King beds are actually two doubles pushed together
Loud music blasted onto beach can be annoying
Pool is small for a resort of this size
Last renovated in 2008, this unmissable lilac-colored all-inclusive mid-range mega-resort offers 416 spacious rooms with marble bathrooms, liquor-filled minibars (restocked daily), a calm, white-sand swimming beach, five restaurants, 24-hour room service, and plenty of activities. It's a great choice for couples and families, but partiers are strongly encouraged to stay elsewhere. The pool is on the small side for a resort of this nature, but most guests opt for the beautiful beachfront. It's set on a fairly isolated stretch of Negril’s outskirts which requires a lengthy trip from the international airport, but it's much calmer than Negril's popular Seven Mile Beach. Travelers seeking a more exclusive all-inclusive experience may want to try Sunset at the Palms instead.
Calm, family-friendly, all-inclusive resort without the typical party vibe
Riu Palace Tropical Bay sits on an isolated stretch of road heading into Negril. It's set up to be more self contained than closer-in alternatives on Seven Mile Beach or the Cliffs, where restaurants and bars line the road right outside hotels. The lone Riu Palace stands like a purple fortress with a grandiose lobby overlooking the sea, but there's nothing else of real interest (aside from other mega-resorts) for miles. The property was last renovated in 2008, and some guests feel it's due for another update.
The resort isn’t dramatically different other from Riu establishments, but the Jamaican-themed entertainment and music give this Riu a local flavor. The primary clientele here is couples and families -- and party types are actively discouraged from staying at Riu resorts (spring breakers are barred altogether). The daytime here is all about pool lounging and beach going. While there’s no party atmosphere, loud music gets blasted onto the beach through giant outdoor speakers (which isn't for everyone), and the Sun Bar buzzes until late, with thermos-toting guests keen to get their drink on. Overall, evenings do tend to mellow out, and often culminate with couples dancing to live bands.
The beautiful beachfront is indeed a highlight, for its clean white sand and clear, lake-calm aqua waters. Although the beach is shared with other all-inclusive resorts, it’s much less populated then Seven Mile Beach, and guests are less likely to be hassled by vendors than on other busier beaches (although they’ll never escape them altogether).
Overlooking Bloody Bay on Negril’s northern outskirts, 90-minutes from Montego Bay Airport
One of the first mega-resorts along Norman Manley Boulevard as visitors come into town from the airport, the lilac-colored Riu is hard to miss. Large all-inclusives dominate Bloody Bay -- it’s long stretch of beach is shared with Sandals, Couples Negril, and sister resort, ClubRiu, among others. The resort is a two-minute drive from Kool Runnings Waterpark and 15 minutes to downtown Negril, where nightlife, shops, eateries, and bars are in abundance -- but they trip requires taxis, which can add up. Montego Bay International Airport is a 90-minute drive away.
Spacious and comfortable rooms with terraces and minibars, many with sea views and pull-out sofas
Guest rooms are available in three categories: Double Rooms, Junior Suites with pull-out sofas, or Suites with split-level layouts, pull-out sofas, and hydromassage bathtubs. Adjoining rooms are available and the turndown service is a welcome nightly touch, but just like many other Riu properties, the king beds are actually two doubles pushed together with a single headboard. This allows for different sleeping configurations, but can be annoying with the seam down the middle. Beds are otherwise comfortable and linens are crisp white. Deep brown wooden furniture, burgundy fabric accents, and marble features take decor in a distinctly more masculine direction than the candy-colored exterior. The decor could be summed up as British colonial-meets-generic chain hotel with a Romanesque twist, evidenced by regal four-poster beds and Roman pottery-inspired table lamps and artwork. There’s an element of semi-formal luxury, but it’s a far cry from the vibrant, tropical Jamaican locale, and several details, like the bedspreads, read as dated.
Alcoves between bedrooms and bathrooms house two huge closets, irons and ironing boards, safes, and free minibars with liquor dispensers, soft drinks, beer, and water. Rooms feature cable flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, hairdryers, central air conditioning, and ceiling fans, Bathrooms are large and decked out in marble, with double vanities, Grohe showerheads, and individual toiletries, except for the shower gel dispensers in the showers. All rooms provide balconies or terraces, many with uninterrupted water views. Turndown service is provided nightly.
Typical all-inclusive offerings including a gym, a spa, water sports, pool, and five restaurants
The Riu offers a ton of features aimed at vacationers. There’s no dedicated kids' club, but the resort does have a children's pool, a playground, and family-friendly activities and entertainment, plus kid-friendly food at the main buffet restaurant.
The main pool isn’t nearly as large and impressive as most mega-resorts in Jamaica. It's essentially split into two: one side is attached to a swim-up bar -- The Sun -- and the other is a bit quieter, with fountains feeding in from the adjacent Bloody Bay restaurant. Both have in-pool lounges, and both fill up pretty fast, so snagging a vacant deck chair can prove challenging. There's also a round kids' pool next to The Sun, and a whirlpool built into each pool.
Riu Palace makes good use of the beachfront which offers non-motorized water sports, including windsurfing, catamaran sailing, and paddleboats, free of charge. Snorkel equipment is available (for a fee), and there’s also an on-site dive shop. Jet Skis are available to rent through outside vendors and can be seen zooming back and forth on the water all day.
There are five restaurants that include the Negril buffet, and four a la carte options: Rimini (Italian), Hakuchi (Japanese), Krystal (fusion), and Bloody Bay (a steakhouse). However, the a la carte options are small, and securing a reservation involves showing up early in the morning to reserve one of two sittings. Room service is available 24 hours a day, but the food can be disappointing. Like many Jamaican resorts, there’s a jerk pit on the beach (guests rave about the chicken) that's open in the afternoon. Drinking options include the Cubano lobby bar, open all night, the Reggae lounge bar, and the Plaza alfresco bar.
Tucked into a corner of the floor below the lobby is a casino game room with a surprisingly high number of slot machines, plus an ATM. Renova Spa offers manis and pedis in addition to massages and facials, and there’s also a hair salon. There are a couple of tennis courts plus a fitness center with cardio and weight-training equipment. Free Wi-Fi is provided in the lobby and rooms.
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