RIU Palace Peninsula All-Inclusive in Cancun, Mexico – July 2021

This year, my spouse turned 57; not a milestone birthday, but with everything that’s gone on this past year, it’s one I wanted to celebrate. I looked around at various options. I hate the heat. I am not a summer person. The thought of going someplace really hot did not thrill me. Just about any place, I could think of had the possibility of 100°F temperatures in July which meant I’d basically be hiding inside in air conditioning. He’s also not the adventurer I am. When we stop at rest areas, he patiently waits in the car while I search. Museums and tours don’t thrill him. I had the idea to go to an all-inclusive resort on the beach somewhere that we could just generally bob around in the pool or ocean and drink.

Adult-only pool at the Villas

My search led me to the Riu Palace Peninsula in Cancun, Mexico. I’d never been to Cancun (or Mexico). It had a number of pools, including a swim-up bar. The pictures made the beach look really nice. There were a good number of restaurants with a variety of food, all included, as were drinks. I reserved a room in the adults-only villas section. That’s not the tall tower you see above, but a series of 3-story buildings to the side of this. I tried to figure it out and I think there are about 90 rooms in the villas. It also had its own private pool.

I booked through Southwest vacations. The price point was right for 5 nights, including airfare, hotel, and all food and drinks. There are also some activities and entertainment at the Riu Palace Peninsula that are also included. Getting there was uneventful until we arrived in Cancun. The line to get through customs and immigration was so long – it took us about 2 hours of standing and waiting to get through it.

I had booked transportation to the hotel through Southwest as well, and all I knew was to look for someone with a blue shirt for the transportation. As we walked out of immigration at Cancun Airport, there were people waiting for us with signs that said “tour.” Thinking these were the people I needed to find, I sought out someone with a blue shirt. No, they aren’t the transportation I’d arranged. They are people who are trying to rope you into timeshare presentations and other things. It took two conversations that we had to extract ourselves from before we had any clue where to go to get our transportation. Hint: go outside of the buildings past the taxi pickup. You’ll find all of the transport operators out there.

Driving from Cancun Airport to our hotel, I felt grateful I hadn’t even thought about renting a car. The people there are crazy drivers, even the van we were in was weaving in and out of traffic like crazy. We did get a quick trip through the main area of Cancun with its shops and restaurants. I was happy the place I’d reserved was a bit out of this area though.

Once we arrived at the Riu Palace Peninsula, I was able to relax. I was hot and tired from traveling (our flight left Manchester, NH at 6AM which meant we had to leave our house at 2:30AM to get to the airport). We’d missed lunch, but there were some food options open. We weren’t really interested, though. We just wanted to change into bathing suits and relax.

I really liked the room. I’m not crazy about all of the white, but it was fine for 5 nights. The jacuzzi tub in the middle of the room seemed a bit odd. Actually, that was my one major complaint about the room – no privacy from others in the room. Now, this was just my spouse and myself, so not too bad. In the tower, however, there are families. I don’t like to get changed in front of my kids and when we come back with my son who is in his 20s now, it would be nice to have a space to close the door and change.

The tub in the picture above marks the “bathroom area” I guess. Beyond it is a double sink and then a shower. I fell in love with that shower. It has a spray head with a hose as well as a rain shower head in the ceiling. I think when we remodel our bathroom, this is what we’re going to do for the shower, with colored glass blocks and a non-slip tile floor. The only thing I would add is a bench for sitting in there. It might have made an okay area to change when I felt I needed privacy, except there are no hooks in there and if someone else just showered the floor would be wet.

Out on the balcony was a jacuzzi tub. We used it once during the stay. While a nice feature, it really isn’t a big attraction for me. Sitting out there felt very exposed, even though we were facing the garden rather than overlooking the pool and the rest of the resort. If (when) we go again, I would request a room that opens onto the pool on the first floor so we can walk out to the pool from our patio or sit out there and feel like we’re sitting at the pool.

I spent mornings at the swim-up pool bar. This was a time when it was generally quiet. The bar opened at 10AM but it didn’t really get crowded until around lunchtime. I liked it during the quiet time.

There were servers walking around taking drink orders almost constantly. I brought a bunch of dollar bills with me and tipped them even though you don’t have to. I would say we definitely were paid attention to closely because of this. There were times the server brought us drinks without even having to request them, and the bartender at the swim-up pool would remember what we were drinking from day to day.

The property has an archeological site with Mayan Ruins right on the premises. It was interesting to see this and read about it once being where ships would come and trade goods. I think the native people that lived here during that time had a great location for many reasons! The hotel was built around the ruins and is responsible for the care and upkeep.

The beach ran all along the property. Closer to the building, it was rocky, but also more private. At the far end of the property was a sandy beach area with many chairs out. The Caribbean Sea was more refreshing than the pools, which were very warm. Staff from the resort were out there every day raking up the seaweed. I didn’t think it was too bad to swim in. It was just some plants, really. There were some people walking along the beach selling things, but they weren’t overbearing. Since both my spouse and I forgot sunglasses, buying a $20 pair from these sellers was better than spending $200 in the shop at the resort.

This was the view of the rocky beach from one of the restaurants. Next up – food!