear them appart new towel animals popped up daily (chimp., elephant, heart etc.) and the flower petals on them were also changed daily with fresh ones. I left a $2 tip daily. I also peeked at some of the standard rooms for reference and they are all very nice.

We had a gorgeous view of the pool and ocean from our 2nd floor balcony but after walking up the spiral staircase to the private Jacuzzy the view only got better, we could see Cozumel and the cruise ships. The Jacuzzi is great for two and private. The water is adequately warm...If you take a bath in the late afternoon its very hot, later at night, its still hot enough for a bath but not scolding.

The service was impecable, an army of people clean the place non-stop. And between 8-10pm a towel lady stops by your room and gives you new towels if you need them and gets your bed ready for sleeping (flips the cover and puts hershey kisses on the pillow). The first night at 10pm she knocked on our door and yelled "Toallas". I thought it was a mistake and called the front desk to complain.... Dont make that mistake :) . I usually put a don't disturb sign on the door since we never needed new towels and wanted to avoid the disturbance....But if you have kids and need the towel service its great.

The food was fantastic and above all expectations. Never even a hint of
Montezuma and we drank "iced" drinks a common no no for Mexico.
The best retaurants in my oppinion in this order:

Sir Eduards - great lamb chops and other tasty menu choices

El Patio - Good stakes.

Don Julian - Self Serve Food..excellent. Reserve the place for the entire week for dinner the first night....ask them specifically or they wont do it...You dont have to show up for those reservations and if you ever sleep in you have a place to eat dinner guaranteed...

La Bodega - 6 different meats. I was not impressed....They come by with the meat and slice it on your plate...the first two were stakes...ask for an xtra slice because the rest are turkey, chicken, pork and sausage
which were on the dry side and not very good in my oppinion...but you decide as we all have different tastes and have been spoiled in life to different degrees.

The 10pm shows were cute. They have very good dancers and put on a Grease musical, a Michael Jackson show, and a latin dance show.

We met various couples there, from Canada and California and all seemed to have a great time. A couple from Canada did loose a diamond bracelet so use the safe there wisely... we did not experience any problems but I kept valuables in the safe and locked in my suitcase. As with any hotel you have to be careful.

The pool was cool when the sun was not shinning but after a couple of tequila shots you wont care. :)

Beach was great, water was warmer than pool and on windy days it was fun body surfing the waves. The croud is very international and if you want to go topless no one cares at the beach...and you wont be the only one. We took the hotel snorkeling tour and it was ok about 29$

We also rented a car from Budget for 23$/day and they have an office in the hotel=convenience. They'll bring you the car etc. Make sure you reserve online and show them the reservation receipt otherwise you may have to call the 800 reservation number to be believed. We went to Chichen Itza with it and Tulum as well as some of the Cenotes...Dos Ojos etc. Saved lots of cash that way.

Overall one of the best hotels in Playa, you will cry when you have to leave. Have fun.
Chris and Marla.

  • Stayed December 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
19 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Apollo Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 December 2004

We traveled to the Riu Palace for our son's wedding, which was incredible! EVERYTHING was first class, from the room to the photographer for the wedding. We are frequent cruise people but this experience blew away cruises! As a caterer, I know food and their presentation, food quality and taste was INCREDIBLE! We are planning another trip back soon! We loved everything about the place!

4 Thank Frogspit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 15 December 2004

Thanks to everyone who wrote into this forum. It was very helpful in preparing for our trip. We stayed at the RIU palace from 12/3-12/10. We found a lot of what everyone said to be true. The resort is beautiful and very well maintained. The staff is very helpful and are very quick. Constantly cleaning every corner of the place, and drink service during dinner and at the entertainment area/bars is very fast. Meals were more than adequate at Don Julians. Tried Sir Edwards once, but got the lamb chops which were gamey. Would not recommend those. Don Julians was best for lunch too. Was not as excited about the El Patio/La Triviata lunch as much. I won't add a lot of detail but just summarize a few things I thought were useful tips.

1) The insulated mug was very useful for the beach because it is a decent walk to the beach bar. However, if you plan to stay by the pool, they had waiters constantly coming by to replace your drink so it was not necessary there.

2) We visited Xel-Ha during our stay. Nice place, but very expensive in my opinion if you get the all-inclusive (about $56 each). The basic plan was $29, and then you had to rent a towel, locker, and snorkel gear, and no food included I think either. We took a taxi there which was about $35 (ouch), but found out about the "collectiva" shuttle that goes back and forth on the main road from PDC to Tulum, etc. You can take a taxi to PDC for $4, pick up the collectiva in PDC and pick it up on the main road outside the entrance of XelHa on the way back. Cost was only like $2 each way. They go by every 10 minutes or so. Much better option, and we had the freedom to come back when we wanted to rather than get stuck in a tour.

3) We stayed in jacuzzi suite, which was nice in that you had an extra floor above that had lots of space and the jacuzzi. The room overall and the outside balcony are slightly bigger. But the jacuzzi (ie. large tub with jets) we only used once, and although is higher than most of the other floors in the resort, is open and you don't have very much privacy. We saw the other rooms and would stay in those which are more than adequate.

4) I would guess that there were about 60-70% europeans there or at least that many non-americans. I actually enjoyed it though. It's nice to meet people from different cultures and find out more about their countries and the way they live.

5) The resort is definitely adult-oriented overall. Majority of people were over 40 I would say, but everyone was very friendly. There were a handful of kids, but the staff really went out of their way to entertain them. There was a stage show every night which the kids participated in, and if anything they probably got more personal attention from the staff than they would have in a resort with a lot of kids staying at it.

6) The beach is absolutely the best I have seen. We have stayed in St. Thomas, Aruba, Bahamas, and Caymans, and the overall size and quality of the beach was fantastic. The water was nice, but I would say not crystal clear.

7) Entertainment - a mixture of some stage shows with dancers, "fashion" shows, and live bands playing nothing real exciting by american standards. But adequate to pass the time, and as long as you don't go in expecting Las Vegas quality entertainment, you won't be disappointed. The place does quiet down after the shows end at 11:00 pm. But if you stay on the one end where the sitting/eating area is and want to go to sleep before 11:00 pm, don't bother unless you're a heavy sleeper. Too much noise outside.

8) Went to Cancun for day. Took taxi to PDC, then bus to Cancun (very cheap and comfortable) and back. Definitely way to do it unless you are staying late past midnight. You can use the RIU Las Americas facility as well during your trip for lunch. Manager of RIU Palace gave us his card to use for dinner there too if we needed.

11 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, ON
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 December 2004

I just want to emphasize one thing to everyone on this site - and I am no Riu agent - I just speak with honesty.

I have been to Playa 9 times and stayed at the nicest hotels in the area. How this hotel is ranked number 6 by Tripadvisor boggles the mind. It is the best hotel in the area, bar none, in my opinion. You will not go wrong going to this hotel. How the Iberostar Lindo is ranked higher is even more of a stumper - no comparison.

10 Thank Canadianboy999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Mexico

Property: Hotel Riu Palace Mexico
Address: Avenida Xaman-Ha, Manzana 3, Lote 4 | Condominio Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#15 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#20 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#28 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#32 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Mexico 4*
Number of rooms: 434
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located on the Yucatan peninsula, 3 km / 1.9 Miles from Playa del Carmen * Within the Playacar resort, along with the Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Riu Yucatan, Riu Playacar and the ClubHotel Riu Tequila hotels * 2-storey building * Surrounded by 20,000 m2 / 24,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens * Located on the beach * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 200 m / 650 feet from Mexican Street * 55 km / 34 miles from Cancun Int. Airport * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Mexico Hotel
Riu Palace Mexico Playa Del Carmen
Riu Palace Playa Del Carmen
Riu Palace Mayan Riviera
Riu Playa Del Carmen
Mexico Palace Riu
Riu Mexico
Rui Palace Mexico
Hotel Riu Palace Mexico Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen

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