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“New All-inclusive at Playa Blanca Panama” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Riu Playa Blanca

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Hotel Riu Playa Blanca
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Rio Hato
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“New All-inclusive at Playa Blanca Panama”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2014

The rooms are fantastic!! Totally my style and a nice upscale beach vibe. I loved the super high ceilings and the ceiling fan over the bed. I slept like a baby. My room had a nice balcony overlooking the courtyard, with a great distant view of the pools and Pacific Ocean. The lobby has a cool modern vibe too it - comparable to a W Hotel in the states. This place would get 5 stars if not for the disappointment of the Italian restaurant and the angry female bartender at the sports bar. But the other restaurants were excellent. Although this is a family friendly resort, there's enough private adult areas and adult pool that it didn't bother me one bit. Very nice swim up bar in one if the pools. The kids will LOVE the cool kids pool area. Heck, I was tempted to play in that area and I'm an adult. Water sports available at the beach. An added bonus, the all night sports bar will make espresso drinks as early as you get up (I'm an early riser). There was a super sweet young lady at the front desk that checked me out. I would come back here in a second. Two huge thumbs up.

Room Tip: Ask for a high floor for fantastic views facing the pacific.
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled on business
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
7 Thank BHoeppner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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Panama City, Panama, Panama
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

My recommendation: DO NOT come from far away and go to this all-inclusive resort. You will be disappointed.

We have been to many of the resort hotels along the Pacific coast in Panama, since we live in Panama City. While they do have a nice kids pool with water slides, pretty rooms, and the food in the main restaurant was pretty good, we will not be back.

1. Waited in the check-in line for 1.5 hours! Check in is at 3pm and we arrived late at 4:30pm, so we were already losing money on the all-inclusive part arriving late. However, when we got there, there was an 80-person line to check in! Panamanians are used to waiting in lines, so the people were not up in arms, but we were very upset. We tried talking to a manager-type and he said there was nothing he could do. We reviewed our paperwork and saw that if we within the 5 days before check-in, we would have to pay the entire bill. So we waited in the line until 6pm. So inefficient! And the Riu company is taking our money while we stand in line!

2. The blankets, sheets, and pillows smelled like chemicals, and I am not one of those people with a sensitive nose.

3. There was sand in our bed when we took back the top sheets. Hmmmm.

4. The fire alarms went off 5 times during the night we were there. We had not been and were not smoking (we were asleep) and there was no smell of smoke anywhere.

5. The beach, like all the beaches there at Playa Blanca, is lousy. It has lots of rocks, and when you enter the water, after about 3 meters the floor drops down and then there is a big wave that gets generated right there. Don't think about enjoying the beach, especially not with small children.

6. The check-out line was long, too!

We will keep driving the 5+ hours from Panama City to Las Lajas and enjoy the beach and pool there.

Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
9 Thank Chicago2PTY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Rio Hato hotels

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
22 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

We are very experienced travelers - multiple reviews - mainly 5* resorts in Mexico & Caribbean with most being adults only in last few years. We went to this one due to wanting the Panama experience and the incredible price offered - what a mistake! Bear with my flight description first and the hotel to follow.

My partner and I went to Panama City on the Sunwing Flight July 25th - August 1st that had the bomb threat (return to Toronto) & the medical emergency (landing in Jamaica). 20 hours from door to door. We could have gone to Australia in less time. Now, the bomb threat & emergency landing in Jamaica aside (both of no fault of the airline), Sunwing Airlines still has a lot of complaints by us. We will doubtfully ever fly Sunwing again. Here are some quick ones: no coffee/tea service, entertainment system kept breaking, front toilet didn't have potable water for cleaning hands, the crew "abandoned" us during the "threat" (we never saw the stewards for the duration of the "threat", the quick descent that caused huge pain with the children with popping ears, the hard landing where we had to grip the seat in front of us, the disorganization at Pearson upon our return, and finally coming back to Canada, the horrible departure from the country - wow - that was unbelievable - the new airport in Hato - no food/drink/shopping and we were delayed 2 hours in the terminal and then sat for 2 more hours on the tarmac while they deplaned 90 pieces of luggage as plane was too heavy due to the shorter runway [this wasn't considered when Sunwing agreed to fly from there?!). They had to figure out how to deal with the changing winds???? This was actually said by the pilot!!! Huge anxiety by all of us that we "might" crash into the mountain at end of runway and that we didn't know if our luggage were the ones taken off. Unbelievable that I had a message yesterday from Sunwing asking for my money for the preorder of seat choices - really after that hell?!

I had emailed the hotel the week before with room requests based on Trip Advisor reviews. I was pleased to receive a reply from the hotel in the same day - but that they couldn't guarantee my requests would be granted. Upon arrival at the room - NONE of my 4 requests were granted - NONE. We were directly above the theatre which after our first night we realized had to change. I went down to complain - no empathy at all. Especially after our ordeal above you can imagine I was upset. Told me to come by next day Saturday. I did 1st thing and they told me that rooms aren't available on Saturdays and to come by Sunday. I happened to walk by lobby close to 3:00 and the lines registering to check in showed that to be a lie. I went to complain and there were 2 nice ladies who did help and promise a room on Sunday that would meet my needs. I didn't catch their names but they were nice. On Sunday we finally got our room at 7:00 p.m. and it was great.

The building/resort itself is such an example of, "Who the hell designed it?" The U shape makes everything echo up from the entertainment and the distance one has to travel if far from the 1 bank of elevators is incredible to think that this wasn't discussed when looking at the plans.

People definitely pee in the pools. There listen to that. Why - for the hundreds of tourists on the beach and pool, there is one set of bathrooms with 3 toilets for each gender at the far west of the resort next to a restaurant. The 4 big pools we watched people never leave after drinking for hours - come on. Yes the bathrooms were clean - but we knew ourselves what a pain it was to make the trek (we did). They also closed the biggest pool for 3 days to retile - how pools after 3 months of use are losing their tiles already is a mystery to me?

Finally about the pools - there are 4 of them - all jammed side by side. What's the point of that? No such thing as a "quiet" pool or "adults only" pool. The BLAST the music at one pool from morning to night so resting or sleeping is impossible. We couldn't figure out who designed this - why 4 pools - all rectangular - side by side???

Hence we spent almost all of our time at the beach. The beach is GORGEOUS! And there are tons of loungers. However, there is not enough umbrellas and the palm trees are too short to provide shade. As seasoned travelers we were always mystified to see rows of empty loungers on an incredible beach. It was frankly too hot to be there unless you got an umbrella.

The food is good but not excellent nor even close to 5*. There is no food to order at the buffet like every resort I've been to (omelettes, etc.) We did enjoy the Italian restaurant which had combined order & buffet. The Asian restaurant was good but was all buffet. The Steakhouse was horrible. The steak I wouldn't feed to a dog. The service was awful and it was outside in the night humidity with the mosquitos. The breakfast & lunch buffets are plentiful and good. However very repetitive, every day for 7 days the exact same food choices.

The 24 hour food is a joke! The Sports bar has packaged ham and cheese sandwiches and nachos and cheese. That's it. When I think of the 5* resorts I've been to and compare and I'm including Cuba here, this is sub par.

The resort opened in April but you would never know it. There are so many signs of aging already. Our room was never (both rooms) adequately cleaned. A child had dropped a juice box straw wrapper in our hall in front of the door. Yes I could have picked it up but I wanted to see if they actually swept. It remained there (right in front of the door) for the whole week. The room itself was never swept or mopped as we spilled something and the stain was there all week. There were lots of evidence that the rooms were not cleaned adequately which I won't go into here. I didn't complain as frankly after what I went through getting to the country and the new room, I didn't have the energy to do it.

I have stayed at the Riu Jalisco in Puerto Vallarta in August 2002 and the exact same thing happened. The hotels offer deals to locals for the weekend. The resorts was over run by families with multiple people in the rooms. It was so noisy the first 3 nights we were there we were almost going to try to change hotels. After Monday, the hotel emptied and it was noticeably less loud.

We both said repeatedly in the week - "We will never stay in a Riu again." We don't have children and prefer the adults only quieter resort than this low budget Disney Land.

If you are a family - maybe - but don't think 5*.

We are committed to returning only to adults only after this experience and we learned a valuable lesson about Trip Advisor. This is the 1st trip I booked where I didn't research Trip Advisor 1st. What a mistake.

Room Tip: Do not book any room near lobby or above theatre on any floor. Sound echos right up even as high as...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
6 Thank Gottogetaway01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Las Tablas, Panama
Level Contributor
60 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 August 2014

One of my worse "All Inclusive" experiences of all time. We had to stand in line for over an hour just to check in. Dinner reservations must be made between 7:00 am and 10:00 am... how could this be possible if the check in is at 3:00 pm and you have to leave before noon the next day, so you have to stay for 2 nights to get an "exclusive" dinner. Hotel hallways weren't clean at all. The maid woke us up at 12 midnight to give us toilet paper that we didn't order. This was my first and last time at this Riu. I was expecting a whole lot more since this is a Riu!!

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
3 Thank Jose G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 August 2014

Just came back. Was on sunwing flight that had bomb threat. Staff and sunwing rep at hotel very rude and lacked any empathy for the 18 hour ordeal all guests went through. Hotel and sunwing rep both said "not our fault". Problems at hotel:
1. We as family of four were given a bed with 2 single beds and had to have to people share each bed. Hotel said we don't have a thing else available. Certainly not what we paid for. After complaint several times we were given a family suite after a few days but only after many restless nights
2. Hotel is falling apart. Saw several cracks in foundation and walls were breaking apart.
3. Main pool with pool bar was closed for 4 days because tiles in pool were comming off. Other pools also breaking. After it reopened tiles were still comming off surface. One guest even cut their foot on the tiles in the pool.
4. Only 2 al la carte restaurants opened a night. Had to wake up at 7am just to book
5. Wi-fi didn't work. Staff would give out other rooms logins and passwords. Staff said that the 90 minutes per day was running time and not a total of time used. So if you logged into wi-fi for 10 minutes you had better used the full 90 there otherwise they would not allow you to use it again
6. Kids like age of 5-6 playing in the gym and with weights and on the treadmill. I advised the staff and they allowed kids to stay. Mind boggling
7. Entertainment was all in Spanish. Host of show spoke in English very rarely.
8. Entertainment staff did nothing to engage guests. No games, entertainment like at other hotels

Much more but I am tired of writing at this point. Won't even go into the Sunwing stuff as they by far are the worst airline to travel with. Daniel is rep at hotel and he did not care about anything guest issues and was very rude and defensive.

Would strongly recommend against sunwing and signature vacations.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
3 Thank Lomesh P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Barranquilla, Colombia
Level Contributor
26 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 July 2014

We had awaited with great expectation the opening of the Riu Playa Blanca near Rio Hato, Cocle Province, Panama, as we go to Panama about twice a year and have been to other Riu facilities in Mexico and the Caribbean and thoroughly enjoyed them. This facility is being sold as a 5-star resort. We finally visited this facility last week from 21 through 25 July, 2014 to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary.

First, let’s talk about the good:
The property is large and once the vegetation matures (4-6 years) it will be lovely. The design of the project is more in tune with the new European Rius, rather than the Mexican beach look. It is very lineal and stark, not much character. The location is well chosen, as it has a lovely white sand beach, the water is clean and warm and all together very nice.
The Rooms are ample and all have a pool and ocean view. We reserved a suite which was very well appointed and tended to everyday.
The pool activities are well organized and carried out. There are lots of options for water sports from the free variety to chartering fishing trips and motor craft at a cost.
Without a doubt, the very best thing of the facility is its personnel, very attentive and always with a smile in their faces looking to not only help, but please the guest. Outstanding training!!!

Second, let’s talk about the Bad:
The facility is 2 hour drive from Tocumen Airport, and Riu makes no attempt to either provide transportation and/or arrange transportation. It is left to the traveler, travel agent or tour operator. If you are on your own, you must fend for yourself, in case of interest, the ride from Tocumen will cost you between $130 and $150 each way for two people, it has to be bargained.
As an “all-inclusive” facility, far away from any alternative for food, drink and entertainment, there was plenty of food and drink at the property. However, the drinks are totally off brand and at best passable if you happen to be a Scandinavian tourist, instead of a well-heeled North or South American tourist.
As for the food, we were glad to find out that the food in the main Restaurant was actually nice for all meals, as the food in the reservation required three available restaurants Italian, Asian and Steak House was nearly inedible. Particularly the Asian restaurant, it was quite embarrassing to offer that fare to Asian people, and there were plenty in the week we were at the Riu Playa Blanca.
It would have been nice to have Panamanian items offered in the menu or buffet.
We were very let down to know that a bottle of champagne, cava or sparkling wine of any sort was not available, as it is in Rius in Mexico, as a matter of fact, we made a concerted effort to have one brought in for our anniversary celebration, but it was not possible.
Do not book this facility expecting to find any gourmet food and drink choices, it is at best acceptable.
Additionally, in today’s world and for a brand new Riu facility not to have internet in the rooms is unconceivable. We were also informed that if and when available will be at an extra daily cost.

Third, let’s talk about the Ugly:
The lack of toilet facilities around the pool area is inadmissible; people will pee in the pool, as the lone toilet is by the restaurant a good walk away. Riu Playa Blanca please wake up to this fact!!!
The nightly entertainment failed miserably, albeit with talented people that were trying their best, however, the planning and programming needs to be looked at and revised. They cannot continue to put performers in a situation to fail day after day. They must remember that there are people captive at the facility for whatever length of time they are there.
The Sports Bar also serves as the token “24 Hours dinning facility”, that needs to be changed at once or the food removed from there. The food offered is burgers and hot dogs in a refrigerator, which any self-respecting college student would refuse to eat. Additionally, there were some nondescript nachos, which also failed miserably. The facility needs to look at what they do in Mexico!!!

All of this will hopefully open up the facility’s management eyes and changes will be brought into the picture, in the meantime, do not be confused with the quality of the Riu facilities either in Mexico or the Caribbean, this facility is far, far away from being 5-star, I am confident it will get there in time, but for the time being it will have a very hard time making 3-star. Don’t give up on Riu, it is a great hotel operator.

Room Tip: We booked a suite and it was very nice. Try to either get a room in the front of the property or at...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
15 Thank David B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 July 2014 via mobile

This is a new hotel and it looks like they were in a hurry to open. In general, everything is very mediocre. The lobby is too small for a 600 room capacity resort, it has no air conditioningband you have to wait in line for hours to check in. The counter personnel is not fast enough and they waste too much time with each guest.
There is no valet parking so you have to leave everything and go find a parking spot if you're lucky enough.

The rooms.
No only it smells like construction workers and cement, but the pillows and sheets smell like they're wet. The bathroom is small and he shower is not good, it is like a hose-type-shower head which makes it bad and unconfortable. You get no shampoo.. only a static shower gel dispenser that smells like floor cleanser. They only give you two towels per room, most resort gives you four.

The Recreational Areas
They have 2 regular sized pools and 2 smaller ones for kids and babies. The pools are not big enough for the amount of people they usually have so if you're lucky enough to find a 4x4 water space to get into, enjoy! I have to admit, the kids pool is pretty awesome.. they have several slides and other in-pool activities that I haven't seen in any other resort in Panama.
Adults are not that lucky. They have a lot of unused space to make more pools.. they really should.
We asked about the pool hours and they told me the pools were open 24 hours but if there is no lifeguard you're on your own. Thats logic, but still I entered the pool with my friends at night and they turned off the pool lights (only the one pool we were in). We had to get out because we couldnt see a thing. I found that to be very rude and upsetting since we never saw anyone there to tell us to get out.. just turn off the lights. Thats rude and confusing since we were clearly told we could use the pools whenever.

The Restaurants and Food
There are 3 main restaurants. We only stayed one night so we only tried the "basic" one since the other two (Asian and Italian) are only available if you stay a minimum of two nights, which I find offensive since I should be able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want since it's supposed to be a 24-hr All-Inclusive Resort. The restaurant is very big and it has a huge buffet. I was really impressed by the insane amount of food choices! This, in my opinion was the best thing about this hotel. The food itself was very good!! But they have this non-sense rule that men can't enter the "restaurant" if they have a sleeveless shirt. The place is like a low budget cafeteria and you can usea shorts, sandals, swimwear, or whatever you're wearing but if you're a dude and you decided to wear a sleeveless top in the beach hotel.. bug mistake because they will make you walk all the way back to your very-far-room to change. This is so absurd I cant even elaborate.
Cant say anything about the service because almost everything is self service so you dont get to interact a lot with the personnel.
They have a 24-hour "snack bar" that has drinks and nachos with cheese and cold sandwiches. it wasn't bad but I was expecting some other snacks..

Shows and Entertainment
Everything in this subject is bad. The show is bad!! boring.. and there is nothing else to do! If youre not in the pool, snack bar or sitting in your room.. you're doomed. Today it was raining all day.. people were sitting looking at each other's faces because there was absolutely nothing else to do. A place like this should have other activities in "stock" when the pools and beach are unavailable because of rain. I couldn't wait to check out of boredom.

Messy, long lines and only one person at a small counter. This is frustrating as it sounds.. now imagine that while you're literally melting because there is no a/c!!!

Oh and after you check out and get your bracelet cut off, the staff treats you differently since you're no longer a guest.. it was a hot day and they insisted our 10 party group to sit outside (there were several big tables available inside with a/c) so we had to get upset to be treated accordingly.

I would not recommend this Resort. There are better options than this. Oh and if you look for pictures on the internet, please be advised that photoshop is very famous this days.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with friends
3 Thank Mary Sofy d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Playa Blanca

Property: Hotel Riu Playa Blanca
Address: Finca 43.668 | Playa Blanca - Provincia de Cocle, Rio Hato 0213, Panama
Phone Number:
Region: Panama > Cocle Province > Rio Hato
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Rio Hato
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Riu Playa Blanca 3.5*
Number of rooms: 573
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