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“Wonderful Vacation” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Guanacaste

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Hotel Riu Guanacaste
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   | Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful Vacation”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

We had a wonderful vacation. Food was wonderful, staff was wonderful our room was very clean. We could not have asked for more. Would recommend RIU! Beautiful beach. Horse riding was fun, trip to Cocoa Beach neat, loved the fresh coconut. Ziplining for the first time, wow what fun, and the visit to the volcano was a muddy fun mess. Enjoyment to the max!!!!!! Also find the guys on the beach with the bright green shirts at the beach that say "Geckotico" Tour Costa Rica. Jose was our guide and he and his staff were wonderful.

Room Tip: We had an ocean view and it was beautiful. A little loud at night until 11:00 when the entertainmen...
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  • Stayed October 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
    • 5 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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3,658 reviews from our community

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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 (1,155)
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English first
Everett, Ontaio, Canada
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

Short and sweet. great place for everyone (singles, couples, families)
Go here, enjoy the landscape
nice place great food (liking the costa rician cuisine)
awesome pool
ocean good
rooms fine
for tours go to Alex on the Beach (costaricaamazingtours.com)
made the trip for me
will definitely return in a couple of years!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Massillon, Ohio
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012

Well, after reading hundreds of reviews on the RIU Guanacaste we were concerned about the
bad reviews. I made the mistake of reading the 10% negative reviews who complained about
bad food, bad drinks, muddy black beach, murky water, bad shows, theft, bedbugs, bad service,
annoying vendors at beach, dirty pool and the resort being overrun by locals on weekends.
We found NONE OF THIS TO BE TRUE. We had the best trip ever.

The Airport was new and we were on the ground and at the RIU in less than 1 hour. Check in
took five minutes and the RIU had honored my email request to be on the first floor. Our room
was facing the pool and steps from the pool and the lobby. The room was spotless and
housekeeping was like clockwork at 2 pm. I was very concerned about the reports of theft but
one day I returned to the room and found that I had left the safe open. Housekeeping was in
the room and scolded me for leaving the safe open. She asked me to check the safe to be
sure that nothing was missing. We were careful about our stuff on the beach and at the pool.

There were complaints about the meal reservation process on the net and at the resort. We
made a reservation at the steak house in 2 minutes. We both had the filet mignon and while it
was not Ruth Chris Steakhouse quality, it was pretty good. We tried the Asian (no reservation
needed) and we were both satisfied. We both agreed that we preferred the buffet because
of all the choices. I enjoyed the salad bar, the choices of local foods and the dessert bar.
The choices of fresh local fruit was delicious. I have become a huge fan of rice and beans,
the staple of Costa Rica. The bartenders were all quick and friendly. The resort did have a
influx of locals on the weekend but we did not have any lack of service and enjoyed the party
atmosphere. On Monday it almost seemed too quiet.

The beach was different. It was a dark sand and it did get hot but it is volcanic and you are
sitting on the equator. The water was clear and the snorkeling on the right of the swim area
was very good. Take some bread from the buffet and you will be surrounded by colorful fish.
There was a fair number of vendors on the beach selling excursions, cigars, massage and
trinkets. They were not pushy and were happy to tell you about anything in Costa Rica. One
vendor told us it was OK to open the fence and hike into the woods next to the resort. We hiked
to the top of the mountain and saw monkees and exotic birds. There was never a problem
with getting a chair or "chair saving"

We arranged a trip with Costa Rica Amazing Tours. First, we stopped at a local grocery store
to get supplies for the day, very interesting and friendly people. Next we explored the ecosystem
of a river on a boat. We enjoyed the monkees, crocs, bats, birds and plantlife. We stopped for
lunch at a very local restaurant and then a spectacular waterfall. We ended the day at a
store that specialized in local wood products and coffee. The owner gave us a detailed tour
of the coffee roasting process. Sergio, Alex and their team did a great job.

We arranged a trip with ATV Adventures in the RIU lobby. We toured the countryside, rivers,
beachs and local towns for 4 hours and had a blast. I asked the guide to stop at a store for
some water but he chopped the top off a pineapple and I drank the sweet water inside.

The high point of the trip was whitewater rafting that we arranged with Swiss Travel in the lobby
of the RIU. We had never done this and it was incredible. The final rapids was a 16 foot drop
and we did not flip the raft, thanks to the experienced guide Juan. Afterwards was a great lunch
and a opportunity to buy pictures of the day.

The evening shows were a mix of semi professional dancing and singing. Mostly good but always fun. Some nights they would pull guests out of the audience for various contests
and it was very funny. If you go, dont give up your shirt!!! The entertainment staff at the
pool got things going around 4 and were good at getting the drunks up to be their fools.
I was impressed with the guy named Sexy Chocolate, that guy can dance.

OK, I guess I must add some bad. At certain times (not always) the bugs bites are bad
outside. By the time I thought about bug spray it was too late. We had taken a tube of
afterbite and it was well used. 2. The room frig was empty upon arrival but a call to the
desk fixed this is 10 minutes. Finally, upon arrival, the room safe was locked and the select
few that could open the safe were all busy. I actually felt good about this even though I
was tired and grouchy after being up at 3am. We ate lunch, explored the resort, had some
drinks and finally found a manager after a couple of hours. No big deal.

The people of Costa Rica were friendly, educated and hard working. I made the effort to
learn as much as possible about the people and the country. I am sad to predict that this
area will become the next Cancun or Punta Cana. We had the best time ever.

Doug and Faith from Massillon OH

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Niskayuna, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012

My husband and I traveled with another couple to celebrate my 40th birthday. We spent 3 nights at the Riu. The hotel is newer and the rooms are nice, but we had to ask for soap and to have our minibar restocked, housekeeping was a little lacking. I was afraid that the food would be terrible based on previous reviews I have read, but overall I found the food to be decent. The filet at the steakhouse was great, and we also had a nice dinner at the Asian restaurant. The buffet usually had something to offer, all in all not bad food. If you are a wine drinker don't plan on catching a buzz. My friend and I both enjoy red wine which we drank the whole time we were there, we joked around that the wine was non-alcoholic because after drinking wine all day at best we were very slightly buzzed! The casino was small but fun for something to do in the evening, as were the nightly shows. The hotel offers 90 minutes of Wifi, which has to be used in the lobby, kind of a pain, but you can buy more minutes if you need it. The grounds were absoultely beautiful, nice big pool with plenty of chairs, the beach was beautiful and quiet. The pool does get a little loud and rowdy in the afternoons, young Costa Ricans like to vacation at the resort and they definitely party it up at the pool. The hotel is located in a remote area, definitely plan an excursion or two to get out and about to see Costa Rica, one of the most beautiful countries I have seen. We did an ATV beach tour through Tomato Adventure and had a great day. The owner drove us around in a new vehicle and was very accomoodating and friendly. Overall a great trip, would definitely go back to Costa Rica.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Racine, Wisconsin
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

I just returned from a 7 night stay at the RIU and loved it. My fiance and I got married there and had 24 friends/family with us. Everyone was beyond satisfied with their vacation! There is a lot to do/see for everyone (kids and adults). If you are a pool person, the pool is large and has tons of room to pick a spot to hang out at. The pool bar was great! The bartenders that we encountered were awesome...all of them knew what you were drinking and your name.. in fact anyone you came into contact with seemed to remember your name days later when you saw them again. The service was just phenomenal. I don't think I've ever been anywhere in the United States that would treat you the way that they treated us. Just very very friendly sincere people... It didn't feel forced at all, and it didn't feel like they were just doing their job. They were just great! The shows at night were also entertaining! The casino is a little small...but it held the interest of several of our friends/family. The disco was fun, if you like to dance (boy can the people who hang out there dance!!). There was just a lot of energy at this hotel. It was great!! The food was fantastic, drinks were good... It was a perfect place for our group.

If you are looking to get married, I found the wedding coordinator, Zaira, to be beyond helpful! She was awesome... our wedding was on the beach at sunset and it couldn't have gone any better. :) I gave them a cd to play and instructions and they handled all of that. The flowers were beautiful, and the champagne toast at the end was nice! -They even had a non-alc drink in a real glass for my flower girl :) ..it was very thoughtful! My only con was the salon. The lady who did my hair was not very friendly...never smiled, never said congratulations..didn't attempt to talk to me, except through a translator (there was a language barrier, which is fine), but smiling is universal ...errr.... ?

If you are looking to do any tours/excursions or if you are traveling to different hotels around Costa Rica, I highly recommend a private guide. Diego Sandi (sibutours@gmail.com) was amazing... he picked us up from the airport, drove us to the hotel, explained anything we were curious about. He stopped at different shops for us, stopped to show us plants, animals, etc. We would call him up and tell him what tour we would like to do and how many people and he was able to get us a good deal and set it all up for us and would be waiting the next morning or whatever day we decided on, at our hotel ready to bring us there. He was great :)

Costa Rica is amazing! I would definitely go back. And I would certainly go back to this hotel!

Room Tip: The rooms were a little smaller than I expected them to be, but we weren't really in the room lo...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

This hotel is one of my favourites by far! The hotel is extremely clean with larger sized rooms and all marble baths. The buffets offer a great deal of variety and qualtiy food. I especially liked the special pool side lunches offered daily with a new theme each day.

Beach is dark sand which appears to look like muddy water that is until you get in! It is crystal clear and warm... and to make it even better you are surrounded by beautiful tropical forests making you feel like you are in seculded paradise.

The pool life is super fun and the bartenders are freindly and quick to make your favourite drink.

One point that I feel is important is that the pool bar at this resorts is very much a party atmosphere and some of the pool side shenanigans are definitely not PG. I do not think this is the best resort for young kids and definitely would keep them out of the pool bar area. For adults this is resort is a blast!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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
    • 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.
Top Contributor
161 reviews 161 reviews
45 hotel reviews
Reviews in 85 cities Reviews in 85 cities
107 helpful votes 107 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

We arrived 5 Nov for a quick one week getaway, booked on Sat on plane Monday. .
The occupancy level was very low - so hotel seems to have run a special for locals as they made up the largest group there. We were booked into 'superior room with ocean view".
All-Inclusives are generally not my thing, this confirmed why.
Out of the way location; bus, taxi or tour to see anything.
Restaurants, the openings were rotated so always 2 were closed in the evening. Food was ho-hum generally warm to cold laid out buffet style - so cold cuts, etc were a worry - going bad quickly? Veg and fruit were excellent. Beer, etc was mediocre.
Rooms clean, staff very helpful. Wi-Fi - 'free 90 min every 24 hours' in the lobby.
Beach was dark/black volcanic sand, at times a dangerous undertow (flag warning system in place but not used) = shade was at a premium. Grounds in good shape.
Tour operators within the hotel offered a variety of outings. Operators on the beach were not officially recognized by the hotel. My wife enjoyed the reasonably priced massage by one of the beach women.
Oddly we could hear faint noise as though the walls were groaning when the couple were walking around in the room next door..
Door key - was old key style - not mag card and it became a chore to get the key/door to open. Toilet took a long time to refill.. so time yourselves ..LOL.
As an aside - Riu Palace next door opening while we were there\ with construction still going on.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Address: | Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa 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*
Number of rooms: 701
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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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica

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