Riu Playa Blanca
- What's Included
- All Inclusive Features
I am just back from a week's stay at the Riu Playa Blanca (January 6-13, 2017), so this review is very up-to-date. Written by a well-traveled traveler, who understands that a Third World Country is different from a first-world country, and who does not freak out if she sees a tropical bug. First off, this is a fine place to stay. There is nothing wrong with it. It's very clean and well-staffed. People are friendly. There is good security and you feel safe. Great a/c and temp controls which is good because it is VERY hot. Ample hot water in spacious showers. Comfy beds with crisp white linens.The hotel is full but there is never an area too crowded. Chairs and loungers always available. Dining areas are clean, attractive, and not cramped.. Open to the air. Lots of bars well distributed around the property, which is well back off the highway and of course fenced and guarded. I found the food good, varied, and of course plentiful. I am vegan, so at the best of times I only eat a fraction of what others eat. There was always a selection of chicken, fish, beef and the "carving of the day" varied among all the meats. There was sushi night, tortilla night, and so on. Always fresh veg and salads. Breads and pastries. Pizzas. I ate every vegetable imaginable as well as some new ones. There are two main dining areas, both with al fresco areas well as enclosed, pleasant surroundings. There are two or three themed restaurants and a sports bar that has snack food, including salads and fruits. My only comment which is not surprising: the wine from the spigot in the eating area is not great. Chilean wine is available at $10 US a bottle in the mini-mart. I am a wine drinker and I managed with the free hooch. White is better than red.The décor is "tropical." That means that there is a lot of white so scuffs and scratches are very visible. Dining areas are very attractive. The whole building itself is mostly white and so are the rooms. Lots of tile, no wood. The white walls make it look barren but it's uncluttered and easy to clean. We noticed very little smoking compared to Mexico. Signs announce that smoking is prohibited in the hotel and its areas. Smokers congregated at the end of the hotel sidewalk leading to the beach, a fair distance from the buildings.The water and beach are better than some other reviews indicate. This is called Playa Blanca because of its "white" sand, as compared to the regular black sand in the area. As our tour guide said, "white" is relative. It's not sparkling white but it's not black. And we never saw any horse or dog poop on the beach, although there are both horses and dogs around. There is a pack of dogs that roam about but they stay away from you. There are also cats that roam around the open areas, but they avoid you too. The beach was a clean as a beach can be. The water is grey and dark, not shining blue. It has its share of detritus floating around but nothing that should impede your swimming. The lifeguards are attentive. There is a roped off area for your safety. Some watercraft are out and about, some seadoos, small boats, etc. The beach closes at 6 pm and so do some of the pools, for maintenance and cleaning.There is a sports hut where you can rent or borrow equipment. Snorkeling isn't good at the hotel but you can take a water taxi for about a 15 minute ride over to a nearby island and snorkel there. I wish I had known that earlier because I would have gone. Apparently it pretty good. Also, for sports, there is water volleyball in one of the four pools and also a sand volleyball court.Speaking of maintenance....the hotel is VERY clean. They are wiping and mopping all the time. The rooms are clean and well made up. I saw attendants checking swimming pools chemistry during the day. I had an issue with the toilet in my bathroom - it wasn't shutting off. I called and it was fixed.There are four pools: one full of kid-things and slides, very popular and well life-guarded. There is a swim-up bar pool right next to the bar, for adults. :) There is another big pool and a smaller pool that I called the old-people's pool because that's the one I used. Very quiet. The pools are all close to each other with loungers and shade provided all around. Bathrooms nearby. A good set-up. There are lots of kids! But this is a big property and there are lots of places for them to go. There is a kids' club and a short kids' entertainment show early in the evening in the theatre. I saw many kids hanging out on their own and eating on their own - it's a pretty safe environment. There is entertainment every night from about 9, with booming noise. It's supposed to stop at 11 but it doesn't always abide by the rules! As an older person, the noise level would be my greatest complaint. I don't really want to hear the boom-boom-boom all the time. But I imagine most of the clientele is okay with it. The theatre here is open air, very nice, with lots of seating and club-type tables as well. The entertainment is in-house dancers, etc, and games, with an MC. Fun, but you can't escape the noise. The visitors are, I would say, at least 50% South American, ie Panamanian, Colombian, etc. There are a lot of folks from Quebec and the Toronto area. Sunwing delivers planeloads from Quebec City, from Montreal, and from Toronto. There are Europeans too, very few Americans (that I noticed.) Everyone seemed well behaved, very family-oriented. People are friendly. In my week of being out and about, I didn't observe any issues. On the friendliness scale, the staff is good. The front-end people are good in English, the cleaning staff not-so-much, but that's normal in any country. The high-profile guest-relations people are very visible, always busy, very nice. The Nexus tour reps - Jackson, Eduardo, and Estelle - are all very helpful. Nexus manages the tours from the hotel...they set up shop just behind the lobby from about 8 to 5 every day. Of course everyone is talking about their tours and comparing notes. We booked on-site rather than on the plane and had no problem getting what we wanted. We did the Panama City/canal tour from 8 am to about 6. I enjoyed both aspects- the canal is fascinating and their visitor centre is really interesting and worth the visit. This tour gives you lunch in the city at a very nice restaurant. Our vegan needs were attended to. Our second tour was the jungle boat - a long but wonderful day, from 7:30 am to about 6 (it always depends on traffic.) This tour takes you up to Lake Gatun where you get on a boat and ride around the man-made lake which feeds the canal. This is where you see monkeys and birds and whatever you can. It's an adventure and beautiful. Then, you arrive at this amazing houseboat anchored deep in the jungle growth and you spent some hours here, with a choice of kayaking to a waterfall even deeper into the jungle growth, or swimming, or fishing, or just lying in a hammock and letting the breeze wash over you as you listen to the birds calling. This is what I did (old person!) because the sun was just so hot. But those of us who went kayaking had a great time and jumped in the waterfalls. They serve you lunch here as well. Then into the boats and back to the bus. One of the only drawbacks to the Riu is the fact that it's a distance to anywhere. That said, the countryside is pretty and I always enjoy a busride. The alternative is a city-stay which would be somewhat like staying in downtown Toronto. Apparently, you can arrange tours that split your stay between the beach areas where we were and the city. From the city, some things are closer, and the old city is always interesting and charming. Not to mention shopping. This brings us to airports. Rio Hato is a baby-airport that was built to service the beach hotels on Playa Blanca. There is NOTHING there - no shops, no restaurants. Just one vending machine. This is where Sunwing lets you off and from there it's only 10 minutes to the hotels, but about 1.5 hours to the city. The other Panama City airport is on the far city of the city. The Rio Hato airport is small and efficient. There are four entrance stations for passport control and an xray machine for your luggage. On the way out, there is the station to pay your $15 exit fee (in US cash) and sniffer dogs. (The fee IS $15, as of January 2017) in spite of what you may have read elsewhere!) It all moves quite quickly, but on the way out, you end up waiting in one big room for you plane. It's not uncomfortable and there are washrooms, but not much to do, so be prepared. Signature Tours will ask you if you want a bus back to the airport upon your return but it leaves the hotel quite early. At the hotel, you can book a later departure for the airport at a cost of $5 per person. Also, you can buy a late check out (about $30 pp) to extend your room access IF your room has not been assigned. (Check out time is noon. Our plane didn't leave til 9 pm). I was not able to do this, but there are so many nice places to hang out in the hotel that it was not a problem. There are also public showers if you need to wash off last-minute sand before leaving...I was worried about bugs and of course I took bug spray everywhere. I got only one bite and that was while lying in the hammock in the jungle. It was a sand fly. I did not even see a mosquito although some of our group complained about being bitten (in shorts, at night....duh). I sprayed when I was out. And although it was blazing hot every day, I didn't get burned as there is ample shade to be found, if you want it, and a good sunscreen works. I read in other reviews about sewer smell by the beach or pool areas. We did not smell anything bad in these areas over 7 days. When I first opened the door to my room, it had that musty, by-the-ocean smell but I didn't notice it after that. I should also mention that the temperature controls in the room are great. There are three speeds of fan so you can make it very quiet. The a/c runs all the time except when you open the sliding patio door. There are no screens so the door is either open or shut. There is also a ceiling fan. I was always comfortable in my room and slept like a baby every night. Oh, and "toiletries" here means little soaps and shower caps. The shampoo stuff is in a dispenser in the huge, walk-in tiled shower but I didn't know which was which so I didn't use it. I would recommend bringing your own. So, all in all, a lovely place to stay. Thank you, Riu Playa Blanca, for a great holiday in Panama.
We have been here for a few days back in 2014, on business trip. We returned the last December with intention on staying there for 3 days but.... we had to cancel after the 2nd day due to a complexity of issues going from problems with accommodation, poor assistance from staff and terrible food! The previous experience at this hotel was good as expected from a Riu standard...We were really surprised for seen such degradation of important standards that definitely put this hotel to a 3 star rating...no more! Beach and swimming pools dirty and overcrowded with loud young crowd. Bar service terrible as you had to line up for long time for service. Spanish speaking people were giving preference. English is hardly spoken even by managers or supervisors staff.We are definitely not returning to this hotel as it fells to lower level of other similar hotels in the area. We will eventually consider the Marriott or stay in Coronado.
I was very worried about travelling to this resort due to the earlier reviews. We had a great vacation. The food was pretty good, we always found something good to eat. The fish and chips at the grill, where we ate lunch every day was spectacular. The fries were deep fried right in front of us. Supper at the restaurants or the buffet was good.It was not always easy to get poolside chairs unless you were out there very early.As for the washrooms, yes they were a bit of a walk but they were always cleaning them and there was never a lack of toilet paper.There was no poolside service except for twice a day a young man came around and picked up the glasses.The drinks were always well made and they do make good Caesars!The Sports Bar was a great place to congregate and get out of the heat. Carlos made the best Spanish coffees.Our room was well maintained and they delivered water and soda every other day but water was plentiful at the front desk and the staff there always greeted us with a smile and a have a good day.There were a few hiccups along the way but you are in a foreign country. they do try to make you feel very welcome.We had no problems communicating with anyone at the resort. Many of the staff were quite fluent in English and FrenchThe dining room New Year's Eve was beautiful and the food amazing. I had duck a l'orange and it was delicious.All in all it was a beautiful vacation, You can always find things to criticize but I would say the positives greatly outweighed the negatives.Because we travelled over New Years this was an expensive vacation. I would not want to pay this much for this resort throughout the regular season as I would expect poolside service and more restaurants.
My family and I went to Panama to celebrate my mums 60th, and news years eve. We loved every moment of it! The staff was very friendly and the excursions we went to were just fantastic for both adults and kids. We visited Anton Valley which was like a rain forest into a jungle zoo full of active animals which the kids loved. (Not like a Toronto zoo where half the animals are sleeping). Amazing nature and fresh air. We booked most tours through Sunwing, Nexus. (Which they will explain on the flight). Airport is 10 minutes away from resort. The resort was fantastic, great food and interactive entertainment for both adults and kids every night. Beach was ok, waves are rough a little in the afternoon, morning was calm. Loved the kids pool which was fun for children. The only thing is you do have to get your own drinks, compared to the other Riu's I've been to there are usually servers at the beach. But that wasn't a big deal. The weather was just perfect not too humid. Would definitely consider going again! Viva Panama!
The weather and lush vegetation alone make Panama worth the price and distance. Add to that the high quality service, attractive and well appointed facilities and superior food of the RIU franchise and you have an excellent place for family vacations. The people in Panama are friendly and proud of their beautiful country. And I've never felt so comfortable and safe in a tropical destination. Oh and one more time - the weather is perfect!
Vacations packages include round-trip flights, accommodations, round-trip transfers (unless outlined below) to and from the hotel, and tourist cards (if required, unless outlined below).
If selecting an all-inclusive resort option, the package will also include the all-inclusive features as outlined by each resort.
Items not included:
- Travel insurance (mandatory if traveling to Cuba)
- Tourist cards ($10USD)if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing Airlines
- Departure taxes ($20USD) if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing or Signarture Vacations
- Hotel transfers for packages with WestJet to USA (with exception to Honolulu)
- Hotel transfers for packages to Europe
- Items of a personal nature
- 3 Meals daily plus 24-hour snacks
- All drinks 24-hour (domestic beer and cocktails, select international brands, house wine with meals )
- Daily activities
- Introductory scuba lesson in pool
- Non-motorized water sports
- Evening entertainment
- Welcome cocktail
- Unlimited International drinks
- In-room liquor dispenser
- Unlimited dining at a specialty restaurants
- In-room mini bar re-stocked regularly
- In-room safe
- 20% discount on select excursions booked with Signature
- Signature Hour from 4 - 5 p.m.
- Free Wi-Fi in the lobby (90 min/per day)
- Spa credit available (applies to selected treatments, may vary per hotel)
- 573 Rooms
- 2 Pools
- Kids pool
- Kids Club
- 4 Restaurants
- 5 Bars
- Conference Room (fee)
- Complimentary Wi-Fi in lobby for 90 consecutive minutes daily
- Concierge Desk
- Tour Desk
- Beauty Salon (fee)
- Non-Motorized water sports
- Golf (fee) (nearby)
- Air Conditioned
- Ceiling Fan
- Hair Dryer
- Safety Deposit Box
- Satellite TV
- Mini Bar
- Balcony or Terrace
- Liquor Dispenser
- Vanity Mirror
- May or may not include sofa or sofa bed
- Maximum Occupancy 4; Maximum Number of Adults 3
Honeymoon Bonus - Surprise welcome gift in your room, King-size bed, Late check-out, and Complimentary upgrade to next available room class. Request at time of booking. Proof of marriage required. Subject to availability and subject to change.
Early Booking Bonus - This hotel may offer early booking bonuses at certain times of the year. If early booking bonuses apply to your vacation, prices shown online have already been adjusted accordingly. Please inquire for complete details.
Resort Location Map
Riu Playa BlancaPanama,Panama
- Hotel Contacts
- Extra Info
Finca 43.668 Playa Blanca - Provincia de Cocle, Rio Hato 0213 Panama
Some restaurants may be open for certain meals only and limited visits may apply. Reservations required and dress code in effect for a la carte restaurants. Time restrictions may apply for water sports.
Child pricing may only be available with select tour operators and valid for select dates and durations. Child pricing rules are subject to change without notice. Please contact one of our vacation specialists if you require assistance with child pricing.
Photo identification and/or credit card or cash deposit may be required at check-in for incidental charges.
Extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on hotel policy. Rollaway beds and cribs (infant beds) may be available and should be requested at the time of booking; fees may apply.
Special requests are subject to availability upon check-in. Special requests cannot be guaranteed and may incur additional charges upon check-in to fulfil.
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