Riu Palace Paradise Island All-Inclusive Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Bahamas

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • All rooms renovated November 2009
  • Excellent soft-sand beach
  • Large pool and swim-up bar
  • Free liquor in the stocked in-room minibar
  • Unlimited brand-name liquor included in the room rate
  • Near Atlantis resort's many restaurants and attractions

Cons

  • Some vendors can crowd the beach.
  • Mediocre buffet
  • No beachside bar

Bottom Line

After renovating in 2009, the Riu is now a solid all-inclusive option -- just be sure to compare its rates to the far more stunning Atlantis next door. In both cases, you get a spectacular beach, up-to-date rooms, and proximity to upscale restaurants and attractions. At the Riu, you also get unlimited food and booze.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Great beach, all-you-can-drink booze, and proximity to glitzy Atlantis

It's an all-you-can-drink environment
It's an all-you-can-drink environment

Unlike the whimsical purple buildings at most other Riu resorts in the Caribbean, this 379-room, 13-story beige high-rise is actually a former Sheraton (the Riu Paradise Island took over the Sheraton Grand Resort in 2004). Most of the year, the resort attracts couples and a few families with its superb beach and large pool, but come spring break (loosely, late February through March) the clientele shifts dramatically. "They be crazy," one bartender explained, "one minute they're crawling on the bar, the next they're throwing up in the lobby!"

The Riu is the only Nassau hotel that offers all-you-can-eat food and all-you-can-drink, name-brand booze as part of its mandatory all-inclusive package. Considering the exorbitant cost of food and drinks at most other resorts in the Bahamas, the Riu could be an incredible value (depending on just how much you're looking to drink). And while the food isn't great -- like most Caribbean all-inclusive resorts -- you're just a three-minute drive from the much better restaurants at the Atlantis mega-resort.

 Service

The staff is stretched thin, but the staffers are hardworking and the service is adequate for the price.

  • Most meals are buffet only, but the waitstaff is quick with a drink or coffee.
  • Limited porters; no one offered to help me with my luggage
  • 24 hour room service
  • No drink service at the pool or on the beach
  • No concierge

 Location

In the shadow of Atlantis on Paradise Island, on a great beach and close to the island's best shopping, dining, and nightlife

The Riu is a nondescript, 13-story tower located in the middle of Paradise Island, a five-minute ride from the bridge to Nassau. It is literally in the shadow of the gargantuan Atlantis resort, meaning that it's just a short walk from the broad range of restaurants and attractions at Atlantis, like its pop concerts and aquarium.

Paradise Island is a well-developed, well-landscaped island that can feel a bit like a giant, gated resort community. It's very pleasant to walk its manicured drives during the day, but by night it's dark, quiet, and deserted outside the resorts.

 Beach

Prime spot with big waves, clear water, and fine sand. But it gets crowded, and there's no bar or free water sports.

Prime location on beautiful Cabbage Beach
Prime location on beautiful Cabbage Beach

The Riu Paradise Island has a prime location on Cabbage Beach. But because this is one of the best beaches in the vicinity of Nassau, hoards of cruise ship passengers high tail it over to Cabbage Beach just as soon as their ships dock.

  • The water is so clear, you can spy schools of fish swimming around your ankles.
  • Big waves make for great body-surfing, but the surf can be too strong for small children.
  • Beach chairs are scattered haphazardly around the beach. It gets crowded, but I had an easy enough time grabbing two and having a nice cushion of personal space.
  • Sunbathers take note: The hotel's tower casts a strong shadow over the beach in the afternoon, so you'll have to head out early to catch the best rays.
  • No bar on the beach
  • For water sports, you'll have to haggle with local vendors who sell banana boat rides and rent Jet Skis and kayaks.

 Rooms

After completing significant renovations in November 2009, all of the guest rooms are now new, clean, and modern.

  • Flat-screen TVs
  • Odd-numbered standard rooms face the Atlantis Beach Tower (and have a glimpse of the ocean); even-numbered rooms look out over the hotel's large, noisy, air-conditioning vents.
  • No Internet in rooms (but free Wi-Fi in the lobby, and an Internet café that costs extra)
  • Bathrooms are clean, but cramped.
  • Riu-brand toiletries: cheap shampoo and body wash in annoying paper packets.
  • In-room safe large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop
  • Balcony in most rooms; just large enough to hold two chairs and a tiny table.
  • In-room minibar with four bottles of liquor (all free, as part of the all-inclusive package). Fridges include sodas, cans of Budweiser, water, and mixers.

 Features

Average pool, free tennis, and a gym and spa barely worth looking at. The Riu's best feature is its proximity to the many wonders of Atlantis.

Pool is average, but very popular
Pool is average, but very popular

Aside from its beach, the best thing the Riu has going for it is its close proximity to the water park, casino, and aquarium at Atlantis.

  • Large pool with a swim-up bar and a small Jacuzzi (open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • One free scuba lesson (in the pool)
  • Tennis court lit for night play; free use of rackets
  • Free Wi-Fi in the lobby and for-fee Internet at the on-site Internet Café ($4 for five minutes or $30 for three hours)
  • Meager fitness center includes a few old, broken cardio machines and one multipurpose weight machine.
  • Small spa and beauty salon, just off the lobby
  • Entertainment includes live nighttime music in the lounge, Calypso, and occasional dancing and games by the pool.

 Cleanliness

Renovated in 2009, but note that smoking is permitted throughout the hotel

The hotel is still fresh off its renovation (completed in November 2009) but like other Riu resorts, smoking is permitted everywhere (including the guest rooms).

 Family

A fantastic beach and a popular pool, but this isn't the most ideal resort for families

Given the large waves at the beach and the resort's emphasizes on its free booze and adult-focused entertainment and activities, it is not the perfect option for families.

  • Large pool
  • Connecting rooms available
  • Buffet options at all three meals include kid-friendly staples like pasta, pizza, and French fries.

 Food

Mediocre (at its best), but it's all included in the room rate

Dinner buffet at Atlantic
Dinner buffet at Atlantic

The Riu has nine on-site dining options--three a la carte dinner restaurants -- "gourmet," Japanese, and a grill/steak restaurant (each open on a rotating schedule) -- plus a buffet at every meal. As at all Rius, securing dinner reservations at the a la cartes is a huge hassle. The rule is that guests must show up in the lobby between 5 and 6 p.m. the day before their preferred dining time to make reservations for the next day.

  • Atlantic, the main buffet restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch items are generally poor quality: cold and hard "poached" eggs; only sugary juice and sodas dispensed from machines; soggy-looking cheeseburgers and crinkle-cut fries.
  • Light snacks from the buffet, served 24-hours
  • Dress code: Long pants and collared shirts required for men in the a la carte dinner restaurants
  • To dine off-site, there's everything from a Starbucks to Nobu next door at Atlantis, and there are a couple small shopping centers with burgers and sub shops about five minutes away on Paradise Island (near the bridge).

 Drinks

Name-brand booze; all included in the price of the room

Bars carry name brand liquor, including Bacardi rum, Jim Beam whisky, and Smirnoff vodka.

 Destination Weddings

Wedding packages here are standard for an all-inclusive, but the beach is spectacular and the whole resort was recently renovated.

The Atlantic restaurant, one of several reception locations
The Atlantic restaurant, one of several reception locations
  • Wedding Size: Up to 100 people; two to three weddings held per day
  • Extra Fees: Day pass required for all wedding guests not staying at the resort; at least 80 percent of the wedding guests must be staying at the hotel. Fee for outside vendors.
  • Wedding Packages: The Classic Package, the most basic option, covers 10 people, though it's free if the entire wedding party books a room for five or more nights; it includes a wedding coordinator, a bouquet and a boutonniere, decorations, recorded music during the ceremony, a wedding cake, sparkling wine, and a dinner in one of the resort's a la carte restaurants (along with all the other resort guests). The Caprice Package covers 60 people; it includes a wedding cake, sparkling wine, a semiprivate dinner, and, as a bonus for the bride and groom, a massage, hair and nail treatments for the bride, a free room upgrade, and breakfast in bed the day after the wedding.
  • Ceremony Location: Under a gazebo or on the beach
  • Photographers: Basic package is 30 4-by-6 prints in an album with a CD
  • Music: Either a DJ or a five-person band can be booked for three hours
  • Food: Extra appetizers charged per person; no specialty kosher, gluten-free, or vegan menus available.
  • Cakes: Vary in price depending on number of guests
  • Spa Treatments: The spa offers massages, facials, and hair and nail treatments. The bride and groom get a 10 percent discount on all treatments.
  • Honeymoon Suite: No special honeymoon suites, but newlyweds usually book a suite with a balcony or a terrace
  • Airport Transportation: The resort does not provide transportation to and from the airport; a taxi takes about 20 to 25 minutes.

 Bottom Line

After renovating in 2009, the Riu is now a solid all-inclusive option -- just be sure to compare its rates to the far more stunning Atlantis next door. In both cases, you get a spectacular beach, up-to-date rooms, and proximity to upscale restaurants and attractions. At the Riu, you also get unlimited food and booze.

Things You Should Know About Riu Palace Paradise Island All-Inclusive

Address

  • 6307 Casino Drive, Paradise Island, BS

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Paradise Island Riu Hotel
  • Paradise Island Sheraton
  • Riu Hotel Paradise Island
  • Riu Palace Paradise Island
  • Riu Paradise Island
  • Riu Paradise Island Bahamas

Room Types

  • Deluxe Ocean View Room
  • Jr Suite Superior Ocean View
  • Ocean Front Jr. Suite
  • Ocean View Jr. Suite
  • Ocean View Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 279
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Bahamas
Address: 6307 Casino Drive, Paradise Island, BS
(See Map)
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