Riu Grand

Future looks bright for new all-inclusive

By: Janice Mucalov

Not every all-inclusive resort can dazzle clients with glasses of bubbly and fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast, elegant junior suites and a drop-dead gorgeous lobby with marble floors. But then there is only one Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas the latest jewel in the crown of all-inclusive resorts built and operated by Spanish chain Riu Hotels and Resorts.

Enviably nestled on a golden stretch of Medano Beach less than three miles from Cabo town, the Riu is the newest resort to open in this popular Mexican playground, welcoming its first guests in December 2004.

Architecturally, the resort is stunning. A vision in butter yellow, it rises from the desert like a Moorish castle with roof domes and turrets. The opulent and spacious La Ventana lobby bar overlooks two swimming pools, one a quiet area and the other more lively, with music for pool aerobics and activities. Bougainvillaea and palm trees soften the landscape.

Tossing our bags on the king bed of our “junior suite” (the standard room configuration), I was also delighted with the pleasing decor of our room. White-washed walls serve as a serene backdrop for dark wood cupboards and furniture, and tile floors have marble borders. The bed looks out over a small sunken lounge area with double sofabed, TV and coffee table. Beyond that, sliding glass doors open onto a balcony with an ornate metal railing. The bathroom, with combined tub and shower, features a rose-colored granite counter.

My husband was more delighted with the complimentary mini-bar, and the signature Riu liquor dispensers above the bar with Bacardi rum, Smirnoff vodka and other hard liquors all refilled every second day.

Of course, as with most new properties, there are opening glitches, which the Riu’s Director General Jose Luis Garcia was the first to admit need to be sorted out.

“We’re a victim of our own success,” he laughed, as he explained that the resort has been operating at virtually 100 percent occupancy since it opened.

Guests’ main complaint which I, as the first journalist to visit the Riu, had occasion to witness is with the service. Staff, who haven’t had the time to become fully trained in the hands-on setting, are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of guests. The Riu is the largest hotel in the area, and with 642 rooms, it’s twice as large as any other hotel.

Still, despite this, the staff are extremely friendly and eager to please. And by early spring, Garcia expects the Riu to be operating at a top-notch standard equal to the Palace brand.

For the most part, we found the food at the hotel to be very good. If we came down for breakfast after 9:30 a.m., we could snag a table on the porch, and avoid the earlier longish lines for made-to-order omelettes. But we were inevitably too late for the hot Mexican doughnuts.

For lunch, our favorite venue was the oceanfront Italian restaurant, which at night operates as the Mexican specialty restaurant. In addition to the Mexican and Japanese restaurants, there’s also a steakhouse and “gourmet” dining room. Dinner reservations must be made in the morning for either a 7 or 9 p.m. seating.

After dinner, Vegas-style entertainers perform in the open-air theater. But a bigger hit is the “kids’ disco” each evening from 8 to 9 p.m., children and parents pack the dance floor and enjoy the sodas and ice cream served.

With its combination of luxury and all-inclusive convenience, the Riu Palace seems destined to become a client favorite.


To sweeten the deal, Riu’s Partner Club nets you free nights for bookings made. Your client benefits too they receive a welcome gift on your behalf upon arrival at the hotel. Points are awarded per client booked per night. www.riu.com


Riu Palace Cabo
San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Hits: The self-serve fountain of hot chocolate sauce in the evening buffet for dipping fresh fruit, waiter-served cappuccinos, white tablecloths at all meals and super-clean rooms. Misses: Slow check-in, reception assistance and service at meals.
Be Aware: “Seventy percent of rooms have an excellent ocean view,” according to Constantino, but the rest are limited or have views of the Sea of Cortez. When booking, make sure to request a full ocean-view room. Also advise clients to watch the steps at night into the sunken lounge area of their room. Plugging In: Wireless Internet service is available in the lobby bar.
Clientele: Mostly North American honeymooners and couples aged 20-60. While families are welcome, and a small supervised kids’ club offers daily crafts for ages 4-12, the hotel is geared to adults. Rates: Unlimited meals and bar drinks are included in the $149 per person price for junior suite accommodation. Commission: Commission is paid by the wholesale tour operator when you book an air/land package. From the West: Southwest Airlines, Funjet and AeroMexico offer packages.