Introduction: Writing this on my return flight from my family's 5 night vacation. Travelers included my Wife and I, and two daughter (Ages 8 & 12). I'll intend to describe the "reality" as we experienced it. Should too many comments trend "Negative", I feel I should start by stating that we had a great time and have no regrets with regards to this year's Family Spring Break getaway. If you are heading to (or considering) the Riu Tropical Bay Resort, I hope this review can provide you with a better sense of what to expect. Transfer from Airport to Resort: We pre-purchased a round trip transfer/bus package through the trip booking website. Pricing seemed fair, and the process of figuring out where to go and getting on the road was painless. Would definitely recommend this. The trip from the airport to Negril isn't the "rough" trek it apparently was years ago. The 1.5 hour ride seemed much quicker as there is plenty of Jamaican "life" to soak while leaving the city and passing through a few small towns as you drive along the coast. My kids were intrigued by the street vendors, uniformed school kids, and dozens (hundreds?) of roadside "bars". Resort Rooms: TIP: There are no elevators anywhere at the resort. If your age/weight/health or "vacation attitude" have a problem with this, be sure to request something on the ground floor. We were assigned a ground floor unit, and found that it was convenient for quick bathroom runs from the beach, as well as for simply dropping our sand-covered rafts, snorkels, and shoes directly onto our porch instead of bringing them through the room. This advantage did, however, come with some trade-offs: the ground level rooms have a 3' concrete wall at the patio as opposed to open railings of 2nd and 3rd floor units. As a result, sitting in your patio chair at ground level prevents you from seeing anything other than a concrete wall. Related to this is the fact that "Ocean View Junior Suite"- the most popular rooms- are NOT Ocean FRONT. You will be able to see water from your Patio (and will be less than 200' from beach), but be prepared. (Despite initial disappointment, we found this room fine after realizing how little time we spent in it- would probably choose the same again). Beds were firm, but comfortable. The 4 of us managed to share the two double beds, so no one had to sleep on the Sofa Sleeper which- felt like most Sofa Sleepers. Rooms include programmable safes for valuables, TV's that had Miami-based major networks, as well as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to distract the kids. Each room includes a refrigerator stocked with beverages, and some bottom shelf hard liquor should you need it. Each room should have a large umbrella in one of the closets (check for it BEFORE and afternoon storm passes over, and ask at Front Desk if yours is missing!). I thought this was a nice touch. Your room WILL have bugs in it. This is a tropical environment, and (relatively) harmless flies and mosquitos seem to hang outside the doors like people at the Buffet & Bars. Surprisingly, we had little/no bug bites despite going to bed with several of the pests alive and well in our room each night. TIP: Throw a fly swatter in your suitcase if this freaks you out. Beach: Crystal Clear water on a sandy bottom, with virtually no Surf. Everything you paid for (just be sure your kids aren't expecting to Boogie Board or Surf here). Powdery beach sand is groomed & cleaned by resort staff each morning. While everyone appeared to save/claim chairs early in mornings, chairs always remained available throughout the day, so there's really no need to join this "race" unless you have a very large group or are dead set on sitting under a particular Palm tree. Beach Peddlers are as common on Jamaican beaches as Sand, and it’s very apparent the Tourism dollars are the sole source of income for much of the islanders. The "rules" are that they must stay along the water unless engaged in a transaction, so choose your beach spot wisely. We weren't bothered too much- most vendors respond accordingly to "no, thank you”. If this sort of atmosphere isn’t for you, I’d suggest another destination. Riu resorts use ScubaCaribe to operate the provided water sports (kayaks, paddle boats, Sail Catamarans). While the staff working to promote/sell excursions through these guys were extremely friendly, I found the staff operating things at the beach building to be among the least-friendly I encountered in Jamaica. After handing someone a few bucks for 15 seconds of work to drag the sail boat around into the water for us, his partner complained to me that all he got was "Thank You's and No Tips" when we returned 15 minutes later (it's kind of hard to carry cash in bathing suits!). Just mentioning this because this event combined with disinterested "mall worker teenager" attitude of the girl at the building helped me decide to NOT pay for a $300 excursion for my family that we were considering. Drinks & Food: Plenty, pretty good tasting, good variety. I always get a kick out of the hyperbole descriptions regarding these all-inclusive Caribbean offerings. Let's be honest: if you are looking for a truly "excellent" Steak, Japanese, Italian, or French cuisine, you will easily find better in every metropolitan area in the U.S. Likewise, prepare for weak drinks made primarily from sweet mixes, and short cuts such as bottled lime juice in place of fresh limes, etc. For Beer Lovers in Jamaica, I hope that you can learn to love Red Stripe Beer. We found breakfasts great (including plenty of eggs, French toast, bacon, cereals, pastries, fruit...). Lunch Buffet was the weakest IMO, but the beachside Jerk barbecue shack was good. Dinners at the Buffet were fine, and- as expected- each night included a "theme"... Mexican, Jamaican, etc. After browsing the menus of the Specialty Restaurants, we opted for the Buffet for all nights (certainly easier for a family with kids to please). Another note for those with picky eaters: Burgers, Hot Dogs, Pasta, and Pizza appeared to be available at every Lunch and Dinner (I didn't eat any, but kids defaulted to these a couple of times). Fitness Activities: I used the gym treadmills each afternoon, and found the equipment to be in good working order. The A/C was sufficient in this small building, and there ws never more than 3 guests in the building at a time. My youngest daughter had us join a Water Aerobics session in the Ocean on two mornings, and it was pretty fun (and challenging). Staff: 90% of the Riu Staff was as friendly and accommodating as could be hoped for. 10% seems to prefer to be left alone. No one within the facility was outright rude at any point. You’ll likely settle into a standard table and waiter/waitress for your Breakfasts & Dinners served in the Main Buffet building… TIP: I recommend Tipping nightly, as we were caught off guard when our Waitress had the Day Off on our last night there (I talked to a fellow waiter, and asked that the majority of my large tip for the week be shared with our Regular waitress, but I’ll never know who actually got the money). In general, having dollars in hand throughout the resort is a good idea. Entertainment: Hard to comment while being polite. We joined the “Rock Show” one night- where 8 or so entertainers lip synced to a mix of classic tunes. It was just odd, and lower in quality than what I’ve seen at Amusement Parks in the summer. The “dancing” was about at the level of coordination I see at High School shows. I wish I could be kinder, but by kids were laughing (at- not WITH) the event, and joking about it for the next two days. A couple of guys singing on the beach for dollars during the day had far more talent than this crew. Jamaica Travel Tips: Compared to Japan/Europe and other Caribbean destinations that I've visited, the efficiency of making your way through Jamaican Customs & Immigration leaves much to be desired. Expect 2 hours to get through the lines, and consider yourself lucky if you do better. Be sure to pack a pen, and fill out the entire form (top & bottom, front & back) regardless of what the flight attendants tell you. Once clearing the customs area, ignore the lure of the Currency Exchange counter and its "you need local money" signs. US Dollars are excepted everywhere by everyone that I encountered, and- in a pinch- Resorts can perform exchanges for you. Finally, don't forget to bring plenty of small bills for tipping. Virtually every worker around resorts in Jamaica relies on tips.
I had a great time with my boyfriend here! The rooms were clean, the staff was so helpful, the food was delicious, and the beach was to die for! we're coming back next year for sure! such a great value!
We had a great time at Riu. The rooms were great; the staff was great; the beach was clean and so was the pool. We walked along the beach side and seen other hotels and we really thought ours was the best one. Our place was really nice and also very, very clean! The only downfall we had was with the wifi. The free wifi they advertise, did not work at all! when we walked to another hotel, the wifi worked, so we confirmed it was a problem with our hotel, not the Negril area. Other than that, the food was fabulous. The staff was fun and great. We found it to be a really nice and hip place to relax.
This was our first time using Cheap Caribbean and going to an all inclusive, but it will not be our last. The RIU Tropical Bay is a very solid 4 star resort. There is lots to do and the service is fantastic. Pros: Great service from everyone Large choice of food/dining options Nice beach Good pool area Very good entertainment team Cons: Drinks are served in very small glasses Room was nice, but had very musty smell Room was called Ocean Front, but was really an Ocean View Tips: Bring something to float on in the bay. We read this and brought spring floats which were easy to blow up and pack. Bring large insulated cups. We brought 16 ounce with a top and straw. Frozen drinks stay cold a long time in them. Pack a small fabreeze, We sprayed daily which made the musty smell bearable. We can't wait to head back to Jamaica and would go back here in a second.
This was our first international trip and the weather was perfect. No complaints except that we should have stayed longer. All inclusive is definitely the way to go! Thanks CheapCaribbean.com!
Drinks = really bad, stick with beer, otherwise risk drinking gross mixers Rooms= average... mold on couches- but hey, everything is wet! Beach = one of the MOST amazing I have been at... love it! Staff = SO kind and friendly... Entertainment crew is amazing Food= good, but imposible to get a reservation for any rest. with a week trip, we only got in one day... Chairs = need more beach chairs Overall- I have stayed here twice, and I think once was enough. I would totally go back to Negril, and would prefer to stay in a guest house... and be with the local flavor/culture... but that could just be my personality as well. If your looking to go with a group, this is a great place... it's easy if your with a lot of people because you can all do your own thing, and everything is SUPER easy! PRINT OUT EVERYTHING! I only had some print outs and we needed the print outs for everything... so print... they still use paper here!
This resort had it all - comfort, service, beauty, fun, food, great alcohol and staff. We couldn't have asked for a better trip to Negril, we definitely will be returning. For the price a single mom can afford, we got treated like queens. The beach is the best I've been on, white soft sand, shallow clear water, spacious, never a problem to find a chair. The swim up bar is always hoppin and very fun. The drinks are not weak by any means. I felt very safe here and would recommend anyone to visit here.
We had an amazing vacation. I just loved the people, we were so welcomed at the resort. I felt so at home there, the food, entertinment, beach....just everything was great. Everyone greeted us by our name. the food was good and our waiter went out of his way for us, he decorated our table with flowers and had drinks waiting for us. If you have a chance to go, please enjoy this resort. We will go again. Also thanks to Jeff at cheap caribbean for helping me book this trip.
This resort promised to have some evening entertainment. The shows put on were not bad, but the entire resort shuts down at 10:30 pm. The service was excellent by the individual workers, but the liquor quality was extremely poor, with very few top shelf options. The main buffet offered good food and a nice variety of options. We didn't try the individual restaurants on location. This is a family resort, which was not marketed as such. There were several small children in the pool with a swim up bar. When I tried to change to another resort upon arrival to this one, there was no communication between this resort and the same company in Montego Bay. Therefore, I felt that I overspent on a lackluster experience. I would not recommend this resort and am unlikely to visit any Riu hotel in the future.
We stayed at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Jamaica and we enjoy everyday. The resort was great and the beach was even better! We look forward to retuning to this resort in the future and would recommend this resort to anyone looking for a relaxed and stress free experience!