Cancun, Mexico

SCENE: My husband & I stayed at Riu Palace Las Americas May 6-12, 2006, in Jr. Suite #547. We booked a hotel/air package thru Orbitz for $2K. We booked airport transfers thru USA Transfers for $52 & the Jungle Tour for $55pp through Aqua Tours. We wanted a relaxing vacation in a hot, beautiful setting. We typically do cruises to the Caribbean, but decided to try an All-Inclusive this time around. I’ll attempt to touch on topics not typically written about.

AIRPORT: what a madhouse!! The airport is small and very, very crowded. After you land, you must exit the plane and hop on a bus to get to the terminal. Then, you must get in a huge customs/immmigration line. The line extended out the door of the terminal and was as long as a line for a Disney ride! Luckily, it moved quickly unlike the luggage crew. TIP #1: Don’t check luggage! I didn’t, but my husband did. We waited for 40 minutes to get his bag since there is only 1 luggage carrousel and 3 flights that arrived ahead of us. TIP#2: Prebook a transfer to your hotel! Once you exit the building it gets even more stressful and chaotic! Hundreds of people await calling out at you, wanting your business. I saw my name on a sign and was whisked away into a waiting air conditioned van. Our transfer was $52 and we paid 75% on arrival and the rest on our departure day. We didn’t have others in our van, just me & my hubby!

HOTEL CHECKIN: Smooth, uneventful. Given room #547, did NOT ask for an upgraded view. But, we got one! The hotel is shaped like a U. Our room was on the top of the U facing the ocean and had a deeper balcony than the standard room. The room is beautifully decorated and comes with basic amenties such as sewing kit, shower cap, soaps, hairdryer, iron, stocked mini frig and liquor dispenser. Yes, the bed is flat as a board but I didn’t have trouble sleeping.

RESTAURANTS: First night you MUST eat at the Buffet. It’s higher quality food than a cruise ship buffet, but you’ll see similar items each day. To eat at a specialty restaurant, you must go to that restaurant between 5-6pm the day BEFORE and book a reservation. Each restaurant has 2 or more seatings. We were NEVER turned away and we NEVER waited more than 5 minutes in a line.

1st night – JAPANESE- 9pm seating, waited 5 minutes in line. Choice of starter, entree, and dessert. Comes with a sushi appetizer. I dined on chicken soup with spinach, tofu, and shitake, beef strips as my entree, and fried ice cream for dessert. GRADE: C- (worst of all restaurants in food quality/taste and service)

2nd night -BRAZILIAN- 8:45 seating, no wait in line. Preset menu. Comes with an awesome salad/soup buffet, followed by 5 meats( Filet Mignon, Chicken, Mexican beef, Turkey, Pork tenderloin) served with waffle fries, onions and mushrooms, and dessert buffet. The meats comes around on a skewer and the waiter slices of a bite sized piece. Very small portions. GRADE:B- (good on service & salad buffet, but the small meat portions and the flavorlessness brings done the score).

3rd night-STEAKHOUSE-8:45 seating, 2-3 minute wait in line. Salad buffet, choice of entree, dessert buffet. My husband & I both chose the Ribeye. This restaurant is outside and the cool ocean breeze was lovely. A sax player also added to the ambiance. However, the outside atmosphere t negatively affected the salad bar (hot salad- yuck!). The buffet DID include sushi, tho. We found the service great, but the meat very fatty. We didn’t sample the dessert buffet because our awesome waiter surprised us with chocolate covered fruits and marshmellows. Yum! GRADE:B

4th night- GOURMET- 6:45 seating, no wait. Choice of starter, entree, and dessert. Comes with a caviar/salmon appetizer. I had watercress soup, filet mignon, and crepes. The dessert was a bit soggy, but the meal and service was excellent! BEST RESTAURANT! GRADE:A

5th night- SPANISH- 9pm seating, no wait. Preset menu, except for Entree. Tapa starter served on a lazy susan included meat pastry, shrimp, fish sticks, and asparagus. I had the beef entree (excellent) and my husband had stuffed chicken (no so good). The desserts also served on lazy susan included choc covered cherries, chocolate almonds, creme brulee. GRADE:A-

WEATHER: Sunny every day, highs in the 90s! You will BAKE in the sun, be sure to load up on the sunscreen. I used 50 spf on my shoulders, face, and other prone to burn areas. I used a tanning sunscreen with a lower spf on my arms and legs. I still burned a little.

SHOWS: Just o-k. Michael Jackson & Grease were the popular ones.

HOTEL LOCATION: Superb! ATM is across from hotel as is an indoor shopping mall. I bought my vanilla, coffee, and cheap T shirts there. Hot spots like Coco Bongo and Carlos & Charlies are within walking distance.

BEACH: Small but adequate. Neighbor hotel Riu Cancun has a larger one and YOU can use it. Be aware, vendors walk up and down the beach calling out to ya. Anything from tablecloths to cuban cigars. TIP#3: Bring a frisbee or football for some beach fun!

MONEY: BRING $1 bills!! Most people DO tip and it’s helpful to have small change since you cannot break large US bills at the front desk. You’ll want your small pesos for the local bus (stops in front of hotel

SHOWS: Just o-k. Michael Jackson & Grease were the popular ones.

HOTEL LOCATION: Superb! ATM is across from hotel as is an indoor shopping mall. I bought my vanilla, coffee, and cheap T shirts there. Hot spots like Coco Bongo and Carlos & Charlies are within walking distance.

BEACH: Small but adequate. Neighbor hotel Riu Cancun has a larger one and YOU can use it. Be aware, vendors walk up and down the beach calling out to ya. Anything from tablecloths to cuban cigars. TIP#3: Bring a frisbee or football for some beach fun!

MONEY: BRING $1 bills!! Most people DO tip and it’s helpful to have small change since you cannot break large US bills at the front desk. You’ll want your small pesos for the local bus (stops in front of hotel.

HOUSEKEEPING: You’ll never be without bath towels. If you want your room cleaned BEFORE the afternoon, put the sign on your door handle. Otherwise, your room won’t be cleaned until mid afternoon. However, they will knock on your door in the afternoon to give you fresh towels and washcloths.

LAUNDRY: I didn’t use, but I have the price list if anyone is interested.

ROOM SERVICE: Only for breakfast, must submit order on an order form that hangs on the door the night BEFORE.

DRUGS: If you need anything, check out the pharmacy across the street. EVERYTHING is over the counter in Mexico- Viagra, pain meds, muscle relaxers, retinol etc etc.

MEXICAN WATER: I used the tap water to brush my teeth and I never got sick. The mini bar has many bottles of water in it, tho, if you’re concerned.

CHECKOUT: Quick & easy. Don’t loose your safe key or towel keys or you’ll be charged $50 AND $20 respectively.

We had a lovely time. The hotel is stunning and the service was top notch. The front desk people were the ONLY workers that had a less than amazing attitude. Our room was perfect as was our entire stay. The food was less than perfect, but we were well fed and came home a couple pounds heavier. Enjoy your stay and email me with any questions.

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