We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Forget the Reviews, this was VACATION!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Save Saved
You added Hotel Riu Guanacaste to your Saves list
Best prices for your stay
Enter dates for best prices
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 9 more sites!
Hotel Riu Guanacaste
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Matapalo - Sardinal | Carrillo - Guanacaste, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel website
  |  
Hotel packages
  |  
Hotel deals
  |  
Hotel amenities
Special Offer
Up to $2000 Resort Credit
Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Bronx, New York, United States
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Forget the Reviews, this was VACATION!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

I always read the reviews on any place I am going on vacation just so I can get a sense of how people feel and felt while on vacation. But reading the reviews on this resort, confused me a lot but RIU GUANACASTE was everything plus more. If you are looking for a great place to stay then this is it. From the food and beverages to the resort and staff, everything you can ask for was right here.
Check-in was very easy and they are very accommodating to your needs. We were a very small group of 4 and we asked if our rooms could be near each other and we were easily relocated. You get a welcome drink (non-alcoholic) Mango Punch which was nice and cold. The lobby is huge and here is where you can get your 90 minutes of free wifi, and by 90 minutes I mean 90 minutes flat. Once you go over your minutes you can't connect for 24 hours. But your on vacation so whats the point of using your phone, unless you really have to but we did not.

Rooms - Our room was located on the first floor not the ground floor which we had no complaints about. Room is very spacious, mini-bar with fridge that is replenished every 2 days. Drink the water from the bottle as you should not drink their tap water!! Their brand of beer is Imperial which is good, I thought it tasted like coors light. Toilet, shower, sink, bathroom were all clean thoroughly. Always got new towels after we used our room towels. Bed was firm but comfortable and pillows were very thin but they provide you with 4 pillows so we doubled up on them to sleep on. The quilt is very heavy and you will sweat with it over you. AC/Fan worked great and kept the room very cool. They were different settings that you can change to accommodate your room temperature to your liking.

FOOD - We thought the food was DELICIOUS. We ate at the "Furama" Asian grill which is a buffet style meal. Variety of different foods, sushi, fish, chicken, duck, beef, etc... No reservation needed for this restaurant. The poolside buffet was good, again variety of food. Pizza, nachos, cheese, guacamole, salsa, refried beans, fried fish, chicken, pork and so on. Only precaution is that all fried foods seemed to be cooked in the same oil and same batter. Steakhouse "Ocotal" needed reservations so we reserved here for one night and the food was portioned very small. If you have a big appetite like we did, you would eat your food here and then grab some more food at the open buffet "Liberia". The Steakhouse had good food but again you get small portions, we ordered filet mignon, chicken, and ribs and we all looked at each other and said That's it. 2 ribs, 1 piece of chicken, and a flat filet mignon over cooked after we said medium well. Also you get 1/3 of a corn on the cob, 1/2 a tomato, and some carrot sticks. We ate our food and left to the buffet to continue eating.
We did not eat at any other restaurants as we enjoyed eating at the Liberia buffet because of all the foods they had, and each night they had a special selection of food, theme wise.

Drinks- your typical all inclusive drink menu, drinks can be watered down but we always asked for a double shot of everything when we ordered a drink and that seemed to make the difference. They do have top shelf liquors, Bacardi, Absolut, Jose Cuervo Gold and you just have to ask for them in a drink. We tried a variety of drinks and after mixing drinks by the poolside we felt a slight buzz. Margaritas were good both frozen and on the rocks. Pina coladas, mudslides, Blue Hawaiians, Miami vice, Daquiris, Mai Tai's were all good. But again always ask for a double shot, it will make it much better. Try the Costa Rica shot, very sweet and goes down like water. One drink we did enjoy drinking were the BBC (Baileys, Bananas, Coconut) Very delicious and was like a smoothie except with liquor in it. If you rather make your own drink, the mini bar in your room would do you justice as you can add as much as you want and have options of Rum, White Rum, Tequila, and Vodka.

Club was fun to us but the same music was played every night over and over. We are dancers from NY so we made the best of the music every night. But again, we knew the exact playlist the DJ was going to play. Variety of music, spanish, reggae, reggaeton, hip hop, r&b, dance music, club music, cha cha slide, wobble, and cupid shuffle always get played so that everyone in the club can dance. Drinks are not free here but water is, and you would need water because it gets very hot inside the club. The drinks here are better than the club as they have Heineken and again top shelf liquor. Opens at 11 and closes at 3am. Locals, staff workers and Riu Palace guests were all in there and we enjoyed ourselves and everyone else did as well.

Entertainment was good. They try their best to please everyone and put on a good show. Karoake, Grease, Music Timeline performance from the 60s up to current music was good as we saw this show at the Palace before it was performed at Guanacaste so we enjoyed it but stood to watch it again. Poolside activities were fun and funny to watch. The staff were great, Charlie, Otter and Prince were the three main staff members we enjoyed participating in activities with, partying with and hanging out with after their shifts were done.

Beach/Pool - Black sand beach and can get very HOT quickly so flip flops, sneakers, water shoes, etc.. are needed. Plenty of chairs to choose from. There is no humidity so you will feel the sun beaming down on you as soon as you get outside. Wear sunscreen as you can tan in less than 10 minutes. 15 minutes and you will be burnt and lobster red. Wear a high SPF sunblock. Ocean water was cooler than the pool water. Pool was warm water and the Ocean was a much better selection of where to hang out in but there is no drink service down at the beach. Strong riptides so be careful as it can get deep quickly. The locals come by to sell you items but a polite No Thank you or No gracias and a smile and they will walk past you but come back later. There are a lot of tour guides on the beach welcoming you and trying to get you to book an excursion through them or through their company. We spoke to one guy named Erick, orange shirt and hat who was offering us different packages but we declined nicely. One of the guys we met at the pool recommended VICTOR from VicTours and he gave us a good price for the Mega Combo, $100 for the combo that included horseback riding to the top of the mountain, 10 zipline courses down from the mountain, tarzan swing, waterslide, mud bath, shower, hot tub and pool and then organic homemade lunch. We had a blast and he made us feel comfortable just like we were his family. Honestly, this man Victor was the nicest person we had met on this trip. He is the only tour guide that will stay with you the entirety of the excursion and do the activities with you. He also offers other tours but this was the best one for the price. I'd recommend him over anyone or any other tour guides offered through the hotel or on the beach. Tell him David, Amanda, Richie and Sean sent you and he will give you a good price, He will even show you his signature book (sign in book) and ask if that us. We enjoyed this excursion very much.

Overall, this all around experience was well worth it. Wouldn't have stayed any place else than Riu Guanacaste. So from us 4 we give it 8 thumbs up and 5 stars!! When you leave and head back home, EAT AT THE RESORT as the hotel food is very expensive. $16 USD for a quizznos wrap with fries and soda. And the other restaurant at the airport is much more expensive as a piece of chicken (1 thigh) will cost you almost $14 USD. A slice of pizza was $15 USD (1 slice)... Bag of chips that we pay maybe $2 for (doritos, Lays) will cost you $9 USD. Eat before you leave.. And another heads up, you have to pay $29USD to leave Costa Rica as their Departure Tax fee. Other than that, we definitely enjoyed ourselves and would love to come back here..

  • Stayed May 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

3,472 people have reviewed this hotel

Traveler rating
    1,336
    1,274
    543
    203
    116
See reviews for
1001
1587
34
36
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
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Michigan
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

I led a group of 22 to this hotel in April. Agree with what others say - reminded me of many Mexico all inclusives. This reminds me of other Riu's we've stayed at. Large, lush, clean, staff friendly and helpful - nothing unique but certainly perfect if this is what you are looking for. Some thoughts I wish I'd been prepared for: There is no cell phone signal at the hotel - 6 days without business e mails was a blessing - until I got back to the US and had over a 1,000 to respond to!!! (someone said you can have the front desk program your phone for 90 minutes - not sure if this was part of the internet cost they can charge.) Hot, hot, hot - 100 degrees at 9 in a.m. (We were told April is hottest month of year). Humid, humid, humid - rainy season is expected to start in a couple of weeks so the humidity is linked to that! We were told only (2) hotel sites in all of Costa Rica are not on the (clean) water line but use wells - Riu Guanacaste and next door Riu Princess!!!. So we needed to watch brushing our teeth, etc. with the tap water. We still had several people get 'upset intestinal tracks'. Not sure if it was food borne or viral. Very isolated - Not a lot to do except lay around pool or walk beach - you need shoes as sand is very hot. There is disco type and shows for entertainment in the evening. Massage on beach was great! took bus into Coco Beach to visit several small touristy shops for souveniers for grandkids but could have shopped on beach just as well. Many in our group took the excursions - loved them. We've heard how lush and beautiful Costa Rica is but isolation did keep us from seeing the real 'Costa Rica'. Other than hotel property, everything we saw was dried up and dead (just moving out of the dry season when we were there). Overall, nice, average all inclusive. You have to pay $29 US for a departure tax (that can not be paid before you come to CR,) or they won't let you leave the country. Never saw that before but understand many tourist countries are beginning to implement that. Also, AFTER all security screening at the airport, we purchased water ($8.50 a bottle!!) then they wouldn't let us take it or any beverages on the plane & we had to toss it!! Only complaint - there was a 'sewer' smell everytime we flushed, and when we walked the property. Assumed it was backdraft from septic tanks. If I went back to Costa Rica I'd make sure it wasn't during the humid season. That was a bit much!! But lots of sun and fun with friends!!!

Room Tip: We upgraded to beach sight rooms but it was too humid to sit on the balcony and enjoy it. Our peopl...
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
windsor, wi
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

Traveled as a couple, to costa rica, and it was our second time to the Riu Guanacaste. We paid and asked for a ocean view room, and had to change our room twice, since the first was not in the front of the hotel as we had in our first visit, and the lock was broken on the door. The second room offered was on the first floor way in the corner and did not have a nice view. The third room was on the second floor and had a view of the pool, which was more to our liking. We have been to Riu's six times, in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Dominic Republic. Although I prefer a Riu Palace, we visited the palace next to the Riu Guanacaste, and were so glad we did not stay at the Palace,. It is very , very modern, bright lights, and cold feeling. and the price is quite a bit more. The apple reps were great at helping us find excursions, and we went on the white water rafting excursions, which was great. We rented a car for a day and explored ourselves, going to Coco Beach and up the coast to find the white sandy beaches, very beautiful. The cars come with GPS's so go explore. We also went on a sunset cruise, with snokeling included,. very nice. The hotel was very clean, food was as usual in a all inclusive, and the people friendly. We were there over the Spring Break season, so many Costa Rican families were traveling also. The entertainment seems to be the same, at all the Riu's, We've seen the Michael Jackson show all too many times. but it is always entertaining and being in a warm climate when it was still snowing at home in Wisconsin, was more than enought to make you want to return. All in all, I would go back in a second, and love Costa Rica,. As I said we were there twice, and still haven't explored all we would like to see!! Enjoy

Room Tip: Courtyard or ocean view, fun to watch people and relax on balcony
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, Canada
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2013

Every little detail about this hotel is perfect. The food is amazing, so is the service. I honestly couldn't say better things about this place. IF YOU GET A CHANCE TO GO HERE, GO! The beach is not crowded like at other resorts, and the pool is actually very nice! We loved our room and had an incredible view of the mountains to wake up to each day. I loved every minute there and can't wait to go back one day!

  • Stayed May 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Danbury, Connecticut
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2013

We spent the last half of our Costa Rican vacation at the Riu Guanacaste and had a very nice time. This is the typical all-inclusive cookie cutter resort, but it is perfect if this is what you're looking for.

GOOD STUFF: the hotel itself is beautiful, grand lobby with paintings and traditional decorations. Pool area is full of trees and plants, grass roof shaded areas. There is a swim up bar tables in the pool itself. The pools are interesting with ramps and in-water chairs. The rooms are beautifully designed and spacious. It was very quiet at night - we slept very well. Also, the service was excellent. Every employee was always smiling and making conversation, also very helpful.

BAD STUFF: the food is buffet style, even at the restaurants except the steak house. There are a few very good dishes, but most of the food is just ok. The beach is black sand so gets very hot - need shoes to walk on. The visibility is very poor - we tried snorkeling but saw absolutely nothing. Also, I have never been to a place that has such aggressive tour advertisement. You would step foot on the beach and 3 separate tour company representatives would attack and try to convince you to go on their tour. They remember your name and do not leave you alone even the next day and 2 days later.

Would stay somewhere else next time...

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2013

Beautiful resort, clean room & facilities. Food was displayed beautifully, but got tired of the buffet. Loved the Toucan restaurant the best-should have gone every night for dinner. NOT crazy about the "all inclusive drink" selection. The rum tasted funny (I like Captain Morgan, and their spiced rum is not even close). By day three I gave up trying out new mixed drinks and stuck with wine (not a beer drinker). with one exception- a Dirty Banana (good but fattening). The nightly entertainment was pretty repetitive every night, dancers that were wanna-be vegas showgirls. Ended up in the casino, which is down the street, and the staff there was great. So friendly, and funny as hell as they took my money. But they made it fun, so I enjoyed myself!! Would recommend if on a budget like myself.

  • Stayed April 2013, 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
    • 4 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 Lauderdale, Florida
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2013

This resort is a big beautiful, well maintained space. It has pretty much everything you could need behind the gaurd gate, but it isolates you from experiencing the real "Costa Rica". We took advantage of the excursions offered from the groups on the beach. Unique tours offered an incredible adventure package for a great price. Also not associated with the resort were some massage tents on the beach, which offered full body 1 hour massages for $65 per couple. AMAZING.

As for Riu, the rooms were nice. The food was pretty decent. We didn't like the restaurant organization. Reservations could only be made in person from 9-12 each day, for the next day so with excursions we missed being able to make any for the steak house which meant a lot of buffet. We did get in to Tucan which was pretty good, and the Japanese restaurant wasn't bad either. The pool is incredible. We had a great time, and the bartenders are fantastic.
I don't think we would use this resort again on a return trip to Costa Rica. Aside from the bartenders, the rest of the hotel employees were not very helpful and borderline rude.

For our first "all-inclusive" experience I believe we got our money's worth , and it really is a beautiful resort, which was very clean and well maintained.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.

Been to Hotel Riu Guanacaste? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

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 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Orbitz, Expedia, BookIt.com, Travelocity, Tingo, Caribbean Online Mgt Corp., getaroom.com, Priceline, Hotels.com, Otel and Venere so you can book your Hotel Riu Guanacaste reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Hotel Riu Guanacaste, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.