Four specialty restaurants plus buffet restaurant and four bars
Rooms service available around the clock
Plenty of non-motorized water activities by day
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Casino allows smoking inside (pro for some)
Style throughout is a bit underwhelming
Limited amount of beach chairs
The four-pearl Hotel Riu Palace Antillas is a 481-room, all-inclusive, adult-only resort that's right on popular Palm Beach. The atmosphere is booze-fueled and lively. Rooms are simple and modern, and some have ocean views. Flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, and the all-important ready-to-pour liquor rack all come standard. The four restaurants and bars (including a swim-up pool bar) help keep guests busy, but nightly entertainment at the nightclub and casino are lacking. Still, for Riu brand loyalists things here feel fresh, which can't always be said for resorts in Aruba, and service is available around the clock. Those looking for a resort that allows children, but has similar features, should check out the neighboring Riu Palace Aruba.
Adult-only all-inclusive resort with a festive vibe
It’s hard not to get caught up in the festive spirit at the all-inclusive, adult-only Hotel Riu Palace Antillas. Maybe it’s the sparkling champagne welcome drink or the free wine that’s offered with every meal, but this resort is all about fun. And fun means booze. Lots of it. Everywhere. Even if one manages to avoid the maze of bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout the property, hard liquor is mounted in dispenses in the guest rooms as well, just waiting to be speed-poured into a sippy cup. Friendly vibes and flowing liquor means it’s easy to make friends here, and young honeymooners, retirees, and well-to-do vacationers from all over the world flock to this massive resort.
The hotel’s gigantic pool is particularly well-designed for socializing. It has a railing along its edges for sitting down, and tables and chairs built into the water to make it easy to enjoy cocktails from the swim-up bar. Expect throngs of people here, and just as many lounging by the ocean on the coveted beach chairs. These chairs are offered on first-come-first-served basis, and folks don’t take that lightly. The race to claim a chair has guests waking as early as five or six in the morning to snag a spot.
The hotel tries to maintain the high-energy vibe with nightly music performances at PACHA, the on-site nightclub, but the shows generally fall flat, reflected in the halfhearted attendance by guests. Still, the style at this resort -- while nothing spectacular -- is at least modern, which is not always a given at resorts and hotels on Aruba (especially when compared to the clashing decor at the neighboring Riu Palace Aruba). Expect to find subdued beige and cream hues mixed with subtle yellow lighting and a grand piano tucked into one of the corners in the lobby. Elsewhere, beachy wicker resin furniture is set up to enjoy the outdoor terraces, while restaurants and bars do look a little anonymous and fit for a chain hotel.
Sits right on Palm Beach, close to shopping and dining
Hotel Riu Antillas is strategically located in the center of all of the action. The immediate area is packed with high-rise hotels and resorts, and flooded with tourists at all times. The resort sits right on Palm Beach, arguably the most popular beach in Aruba, and only 15 minutes by car to downtown Oranjestad for luxury shops, casinos, and waterfront dining. It's also within a five-minute drive of Eagle Beach, while excellent snorkeling at Malmok Beach is only a 10-minute drive up the coast. About five minutes beyond Malmok Beach is the California Lighthouse, a popular tourist spot. For something a bit more naturally beautiful, Arikok National Park is a 40-minute drive away. Budget at least 20 minutes to reach Queen Beatrix International Airport by car.
Spacious, modern rooms with simple decor, all with balconies and speed-pour liquor racks
Compared to many hotel rooms across Aruba, rooms here are at least modern. Still, they will look like almost any other upscale chain hotel, with an abundance of beige hues throughout and just a touch of unmemorable abstract art on the walls. Floors are either done in tan patterned carpets or with marginally nicer light wood-laminate finishes, and corrugated wood-veneer furniture has warm wood tones. Possibly predictable for a resort that pushes booze on its guests at all turns, some furniture does look a little worn or banged up. Otherwise, there's not much in the way of decor.
In-line with the boozy vibe elsewhere on the property, rooms come with bottles of whiskey, rum, and vodka stacked upside down with fast pourers -- expect mid-range liquors like Johnny Walker Red, Smirnoff, and Bacardi, plus mixers in the mini-fridges below. All rooms also come with large comfy beds, coffeemakers, air-conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. One-Bedroom Suites with separate living rooms are also available. Bathrooms here are pleasantly large, with shower/tub combos -- some have rainfall showerheads, and all have a generous amount of counter space. They are a bit dated, though, with unattractive pink granite walls and surfaces.
Solid dining options, crowded beach, large pool with pool bar, but lackluster entertainment
As a large all-inclusive resort, there are an expected number of features here designed to make guests feel like they never have to leave, though the quality of what's on offer is variable. Dining generally gets good marks from previous guests. The buffet restaurant, Atlantis, has a pleasantly varied selection, though the atmosphere -- narrow tables lined in perfectly symmetrical rows in a bright, cafeteria-style hall -- doesn't exactly scream upscale sophistication. The four a la carte restaurants offer eclectic menus and a nicer ambience. Krystal features fusion dishes, Rimini has Italian fare, grilled fish and meats are served at Malmok Steakrhouse, and the poolside Palm Beach restaurant serves Mexican food. All four are reservation-only, and early booking is advised. Meals and drinks are included in the hotel's rates. Snacks are also provided throughout the day.
Hotel Riu shares Palm Beach with a handful of other high-rise hotels, and the hotel crams its section of the sandy shoreline with innumerable beach chairs and tiki huts. Expect to share space with hotel guests a mere few inches away, as well as countless beach bars and kite and wind-surfing rental stands. It's also worth noting that the hotel's lounge chairs fill up fast. Still, this beach is one of the most popular in Aruba for good reason: calm, crystal-clear waters lap at a white sandy shoreline that seems to stretch on for ages. Non-motorized water sports are available.
The swim-up and poolside Aqua Bar at the huge pool is also quite popular among guests -- helped by the built-in bar tables and seats in and around the pool’s edges. Here is where most of the socializing seems to happen and the space stays busy from sunrise to sunset. By contrast, the hotel’s nightly entertainment doesn’t draw much of a crowd. There’s a flashy nightclub, PACHA, which offers sub-par live music with even worse attendance by guests, though it might get more exciting in the wee hours. Otherwise guests can pop over to the adjacent Riu Palace, where there’s always (often cheesy) live shows take place.
Other features include a small casino where smoking is allowed. For guests wanting a healthier activity, Renova Spa offers beauty treatments, steam rooms for men and women, massage services, and a hair and nail salon. They also have a breezy tiki-style massage hut, located just outside the spa, but keep in mind that treatments are pricey. The hotel’s fitness center is nice and spacious. It has a handful of modern cardio machines, a wide range of free weights, medicine balls, and a stretching area. There are also gift shops with sundries and souvenirs and Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.
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