NOTE: If you want to read my 2017 post-renovation review with added pics please follow this link.
Since the Riviera Maya was having a horrible time with Sargasso (brown algae) the summer of 2015, I decided to set my sights on staying somewhere in Cancun or Playa Mujeres. I eventually decided to do both–my first stop was the lovely Riu Palace Las Americas, the resort on which this review will focus, while my second stop was the newly opened Finest Playa Mujeres (check out that review too if you’d like).
Riu Palace Las Americas has an ideal location in the northern part of the Hotel Zone–a mere 8-10 min. walk from Plaza Forum (think Coco Bongo, The City, Mandala, etc.), and a 30 min. cab ride north of the airport. Its location is also a plus for those who want to take the ferry to Isla Mujeres, or those who want to enjoy spending time in the ocean without constant red flag days. Ocean water here is fairly calm with minimal to moderate wave action, while the use of motorized and non-motorized water sports is easily accessible at the check-out area located between this property and its adjacent sister resort, Riu Cancun. Ocean entry at the Las Americas can be obtained directly in front of the “quiet pool”, or over by the water sports area closer to Riu Cancun–bring your water shoes because of some rocks near the shoreline. Keep in mind there are no shade umbrellas on this stretch of beach, nor is there natural shade–there are almost always loungers to be had because of this fact. There is beach wait service, however, for those brave sun-loving souls who want to bake on a good tan.
Walking into an old-school Riu Palace lobby is always a pleasure–stained glass ceiling panels, crystal chandeliers, large paintings with gilt-edge frames, large fresh flower arrangements, dark woods, and numerous comfortable seating arrangements wait to greet guests. The lobby bar is just a few steps from the reception area and is quite a large space with plenty of tables and chairs along with doors which open to the adjoining theater. Technically, the theater is open-air, but the many ceiling fans help to keep this space very comfortable temperature-wise. Don’t miss the Mayan show on Saturday night with professional regional performers wearing native costumes; very entertaining.
I spent a majority of my time at the activity pool despite the fact there are two large infinity pools from which to choose. The first pool just outside the lobby doors is the “quiet” pool with its statues, beautiful tile work, and shaded day beds. These beds are first-come first-served and were always reserved with towels and personal items prior to 7 a.m. The two domed circular platforms flanking this pool hold two loungers each and were popular spots for lucky individuals who wanted an ocean view without looking over the infinity edge. Although beautiful, this pool does lack a swim-up bar and is typically used by families with younger children.
The activity pool is a level down and on the east side of the resort bordering Riu Cancun. Activities start here between 10 and 11 a.m. and continue on and off until 4 p.m. The music here is mixed–Latin beats, reggae, and American Pop dominates. This infinity pool includes a swim-up bar, built-in loungers, and a non-heated Jacuzzi. Both sundeck areas have wait service, loungers, and shade umbrellas (there are 156 umbrellas resort-wide for those who want to win the trivia contest). Looking for a heated Jacuzzi with a great ocean view? You can find it on the far west side of the resort underneath its own dome.
I’ve been to several Riu properties, both Palace and non-Palace resorts, and have never been disappointed with the buffet selections at any meal. In fact, I’ve found that their breakfast buffet surpasses some five star resorts’ breakfast offerings! There are plenty of live cooking stations, choices of Mexican food even at breakfast, as well as chocolate fountains and freshly-made churros for dessert. Also, most guests seem to be unaware that Los Arcos has a lunch buffet which can be enjoyed by anyone without a reservation. When I did choose to dine at the a la cartes I ate at Krystal (gourmet fusion) and El Romero (steakhouse). Krystal usually does not disappoint me with its champagne greeting, artful food presentations, and delicious desserts, but the steakhouse was unremarkable with the exception of its ocean view and huge live cooking station. While I had to make a la carte dinner reservations during my stay, Riu resorts are moving away from having to make reservations in order to stay competitive in the all-inclusive market–ask at check-in what the current procedure is for a la carte dinners. A limited menu is offered through room service which is available 24-hrs. a day. Don’t miss the weekend poolside luncheon buffet which is set up between the two pools–the food is fabulous with BBQ meats, paella, sandwiches, salads, staples like hamburgers and hot dogs, even ice cream for dessert. A must have.
Most guest rooms have an ocean view; however, the best ocean views can be had overlooking the activity pool or over on the western end of the resort overlooking the heated Jacuzzi. The resort has already begun its room renovations and completed the 1st floor rooms–shower-only bathrooms, balcony renovations, and true king beds are some of the biggest changes. The resort is planning on completing its room renovations from Sept. 1, 2015 through October 10, 2015. Let’s hope that all balconies are provided with see-through panels like floors 4-6 so that guests don’t have to stand while getting an ocean view from their balcony. A standard for Riu properties has been and will continue to be their in-room liquor optics–full bottles of rum, tequila, vodka, and brandy are staples along with beer and sodas in the mini-bar.
Being a prior Riu Palace guest, I knew that I would have access to other Riu properties with my stay at the Riu Palace Las Americas. Since its sister resort and recently renovated Riu property, Riu Cancun, was immediately adjacent, I anticipated that I would have full daytime access to this resort along with nighttime access to its onsite disco, Pacha. I did take full advantage of this privilege since it was so readily accessible; you can read about my daytime exploits there in my future posting on the Riu Cancun. Guests of the Palace may also access the Riu Caribe, which is a short bus ride west, but surprisingly the Riu Palace Peninsula was not mentioned as an accessible Riu Palace property. Since I was only staying five nights, I didn’t inquire further as to whether I could access the Peninsula given my limited time at the resort. This may be something future guests might want to clarify with hotel staff.
Riu Palace Las Americas is a solid four-star resort–a beautiful gem of a property in an excellent Hotel Zone location. I would definitely return to this location not only for its easy access to shopping at Plaza Caracol across the street and walking distance to the clubs, but for the number and quality of its onsite and accessible amenities along with its gorgeous architecture. Too bad my stay was premature to the new renovations–hopefully balcony ocean views will be unobstructed from all guest rooms. Take a moment or two and enjoy the photo gallery below–just click on any of the thumbnails to get a larger view of the picture.
(The comments in this review are those of the author/reviewer. This trip was paid for in its entirety by the author; at no time were any monies or services exchanged for this review).
Location: 30 min. north of the Cancun airport.
Telephone: 52-998-891-4300 (Mexico), 1-888-748-4990 (USA), 1-866-845-3765 (Canada), 52-998-891-4301 (fax)