Recommendation for RIU Palace Mexico

As a seasoned traveler, when I go abroad, I always try to keep an open mind. Recently, I took a week-long vacation with my husband to RIU Palace Mexico. I wasn’t expecting what RIU had in store for us.

First off, I completely fell in love with the charming, picturesque town of Playa del Carmen.  When we arrived at the resort, RIU Palace Mexico, I was pleasantly surprised with the upscale accommodations and friendly staff.  The décor of this hotel, both exterior and interior, is beautiful with Spanish type architecture/frescoes, which carries throughout the hotel and an immense lobby full of brilliant chandeliers.   The grounds are perfectly landscaped and their cascading waterfalls made a peaceful setting.  The junior-suite rooms were spacious with turn down service and flower petals in the bed/bathroom every night. Other top amenities include 24-hour all-inclusive and exchange privileges with the other RIU Resorts in Riviera Maya, which we took advantage of for breakfast and lunch.   They have a large court yard and every night there was entertainment with bands, singers and dancers, whom were awesome I might add. I truly felt like I was in a king’s palace because the scenery is breathtaking.   Everything was close and not a lot of walking to get from one area to another. The Theater across from the courtyard had different shows every night from Las Vegas type shows to Magic acts.   The staff was friendly, always cheerful, and there to accommodate you.  I loved their buffet restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  They had such a display of foods from seafood dishes to roasts of all kinds (such as duck, which is one of my favorites and cooked to perfection).  The chefs can cook your steak/poultry to your liking, which is a nice touch.   Their gourmet restaurants, an Asian, Brazilian, Krystal Fusion, El Patio, were all very good. My favorite was El Patio, serving steaks and seafood specialties, and located on the beach.  The lobby bar with the pianist was exceptional – playing various types of classical music to rock n roll pieces.  Top shelf liquor served throughout, mini-bar stocked daily, and with liquor dispensers on the wall, no one should go thirsty.  2 Pools, 1 with a swim-up bar and daily activities, and the other pool for a less active, quiet setting.  And they have a pool bar too!

 

Aaah….then there’s the beach, and a very large beach with lots of palm trees, waiter service, barbeque/snack area, massage area and plenty of watersports available.  Shopping right across the street on Caribbean Street and Playa del Carmen’s famed 5th Ave just minutes away.  The hotel is not far from the Tulum ruins with their displays of temples facing the beautiful blue sea is a great ½ day excursion.  If you have time, visit Chichen Itza, one of the 7 wonders of the world,  is about 2 hours travel time from the hotel and absolutely a must see with so much Mayan history/culture. The famous pyramid, Temple of Kulkulkan, depicts a calendar which the Mayans incredibly designed and is spectacular.  All in all, there is much to do around the Riu Palace Mexico Resort. I definitely was pleased with this hotel and highly recommend it.  In my opinion, and having stayed at several hotels, maybe this hotel should have a higher rating?

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Travel Tips for Punta Cana

Apple Rep., Santos

I’ve been on a variety of trips while working here at Apple Vacations. And to be honest, they’ve all been great vacations. Recently, my husband and I went to Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa for seven nights and it was amazing! Here is my experience and personal recommendations for anyone traveling to Punta Cana in the near future.

First off, the flight was smooth and on time. When we arrived at the hotel and were greeted by the staff with a cool towel and a delicious beverage, which was so refreshing. After check-in, we just relaxed on the beautiful sunny beach at Dreams Punta Cana overlooking the aqua sea and surrounded by mountains. The weather was around the low to mid 80’s every day and just perfect. It was heaven.

My husband, Ted, with a star fish on the Saona Island excursion.

The next day, we went to a briefing on different types of excursions offered in Punta Cana. Our Apple Rep, Santos, was very informative and explained in great detail about the available excursions. He informed us about the hotel, the country and its people.  What to do and what not to do. And most importantly, he made everyone feel at home. Santos really was a “friendly face from a faraway place.” Thanks Santos for the Welcome.

We decided on the Saona Island and the Outback Safari excursions, both are full day excursions. The catamaran to the island was lots of fun and stopped in this natural swimming pool in the middle of the sea where you could snorkel, and pick up the huge star fish and the sea was an amazing turquoise color. We arrived at Saona Island for a delicious barbecue, merengue lessons and swimming.

Outback Safari Tour

The next tour we took was the Outback Safari Tour, which I enjoyed thoroughly! This is where you truly see the countryside, the mountainside, and how the people live, their homes, their life style, and taste the fresh home-made Dominican food. They are very proud people and so enthusiastic to share their lives with us. From the tobacco rollers, to the rum distillery, sugar cane fields, coffee trees and the school visit where the children were so happy to give us a warm welcome, we loved every minute of this tour. If you like to try different flavors, try their local drink, a Manna Wanna which is a mixture of wine, rum and honey (made only in Punta Cana). They claim it to have medicinal cures and after a taste of it, it will make you forget any ailments for sure. The excursion ended on a white powdery beach at Macao Beach, where the waves were aplenty and perfect for surfing. I was fascinated by this tour and definitely recommend it!

There are other adventure tours, cultural tours, historical tours, golfing, shopping tours, and much more! There is something for everyone, whether you like to keep busy or prefer to relax on the beautiful beaches. If you are feeling lucky, there are also numerous casinos to play games and are located at most hotels. The resorts have daily and evening activities as well. From the dancing shows, the magic show and the circus shows, the entertainment staff at our hotel was truly awesome. They also had children’s shows every night and the kids were having lots of fun!

So is 7 nights too long? No way – with so much to do and explore, I say stay longer!