water sports including free scuba introduction
24-hour all-inclusive plan
and nightly shows
throughout the resort
Some rooms can
views are of walls
Open-plan bathrooms won't suit everyone
Seaweed at the beach (typical for area)
Away from downtown Playa del Carmen
Guests must wear wristbands
Hotel Riu Palace
Mexico is an all-inclusive, upscale, 434-room resort set along the beach in Playa del
Carmen’s upmarket Playacar area. A 2012 renovation brought most of the
interiors up to date with plenty of glitzy touches while the hotel's ground are
some of the most pristine you'll see. Facilities are excellent, including ample eating and drinking options, plenty of pools and sports, and daily
entertainment, while kids are also well-catered for. Rooms aren't perfect --
some are prone to damp and others have poor views -- though jetted tubs and liquor
dispensers as standard are high points. All in all, it's a strong contender in
a crowded market, drawing families and couples who prefer relaxing over
partying. This is the nicest Riu in the area; The Riu Palace Riviera Maya All Inclusive (within walking distance) has the same amenities but more traditional decor.
chain hotel resort with glitzy makeover set in pristine grounds
renovations completed in 2012, the Hotel Riu Palace Mexico reopened with most
of its tired colonial decor swept away in favor of 21st-century glitz.
Stepping into the lobby, it's hard not to be stuck by the disco-chic style that
brings together plush purple velvet with shimmering mosaic, intricate wrought
ironwork, and extravagant chandeliers. There are still some of the hotel's
original details in evidence, such as polished granite flooring, lofty wood
paneling, and even a small Catholic chapel, and they sometimes sit a little awkwardly alongside newer elements. The property however is set in impeccably tended
grounds, with gleaming white-washed buildings topped with terra-cotta tiles
flanking manicured lawns and framing pretty fountains. Footpaths lined with
colorful flowers and palm trees connect sun terraces and swimming pools and run
down to the white powder sands and impossibly turquoise waters of the Mexican
This all-inclusive resort is mostly popular with North American and
British vacationers, from families and couples to groups of friends. Unruly spring breakers are not tolerated (room parties are not allowed and during spring break season, at least one guest must be 21 or over; the rest of the year guests only need to be 18). Though kids are catered to here, couples are a bit more common than families. It's one of the two Palace-level Riu resorts in the Playacar area (the other being the more traditionally decorated The Riu Palace Riviera Maya All Inclusive); the Palace properties have access to the amenities at the four Classic-level Riu resorts in the vicinity: the Riu Yucatan, Riu Playacar, Riu Tequila, and Riu Lupita.
Playacar neighborhood an hour's drive from Cancun
Riu Palace Mexico
is located in the exclusive Playacar resort area in a complex shared with five other hotels from the Riu chain. The hotel has direct access to a beach overlooking
the Mexican Caribbean sea and is situated about 15 minutes' drive from downtown
Playa del Carmen offering plenty in the way of restaurants, bars, and retail
outlets, as well as a regular ferry service to Cozumel island. There are also
abundant tourist attractions to be had such as day trips to Xel-Ha and Xcaret parks, and the Mayan ruins of
Tulum and Chichen Itza. The mega-resort of Cancun with its legendary nightlife
and international airport is also about an hour away.
styling with furnished terraces, jetted tubs, and liquor dispensers
benefitted from the 2012 renovation, all 434 rooms are decorated in fresh,
modern styling with crisp white walls and splashes of pinks and purples. As
well as small lounges separated by a glass half-wall, rooms also have sliding doors
that open to furnished terraces that mostly overlook the garden complex (some
just have views of neighboring buildings). Standard amenities are impressive
and include satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, and even hydro-massage jetted bathtubs --
though not everyone will enjoy the open-plan bathing set-up. (As the most upscale of the six Rius, this resort tends to draw more couples.) Refreshments also
include well-stocked minibars, coffee machines, and liquor dispensers with four
export-quality spirits (such as Bacardi and Jose Cuervo, all included in the plan). As is common among hotels in the
area, rooms can feel a little damp or musty.
of dining, drinking, and leisure facilities
The property has
all the facilities you'd expect from a large all-inclusive resort, including
four swimming pools (one adult-only with a swim-up bar), and a spa with gym, jetted
tubs, and steam room. There are also six restaurants; a la carte options include fusion cuisine at Krystal, Japanese, Italian, a steakhouse, and of course, Mexican. The quality of food is high for an all-inclusive, and the buffet has impressive variety, live cooking stations, and theme nights (including one where lobster is offered). There are seven different bars
scattered throughout the hotel; the cappuccino bar serving pastries and ice cream is popular, and there is no equivalent at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya. There's a 24-hour lounge so guests can drink and snack at all hours, and 24-hour room service is also offered.
Children four to 12 are well catered for with the RiuLand kids' club, an outdoor playground, and a kiddy pool. There is an impressive range of water sports -- including a free
introductory scuba class -- as well as two floodlit tennis courts and
beach volleyball. Daily entertainment is also put on for adults and children,
including live music and shows in the evening; it's a hit with most guests. There's also a discotheque at Riu Tequila.
The beach has beautiful white sand and the hotel makes an effort to clear the seaweed that accumulates along the shore (typical for the area), but it will still be present along the shore and in the shallow water near the sand. There are lots of lounge chairs and palm trees help provide shade (there are no umbrellas). A massage hut is located here, and there are regular beach barbecues. Drink service is available both at the beach and the four pools.
around-the-clock plan including room service and tips
The hotel has a 24-hour all-inclusive plan that covers meals, snacks, and drinks, though the a la carte restaurant options require advance reservations. Guests are required to wear wristbands. In-room
minibars and liquor dispensers are restocked regularly and room service is available at all hours. Tax and tips are also
included, though tips are still appreciated. Guests can access all of the amenities at the five other Rius in the complex, though guests at the four Classic-level Riu properties in the complex cannot access the Palace-level resorts.
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