RIU Palace Paradise Island: Value MattersFeb 09, 2018
Does the reinvented RIU Palace Paradise Island offer the best all-inclusive value in Nassau-Paradise Island? Although the answer to that depends upon your tastes and your budget, there are compelling reasons to answer "yes."
The family-friendly RIU reopened October 27th after a $25 million renovation that converted it into an adults-only resort. Your first impression of the lobby may evoke references to some older, more Baroque-style RIU's (e.g. some overly ornate chairs), but the overall look is light, modern, sleek. The redesign glasses in the formerly open-air walkway that leads to the pools, beach, and restaurants, so this extension of the lobby still feels as if it's oudoors while also protecting guests from the sometimes chilly winter winds.
Photo: Riu Lobby, Credit: Ed Wetschler
And that's just part of what's new. The architects tore down a free-standing convention center to build a second pool that's separate from the one with the pool bar. They also converted meeting rooms to a theatre that can open into a contemporary, black-and-white sports bar offering drinks and snacks 24/7. Rooms, too, have a more modern, less busy look than they'd have with colonial-style decor, and most of the baths feature showers with rain shower fixtures instead of the old tubs.
But let's get back to the question about value. Here are 10 reasons the answer might be "yes."
1. Shoulder season rates (I priced rooms in early May) per couple start at about $3,100 a week -- i.e. $440 a night, all-inclusive.
2. Middle-aged as well as younger guests told me that they liked the redesign's stylish, uncluttered look. Some of them were repeat visitors, so they'd seen both incarnations of the RIU.
3. The staff members, from managers to waiters to the women who clean the rooms, are upbeat and friendly.
Photo: Room at Riu Paradise Island, Credit: Ed Wetschler
4. The size of this hotel, 379 rooms, makes it just large enough to rock but also small enough so that guests can get to know some of the other guests.
5. All rooms come with 24/7 room service, free wifi, a liquor dispenser over the minibar, bathrobes, a TV suitable for a SuperBowl party, and other perks.
Photo: Dining options include a buffet, Credit: Riu Palace Paradise Island
6. Dining options include a buffet (with Cava for breakfast and themed stations at all meals), a fusion restaurant, a steakhouse, what I'd call a Japanese-plus restaurant, a jerk shack for lunch, and -- the big surprise -- an Indian restaurant specializing in multi-course dinners with expert presentation. That Indian restaurant was a real-eye-opener for some of the guests, who were working class exurbanites with little knowledge of this cuisine. Except for some overcooked fish at the other ala carte restaurants, the food in general was surprisingly good. The buffet was a genuine surprise, what with the quality and the timing of the cooking, not to mention desserts that didn't merely taste like sugar. Speaking of desserts, Capuchino [sic], in the lobby, serves excellent coffee drinks as well as ice cream and pastries. It doesn't open until 10 a.m., so I hope management changes that to 7 a.m. I also think management must and will work out a better system for being seated at the a la carte restaurants. It's good that guests can just show up without reservations, but this often results in their having to wait in line.
7. I worked out one day at the Fitness Center, then went next door to the spa for a massage. When I was done, a therapist told me, "We have a sauna and whirlpool here, and you can use it even if you're not coming in a treatment." Nice.
Photo: View down to pool bar, pool and beach, Credit: Ed Wetschler
8. The long, wide beach, like the one at Atlantis, whose Beach Tower is right next door, is stunning.
9. The bar at the infinity pool is unlike any I've seen, because tables extend out into the water so no one feels crowded while sipping their Bahama Mamas.
Photo: Despacito Dancing Poolside, Credit: Ed Wetschler
10. Daily activities (e.g. dance lessons poolside, fitness classes) are led by extremely likable people, and the evening entertainers, some of whom are Cuban, are also irresistible. Face it: They'd have to be irresistible to get this Mozart addict to lead a line of soul train dancers. And they were.
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