Hotel Riu Yucatan, Mexico’s original Riu resort, underwent a $20 million renovation in 2013/2014 and reopened with contemporary styling, the addition of a “chill-out” pool and new Italian restaurant, reconstruction of the swim-up bar, and guest room renovations. Those familiar with Riu properties may or may not like the change in décor and style with their more recent resort renovations–from Mexican Hacienda to a ritzy Vegas look with modern chrome, silver, and pink décor, the Riu Yucatan offers pink lovers their share of eye candy in the lobby while toning it down in the guest rooms with a combination of white and royal blue. While public spaces, guest rooms, and pool areas have gotten a facelift, the grounds remain the same with mature landscaping offering plenty of shade as well as opportunities to see coatis and monkeys; look for monkey close-ups by the “monkey bridge” near guest room building #3.
The resort is located in the lovely gated community of Playacar which is approximately two miles south of Playa del Carmen. Guests can walk into town from the resort–it’s just a 35-min. stroll north along the beach or the sidewalk outside the front entrance. The doorman can easily call a cab which will deliver vacationers to the outskirts of 5th Ave. in approximately five to seven minutes. For those who don’t want to go all the way into Playa del Carmen to shop, Plaza Playacar is only a five-min. walk and offers opportunities to buy souvenirs, clothing, excursions, and satisfy any Starbucks cravings (don’t forget the free WiFi which Starbucks also offers since the resort only offers free lobby WiFi for 90-min. per day).
In addition to its convenient location, the resort is on one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the Riviera Maya. A wide and lengthy swathe of cool white sand, turquoise water, and a sandy ocean bottom without rocks or coral are what guests have in store along the length of Playacar beach. Palm trees provide shady respite for many loungers; however, there are no beach umbrellas or palapas. Although it’s a very swimmable area, snorkelers will have more luck at the man-made concrete reef past Sandos Playacar, the last developed resort on Playacar beach. Keep in mind that Riu Yucatan’s beach and pool areas can get crowded since guests of its landlocked sister resort, ClubHotel Riu Tequila, often settle in for the day at the Yucatan.
In addition to a stellar beach, Riu Yucatan also offers its guests the choice of four pools including the newer adults-only “chill-out” pool with its surrounding Bali beds, hammocks, and separate seating areas, the main pool with its gradual ramp entry and tiled in-pool loungers, the separate swim-up bar area with its built-in tables and seating, and small children’s pool by the Kid’s Club. While loungers and shade umbrellas surround the main and chill-out pools, there are also overhead shade panels which easily slide open and closed. Grab a lounger by the northwest corner of the main pool for great ocean views, natural shade opportunities, and a wonderful breeze.
Guest rooms have been redone and present a very contemporary, clean look. Prior guests of the Yucatan will appreciate the update, particularly the replacement of the curtained bathroom with a half-wall of glass blocks which separates the new bathroom from the bedroom area. What guests may not like, however, is the shower area which can easily be seen from parts of the bedroom–not particularly private for families with older children, but perfectly fine for most couples. Those wanting more bathroom privacy, and more balcony space along with it, will want to check out the suites. The in-room liquor dispensers, a Riu staple, offer local brands of white rum, vodka, and brandy, along with Jose Cuervo tequila.
An added bonus to staying at the Yucatan is the exchange privilege it has with both the ClubHotel Riu Tequila and the Hotel Riu Playacar (the Tequila is just across the street while the Playacar is three resorts to the north). Guests of the Yucatan are free to enjoy the amenities at these two additional resorts including swimming in all pools, enjoying beach loungers, and having lunch, drinks, and snacks; dinner, however, must be eaten at one’s own resort. In addition, guests of the Yucatan have complimentary entrance to and drinking privileges at the disco at ClubHotel Riu Tequila. Guests interested in visiting the Tequila resort can take the free shuttle which travels along the Riu Yucatan and Riu Mexico property lines.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Beach, multiple pools, stay at one play at three, frequent encounters with monkeys
Con: Room WiFi $, limited bathroom privacy
Best Suited For: Budget conscious families/couples, families with younger children
No. of Rooms: 507
Pool Closure: 8 p.m.
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, mini-bar, liquor dispensers, digital safe, flat screen TV, small table and chairs, bureau, telephone, ceiling fan, radio alarm clock, iron/ironing table, hair dryer, shower, and toiletries. There is no room service, complimentary room WiFi, or in-room coffee maker. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Standard: King or two dbl beds.
- Suite: King or two dbl beds, separate sitting area with small sofas and coffee table, two flat screen TV’s, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower with rainforest showerhead, dbl sink.
- NOTE: Although some rooms offer partial or obstructed sea views, guest room buildings are well set back from the ocean so there are no oceanfront rooms. There are no elevators in these buildings.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Four pools (adults-only chill-out pool, main pool, separate swim-up bar area, and small children’s pool), two Jacuzzis, spa, beauty salon, fitness center (age 18+), tennis, non-motorized water sports, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), playground, theater (no A/C), hookahs, internet room, 90-min. of complimentary WiFi in lobby every 24-hrs., complimentary admission to the disco at the nearby ClubHotel Riu Tequila, access to amenities at ClubHotel Riu Tequila and Hotel Riu Yucatan, free shuttle to ClubHotel Riu Tequila, concierge, gift shop, tour desk, car rental, and ATM. There is no pool or beach wait service.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one buffet (La Hacienda) and four a la cartes including Mexican (at the Beach Club), steakhouse (La Margarita), Italian (Sicilia), and Asian (Shanghai–no teppanyaki). Reservations are required at the steakhouse. The steakhouse a la carte also serves as a luncheon restaurant and snack bar during the day; there is also a self-serve ice cream machine. Guests can get food at the resort 24-hrs. a day with an overnight food counter serving burgers, hotdogs, nachos, and fruit. There are five bars–a lobby bar, swim-up bar, two pool bars, and a theater bar. Restaurants and bars may be accessed during the day at Hotel Riu Playacar and ClubHotel Riu Tequila along with the disco bar at the Tequila.
Entertainment: The outdoor theater hosts various nightly shows while the disco at ClubHotel Riu Tequila is open until 2 a.m. There are mariachi bands and other live bands which play periodically at the resort; fire dancers and gambling games are also scheduled on a periodic basis.