We just returned home from an wonderful stay at the Riu Guanacaste Resort. We were there from March 7th - 16th. When we arrived at the airport we had a transfer booked with Swiss Travel (who we also did 3 excursions with), and they were waiting for us with our names on a sign. The trip from the airport to the resort is just over 30 minutes. It was late when we arrived, and check-in was a breeze. Our room was an ocean view, and we thought it was a really good spot. The safe was easy to use and caused no problems. The air conditioning worked great. The bathroom was very spacious, and the maid service was spot on. We did not have a problem with any noise like we read about in other reviews. They do have nightly shows that go on until around 11, but the sliding door on the balcony keeps out much of the noise.
The restaurants were phenomenal. Every morning the Liberia is open for breakfast. From 6-10 was a buffet and from 10-12 a continental. They have practically anything you can name. You can also maintain a special diet you'd like even if you just want to eat raw. They have an incredible bread station, local fresh fruits, a fresh juice self serve bar, an omelet station, a salad bar, all different cereals, yogurts, spreads, meats, and typical Costa Rican food. This restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. For lunch they open the Ocotal (which is the steak house). Here you will find a buffet style setup starting at noon. Again you will find practically anything you can imagine and typical Costa Rican style lunch foods. There are 5 restaurants total and every night 4 open for dinner. The Liberia stays open as a buffet, with a different theme every night. When were were there they did Mexican, Caribbean and Costa Rican just to name a few. The specialty restaurants are an Asian, an Italian, a Steakhouse and a placed called The Tucan which we never ate at. The only one that requires reservations is the Steakhouse and that must be made a day in advance. Lots of people have negative remarks about the food on here, but let's be for real, they are cooking for probably 500 - 600 people at a time. While you might not find the fanciest cuisine, you get to eat a lot of fresh locally produced food and you will not go hungry. I believe dinner runs from about 6PM - 9PM. After that you have to get snack foods at the sports bar if you are hungry. This is something that I would not suggest. It's basically just left over sandwiches and some chips and popcorn. We wished they had room service after 9 so we could eat a decent meal after coming back late from excursions. The drinks were not bad at all. I'm kind of a beer snob so the local beer didn't really excite me. It's called Imperial. They also stock your fridge with another Costa Rican beer called Bohemia. It gets seriously hot here (95 -100 degrees F everyday) so drinking a lot of beer isn't the best thing anyway. We enjoy the cold and slushy cocktails. They make pretty much anything you can ask for and some of the bars even use fresh fruit in their blenders instead of just syrup mixes. The alcohol served is from all over Central America so it was nice to be able to try some different things than what we can get in NY. If somehow you can really be as miserable as some of the other people on here while in such an amazing place the bar near the stage does serve U.S. liquors if you ask for them. In addition it's actually very impressive what they manage to do at this resort considering it's located far from an major city in a developing country.
Okay time to talk about the excursions. There are so many options of totally awesome adventures to be had. In the lobby there are 4 or 5 different companies that book a wide variety of excursions. Honestly, they all offer the same things. We went with the company called Swiss Travel because they were referred to us by our travel agent before we left. Traveling in this part of the world can be dangerous so it's really essential that you book with a reputable agency. The Swiss Travel desk is located closest to the check in counter. The guides were really great and informative. We never felt in danger and the transportation was top notch. We don't want to make this review about our excursions, but in case anyone is curious we did the Mega Combo (Zip line, water slide, horse back riding, hot springs), a rain forest volcano hike and the Nicaragua day trip. These excursions literally changed our lives. There are also people on the beach that try to sell you excursions, but they leave you alone if you just tell them you're not interested.
The beach. This is a very different style beach than what we were use to. The sand is volcanic so it's black. We found that if you walk for a minute or two down the beach to the left, this is the prime swimming area. Here they have some trees and you can grab a chair in the shade. There is also a great massage place near by. This is a public and locals come on the weekend with their families to have a nice day but by no means does it get crowded. People walk around selling things and I got a nice hat and me lady got some nice bracelets. There are also a few stalls at the far end of the resort on the right side of the beach where locals sell shirts and other crafts for cheap. If you keep walking down the beach to the left for about 5 minutes there is a trail that goes into the woods to a place called the Monkey Bar (look for a sign.) Here, if you go early, you will see monkeys everyday.
The pool was pretty epic. It seems to go one forever. The entrance near the swim up bar is more shallow and there are tables and chairs located all around. You can also swim under a cool bridge. This is an infinity pool and it empties out into the deeper section over a rock wall that cascades like a waterfall. We never had a hard time finding a chair and there is plenty of shade. If you go to the fitness center spa they have a jacuzzi which we did not find out about until our last day. However, the pool also has a hot tub which is a good place to view some of the "crazy games" that start everyday at 4PM.
I hope you have as great a trip as we did in lovely Costa Rica!
- 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