We visited the Riu Guanacaste from Feb. 1 through Feb. 8, 2013. Last year, we made the same trip in Jan. (2012). Last year I would have given the resort 5 stars. This first complaint may not have been under the control of the Riu properties, but this time we arrived on Feb. 1 to dense smoke from purposely set brush fires in the surrounding hillsides, and heavy smoke remained a problem the next day, gradually improving as a problem during the third and fourth days of or vacation. I am not a smoker, but I felt like I was chain smoking for 2 days, and the ash was a terrible problem for the housekeeping staff, with heavy and blowing ash in the corridors of the hotels and ash on our room's lanai and ash in their lovely, big swimming pools. The second, and even bigger, and unacceptable problem was that for the first 4 days of our stay, there was a severe sewer smell in our bathroom, so bad that it made you choke and run out of the bathroom right after a flush. Our particular room and maybe our wing of rooms in this hotel might have been more severely affected by the sewer problem, but I heard comments that people staying on the other side of the hotel also experienced this. I complained soon after we unpacked and hung up our clothes, and the front desk sent up two employees who cleaned the inside of our toilet tank for 20 min., but of course this did nothing for the problem. On the 4th day of our week's stay, the problem suddenly cleared up, and we no longer had the smell. We got no explanations for this sewer smell from the front desk.
We returned to this resort for a second time because our first experience was so good. On the positive side, the food and drinks were always dependable. The best specialty restaurant we thought, was the Italian, which didn't require a reservation, and the Asian was also good, but the level of noise in that room was very high... The Tucan restaurant (you must reserve) has a striking decor, and better wine than in other bars and restaurants on property.
The pools at the Riu Guanacaste are perhaps the hotel's best feature. They are beautiful and the surrounding landscaping is very nice. (The new Riu Palace next door does not yet have established plantings, so doesn't look as lush.) The only problem with the pool area is that they need at least one more set of bathrooms around the pools, for convenience of guests and certainly to not give another excuse for all those pool bar drinkers who sit there for hours in the afternoon, and may be making that water warmer, if you know what I mean.
The Riu's beaches are nice, black/brown sand, and also some sea turtle nests marked there by wire. The better stretch of beach for swimming (with finer sand and less rocks) is in front of the new Palace next door.
Make sure to ask about the sewer problem before you book, and ask about the fires.
- 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