My husband and I went to Cancun for the second time Jan 16-20, 2012. Our previous trip was for our honeymoon in April 2011. At that time we stayed at Dreams Cancun. We had so much fun we decided to go back. We thought there are so many resorts that we should stay at a different one, even though we truly loved Dreams. After this trip we will be returning to dreams.
There are some positives and negative to RIU Palace.
Check-in: very simple and quick. We got a free upgrade to an ocean view on the “first” floor – which is really like the 3rd floor – it is not the ground floor. The view was pretty good, even though there was a big deck extending from our balcony that blocked the view to the pool in the courtyard. The room had a true king size bed and was very spacious. We were not able to get to our room till 3PM. Quite frankly I find that frustrating. We leave on a 7AM flight, arriving at the hotel around 10:45, and quite honestly I’d like to rest in the privacy of my own room for just a bit. And considering that while we were staying there our room was always cleaned no later than 1PM, why do they make us wait till 3PM to get into our room upon check-in? Surely there are early check outs (like we had to do when we left) that would make getting into the rooms earlier possible. However, it seems this is pretty standard for all resorts. We were told the hotel was full but this hotel didn’t feel full in the least. There just weren’t enough people. We were handed a lock and key for our safe and instructed that was the ONLY key and losing it would cause a fine. I find the key method to be a pain. We have to keep track of that key and carry it around the entire time. Other hotels have the safes where you enter a code. Then we simply have to remember the code. That is much easier. Everyone should have this. We did receive a welcome drink and that was nice! We changed clothes and left our luggage out front of the hotel with the bellhop and went to the bar until our room was ready.
There are a lot of comments on here about the smell in the lobby. It really wasn’t that bad! People exaggerate. This is a tropical climate and so I would expect some kind of inside smell. I honestly don’t think I’d have noticed it if I hadn’t read so many complaints about it. I actually walked into the lobby when we arrived and inhaled deeply! Lol I wanted to test out the smell. :)
The hotel is very fancy, but I thought it was out of place. It’s not tropical fancy. Everything is dark wood. The hallways have ugly carpet. The rooms are all dark wood with a dark bedspread. I expected a more tropical feel. This looks like it belongs in Vegas and not sitting on the beach.
Speaking of beach – what beach? There isn’t much. Wow. It’s tiny. We could always find a chair, but whether it was in the sun was a different story. The hotel does block the sun quite a bit. That may be worse this time of year. And yes, everyone claims their chairs with their towels in advance. Let’s be real – that happens at every resort. The thing that is different here is you are given a towel card that you exchange for a towel. At check out you have to return the towel card or you will be fined. That was interesting. At Dreams we just had free access to the towels.
Food: I honestly wasn’t that impressed. The breakfast buffet was the best. But really – you can’t mess up breakfast that easily. The lunch buffet was bland. We went to RIU Cancun for the lunch buffet one day and felt the same. The dinner buffet was a let down. I have no good explanation as the buffets were huge and there was a good selection. But nothing really stood out. We had the dinner buffet on Monday night – our first night there. We were seated at a table for 2. However, the tables were set up in such a way that there was another table for 2 next to us. There was like 2 inches of space between. It felt more like a table for 4. When we returned after getting food there was a person seated at the table next to us. Just one person, not a couple. It was beyond awkward. She obviously was uncomfortable and wasn’t giving off the “let’s talk” vibe. We didn’t hardly speak to each other cause we had a stranger seated next to us. The place was ¾ EMPTY at the time. Why in the heck would they seat us like that? I think that was unacceptable. The Italian lunch was good. However, all menus seem to be so heavy on the seafood side. I’m not a big seafood person. I got a chicken dish that was great. But I’d have rather had chicken and pasta, but that wasn’t an option. There are restaurants for dinner that require reservations. And with those you choose a seating time. I found this annoying. Dreams didn’t have this and it was nice to be able to eat when we wanted to. Here we could make reservations 2 days in advance, which we did. My husband was in line before 8AM on Tuesday morning to get the Japanese for Thursday night. That was our last night so our only chance for the Japanese as it books so quickly. Tuesday night we had Mexican. We heard so much bad about it that I was worried we would be eating at the buffet afterwards. We LOVED it. They come out with a great appetizer platter. We both had fajitas and they were excellent. The waiters were friendly and funny. Wednesday we ate at the Brazilian restaurant and it was ok. We came out stuffed, but I found it to be boring. They walk around with skewers of meat. However the meat is just regular meat. There is nothing special in terms of seasonings or preparation. I guess I expected a different flavor since it was Brazil. So I was kind of disappointed. Thursday we had Japanese and it was AMAZING. Everything was fantastic including the fried banana dessert!
Before leaving I was unsure what the dress code was for the specialty restaurants. It seemed the only real thing was guys couldn’t wear sleeveless shirts or shorts. When we were at Dreams it seemed like they had a written code that was more detailed and stricter. However no one followed it and they didn’t enforce it! At RIU Palace, everyone was dressed up. I think the crowd is a bit older and maybe they like to dress up! But I felt very under dressed at the buffet the first night. The buffet doesn’t have a dress code! Luckily we did pack dressier clothes. It was just an interesting thing to note as we were frustrated at Dreams that no one was following the codes but at RIU everyone seemed very dressed up.
The biggest negative for me was the AC in the room. There was a control box but it didn’t do anything. We felt our room was on the warm and sticky side. We turned the temp down to 10°C. It should have been COLD – freezing cold. The temp did not change. The first night we woke up sweating lightly even after kicking off the covers. The next day we reported it as not working. We went up to the room around lunch and nothing had changed in regards to temperature. We went to the front desk again. They called maintenance and said it was fixed. We said there was no way. We asked to meet the maintenance man in our room so he could show us how it worked. We explained that putting the fan on 1, 2 or 3 didn’t change a thing. We met the man there. He moved the controls, mumbled to himself and left. We found him in the hall. With some confusion with him, the maid and bellhop we determined he said he would fix it. Hours later we returned and nothing was changed. We went to the front desk again and requested a different room. They gave us the keys to two other rooms to check out. The temperature was the SAME! The controls in both rooms were set in different places than ours but the temperature was exactly the same. It would appear that the controls in the room don’t have a function. The hotel must set the AC to what they deem appropriate. The only thing that happens in the room is that if the doors are open the AC will kick off. We talked to other people and they also felt their rooms were hot. Another person had reported his as not working as well and had the same experience we did. The lady at the desk told me I must be use to colder AC. I asked her how anyone could stay at this resort in the middle of summer because it’s too uncomfortable now and it’s only January! As a note we hung up our wet swimsuits in the bathroom at noon on Tuesday. We did not wear them on Wednesday. Thursday morning they were STILL wet. It’s clear that the AC is not set high enough because the room is too humid. The AC would take care of that. The papers we had in the room (hotel info, excursion info, etc) were flimsy and slightly damp at the end of the week. They absorbed the humidity in the room. This is likely why people claim the bed sheets feel wet. Sometimes they felt slightly damp to me but not all the time. They never felt fully WET. I’m not sure how that would be possible. I will say when we stayed at Dreams, we could freeze in the room. My camera would fog up when I stood on the balcony due to the temp difference. That was not the case at the RIU Palace. The lobby is very air conditioned. I could have took my pillow and blanket to the lobby and slept very well!
The mini bar was well stocked and if you needed more you could just request it. They told us at check in that the alcohol would be stocked every other day, but if we wanted it done on the off days to just call. We never ordered room service. The menu was rather slim. The drinks at all the bars were yummy! Definitely do as others have mentioned and try a Dirty Monkey! I LOVED them! The waiters work their butts off. They are always around and available for drinks. We did notice less tipping at this resort. We tipped quite often and got strange looks from other guests. The gym has good equipment in it, but it gets really hot as you work out. We had a couples massage and that was very nice as well. The spa prices were reasonable. They offered a 20% discount as well. There are maids everywhere cleaning ALL the time. The place is spotless. Our room was always clean and the towel animals were cute. We got new towels twice a day as they replaced them again when they did turn down service. The doors were loud. We could easily hear our neighbor come and go. The bathroom door and toilet were loud as well I thought. For some reason very noticeable to me. No robes provided in the bathroom. RIU Palace is a Pepsi resort (and they don’t have Mountain Dew!). That may be of interest to some people as I prefer Coke to Pepsi in terms of dark soda. There are definitely only 2 public restrooms. There is one in the main lobby and the other downstairs under the buffet by the gym. I only found this an issue at dinner because we had to leave the restaurant to go to the bathroom. And it could be quite a walk depending where you were eating. I honestly think this is a major oversight. There should be more restrooms.
I didn’t mean for this to be a RIU Palace/ Dreams Cancun comparison, but unfortunately those are my only Cancun all inclusive experiences. There are pros and cons to both and this isn’t the place to do a full comparison. But the biggest reason I won’t return to RIU Palace is because of the AC or lack thereof in the rooms. If I am not comfortable when I’m sleeping then the vacation is not as good as it should be. I woke up many times due to being too hot to sleep well. And yes the beds are hard as others have mentioned, but not *that* hard. I don’t ever judge the beds because everyone has a preference and no hotel/resort can make everyone happy with the beds. But ultimately I should have control of the temperature in my room. Even Motel 6 offers me that luxury. So we will probably return to Dreams in the future and skip exploring other resorts. I hope this review was helpful. I know there are a lot of options and opinions out there!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC