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» Riu Caribe – Cancun – Mexico – Caribbean

Riu Caribe – Cancun – Mexico – Caribbean

Reviewer: anon
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Having holidayed in the Caribbean a number of times we decided to give Mexico a try as we do get a bit “buffet’ed out” into the second week of our stay, & Cancun offered a good selection of restaurants outside of the hotels.

We booked with First Choice & as the flight was early on the Friday morning we decided to stay overnight at the Sofitel at the Gatwick north terminal. This too allowed us to make use of the day before check-in & baggage drop. We were a bit surprised on checking in at five pm that we could not get a window seat as they were all reserved? The girl at the check-in was very unhelpful & rude when we queered this.

The flight was fine, we were First choice customers on a Thomson staff/crewed flight but on a First choice plane operated by Thompson Airways. Not an issue but this whole banding together by TUI only seems to undermine the customer service side of things. Anyway we left on time & landed ahead of schedule.

On arrival Cancun airport turned out to have the most intensive arrivals procedure we have ever experienced in our fairly intensive world travels, all not an issue but time consuming. As we headed out to find the coach we managed to avoid the trip sellers at the official looking counters, they look at your baggage tickets first & say “First choice? ” then lead you to the counter to try & sell you trips. Outside we were met by Mexican “Hotel Beds” staff in black uniform(no sign of any First Choice or Thompson staff) & directed to our coach.

Ok on to the hotel, check in was painless & we were asked to sit in the lobby bar area where we were given a short guide to the hotel & issued wristbands & safe key/lock. The room was good, not as big as some in the caribbean/USA but big enough. We had twin queen size beds, TV, mini bar, optics etc. The view from the balcony was lovely.

So we decided to crack open a couple of beers from the fridge & take it all in, well we would have if there was a bottle opener! Oh well, the wooden chair base & a slap did the trick. It was funny to see throughout our stay the new arrivals trying desperately to gain access to that first beer on the balcony. So readers have your fun & watch them in comfort as you now know the bottle opener is on the wall in the bathroom between the bath & the sink!

The mini bar is topped up every two days, but if you put a dollar bill in fridge every now & then you will be replenished every day ;-} There are 4 bars, lobby, sports, pool, & one by the outdoor stage/pizza place. As we visited in November the lobby bar was fine to sit in all evening but I would think the lack of air conditioning would make it far too humid in hotter seasons. We had a great time with the barmen in the lobby bar, all really friendly & up for a bit of banter. Also these lads & lasses are a great source of local info. Try the snake tequila! Hmmm Lovely.

Food wise we found the hotel very good, The Buffet has a different theme every night & breakfast was good, standard fare for this type of hotel but better in quality & choice than at hotels in the Caribbean islands we have visited. The 3 restaurants can be booked at breakfast time for the following two nights.

We liked the Mexican & Steakhouse best, the oriental was OK but a bit hit or miss as to dishes on offer.
The steakhouse is next to the pool overlooking the beach, & It does a great lunchtime buffet with plenty of fresh cooked stuff for the daytime, and is a very romantic spot at night time, until an army squad in full kit & armed with AK47′s snuck past on the beach on patrol! Still it is central America I suppose.

The Beach was great, not quite your typical Caribbean palm scattered affair but then none are in Cancun. There are plenty of beds & shades, & the pool is fine if not a bit odd in that there is a ledge most of the way round so you can lay on a sunbed in the water, all good but it does not allow the most gracious of exits from the water! It’s very clean & nice & warm tho. There are no sun shades around the pool so if it gets too hot you need to shelter under the trees.

In November the sun disappears behind the hotel around 3pm but still gets through at the end of the beach till about 4. 30. We are not really the type for hotel entertainment so can’t really comment but the staff looked very professional & were not pushy if you did not want to join in, besides, it gave more room for the Americans who joined in everything, “Whooping” all the way.

We did two trips through first choice, The first the Pirate ship was an excellent night out! All-inclusive food & drink, a night time sail in the bay, much Aharrggg ‘ing & general buccaneer antics, followed by a battle with an enemy ship! A great night & very good value for money. One tip, you make your own way there it’s a 10/15 min walk, get there early & get in the que for the best seats around the edge of the boat, otherwise you’ll have to crouch on low stools.

The second “trip”? The Bar Crawl was the biggest waste of money we have ever experienced! $55 each to be pushed round 3 poor venues, given very weak iced fruit water with added weak, watered down vodka. It ends up in COCO Bongo but we never made it that far & bailed out in the 3rd bar, unable to handle the icy water drink & unwilling to pay $3 for a shot of tequila on an all-inclusive bar crawl!

People we spoke to who made it to the club at the end said it got no better, too many bodies crammed into a small area & not allowed access to the tables & main bar area, drinking. Yes, you guessed it, more iced water vodka. We complained to the rep but he was useless, he told us, “you got gin on the crawl in Egypt”. Very helpful Dan, you’re a real credit to your so called profession. Not.

Cancun was great & we used the local buses a lot, for 7 pesos a time you can’t go wrong. Downtown there is a big Wal-Mart where you can stock up on snacks, etc, much cheaper than in the hotel zone. In the Hotel zone there are various shopping plazas offering plenty of designer stuff at good prices off season. We ate out at Hard Rock Cafe a couple of times & the quality was very good, same really as in the USA.

In general we really did like this hotel, the same as any foreign hotel or bar, a few dollars in tips will go a long way with these people. It’s not the ideal Caribbean setting you will get on the island of Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, etc, but that’s not to say it’s lacking. But if you do like to get out & about under your own steam & would like the option to eat some more “every day” type meals on a few occasions during your package holiday then maybe this is the place for you.

One last thing is that you can use the 5* Rui Cancun hotel situated nearer to the shops, restaurants, etc.

We found this great for a change of scene & gave us the option to have a drink in the bar there & then walking round the corner to eat out. Personally we thought the Caribe the better of the two hotels facility-wise, but whatever floats your boat I suppose. Overall we would definitely visit the hotel again.

PS. Don’t forget the bottle opener in the bathroom!

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