We stayed in Montego Bay at the Riu Palace Jamaica, not to be confused with the Riu Montego Bay which is right next door. The Palace is newer -- it just opened in December -- and it's adult-only. We were welcomed with a champagne (cava) toast. Our room wasn't quite ready but we got a couple piña coladas and relaxed in the shade (we were still wearing travel clothes, which were too warm for the 80 degree weather).
The Riu Palace is all-inclusive, and I do mean ALL. Here's our room, complete with liquor dispenser:
Friday afternoon, and all day Saturday and Sunday, this is where you could find us:
If you're looking for pictures of excursions or nightlife, you won't find them. Our goal for this vacation was to do nothing. We were only gone from Friday morning to Monday night. We could have gone snorkeling or to the resort next door for nighttime entertainment or any number of things, but we didn't. Aaron did get in two runs (half-marathon training) but other than that, we were next to the pool or at the swim-up bar.
This was our first time staying at an all-inclusive resort. We had read a lot of reviews of different places and we talked to fellow vacationers about their experiences. Here are my tips and observations. When going the all-inclusive route, it helps to be flexible. If you're a picky eater or a picky drinker, this might not be for you. The Riu Palace has four theme restaurants (we ate at the Japanese and Italian ones, and there's also a steakhouse and a "fusion" restaurant) and a buffet, where you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate breakfasts and lunches from the buffet and seriously, if you can't find something you like, you're too picky. Also, if the swim-up bar is busy, it's really not helpful to be ordering a "banana daiquiri with dark rum on the bottom and 151 on top." Really?
|Some of the daily activities included sangria and paella made on the beach.
Also, beach aerobics, pool volleyball, water aerobics (I didn't do any of that).
One of the negatives I read about the Riu Palace is the proximity to the airport. It's very close, which is great in terms of the shuttle ride to and from your resort, but if you're not a fan of airplanes flying over you all day, go ahead and find a resort that's farther away. It didn't bother me at all, and if you know anything about Aaron, you know that he's a total airplane nerd, so he loved it.
|Sorry for the squinty eyes!
Another complaint I read, and also heard from some people there, was the lack of nightlife. Again, we didn't care. I mean, y'all know where we live, right? We have multiple places we can walk to anytime we want. The Riu Palace has three bars, one of which is open 24 hours. At Riu Montego Bay, there's a nightclub and being a guest at the Palace gives you access to anything at Riu Montego Bay as well (which is also where you can go windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, etc.). I also read some conflicting reviews of the staff and all I can say is that we found the staff to be wonderful: friendly, happy and helpful. I will suggest that, even though tipping is not required, take some small bills to give to your favorite bartender or anyone else who provides great service.
Our philosophy was "we can go out at night in Columbus; what we can't do is be outside in a pool/on the beach drinking and reading and relaxing." Consequently, we were early to bed and early to rise. We're definitely well-rested! And we have zero regrets and declared it one of the best vacations ever. Yesterday morning Aaron said over and over that he didn't want to leave. I kid you not, we saw no rain until the moment the shuttle arrived to take us to the airport (and it didn't last). But of course, we all have to go back to reality sometime, and this morning we woke up to snow, so I have to just keep looking at this:
|One of my new favorite pictures