We stayed at the RIU Guanacaste for 4 nights after 7 nights in Playa Hermosa at a time share condo. This resort is Jekyll and Hyde. I will try and go through the different things, so it may be a long review. This is probably my 15th All Inclusive resort, but never a RIU.
Grounds/Looks: Great looking resort and resort grounds. Everything was clean, and always being cleaned.
Rooms: We had a 2 bedroom family room, with 2 bathrooms. Great room, had view of ocean. Refrig. stocked with 2 beers, 2 cokes, 2 large waters, 2 other sodas. Seemed kind of chincy for four people. We did not have the smell in the room.
Pool: Crowded, crowded, and oh yeah crowded. And the let's save the pool chairs early so maybe will sit on them for 15 minutes in the afternoon game. Lots of activities, lots of noise, drinking games, etc. One set of bathrooms to use, and often horrible. Too many people for two bathrooms. I have NEVER seen so many people missing with #2? You are sitting, how could you get it all over the floor? Had to tell management 3 times, bathrooms were horrible.
They did clean right away. Lots of young Costa Rican children(diaper age), in pool, BUT never saw one swim diaper, hmmmm?
Bars/Drinks: Busy, drinks were good. Pushy people trying to push to front of line for drinks. Yes, favoritism given to Spanish speakers, BUT their country so learn to speak Spanish. I don't drink hard liquor except in blender drinks, so quality was not an issue for me. Imperial beer was cold and plentiful.
Restaurants: Can you say buffet? It was decent quality, BUT still buffet. The only sit down meal we had was at the reservation only Ocotel Steakhouse. We had no problem getting reservations, went down at 9 a.m. waited maybe 1 minute, and able to get reservations. We all thought the service and food was very good at Ocotel Steakhouse. They say pants required but not enforced(which angered me, since I packed long pants ONLY because they said it was needed).
Fusion: Asian BUFFET again. Below average, sushi was poor quality.
Italian: Yep, BUFFET. Can order off the menu for main dishes, but buffet for salad/appetizers.
Breakfast buffet: Fine no issues.
**Keep in mind, that you can't order drinks at meals? I have NEVER seen this at ANY all inclusive. No beer, no drinks, just some bad wine. Soft drinks, water, juice only. Can't order any alcoholic drinks? Seemed VERY strange to me? They were very much trying to rush you and rush you out. Hence no coffee offered, etc. All other all inclusive I've been too, try to interact at dinner. Before dinner drinks, appetizers, dinner, after dinner drinks with "coffee" show, etc. NOT HERE!! It's about get in, shove food in, and GET out, out, out!!
I bought wine in Coco Beach and brought a bottle with me for dinners, and that worked well. Seemed strange I had to BYOB at an all inclusive?
SHOWS: bad, bad, cheesy. Unless you get there one hour before show, hard to get seats. Again, one person reserving 10 chairs over an hour ahead of time.
Beach: Good, yes, hot, and dark sand. Went snorkeling from shore to right and saw lots of fish. Had to swim out 100-200 yards. Massages available on beach were good. $30 for one hour.
Monkey Bar: No need to go to bar. Go down to beach where sign is for monkey bar. Go left, walk up about 200-300 yards(past the monkey bar) and you will find a T intersection. Go right and you will see tons of monkeys. We went at 8:30 a.m. and were alone, and already the monkeys were all moving in, so don't think they'd be there later.
LOCALS: yes lots, lots, and lots of locals on friday/saturday/sunday. It's their country, so I don't have an issue, but WOW, Riu needs to limit number of people. Not the locals fault, it's RIU's fault. They are trying to squeeze every dime they can.
Caribe Water Sports: Great. My son(12 years old) did the free dive class in the pool. The instructor said he could do an open ocean dive. FYI: my son is an advanced swimmer, and been in competitions for years. For $99 the next day, He went to a class, had another advanced lesson in pool, than out in the ocean. They let me ride in the boat, and my son went on a one hour open ocean dive 1:1 with the instructor. He loved it, and the instructor was great working with him.
SO, would I stay here again? NOPE. Too many small issues. I like to sit and enjoy meals. Drinks, conversations, family time. You will not get it here. BUT I got what I paid for. Next time will pay more for Hilton or Palace.
I also found a man for private tours: I stopped him in Playa Hermosa to ask questions, and he ended up doing all my tours: He's licensed, has a nice Turista Van. I used him for 3 tours, cabs to Coco Beach, and Airport transfers. I had already priced out everything with Mardigi Tours, and his initial quote was about 20% cheaper, so I did not even bargain. All his tours were private. His name was Mario, and if you want his number or e-mail, just message me, and I'll send it to you. He was great, he even called my cell phone(international call for him) to confirm my pick up to go to airport. Using him saved me $200-$300 than using Mardigi, and all my transfers were private.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.