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Riu Playa Blanca


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All Inclusive    

The 24-hour all-inclusive Riu Playa Blanca is located on the beach in the province of Cocle, Panama. Activities are endless, so guests can enjoy vacation to the fullest with their family, friends, or partner. Watersports range from scuba diving and windsurfing to snorkeling and kayaking. Enjoy beach activities such as volleyball and table tennis, or stay fit in the gym. Tennis courts and golf courses are located nearby. Complimentary 24-hour WiFi is also available in the common areas of the resort (available in rooms for an additional charge).

During the day, participate in activities organized by the animation team - sing, dance, do water aerobics, and let the children explore the cheerful Riuland. At night, you can't miss the shows, live music, or disco. If you prefer to relax under the light of the moon, enjoy a cocktail on the beach.

You'll never go hungry, with four restaurants available on the all-inclusive plan. Enjoy Asian fusion at Xian, or Italian cuisine at Il Palazzo. Eat all you desire at Balboa, a buffet that serves three meals daily. If you dont want to leave the pool, enjoy grilled specialties at Chiriqui poolside restaurant.

Come spend the vacation of a lifetime on the long beach of Cocle, and enjoy relaxing time with your loved ones at the Riu Playa Blanca.

Find out what's new at Riu Hotels & Resorts!

Greening Your Life: Part of the Apple Vacations Greening Your Life initiative, this property holds a Travelife Gold Award and Sustainability Certification. The resort also utilizes biodegradable cleaning products, strives for an active reduction in water, electricity, and chemical products, and educates employees and guests with informative, eco-friendly materials.

Learn more about Riu Hotels & Resorts.

Find out more about Panama!
HOTEL LOCATION
Located on the shore of Cocle beach in Panama, two hours ground transportation from the airport.
Address:



PA
HOTEL FACILITIES
Boutique Shops
Business Services
Currency Exchange
Laundry / Dry Cleaning Service
Meeting Rooms
Pools
Number of Pools: 4

Includes main pool with swim-up bar and children's pool.
Golf: NEARBY
Holes: 18
Green Fees: $
Cart Fee: $
Caddy: Yes
Water Sports on Site
Snorkeling: Additional Charge
Paddle Boats: Additional Charge
Wind Surf: Additional Charge
HOTEL DETAILS
This beachfront 24-hour all-inclusive hotel offers a wide array of watersports and beach sports, as well as a gym, and daily activities schedule. Enjoy complimentary entrance to the night club and drinks six nights a week! Beach: Cocle Beach Check-in: 3 p.m.
Check-out: 12 p.m.
Total Rooms: 573
Year Opened: 2013 Credit Cards: Visa, Master Card
ROOM TYPES
STANDARD COURTYARD VIEW ROOM
Comfortable guestroom includes one king bed or two double beds, and a balcony or terrace with courtyard views. Room also features a spacious bathroom with double washbasins, a minibar, a liquor dispenser, and more.
1 King Bed or 2 Double Beds Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite
OCEAN SUITE
Suite includes one king bed and a private balcony or terrace with stunning views of the sea. Room also features a integrated lounge area with a sofa bed, a bathroom with a hydromassage bathtub and shower cabin, and more.
1 King Bed Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite
STANDARD OCEAN FRONT ROOM
Comfortable guestroom includes one king bed and a private balcony or terrace with beautiful oceanfront views. Room also features a bathroom with shower, double sinks, a minibar, and more.
1 King Bed Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite
2 BEDROOM FAMILY SUITE
Family suite includes a king bed in one bedroom and two single beds in the second bedroom. Room also features a bathroom with a hydromassage tub and shower cabin, a balcony or terrace, a living room, and more. Minimum occupancy: two adults, two children.
1 King Bed or 2 Twin Beds Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite
STANDARD OCEAN VIEW ROOM
Comfortable guestroom includes one king bed or two double beds, and a private balcony or terrace with partial ocean views. Room also features a minibar with a liquor dispenser, a spacious bathroom, and more.
1 King Bed or 2 Double Beds Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite
TRIPLE ROOM
Triple guestroom includes one king bed and one double bed, and a private balcony or terrace. Room also features a spacious bathroom with a bathtub/shower combo, a minibar, and more. Minimum occupancy: two adults, one child.
1 King Bed or 2 Double Beds Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite
2 BEDROOM FAMILY ROOM
Guestroom includes one bedroom with a king bed and a sofa bed, and a second bedroom with two double beds. Room also features two bathrooms, a balcony or terrace, a minibar, and more. Minimum occupancy: four adults.
1 King Bed or 2 Double Beds Other Amenities -
Air Conditioning
Fan
Shower
Balcony or Terrace
Minibar
Hair Dryer
Iron
Telephone
Television
Room Safe
Satellite

OTHER INFO
WiFi is available for an additional charge.
DINING
Riu Playa Blanca features 1 meal plan options:
All Meals, Drinks & Tips
There are 4 Restaurants at Riu Playa Blanca:
Balboa - Main restaurant serving 3 buffet-style meals a day.
Chiriqui - Poolside restaurant serving grilled specialties.
Il Palazzo - Italian restaurant; reservations required.
Xian - Asian restaurant; reservations required.
ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT
Daily Activities & Entertainment:
Water and beach sports, daytime entertainment programs for children and adults, and scuba diving lessons in the pool.
Nightly Activities & Entertainment:
Pacha nightclub, RIU evening entertainment
CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Riuland kids' club provides daily programs for children in groups divided by age. Evening entertainment also available.
Applicable Ages: 4-12
Program Fees: No

Children's Facilities
PlayGround
Teen Disco

Advance Notice for Babysitting: yes

Apple Vacations Customer Satisfaction Score
Hotel Average
What to expect
Food Quality
Comfort
Cleanliness
Service
48 Recommend
48 past Apple Vacationers would recommend Riu Playa Blanca to their friends and family



Latest Apple Vacations Review >>
TripAdvisor Web Reviews
Based on 1412 reviews
What to expect
Location
Rooms
Service
Value



TripAdvisor Traveller Reviews
Tropical Paradise
TRACY T, Hamilton, Canada
Sat Jul 09 13:16:04 EDT 2016
This was our first trip to Panama and we were charmed from the beginning. The Riu Playa Blanca is a lovely hotel with four pools, a kids' club and an amazing array of food for your tastebuds. We traveled in July and the weather was hot and humid with rain showers nearly everyday but they did not last long. We stayed on the property for the duration of our stay which was to relax and unwind. The rooms were nice and comfortable although housekeeping was hit and miss. I would advise bringing your own wash cloths and shampoo/condition. We had to push our beds together to make a queen bed for the stay and a cot was set up and ready to go for our child once we arrived in the room. The fridge is stocked every other day with water, pop and beer. Bottles of vodka, rum and whiskey were available for consumption in the rooms. The kids pool was lots of fun but we preferred the swim up bar pool which is the only bar available to service all four pools. Washrooms are also very far! The food was surprisingly good and there was no limit on reservations for a la carte restaurants although reservations had to be made before 10am on the date you wanted to dine. The Steakhouse was nothing to write home about although we did enjoy the Italian Restaurant on two occasions. The main buffet was great with new selections each evening for dinner. Overall we enjoyed our stay and felt the hotel was friendly and clean. A great family vacation. More>

Non inclusive all inclusive
dbux22, Scottsdale, Arizona
Thu Jul 07 14:12:50 EDT 2016
It started when we showed up and they did not have our reservation (thank god we had all of our documentation) our mini bar was to be "stocked and refilled" on request. When we arrived there was 1 beer in the fridge. I called and asked to have more. "we can get to that for you tomorrow as we are done servicing for the day"????? it was 7PM REALLY? I had to call 3 more times the next day to request beer be brought to the room as the 1 can provided went fairly quickly. After my 3rd call during the day and nothing being brought by 4PM I said I guess I need to come down in person. The last thing you want to do is get mad on vacation!! I informed them we paid alot to be here and if I call and ask for more beer you should show how much and we will be there in 10 minutes. While waiting for beer during the day we went to the "all inclusive" water sports office. I asked to take out a paddleboard. "do you have experience?" I told them I had done this on many occasions. "Where"? REALLY??? I was told there were unusual currents and no water sports would be allowed for the next 6 days!!! Guess how many days I was going to be there? I looked over to the resort next to us and there were 2 10-12 year olds on paddleboards. I asked what about them. "we have different insurance requirements then they do" REALLY?? Needless to say I was mad again so much for "all inclusive" When I went to ask management at the front desk I was told that the "all inclusive water sports" were not managed by the Rui! REALLY?? We asked to be transferred to the RUI in Panama City if we couldnt use any of the activities we came for. They started working on this on Monday and didnt get back to us until Wednesday because a decision had to be made by management somewhere. REALLY?? On Wednesday they told us there was nothing they could do if we wanted to move it would be on us. HOW FRUSTRATING CAN YOU GET!! They originally told us we could move for $80 additional per day. When we went to do this it became $149 and no one could confirm where the $80 quote came from. We transferred in to a non RUI hotel for our last 2 days. What a joke this place is. DONT STAY AT THIS RESORT (used very lightly) On a side note their "free WIFI" in the public areas is horrible. Slow, spotty, poor signal. You have to find certain areas if you need access to WIFI. More>

Nice hotel
AndyCorns, Heywood, United Kingdom
Wed Jul 06 06:01:09 EDT 2016
Just back from 2 weeks in another Riu Hotel, more laid back and appeared to be more laid back and less activities by the animation team - no visible activity board to let you know what was taking place. As usual with Riu Hotels no matter what role a staff member has within the hotel, they always say hello or good day to guests. The rooms are spacious and the beds were comfortable. Bedding was changed daily by housekeepers who work hard. The food was edible but would be better if it was warmer, we tried all 3 of the bookable restaurants and although the food was nice in all 3 our favourite was the Steakhouse, followed by the Asian. Had no problem with the Wi-Fi that was available from the hotel free of charge and was also able to gain access to the free internet in our room but occasionally lost connection and it was slightly lower. We didn't pay for a sea view but our room had a very good view of the sea. there are not that many rooms in this hotel that does not offer a sea view On reading some of the complaints in other reviews I can confirm that Panama has strong smoking laws which the hotel has to follow and also with the temperature constantly in the 30's the sand on the beach does get hot - both of these are out of the control of Riu Hotels and should not go against the opinion of rating the hotel More>

3.5-4 Stars for this Riu property, May 6-13, 2016.
Laura C, toronto
Tue Jul 05 18:20:15 EDT 2016
Location: Was conveniently located 10 minutes away from the new Rio Hato airport. There was pretty much nothing in the area to do, aside from going to the supermarket (located right outside the Riu complex) and going to the airport. When I spoke with some of the bartenders, many told me the nearest bars or nightclubs were about a 25 minute drive from the hotel. The location was pretty much a let down for us in all honestly. Beach: The Playa Blanca beach-ironically- boasts it's (mostly) black volcanic sand, and though many other reviewers may not have been fond of it, I found it to be soft and pretty. Unfortunately, as mentioned in many other reviews, there were supposedly many jellyfish and stingrays present, though you would definitely miss them swimming around as the water is quite cloudy, due to the black sand, and-dare I say- dirty water?. We actually only went into the ocean a few times the whole week because of the above mentioned. One time my mom even found a maxi pad floating next to her in the water. This was another area of GREAT disappointment for us. If you want a Caribbean getaway *primarily* to have that pristine beach you always see online, please go to Cuba, DR, Jamaica or anywhere else. Not here. Rooms: We had a bit of trouble with the first rooms we were given, as they were on the 1st floor and had a strong musty-moldy smell. We asked the front desk to switch our rooms, and were told to wait until tomorrow due to unavailability of the regular rooms, and even still we wouldn't be guaranteed a room on a higher floor. Once we spoke with Eduardo, the Sun-wing rep, he visited the room with us, and marched directly to the reception and insisted we got better rooms. We ended up with 2 new rooms: One regular room and one oceanview room(for which we had to pay $120 USD) both on the 6th floor. It should be noted that we were 5 women so one room was a triple occupancy and the previous rooms only had 2 single beds (they called them double beds, but they were definitely too small to fit 2 people on one). The oceanview room was really nice and had a pull out couch which was the solution for the third missing bed. My cousin slept on it and found it quite comfortable. We all felt the rooms were kept relatively clean, and neat, and the beds/pillows were pretty decent. Hotel grounds: The grounds were relatively the similar to many of the Riu hotel we've stayed at in the past. There was a noticeable amount of pool tiles missing in both the main pools, but it didn't bother us. Everything was kept pretty clean here too. The gardeners were up and doing their thing every morning, making sure everything was trimmed and looking even. With that being said there were a couple of downsides: The air conditioning in the Sports bar however was always cranked up way too much, but most importantly there was a lack of shade in the pool areas, and almost everyone in my group got badly burnt (regardless of the amount of sunblock was applied and re-applied daily). Please consider this factor if you are fair-skinned and are prone to burning badly, and bring extra sunblock and wide hats/stay in the shade as often as possible. Entertainment: Well, what can I say about the entertainment here..When it came to the animation team, it definitely pales in comparison to a lot of other Rius (or just any all-inclusive of this kind for that matter). Now, I do not want to criticize because I know how exhausting entertaining can be, let alone all day, everyday, however I think it's a bad sign when almost everyday, we felt bored, and even a bit disregarded. The dancers were amazing and always put on a pretty good show at night/dance lessons during the day. It should be noted that during our stay, it looked like there were supervisors or Riu representatives that had come to the resort to assess/do some quality control for the last few days of our stay. We noticed that the quality of many things-among them being the entertainment- improved significantly during this time. One thing that we found odd was that the animation team/dancers were prohibited from staying on the resort to go to the nightclub. Normally, in other Rius I have been to, they join the guests in the fun at night, and that helps set the scene for a good time. Let me tell you, that nightclub was in need of some help. The dj was not very good and (probably due to the fact that it was considered "low season") very underpopulated. This category gets a pretty low rating for me, unfortunately. Crowd: The crowd during what is considered "low season", at this resort is pretty much families (latin american and canadian), couples, and corporate-business travellers. Since most of us were young 20-somethings kinda looking for a fun, social crowd, we found it hard to mix and mingle (even though I, myself speak spanish and my friend understands it well) the way we do on previous trips to the DR, Mexico, or Cuba. Food: Contrary to what most people had said about the food at this hotel, I found it to be pretty good. It wasn't the amazing caliber of cooking you'd find in other 5star Riu hotels, but still pretty good. We tried all the al-la-carte's and the Italian was by far the best. The Asian restaurant was also quiet good, but not amazing. The steakhouse was definitely the night that we ate the worst on the entire trip, so I don't really recommend it. For the buffet: The breakfast buffet was quite good and had good variety; the lunch buffet was, in my opinion, excellent; and the dinner was also fairly good but not the best. Though on the days when the Riu representatives were present in the restaurants/buffets, we noticed the quality of the food (just like the entertainment) improved quite a bit. With that being said, overall, I/we were quite satisfied with the food this hotel. Staff: Overall, I cannot complain about the staff. The receptionists at the front desk were almost always quick to respond to any inquiry (although they gave us a bit of a hard time with the rooms in the beginning). The cleaning staff was great, and the bartenders were amazing (I think we hung out more with them than the actual entertainment staff). The waiters did their job, but went the extra mile when the representatives were there checking up on them (obviously). Excursions/tours: We did two tours on this trip: the first one being the Anton Valley Tour (which costed about $60USD). This tour consisted of taking a bus through the mountains to an animal sanctuary-zoo type place. Was not too impressed with this portion of the tour as it was small, the cages looked a bit dilapidated and there weren't too many exotic animals around. Our next stop was a pit-stop to this pretty waterfall/mountain trail which was great for taking pics. From there we were taking to the thermal baths which were nice, but not really anything to write home about. It felt a bit unclean, but i'm no expert on thermal baths. The bonus was that they offer you a free self-application of a facial mask made of the clay from the region. You could buy a decent sized tub of this same clay for $2USD (which I did). Our final stop was to this small town where we spent about 45 minutes doing some souvenir shopping. This entire tour lasted half a day (morning-mid afternoon) and it included water but no meals. All I have to say is, you get what you pay for... The second tour we did was a Panama City/Canal tour. This lasted about 3/4 of the day. This tour costed us about $95USD if I'm not mistaken and included a full buffet lunch. The first part of the tour included several mini stops in different parts of Old Panama City (historic centre). Although you could tell that the tour guide was getting some sort of kick-backs from the particular souvenir shops he took us too, the city was quite beautiful and this was the best part of the tour. We were then taken to lunch where we had a very tasty and satisfying lunch and had about an hour to do some duty-free shopping (**VERY GOOD SHOPPING**) from there we headed to the Canal. That was something quite interesting to see, though I felt we spent a bit too much time there. Downstairs at the observatory, they had an AMAZING coffee shop which I recommend any coffee-lover to get one. Overall, for the price I think this tour was worth it. PS the above mentioned tours can be bought on the plane in CAD for cheaper, so please do so if you are serious about touring during your stay. Overall for this trip I would rate it a 3.5-4 star. More>

Potential To Be Much Better
Eulenspeegel, San Antonio de Pereira, Colombia
Sat Jul 02 20:43:29 EDT 2016
When I first read the reviews of Riu Playa Blanca, I had mixed feelings about this resort. Our travel agent in Medellin gave us a package deal that was hard to refuse. But between the fly-by reviews touting the place, comments by management's "TA Reputation Doctor" and the very detailed reviews criticizing the hotel, I did not know what to make of this place. In spite of my initial reluctance to book here, my wife and niece outvoted me, and so we booked the vacation package through a travel agent. Overall, my stay at Riu Playa Blanca was pleasant, but the hotel failed to live up to its potential in two critical areas: 1) Safety and Protection of Guests and 2) Food Quality and Preparation. For this reason, I am only assigning 3 stars for my overall rating of this property. Riu Playa Blanca is situated on the Pacific Coast, about 100 km away from Panama City. The ocean surf is not much to look at, but a wide stretch of beach that stretches from the pool area to the berm is dotted with dozens of small palm trees and beach lounges. Riu Playa Blanca resort is all-inclusive, almost brand new (opened in April 2014), and boasts 553 rooms available for its guests. THE FACILITIES: The Riu complex is a medium-sized resort with a beach, ocean access; 4 swimming pools; an aquatic sports center; pool bar; sports bar; discoteque; lobby bar/lounge; and live show theater. There are also two stores in the main building, but no ATM (You need to go next door to the Playa Blanca Beach Resort ATM). There are ample elevators to service the 6 floors in the resort, but while I was there, the elevators malfunctioned at least 3 times, and guests had to use the stairs. WIFI service is adequate, but spotty. The hotel offers a premium WIFI service which I declined. The free WIFI service to my room was unreliably intermittent... and forget about streaming NETFLIX. The resort is clean throughout and the general appearance is kept well-maintained. The commons area and grounds staff do a super job of keeping the place ship-shape. The hotel is tastefully decorated in Art Deco throughout. THE ROOMS: With three people in my family, a Riu standard triple room offered us space and comfort. Everything that was supposed to work, did so like a charm. The bathroom is huge, and can double as a dressing room while another is taking a shower. My only criticism is that the hotel is very stingy on the usual amentities found in a luxury resort hotel (eg no lotions, shampoo, shower caps or coffee maker.) The room we stayed in, #3062, has a big mini-fridge, four liquors on tap, an electronic safe big enough to store a 15" lap-top computer, iron and board, 32" flat screen TV with device connections, telephone, and A/C that works marvelously. The room had ample lighting, electrical connections and closets. At the end of the unit, overlooking the hotel gardens, is a spacious balcony with patio furniture. To the left, we had a magnificent view of the ocean. The room remained quiet and peaceful throughout the night and day. The beds are somewhat comfortable and afford average sleep quality. THE RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Excluding snacks, the hotel offers 4 main restaurants. If you wish to eat dinner in one of the specialty restaurants, you will need to make reservations in the Xian Asian restaurant before 10 am every morning. Overall, food quality in the restaurants ranged from Very good to Poor. Generally speaking, the salad, sides and dessert bars were quite good, but where the hotel falls flat on its face is on the hot buffet lines. The food is frequently old, stale, tired and tough. (And in some cases served under unsanitary conditions). One thing about Riu Playa Blanca is there is no shortage of bars. You will find bars throughout the complex and beer and wine on tap in the restaurants. The mini-bar service to our room was exceptional. Our bar man, Roberto, kept our fridge and liquor dispenser well-stocked, and never let us "go dry." The restaurants: 1. BALBOA (Fusion)- Balboa is the main cafeteria-style restaurant which serves 3 meals a day beginning with breakfast. I nicknamed it "The General Mess" because the hot serving lines reminded me of the mess decks aboard Navy ships (and many times, so did the food quality.) There is a wait staff to assist with beverages and any other requests that you may have. In particular, we took a liking to Rosa, who was most helpful during breakfast and lunch time. I avoided eating from the hot buffet line, and stuck with the salads and sides in the cold buffet line which I might add were quite good. I ate a boneless pork chop on my first day, and it was as tough as shoe leather. The next day, I gave the peppered beef a shot, and was equally disappointed. At breakfast time, nothing is made to order like in many other AI resorts. Fried Eggs and omelets are made ahead of time and left out until they are hard and cold and no longer appetizing. The morning fresh fruit juices do get a double thumbs-up, though. The ubiquitous capuccinos hit the spot every morning as well. 2. Il Palozzo (Italian)- By far, the Italian restaurant is the pick of the litter. We enjoyed two evening dinners and would have done 3 if the restaurant was open Wednesdays. The anti-pasta, dessert, bread and hot buffet bars were excellent. In particular, I enjoyed the rich, full lasagna and thin-crust pizza at the buffet. I ordered broiled salmon and shrimp fetuccini as my main entree and was pleased with both selections. Il Palozzo is a cozy, quiet restaurant that comes as close as your going to come to a romantic setting at Riu Playa Blanca. This restaurant is highly recommended. 3. Xian (Asian)- The sushi, noodle and salad bars were not bad. But once again, food quality at the hot buffet takes a nose dive. The various Asian-style entrees looked old, tired and dehydrated, so I did not try. I stuck with the sushi and noodles and was content with that. Unfortunately, there are no prepared-to-order hot entrees on the menu. 4. Chiriqui (Steakhouse/Snack/Fast food). This is the catch-all restaurant for the resort, and quite frankly the worst. Lunch and snacks are served here, and at night the restaurant doubles as a steak house. Although the serving area has boundary doors, the doors are kept open for some unknown reason. So, flies, mosquitoes and other insects are free to enter the serving area and light upon the food in the buffet lines. Fast food items like hamburgers and fries are desiccated and contaminated by insects. I took one look at this, and steered clear of the buffet lines at this place. My wife decided to try the curry chicken (a mistake). The heating elements on the sneeze shields are unprotected and present a safety hazard. She inadvertently bumped one of the UV elements with her wrist and received a second degree burn. What followed, in regards for what was offered as first aid treatment, will be discussed later. On our last night at Riu, we had dinner at Chiriqui (aka the Steakhouse). My rib-eye steak was cooked to order and passable. It was an extra-thin cut, but nevertheless, I was content to eat it. The servers at Chiriqui the Steakhouse did not exhibit the usual friendly, helpful attitudes of their counterparts in the other restaurants. As a matter of fact, the orders were slow in getting out... 50 minutes from ordering to serving the first course. Even simple requests were deflected with impatience and excuses. We would have not eaten here if Il Palozzo was open that night. 5. The Various Bars: Service at all of them are friendly and efficient. Most of the liquor labels are generic unknowns to me. But if you ask nicely, the bartender may treat you to a name brand liquor in your drink. (After the first drink, you won't be able to tell the difference between namebrand and generic anyways.) ACTIVITIES: The recreational staff at Riu is relentless in its efforts to keep hotel guests as happy campers. From early morning until late at night, the Riu staff is tirelessly enthusiastic in the various activities they offer. Whether it's taking a dive, keeping the pool clean, leading aqua aerobics, playing bingo or orchestrating a show, these young, creative people do an excellent job. I would like to single out one employee, Maria, the divemaster, who thrilled my niece with an afternoon snuba session at the nearby island. SERVICE: Overall, the worker bees and front line supervisors at Riu Playa Blanca get it. But, I'm not so sure that management does. From chambermaid to barmaid, to bell hops and desk clerks to grounds keepers and security, the collective face of the Riu workforce is cheerful and helpful. Steve, our bell-hop, made us feel welcome when we first arrived. This guy did not leave us until he had fulfilled all our requests and we were settled in. He did not hesitate to check on us during our 5-day stay. Two invaluable "go to" people at the front desk are worthy of mention as well. Luber and Luisana are both knowledgeable and helpful employees who steered us in the right direction and got things done when others said "can't." Management should be proud of its staff and remain confident in the fact that its employees are indeed doing their job. As always, good, conscientious service deserve a tip. These good employees depend upon it. Unfortunately, management seems unresponsive to the needs of hotel guests. In particular, the safety and protection of its guests appear to be low on its priority list. Here are two examples that made me come to this conclusion: When we first arrived, I noticed that the floor of our shower did not have any kind of rubber map or non-skid strips. The shower enclosure is made with beautiful marble tile. Although very attractive, it is "slippery when wet." When used as flooring in a shower, it becomes the perfect fall hazard... especially for those of us who are up in our years. For 4 days, I begged for a rubber mat, but to no avail. Finally, on our last day at the resort, our chambermaid delivered a brand new Rubbermaid shower mat (still in wrap). I am fairly confident that Luber at the front desk made this happen. My question is: Why are rubber mats not standard issue in all the rooms? It was like pulling teeth to get one $10 rubber mat to prevent me from breaking my backside. Its sister hotel up the road, Riu Plaza Panama City has rubber mats in all its tubs and showers. Why can't Riu Playa Blanca do the same? On our second day at the resort, we tried to eat lunch at the Chiriqui snack bar. As my wife helped herself to curry chicken, she burned her wrist on an unprotected UV heating element. The burn immediately turned red and later blistered. We sought first aid from the restaurant supervisor, Osvaldo. He told my wife to rub tomato juice on the burn. We then headed for the reception area in the lobby and to ask for help. The desk clerk put us in touch with the public relations manager, Magali Zigler, who told my wife to run plenty of cold water over the burn. She then offered my wife, a topical skin creme over the wound. I asked if treatment at the hotel infirmary was an option, but was told it's not possible. Frustrated, we returned to our room. A short time later, we had the front desk call an emergency medical doctor to the hotel. The doctor cleaned and dressed the burn. 2 shots, 3 prescriptions and $190 later, the doctor gave us the bill. My wife was instructed to stay out of the water and sun. Great news on the second day of a 5-day stay at a beach resort. So effectively, my wife was confined to the room for the remainder of our vacation. The following day, I wrote a letter to the hotel's General Manager, Victor Merino. In my letter, I gave an account of what had happened and the sequence of events leading up to calling the emergency medical doctor. The letter also included copies of the medical report and bill. I still have not received the courtesy of a response from Mr. Merino or anyone else in management. So, I can only conclude that Riu Management at Playa Blanca does not care about its guests. OVERALL VALUE: For what we paid for our tour package, our 5 days/4 nights at Riu Playa Blanca was a very good deal. However, based upon my experience at this resort, I would not pay rack rate. If Riu management can become more focused on the details of daily operations and policies that need some shoring up, this hotel has the potential to become a great resort. Presently, the hotel falls short in a couple of critical areas. Hopefully, Management has the willingness to improve. More>



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