Riu Palace Aruba - All Inclusive Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Aruba

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • In a safe location near nightlife and dining
  • Huge pools with built-in loungers and swim-up bars
  • Spacious rooms with balconies; some have jetted tubs
  • 5 restaurants serving solid food
  • 24-hour sports bar
  • Near the upscale High-Rise shopping and dining complex
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Large, sprawling property
  • No non-smoking areas in the casino
  • Firm beds (a pro for some)

Bottom Line

A giant, Arabian-themed castle on the beach, the Riu Palace feels less than authentic. Couples-heavy, the resort has two huge pools, a rowdy casino, a 24-hour sports bar, huge buffets, and a bustling beach. But service is lacking, and most rooms have outdated technologies.

Oyster Awards

We investigate in person.
Like your mother-in-law.

Categories

, , , ,

Oyster Hotel Photos

View All 7 Albums

Customers Who Viewed Riu Palace Aruba - All Inclusive Also Viewed

Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

The Arabian-style design looks out of place at this Aruban all-inclusive. Couples are the norm here, and some guests own their units.

The swim-up bar
The swim-up bar

The complex's three buildings are shaped like massive white sand castles, crowned by rounded spires and the word "Riu" in a typeface that Microsoft Word probably calls Persian Excess. I'm all for throwbacks (I still listen to Ace of Base), but the Riu has a decidedly non-historic artificiality. The architecture looks woefully out of place in Aruba.

The lobby and adjoining Bob Bini Bar gave me the same impression. Purple Mediterranean furniture, grand high ceilings, and faux-royal curtains made me feel like a patient in Aladdin's celebrity rehab. The elevators did not have air conditioning or ventilation, and the sweltering smell was made worse by the smell of rank rum punch.

Couples of all sorts make up 98 percent of the clientele. I saw only two children, and no teens or college-age travelers. There were retired couples from America, younger ones from Brazil, middle-aged ones from Holland, and every age and place of origin in between. With a mandatory all-inclusive package that includes all food and drink, a 24-hour sports bar, and a smoky, boisterous casino, the Riu is an ideal place for partying couples and vice-minded honeymooners.

 Location

About 20 to 25 minutes from the airport, depending on downtown traffic; the surrounding area is safe, and nightlife and restaurants are nearby.

The hotel is next to the Westin resort and is one of many mega-resorts along the beach. One of Aruba's few major roads travels directly past the Riu.

The High-Rise complex, a large downtown strip that ends at the Holiday Inn SunSpree, is a 10-minute walk in the opposite direction of downtown (and about a two-minute cab ride along the bus- and palm-lined road). The High-Rise has many restaurants, including the fabulous Hostaria da Vittoria, as well as a number of nightlife haunts, like a movie theater and a samba club misleadingly named Mr. Jazz.

The location feels very safe. Between foot traffic from the High-Rise and tourists from a number of neighboring hotels -- the Holiday Inn SunSpree, Occidental, and Radisson, among others -- the area is well populated at night. For added security, hotel personnel frequent the street outside the hotel.

 Rooms

Spacious and bright, but with firm mattresses (guests can request a pillow top) and outdated technologies

The Junior Suite
The Junior Suite

Set against dull white walls, the red furnishings evoke a playboy's bachelor pad -- but on the whole, rooms are very clean. The "king-size beds" are really two double beds pushed together. Linens are a little worn, but clean, and mattresses are firm. Many reviewers on TripAdvisor also complain about the mattresses being too firm, though pillowtops are available on request. Some bathrooms have a joint jetted tub and shower, deep enough for a true full-body soak.

Rooms come with a sitting area, which includes a couch, coffee table, smaller circular table, and two chairs. Technologies (old tube TVs and alarm clocks) are dated, but free Wi-Fi is available in all guestrooms and in the lobby.

The balconies have two white plastic chairs and a small matching footstool.

  • Central air-conditioning
  • Minibar
  • Liquor dispenser
  • Coffeemaker
  • Most rooms have old tube TVs with satellite channels
  • Only Junior Suites and Suites have ceiling fans
  • Jacuzzi Suites feature a whirlpool on the terrace

 Beach

The Riu shares its beach with the resort next door. Water sports abound.

The beach
The beach

The Riu's beach connects to the next door Westin's. If not for a couple of small signs telling me so, I would have had no idea where one property ended and the other began. Like the Westin's, the Riu's sand is no more than 30 feet wide and 100 feet long.

Available water sports include snorkeling, parasailing, tubing, and boating. The guides offered to sell me pot (the only time I got such an offer in Aruba) after I declined their standard, nature-related activities.

Blue and green beach chairs cover most of the available ground, shaded by thatched cabanas and umbrellas. Most of the shady spots were claimed by midmorning; anyone who doesn't claim a spot early should bring plenty of sunscreen.

 Features

The Riu features two pools plus a kiddy pool, a luxury spa, a tiny fitness center, two conference rooms, and free Wi-Fi in the guestrooms and lobby.

Watersports center
Watersports center

Two pools combine to create one giant aquatic complex with a golden mosaic on the floor. The main pool comes complete with a fountain in the middle and submerged beach chairs. The Palm Beach Pool Bar has swim-up access as well as a serving area for non-swimmers and a whirlpool tucked in the corner. An iPod feeds reggae and salsa into the speaker system. The second pool is also rectangular but far smaller than the first. Few people choose it over its larger, more-beach-chair-saturated counterpart.

  • The children's pool is a tiny, 18-inch-deep circle dug into the ground.
  • The Vita Nonus Spa offers facials and massages.
  • The fitness center is a single wood-floored room filled mostly with cardio machines and baskets of used towels.
  • Two conference rooms, the Oranjestad and Santa Cruz, are past the restaurant concourse. The Santa Cruz has dozens of green, high-backed chairs and a fake palm tree at the head of the room.
  • Free Wi-Fi in all guest rooms and in the lobby.

 Casino

The casino is crowded and smoky, but small fortunes can be made here.

The casino
The casino

Smoky, loud, and crowded, the gaming room is even more packed than the Bon Bini bar at night.

 Food

Most restaurants are reservations-only, so guests should be sure to book early. There's also a 24-hour sports bar on-site and several pricey restaurants near the resort.

Food from Nautilus restaurant
Food from Nautilus restaurant

All restaurants are covered under the all-inclusive package, so I sampled as much as I could. When I was done, I went back to the 24-hour sports bar -- not because alcohol is also part of the all-inclusive package (which it is), but because no matter how much dinner I ate, all I wanted was popcorn and nachos.

The Don Nicolas restaurant serves a buffet for all three meals. Cavernous outdoor and indoor seating areas gave me plenty of space to enjoy the finely cut meats and various pasta dishes at dinner.

Though dinner at the reservation-only restaurants begins at 6:30 p.m., diners gather on the lower concourse at 6 p.m. to ensure that they get to make a booking. The choices include Sayuri, a Japanese restaurant, and Krystal, where guests are greeted with Champagne flutes. My favorite was Milano, a warm, red-bricked Italian joint with a huge buffet.

The High-Rise complex across the street has a number of restaurants, including the excellent Hostaria da Vittoria. These restaurants can get expensive, but are well worth the splurge.

 Bottom Line

A giant, Arabian-themed castle on the beach, the Riu Palace feels less than authentic. Couples-heavy, the resort has two huge pools, a rowdy casino, a 24-hour sports bar, huge buffets, and a bustling beach. But service is lacking, and most rooms have outdated technologies.

Things You Should Know About Riu Palace Aruba - All Inclusive

Address

  • J.E.Irausquin Boulevard 79, Palm Beach, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Riu Aruba
  • Riu Palace Aruba
  • Riu Palace Aruba Hotel
  • Riu Palace Aruba Resort

Room Types

  • Double Room
  • Jacuzzi Suite
  • Junior Suite
  • Junior Suite with Ocean View
  • Suite

Find the Lowest Price - Enter Dates

Check-in
Check-out
Guests
 AVG/NIGHT 
Hotels.com  
Expedia.com  
Tingo.com  
Booking.com  
Travelocity  
Otel.com  
Priceline.com  
CheapTickets.com  

All About Oyster

You Can't Return a Bad Vacation.

Our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it's "uh-oh" time.

Go undercover with an Oyster Investigator The Today Show
Go Undercover with an Oyster Investigator
See 56 Videos of Oyster on TV

Nearby Hotels to Consider

Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa
Occidental Grand Aruba
Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 450
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
Casino: Yes
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Aruba
Address: J.E.Irausquin Boulevard 79, Palm Beach, US
(See Map)
Loading Live Rates
Loading...