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“Wonderful week”

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Hotel Riu Palace Mexico
Ranked #31 of 212 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Reviewed 25 January 2005

My husband and I and another couple, close friends of ours, just returned from a week at the Palace. Jan 14-21. I read the trip advisor reviews for months before our trip, so I thought I would return the favor.
Here are some of the highlights:

1. The food: If you leave this resort feeling hungry, there is something wrong with you. We ate most nights at Don Julian, the buffet style resturant. Everything, every night was wonderful. They have different themes each night, but also have some "American" food. Each morning the breakfasts were great. Whatever you could think of for breakfast, it was there. The melon and fruit were fresh and the juice was great. I tried a different one each morning. We did eat at several of the other resturants at night and found that our best meal was at El Patio. I had Tuna and my husband had a steak, both of which were excellent. You will not go hungry at the Palace.

2. Our room was very nice. We had room 2049 which overlooked the courtyard. Our friends had room 2046 which had a view of the pool and the ocean. Both were layed out the same. These rooms were on the end by the pool, so it was quite a walk each morning and evening to the dinning rooms. Also, if you are not on the ground floor, be prepared to do stairs! There is one elevator but it is on the lobby level and about a football fields length away from our room. The beds are very hard and by the end of the week we were stiff and sore. We did stop at the desk one night after dinner and asked for additional pillows. They were in our room when we returned that night. No matter what you ask for, you will receive it within minutes.

3. The resort and the grounds are kept immaculate. The staff is continuously cleaning and scrubbing. It is hard to put into words how clean everything is. The staff, from the cleaning crew to the dinning staff were always friendly and pleasant. We did tip through out the day as these people work 12 hour days for very little pay. They deserve to be tipped. We took $100.00 in ones and used most of them during the week.

4. We booked our trip through Apple Vacations. The Apple representatives, were both very nice and helpful. We took the ATV tour through the jungle and went to Xcaret. Both were a lot of fun. If you go to Xcaret, plan on a lot of walking.

5. The weather was very nice and sunny during the day, but it got chilly at night. Several nights we had to close the balcony doors and put a blanket on the bed. However, it is Winter there now, so it should be a little cooler.

6. The beach is wonderful. It is amazing how clean they keep it. The water was actually pretty warm for January. There are a lot of activities you can do at the beach. We went parasailing on our last day. It was great and I would do it again. It cost $35.00 per person for a 15 minute ride. There were a lot women who were topless, so if this makes you uncomfortable, this is not the place for you.

Some of the things that we didnt like or things that could be improved:

If you are looking for a resort "right on the beach" this is not the one for you. It is a long walk from the pool area to the actual beach. The beach area, both with and without palm trees, is wonderful, but it is a long walk to the bathrooms, dinning area or pool. We stayed at the Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun last April. If we go back, we would pick the Palace in Cancun over the Palace in Playa, for a couple of reasons: 1. you are right on the water in Cancun. 2. The entertainment at the Palace in Cancun was great. They had activities throughout the day and the shows at night were awesome. The "entertainment" at the Palace in Playa was non-existent. They did have a band play outside the dinning area from 8-10 each night as dinner was being served. The band was really good and the resort should have had them play each night for the "entertainment". However, then the "real" entertainment which was to start at 10 was horrible. There were no "shows" but instead they played stupid games with the audience. Most nights we left as soon as they started this. 3. The water in the pool was ice water. The water in the ocean was actually warmer.
If you do not get up and reserve a chair by the pool or the beach by 7:30 AM, you will not get one. I suggest that you get clean beach towls at the end of each day and put them on a chair in the morning. Also, to get a reservation at one of the resturants, other than Don Julian, you need to be in line by 7:00 AM. I am an early riser and was up each morning to do both of these for our group. So it was no big deal to me, however I heard a lot of complaints while standing in line to make reservations. This is a vacation and you shouldnt have to worry about getting up early to make your dinner reservation or getting a chair by the pool or beach.

All in all, our week was great and the time flew by. We enjoyed ourselves and had a relaxing time.

  • Stayed: January 2005
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12  Thank parr0thead1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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A TripAdvisor Member
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Reviewed 14 January 2005

We recently returned from Riu Palace Jan 11th. This was our 2nd trip to Playa del Carmen after we stayed at the Royal Hideaway a year ago for our honeymoon. I would have to say that these are probably the top resorts in Playa del Carmen. But they do differ in a few ways:

Riu Palace is better if you are going with a group of people, with such things as a swim up bar, HUGE beachfront, nightlife (outdoor bar seating with entertainment). The food is good whether you eat at the buffet or the sit-down places. HOWERVER, you have to make reservations for those the morning of, around 7:00 am! You can not beat the beach front at resort, much better than the Royal Hideaway.

The Royal Hideaway is geared towards couples! TOP NOTCH IN EVERY WAY! It is more expensive but if you have the means, it is worth it. There is no swim up bar but it is not needed as there are plenty of servers taking care of you. The beach has MAJOR eroding issues with about a 5 foot drop off with sandbags trying to maintain what they have. But there is plenty of beach at the resort; it’s just harder to get to the water. FOOD - amazing sit-down places where we had some of the best meals ever. And the rooms and grounds are top notch.

If you are looking for a little more of an entertainment atmosphere - Riu Palace. If you are looking for top notch pampering Royal Hideaway!

15  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 10 January 2005

We stayed at the Riu Palace Mexico for our honeymoon in September 2004, and found the whole experience fantastic! We'd booked the jacuzzi suite, which gave us our own tower, complete with its own jacuzzi rooftop terrace with stunning views over the sea, pool and fountains (depending on which way you looked out). The food was great - although we did find that the main "Don Julian" restaurant was better than any of the supposed a la carte restaurants (these weren't true a la carte restaurants, and the choice was very limited compared to the main restaurant). The choice in Don Julian seemed endless - you could basically decide what you wanted in advance, and go and look for it, and it would be there! The seafood and the Mexican specials, in particular, were wonderful! All the staff were very friendly and attentive - our waiter covered our dinner table in beautiful flowers on our last night. The only part of the hotel that was below par was the gym - there was no air conditioning or water, and the staff indifferent. However, this didn't in any way spoil our holiday (who wants to do gym on honeymoon anyway?) We tried out the facilities and bars in the other Riu hotels on site, but agreed that it was definitely worth the extra to stay at the Palace - which truly was a palace. We have decided already that we'll be going back for my husband's 30th birthday in 3 years' time!

  • Stayed: September 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
10  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 5 January 2005

My husband, my two children (1 and 2 1/2), my mother and I stayed at the Palace from Dec. 13 to Dec. 20, 2004. Although we enjoyed our stay (for the same reasons everybody else did), we felt that there were a few things that could have made it slightly better, which is why we are giving it a 4/5.

Appearance and cleanliness of the resort in general: Wonderful!!!! The Palace is truly beautiful, elegant and clean. The finest in that area for sure!

Beach and ocean: The beach and ocean are beautiful and clean. Very nicely maintained. Although there are a lot of chairs though, the beach is so crowded that if you get there by late morning, you're almost certain of having to wait for one... There are rows and rows of people stuck together on the beach and under the palm trees, so if you're the kind who likes to have their space, this may not be great for you.

Rooms: Beautiful and spacious. There is a musty smell when you first get in but don't worry, you'll get used to it. As far as the beds go, they are really hard, even with a mattress pad. Don't expect to have the best sleep of your life while you're down there. Do request a room on the courtyard side though. If not, you'll be looking at a fence or the wall of another hotel... If none are available, do request to be moved as soon as a courtyard room becomes available.

Service (including room service): Wonderful there again. Mexicans could really teach some people manners... Friendly, efficient and polite.

Spa and gym: Really poor... The spa is small and doesn't look like anything. You should get a massage on the beach though; it's very nice and relaxing. As for the gym, it's totally inadequate. The room in which it is located is small and hot, and they don't have enough equipment. As for the equipment they do have, it is old and rusty or not working properly (very cheap).

Restaurants: The food was good but certainly not spectacular. Even the food at Sir Edward (French cuisine) was just ordinary. We got tired of the restaurants by the beach (that's where you must have lunch if you're going to eat anything) as they seem to be serving the same things over and over. They had rules over not taking food out of the restaurant by the beach (which I wanted to take back to my husband who was sick in the room) which they bent for me after I pleaded my case. Weird...

Medical emergencies: I got a strep throat infection while I was down there and so did my husband. Within 20 minutes of calling the front desk and asking them to call a doctor, there was a doctor in our room... On top of that, we didn't even have to go to the pharmacy to get our prescriptions filled. The doctor called and had the drugs delivered to our room within 30 minutes. Fantastic!

Others: The fact that we had young children with us (1 & 2) certainly got us a lot smiles. Unfortunately it also got us a many looks of disdain from other guests... It seems that some people didn't like the fact that children could be eating in the same restaurant as them at 6:30 pm or that those children stayed at the same resort. A word of advice to those of you reading this who may dislike children: you may want to go to adults only resorts. If you don't want to, then stay home... Nothing would make me happier.

10  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 December 2004

My family and I just retuned yesterday from the RIU Palace, so I thought I'd comment as soon as possible. We were there from 12/21-28.
The hotel is truly befitting it's name...a palace in all apsects. The entry with its marble floors, awesome chandeliers and columns both stone and dark wood were inspiring. The only problem I found was the tile floors throughout the hallways and courtyards were very slippery. I guess to have beauty one may have to sacrifice some safety.
The grounds were very spaciuos and requirted a lot of walking either to the beach, or main building that housed the restaurants and bars. The good thing about this was it was so spacious the hotel seemed less populated than it actually was.
I am not one for buffet style, but the selections were large and good. The alacarte restaurants such as Sir Edward, La Bodega, and the Steakhouse (El Patio) were good, but compared to american standards the quality of the meats were less than average. We attemprted to eat at the newly opened Japanese Restuarant (12/23), but couldn't get reservations, it seats only 20. The problem with getting reservations for anything with the exception of the main resturant Don Julian's is that you need to get up and make them in-person before 7:00 AM. I thought that was ridiculous, especially considering we were on vacation.
The bars were great. The one thing I didn't like was that too many unescorted little kids were hanging out at the bars and taking up seats. This was a problem the hotel should have addressed and the parents should have corrected. The pool bar was never crowded and had activities most of the day. The beach bar too was always available for the cold drink. The best bar was the Cubano (this was the bar with the kids until 11 at night), a piano bar in the main building, this bar was the best and nicest. The bartender, Miraim was OUTSTANDING, be sure to tip her, they don't make much and really appreciate it. We tipped regularly since we do so in the States, no matter what the quality of service, and for certain the service here is heads-and-shoulders above the US. I don't think the Europeans tipped much and they comprised a good percentage of the hotel.
The one thing I think they should have is open BBQs during the day and maybe later in the evening by the pool and beach. The problem is once you eat dinner you're pretty much left without food for the remainder of the night. Although the Piano Bar brings out sandwiches at 11:30, if you're not in attendance you go to sleep hungry. This is really needed, especailly if you get an early seating and finish your dinner by 7:30 PM.
On a last note if you plan on renting a car, do it the the day before from 3 PM and return it late the next day, around 10. It was less expensive that way. We rented a Chevy Astra for a total of $110. The drive to Cancun is about 45 minutes, but be careful of the speedbumps and try not drive too late at night.

12  Thank JML501
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Ankeny, Iowa
Reviewed 28 December 2004

My son was married at the Palace on December 11. The wedding was beautiful and the hotel staff did a great job with planning and executing the wedding ceremony and reception. The professional pictures were amazing and the video was very professional and touching. My son and daughter in law chose the Riu because I have been to the RIU Tropical Bay in Jamaica twice and the RIU Taino in the Dominican and have raved about my experiences. The RIU chain is a class act. The Palace was beautiful and the service tremendous. I am planning on returning to Mexico in Feb. and am staying at the Yucatan since I am traveling with a group of people. My family is talking about returning to the Palace next year. A great thing about the palace was the limited number of children there. I wish that the RIU would have one resort that was children free. I would recommend this resort highly for a great vacation.

6  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 December 2004

My fiancée and I stayed at the RIU Palace Mexico from 12/12/04 to 12/19/04. This was our first all-inclusive experience and our first trip to Playa del Carmen. My fiancée became my fiancée on this trip, and I was counting on everything being just perfect. The resort was just as excellent as I had hoped it would be and provided the perfect setting for our vacation.

The only problem that we had was slight and quickly remedied: we were originally given a room on the south side of the resort, facing south, on the first floor overlooking the RIU Yucatan next door. The room's patio had just recently been painted and had "wet paint" tape everywhere and still smelled of fresh paint. And to make matters worse, the golf cart path that was used to shuttle guests from the RIU Tequila across the street to the beach was literally right outside the patio, meaning no privacy and lots of noise as carts full of people drove by every few minutes. We called the front desk and asked if we could change rooms, and they immediately sent a bellboy to move us and our luggage to a new room. We moved to room 1087 on the very opposite end of the resort, on the north side, facing north, overlooking a statue garden. This room was much, much better. The room also had solid walls seperating it from the adjoining patios, which offered much more privacy than the wrought-iron seperating some of the other patios that we saw. I wonder why the RIU Palace would even try to put guests in that first room considering its less-than-ready state, but I was impressed that they worked so quickly to get us into another, better room.

Besides that initial issue, the RIU Palace and its staff delivered a great experience. As for the hotel itself, it is well appointed and is constantly cleaned and maintained. I travel somewhat regularly for work and would consider the RIU Palace to be on par or slightly better than other five-star hotels I've stayed at. Marble, wood, and ornate tile work are found everywhere throughout the hotel. The fountains and statues are all beautiful and really add to the ambiance of the resort. The staff is, without exception, very friendly and quick with a smile and a hello, or hola, as the case may be. As others have said before, the grounds are immaculate and there seems to be a small army of people constantly tending to its upkeep throughout the day. Needless to say, the hotel was spotless.

Our room was spacious and well-kept as well. It appears that all rooms at the RIU Palace are more or less jr. suites, with both a bed area and a seperate sunken living area, with a couch, dresser and television. The room's mini-bar contained both a liquor dispenser with full size bottles of bourbon, vodka, rum, and tequila and a mini-fridge that was constantly supplied with Corona, sodas, and plenty of bottled water. The bed was actually two smaller beds that have been made-up seperately and pushed together. So you'll have plenty of room for sleeping, but it makes snuggling a little ackward. And yes, the beds are pretty hard. They weren't uncomfortable for me since I can sleep on just about anything, but I could see why some people would complain about them. I've also read other reviews mentioning how dark the showers are. They're dark, but with the rest of the bathroom lights on, we didn't find this to be a problem. Our room was cleaned by early afternoon every day. Housekeeping also came by most nights to turn down our beds and leave a little chocolate on our pillows. Towels were replaced during the daily cleaning and the nightly turn-down, so unless you use them excessively, you'll never want for towels.

This being our first AI experience, we can't really compare the quality of the food to any other AI's, but we thought the selection was tremendous and found the food to be appetizing the entire week that we were there. It wasn't the most spectacular food I've ever eaten, but it was certainly the best hotel food I've ever had and easily better than the food you'd find at your typical casual dining restaurant. The "main" restaurant, Don Julian, is where we ate most of our meals. For a buffet style restaurant, the selection was much better than I thought it would be. In addition to what you'd expect, there were all sorts of nice extras like a mimosa station and freshly made fruit smoothies at breakfast, a nice selection of cheeses (blue cheese, brie, camembert) at lunch, and caviar appetizers, a variety of seafood, and fruit flambe desserts for dinner, just as a few examples. We also ate dinner one night at one of the a la carte restaurants, Sir Edwards. Their menu was french gourmet, and this was my fiancée's favorite meal at the hotel. We ate breakfast and lunch at the other restaurants a few times but found that we preferred Don Julian for its better selection. I found that the dress code for dinner was not nearly as big a deal as some people might think it is. Yes, men are required to wear long pants to dinner, but that's about the extent of it. Some men wore slacks and even ties to dinner, but just as many seemed to be wearing jeans and tennis shoes. For the men, just bring a pair of long pants, jeans, dockers, slacks, whatever, and you'll be fine. I should also mention that my fiancée is a vegetarian, and she was always able to find plenty to eat. So if this is a concern for you as well, don't worry.

We didn't spend any time at the pool at all, but the beach was FANTASTIC!!! This is the reason people go to Playa del Carmen after all, isn't it? We had never been to the Mayan Riviera before, and we just couldn't get over how beautiful the beach was. It was really like we had stepped into a post card. The water was a brilliant turquoise, the sand was cool and white, and the palm trees swayed back and forth in a breeze that perfectly complemented the heat of the sun. The stretch of beach in front of the RIU Palace is perfect. There are no rocks at all on the beach or in the water. The hotel staff thouroughly combs the beach every day so you'll never see a piece of trash or seaweed anywhere. There's plenty of loungers for everyone, and we never had any problems finding a couple no matter what time we showed up at the beach, though sometimes we did have to move them to a better spot. There's a small grove of palm trees between the hotel and the water, so there's plenty of shaded lounging as well. We took advantage of the hotel's free water activites and spent a lot of time on the ocean kayaking or on a catamarran. If you walk south along the beach past the last of the resorts, you'll find a nearly deserted, beautiful stretch of beach. This is a great location if you just want to get away from the crowd or take a nice walk. It only takes about ten minutes or so at leisurely pace and is well worth it. It's very scenic, and I hear that it's also an okay snorkeling spot, though we never got a chance to verify this for ourselves. One piece of advice that we found immensely useful was to bring a couple of covered, insulated mugs to use at the beach. We brought the 22 oz. variety that you might use to drink coffee from on your commute to work. The beach bar serves their drinks in plastic cups just slightly larger than an orange juice glass. And since this bar is on the opposite side of the palm grove from the water, it's not exactly convenient to get up and get a drink if you're lounging on the beach, not to mention that the drink you get is small enough to finish before you even get back to your lounger. So instead, bring your own mug and get them to fill that up. We were a little uncomfortable about this at first since we didn't see anyone else doing it, but the bartenders didn't have a problem with at all. And after the first day, we saw others doing it as well. Plus the insulated mugs have the advantage of keep frozen drinks frozen in the sun, and their covers keep all that sand out too. We're not big drinkers, but the mugs were well worth it, even for the casual amount of drinking that we were doing.

One of the bars at the hotel hosts a nightly show. One night was a Michael Jackson impersonator, another night was a magician, one night was a song and dance show, etc. It's a good excuse to sit down and have a drink or two, but it's definitely nothing to write home about. If you're looking for some evening fun, take a cab down to 5th Avenue. It's a five minute ride, tops, and will cost you $4. This is the main tourist strip in Playa del Carmen and has all manner of restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. We went down there on several evenings and always had a good time and never felt in the least bit unsafe. It's worth checking out at least once.

A week wasn't long enough. We're already trying to figure out when we can get back to PdC. The RIU Palace was everything that we had hoped it would be, and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a little bit of luxury on the Mayan Riviera.

  • Stayed: December 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
30  Thank satori101
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

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:
#16 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#21 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#24 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#25 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#28 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#32 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: £220 - £444 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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