RIU Palace Riviera Maya


As travel agency owners, we really appreciate a good resort when we stay there.  We just had the pleasure of staying at the RIU Palace Riviera Maya, 34 miles south of the Cancun International Airport.   RPRM, opened in 2007, is the fifth and final resort in RIU’s Playacar complex. 

We breezed through security in the new terminal in less time than any of our eight previous visits. With the completion of the bridge on Highway 307, the drive to Playa del Carmen has been shortened by at least 30 minutes.  This resort is a few minutes away from Fifth Avenue, Playa del Carmen’s “hip-strip,” as well as local shopping and it’s nearest sister property, RIU Palace Mexico. 

Upon arrival we were met by their elegant doorman/resort greeter, Hector, who is 6’ 4” inches tall and dressed in a brilliant white vested outfit.  At 6:30 PM, he announces dinner in 28 languages at the opening of the main restaurant – a mini show not to be missed.

Check-in
Having been to almost every RIU Palace resort in the Caribbean and Mexico, we have come to expect a gracious, efficient registration procedure and this was one of the best.

Accommodations
Located less than two miles from Playa del Carmen, this imposing hotel has 400 junior suites and suites.

We were ushered quickly to a spacious junior suite where we found Paul Gaugin amenities in a double sink, hydro-massage tub bathroom, hair dryer, a comfortable king bed, a small flat screen TV in a sunken sitting area which led to a spacious balcony. There was adequate drawer space and an ample-sized closet with a convenient safe. We enjoyed the evening turn-down service, efficient air conditioning, mini-bar and liquor dispenser, the electric in-room safe and 110V electrical outlets.

Dining and Drinking
All of the food, snacks, drinks and cocktails in the hotel’s six restaurants  were available free of charge. Room service and at least one bar was available 24 hours a day. There were five bars throughout the property serving domestic and premium alcoholic beverages and cocktails. Pool area waiter service made for convenient relaxation.

RIU’s always elaborate breakfast was offered at the main buffet restaurant. A smaller lunch was available at Chili’s as well as the much more elaborate one at Don Manolo.   Wearing our gold wristband from RPRM we could have also eaten breakfast, lunch and snacks at any one of the enormous selection of restaurants and bars at the five RIU hotels.

Dinner is served at the buffet and at five a la carte venues where reservations are required. It is possible to make the reservations between noon and 3 PM and can be made for up to three days in advance.

“Krystal” is their signature fine-dining restaurant and serves “fusion gourmet” cuisine in classy, subdued style. Country club casual is the dress code and the Japanese restaurant called “Yashima.”

“Agave” is their Mexican restaurant  and Chili’s doubles as a steak house in the evening. We had a tasty Brazilian “Rodizio-style” dinner at “Botafogo” but found it somewhat noisy and too casual for our taste.

There are only two seatings at the a la carte venues. If you prefer great food prepared fresh, in front of you at several serving stations, use the buffet at Don Manolo.

Entertainment / Activities
There were entertainment programs scheduled each night – one for adults and one for children, including some with live music. There were professional acts during the week augmented by talent night and game shows run by the resort’s entertainment staff.  We found these shows to be somewhat less than exciting.

Daytime sports and activities included: an air conditioned gym, a small sauna, two co-ed al fresco Jacuzzis, inside the small but full-service Renova spa building. Outside activities include: aerobics classes, tennis, beach and pool volleyball, ping pong, windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, catamarans and scuba diving lessons in the pool. 

In the Sports Bar, there were pool tables and air hockey (both coin operated) and many TV screens.  Computer terminals available with an hourly or daily cost here but wireless access was complementary in the main lobby.

Although we did not see a building dedicated to children’s activities, we did see a child’s pool and playground. Several entertainment staff members were assigned to supervise the children of various ages and there was a posted schedule of activities.

Upscale shops, a beauty salon, a photo kiosk and a medical center were also available.

 Advice:
1.   Try not to lose your towels because the $20 charge can be annoying.  

2.   Use your driver’s licenses not your passports for ID in Mexico.  When you get to your room, put the passports in the convenient safe and don’t take them out until you are ready to leave to go to the airport. 

3.   Drink the complimentary bottled water that RIU gives you in the room and at every bar.  It’s free – use lots of it and use the sink water for washing only.

4.   Although gratuities are included, tips are really appreciated.   

Conclusion
Every client that we have booked here has enjoyed the resort and its great location.  This resort is extremely easy to navigate. Having stayed at many RIU Palace Resorts, we felt at home almost immediately.

We loved the tree-lined beach with complimentary chairs and umbrellas. The swim-up bar at the pool was very convenient and the daily games around it were fun.   The beautiful lobby bar area hums with action, music and camaraderie.  The stately promenade from the main building to the sea was an incredible walkway.  The friendly staff was unbelievably well-trained and the dining experiences were first-rate.

We were aware that we were traveling in the wettest month of the year but this was a business trip that we needed to do even in the rain. We always ask our clients many questions, one of which is whether or not beach quality and sunshine are at the top of their list. If the answer is, “We just need to get away to a nice place with good food,” the Riviera Maya in October would be just fine. If the answer is “we have to have a great beach in warm weather,” we send them to a place like this outside of the Yucatan rainy season.

RIU resorts are an important part of our business and we make it our business to listen to our client’s needs and wants.