We just returned yesterday. Spent a week at the Riu, from Nov 9th through the 16th. We went with a group of 6, all in our early to mid-40's, from Ohio. We are experienced travelers, having been to several all-inclusives in both Riviera Maya and Puerto Vallarta. This Riu, was by FAR, the best all-inclusive resort we've ever visited.
The property is impeccable. Meticulously maintained. The pool is beautiful. Waterfalls, infinity walls, lush landscape. Just beautiful. Beach is gorgeous. Unique trees right in the middle of the beach provide a beautiful view and shade if you want it. The sand is black, darker than what you might be used to. Adds to the uniqueness in my opinion. Water is typical of pacific side water. Not as clear and blue as Caribbean side, but we didn't care.
SERVICE: Absolutely OUTSTANDING. Could barely finish half my water at dinner and it would be refilled. Empty plates sat less than a minute and they were cleared. The people are 10x more friendly than Mexico. Constantly want to make you happy.
ROOMS: Ours was always scrubbed clean daily. Beds are hard. That could be good or bad depending on your preference. I got used to it. Pillows are a bit "flat." We asked for extra and they were brought up immediately. AC was cold.
FOOD: I am a picky eater. And I don't understand how anyone can give the food here a negative review. There were tons of choices. They change some stuff each day. But a lot of the same stuff is there everyday. The food isn't fantastic, but well above average. You will never find "fantastic amazing" food at an all inclusive resort. Same thing with the booze. The typical vacation type frozen drinks will be weak in comparison to a bar. But that's the nature of the all inclusive. I gained 3 pounds in a week. Went back for seconds or thirds more often than I should have. If you can't find something good to eat, you can't be pleased.
In terms of the specialty restaurants: Italian place, we thought was ok. Steak house was also ok. I had the BBQ ribs which were good. Rest of us that had steak said it was ok. In the states, here, I'd compare it to a steak you'd get at a Golden Corral, or Ponderosa type place. Its not a high quality type steak you'd find in a "steak house" in the USA. The "Gourmet" restaurant was also ok. Japanese place, we all also liked. Lots of choices. Its all just more variety when you have had enough general buffet.
BEACH MASSAGE: Go see the ladies that do beach massages. Elia (I think) and her daughter Ana Lucia do the most fantastic job. And its CHEAP! Best massage ever, for $35 for an hour. We went 3 times over the week. Their huts are located off to the far right as you look at the ocean.
ENTERTAINMENT: The staff try hard and overall do a good job. There's lots of activities that take place during the day. Ping pong, beach and pool volleyball, goofy games poolside, etc. Their nightly shows are a bit "cheesy," but you sit there and enjoy the night with friends and drinks, so we didn't really care.
"OFF CAMPUS": We took the shuttle to El Coco. Lots of cool beach bars there, where you can get "real" drinks. Had an amazing Pina Colada for $3. You can do some local shopping there as well. We also did the tour of the Buena Vista resort/Rincon Volcano area. It was fun. Zip lining, crazy waterslide, hot springs, horseback riding. It was about 1 1/2 hour ride one way from the resort.
Last tip: The ride from the airport to the resort is about 45 mins or so. Most of that ride is on the private road that was built to the resort (which is in the middle of nowhere - very isolated.) Anyway, this private road is very hilly and winds around a lot. We had empty stomachs coming off the long plane rides and a few of us got real nauseous. Eat something on your last plane leg so you have food in your stomach before the trip.
Overall, can't say enough about this place, and the country in general. Way better than Mexico. I'm sure we'll be going back.
- 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