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“Great pool!” 3 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
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Great pool!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2013 via mobile

Had some issues with reservations that caused some stress but once we arrived and got settled we had a very nice stay. This is a very large resort with a lot of rooms but I never felt crowded. Costa Ricans are very nice and provide great service. The food was decent and the buffet offered a large array for everyone's taste. The rooms were decent, except the beds are hard as concrete. I did not get a good nights sleep all week. I only saw one show and really enjoyed it. The beach is black sand and rocky but the turtles nested there and we got to see the baby turtles, very cool! The pool is huge and beautiful and clean. Overall we had a great vacation but due to the size of this place you lose the authentic Costa Rican feel. I definitely recommend venturing off the resort.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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4,009 reviews from our community

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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 (1,277)
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Ingersoll, Canada
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2013

Costa Rica is a gem. Perfect weather, excellent service and great food. Sunwing provided great service again. Venders and tour operators on the beach were very accomadating and did not hassle you, just offered their services. Very professional so don't let the travel reps scare you from doing business with. Met many guests from the Palace next door who preferred the lively atmosphere at the Guanacaste. Lots to do or nothing to do, whatever your preference. Pool access only at the Palace, good if you want to lounge quietly. No fighting over loungers at either place or the beach. Take sandals for the beach as the sand gets hot. Beautiful quiet coral sand beach beyond west end of the Riu beach. Did the Borinquen Resort excursion for $130 /person. Highly recommended...horse back, zip lines, delicious lunch at their restaurant and finally mud bath and hot springs. Were upgraded to garden view room on the top floor which also had an ocean view but I don't think there is a bad room in the place. The room itself was excellent. Only negative was the sulphur smell that ocurred when the toilet was flushed.

Room Tip: Garden view rooms are noisy until about 11 or 12 at night
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  • Stayed January 2013, 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013 via mobile

First time in Costa Rica and second experience at a Riu. Both amazing!
We have never seen people working so hard to keep a place clean. The Costa Rican staff really works day and night to ensure the place is spotless. Very impressive.

The Riu had a great pool with tons of room and chairs and is in walking distance to the beach. You cant ask for more if relaxing is on your agenda.

The Riu is in the super dry area of Costa Rica so dont expect the rainforest at your doorstep... thats a good 3 hours drive inland but well worth the trip. Overall a great experience and would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone!

  • Stayed February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

After a rough start to our trip, including our flight being cancelled, we were told the Riu Guanacaste had no available rooms for our stay so they upgraded our 3 rooms to the Riu Palace next door. I would definitely recommend paying the extra money to stay at this brand new hotel. We had access to the Riu Guanacaste next door but it was nearly impossible to get a spot by the pool, we never had an issue finding one at the Palace and they have 5 pools. Food selection and rooms are better. Staff was by far the best, great friendly people willing to help all the time. Will definitely be returning to the Riu Palace In Costa Rica!!

  • Stayed February 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cobourg, Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

We a party of 4 adults vacationed at the Riu Guanacaste from February 6 to 13. Let me start by saying that we do not have one negative comment to say about our week, unlike other reviews. The resort was beautifully kept and the staff ever so polite and helpful. I had requested thru our agent for jungle side 4th floor rooms. I emailed the resort one week prior with same request. We were placed in rooms 3029 and 3030 jungle side, which is really their 4th floor as they consider ground level rooms as floor zero. From these rooms we were delighted to see the monkeys swinging in the trees, which is exactly what we wanted. These rooms were also close to the elevator and stairs. We never had an issue with the howler monkeys being too noisy as some reviews read nor did we experience any bad sewer smells or stained linens and always had plenty of bath and hand towels along with face cloths. We left $2 US each day for the room cleaning staff. If you have your balcony door closed, ceiling fan on, air conditioning on it drowns out a lot of background noise when sleeping. When you open your balcony door the air conditioning does turn off.
Within 30 minutes of our arrival we were in our swim suits walking down the beach as check in was a breeze. As I had previously read, walk left to the Monkey Bar sign and then walk up into the treed area, we did and there were 16 howler monkeys of all sizes. Pretty amazing. When they say the loose sand is hot to walk on between 11a-2p, it definitely is. When walking the beach, wear your water shoes or good sandals, go all the way to the left from the resort to the rock, turn right start climbing carefully over the rocky area. You will come to a secluded white sand beach area where you can collect some amazing shells.
We ate all our meals at the buffet and were very happy with the variety to choose from. Trust me; you will not leave the buffet hungry. The fresh fruit is amazing. Gratuities are included in the buffet waiters/waitresses wages. Saw very few vacationers leaving tips.
The pool area is large with 2 different levels and tons of lounge chairs, 3 rows deep around the perimeter of the pool area. Plenty of lounge chairs at the beach too. We never once put our towels out to save a spot, but did notice that some did in the pool area. Tried several drink concoctions from the bars, all very tasty. Tipped $1 US every so often.
I rate the evening entertainment as okay. Michael Jackson, Grease and African shows were probably the best ones. One night the entertainment was a street carnival on the drive way leading in to the Palace and Guanacaste. The African show was held in the large grassed area between the two resorts near the beach. We did a walk thru of the Riu Palace lobby and pool areas. Very modern. The Palace lobby does not have that open air concept, all closed in and air conditioned. They were allowed to use our facility but not visa versa. We did see many white wrist bands at Guanacaste. I would choose the Guanacaste in a heartbeat over the Palace. Palace stayers were commenting how Guanacaste had much nicer charm.
I took reviewers advice and booked our excursions for Saturday and Sunday when they said the resort would be overrun with locals (which we did not feel was the case when we returned). A month prior to our departure I looked at the reviews being offered by www.costaricaprivatetours.net as this company was highly recommended. When I emailed Freddy Montero at info@costaricaprivatetours.net with our interests, he replied within 3 hours. When I said book us, he emailed me confirmations, everything we needed to bring and the price. You do have to be picked up at the very front gates, 5 minute walk from resort and you do not pay until the end of your tour. Highly recommend using. Don’t forget to take along money for tipping and shopping.
Sorry for the long review. If you choose Riu Guanacaste I don’t believe you will be disappointed. We certainly hope to return.

Room Tip: We were very happy with 3029 and 3030 as they were on the jungle side per our request and close to t...
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013

|Fabulous Property /Wonderful food/Top shelf Staff and impeccable Housekeeping /beautiful country/incredibly friendly people/|Perfect weather.....Stayed Jan 20 for 10 days. Very happy with the 10 day stay as it allowed relax time and a few excursions. Zip line and Mud Baths a must..kinda a fusion between adrenaline and serotonin...and not Drug or alcohol induced ...You can get high just on the experience.( pun intended about the Zip Lines ) Nature tour on the river gave us a first hand look at Crocs/White face monkeys and Birds...I said Hi to the Herons that I see near my home in Ontario Canada .... they are no fools and get their feathery butts to Costa Rica in the winter...without the airport....amazing that I may see a few of them this summer ..I will be sure to ask them this time how they enjoyed their vacation.lol
...Beach was fabulous..waves by noon were HUGE we got tossed around like kids body surfing and laughed like kids as well. Took our chairs near the turtle cages and under the trees the parakeets sat in every day...and best experience was the iguanas who were under our chairs licking their lips who wouldn't shoo away...5 minutes later the sand moved and dozens of baby sea turtles were digging their way to the surface and out to the ocean...the iguanas knew it was lunchtime...as well as the amazing diving of the pelicans...they made their way to get taken away by the surf...I wont forget that anytime soon.
Big thank yous
1. to the |Scuba shop and Jesus....great instruction and the promise of seeing Seahorses..I lost it in the ocean. just couldn't get my head together.first timer... but will try again. He was an angel with a heartfelt hug.
2. |Gerry Rivera ( Gerry with a "G") Public relations at the Riu...always seemed to cross paths at the resort and couldn't do enough for the 3 ladies at the fountain every night. Look carefully at Caribbean night on the street, he plays in the band as well...a man of many talents.
3. The bar staff at the Pura Vida Bar...inside. My quest for an Irish Coffee at night with no Irish whiskey on hand was handled artfully with a layered Macchiato|( Best Coffee anywhere !) with Irish Mist and a dram of single malt...not quite Irish, but my fave for my bedtime treat the rest of the stay. Michael was the man to ask for.
4.Tours while you are there? lots of talk about the value of the guys on the beach..all good very friendly and cheaper /we took one..had a moment of feeling a bit vulnerable when the van broke down and we waited for a car at the side of the road...all ended up well.. but if I was doing it again ...Tours by Hotelbeds at the lobby...TONY ..professional/ engaging/informative/bi lingual|( French and English)/personable... ..a very enjoyable day.
Costa Rica is too big to do just once...Riu Gunacaste was the right choice...The Riu Palace next door very new/ very eco friendly...glassed in lobby... but felt like a Hotel in NYC
Its all about the nature ..look for the Howlers at lunchtime on the side of the Pool Bar/ and kidsClub, they should be hanging out under the trees with the white spider flowers that fall off and float they look like the ones from the movie Avitar.

Room Tip: after a day of Beach and nature...you cant make a bad choice. Clean comfortable Beach or Jungle its...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
killeen, tx
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013

I should've reviewed this place months ago when I got back but wanted to take a few months to cool off. I will never stay at another RIU again. This place had the worst food and the worst accomodations I've ever seen. The mattresses were unbelievably hard. It was impossible to get good sleep. The fact that there was a huge stage with giant speakers 2 floors below my room didn't help. The noise, I mean the show went well into midnight. It was ipossible to relax, or get room service unless I personally hunted down a maid (who don't speak English). Two days after we got there, there was 7.2 earthquake, at which point the food and alcohol stopped. The hotel had no plan, but in their greed, they did keep taking new customers even though they couldn't accompany the current ones. The only thing we were told was to sleep outside, which we weren't doing because it was 90 degrees with full humidity and the mosquitos were biting anything in sight. Workers were called in the next day and all they did was patch things up which I can't imagine anyone staying there upon knowing this. This place was hit pretty hard and will need a whole lot more than a patch jon. I can go on and on about how awful this place was but I'll skip to when we got home and contacted RIU. For ruining my vacation, we got a $200 voucher which I will never use because I will never stay at another RIU again.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
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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