Bold sculptures reminiscent of art deco dot the grounds and interior of Riu Emerald Bay.// © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

Since it’s so close to Mexico City, Mazatlan attracts many locals looking for great value and all-inclusive options. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort with excellent accommodations at even better prices then look no further than the Riu Emerald Bay. Popular with American, Canadian, and local tourists alike, the resort offers amazing value and sits on a breathtaking beach of Mexico’s pacific coast.

  • Facilities
    Guests have a variety of facilities at their disposal, including three pools, one with an adjoining Jacuzzi, another designated as adults only, and a children’s pool in the kid’s club. There’s an on-site nightclub and theatre, where drinks are included.  Also included is WiFi in the lobby, a nice perk if you bring your laptop. The main lobby is decorated in a modern style with a large take on art deco, offering clean lines and bold colors of white, silver, and gold tastefully blended throughout. RiuLand, for kids 4-12, offers safe, supervised spaces of fun and is included in the room rate.

For those looking to ‘get away’, you’ll need to factor in that this is a very family-friendly resort, and very popular with locals. Occupancy typically hovers well above 90% or sold out, even while other resorts may be suffering from low occupancy. In contrast, however, an elegant spa and wellness center is detached from but adjoining the main resort building. The Renova Spa conveys privacy and a sense of seclusion, forming a haven for spa-goers rarely seen in other properties. It is arguably one of the top selling points of this resort, and a very impressive world-class experience. There’s also an impressive conference center on site, also detached and adjacent to the Renova Spa, making the resort a great candidate for meetings and incentive planners or your alternative extended family reunion.

The all-ocean view Riu Emerald Bay, Mazatlan, sits on a beautiful stretch of Mexico’s pristine Pacific coastline.// © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris
  • Accommodations
    This high-rise resort was designed brilliantly: all rooms face the ocean side and none face the back. Standard double rooms are very well laid out to maximize use of space, and offer an ocean facing balcony, in either one or two bed configurations. Each floor also offers Jacuzzi Suite rooms, with almost three times the space as a standard room, and two jetted tubs: one in the bath and bedroom area, and a second outside on the massive balcony.  Duplex bi-level units are an economical way to sleep a family, with two sofa beds and a bathroom on the lower level, and a master bedroom and bath on the upper level.


  • A view of the pools at the Riu Emerald Bay, Mazatlan, Mexico. // © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

    Dining offerings include two buffets with a variety of options and alternative Mexican, Asian and Steak restaurants by reservation. The buffets feature made to order stations, grill, salad bar, desert bar, and a Mexican ‘stew pot’ station with rotating regional meat specialties. Food is presented simply in an unpretentious clean manner, but may not impress all taste buds. Buffets, as any foodie will tell you, are exceedingly difficult to pull off right, simply because what satisfies one person may easily fall short on another. Without the customization that a-la-carte offers, there is no perfect buffet for everyone. Exquisite buffet cuisine is quite rare, and often involves the finest ingredients and chefs to prepare, something one should not expect at most all-inclusive properties, or most anywhere for that matter. However, while the cuts of beef, lamb or pork may not be the top of the line, they are fair, sometimes very good. Riu Emerald Bay also offers a varied, appetizing and well balanced selection of tempting foods. Cold mixed salads, rotated regularly, prepared meat dishes, cooked to order pasta and fruits and deserts to end the meal on a sweet note. Try the alternative dining venues: All offer strictly limited seating to reduce noise and provide an intimate dining experience. Our favorite was the Asian restaurant’s fusion sushi buffet, served up in a decidedly oriental red and black garbed room with Buddha statuary to enhance the ambiance. The steakhouse, on the other hand, served beef tougher than shoe leather.

It is important to note that Riu, like other hotel chains in Mexico, operates different levels of 5-star All-Inclusive. This property is a ‘club’, and not a Riu Palace, so it’s important to set your expectations correctly or consider upgrading to Riu Palace. For example the 24 hour all-inclusive at Riu Palace properties includes room service. At Club properties such as Emerald Bay, however, there is no room service, only self-serve fast food items and a microwave since restaurants are not open past midnight.

The Riu Emerald Bay caters to families and groups quite well, and while individuals and couples can easily enjoy their stay, many amenities are designed with children and family on a budget in mind.  If  or your family are considering vacation alternatives to save money, consider the great value offered by booking the Riu Emerald Bay.


Moorish influences can be seen in the Renova Spa’s building, located adjacent to the Riu Emerald Bay. // © 2012 GTH & Nathan DePetris

If you go:

  • Riu Emerald Bay Mazatlan Hotel website
  • Book your alternative dining early: 50% of space opens two days prior, and the remaining 50% opens that same day at 7am. You may want to consider sending one member of the family as early as possible.
  • Order a Mojito made with Habana Club Anejo rum. This rare Cuban rum is a forbidden fruit to Americans back home.
  • Visit and relax in the Renova Spa complex across the street. Included in the accommodations is access to men’s and women’s lockers and a jumbo Jacuzzi. For the ultimate in spa treatments,  consider splurging and try the signature Renova Combination or Luminosa Facial.