In this post, we’ll compare two of the best-rated all-inclusive hotels in Boa Vista, Cape Verde: Riu Palace vs Iberostar Club Boa Vista. We will also talk a bit about RIU Karamboa, one of the most popular hotels in Boa Vista. At the end of the post, you will be able to find a video review of both hotels.
If you’re going to Cape Verde for an all-inclusive holiday and can’t choose between RIU Palace vs Iberostar Boa Vista, I’ll try to do a detailed comparison, so you know pros and cons of each of these all-inclusive resorts in Boa Vista and you will know what to expect from any of them.
It’s hard to travel to Cape Verde without a travel agency. Cape Verde is pretty much a TUI monopoly, so the cheapest flights to Cape Verde are generally with TUI. TUI also sells packages that are very competitively priced and if you have one week or even two weeks to spend in Cape Verde, the best price would probably be the package price. You can check prices and availability of packages to Cape Verde here.
If you’re planning to spend 4 days in Cape Verde like us, you can still buy flights from TUI without buying a package. We bought our flights 4 days before the trip and only paid £230 per person. However, you need to know that in this case, you aren’t exempt from the airport fee, which is 35 euros per person.
Some useful information about Cape Verde:
Cape Verde population: only 540.000
Cape Verde currency: Escudo, but euros are widely accepted (you can pay in Euros and sometimes in British pounds as well)
The best island of Cape Verde: there are over 10 islands and each of them is unique. All of them have great beaches.
Boa Vista flight time from London: around 6.5 hours
Cape Verde essentials: travel adapter (type C or E/F) or just buy this multi-country adapter, sunscreen, towel clips, light jacket or cardigan for colder evenings.
We visited Boa Vista in February and it was very windy and a bit cold. If you want to read more about our experience and FAQ for Cape Verde in February, head to my other post about Cape Verde, where I discuss that in more detail.
Without further ado, let’s start with the hotel comparison in Boa Vista: RIU vs Iberostar
Riu Palace vs Iberostar Club Boa Vista – the best all-inclusive resort in Boa Vista, Cape Verde
Alright, here’s what you all came here for the comparison of the best hotels in Boa Vista. Since there aren’t that many all-inclusive resorts in Boa Vista, your options are limited to Riu Touareg, Riu Karamboa, Riu Palace, Iberostar Club Boa Vista and Royal Horizons Boa Vista.
During our time in Boa Vista, we stayed two nights in Riu Palace and two nights in Iberostar. We 100% paid for both hotels ourselves, so our opinion is honest. We were equally excited to stay in both hotels and were very sad when one of the stays didn’t turn out as great as we have expected it to be.
The reason why we chose these two particular hotels is that they were the best-rated resorts in Boa Vista. We also checked the territory and the amenities of the Riu Karamboa that is located right next to Riu Palace. As guests of the more upscale resort, we were able to use the facilities of Riu Karamboa as well. Riu Karamboa is really pretty, just look at the photos below.
Let’s start comparing the hotels in different categories.
Riu Palace or Iberostar Club: the best rooms
Our first category is the rooms. While you probably won’t spend that much time in the rooms, it’s important to have a good place to sleep.
Riu Palace has two categories of rooms: a standard room and a more expensive room in a villa with a semi-private pool. All the rooms are new, have large comfortable beds, large TVs, great bathrooms with two sinks and a rainfall shower. The only thing I didn’t like about the rooms is a slightly small balcony. We stayed in the cheaper category of the rooms, so I don’t know-how are the villa rooms with semi-private pools inside, but I can imagine they are no worse.
All the rooms were soundproofed and the rooms are slightly far away from the main building with all the activities, so you won’t be disturbed in the evening by music or loud noise.
Iberostar also has two categories of the rooms: economy double/twin rooms and “normal” double/twin rooms. As we booked the hotel quite late, only economy rooms were left. I must say that the economy rooms were very “economy”. We had twin beds with not-very-comfortable pillows and mattresses. The shower was completely broken and the shampoos attached to the wall were also broken. The door to the toilet was also broken and didn’t close. The TV was tiny, probably just 15 inches or so and it didn’t work on our first day at the hotel, as the hotel had issues with the Internet.
Even if nothing was broken in the room, the room was very dated and worn off and I would say it looked like a room of a 3* hotel, not 5*. You also need to pay to use the safe. Minibar in Iberostar is empty, but you can get it stocked for extra money. What we liked about the room is that it had a very lovely balcony surrounded by flowers.
As for the noise, we got lucky, as we got a very quiet room. Some of the rooms are close to the construction site of a new hotel that is currently (February 2020) is being built, so you’ll hear loud construction noise starting at 7 am every day if you get an “unlucky” room.
Winner: the clear winner here is Riu Palace, as our room was impeccable
Riu vs Iberostar: Food and drink options. Buffet food quality and alcohol.
Riu Palace has three speciality restaurants that you can book free of charge: a Japanese restaurant, a Steakhouse and a Gourmet restaurant. We only used the buffet during our two days in Riu Palace and it was very impressive. The buffet occupied an entire building and has amazing food options. There was a live tapas station, two cheese sections, a seafood section, a meat section, two salad sections, meat and pie section, pizza and pasta section, a bread section and two sweet sections. The variety and the quality of the dishes were great.
As for alcohol, wines served were very food and the cocktails all were delicious – Riu Palace offers imported alcohol, so you can get as many gin tonic with decent gins such as Gordon’s or Bombay Saphire as you wish.
Iberostar Club Boa Vista has good food as well. While the dining room is not very impressive, they had some amazing options like tuna, fresh shrimps and lamb paella. The breakfast isn’t that great though. The main downside for us was the lack of good wine (the wine offered is very bad), so you can either ask for a soda or a beer (which was more or less). Also, for some reason, half of the chairs in the dining room are the cheapest plastic chairs that feel like they are going to break any moment.
To sum it up, both hotels had good food and some delicious dishes, however, the presentation, variety and quality of food were much better in Riu Palace. The drinks in Riu Palace were amazing as well, while drinks in Iberostar weren’t quite up to the standard.
Winner: Riu Palace
Best pool: Riu vs Iberostar
Riu has not one but 3 large pools located next to each other. There is also an indoor swimming pool that is part of the spa that you can use free of charge.
Since the sea is pretty much always unruly and there is a red flag in 90% of the time, the pool is where you will be spending most of your time.
The room at Riu is sparkling clean and there are also two pool bars: you can sit inside the pool sipping a cocktail of your choice.
Iberostar has three pools as well, however, one of them is a kids pool, one is a small infinity pool and another one is the main pool. The area by the pool feels a bit cramped, as multiple rows of sunbeds surround all of these pools that are located next to each other. While the pools looked great, I was very concerned about their cleanliness. The problem here was not with the hotel itself but rather with the guests. We saw a family bathing their toddler wearing a diaper (not 100% it was a clean one) in the main swimming pool. That said, I never had a chance to swim in that pool after I saw this.
The swimming pool at the spa costs 10 euros to visit and wasn’t immaculately clean either. There were dirty glasses and remains of the fruits everywhere and the pool was full of the leaves from the surrounding trees.
Winner: Riu Palace
The best beach: Riu Palace vs Iberostar
Most of the beaches in the Boa Vista aren’t fit for swimming because of strong waves. There is pretty much always a red flag outside, however, you can enter the shallow part of the ocean and dip a bit in the water.
Riu Palace has an okay beach. However, the entrance to the ocean is horrible as it’s full of stones, so you need to walk to Riu Karamboa, as only they have a good entrance.
The beach of Iberostar is located 20 meters lower than the lobby/rooms / pool, so it’s quite a climb to go back to your rooms. If you’re not fit, this might be a no-go for you. The beach, however, is lovely. The views are amazing and the entrance is great as well.
Winner: Iberostar (despite the steep climb)
Let’s talk about the spa and gym facilities at Riu Palace and Iberostar.
Spa at RIU Palace is free of charge. There is a lovely swimming pool, a sauna and a steam room. Everything is very clean. The gym, however, is tiny and almost always busy.
Spa at Iberostar is bigger, however, it costs 10 euros to enter. As I mentioned before, I was very concerned with cleanliness, as the spa was quite dirty. The toilet and shower at the spa needed a really good clean. The steam rooms were barely working (steam was there, but they were cold), but the sauna was good. The pool was not very warm either.
We got a free entry to the spa as we are Expedia rewards VIP members, however, if we had to pay for that spa, we would have been furious, as it’s not worth the money and needs a good clean as well as facility update.
The gym is free to use and it better than the one at Iberostar.
Winner: Riu Palace
Riu has a busy schedule of various events and you can keep yourself busy for the entire day. At night, there is either live music or a show. We were slightly disappointed by the quality of the show, as it seemed like the staff didn’t put even the least effort in the show at all.
The live music was much better, but still slightly disappointing.
At Iberostar, there is a dedicated huge amphitheatre for the shows. We only witnessed one show, because, on the first day, there was a party rather than a show. The party took place in a tiny room and the only people dancing were small kids.
However, the show on the second day was much better than Riu, the animation team put a lot of effort into the show and one of the performers seemed to be a professional ballet dancer and acrobat.
Price and price/value:
Our last category is price and price-to-value ratio. For Riu Palace we paid twice as much as for Iberostar, but to me, Riu Palace was worth every penny. The ambience, cleanliness, professionalism, food, drinks and service – everything was perfect. If I were to return, I would return to Riu Palace and I wouldn’t return to Iberostar at all.
However, if you buy it as part of a package holiday, the price difference is really not that high (£100 pp for a week). Nonetheless, if it’s still a blocking factor for you, I’d recommend staying at Riu Karamboa that is a very similar price range as Iberostar. Riu Karamboa has a huge swimming pool and overall, it’s a very beautiful hotel. The food quality can’t be that much different from Riu Palace and their beach is actually better!
Summary of the comparison of Iberostar Club Boa Vista vs Riu Palace.
To sum this post up, I must say that Iberostar and Riu are very different and have a different price range. If you have an opportunity, stay at Riu Palace, as it’s much better than Iberostar for couples or families with kids older than 14. If you have small kids, then, perhaps, Iberostar is a better option, as it’s a family-oriented all-inclusive resort. Overall, comparing Riu Palace vs Iberostar Boa Vista, I would recommend Riu Palace.