Destination: Riviera Maya
When: January 10-14, 2009
Resort: Riu Palace Riviera Maya
On January 10, 2009, Ross and I flew on Sun Country nonstop from Minneapolis to Cancun, Mexico. We had arranged a trip partially through Apple Vacations and partially on our own. As we were preparing for our trip, we considered the new luggage fees implemented by Sun Country and other airlines ($15-$25 per bag, per flight) and decided that we would try to fit what we needed for the week into a carry on suitcase. Boy, was I doubtful! But, we did it! We have learned that we live in our swimsuits all day long and change into dinner clothes in the evening. A few mix and match dressy outfits was all we needed. Packing liquids was tricky. We needed to have all bottles be 3 ounces or less and they had to fit into 2 quart size baggies, one for each of us. Try finding sunscreen in small bottles! Walgreens! So, yes, we were successful with using carry ons only which made arriving in Cancun quick and easy.
The flight was uneventful. Sun Country no longer serves a hot sandwich for free. Their service and friendliness was outstanding as always. We landed in Cancun 10 minutes early, collected our belongings, and made our way through immigration and customs. We were soon on our way to find our Apple transfers.
Here's where it got bad. I know that there are time share people everywhere in Cancun. We were approached by a lady asking what transfer we were looking for. I told her Apple Vacations. She said to follow her and she would bring me to Apple. I protested and said no, I just want to find my Apple transfer. She said "Ma'am, I need to confirm your transfer and will then bring you to the right Apple Vacations bus." Hesitantly, I followed her, sucked into her scheme for about 90 seconds before I got mad for her lying to me and walked away. Be careful! Once you clear customs, go straight outside! DO NOT stop until you get through the big doors and are outside. Avoid the podiums and desks at all costs.
Once outside, we found the Apple reps, got in our shuttle and were on our way. We rode in a 12 passenger van, cool and comfortable. We arrived at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya within 45 minutes. Check in was quick and we were given a room, 2139, immediately, even though it was barely noon. Our room was a standard room, facing the outside of the hotel towards the Reef Playacar.
The rooms at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya are junior suites. When you walk in the door, you enter into a foyer, which is your dressing area and has a large closet with electronic safe and bar area. The bar has the typical Riu liquor dispenser and fully stocked refrigerator. To the right is the bathroom, complete with a jetted tub and shower, double sinks, marble tiles and hairdryer. Further into the room is the bed (we had a king) with a new, slightly softer mattress. Riu beds are hard! But this one was better. Beyond the bed is a sunken living area with a sofa, coffee table, credenza and a flat screen TV. There are also patio doors leading out to a private balcony with outdoor chairs and a table. If we really tried hard we could see the ocean, making it "oceanview."
The grounds of the Riu are beautifully maintained. There are plenty of pool and beach chairs. You get a towel card to use and must check your towels in and out. Pool and beach waiters are everywhere. Don't forget to bring your travel mug or covered mug! The beach is split into an upper and lower beach. They are divided by a short wall, maybe 3 feet tall, and a white railing. We found that if we stayed up on top by the railing, we felt like we were on the ocean but weren't bothered by the beach vendors. Yes, there are huge beach sandbags, called whales, out in the water and along the beach, but this is to preserve the beach and bring it back after the past hurricane damage. These sandbags are found up and down the entire beach, not just in front of the Riu. We walked the beach all the way to the Riu Yucatan. It was nice the whole way. On the Riu map, it appears that the Riu hotels are side by side. This is not the case. Heading south from the Riu Palace Riviera Maya, you pass the Allegro Playacar, Viva Wyndham Azteca, Royal Hideaway, and the Viva Wyndham Maya before getting to the Riu Playacar, Riu Palace Mexico and Riu Yucatan. Directly across the street from the Riu Palace Mexico is the entrance to the Riu Tequila. When you walk north, there is only the Reef Playacar before you hit a residential area that you can't walk past.
We walked up the 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen on day. It took us 18 minutes to walk. There is a sidewalk the whole way. The Riu is located in a gated, residential area, so it is very safe and clean. We could have taken a cab for $5, but opted to walk. 5th Avenue was great! It goes on and on, so be sure not to stop and buy the first thing you see. The pier is also right here if you want to take the ferry over to Cozumel. We stumbled upon even more shopping when we walked the road from the Riu Palace Riviera Maya to the Riu Palace Mexico. Right across the street is the Plaza Playacar Shopping Center. It is an outdoor shopping mall filled with little shops and street vendors. Everything we bought up on 5th Avenue could have been purchased right here. Both places were fun to see.
Half way through our trip, we moved to the Ceiba del Mar in Puerto Morales. We took a cab from the Riu Palace Riviera Maya up to Puerto Morelos on Wednesday morning. It cost us $35 plus a tip. I have a separate trip report for our stay at Ceiba del Mar!