It was my first time traveling to an all-inclusive resort.
I travel a lot, but travel does not necessarily mean vacation. Bouncing around from place to place and taking in all of the sights isn’t always the most relaxing holiday. After plenty of traveling, I came to Jamaica to have a relaxing vacation. Negril is best known for the beaches and the sun. I was in desperate need of both. I visited the resort with my best friend, Shannon and her mom, Diana. It was purely a girls getaway this time around. My first impressions of the Riu Palace Tropical Bay were great. The basics were all there. Luxurious swimming pools? Check. Beautiful beach? Check. Abundance of slushy alcoholic beverages? Check. But, how did the Riu Palace Tropical Bay stack up? Would I enjoy the all-inclusive experience?
What was included?
The phrase “all-inclusive” here really did mean all-inclusive. All meals, drinks, entertainment, WiFi, sports, and on-site activities were included in the stay. Other than tipping the staff (which I highly recommend that you do), you don’t have to pay anything extra than the price of the package vacation. It’s a good feeling to not have to worry about carrying around a wallet or having to pay for anything while you’re there. The included meals varied from buffet food to three-course meals at the restaurants in the evening. The drinks included local and imported beverages of all varieties.
The resort itself included one main building with the lobby and some restaurants, two buffets that alternated meal service times, a stage, two swimming pools (one with a swim-up bar), and several buildings filled with guest rooms. Bloody Bay Beach was merely steps from the swimming pools. It might seem like a large resort, but it didn’t take long to circle the whole place. I liked that it wasn’t a huge resort where it was necessary to take a shuttle from one spot to the next. The outdoor foliage was always perfectly groomed, and maintenance (such as painting and cleaning outside) was done on a daily basis. There were pretty gardens filled with gazebos, cascading water, lush greenery, and hibiscus flowers in full bloom. I also adored that the buildings were painted bright pink for that tropical vibe. As soon as I arrived, I immediately felt like I was on a vacation.
I spent most of my days at the swimming pools.The water in the pools was always perfectly warm, heated by the sun. The pools were never crowded, and it was always so easy to find a free lounger. We visited at the beginning of November, which was an off-peak time to visit.
The more popular of the two had a swim-up bar. There were all sorts of drinks there – beer, hard alcohol, and slushy drinks. There were machines with pina coladas and strawberry margaritas ready to go. However, the bartenders will create your drink of choice using blenders. Shannon and I discovered our favorite drinks partway through the trip. Be sure to try a “Purple Rain” while you’re there. It was delicious. Another one I really liked was called “Caribbean Orange”. There were also special drinks of the day.
In the other pool, a volleyball net was set up in the late afternoon for daily organized matches. We also attended a short water aerobics class in the pool one day. There were always games and activities by the pool, hosted by the entertainment staff. There was never a dull moment. If you were seeking a quiet and relaxing day, that was completely attainable. I spent hours laying on a lounger by the pool, reading a book. When I was too hot, I moved to one of the loungers inside the pool. When I wanted a change of scenery, I would take a dip in the sea. What a luxurious life!
A beautiful beach at a resort might be equally, if not more important, than a quality swimming pool. I can state, with confidence, that Bloody Bay Beach was one of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen. From the clear, blue water to the powdery white sand, every element composing that image of an ideal beach was present. The sea water was equally as warm as the swimming pool water. Towering palms gave some reprieve from the sun. The water was shallow and clear. I saw a starfish at the bottom once, and there were rumors that another guest saw a stingray. The beach was also private, only open to guests of the resort. Though I had my concerns that we were going to be bothered by people selling things on the beach, this actually rarely happened.
There were four restaurants at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay: Rimini (Italian restaurant), Krystal (Fusion restaurant), Hakuchi (Japanese restaurant), and Bloody Bay (grill and steakhouse). I ate at every restaurant, except the steakhouse. For dinner in the restaurant, you must make a reservation for the following evening. For vegetarians, there was a separate vegetarian menu that was the same for all four restaurants. However, whether you could order a particular meal or not depended on the kitchen for that restaurant being open. The restaurants worked on a rotation as to whether or not they were open. This may have been due to a reduced amount of guests because it was their off-season.
With that said, there were a few items on the vegetarian menu that were vegan (or could be made vegan). Otherwise, the staff were more than happy to prepare a vegan meal for me. As a vegan at this resort, I did not go hungry!
Please check out my complete Vegan Guide to the Riu Palace Tropical Bay!
For breakfast and lunch (and dinner on a couple of occasions), we dined at the buffets. There was always an abundance of fresh fruit and salad, and I managed to find some other dishes that were vegan. If in doubt about any of the ingredients due to allergies or diet restrictions, be sure to ask the chef. He’ll be able to go into more detail about the ingredients that were used in a particular dish.
I stayed in room 4317, on the top floor (third floor). When I entered the room for the first time, I’m pretty sure that my jaw hit the ground. From floor to ceiling, this suite oozed luxury. There was a large king-sized bed facing a flatscreen TV with premium cable channels. The room included a sitting area with a couch and a chair. The areas of the room that stood out the most were the bathroom and the balcony.
The bathroom was covered in marble and had two sinks. There was a separate stand-up shower, and the toilet was in its own little room. There was a spacious jetted bathtub out in the open, and you could see straight through from the bathroom to the bedroom. This suite would be perfect for a romantic getaway or honeymooners. Even though I was staying in the room alone, I had many relaxing moments soaking in the tub.
The balcony was gigantic and had an incredible view. Although I didn’t, I could have done cartwheels across the balcony. The private views of Bloody Bay Beach were outstanding. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Here are a few things I wish I would have known when I first arrived:
- The best coffee was located in the lobby bar. There was an espresso machine there, and the bartender made the best Cafe Americano.
- Book your dinner reservations first thing in the morning for the following day. We discovered that if you wanted to reserve a spot in the restaurant, you were best to request it right away. These tables booked up fast.
- Look at the entertainment schedule ahead of time and plan your dinner times accordingly. There were two times for dinner (6:30 and 8:30) and the late dinner schedule conflicted with the production shows. In these situations, grab an early dinner before the nighttime entertainment.
- On the topic of entertainment, do yourself a favor and definitely check out the evening with the steel drum band. There was a local Jamaican steel drum act and they were really talented. Also, don’t miss the epic performance of “Beauty and the Beast” by the entertainment staff that comes right before the steel drum show. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it; just trust me on this one.
We also had the opportunity to take several excursions from the hotel – stay tuned to learn more about those! If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday at a gorgeous resort, the Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril, Jamaica should be on your radar. It had beautiful swimming pools, delicious vegan meals, and one of the best beaches I’ve ever visited. I highly recommend that you take your next resort holiday there.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Riu Palace Tropical Bay and was offered a discounted stay in exchange for my review. My opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
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Have you taken a resort holiday before in Jamaica or anywhere else? Tell me all about your experiences!