Riu Bambuer Benefactor
Registered: February 2006
Review Date: Fri August 3, 2007
||Would you recommend this Riu Resort? Yes |
Price paid per week?: None indicated
| Rating: 6
Beautiful lobby, nice rooms
Too new to truly enjoy!
My rating is based primarily on the fact that it is new and still requires some time to be the true 5 + hotel that it is rated at.
This was our first vacation to Aruba and our first visit to a Riu Palace. We enjoyed Aruba immensely and would probably return to Aruba in the future. We have previously booked two other vacations to Riu’s in the Caribbean both of which were during the high season and over Christmas. We chose the Riu Palace Aruba (RPA) as we were always happy with other Riu vacations and we expected to receive comparable or superior services than what we had received previously. The cost of this vacation was comparable to our previous two trips however this vacation was booked during the low season and was somewhat discounted for a new hotel.
I was very pleased that the hotel had opened on time and in general the hotel was beautiful. This will be a very beautiful addition to the resorts in Aruba one day and with all of the services that are normally available to Riu Palace guests but in my estimation this resort should not have been offered to guests for at least another month. There are still areas of ongoing construction, repairs to existing construction. There are also ongoing safety issues with the beach and elevators. The staff still requires additional training in order for this to be the 5 + resort that they are offering.
For the remainder of my review keep in mind that we visited the RPA in the first week it opened and within the next few months the bugs will be ironed out. I have no doubt that this will be an excellent resort in the future but patience will be required if visiting in the next month or so.
Our takeoff and landing in Aruba were on time. Getting through customs in Aruba was a breeze. We were the only plane that landed and our luggage didn’t take any time to unload and off through customs and out into the wonderful warm sun of Aruba. Our bus was waiting for us and off we went! There were about 50 guests on our bus and we were the first stop. There was one couple on our bus going to the Occidental and they had to wait for all of us to unload! We got into the lobby and it was truly breathtaking! We lined up and waited for our room keys. We were served a welcoming drink while in the line and the Director came around and put our wristbands on. When it was our turn everything went relatively smoothly. They had pre-prepared our room packages so we just needed to fill out our paperwork. We had room 530 in Building B. This room is situated dead centre of the hotel. We had great views of the pool area and the ocean. We had a French balcony and although these balconies do not have chairs on them, we were able to use the chairs in our room if we wanted to sit down on the balcony. Building B only has balconies available on Floors 1, 2, 9, and 10. Building A will have balconies available for all guest rooms.
The mattresses on the beds are very hard. The bathrooms are beautiful and I have no complaints with this regard. We had a Junior Suite and this room has a Jacuzzi tub and double sinks. There was plenty of hot water to fill this tub each day. The water pressure in the shower was excellent and the shower head had two settings. I did find it difficult sometimes to flush the toilet and sometimes it took a second try to flush everything. I read somewhere that the water in the bathrooms was not drinkable but they do give you two large bottles of water in your bar fridge. The room has a mini bar with four large bottles of alcohol. The fridge also contains cans of pop and beer.
Due to the very hot weather in Aruba, the air conditioning in our room had to stay on all the time and it had to be set to less than 20 C for the fan unit to operate. If the air conditioning unit was set higher than 20 C then condensation would form in our room. We cannot sleep with the air conditioning set this high so there was constantly humidity in our room. When the balcony door was opened the air conditioning automatically turned off and the room would instantly have condensation on everything. One night we thought we would try leaving the door open and have the fan on in an attempt to dry things out. We woke up in the morning with water on the floor!!
There are five bars available to the AI guests at the RPA. The easy drinks like Pina Colodas, Strawberry Daiquiris and Beer were served efficiently and without much effort however drinks that were available on the menu and were not easy to prepare stumped the bartenders. There seemed to be a lack of training for the new bartenders. Thankfully this was not a problem at all of the bars and this did improve during our stay.
We had lunch one afternoon around 2:00 p.m. and we found that the food was either cold or there were items that were not being refreshed. There was very little variety available at this time. This remained the same for the next 2-3 days and improved slightly towards the end of the week. To ensure that we got hot fresh food we made sure we were at each of the restaurants soon after opening each day. The main buffet had very little variety from day to day and there were no theme nights which we had previously enjoyed at other Riu resorts. We did not go off of the resort for food as we feel we paid for All Inclusive and we shouldn’t have to spend additional money for food, however several guests we spoke with during our stay did go off the resort for various reasons which included the quality of food and variety of the food available.
The evening buffet requires that men where long pants and shirts with sleeves, however we did see men in the buffet with shorts on. They were not turned away from the restaurant. My husband and son both wore long pants to the evening meals.
There are four specialty restaurants available to guests but only three of these restaurants were available during our stay and only on a rotational basis. The three that did open included the Japanese, Italian and Gourmet. When we tried to book a meal at the specialty restaurant we found that they were fully booked for the next couple of days and it was only when we complained to the maitre d’ that he booked us in for two days later. The restaurant we tried was the Milano Italian restaurant. We were not happy with the food – the buffet was actually better. The staff did not really know what they were doing and when we made special requests they got confused. They did not want to take our entrée order until we had gone to the buffet. We ended up with 4 spaghettis and there was one dish that didn’t arrive until after everyone else had started eating! We found the waitress that was serving us to be very rude, she made comments about dieting, and finishing meals before other guests. This is unacceptable in a 5 star resort and should not be tolerated!
The daily and nightly entertainment was not what we expected when compared to other Riu Resorts. The animacion team seemed somewhat confused on how to entertain the guest. They tried to get the kids involved in certain games, but were unsuccessful. We made suggestions for games for the kids but they pretty much ignored our suggestions. Some of the advertising for this hotel shows a Mini-club and there is a children’s pool available on site but this hotel is really not set up for children. This is a major disappointment for us as we have a 12 year old that requires entertainment and we look forward to a bit of a break from entertaining him while on vacation. The entertainment for adults during the day did improve towards the end of our stay with dancing and drinking games by the pool!!!
The evening entertainment was the same singer every night during our stay and she sang the same songs over and over. The lounge area where the stage was located was empty most evenings. Most guests hovered around the outside bar probably to avoid the entertainment. The stage area at the RPA is very small and will not be able to provide the same level of shows that are available at other Riu’s
The pool is very large and the area surrounding the pool is quite substantial. I do not see any problems with there being seating for everyone when this hotel is at capacity. The pool area is very open and the only shade provided is with umbrellas. Each evening the umbrellas were taken out of the stands provided and laid on the chairs and each morning we had to set up our own umbrellas at the pool. This is a Riu Palace and I would have expected that they would have someone available to do this for us but there never seemed to be staff around when we needed them. The pool was quite nice however the umbrellas at the pool are not very well thought out as we were unable to use them the last four days of our visit because of the high winds. One of the umbrellas was blown over and fell on one of the guests. We had one up but we had to keep a hand on the umbrella for fear of it being pulled over. As a result of this there was very little shade to protect us from the Sun. While at the pool we expected to have bar service as this is common at other Riu Palace Resorts. Some days this was available other days it was not and this seemed to relate to how many people were at the bar – if it was empty you got service if not you didn’t. There definitely was a shortage of staff with this regard.
Many of the palapas were not available during our stay because the palm branches were removed before our arrival. The crew that was working on them completed only about one palapa per day. I had seen aerial photos and these palapas were all available prior to our arrival. Often the debris left behind by the persons repairing the palapas was left in such a way that someone could get hurt. There was rebar left lying around, the holes that were drilled for new posts were often left uncovered – someone could have easily tripped over one of these. They also left boards with nails in them lying around. We often found glass on the beach and were surprised that the beach was not cleaned each morning/evening.
The Elevator Incidents
The elevators in the building were often out of order. One incident, that caused a member of our family grief, occurred when we were going down to the 1st floor. The elevator stopped suddenly with a quick jolt stopping at the 2nd floor and the doors did not open. It then proceeded to speed up to the 8th floor then stopped. Then it came rushing back down. We held on to the elevator rails not knowing what would happen next. The elevator came to a slow stop and the door finally opened on the 1st floor. We went to the main desk after this incident to report the problem, and they seemed to laugh it off, and made a note of it. That certain member of our family decided to take the stairs for the remaining days we were there.
Aruba in General
We loved Aruba and found it to be a nice combination of resort areas that we have previously visited. We have the beach of Playacar (without the erosion) and the town atmosphere of Playa del Carmen. Aruba is a safe country and the people we met were wonderful. Everyone both in the resort and in the town spoke English. We took a bus tour of the island, only 4 hours long and we were able to see most of the island highlights. Our bus driver Stanley was very informative and we learned a lot about the culture of the island, the political situation and living conditions for residents of the island. We loved the tour and would highly recommend it to anyone. We did find the wind to be stronger during the last four days of our visit but I heard from both locals and long term visitors that this was unusually strong wind for Aruba.
The shuttle bus was on time picking us up at the Hotel. Our bus arrived first at the airport and there was a long line-up of guests departing on this day. A second bus arrived shortly after we did and they were forced to line-up outside in the heat. For some reason Skyservice only had 3 ticket booths opened and were very short staffed. While we were waiting an additional ticket booth opened up. The second checkpoint had only 1 staff member operating the booth and this was for all international flights excluding the US. The next security gate had 1 staff member as well but then opened a second booth. The final security checkpoint was well staffed and moved quickly (this is where all luggage is scanned prior to the flight). We had to remove our shoes for this checkpoint. Finally, made it to the gate and then had to wait! We were loaded on the plane and then had to wait for additional passengers to clear security. The airport forced us to pull away from the gate even though we were waiting for additional passengers. They did a head count and found out all passengers had actually boarded but then had to wait for flight clearance. We were scheduled to leave at 11:45 a.m. but did not leave the airport until 1:30 p.m. I must say the stewardesses and pilots on board handled the situation very well and kept us informed as to the delays. We arrived in Toronto at 6:04 p.m.! Thank goodness we did not have to make a connecting flight as we were close to 2 hours late. To top it all off we were all getting ready to exit the plane when the pilot came on the speaker and told us we had to sit back down as we were five feet from where we should be at the exit gate!