Hotel Riu Negril, Jamaica (Review)

Hotel reviews are some of my most popular posts. It's not something I have always remembered to do but I have tried over recent years, including Krakow, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Miami and Bulgaria. I always love looking back and now my mindset it looking for the future, trying to remember the hotels that were astounding to take my own children one day! 

For me, the Hotel Riu Negril in Jamaica was almost faultless. The biggest downside was the distance from the airport. We booked a coach transfer because I don't like paying extra for unnecessary costs, despite my mum's plea, but ultimately it wouldn't have made much difference. On the way to the hotel, we were the last to get on the coach and the first drop off stop after a 2 hour drive. On the way back to the airport, we were one of the last to get on again and the very first to get off, after a 95 minute drive. It's just a long way to go, after an already long 15 hour travel day. 

When we first checked in, there was a small problem with the room. We'd booked a family room with two double beds but when we arrived, we were only allocated a king size bed. The staff at reception realised this before giving us the keys, but there was a slight delay whilst they found us a new room. The room when we arrived was a ground floor garden room with a king size bed and a single bed. The room was spacious, with lots of storage space, plenty of seating and a large bathroom with double sink space. The view was beautiful and the location on the complex perfect. It overlooked a quite garden and straight out of the entrance we walked onto the beach. The restaurants and pool were just a short walk away and I think if we were any closer I would have struggled with the noise of the evening entertainment. I hadn't realised that the hotel was well known for the "optics". I wrongly thought this was a light show, it's the alcohol included in the mini bar in the room. It's all free and everything is topped up every 2 days. I didn't personally take advantage of the service, but my mum and sister did, especially having a gin and tonic in the room whilst getting ready. 

Once arrived, our first port of call was for some food. The buffet restaurant was the main place to eat for an evening meal and the only place to eat breakfast. There was a huge variety of food, that changed on a regular basis so you never had to have the same food. I'm really fussy and enjoyed a lot of it. My sister is dairy and gluten free and still had plenty of options which she was quite impressed with. 

The hotel also has 4 specialty restaurants with different themes. The Mandalay is a Chinese, the Seagull is a Steakhouse, the Kulinarium is a Gourmet and Luigi is an Italian. We managed to eat one night at each of the restaurants and was very impressed with the food. To see an insight into the dishes, head to watch the vlogs or read the blog posts. We went to the Chinese on the first night, waiting just a short 30 minutes. We were given a buzzer that would call us when a table was available and it ended up being a themed buffet restaurant. The Gourmet was table service which was nice and we got straight in without waiting. The Italian was partially buffet, with the main course being table service. For this restaurant, we were given a time to return which was only 20 minutes after we arrived. The Steakhouse was the most difficult. We queued 3 times trying to get a table, each time getting earlier and earlier. The queues started at 5pm, and the restaurant didn't open until 6.30pm. Personally, I would prefer if they did bookings at the start of the holiday so you didn't have to stress, worry and queue but I guess some people would complain about that too, as they would only be able to visit each a limited number of times. 
For lunch, the Seagull buffet was open, as well as a Jerk Hut on the beach which served the special jerk recipe with lots of different items. These were open 12pm - 3pm. There was also a further Sports Bar which had snacks 24/7, including burgers, hot dogs, cheese toasties, ham and cheese toasties, nachos and popcorn. This also served drinks and then there was several bars: reception, pool bar, stage bar and beach bar. 
The grounds were honestly beautiful. There was so much greenery and beautiful views. The complex was set on a private ground, on a beautiful bay with white sands. There was lots of space to walk around and despite being almost at capacity, it didn't feel crowded at all. Everywhere felt very safe and staff went above and beyond to help. 

Moving onto the pools. I was actually really impressed with them all, but it wasn't until another family complained that I realised it perhaps wasn't quite as family orientated as I had originally thought. There were 3 large pools, a smaller kids pool that was ankle height with water slides and spray zones, and of course, the sea. All of which had life guards the entire time. Out of the 3 pools, 2 were adults only: the one with a swim up bar and the "quiet" pool with sun lounges built in, situated between hotel accommodation. The largest pool was for everyone, but it was also wear pool classes took place and the pool foam party, which children weren't meant to do. Of course, some of the American families made a lot of complaints about this, which in a way I understand. 
There were so many activities included in the price of the all inclusive and whilst I had hoped to go on a couple of trips, there was so much to do at the resort, it didn't feel necessary. Everyday there was a schedule of day time activities with yoga, dance classes, aqua aerobics, "pool fun", volleyball and bingo. The "pool fun" was a variety of games including canoe splash, women vs men's games, drinking games and water polo. There was also a children's entertainment programme and even all included water sports with kayaking, pedalos, canoeing and paddle boarding. 
In the evening they had a range of shows. The first night they had a White Beach Party with traditional Jamaican music and entertainment. One night they did a ultimate dance show and the next was a Jamaican history show with dances and comedy sketches. They also had a Michael Jackson tribute night, karaoke and steel drums. It was very variable, with a band playing most nights from 10.30pm and a DJ playing until midnight. 
Of course, you could also purchase extra activities which included a romantic beach dinner for two and scuba diving also. Overall, it was amazing. I defintely enjoyed the entire experience and it was a much needed respite and relaxation experience. There were small things that could have been improved but the staff were so attentive and receptive, the food was incredible, great entertainment and I am thankful for the entire package! 9/10!