Although I had a great time at Riu Palace Riviera Maya when I vacationed there in February 2014, (check out my review), I was curious to see what the other nearby Riu properties were like. Riu Palace guests are fortunate in that they may use all other Riu resort amenities such as the pools, loungers, drink at the bars, eat breakfast or lunch at their restaurants, etc., as long as you eat dinner at the resort with which you’ve originally booked. Since there were several Riu resorts within walking distance to my resort (Riu Playacar, Riu Yucatan, Riu Palace Mexico, and Riu Tequila), I decided to check out Riu Palace Mexico and see what their renovations looked like for myself.
Riu Palace Mexico underwent an extensive renovation in 2012; there were very few resort areas left untouched by the work which was done. The pool area was completely restructured, new restaurants, lounges, and a cafe were added, guest rooms and the outdoor courtyard were re-done–perhaps the only place left untouched was the beach (and it’s a gorgeous one at that). With the building of the Riu Palace Peninsula in Cancun, I knew that Riu’s new decorating schemes involved lots of silver, purple, and a contemporary look/vibe, so I was prepared for something completely different than the Old World charmer at which I was presently staying.
When I entered the lobby, I noticed both similarities and obvious differences between the Riu Palace Mexico and the Riu Palace Riviera Maya. Although some opulent touches reminded me of my hotel, such as the fabulous lobby crystal chandelier and dark wood used in some of the furniture, it was a good thing I had done my homework and was prepared for the purple and silver surroundings in which I now stood.
My favorite part of the lobby area was a gem hidden away in a corner called Lounge 24. It has 24 in its title because it stays open 24-hrs. and offers guests liquor, wines, sodas, coffee, snacks, continental breakfast in the mornings, a flat screen TV, comfortable seats and loungers, and access to computers if you did not bring yours with you. I stayed in the lounge for a good 20 minutes and noticed that two separate staff came in during this time to check and make sure sufficient supplies were available and everything was in order. Good service in an enjoyable spot.
The lobby bar was strategically placed in a pathway from reception to the stairs leading down to the courtyard; I loved its classy look and nearby seating area which offered a clear view of the formal courtyard and gardens with their fountains and statues.
Once I finished my drink (which, by the way, was expertly prepared and poured), I made my way downstairs and entered the renovated courtyard area noticing all the restaurants on the ground floor which were in close proximity to one another–makes it easy to find one when you’re hungry.
The grounds are lush and beautiful with stately palms, manicured hedges, and water features; it does take several minutes to walk from the main building to the pools, but what a walk! The Riu Palace Riviera Maya formal courtyard is similar in makeup, but this one is lengthier and offers more to see.
Arriving poolside, I noticed immediately that many loungers were empty (which was certainly not the case at my resort), so I nabbed a poolside lounger with shade umbrella–quite a feat in the world of all-inclusives when coming later in the morning. During the time I was there, I noticed that the age range of a good majority of guests turning up poolside were in the 50-65 year age range; I’m guessing that this resort tends to attract the more mature traveler even though it is family-friendly. The pool area is comprised of several smaller pools–one for activities which is near the lunch area (Guacamole restaurant), a children’s pool more towards the beach, the pool with built-in pool loungers, table tops on which to set your drinks, and the swim-up bar, while the fourth pool is family-friendly with a disability-friendly entry. There are nearby changing rooms as well as the spa, fitness center, and Kid’s Club.
I love the entire Playacar beach area with its white sand, smooth ocean entry, and swimmable surf; the water color is a mixture of emerald and turquoise when the sun is shining. Since this resort sits along the Playacar beach area, it does not disappoint with its wide stretch of sand and mature coconut grove which provides plenty of natural shade. There are lots of loungers, and many were occupied–maybe this is where most individuals choose to while the day away instead of poolside? There are some stairs to be navigated from the sundecks down to the sand, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
My overall impression of spending a day at Riu Palace Mexico? Lovely and meticulously maintained grounds, seemingly well-trained staff, above average food quality, great beach, and small pools. Would I choose to return to stay here? The new décor is not my favorite, but if the right deal came along….