Blvd Kukulcan, Km 8.5, Manzana 50 | Lote 4, Zona Hotelera, Cancun 77500, Mexico
"Beware the Riu Downgrade!!"
Posted by: Maria on Feb 12, 2016
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One of Riu’s finest resorts, the Riu Palace Las Americas offers personalized service, All Inclusive features and an exceptional level of luxury and comfort.
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"Beware the Riu Downgrade!!"
Maria on Feb 12, 2016 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jul, 2015 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
88 people found this review helpful
Let me begin by saying that my poor rating is not based on the Riu Palace property - it is, in fact, quite lovely with beautiful architecture, excellent standards of cleanliness and adequate food. I would, however, like to make travellers aware of their shameful practice of downgrading reservations.
On the basis of a previous stay at this hotel some years ago, I arranged for a young couple to spend their honeymoon at the 5* Riu Palace Las Americas. Their reservation was paid for in full months prior to arrival. At check-in they were told that the only available room in the whole hotel overlooked the garbage cans. The desk clerk then offered them a room at the 4* Riu Cancun ( a much lesser facility) as the only possible solution to this dilemma. They were NOT offered a transfer to any of the other three Riu Palace Hotels in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area, nor were they offered any monetary compensation for this downgrade. Mixed in with their other check-in documents was a form which "acknowledge(d) Riu's goodwill and actions to settle for inconveniences" and indemnified Riu and the booking travel agency against any claims.
While I acknowledge that the couple really should have known better than accepting such a horrible deal, the fact that this legal form was immediately available and slipped unobtrusively in with the other check in papers would indicate that this is established and common practice. This couple was obviously targeted because of their youth and inexperience. Their honeymoon was certainly not what they had expected - and paid for.
I've contacted the tour operator as well as the Riu chain. The facts as I have outlined them are not in dispute - their responses refer only to the form which the couple signed.
Please be careful if booking with this company. You might not get what you paid for, and if they can somehow get you to sign the appropriate form you will be learning a very costly lesson. Caveat Emptor! ( Let the buyer beware!)
"I would recommend this hotel for sure."
Kelly_RuiPalace on Feb 1, 2007 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2007 | Leisure | With Group
505 people found this review helpful
I went to RIU Palace Las Americas in January 2007 with a friend (mid 20’s) and 4 family members ranging from 45-65 and every one of us had a great time. The resort is beautiful, staff is friendly, the rooms are nice, the beach is nice, and the food is amazing.. I had no complaints.
We tried all the restaurants and they were all good. I really liked the Japanese. We booked them all at one time even though we had wait in line for 30 min or so to reserve them (the bar is next to this area so we just kept ourselves occupied drinking). We also went to RIU Cancun which is located next door for a dinner buffet which was really good as well. But I would definitely stay at RIU Las Americas over RIU Cancun, hands down.
All you can drink Coronas! How can you complain about that, if you are not a beer drinker, they can make any kind of drink you want? This is not a typical all inclusive. I had everything from Caesars to Vodka Cranberry to Scotch on the Rocks to Chocolate Monkeys (I highly recommend the Chocolate Monkeys from the bar near the Japanese Restaurant)
The location is great, we went walking around the immediate area where there are tons of bars and restaurants and shopping outlets. We went to Market 21 which were told is great for shopping, except it’s a trek to get there and back and they really push you to buy stuff, (via local bus) when we got back we realized we could of picked up everything we had done across from the hotel, so I wouldn’t recommend the trek. Just stay close to the hotel for shopping.
We went on a few excursions. I would recommend the Pirate Ship if you have children it’s pretty cool. I went to Tulum and it was nice but the tour guide is sooo boring we took off and did our own thing.
Over all I would recommend this hotel for sure. I am now a RUI member and will be checking out other RUI hotels around the world.
"Truly a five star experience."
Bob_Texas on Oct 1, 2006 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Oct, 2006 | Leisure | Family and Kids
502 people found this review helpful
Traveled to Cancun over Fall Break 2006 - Oct 6-11. Used Debbie's Review site previously for vacations to other Caribbean, Mexican and Central American destinations. Had always found the information to be factual and helpful. Fully agree on previous write-ups on this hotel. Truly a five star experience. Used Best Buy Travel for $18 per person round trip to airport in airconditioned van. Very chatty driver gave us the grand tour on the way to the hotel.
Traveling with wife and three teens - 20,18 and 16, so wanted something everyone would enjoy. Hotel is in a great location right in the heart of tourist areas. Lobby is beautiful and you are going to be greated by the neatest doorman - Marcos! Very friendly and an excellent first impression. The front desk staff is constantly busy, but very professional and quickly had us moving toward our rooms - 8th floor, no balcony - but since my reservation was marked "interline traveler" and I got a great deal, I wasn't going to complain.
The pools, restaurants, public areas and rooms were IMMACULATELY clean. If you are an early riser you will see an ARMY of maids doing the lobby - really is amazing to watch them swarm!
The rooms are smallish, with two small double beds pushed close together to form a super king. They are very, VERY hard, so request the bed pad right away! We had a restless first night until we gave in. If there are more than two of you, some rooms have a pull-out couch or you can request a roll-away bed- which we did for the three teens. Gets a little crowded, but much more comfortable than sleeping in the crack! After the first night, we ran into the assistant manager (subdirector) Javier Ferrando. (He is connected to the Riu family in that he was born in the same locale and has worked with them since graduating from college. The Riu family is from Majorca, Spain.) After he asked about our rooms, I commented on the lack of balconies and he promptly moved us to two ajoining rooms on the 7th floor with a beautiful view of the beach and a balcony to enjoy playing cards on!
The whole staff was like Javier - very hands on and constantly visible around the hotel. There is a definite desire for the staff to connect with the guests IF the guests desire some form of relationship. No one is pushy or tries to invade your privacy, but is very willing to be familiar if you make the first move.
The food was very good; plentiful at the buffet and beautifully prepared and presented at the specialty restaurants. The Brazilian steakhouse was good, but the quantity disappointed my two boys - 20 and 16. "Where's the Beef?" was the refrain and they quickly learned to order more than a single entree or appetizer at subsequent restaurants. The staff was very willing to accomodate them and eventually even my 6'4" and my 6'1" boys were full and happy.
We all enjoyed the outdoor steak restaurant - the weather is cool in the evening in October and since we are from Texas - it was pleasant to dine outdoors, even in long pants.
Our family favorite was Sir Arthur - not because of the food, but because the staff did such a great job - our waiter, Oscar and the Matri'd did a suberb job making us feel comfortable and relaxed. Although the hotel will not serve your minor children drinks if they are alone at the bar, they will allow them to have something if you are with them - so we were able to enjoy wine at dinner after we asked.
The beach at the Riu Cancun next door is nicer because of the playa huts where you can get out of the sun. It really helps after a few days, trust me!
The snorkeling was good to great depending on the wave action - better in the morning if the water is calm. Lots and LOTS of fish - up to three feet and they are very comfortable with people. If you are able to take some bread from the morning buffet you will be rewarded with some great views!
The Hobi cats were a dismal failure. With shallow draft hulls and no dagger or keel boards, they tend to slide across the water and it was difficult to make any tacks into the wind. I have sailed quite a bit and gave up after two attempts on different days.
The work out room is basic - with only one elliptical, one treadmill, one stepper and a rowing machine. There was a good collection of cable machines and I was able to get a workout in every day along with pushups, situps and other body weight exercises on the gym balls.
We shopped on three days. Tried lots of Mercados, the Mexican Outlet (very expensive) and the nearby indoor mall. It was very reasonable, but there is no bargaining. If you absolutely have to get the best price, go to the Mercado area just past the Mexican Outlet- you can see the sign to the west of the hotel from the upper floors if you look out the windows in the elevator lobby.
I would suggest you take $1, $5 and some $10 bills with you. There is never change at the front desk, but as others on this site suggested, we came ready to tip. The results were amazing! We got even better service, more smiles and stronger drinks - - -if that was possible. The staff never made a big deal about it, but the smiles and welcome words showed their appreciation. I think this is a "must" in an all-inclusive and will continue this habit in the future.
My only "downs" were the lack of a library for paperback trading (I like to read on vacation), the cost to use the internet ($3 for 15 minutes) (although if you lug your computer down, you can use their wireless in the lobby and on the back porch if you sit close to the windows) and the restaurant reservation system. You stand in line before 5 PM at the restaurant you want to eat in to make a reservation for the following night. I didn't mind the system, since I like to meet people and this was the place to visit and talk, but some folks who go on excursions miss their chance to reserve. I think there should be a different system for your visit and would hope that a hotel of this quality would work something out.
Overall - this is an exceptional property with gifted management and a fine staff. You will do well to be outgoing and friendly and tip as you go - this was a great experience for my well-traveled family and we have it on our short list of "return" properties.
Hope this helps.
Elizabeth_Vienna on Aug 1, 2005 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Aug, 2005 | Leisure | Family and Kids
515 people found this review helpful
My husband and I travel often to resorts all over the world, and we've been to some extremely good ones. Riu Palace Las Americas (RPLA) is one that we''ve been to twice now, not only because it is a truly beautiful property, with extremely comfortable rooms and very good food, but because it is convenient to the U.S.(Northern Virginia) and a bargain, considering the total experience.
We took my mother this time. The resort was so comfortable and the air-conditioned lobby so spacious and inviting that we thought a 77-year old who doesn't swim could enjoy herself -- and she did. She was awed by the beauty of the property and the ocean views, really enjoyed her room facing the ocean, slept deeply and well and looked forward to all the meals. The little touches make the difference, like meeting in the lobby before dinner for a drink, finding comfortable chairs and having someone promptly bring us drinks and snacks -- always courteously, with a nod or a smile. Or one of the staff calling to make sure that one of our requests was met (we asked for an extra bedside lamp for reading). The service is really first rate, and has spoiled my husband for other resorts.
In the restaurant, they come to know where you like to sit and try to accommodate you every time. A waiter from the previous evening might make a point to bid you a "buenas noches." Management staff are always on hand to attend to every detail.
Testament to how much we loved our first experience there is the fact that we went back EVEN THOUGH on the previous year's trip I became quite sick with Montezuma's revenge (nausea, etc.). As my husband remained well, we thought it might have been the pool water, which isn't as chlorinated as I'm used to. I swam a lot in the pool and he didn't. But the trip this year was the same. Everything was wonderful until my mother (who has an iron stomach) got sick and I got sick AGAIN. There went the pool theory; my mother didn't go into the pool once.
Anyway, I've stayed now at Riu Tequila (in Playa del Carmen) twice and didn't get sick; and at Riu Palace (in Playa del Carmen) once and RPLA twice and was sick all three times. I'm frankly afraid to go back to any Riu Palace. When we stayed at Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen in May 2003, a wedding party was vacationing there and the entire party got sick. One of the wedding guests went to inform management, and he told me that they weren't exactly sympathetic. The pat response was that guests often drink too much and get sick. As I drink very little, I know that that wasn't what made me sick.
Anyway, believe it or not, I still feel the positives almost outweighed the negative of having been sick. It is notable that my husband has never been sick in any Riu resort.
"We just got back from the Riu Palace Las Americas and a very good time."
Michael_USA on Aug 1, 2005 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Aug, 2005 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
476 people found this review helpful
We just got back from the Riu Palace Las Americas and a very good time. We have been to the Riu Palace Mexico twice, and could not get in for our travel dates so we went to the RPLA instead.
Because this property is in Cancun, it is more compact and requires less walking distances to the beach and restaurants, etc. The food is very good, but not as good as the food at the Riu Palace Mexico.
The service is very good.
The rooms are very nice, clean, and comfortable. The beds are hard like every other Riu! Ask for a mattress cushion to be put on.
Two pools. One quiet. One party pool. Limited lounges around the quiet pool which we found to be a marginal hassle.
The beach is small, but the water is very calm and clear and clean. It was good for our 4-year-old.
Would I go back? Yes, but only if the Riu Palace Mexico or Maya is booked. This is Cancun and not Playa Del Carmen. To us, there is a big difference in the style of service that you get. Keep in mind we did not leave the property to go to town and stuff.
If you want to do the Cancun thing this is probably the best all-inclusive you can stay at. Check riubambu.com for voluminous info on Riu resorts.
Note to my fellow American citizens: please be courteous to the people in Cancun, or wherever you go! I saw many Americans being rather snotty to the staff at this hotel and other places in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen – it shames me to see my fellow citizens that are so fortunate to act so terrible. It’s no wonder that Americans have such a poor reputation abroad. Also, if you can’t afford to tip, then don’t travel or go to restaurants!
"It truly is a true 5.5 star."
Art_Canada on Apr 1, 2005 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2005 | Leisure | With Group
511 people found this review helpful
I stayed with 2 friends at Riu Palace Las Americas form April 7-14, 2005. Let's start off by saying - WOW. We are all in our late 20's. This is the best resort I've ever been to in my life. It truly is a true 5.5 star, and if you don't think so you need to get your head checked.
Flew Skyservice, who really cares how good or bad the flight is, as its only 3.5 - 4 hours anyways, just want to get to Cancun.
Arrived at hotel at 8:00 pm, was given a quick summary of the hotel with room key and towel card. As we entered the lobby, its a big WOW.
We got room 226, ocean view. The room is huge and gorgeous. Two queens, sofa that opens into a cot, TV, washroom, liquor dispenser, mini fridge with lots of Coronas, pop, water, etc. Again another big WOW
Now I came to Cancun to party and drink and enjoy myself, well the food stopped me from doing that, not because it was bad, but because it was so good I ate so much :) If anyone complains about the food at this resort, they should never go to any all-inclusive's anywhere in the world, because the food at this resort is truly great. >From crab legs, shrimp, pork, clams, oysters, pizza, burgers, turkey, ham, salads, fruits, deserts, pastas, breads, etc. I could go on forever, I was truly impressed with the food. I even saw caviar one night at the salad bar.
Didn't go to the pool much as I find it a waste going down south and sitting in a pool all day, but that's just my preference. We did go in a few times. The "quiet" pool is exactly that, quiet located next to the lobby its usually pretty dead. The "party" pool was exactly that a party where all activities happen and the pool bar is. There was however no bed there, as they were always taken. The beach at this resort is fairly narrow, but none the less there's plenty of room to swim, its not a huge beach, but suffice. There are no umbrellas or huts on the beach, so if you're looking for shade, don't go to the beach. Lots of sun. Ocean always had some fish swimming around, pelicans diving in for fish, great views, cant complain one bit.
The service at this resort is like its liquor - top shelf. Someone is always cleaning somewhere, serving somewhere, incredible service. I never waited more than 2-3 minutes for a drink at the bar - and that was on busy nights. Usually as soon as you sit down, someone would ask you what you want to drink, they tend to your every need. If you want to go visit a hard working man, go to the piano bar in the evenings and see Ambrondia (sp?), he's a short little guy but does the work of 4 bartenders. Tell him "what's up boss?" or "Que pasa heffy" Always smiling, always happy was the service at RPLA.
We ate lots, and enjoyed ourselves lots. WE managed to go out to Fat Tuesdays (which was alright, pretty fun), and Coco Bongos. Now when you hear Coco Bongos is a must see, they aren't joking, its really is a must see. The staff at the bar will take you to Coco Bongos, you pay $40 for all u can drink and they put you in a VIP area with your own waiter serving you all night long. Slip him a $5 or $10, and expect to never see the bottom of your cup, as its always full.
Any questions, feel free to email me at: email@example.com
"We enjoyed our second visit here as much as the first."
Lou&Pearl on Apr 1, 2005 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2005 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
503 people found this review helpful
We returned to the Riu Palace Las Americas (RPLA) in March of 2005. This review will be a supplement to the one posted in October of 2004.
The basic elements of the resort remain very good to excellent. The rooms, service, and restaurants have retained their high standards since our last visit. The first room given to us was 109. This is a room to avoid if you find the constant hum of a nearby air conditioner compressor motor distracting. The best front desk staff to approach to change rooms is Cesar. He listened patiently and gave us a better room the next night.
During our week the Sakura Japanese restaurant was the most popular. The first seating at 6:30pm was fully booked by 7:30 am. Bookings for the a la cartes start at 7am. All the dishes here remain excellent. It is 80% authentic but very tasty. Contrary to the in flight brochure by Sunquest/Skyservice there is no ‘Sake martini’ at this restaurant, just Sake served warm. The menus and food at all the other a la cartes are the same. Even the second time around we found nothing really wanting. The wine and champagne have changed unfortunately for the worse. We missed the Spanish champagne they used to serve. Service at the Sir Edwards was sub par the first night due to new staff but improved on a subsequent night. New at the steakhouse is a saxophone musician. The cooler weather at this time of the year also made dining at this outdoor restaurant more comfortable this time around. There is one extra waiter now compared to 6 months ago making service faster. At the Spanish restaurant the seafood casserole remains our favourite.
There are now three public relations (PR) managers at this resort. Sandra and Thomas have been moved here from the Riu Palace Mexico in Playacar, and Nellie has been on staff here since October 2004. Nellie deals with the North American clients. Sandra and Thomas along with two new German front desk staff cater to the Europeans. The dark haired Spanish woman who used to do Nellie’s job now manages the cooking and waiting staff to make sure the food and restaurant areas are up to spec. On Survey Night three additional staff are on hand to dispense the surveys and of course all the PR managers were out in full force with all the staff on their best behaviour. These are just some examples of how hard Riu is working to constantly improve their level of service. We also theorize that the management would probably like to have more German speaking Europeans here as they are frequent repeat clients at the Riu Palaces in Punta Cana and Playacar.
Pool, Beach and Sports Activities:
There are now more activities by the pool and the beach. Rifle shooting is held daily beside the dive shop. There are bingo and surf board balancing contests by the pool. There are now up to 4 catamarans for use. Areas of the beach have been eroded by a recent hurricane. The buoy line around the shoreline rocky area has disappeared. The hurricane has also damaged the concrete pier beside the neighbouring Riu Cancun that serves the water taxi to Isla Mujeres.
There is an excellent dive site here call the C58 wreck. The wreck was split in half by the hurricane. The two pieces rest about 15 metres apart, a testament to the strength of the hurricane. According to the dive masters here this is the best local dive but can also be one of the most difficult due to the often strong prevailing current. For personal safety reasons only divers with a minimum of 40 dives with drift dive experience will be brought here. Once here you enter with the BCD deflated for rapid drift descent to the ship wreck about 50 metres downstream, 25 metres below. If you do not descend quickly enough the current will carry you past the wreck completely. Once you are there the prize is the 12 pristine eagle rays that hold their position against the relatively strong current. Gloves are highly recommended on this dive to secure yourself against the strong current. Peering above deck with only my head exposed to the current, my neck muscles started to feel sore after only a few minutes in the current watching the sting rays. There are also large schools of fish for viewing with the occasional turtle sighted. For turtle viewing the better dives are the Tortugas and Green Wall reef dives in Playa del Carmen. The ascent and safety stop are also a bit tricky due to the strong current. For these reasons the dives are usually one on one and last about 30 minutes. Expect to use air quickly even though they give you 3500 psi air to start with. My dive master was Aristides a friendly, handsome, young Mexican from Mexico City. He has traveled all over Mexico and is well informed on the best places to visit in Mexico.
I had better luck this time finding good tennis players thanks in part to help from the front desk staff at both the RLPA and Riu Cancun. Fairly new Prince racquets were offered which were surprisingly good-~645 sq cm(100 sq inch) head, ~320 gm(11 ounces), 69cm ( 27’) length, low medium power level, plays very much like a Babolat pure drive team.
Some visitors to the Riu Cancun have complained about the cool weather and shadow cast by the hotel building. It is true that during the winter months, the daily temperatures are in the high twenties (Celsius). As well Mexico is in the northern hemisphere and so expect the sun to set earlier during the winter months just like it does in Canada and the USA. The sea water temperature will also be cooler from December to March compared to May 1 to November 30, the latter not surprisingly coincides with the hurricane season. The hotel shadow does cover both pools in the late afternoon but for sun bathers moving to the beach will solve the problem.
We enjoyed our second visit here as much as the first. It was wonderful to see many of the staff once again especially the water sports people who still remember which activity and windsurf sail and board you use. All the staff was beyond reproach-friendly, attentive and never expecting a tip but almost always deserving of one.
"Fantastic is the only word that comes close."
Sean&Kay on Feb 1, 2005 >
1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Feb, 2005 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
490 people found this review helpful
Just returned from the Riu Palace, What can I say, I have never ever and probably will never again stay in a place like this. Fantastic is the only word that comes close, I cannot describe how good this hotel is. The staff are absolutely brilliant they cannot do enough for you, I am a normal working geezer and I was made to feel like royalty, the food is out of this world, the hotel is many stars more than its 5* rating. Pools, beach, bars, entertainment all excellent if anybody finds a complaint about this hotel, stop going on holiday. We had a 10.5 hour flight from Manchester but when we got into the lobby it was well worth it, if you are thinking of booking just do it you will not regret it, it is worth every single penny. I'm going to have to work a few weekends this year to pay for next year because I have got to go again to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Oh,and have I mentioned the staff?
"It was amazing."
Joe_Vancouver on Nov 1, 2004 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Nov, 2004 | Leisure | Solo
471 people found this review helpful
I just returned from the Riu palace Las Americas and all I can say is WOW! I have stayed at a lot of 5 star resorts in my life, but nothing like this place. It was amazing. The Food was incredible, I recommend that steakhouse and the Japanese restaurant.
The service was nothing short of Phenomenal, Jose and Consuela at the “Can” bar were awesome. The staff is sooo friendly and although the beach is small, the pools are amazing. I just cant say enough good things about this resort. I will be back soon.
"RPLA is an excellent resort worthy of a second visit"
Louis&Pearl on Nov 1, 2004 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Nov, 2004 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
531 people found this review helpful
My wife and I stayed at the Riu Palace Las Americas (RPLA) in the first week of September 2004. It is next to the Riu Cancun. The RLPA is a relatively new resort that opened about 8 months ago. We went by Sunqest via Skyservice. In this review I’ll try to provide details about the beach and water sports.
The bus transfer took about 30 minutes. The RPLA was the third and final stop. Check-in was very relaxed in the main lobby bar with everyone seated, drinks in hand, no need to stand in line at the front desk. The décor is beautiful, very much like that of the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen which we stayed at in December 2002 and 2003. The room was not ready until 1:30pm. Not a problem as you can dine and get acquainted with the resort while waiting.
Our room was spacious with a beautiful ocean view as we’ve requested. Maid service was good. There was no daily towel art or sprinkling of flower petals, just simple good housekeeping. We did receive evening bed turning only on the last 3 nights of our stay. There’s a fridge with pop, water and Corona beer and a wall cabinet to dispense four different liquors. They were a tad frugal with the water, hair conditioner and soap but our request for more was met for the rest of our stay.
The resort has six restaurants. The main buffet serves all three meals. Breakfast is at the buffet only. Lunch is also served at the Italian restaurant and the beach restaurant. The buffet food was of high quality with good selection-perhaps not as extensive as the buffet at the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen but just the right amount. For dinner there is also a choice of five menu restaurants. These are by same day booking between 7 and 10 am. Booking was easy with a maximum queue time of 15 minutes.
The Rodizio serves Brazilian style cooked meats. This one is worth a visit even for those who’ve tried Brazilian restaurants at other resorts. We felt the meats were tastier compared to the ones at the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen and at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar. Service here was excellent. If you prefer your red meats with Spanish champagne or Chilean Chardonnay, just ask. They’ll be happy to oblige.
The Tio Pepe is the Spanish restaurant. Don’t be fooled by the simple décor. The food here is excellent. Noteworthy dishes are the seafood appetizer and casserole.
Sir Arthur is the gourmet restaurant-again excellent food. We felt this was slightly better than the Sir Arthur at the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen.
El Romero is the steakhouse. This is not a bad restaurant but it was a bit of a disappointment only because the other restaurants were so good. It’s not air conditioned and the service was slower as it was somewhat under staffed. The rib eye steak we sampled was a bit tough.
The Sakura is the Japanese restaurant with beautiful décor and excellent Japanese food. Sake is available. It was served warm, the traditional way. There is no Tepanyaki and all seating is by private table. We felt this one was better than the ones at the Paradisus Riviera Cancun and the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar.
Generally the service at the restaurants ranged from very good to excellent. Most nights we left an extra tip. During our last night the waiting staff turned up the charm an extra notch. I think they’ve learned to recognize which visitors are at the end of their stay. We actually met a charming young waiter who had worked at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort during our visits there in September 2002 and 2003.
Overall the menu restaurants offered superior service with food comparable to the typical ‘fine dining’ restaurant in the Toronto area.
The beach is very good, better than what the pictures suggest. Unlike the main Cancun hotel strip the water is calm with no red or yellow flag days. The sand is soft and powdery. There is a shallow protected area great for wading and playing for the kids. The water does get deep fairly quickly up to ~15 feet by the buoy line. The bottom is mostly sand making it near ideal for solitary swims on a calm day. There is a small rocky area that is roped off. By the ropes is where you’ll find a good variety of small fish. You can peel the algae off the ropes to feed them. This is not quite the feeding frenzy as at the pier at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort but nevertheless lots of fun. We also encounter some trumpet fish, baby crabs and a small sting ray. It is advised to stay out the rocky areas for reasons of safety and reef protection. The only minuses for this beach are the lack of cabanas for shade and the concrete slabs in the water that detract from the beauty.
The beach at Riu Cancun is wider and larger with many cabanas for shade. Finding a chair was usually not a problem as most guests respect the resort’s request not to save spots with towels. Here the water also gets deep fairly quickly reaching about 20 feet by the buoy line. Most of the fish are concentrated by the concrete slabs near the water sports tent.
The water sports are shared with Riu Cancun. This area is part of a Marine Park. There is a $2US conservation fee per person per stay for use of the water sports payable at the dive shop. There are four single sail catamarans for 1 hour use by reservation. Windsurfing sails range from 3.5 to 6.5 sails. Harness is not available or needed as during high winds the activities are closed. Different boards are available but the new large board with the handle at the front is the easiest to use especially with the 6.5 sail and just as fast as the smaller board. Kayaks and paddle boats are also available. Instruction for sailing and windsurfing is available at extra cost. Scuba Caribe provides diving at $53US with all gear and wetsuit. Cenote and Cozumel dives are available. Double tank and night dives are not. Cheaper double tank dives are available through Sunquest but you have to bus to another resort. Here’s a word of advice on boarding the motor boat at this beach. It’s a good idea to wear water shoes as the rocky bottom can easily cause injuries. Otherwise hold on to the rope or take the hand offered by the water sports staff and step slowly.
There are two pools. The activities pool has two bars. The quiet pool is for quiet relaxation. This is also where the kids like to play. Waiting staff will come around to serve drinks.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There is a show in the theatre every night including the popular Michael Jackson show. The theatre bar serves an excellent cappuccino.
Tours available include Chitzen Itza, Coba, Xcaret, Tulum and Xel Ha, Isla Mujeres, pirates night show with dinner, jungle tour on speed boats, snorkelling, shopping in Cancun. It is probably safest in terms of rescheduling due to weather, to book with your tour operator. Costs range from $29 US to over $100 US per person. Cheaper prices are available in the shopping plaza across from the Riu Cancun. Scuba Caribe by the beach also offers tours. If you wish to visit Isla Mujeres on your own the return fare for the water taxi is $15US just a few minutes by foot south of Riu Cancun.
Guests at the RPLA can dine at the Riu Cancun and Riu Caribe during the day and use their facilities. Riu Caribe is a short bus ride north. It makes a good day trip. It’s a good idea to pack your beach and tennis gear. At the Riu Caribe there are two excellent tennis courts with hitting walls. The beach is beautiful with clear calm warm water. There were lots of cabanas and loungers. The beach was much quieter and less crowded compared to the pool. There is a man made sand bar close to the buoy line that you can stand on. This is also where many fish gather ready to be fed judging by their tame nature. The water here is about 8-10 feet deep.
We also had lunch at the Riu Caribe. The food at the buffet was excellent.
As for currency exchange the best rate for the Canadian dollar is at the hotel. The best rate for the US dollars is at Wal-Mart. To change US dollars at Wal-Mart buy something small and pay with a $50 dollar bill. You will get change back in pesos. US dollar is widely accepted and we did not find it necessary to change large amounts. The banks provide a rate between that of the hotel and Wal-Mart. Of the three banks we visited each had a queue of 20+ people.
As for shopping in Cancun, the R2 bus will take you to Chedraui in Cancun. The bus stop is right in front of Riu Cancun by the traffic light. Chedraui is a Costco like warehouse supermarket that many locals and long term stay visitors shop at. The Chedraui in Cancun is smaller than and not as nice as the one in Playa del Carmen. One stop after Chedraui is Market 28. This is a flea market for tourists. If you look hard you will find some prices a bit cheaper than Wal-Mart in Cancun. One stop after Market 28 is Wal-Mart and Sam’s club. We were allowed into Sam’s club without membership. We found Wal-Mart to be the best place here for shopping and changing US dollars with rates better than the banks without the long queues. Wal-Mart does not take $100 US bills. If you need to break your $100 dollar bills go to the travel agent at the entrance of Wal-Mart and they’ll be happy to provide change. As examples of Wal-Mart’s cheaper prices, a 4 oz bottle of La Anita’s excellent habenero chilli sauce is 55 cents US at Wal-Mart compared to $11.95US at the Cancun airport. Corona beer is an unbelievable 40 cents US a bottle at Wal-Mart. There is also a shopping plaza across from the Riu Cancun. It is clean and modern with good selection and prices for souvenirs such as shirts and hats.
Both Wal-Mart and the public buses run 24 hours. Bus fare is 6.5 pesos. They do not take US currency. The bus drivers drive aggressively. They brake and turn hard frequently. The rear exit doors usually open before the bus has come to a complete stop. The bus drivers we encountered understand English and were helpful. To exit, just proceed to the back door. Some buses have a red buzzer at the back to push for exit. As a last resort knocking on the back door will signal the driver to stop.
Tennis does not take a high priority at this resort. One hard court is shared with Riu Cancun. It is located beside the air conditioners of the Riu Cancun. Despite the insulated wall it is noisy from the compressors and a strong heat radiates on a hot day. The courts were surprisingly quite available for booking. For maximum enjoyment bring your own racquets and balls.
So how does RPLA compare to Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen. Overall we like RPLA a bit more. It is newer with slightly better food, more restaurant choices, better beach and pools and easier access to shopping by foot and by bus. To be fair the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen does have some advantages which include a larger selection of food at the buffet, better Scuba off the Mayan Riviera (e.g. Tortugas drift dive for the turtles, the green wall drift dive at 100’) with closer proximity to Cozumel and the cenotes, better tennis courts and a better Chedraui store in Playa del Carmen.
In summary the RPLA is an excellent resort worthy of a second visit. In fact on our trip we met a couple who had already returned for a repeat two week stay.
Official pictures may be viewed at www.riu.com.
I hope this review has been helpful and wish you all a happy vacation.