This is a long review, so here’s a summary: I’m going to tell you about tipping, about the very many positives, the few negatives, and finally the future: the hotel is closing down Spring 2014 for 4 or so months, for a complete overhaul. What are the plans?
So, to start off: TIPPING. You do remember to tip, don’t you? If you were on a cruise ship, or if you were going out every day to a restaurant, you would tip. So you should do the same in a hotel. I make the point because I hear that many English guests don’t.
Of course, it’s voluntary. No obligation or expectation at all. But if you have had good service (and many TripAdvisor posters rave about the staff), then just as in a restaurant: you should tip.
In a good hotel like this, €10 per room per week for the chambermaid at the end of your stay. In the restaurant, €20-25 per week per person. So two of you for two weeks = €100. Seems a lot, but when you break it down to 28 evening meals and 28 breakfasts . . . In both cases, the money will go into the “Botes” – the general share-outs for the restaurant or housekeeping staff. If you have had extra service from Reception, then €20 there too.
Now for the very many POSITIVES of the Hotel Riu Palace Meloneras.
First and foremost, its POSITION. With your room key you get a card that opens the door to the seafront promenade – or rather, it opens it back in again. Here you have two kilometres of car-free (but not bike-free nor Segway-free: watch out!) strolling, with on one side the sea and the other hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. It’s quite interesting to walk past the other hotels and decide that their garden is nowhere near as good as the Riu Palace. :-)
There are high-end shop windows to peer into (€890 for a handbag anyone?) and some very useful mini-supermarkets just 50 yards away, where you can buy beer and water, or packets of crisps and nuts for a pre-dinner drink on your room terrace, as well as newspapers, toiletries, bikinis, suncream and a whole lot more. In the actual shopping centre – the Varadero – just 2 minutes away, you can buy all your take-home souvenirs as well as great jewellery.
But be warned: this is a tourist area, with tourist prices. A Peruvian knitted jacket for a two-year-old was €25 here; I actually bought it in the Las Arenas Shopping Centre near the Canteras Beach in Las Palmas for €15.
You can walk (8 minutes) to the sandy beach just past the Faro (lighthouse), or 5 minutes to the bus station with buses all over the island for a day trip (Las Palmas, Puerto de Mogán, etc) – or just take the bus €1.40 every 20 minutes to San Agustin, and walk for 1h 40m back along the sea promenade past Playa del Inglés to the other Riu Palace – the Riu Palace Maspalomas. Pop in and use their loos before taking a €6 taxi back to the hotel.
So a beautifully well-sited hotel.
The next big plus is the GARDENS. Without a doubt, they are the best of any hotel in the Maspalomas and Meloneras area, many of which are just paved. The grass and the different trees – 4 varieties of palm, the odd papaya, banana and others I couldn’t identify – just give a lovely atmosphere to the whole place. We had one of the suites in the little villas, an upstairs one. Our terrace was at palm tree level. Watching the fronds dip and dance in the breeze was a wonderful experience as we sat there reading in the winter sunshine.
Another positive was the ROOM. We had a small sitting room with a sofa and armchair and large coffee table, all good solid furniture and quality soft furnishings. The bedroom had two very large single beds pushed together. Two double wardrobes, two large chests of drawers as well as bedside chests, and enough sockets for all the electronic gear. The bathroom was spacious, with a separate lavatory/bidet with an opening window. Not often you see an opening window in a hotel bathroom. It was good-quality sanitary ware and taps, and good-sized towels.
Frankly, a lot of it was better than my tatty old furniture and fittings in some of the rooms at home; I considered asking to have it delivered when they throw it all out next Spring.
The FOOD too was good, everywhere: in the buffet (breakfast and dinner), the pool bar and the garden restaurant El Faro, as well as in the Krystal waiter-service restaurant.
We were slightly disappointed that the menus were repeated for our second week; our past experience at Riu Palace hotels had been a two-week rotation of menus, so it wasn’t repeated over a fortnight’s stay. It was explained that this had been changed to a one-week menu in all the hotels last year. But I suppose that as long as there is loads of choice every day, and the choice is good . . . and the food certainly was good.
A highlight of breakfast for many people was the selection of half-a-dozen freshly-pressed fruit juices. The kitchen assistant in charge told me that she made between 90 and 100 2-litre jugs every day.
One of the highlights for me, as always, was seeing what other people chose to eat. You are really going to have tinned sardines and caviar-type red and black fish roes, with papaya slices? For Breakfast? :-) Not that I could talk – one evening for my dessert I decided to start again instead, and had Jamón de Pata Negra :-))
As always in Riu, the other positive was the STAFF. Gardeners, pool staff, kitchen staff, housekeeping staff, bars, restaurants, reception, the Senegalese Hall Porter – all were delightful. Helpful, polite and welcoming all the time. I asked people how long they had been there; many said over 10 years, some almost since the hotel opened 18 years ago. Staff retention is a good sign. Well done Riu!
All these positives, but I haven’t awarded five stars . . . Well, there are some less good points, or at least I considered them so.
Firstly, the WiFi. Only in the main reception area, and it was one of those where you had to sign in every time, and then get a page of advertising for Riu. I am already in a Riu hotel, I don’t need to be advertised to! Why can’t it be an open wifi? If I go into most stores in the UK, I get that. Having to sign in is really tricky on some devices – there were always guests trying to puzzle out where the sign-in page was on their tablet or phone. :-(
My second moan is the reserving of sun-loungers. There are signs saying that they cannot be reserved, but every day they were. Why doesn’t the management enforce this? When the pool towels are handed out, they should hand out a multi-lingual notice reminding people no reserving. Then every day at, say, 9.00 am, they go round collecting up the towels left to reserve. I’m afraid that blatant disregard of this just annoyed me. :-((
My final slight negative was the Maîtres in the restaurant. A minor point, but . . . in the Riu Tres Islas, they clearly saw their role as above all P.R. Public Relations. So every evening when you went in, there was one dealing with table bookings or other admin with the waiters, and the other by the door greeting you. Here they were both at the door, but both dealing with issues, and if we greeted them as we entered, there was a moment’s pause and surprise before they returned the greeting – with a smile of course.
Similarly, in the Tres Islas one Maître every evening came round and spoke to every table – just “Hullo, enjoying your meal?”, or “Where have you been today?” But the Maîtres in Meloneras were always walking quickly around the restaurant, eyes straight ahead or down on a list, not even smiling and nodding to the tables as they passed. They clearly had a different idea of their role, perhaps they were busier, but I felt the difference from the Tres Islas, and I missed their pro-active approach.
Now for the FUTURE. We had slightly different versions from different people, but this is what is probably/possibly going to happen.
The Main Building: the rooms and/or bathrooms are going to be enlarged by taking in part of the very large balconies. The bathroom “shower over the bath” is going to be changed to a walk-in shower – last year, apparently, they had several cases of guests slipping climbing in and out, so that’s going to be changed. The restaurant terrace is going to be enlarged.
The Garden area. The Villa Suites are going to be enlarged by expanding outwards where there is a sort of alcove in the building, same changes made as to the main building bathrooms.
The El Faro restaurant (the one for lunch) is going to be knocked down, and some more villas built there. The two villas nearest the seafront promenade are going to be knocked down, and a new lunch-time restaurant built there, with an access from the promenade so that external diners can come in.
An additional two swimming pools are going to be built, and the tennis courts removed.
The existing grass – which is something we call “Grama” in Spanish, a sort of tough grass that is drought-resistant , grows sideways so that it covers bare patches, and can stand up to heavy wear – is going to be replaced by a more European-style grass, according to the gardeners, who are horrified by the prospect of the amount of water that will be used to maintain it. Some of the lovely mature trees will be lost, but they have been told that more new trees will be planted than are cut down.
As I said – this may not be 100% accurate, but it gives you a flavour of what they hope to achieve in four months. Just replacing 450 bathrooms seems a big enough task to me, yet alone all the enlarging and re-building involved.
We look forward to going back, as it is a great hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in Maspalomas. Next to the sea and near El Faro. 3-Storey main building and 1-storey villas, surrounded by a 40,000 m2 garden with access to the beachfront promenade. Colonial-style architecture. 800 M from Maspalomas sand dune beach. 6 Km from the centre of Playa del Ingles. 200 M from various shops. 37 Km from the airport. 50 M from a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Diners. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Meloneras Hotel Maspalomas
- Hotel Riu Palace Meloneras Resort Maspalomas, Gran Canaria