Loc: NY and Mexico
My wife and I spent a wonderful eight nights at the RIU Cancun (RCN) hotel January 20 Ė 28. We spent one day at the RIU Caribe (RCB) during this trip, and we had stayed at the RIU Palace Las Americas (RPLA) one year ago, so we can also offer some insight into the differences between the hotels, perhaps. This review is very lengthy as I was asked to provide detail, so if you want to be surprised about the hotel please stop here!
We traveled with Funjet for the first time and I must say the service was incredible Ė we were greeted and taken care of both coming and going, and we had a private return with an excellent driver Angel. I will not hesitate to use Funjet on our next trip.
I chose a junior suite in the RCN annex building (room 355) over a tower room. Iím sure the tower rooms are great, but since the junior suite was only $100 more for the entire stay I opted for that because of the better location on the property, guaranteed oceanview, and additional space in the room.
All junior suites at the RCN are located in the separate 6-story annex building that also houses the main buffet and auditorium. The junior suite was very similar to the oceanfront junior suite we had at the RPLA. The bathroom is roomy with 2 sinks in the vanity and a full tub/shower. This room# 355 has a king bed, others may have 2 doubles. The mattress is firm as is the case with many of the resorts in Mexico so you may want to request a mattress pad if you prefer softer beds. There is the minibar stocked with Dos Equis, Modelo, and Sol, along with several liters of purified water, and Pepsi. Pepsi Light, Diet Pepsi, and soda water. The RPLA offered Corona in the minibar, which I missed during our stay at the RCN. But itís possible Corona is no longer offered at the RPLA. If you have a preference from the choices offered let the room steward know and they will accommodate your request. There is also same the liquor dispenser found in the RPLS rooms with vodka, tequila, rum, and a brandy. You can use the tap water to brush your teeth if you want, but definitely drink the bottled water.
You step down from the bed area to a sitting area with a small (19Ē?) TV on a dresser, a pullout sofa with a coffee table, and then step out onto the balcony. This room has a deeper balcony than the rooms closer to the building ends ald also the tower rooms so consider that when booking. I believe rooms 353 Ė 359 have the deeper balcony but confirm that when booking (same with the other floors). The view from the 3rd floor was great, some floors do not have good pool views because of deck overhangs (2 & 5 I believe). The location of the junior suites is perfect in relation to the pool, beach and the buffet.
One note on the odor that is often noted in reviews of the RPLA, we had experienced that odor in the hallway off our ocean front room at the RPLA. We werenít surprised with the hotel being situated between the ocean and the lagoon, especially with carpeting. But it would definitely not prevent us from returning to the RPLA, as the room was fine.
We didnít notice any odor at the RCN other than what we normally smell while in Cancun beach hotels. A couple we met at the RCN had a room on the 6th floor above us and they complained about an odor only at night. They felt it was emanating from the bathtub and sink drains because the bathroom air vent was not on at night and perhaps the vent pipe was inadequate. Not sure if that was indeed the cause but they placed the drain stops in the tub and sink drains and said that helped. Again, we didnít experience this odor on the 3rd floor so it may have been a venting problem.
Buffet Dining Ė Excellent
The RCN buffet is as good as the RPLA except for the soups, perhaps, because they were simply amazing at the RPLA buffet. We ate at the RCN buffet several nights and we both loved the variety and consistent quality of food and service. Several nights were theme nights with unique music and dishes offered to fit the theme. The buffet is excellent at both hotels, although the RPLA wins hands down in the specialty restaurants, at least from our experience. The steak, Brazilian and gourmet restaurants at the RPLA were wonderful, but the steak and Brazilian were terrible at the RCN, Iím sorry to report. Iím a bit picky with meats, but these choices were very ďun-RIU-likeĒ. We only had lunch at the RCB but we really enjoyed relaxing on the deck overlooking the ocean with the wonderful views of Puerto Juarez to the north, Isla Mujeres to the east, and the RCN and Dreams to the south. Just beware the gulls like the cheeseburgers and nachos too and they can carry them off!
I researched restaurants prior to leaving and also asked for advice from the hotel staff, we didnít make many on our list but here are a few we did make Ė
El Mortero is a Mexican restaurant near the Forum in a new building. Itís associated with the hotel there, nice replication of a Mexican hacienda with an excellent mariachi band serenading the tables. Not an authentic experience like you will get in downtown Cancun, but a very nice evening with a good menu if you like meat dishes. We had already had dinner and went just to check it out, there are a few tables at the entrance where you can enjoy a margarita and check the menu. We were served nachos and also serenaded by the mariachi band. There is a cabinet of 134 premium tequilas by these tables; the manager presented many to us, explaining their origin and status. I would recommend the El Mortero for a romantic dinner or with a group or simply to enjoy as we did! Itís next to the Forum bars but the setting is very nice inside.
El Tumbaburros in Plaza Las Americas mall, downtown Cancun Ė we really enjoyed the tacos and beer here. This is where the locals shop and eat so itís a different experience than a restaurant full of tourists like us (we were the only foreigners there).
We enjoyed Limoncelloís in the hotel zone for an Italian dinner, the penne was great, the ravioli w/ lobster and spinach was expected to be a pasta dish but was lobster wrapped in spinach. A good dish, just not what we expected. They do have Heineken as well though! Nice restaurant on the lagoon.
We didnít make it to Hacienda Sisal for the dinner show, or to LaParilla in downtown Cancun.
Ocean & Pool Ė wow!
The ocean during our stay was gorgeous with the variety of blues, and the weather was consistently in the mid 80ís with no rain at all Ė we were very lucky to be there between the cold snaps. There are rocky areas in the beach of both the RCN and RPLA that add to the natural beauty of the shoreline, and there are sections of beach that are free of rocks and are great for wading or riding the waves. The waves are much calmer here than on the main stretch of beach but still big enough for fun. The pools are very nice and very clean, as can be expected with this class of hotels. To get a preferred lounge by the pool that is in the sun until 3 PM you need to be there by 7AM to beat the ďtowel peopleĒ, of course. Towels arenít available until 8:30 AM but many folks actually get towels the night before and either put them out that evening, which we saw one "gentleman" do often from our balcony, or they get up extra early to reserve their chairs and come out hours later. Since we were up early and the weather was beautiful this wasnít a problem for us.
RCN vs RPLA -
The RCN may attract slightly more active guests than the RPLA but we enjoyed meeting other couples at both hotels. The RPLA is a bit more luxurious in its appointments, had wonderful soups in the buffet that we havenít experienced at the other Cancun RIUís, higher premium liquors in the lobby bar, better specialty restaurant experiences, and the very comfy beds by the quiet pool. These all command a premium rate and I donít have a problem with that at all. But he RCN is a beautiful hotel itself, with very nice architecture, grounds and pools, and we wanted to experience staying at the RCN after seeing it while staying at the RPLA. We were very happy with our stay at the RIU Cancun.
Bottom line - we enjoyed the RIU Cancun very much and would recommend this hotel to anyone. The location is excellent, and the buffet is of a superb quality and variety. For excursions in the Cancun area we would recommend a day in Isla Mujeres seeing the island by golf cart ($42/day + Playa Tortugas ferry), and taking the 2-person "speedboats" out of the lagoon mangroves to the reef for snorkeling. We go to Playa Del Carmen and south for most visits to Mexico and would also recommend looking at that for a more natural experience. But itís all good!
We went to the bull fight in Cancun (Wed, 3:30 PM, $600 peso/pp), the show is excellent with dancing and entertainment, men from the crowd volunteered to play soccer while a young bull was chasing after them and that was hilarious! Not sure they were told about the bull when they volunteered as many of them were thrown by the bull! We were both a bit shocked with the bull fight, we knew the bull would die (or the matador), but the way it transpired was very cruel indeed Ė not a sporting event.
We went to the RIU Caribe (RCB) one day, just a 5 minute bus ride where it is next to Porta Tortugas. We enjoyed the pool there very much, more of a winding pool which allows for ample lounging room for everyone. The entertainment staff was great there. The deck overlooking the sea is also a nice spot to relax for lunch with a gorgeous view as I noted above. The RCB has a different styling than the other 2 RIUís but it is also a very nice property and close to the ferry to Isla Mujeres We would probably chose the RPLA or RCN next time because of the superb location for shopping and evening entertainment options. But the RCB is a very nice property we would definitely spend time at again and may chose to stay at in the future.