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“RIU Guanacaste - in depth review” 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 - Sardinal | Carrillo - Guanacaste, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Special Offer
Up to $2000 Resort Credit
Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“RIU Guanacaste - in depth review”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2012

Okay, here's the deal...

THE ROOM
The room was clean (housekeeping was on top of it), very comfortable, and a good size. The bed was huge. The molding was impressive and there was plenty of room on the balcony. Nice double vanity and shower, etc. The built in safe was a plus. It smelled a like the prior occupants were smokers so maybe they have non-smoker rooms available. You might have to ask them to re-stock the fridge. And when they say all inclusive, that doesn't mean WiFi. It's free in the lobby for 90 minutes each 24 hour period (and the free kind doesn't allow downloads). If you need to, you can $10/hour, $15/day, or $70/week.

FOOD & DRINK
The food was good, not excellent, but very good nonetheless. And they had a great breakfast spread. Tucan had a tasty filet mignon (they could use some music to lighten up the atmosphere a little). If you want to eat at one of the restaurants, make sure you get to the reservation booth nice and early. Wine and beer selection was just that, wine or beer - no options. Unbeknownst to us, top shelf liquor was available if you asked for it. Bacardi, Jose Cuervo, etc. It was kept behind cabinets under the bar. Who knew?

GENERAL HOTEL
The high ceilings and moldings were impressive. The staff were very friendly. On the last day, like most days at other RIUs I have been to, they even came around the beach and asked if we wanted drinks. Gym was decent but jacuzzi and steam bath weren't terribly warm, they could have been about 20 degrees warmer. Pool's "jacuzzi had nice jet placement", a few ladies remarked. Landscaping was tight. No need for a travel adapter as rooms fit US plugs.

MISC.
Bring cash. Dollars are king down here and ATM doesn't like all debit cards for some reason (and it's only available in the casino from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.); you'll want to make sure you have tips for your guides. That is, if you do any excursions. We went White Water Rafting downt the Tenoria (Swiss Travlel), ATV/Canopy (Luis Solutions - on the beach), and rented a 4-Runner (Alamo) for a day trip to Tamarindo. If you do that, there's a short cut that will take you via a mountain road and multiple beaches. If you go that way, you WILL need a 4x4. Seriously. I would highly recommend each trip and we were pleased with each vendor, including Luis who, is not an "approved vendor" of the hotel. The rafting wasn't too crazy, except one 12' drop and subsequent cliff jump into a pool that apparently had a boulder that could have caused problems had we jumped any more to the left. ATV/Canopy was intense and not for the faint of heart. Alamo had a much better deal than Thrifty (located in the lobby) and in general, you can negotiate the price of just about anything down there. Massage on the beach with Elena and Carolina were fantastic - also not approved by the hotel.

Room Tip: Ocean view worked for us.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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
    • 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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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    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 (1,095)
Date | Rating
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English first
Stamford, Connecticut, United States
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2012

8 people trip from NY going to Costa Rica seemed like a good idea.ok country is beautiful and there is plenty to see just stay away from riu!!!!!!!!!
limited food,available only on certain times(nothing after 9 pm and before 6am)
alcohol .....don't even get me started ...i stopped drinking at all to avoid it
we tipped like crazy(coming from NY you don't get anywhere if you don't tip) and it got us nowhere!!! locals are unappreciative

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, United States
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

My husband and I researched tons of honeymoon options before deciding on the Riu Guanacaste. Turned out, we had an amazing time! At first, we worried about few negative reviews we found, but we had an absolute blast with the great staff (as busy as they were), awesome view (garden/ocean), and convenient unlimited alcohol (in room and elsewhere) and food (buffet and reservation).

We also met amazing people (couples and groups) that we were able to share drinks/meals and reservations for dinner, shows and tours with.

My husband and I made sure we got massages on the beach every day that we were there. We went to Hania and Jannette (first white cabana in front of the Palace) every day of the week we were there. Relaxing (with the sounds of the ocean), beneficial (with their professional touch) and we loved their hospitality.

We would absolutely recommend staying at the Riu Guanacaste, and with such a great experience we plan on staying at another Riu the next country we go.

Pura vida todos los dias! Que tienen muchas buenas dias!

Room Tip: We had a room facing the garden/ocean (superior) on the 4th floor and loved it.
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  • Stayed October 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sabula
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
19 helpful votes 19 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.

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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Address: Playa Matapalo - Sardinal | Carrillo - Guanacaste, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
Amenities:
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*
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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