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“Great, but NOT Excellent!”
Review of Hotel Riu Santa Fe

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Hotel Riu Santa Fe
Ranked #41 of 70 Hotels in Cabo San Lucas
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
21 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Great, but NOT Excellent!”
Reviewed 23 June 2011

My partner and I spent June 14th- June 21st at the RIU Santa Fe. This was not our top choice resort, but my family had already booked a trip here an we decided to join them. We thought it would be fun to stay at the same resort, so we ended up at the RIU Santa Fe.

As a world traveler and frequent flier, I constantly read reviews here on tripadvisor. Before our trip, I was appalled by many of the negative comments I read. Having visited all-inclusives before, I knew the concept of "getting what you pay for" - so I try to lower my expectations. My partner and I are more of "romantic, modern, boutique" hotel people and we knew coming in that this resort did not cater to "romantic, modern, or boutique. With that said, let me give you my honest impressions. I'll try to note just things from our experience and try not to repeat a lot of what is already mentioned here.

If you are a couple and you are looking for a romantic, quiet resort- the RIU Santa Fe is NOT for you. If you are looking for a busy, large, clean, and friendly atmosphere- then you will LOVE the RIU.

On Checking-in.....
Prior to our trip, I had read a lot of people talking about free room upgrades, getting to choose their own building, etc. Let me tell you this is NOT the case. We checked in our a Tuesday, there were quite a few people checking in at the same time as us. They do not use a computer to check you in. You give them your name, and they already have a map, your towel-cards, and a key in an envelope. Your room is pre-assigned, so if you booked a garden view room- do not come in with the impression that you are going to end up in building 7 with a sweet ocean view. After you check in, they do offer to take your bags to your room (we chose to bring ours with so we could immediately get to the pool). Also, if you walk down into the lobby they do offer you fresh drinks or bar upon arrival. Check-in is quick and easy.

On the Resort.....
The resort is VERY big, but MOST all-inclusives are. A lot of people have EXAGGERATED the walking distances, etc. We stayed in building 7 and I timed the walk to the lobby. It was just shy of 5 minutes. This is the furthest walk you will have to do. However, the lay-out of the resort is conducive for all. There is an infiniti pool located in front of building 7 that faces the ocean. Here you will also find the lunch buffet, and steakhouse (ala-carte dinner). If you do not want to walk back and forth to this pool, then there is another huge pool that is directly in between buildings 3,4,5, and 6. This pool also has a swim up bar, a lunch buffet, and the mexican restaurant (ala-carte dinner.) We chose to frequent both pools depending on the day, how busy it was, etc. If you want more of a party atmosphere (visit the pool by building 7). If you want to have a low-key day (visit the pool by building 3-6). The resort is BEAUTIFUL, the rooms are standard but modest, and the lay-out is conducive for all types of people. Unless you are snobby, close-minded, or extremely picky-- then this resort will suite you just fine!

On the Food....
One thing that you MUST remember is that you are not the only person the resort is cooking for. You are not going into a tiny french restaurant with 10 tables and getting the best meal of your life. However, you will get fresh food with a good variety of choices. I enjoyed the breakfast buffet that was located close to the lobby in the Baja California Restaurant. There was always fresh juice, fresh fruits, and just about every breakfast food you could image. The lunch buffets were good, but not excellent. Again, a great selection of fresh fruits along with some of your lunch favorites. I saw people comment on the fact that they had hamburgers and hotdogs (again, this is a family resort and there ARE KIDS!) Kids, if I remember correctly, do like things like pizza, hamburger, and hotdogs. I give credit to the RIU for staying true to themselves and knowing their clientele. The dinner buffets were the best quality. There was always a meat carver who would serve delicious choices (steak, chicken, turkey, fish, etc.) Again, a great selection for everyone. We did try the ala-carte restaurants --- the Mexican, Italian, and Steakhouse.

My rankings:
1. Steakhouse
2. Italian
3. Mexican

On the Beach....
The beach is rough, and yes, you probably can't swim in it. However, if you walk down to Medano Beach (close to the marina) the waves are less choppy and many people were swimming in the water. Also, if you take the glass bottom boat to Lover's Beach (again, you can snorkel, swim, etc.) I found that I really enjoyed the pool, so it wasn't a MUST for me to swim in the ocean. I did love seeing the big waves and walking down the beach. There are some vendors trying to sell things like hats, cigars, etc. However, a simple "no thanks" was always enough to stop them. I did end up buying some beach hats from the beach and I wore it my entire trip!

On Cabo.....
I spent 8 days, 7 nights at the RIU- so I tried to get out of the resort a few times. My family did the zip lining through eko-adventures and we loved it. It was a lot of hiking, but the best excursion I've ever done in Mexico before! We also rented wave runners on the beach for 40 minutes and had a great time! I also recommend taking the glass bottom boat and snorkeling trip to the famous arches. They are beautiful! We also saw crabs, sea lions, and tons of fish on the trip! If you get tired of eating at the resort, we visited Mi Casa for dinner one night (a great restaurant in the downtown area!) We had delicious pork empanadas, carnitas, and enchaladas. We also had lunch at the marina at Alexander. It was delicious and fairly inexpensive.

On Drinks and Entertainment....
A lot of people complain about the drinks being watered down. I don't know what they drank, but I had a few dirty monkeys and doctor funks that were terrific. They will serve you well-alcohol unless you specify. However, if I asked for bacardi- they always gave it to me! We found that the bars by the stage in the main lobby area were excellent. We loved Alex, the main bartender. We would sit there every night before the nightly show and drink tanquerey and tonic and mojitos. They were top-notch. It doesn't hurt to tip the bartenders. You have to remember that these people are not making a lot of money, and if you can spare a few dollars every now and again- why not!?! Some of the nightly shows were quirky, but overall they were enjoyable. We really liked the broadway night, the Michael Jackson show, and the Grease show!

The RIU is a great place for the price. We booked through applevacations and it was worth the $900 we paid per person for 8 days, 7 nights. We were hoping that it would be a little more romantic, quiet, etc. But we learned what we want for our next-trip. All-inclusives are great for some people, and not so great for others. Just remember to have an open-mind and try not to let petty things ruin your vacation. If you are a kind, open-minded person and have any questions- please do not hesitate to contact me! ;-)

Room Tip: Each building has it's own advantages!
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  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
29 Thank travelingteacher14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 June 2011

My husband and I took our "late honeymoon" last October and stayed at the Hotel Riu Santa Fe. From the minute we arrived to the minute we left, we were nothing but happy with everything about the hotel! It was the cleanest hotel I have ever stayed in, the food was incredible and I cannot say enough about how incredibly friendly and hard working the staff was! We met a lot of people at the "party pool" and actually only left our resort twice in eight days - there was plenty to do right there on the spot. We plan on going back again very, very soon and this time taking the kids! Absolutely loved our experience at the Hotel Riu Santa Fe!!!!!!

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
1 Thank twilkerson14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
38 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 June 2011

It took us a while to decide on a hotel/resort for Cabo since we've heard of soo many out there, but we made the perfect choice! The Riu is AWESOME!! The rooms were spotless, and they refilled your beers, waters, sodas as many times as you wanted a day. The property was spotless, in the morning there were a ton of staff, dozens cleaning the floors, statues, pool, everything!!! I was amazed!
The 3 infiniti pools and all the swim up bars were just what we needed for the sunny skies.
I'D DEFINATLY GO BACK, GO TO RIU SANTA FE!!! You'll love it!!! We didn't go to the Palace next door, but we didnt feel the need to. Santa Fe had it all, including tennis, basketball, pools everywhere, bars, billiards, arcades, table tennis, you name it, they have it!

Room Tip: It really doesnt matter, rooms are clean
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  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
4 Thank nicageo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 June 2011

Nice place but you walk forever to get from the lobby and eating areas back to your accommodation is you stay near the beach. Just way too big and spread out.
Good job on the architecture
Fairly good food. Sea Bass excellent.
Service excellent
Place clean and tidy
Poor television reception and no wi-fi except for lobby which is miles from anywhere.
While I don't drink beer, the wine and alcoholic mixed drinks were very weak, watered down and poor quality
Obnoxiously loud music and emcee at pool area from 10am onwards. Makes the stay unpleasant and non-peaceful. Water aerobics so loud and disturbing for over an hour.
Volleyball never started on time and sports staff seemed disinterested
There are some good points about the resort but mostly average. Doubtful if I would return

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3 Thank sfms01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Winfield, Kansas
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 June 2011

This was our first trip to Cabo with my husband and two son's ages 18 and 11. I've been to Cancun and Cozumel before but Cabo now has my heart!!!! I read every review for 4 months and looked at every hotel website before booking and we stayed 7 nights at the Riu Santa Fe. We wanted an all-inclusive. This hotel is amazing. The best place we have ever stayed. Our room had an ocean view and we overlooked the infinity pool and beach. I had asked that our rooms be right next to each other since my boys were in a separate room. There are little hallways with two rooms at the end so our doors faced each other. I loved this. I could keep out doors open so we could go back and forth between rooms. You do get a mini bar in each room and I just asked that the staff remove the alcohol from our kids room. It was done promptly after asking. The beach is beautiful but the surf is pretty strong so you really can't swim in the ocean. You can get your feet wet and certainly take a long walk on the beach if you want to. It's a very big hotel and we stayed in building 7. Loved it. There was a restaurant near us and the beach was very close. There was A LOT of walking but we didn't mind, we could work off our dinners. The buffets were wonderful. We had breakfast at La Baja everyday. They served everything you could ever want. We didn't eat in the reservation restaurants because we didn't want to be tied down to a time but we ate at the main buffet 3 nights at La Baja but the food was wonderful. They had roasted chicken, salmon, duck and everything imaginable. Our room was kept so clean by the staff. Every where we looked, at all hours of the day, someone was cleaning. The pools were so fun and there were plently of lounge chairs for everyone. Even built in pool loungers were available. Daily activities for the kids. I was a little worried our 18 year old would get bored, but he was busy all day with beach volleyball, beach soccer and water polo and water volleyball. The pool bar was very fun. It has a younger crowd, but you want to party this is definately the place. We met amazing new friends we will never forget. We are actually meeting up wtih two of them next week in Las Vegas.
At night there are shows and the sports bar is fun. If you need food for the next day for an excursion you can get sandwiches in the sports bar at night for free to take with you. There is very good security at the Riu. If you don't have your wrist band you don't get in. We really liked this. I felt very secure letting my boys walk around the resort by themselves.
We booked the trip through Bookit.com so we had a $25pp credit in the spa and we got a couples massage. FANTASTIC. We got that on our last day.
Also, Bookit.com has a representative in the lobby each day to help with excursions. We booked a dune buggy trip through Sierra Buggie with the guys. Best excursion ever!!!!
We rented a car for the week and I am really glad we did. Downtown is about a 10minute drive or about $12pp for a taxi. We went to the swim area at Medano Beach several times. We highly recommend Mango Deck restaurant.
My only negative thing is that the beds are a little hard, but you can ask for extra pillow and I put the blanket in the closet under my sheets and it made a world of difference.
We are for sure going back next June 2012.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6 Thank Leslie0511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 June 2011

My husband and I went to the RIU because we wanted a "more affordable" all inclusive. Man talk about getting what you pay for. It was cool for the price we paid, but when it says 3 star that's truly what it means. It was crowded and noisy, and there were KIDS!

First off, the room.... I believe an ocean view is supposed to be an ocean view... not an ocean peek! We paid extra for an ocean view and that's what we demanded! It only took them three times to get it right! And then, there was always water all over the floor. I understand it is a large hotel, but still the bathroom floor as an accident waiting to happen. The bed was terrible, don't put two twin beds together and call in a king. I could fill the little divider thing jabbing me in my back.

The food... one word... CHEAP! The breakfast was pretty good, but the lunch buffet sucked! I paid too much to come and eat some hotdogs! I could eat those at home. Dinner was pretty nice. And having to wear a stupid wrist band is tacky! Trust me no one is trying to sneak in and steal that food!

Activities... there were plenty of things to do! I definitely recommend the glass bottom boat/city tour! Always negotiate for the best price on excursions! ATVs are a must as well.

All in all, it was cool. I loved Cabo but after staying at a nicer resort, the Riu just doesn't quite measure up.

Room Tip: Make sure you get a REAL ocean view.
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  • Stayed April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank AllieJjetsetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 June 2011

Overall rating this place gets a 4 star rating. There are things that put this in 3 star, 4 star, and 5 star category. The resort is very clean and well kept! The crowd is really cool for all ages-young, old, singles, couples, families. but maybe not for the real old b/c there is a lot of walking on this resort. Also felt this resort may be more on the louder entertaining side rather than quiet side. This resort had a lot of american visitors. I have been to other all inclusive resorts in mexico and felt that it was catered more to locals/hispanic nationality.

My boyfriend and 8 other friends (singles and couples) stayed at Riu Santa Fe for 5 days/4 nights.

Our initial landing at the airport is exactly what people say it to be. Everyone is haggling and coning you to get on their car ride/shuttle/time share presentation/yadda yadda yadda. If I werent with my boyfriend I'm sure it would have been harder to get past it all. Stay strong! Walk right outside and negotiate from there, inside its a bit harder to do. If you go with a group it's easier to negotiate/find a good deal. We ended up negotiating down to $15 per person for a shared shuttle to Riu Santa Fe for 4 people in a big van shuttle with others people too. This resort is not close to the airport at all, a good 35 mins for a private shuttle/car and 45 for shared.

We stayed in building 7 which is close to the infinity pool/other larger pools/and beach. Rooms are clean, spacious, plenty of drawer/closet space. There is a fridge and bar in the room. The fridge has water bottles, Dos XXs, pepsi/diet pepsi, and seven up. There are alcohol bottles (jose quervo, and no name brands vodka, gin, rum). The staff will replenish fridge upon cleaning and you can call for replen before too. The balcony was spacious but our view was crappy (hills and dirt...). The bathroom had two sinks, enough towels. The con was that the bath tub was really high, hard to get into the tub/shower had to use the handle. Cleaned bathroom/rooms daily and well! They also mad cool things with towels in our room!

Con to Building 7 is that it is a good 10-12 mins away from the main lobby and central part of resort. a lot of walking. The bed/pillows weren't top quality so if you have back problems this bed may not help your back out...

The food was better than any other all-inclusive I have stayed at. Breakfast is standard buffet style. The only con I had about breakfast was that the juices were pure syrup and that attracted bees and werent so fresh tasting... I only had breakfast at the location near infinity pool. Lunch was also standard buffet options, not to rave home about but does the job. not ammazing but not horrible. Dinner was always really good! My biggest advice is to make dinner reservations for every night during your visit. the restaurants book up real fast. and the restaurants are only available for reservation.

Well what can you expect for free drinks...watered down, too syrupy, and not cold enough. Wish they had fresh juices and less syrup based drinks. If you are there for the drinks this place may not be your cup of tea. but can always do shots, lol. The cool thing was that they has pool side bars and stools, that was pretty cool.

Love love the # of pools, infinity pools here! Lots of seats and chairs too! There was pool side entertainment every day (classes, dancing, and water games like water polo). There was a ping pong table. The beach wasnt that nice at this resort. The sand is really coarse and the waves are real harsh that you cant swim in. But other beaches in Cabo are better to go to. Dont try to walk downtown, was told by someone at the resort that its not that far so we tried but it was not a fun walk to downtown along the beach b/c the sand hurt a lot. (wear tennis shoes if you are planning to do so?)

Lots of fun pool entertainment and evening entertainment. There was a live band a couple of days, salsa dancing, and kareoke. There is a nightclub at the resort. Small and flashy lights, ehh! There is a sports bar open 24hrs with computers for internet, pool table, air hockey, fooze ball table, and arcades. But...none of the games or internet are freee! BUST! Wi Fi is available in the lobby.

OFF the Resort:
We took taxi everywhere for only $3 each way, not bad at all! Jet skiied one of the days was able to negotiate with a beach vendor for $30 for 60 mins. Took the jet skis near the arches, was really cool! Definitely negotiate for jet skis! We did an all day snorkel/beach excursion we booked at the resort. We negotiated down to $67 per person. It was definitely worth it! Went to 3 different beaches where we could snorkel, kayak, or jump of the boat. Drinks and lunch are provided :). The staff on the boat are really friendly. Also we got to see lands end and the arches! A couple of my girlfriends found a beach vendor to do massages for $20/hr and loved it :).

We at Mi Casa, GREAT FOOD! But we got gauged on the margaritas and water bottles (use don julio tequila did not expect that and the water bottles were $4 each!). But the food and vibe are awesome!

We partied downtown at Squid Roe (dont miss it a cool club for Cabo) and went to Cabo Wabo (wasnt too impressed).

Over all had a lot of fun at this resort and in Cabo! Cabo Wabo!!

Room Tip: building 7 close to beach and infinity pool
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  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7 Thank ParitaPP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Santa Fe

Property: Hotel Riu Santa Fe
Address: Camino Viejo a San Jose | Cabo San Lucas, Cabo San Lucas 23410, Mexico
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Baja California > Baja California Sur > Los Cabos > Cabo San Lucas
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#22 Top resorts Hotel in Cabo San Lucas
#27 Spa Hotel in Cabo San Lucas
#31 Family Hotel in Cabo San Lucas
#31 On the Beach Hotel in Cabo San Lucas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Riu Santa Fe 3.5*
Number of rooms: 902
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located in the southern Baja California peninsula, 4.5 Km/2.8 Miles from Cabo San Lucas * Opened winter 2007/8 * 1-story main building and 3-story and 4-story annexes * On the beachfront * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 3.5 Km/2.2 Miles from downtown Cabo San Lucas * 40 km/25 miles from the airport * 500 m/1650 ft from a bus stop ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Santa Fe Cabo San Lucas
Riu Santa Fe Los Cabos
Riu Sante Fe
Hotel Riu Santa Fe Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos, Mexico

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