Playacar, a gated community just south of Playa del Carmen, is home to many all-inclusive resorts including no less than six in the Riu chain, and the Riu Palace Riviera Maya is one of their finest. The resort is a stunning display of Mediterranean architecture and Rococo charm with its immense columns, fresco dome, stained glass ceiling panel, large paintings, gold filigree work, and formal garden area running the length of the property to the pool area and beach.
Although there is only one pool, it has many built-in amenities including a swim-up bar, two non-heated Jacuzzis, several in-pool areas with seating and drink tables, in-pool loungers, and a raised infinity pool at the back of the main pool which has a partial ocean view.
Beach lovers will enjoy this stretch of soft white sand with its mature coconut grove, hammocks, and brilliant turquoise waters perfect for boogie boarding, kayaking, or renting a Jet Ski for an exhilarating ride. There are loungers both poolside and on the beach; umbrellas are only offered by the pool since the grove offers extensive shade. One of its sister resorts, the Riu Lupita, shares beach space with Riu Palace Riviera Maya–there is a separate area that borders the south end of the property which offers a separate pool, hammocks, and green loungers on the beach only for Lupita guests. Riu Palace Riviera Maya guests have the blue loungers to use.
Guest rooms are in need of renovation–the A/C is weak in some rooms, while beds and sofas needs to be replaced in order to get rid of the musty smell which can be quite prevalent. Since this is a Riu Palace property, there is a standard in-room liquor dispenser, mini-bar, sunken sitting room area in the Jr. Suites, and complimentary WiFi.
Rumor has it that this property is slated for a renovation after Riu Playacar’s renovation is complete, and Riu Playacar is slated for a full renovation in 2015. NOTE: More Riu Palace Riviera Maya details and pictures are available from my 2014 visit/review which can be found by clicking this link.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Stay at one, play at six (visit the Riu Palace Mexico, Riu Yucatan, Riu Tequila, Riu Playacar, and Riu Lupita), beautiful beach, complimentary WiFi.
Con: Rooms need renovation (weak A/C, musty room smell), limited ocean views from guest rooms.
Best Suited For: Middle age and older couples. This is not a spring break-type atmosphere; those who get too drunk, too loud, dance in the pool, etc. are stared at by the slightly older crowd this resort seems to attract.
No. of Rooms: 400 suites
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, ceiling fan, mini-bar, liquor dispensers, in-room safe, flat screen TV, telephone, sunken sitting room area, sofa, coffee table, coffee maker, radio alarm clock, hair dryer, jetted tub/shower combo, 24-hr. room service, and complimentary WiFi. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds. Most Jr. Suites have views of neighboring resorts on both the north and south sides of the property.
- Superior Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds. Courtyard view; some rooms on the third floor have partial ocean views.
- Suite: King bed, dressing room area and bidet.
- Suite with Jacuzzi: King bed, in-room Jacuzzi tub, dressing room area, and bidet. Some with partial ocean view.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: One main pool (with swim-up bar and built-in amenities including a raised infinity pool and built-in loungers), one very small children’s pool in the Kid’s Club area, spa, beauty salon, complimentary sauna (18+), fitness center (18+), tennis, sports bar with games room, theater, courtyard entertainment area, motorized and non-motorized water sports, pool and beach wait service, beach hammocks, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), small playground, tour desk, and ATM. Guests also have access to other Riu resort amenities, dinners excluded (Riu Playacar, Riu Lupita, Riu Tequila, Riu Palace Mexico, and Riu Yucatan).
Restaurants/Bars: There is one main buffet (Don Manolo), and five a la cartes including Brazilian Rodizio (Botafogo), Japanese (Yashima–no teppanyaki show table), Mexican (Agave), grill/steakhouse at Chilis restaurant in the evenings, and the gourmet fusion restaurant (Krystal). There are two seatings at the a la cartes, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Reservations are required–look for the staff person in the lobby by the piano between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. There is a beach BBQ several times a week and occasional poolside snacks. Bars include the swim-up bar, pool bar, sports bar, lobby and Lirico which serves drinks to theater and courtyard guests each evening. Chilis restaurant also has a self-serve station by the beach exit which offers beer, sodas, and water.
Entertainment: Sports bar with games room, live music at the lobby bar and in the courtyard gazebo, evening shows in the theater, and the disco at the Riu Tequila which is approximately a 10 min. walk down the street.