I am not a fan of buffet's mostly because I don't like seeing food that has been stirred around or is looking dry because of a heat lamp. I'm happy to report that the RIU Palace buffet's had plenty to choose from, the food tasted great and I never went hungry or felt like I needed to go off property for a meal.
Airport:The Los Cabos airport (Airport code SJD) is 45 minutes away from property. Immediately upon exiting customs you have no choice but to walk through through a room filled with hungry salesmen just waiting to sell you a time share and to entice you to give up some of your vacation time they will dangle gifts in front of you like free hotel transfers, free breakfasts, free sunset cruises, free bottles of tequila etc. I didn't come to Los Cabos to sit in a 1.5 hour timeshare presentation so I said "Gracias" accepted their free city map and went through the door outside to meet my shuttle representative. You've been warned!
RIU has an outside vendor called "Hotel Beds" that provides transportation from SJD to their sister property Santa Fe and the Palace. The Santa Fe is directly behind the Palace. The cost is $15per person per direction so $30 round trip, does not include the driver's tip. There is a representative in a black shirt with pink letters that boldly say, "HotelBeds". Five of us boarded a van to the next terminal where we picked up another 5 and off we went to the RIU resort's I was afraid we would stop and go but our van was direct as well as the return to SJD. I had tried to hire a private car for two and was quoted $100 per direction. I do not know what a taxi would cost but make sure before you get in you negotiate the price, if the taxi is using a meter make sure the driver turns it on.
Check in is quite easy, we were given a key card for the front door and a pool towel card. There's nothing to buy on property since all meals and cocktails are included. The on property souvenir shops accept major credit card's and cash only and have things like sunscreen, Tylenol, t-shirts, sunglasses and some souvenir's. The Santa Fe property has more selection as far as souvenirs go. On our last night about a dozen vendors came to the Palace for a small "Mercado" offering souvenirs, hand made items etc, you can negotiate but don't expect prices to be the same as the Mercado's in town. I bought two men's belts for $30, they would have been more in the states and if I had gone in town the taxi rate would have been $10 each way.
Specialty restaurants: Mexican, Steak, Japanese. You can make reservations as early at 7am at the front desk, if the restaurants are full you can book for another day. The previous reviews made it sound like you had to be up at 7am for reservations same day only, this is not true. On a 7 day stay it is possible to dine at all specialty restaurants. The Mexican restaurant was particularly good, I had the grilled mahi mahi in a red sauce, it was delicious. The Japanese restaurant was my least favorite but let me start by saying the outdoor semi covered dining room was beautiful. The service was great however my companion Carla and I both felt that because we live in San Francisco and have access to authentic Japanese food our expectations were high and although our meals were good and certainly edible we felt it wasn't authentic enough for our taste. Other dining guests seemed to love it .
Breakfast. The buffet is an option but the waiters/waitress are there to refill coffee and drinks and take dirty plates away, staff was very attentive. Vegetable juice bar, omelet bar, salad bar. My favorite was the hand made salsa's that made my freshly made omelet taste even better.
Lunch is the same service as breakfast but later in the afternoon becomes strictly a covered outside dining venue. Plenty of options for vegetarians. The guacamole and salsa were especially good. Refried beans, salsa, and stir fried vegetables were my favorite. Beef, Chicken and fish were the staples along with Pizza and the largest Paella I have ever seen!
Dinner is the same type of service however you also have the specialty dining room options. Again, plenty of food options.
Beverages: RIU Palace is a Pepsi only property so if you like coke you'll need to buy it from a store. There's a Costco about .5miles away and OxxO is the area's 7/11. The in room fridge is stocked with soft drinks, Pepsi and their sister companies and dos xx's beer. Bottles ofTequila, Rum, Brandy, and vodka are also offered in room. When you run out just call for room service and they'll set you up again.
Rooms: Rooms are made up daily. The in room safe has a removable lock and key, you must keep the key with you. Bathrooms have double vanity's, tub/shower with soap and shampoo/conditioner and blow dryer.
Entertainment: Every night at 930p is a live show, no charge. Theme's were Las Vegas, Mexican traditional dance and Grease!
Wi Fi: 90 minutes free daily, hotspots are in the main lobby. Daily rate of $15 for unlimited use.
Tipping: Not Required however I found that tipping just a bit to the pool side bar server, waitress and room service and person who replenished the in room fridge brought me more prompt service and special requests were honored i.e. only wanted lite beer and Pepsi lite in the room or specialty coffee drinks were brought and ordered the way I like them by my waitress, my pool side waiter always made sure to check on me to see if I needed a drink even when he was busy. Will you receive bad service for not tipping? No, of course not but tipping will definitely get you remembered!
Two pools, one is where activities will take place during the day lead by an activities director, the second is a quiet pool also nicknamed the hangover pool.
Gym. There is one, it's small but offers all the basic equipment you will find at your local gym.
Deep Sea fishing and shore excursions? Yes, they can be handled on property, see the shore excursion desk.
Beach: Cabo has some beautiful beaches unfortunately the riptide can be rough so save your swimming for the pool and use the beach for long walks.
There are lounge chairs on the beach and there is a covered area on the beach. This area is roped off from the beach vendors so no worries about vendors trying to sell you any items.
Guests at the Palace property have access to the Santa Fe property and you can dine at their dining rooms but not their specialty restaurants. Guests at the Santa Fe cannot come to the Palace property. The difference between the two in my opinion is the Santa Fe seems to attract the 20 and early 30 crowd, the Palace's crowd seems to be just a bit older. I'd say the average age range at the Palace was late 30's but 40's and 50+ was well represented. The Santa Fe also charges less per day than the Palace.
Disco: Both properties have a disco called Pacha, on our first night the disco was dead and had a horrible smell inside like the floors were mopped with a dirty mop so we left. Second night the disco was open and had about a dozen people inside but no body was dancing until my friend Carla and I got up and started a line dance and then that started the dancing. The third night a large wedding party from Canada pretty much took over the disco, those Canucks sure did have some fun that night, but the next day, not so much!
Staff: From the check in staff to bar servers, food servers, drink servers, room service and entertainment staff all staff members were pleasant and went out of their way for us several times. I never felt like I was bothering them. If you know a few words of Spanish it will be in your benefit to use them. RIU had Spanish lessons at 10am every day. Most if not all of the staff spoke English to some degree.
In house photography: During the day around the activity pool there was an in-house photographer taking photos of guests that you could purchase later that evening at the "Hall of Fame" board.
Previous posts reported lots of in room thefts, I don't know about those but can tell you I never once felt like anyone at the RIU Palace property was trying to rob me, very easygoing property that is fun and affordable since no gratuities are necessary and alcohol is included. The in room safes are strong and durable but they will not fit a standard laptop so I had to leave mine in a dresser drawer and hope for the best. None of my personal items nor my companion's were bothered.
Would I come back? Absolutely, in fact, I can't wait to try other RIU properties and I would recommend them to my clients.
Thanks RIU Palace for a great vacation!