Situated inland adjacent to the Hard Rock Golf Club Riviera Maya golf course is the quiet resort of Hotel Riu Lupita.
The Lupita is small for a Riu property with only 300 guest rooms and has a more relaxed ambiance than other Riu resorts. Being landlocked there is no onsite beach; however, there is a complimentary shuttle which takes guests first to the outskirts of Playa del Carmen and then on to the Beach Club drop-off which takes approximately 10 min. (the shuttle bus operates from 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and leaves the Lupita every 30 min.). Upon exiting the bus, it is a short walk down to the Beach Club which is located between the resorts of Riu Palace Riviera Maya and Viva Wyndham Azteca. Guests will find a beachfront pool, a luncheon restaurant/snack bar which turns into an a la carte steakhouse at night, self-serve drink taps (soda, beer, wine, frozen drink mixtures–bring a plastic bottle filled from the in-room liquor dispenser to make your own concoction), hammocks, restrooms, and green lounge chairs (the blue ones are for Riu Palace guests). There are no beach umbrellas at the Club, but the mature coconut grove is extensive enough to provide sufficient shade for most guests. A fence has been erected in order to keep merchants from bothering vacationers, but everyone is free to move their chairs down to the ocean’s edge if they wish.
Riu Lupita guests are fortunate indeed to experience one of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya. The sand is soft, white, and cool in temperature with miles of beach to traverse in both directions, while the dazzling turquoise ocean beckons swimmers–there is nothing quite like Playacar beach on a sunny day. Ocean entry is relatively even while wave action at times can be moderate; there are some red flag days but not many. While occasional fish can be seen, snorkeling is not very good along this stretch of beach. Better conditions can be had at the man-made concrete reef past Sandos Playacar resort (walk south past the last resort area).
The resort itself is described as “village-style” with 22 two to three-story guest room buildings surrounding the multiple pools, tennis courts, restaurants, Kid’s Club, spa, fitness center, and additional amenities. Given its inland location, the Lupita is frequented by wildlife including coatis, iguanas, and agoutis. Guests staying in ground floor rooms may be visited by coatis since the balcony railing spaces are wide enough for them to pass through. Rooms were partially renovated in 2015-2016 with the installation of large tiled showers. The tubs are gone along with the tired drapes and linens; white is now the “in” color with splashes of tan and dark brown along with wall-mounted flat screens and serene portraits of jungle-like settings. Some basic room amenities continue to be missing, however, such as irons, coffee machines, and alarm clocks.
In addition to guest rooms, other areas of the resort were also renovated including the following amenities:
- the poolside bar and snack bar
- entertainment stage
- addition of an Italian a la carte restaurant
- addition of a fitness center
- spa renovations
Guests wanting to enjoy onsite amenities will appreciate the three separate pools–the main activities pool has built-in tiled loungers, the adults have their own quiet pool with adjacent hammocks, while children have a small pool with two small slides which is located close to the Kid’s Club. The main and adults-only pools have loungers and shade palapas while some natural shade is also available.
Those curious about the dining options available at this smaller Riu resort should know that three restaurants are located onsite, while an a la carte is over at the Beach Club. Despite Riu’s recent decision to omit its a la carte reservations system at some of its properties, they are still necessary at the Lupita’s Mexican, Italian, and Beach Club steakhouse restaurants.
It is important to note that Riu’s prior policy regarding Lupita guests being able to visit other Riu properties has changed. Unfortunately, Lupita guests can only gain access to the Beach Club (on Riu Palace Riviera Maya grounds) and are not allowed complimentary access to other Riu properties, notably non-Palace resorts. Day passes, however, can be obtained for a fee.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Access to beachfront club, free WiFi in public spaces, partial renovation
Con: Not on the beach, no free access to other Riu resorts, one onsite bar, no room service, no swim-up bar
Best Suited For: Budget minded travelers, those who don’t mind taking transportation to the beach, those who like smaller resorts with access to many amenities
No. of Rooms: 300
Pool Closure: 8 p.m.
Room Amenities: King bed, two dbl beds, or additional bunk beds within family rooms, A/C, balcony/terrace, mini-bar, liquor dispenser, digital safe, flat screen TV, small chairs and table, ceiling fan, telephone, hair dryer, shower, and toiletries. There is no room service, while complimentary WiFi is only available in public areas of the resort. Room categories are as follows:
- Standard/Dbl Rooms: King or two dbl beds. Garden, jungle, or golf course view.
- Family Rooms: King bed in addition to bunk beds. Garden, jungle, or golf course views.
- NOTE: There are no elevators at this resort.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Four pools (main, quiet, and children’s pools onsite with an additional pool at the Beach Club–no swim-up bar in any pool), Jacuzzi, spa, fitness center (age 18+), tennis courts, multipurpose sports court, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12) with playground, tennis, theater (no A/C), small disco, hammocks, giant chess, pool wait staff, internet room ($), concierge, tour desk, gift shop, free WiFi in public areas, shuttle service to Playa del Carmen and the Beach Club, and ATM. The Beach Club has its own pool (bring a towel with you), buffet/snack bar, self-serve machines for drinks and ice cream, hammocks, and loungers.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one buffet restaurant (Adelita) and three a la cartes including Mexican (Maria Bonita), Italian (Dante), and a steakhouse at the Beach Club (Cozumel). Reservations must be made for the a la cartes. There is only one large, onsite bar area which is located by the main pool. The other bar area is over at the Beach Club.
Entertainment: Theater hosts nightly shows, live music several nights per week, and the disco (age 18+). There used to be a reserved time at the disco for children starting at 8 p.m.–check upon arrival if this is still offered.