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“Good, but not a great value”

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Hotel Riu Palace Mexico
Ranked #28 of 214 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Good, but not a great value”
Reviewed 19 February 2005

This is the first time I've ever written a review, but I love this website and found many of the reviews helpful. This was the first trip my husband and I have taken in 3 years (since our children were born). The weather was wonderful and we enjoyed reconnecting and relaxing.

Here's the quick of it:

1. Beautiful grounds, very clean common areas and beach well maintained.
2. Room was spacious and we had a great balcony room looking over the courtyard fountains. But we had to give $$ to the front desk person to get that room. The first room they tried to give us faced the cart path and a wall. I know things are done like this in Mexico, but honestly those rooms that face the cart path are aweful!
3. Friendly staff. However, asking for things like a bottle of wine to be brought up to our room was difficult. They acted like they had never heard of such a thing. It's all-inclusive, that means snacks and beverages should be able to be consumed outside of the eating areas.
4. The reservation policy is weird. Who wants to wake up and make reservations at the a la cart restaurants at 7:30am.
5. The food was not great. This was my first time doing all-inclusive and I don't think I'll do it again. The food was plentiful and looked amazing, but most of it tasted bland. It was almost like eating a picture. It looked good, but with no flavor. The coffee was awful as well. It was the concentrate stuff, not the real thing. The guac and chips were good. So were many of the breakfast items.
6. The alcohal was totally watered down. We went to Playa most nights to have some good drinks. The only thing that was good was the house wine (difficult to mess that up).
7. La Bodega was worth the reservation. There was too much meat for my taste, but it was all good. But you could tell that most of the food was the same from location to location.
8. I liked that the hotel was mostly Europeans and Canadians. It is fun to meet people from around the world. That was part of the reason we didn't go to Cancun. We wanted to feel like we were traveling somewhere, not just an extension of the USA.

Also my husband and I are in our low 30's and we felt pretty young at this resort. That was great because we needed a quite place to relax away from toddlers. But if you are looking for excitement, this is not your hotel. Most people staying there were 50+. Again Playa is a good bet for some evening activities.

Overall for the $$ I was a little under impressed. I've stayed at a lot of resorts in the US for that kind of money and were much nicer. I know Mexico is a little different, but I think in the future I would stay somewhere else either going all out for the Royal Hideaway or just someplace 3 or 4 star. There wouldn't be that much difference.

  • Stayed February 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
16 Thank CEOJAX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
19 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 175 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 February 2005

I just returned from 10 days at the Riu Palace and went on tripadvisor to write this review and was surprised to read some bad reviews. Well, I do not know where they stayed , But the Riu Palce that I stayed at was COMPLETELY AWESOME. I think some people are either spoiled millionaires on vacation or just extremely picky and petty. I looked at alot of reviews on this and other resorts and will give a brief review, if you have more questions feel free to E-mail me.

The whole resort is beautiful and clean,the staff is always working to keep it perfect. The beach was unbelievable, big and clean with areas of full sun and shade, finding a chair was never a problem even after 900 or 930am. There is also a dive shop right on the property where you can book snorkle trips and parasailing. We did both and were pleased with them and the price was reasonable. The Staff has to be some of the best in Mexico, always friendly and helpful. They seem to anticipate everything and do not wait for you to ask, they just bring what you need, if your glass is empty for more than a minute at a time it's an accident. The food was excellent and the buffet at Don Julien was the best way to go, plenty of variety and the food was always fresh and hot. They had different theme nights, as well as some standard regular items. Salad bar was hugh as well as the Dessert bar. Breakfast and lunch were both well done as well. The rooms were big, clean and beautiful. They did not smell musty at all and the AC worked just fine. The room was not cold , it was cool. Some people forget that they went to a tropical climate and that is how it smells its not musty, its tropical, you are in mexico. The room bar is as advertised, self serve beer, booze and soda and it is refilled every day. I did not find the mattresses to be rock hard, but they were firm and they were comfortable. The Housekeeping staff was excellent, as was the front desk. They answered all my question about the area and hotel and were very professional.
This is a quiet resort without a lot of activities and no children programs, they have nice music in the evening and some shows that were nice, if you are looking for a loud, busy, active vacation this is not your place or you can leave the Palace and go find the night life but, if you want a beautiful, High class resort with an amazing beach and wonderful food that caters to your every need, then this is the place you want. A couple of other things ,The drinks were strong and top shelf was there, just ask. They do use plastic cups around the pool, thats because glass and bare feet and pools do not go together very well, Duh. If that hurts the Quality of the resort I think you just don't get it. Bring Insulated mugs for the beach, get the biggest you can find and they will fill it up. Its not that far of a walk to the beach bar, but no sense making extra trips if you don't have to. Do not listen to the negative, picky people. Some people are never Happy. This place is AWESOME and the price was excellent for a hotel of this Quality. We will, without a doubt be back.
P.S. Make sure you get to 5th Ave at least once, its a great time and we never felt unsafe. Go early in the week because you'll want to go again. Last thing, don't forget to tip the staff at the resort, the work very hard and I'm sure don't make much. The tips are not required but they really earn them, so don't be cheap. That dollar or two means alot to the them.

67 Thank daley7264
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 15 February 2005

My husband and I (both in our late 20's) stayed at the RIU Palace Mexico from Jan 28 - Feb 4, 2005. It was our second time at the Palace (our first was for our honeymoon in Oct 2003).
We absolutely loved it!!! We didn't think we could have an even better time than our honeymoon - but we did! And we owe it all to the fantastic resort. We are definitely going to go back again in 2006.

Here is my review by category:

Front Desk:
When we got to the Palace, our room wasn't a courtyard facing room. So we simply went back to reception and requested one (we asked for the same courtyard room we stayed in the first time) and they offered the room for the Monday (we arrived on the Friday). So they were very accomodating. So we didn't have any problems at front desk. But if you were to have any issues - there are two hotel managers - one female and one male - you'll know who they are when you see them. They are very friendly and you can just approach them and tell them your concerns, and they will fix it.
One NEGATIVE point - I have read other trip advisor reviews where they were told that for a courtyard room they would have to pay an additional amount per night. This is NOT hotel policy, as we did not have to pay to change our room. Besides, courtyard rooms do not cost more - you simply get them by chance. So if you are asked to pay an additional amount - go straight to the hotel manager.

BEAUTIFUL. Once you go there, you will never forget the grounds. They are simply breathtaking. It is so peaceful and clean. Feels like you are in heaven.

Very very nice and friendly. We usually tipped $1 to the cleaning staff and after every meal. Note: They don't expect a tip at all. We just wanted to do it.

EXCELLENT. My husband and I gained 4 pounds each! The food is delicious! My husband and I go to many restaurants at home, so we know good quality food. And the food at the RIU was even better!!! Even the food at the buffet (Don Julian) tasted like and had the same quality as an a la carte restaurant back home.
And it is not a big deal to line up at 7am. Why would you want to waste time sleeping in your room anyway? Sleep on the beach if you have to!!!

Don Julian - Excellent buffet. There are two theme nights per week, so we ate dinner there for Oriental night (great chinese food and even sushi!) and Chef's night (great selection). We also ate there for lunch on two ocassions. We ate breakfast there every morning. It was the best breakfast I have ever had. So yummy! And the shakes/smoothies are to die for.

La Traviata and El Patio - These are located by the beach and are very good for lunch. The italian food and burgers really flavourful!

Sir Edward - A fine dining a la carte dinner restaurant. The beef is very good there, as is the appetizer soup and dessert. The restaurant has a great upper class felll to it.

Miyagi - My favorite restaurant! The japanese food at this restaurant was excellent! The sushi is the best I have ever eaten. The salmon and chicken is soooo good, and the tempura ice cream (fried ice cream) was to die for.

La Bodega and The Steakhouse - We went there the first time we visited the Palace. They were both good.

The beach:
The beach was good. The beach is crowded if you go during the busy season (Dec - March). But the beach is also very big, so there is always an open area for you to lounge in if you want. The ocean is a beautiful colour. My husband and I are total beach bodies, so we loved the beach at the RIU. The hurrincanes had shortened the beach a bit, but because there is so much beach there to start with, it didn't affect anything. Just make sure to go there early - by 10am to get a chair.

The nightly shows at the RIU are very entertaining. They run from 10pm to 10:45. They are a lot of fun. We saw a show every night!
Once the show is done, ppl usually check in for the night.
My husband and I went to the club at RIU Tequilla one night, it was a lot of fun. RIU is full of middle aged visitors to senior citizens, but we didn't mind, because the place is so amazing, we barely noticed. Besides, you can always walk over to one of the other RIU's if you are dying to make friends with young people.

I would give this place a 6 out of 5 if Tripadvisor gave me the option! A beautiful place, excellent food, friendly staff, an awesome beach - A great travelling experience. I am counting the days until we go back!!!

42 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 February 2005

My wife and I stayed at the RIU Palace 2/5 - 2/12. I wanted to give a review right away while it is all still fresh in my memory. Having been to resorts all over the world including Japan, Brazil and several in EU I think I have a fairly good idea of what makes a resort sucessful. To begin---

Positives - Elegant, well maintained, cool and comfortable.

Negatives - Musty from all the smoke in the bar. Very dark. I would have preffered an "open air" atmosphere to give a more exotic touch (like the RIU Tequila has)...however I am sure it's a bonus to have an A/C lobby in the summertime.

Positives - Very spacious. Clean. Has additional door to keep out hallway noise. Ceiling fan and A/C. Great water pressure in shower. Mini bar stocked with Corona, Pepsi, Pepsi-light, water, tonic, etc. Also has a liquor dispensor that holds four bottles of various booze including Bacardi and Jose Cuervo.

Negatives - Small balcony (where we were, although some rooms have quite large balconies), Two beds pushed together instead of one Queen or King. Hard bed (which I prefer but most people seem to dislike so I consider it a negative)

Postivies - Quick drink service

Negatives - Atmosphere is weak. Your basically sitting in the lobby of a hotel, not a bar. It is outfitted with outdated wicker furniture. Definately some room for improvement here.

SERVICE - Only positives here (EXCEPT THE EMPLOYEES IN THE GIFT SHOP WHICH I WILL MENTION BELOW). The employees who work at the Palace are top notch. I have never run across such polite hard working individuals in my life. Because of this wonderful service I tipped a lot. They don't earn a great living but they work for every dime of it.

Overall I would say the food was slightly above average. The breakfast and lunches basically offered the same thing everyday which became tiresome. The dinner buffett was OK at best. We only at there twice during the week. I heard other people rave about it but I just didn't see it. As for the Ala Cartes-

Miyagi (new Japanese restaurant) - waste of space. This was the worst of the three we ate at. We are reqular sushi eaters and would have expected decent, not great sushi here. The sushi we were served at this place was brown, not kidding. It was terrible. Do not waste your time with this place.

La Bodega - OK, not phenomenal by any means. Problem is I have been to steak places in Rio so my expectations were somewhat high. I had a hard time enjoying this but my wife commented on how she thought it was good.

Sir Edward - Very good I thought. The steak was tender and prepared well. My wife had the shrimp and red snapper which was quite tasty too. Highly recommended in my opinion.

The rest of the nights we ate in Playa to break up the AI monotony.

For the external part of the resort.............

Perfect in every respect. Clean as can be and perfectly groomed. Very picturesque.

Positives - Clean, bar service, quiet (depending which side you are on) Comfortable loungers, lots of foliage.

Negatives - All seats were taken by 7:00 AM...Get out there with your towels early if you can. Water is freezing! Not enjoyable even on the hottest days we were there. Swim up bar in the shade, don't bother, too cold.

Positives - Clean. Spacious. Loungers available almost all day. Hammocks. Beach bar.

Negatives - Beach very crowded. Shoreline has significantly eroded. The volleyball court and a lot of the sunny areas of the beach has almost being washed away. People are packed in like sardines and it is a bit noisy for my liking.

(As a side note...if you are considering staying at the Royal Hideaway... there is NO BEACH, NOTHING AT ALL. IT HAS COMPLETELY ERODED AWAY)

There is one last touchy subject I feel the need to address to all you "Ugly American's" out there. Being an American I was completely ashamed on how fellow Americans acted during the entire trip. At one point, late in the afternoon one day there was a group of Midwesteners carrying on like true idiots. They were hooting and screaming and actiing like complete jerks. Everyone at the pool stopped and stared at this group of about 7-8 that was disrupting the entire place. I have never seen such obnoxious people in my life. Ever heard of having class? Being the resort has a large EU population there were some choice words being said about us. It is true, we are the loudest of them all. In the bars, restaurants, at the pool, beach wherever. You could always here us Americans yelling at one another. Why is it we feel the need to scream at eachother in a group setting? Oh well, please have respect for the countless other guests who go there to relax and have a quiet time. If you want to scream Senior Frogs is a $4 cab ride from the Palace.

In summary the Palace is a wonderful place and has many great attributes to it. Seems a lot of the little problems the resort has can be easily fixed but putting a little money into them..(like hot water in the jacuzzi and a respectable weightroom) I wouldn't say the Palace is a five-star....more like a solid 4. I hope this helps...I would be happy to answer any questions via e-mail.

  • Stayed February 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
31 Thank Warzy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brenham, Texas
Level Contributor
29 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 78 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 February 2005

We went to my nephew's wedding at the Riu Palace in June (I'm a little late in posting this. Sorry.)
I really only have two complaints about the place. One is the cost. If we weren't going for the wedding, we wouldn't have stayed there. I'm a little spoiled because my first two times to the Yucatan Penninula were free. Once was a thank you trip from the radio station the company I work for advertises on, the other I won. After that, we fell in love with Cancun and have returned a few times, but never paying more than $600.00/each including food and drinks, and we've stayed at nice places. This trip was $1000.00 each. At least I saved some money on shopping, since Playa del Carmen has fewer stores than Cancun (grin).
My other complaint is several in our party, including my wife and I got stomach cramping and a touch of you-know-who's revenge. Not fun. She got is first. I got it later in the trip. Since we had all of our meals and drinks there, you know we got it from them.
Otherwise, do not listen to any other complaints. The grounds are gorgeous, well maintained (immaculate), food was good, the buffets weren't perfect, but it's still the best buffet I've had.
Beach is perfect, a few topless European ladies, no complaints from me.
Staff was accomodating. Again, for $1000.00 I would expect no buffets, but oh, well, the all-you-can-drink booze in the room makes up for it.

  • Stayed June 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8 Thank tros2112
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 11 February 2005

My husband and I booked an all-inclusive vacation at the Riu Palace which was also a belated honeymoon. The hotel was rated as a 5 and 1/2 star in the travel brochures so we were expecting something special.

When we arrived at the hotel we were impressed by the lobby and reception. However, we checked into our room and were immediately dissapointed. The problems were:
1. the a/c wasnt working
2. the fan squeaked all night
3. the room smelt like damp mold
4. the beds were hard as a rock
5. further there were 2 double beds pushed together to try to make a king (not quite the same)
6. the pillows were lumpy
7. the bathroom was dingy
8.the bathtub was about 2 feet wide so you could barely wedge yourself into it
9. the room on a whole was dark and dank
We complained after our first night but all they did was fix the A/C. We have stayed at other resorts in the cancun/playacar area, and the Riu did not meet our expectations of what a 5 Star should be.

The food was fine, the service was excellent. Howver, you had to get up early to book for the the non-buffet restaurants which was a pain.
The beach is beautfiul, however there is no waiter service on the beach, you have to walk up to the bar everytime you want a drink.
The pool was nothing special.

When we got home and unpacked, everything had to be washed as it smelt moldy.

I would not recommend Riu Palace if you are looking for something special.

24 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
schuyler nebraska
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 February 2005

my wife and i celebrated our 25th anniversary at the riu palace. The hotel was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, the staff works their butts off. It was very enjoyable. we met people from the states and europe and all were very friendly. Would recommend the palace to middle age and older couples, 40's and up. not alot of nightlife for 20 year olds. that was ok with us. just had a great time.

13 Thank Tim H
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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