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“Great time” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Guanacaste

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Hotel Riu Guanacaste
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Matapalo | Canton de Carrillo, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Queens, New York, United States
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Great time”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2012

I travelled with 5 family members (3 mid-20's and parents) from 6/22-6/29, first time in Costa Rica for all of us and it is a beautiful country. Definitely if you do some exploring you will see a lot more beautiful plant and animal life than in you will see in Caribbean spots, so be sure to get out and get to know the real Costa Rica.

The Riu was a beautiful place. The rooms are very comfortable, grounds are beautiful. Food is OK, I will agree with some of the other reviewers and try the Filet Mignon which was excellent. Other than that I recommend to eat at Liberia buffet and don't bother with the specialty restaurants.

We took a tour with Alex from costaricaamazingtours.com and for MegaCombo Miravalles tour which included the Llanos de Cortez waterfall tour, ziplining through the jungle, horseback riding through the rainforest, amazing rainforest tour with Alex, an "authentic" Costa Rican lunch (best meal of the trip) and Miravalles volcano hot springs and natural mud bath. Alex took pictures of us with our cameras all day! Another day we did the Palo Verde boat tour with the same company and it was another good choice.

The beach at the Riu is a lovely, soft black sand. There is also a white sand beach with the most amazing variety of marine life I have ever seen - walk to the left of the beach, past the rocks (wear water shoes or sneakers and go at low-tide around 3:30pm) and you will find it. It is a trek but it is truly an amazing experience.
Also amazing on the beach: $35 massage from Alex and Ivania, mother-son team to your right as you approach the beach :)

One important caveat about the Riu Guanacaste is to be very, very careful with all of your valuables. On our first day at the resort my brother had $200 stolen out of his wallet. The hotel managers were informed and said they would look into it but we knew there was nothing that could be done. We had read reviews on tripadviser warning to keep all valuables locked in the safe at all times, but here are some oversights that you can avoid: we did let our luggage out of our sight when it was brought up to the room; upon seeing that the rooms were already made-up, we assumed that no one might enter as housekeeping; we were not aware that staff come every 2 days to refill the minibar.
I would still stay at the Riu again as I realize that theft is common in underdeveloped countries, but the hotel should increase their efforts to minimize theft.

Overall: we had a great time in Costa Rica and at the Riu, with just one important caveat.

Room Tip: with jungle or ocean view to avoid construction
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (999)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
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  • German first
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  • Spanish first
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2012

Although the pool areas were great and looking out into the tropical forest was breath-taking everything else was subpar. The rooms were rather small (we had 2) the towels often smelled mildewed and the sink sometimes got clogged. There was no lighting in the shower and the tub was pretty tight. There also was not much lighting near the room which made it hard to get in and out of. Then there was the problem of food. ALL of the food was not tasty- sometimes seemed like left overs. They have only 3 restaurants the Asian inspired one-Furama was the only tasty location.The excursions were a little misleading also.

Overall we would not return.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesup, Georgia
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2012

My husband and I stayed at the RiU Guanacaste for 1 week. We loved it! The grounds are beautiful, our room was very pretty and well-kept, the food was good for an all-inclusive (fruits were scrumptious), and the hotel staff could not have been more friendly! We would definitely stay here again. The one disappointment at the hotel was that we didn't see more wildlife on the grounds... we only saw a couple of small lizards (not iguanas). We stayed on the side opposite the construction and never heard any of the construction. We DID hear the howler monkeys just about every morning and evening, though. That was so amazing. Suffice it to say that we really enjoyed this hotel. The location was super, as well.

Now, the activities. We booked the Buena Vista Combo tour through GrayLine before we came to Costa Rica as part of our package. GrayLine was a wonderful company. They were the ones to provide us with transportation from the airport to our hotel and back to the airport after our vacation. Both times it was just us and the driver. I think it cost us $65 round trip (plus a tip, of course). The drivers were extremely helpful about places to see and their country in general. We learned a lot just from talking to the drivers and tour guides. The Buena Vista Combo tour was nice. It would be great for families. The zip lines were great for novices - not too high and not too long. My husband and I would have preferred more height and length, but it was still fun. We went to the sauna, did the mud bath, rode horses up to the sauna, mud bath, and mineral hot springs through the rain forest and along creekbeds. This was really fun, and I don't even like horses. Then we had a tractor ride back down the mountain. A great excursion.

We booked a trip called the Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour from Bestrips on the beach in front of the RIU. Jose and Alex were wonderful. Jose was able to tell us about all the tours available and spent time with us making sure we found the tour that was just what we were looking for. He was unable to go with us on our tour, but we had Alex as our tour guide. Talk about personal service!!! This guy was great! We went with one other couple, so we had four of us, Alex the tour guide, and a driver. This trip was unbelievable. We saw howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, huge iguanas, birds of all kinds including macaws, and crocodiles. I even fed a white-faced monkey a piece of banana. Too cool! We stopped at his parents' house to get some limes for the wildlife on the way and got to see how many Costa Ricans live. We also got to see Lola, the parrot and chat with her a little. On our way back we at at an authentic Costa Rican outdoor restaurant...delicious food! My husband and I would strongly recommend Bestours and Jose and Alex. My husband is full of questions, and Alex was very informative. These are great folks! They have a website - www.costaricabestrips.com.

We also had a massage on the beach under the white canopy. Sixty-five dollars for two people for a 1 hours massage. This was good also. You can get massages through the hotel, but they are not on the beach and are much more expensive.

There are professional photographers at the RIU as well. We booked a photo session with Jose (not the tour guide). He was really good, and we got some beautiful, professionally done pictures on the beach and on the grounds. He also will do pool pics as well.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with very friendly people. You can find many of these at or near the RIU Guanacaste. Pura Vida!

Room Tip: All the rooms appeared to be great! We were in one of the least expensive rooms and were extremely c...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2012

maybe a 3.5, possibly 4. Service not as personable and urgent as 5 star. Beautiful property with great activities. Room 1108 is a nice suite but near construction so not a great view and noisy while fighting bugs to get in. Had to call twice for broken/leaking toilet. Internet slow. Was assigned TAM Travel as tour operator with United package....Big Disappointment!!! Guys at LAR tour desk are the best if you want personaized service. All inclusive but no room service, no towel hut or bar near beach, no wait staff service on beach or pool. Again, not a 5 star. Food ok and plentiful. Nice pool and entertainment. Nice beach, although no umbellas offered.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2012

I had a great stay at the RIU guanacaste. I've stayed at 2 all inclusives before this and I would say that this is the smallest all inclusive i've been to. Not necessarily a bad thing but there was one place I stayed which was like a mini city on it's own. Looking at all the land there was in the first place RIU could have taken advantage and made the hotel a bit bigger. Now they're building a much bigger hotel right next door. My first night I had the privilege of getting the view of the construction. It wasn't too bad but I wasn't there for long before I moved my room to the garden view because the hotel made a mistake with my parents reservation. The garden view is beautiful as you get a view of the whole inside of the hotel as well as the beach and skyline and mountains.
The food was excellent and I have no complaints. The buffets are packed with food and you'll always have favourites and new food to try there.
As for the booze aspect. I'm only 17 so I couldn't legally drink there but my brothers would always get me drinks and my parents would occasionally too. The specialty drinks aren't necessarily watered down but they suck. They taste delicious but the bartenders pour maybe half a shot in them. I could never even get buzzed off of a few of them. If your looking to get buzzed or drunk try the long drinks such as vodka lemonade they're much stronger. If you want to drink in the room, you have access to a free mini bar which has 4 1000mL bottles of vodka, gin, guaro, rum. The fridge is also equipped with many soft drinks like orange soda, coke, sprite, club.
For the language barrier. There really isn't any. I only encountered just one worker who couldn't speak english. To be polite I would always great in spanish and they would immediately know that I spoke english likely due to my lack of accent.
The beach is nice and the sand is a little dark but it's still beautiful. You'll most definitely be greeted by many people trying to sell you excursions and tours. It can be a little annoying but you just have to say no thanks. If you are interested in one I recommend doing it through a guy named Erick and his partner Gustavo. They are very nice guys who will give you a great deal. They brought us to several beaches in the area and they took us to Tamarindo which is a beach with huge waves that you can board surf at.
If you're thinking of going here then go for it.

Room Tip: Try and see if you can get a garden view room
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Kingstown, Rhode Island
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2012

First, let me say that I understand that you’re in a remote location and you would expect a to pay a bit more for things that you either forgot or due to FAA regulations cannot carry on a plane. That said, upon arrival, I had to purchase sunscreen in the hotel shop (located a convenient 1/8 mile away from the main hotel). Price $36 US and I had to buy 2 bottles!
Food: All-inclusive resorts never really tend to live up to expectations around food and RIU did not disappoint. I will say that there were a few things that were good and I tended to stick by those. The specialty restaurants were ranked in this order (on a 1-5 scale 5 being the best). Steak House - 4, Asian - 4, Italian - 2.
Bathrooms – There are two on the main floor by the pool however there are none in any of the restaurants. They are not strategically located to anything really and normally I would not even bring this point up but it was just a huge annoyance to walk ¼ mile in the hot sun to get to one.
You walk A LOT in this resort and if you book, make sure you are located near the lobby. If not, every time you forget something, you will be trekking back and forth to the room burning valuable time you could be enjoying on the beach.
The Beach – All I can say is it was amazing. The water was warm, and tropical fish swam all around you.
I will say that the tour to Buena Vista was fantastic. We zip lined, went down a huge jungle water slide, went horseback riding and finished it all with a volcanic mud bath and mineral pool swim. Oh, and the lunch was incredible (try the home made cheese).
If you’re on a budget, go here but just be forewarned that it will be the little things that you do not get that will most likely start to bother you.

Room Tip: First, let me say that I understand that you’re in a remote location and you would expect a to pay a...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2012

Great hotel..great beach...great tour desks and great food considering it is an all-inclusive.
Here are my suggestions to the management though:
- A towel hut by the beach for those who stay at the beach and not the pool;
- A drinks cart/bar or simply a waiter going often around for drinks for those who stay at the beach.
I travel overseas to stay at the beach and not at the pool, and I found that the hotel lacked services in the beach area and concentrated services only around the pool! not really short walks either just to grab a drink or a towel!!

Room Tip: On the opposite side from constructions!!!
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica
Address: Playa Matapalo | Canton de Carrillo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Sardinal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Guanacaste 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Opening winter 2009/10. Situated in northern Costa Rica, in Guanacaste. Located on Playa de Matapalo beach. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 6-storey main building. Surrounded by 35,000 m2 / 41,86 sq. yards of lush gardens. Closest village: Nuevo Colon. 13 km / 8.1 miles from various shops. 33 km / 20.5 miles from Liberia airport. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa ... more   less 
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