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I crossed the pool area, nearing the edge of the powdery white sand. Before I took the last few steps down to the beach, I paused to peer through the rows of palm trees, which framed a shockingly turquoise ocean, literally sparkling in sunlight.
That resort-adjacent strip of idyllic beachside was only one of my favorite things about the Riu Palace Mexico. The recently renovated property — located within the Playacar resort of the Playa del Carmen area in Mexico — was closed for approximately three months to undergo a $20 million refurbishment and reopened in December 2012. The hotel opened in 1999 as the first Riu Palace in Mexico and, while it retained its original building, it has been updated to include the modern design aesthetics of the brand.
The 434 rooms of the Riu Palace Mexico were redone to include new furniture, fabrics and color schemes — predominately white with purple accents. Bathrooms were completely redone with hydro-massage bathtubs, a separate shower and a double sink.
The resort’s four pools have been completely remodeled and were relocated to be adjacent to the beach. Now it’s an easy feat to spend the day rotating between dips in the ocean, drinks at the swim-up bar and even a game of volleyball, if you’re so inclined. The four pools were also separated during the redesign, so those looking for water aerobics or volleyball can hang out in one pool while cocktail sippers relax in another, without getting in each other’s way. The main lunch buffet is also served in the pool and beach area, so you never have to leave — just remind clients to bring extra sunscreen.
Riu Palace Mexico’s restaurant offerings were also enhanced and now offer guests a choice of six eateries, including the new La Bodega Mexican restaurant, the Italian La Dolce Vita and the Guacamole steakhouse, which are joining the Don Julian buffet, fusion restaurant Krystal and the Japanese Miyagi. Riu has also introduced the Capuchino cafe, serving snacks and a range of gourmet coffees and teas all day. Lounge 24 is new as well and offers snacks and drinks 24 hours a day, including bottles of water that I grabbed on my way to excursions or walks on the beach.
Riu YucatanNext door, the Riu Yucatan has undergone an even fresher facelift. The property was reopened last July after a $20 million refurbishment that updated the rooms and common areas. This resort caters to families and is built in a bungalow style. The 507 renovated rooms are now more like the modern Palace decor, with a white and blue color scheme and new furniture.
Other features of the update include a new pool (one of three on the property) a new relaxation area with hammocks and renovated bar and lounge areas at the main pool. A new Italian restaurant brings the total number of dining options to five. In addition, the property includes the RiuLand kids’ club, featuring a program of activities and a playground for little ones. Even better, for kids and adults alike, is that the Riu Yucatan’s lush greenery attracts visiting monkeys, which hang from the trees to reward passersby with an up-close viewing.
The moral of the story? If your clients are looking for friendly service, bountiful choices and a beautiful Mexico Caribbean location, you can’t go wrong with Riu.