Review: Riu Tequila, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

I’m a fan of an All Inclusive – I mean, who isn’t? Problem is, an All-Inclusive resort can be a lot like calamari; done well, it’s amazing, done badly, it’s just a massive let down. On a recent trip to Mexico, we did the whole ‘twin centre’ thing whereby we had a Mayan Trail tour the first week where we were all over the Yucatan in a mini bus with our illustrious guide Tino and the second week I was planning on planting my bum cheeks firmly onto a sun lounger to a week. We had a choice of multiple hotels for that second week and decided to go for the Riu Tequila, which was perfect even by title.

The room

The hotel room was one of the nicest we’ve stayed in for a very long time. It was special, light and airy with a nice balcony (although it didn’t actually overlook much) but it meant we had privacy for our morning coffees. The bed was huge and comfortable. The was a large bathroom area meaning I could get ready in peace whilst Dave watched crap American reality TV and the rain shower was lovely and powerful. The best part though? There were optics in the room as well as a mini bar stocked with beers and soft drinks, all completely free. Because sometimes 24 hour all-inclusive just isn’t enough!

The food

Needless to say you will never go hungry in the Riu Tequila. There’s a very large buffet restaurant which is open from breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and although they run theme nights (Mexican, Italian etc) you can pretty much get anything you want. Dave’s better at the buffet experience and will create himself a meal whereas I get overwhelmed with the concept that I can have some curry, fajitas, chicken nuggets and a slice of pizza all on one plate and am a bit more haphazard with my approach.

There’s also 3 a la carte restaurants open for dinner with no limit to how many times you can go; a Steakhouse, an Italian and a Chinese. The Chinese is actually buffet style too so not quite sure why they say it’s a la carte but the sushi was pretty epic! The Steakhouse was by far the nicest, we had a meat sharing platter which was so, so good!

If you don want to queue at the buffet, not that we had to queue very often, there’s a snack bar at the main pool bar which does burgers hot dogs, chips etc at lunchtime and the sports bar serves similar food 24 hours a day, so there’s always something available!

The pools

There are 5 pools in total, one of which is an adults only pool and the other a kids pool with water slides and whatnot so no prizes for guessing which one we stayed in the most. To be honest the pool with the swim up bar got ever so slightly rowdy for us later on in the day – you know you’re in your 40s when you start saying things like that. And bar staff come around all the other pools regularly offering drinks from a cart or from the bar anyway so it’s not like you need to be in the pool to be able to get a drink. Once the novelty of the swim up bar wears off you realise it’s much more comfortable having your cocktail on a sun lounger instead!

The entertainment

There was loads going on to the Riu Tequila to keep you entertained, or nothing going on at all depending on how you wanted to spend your time. Throughout the day there were lots of activities in one of the pools like volleyball or a foam party and then salsa dancing, boules (or quoits I can never remember which is which!) and the staff, whilst they do some round throughout the day asking if you want to play, don’t give you the hard sell at all.

The evening entertainment was hit and miss to be honest, every Friday they have a big party where people are bussed in from other resorts. The Friday we were there was the White Party which was ok, all it meant was though it look us longer to get served at our favourite bar. But they also had a silent disco on one night, and an Abba tribute (obviously not for me). There seemed to be plenty on to keep the kids entertained too.

The bars

This is probably the first All Inclusive we’ve stayed in where you can get a drink 24 hours a day, not withstanding the optics in the room, the sports bar is the only bar that’s 24 hours but it’s a pretty decent size and we ended up spending quite a bit of time there watching Newcastle beat Nottingham Forest and the Superbowl, which they made quite a big deal out of which kept the Americans happy at least – would they have done the same for the FA Cup Final? I hope so.

There was also a main bar near the pool which also serviced the swim up bar but our favourite bar was at the back of the main entertainment room at which you could almost always get a seat at. In doing that we felt it had slightly more atmosphere and you could watch the entertainment from afar rather than being in the centre of it. We also got to know a few of the staff quite well and as the week went on they would make us anything we asked for and if they didn’t know a recipe off the top of their head they would google it for you. All the drinks were premium spirits and mixers as well which made everything taste that little bit nicer.

The location

The hotel is a short walk to the beach which is accessible via covered walkway and takes less than 10 minutes to get there but if you don’t fancy the walk there’s a little gold cart that shuttles guests down and back. The Riu Tequila also has two sister hotels down there which you’re allowed to visit the bars and buffets at too but the food is pretty identical.

The Riu Tequila is definitely a party hotel and even being there in February, we struggled to get some of the sunbeds that face in the best direction so I dread to think how busy it gets in the summer months. It’s definitely a party hotel but that said is still the best all inclusive we’ve ever stayed at in terms of quality and choice and we couldn’t fault the staff who work so hard to keep guests happy. We would definitely have no reservations staying there again if the opportunity arose!

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