We stayed at the RIU Guanacaste on July 28 - Aug 2. There were 13 of us, ranging in age from 61 years to two months. Family members traveled from Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, and Madrid Spain to meet here for 6 days. I had looked for a place that would have something for everyone for this varied age group, and the RIU Guanacaste fit the bill. For the adults there was swim up bar, nightly entertainment, 4 reservation restaurants, tennis courts, spa and fitness center, discotique and casino. For the kids, swimming, beach, kids club, monkeys and iguanas. A piece of paradise. The RIU property was beautiful and we had a great time! The only restaurant that took reservations the week we were there was the Steak house. Everything else was first come, first served. You would show up and put your name on the list and wait. El Tucan was the only one that was an uncomfortable wait. We showed up at 6p and did not get in until 8:45. The kids were getting very restless and we had just decided to go to the buffet when we got in. The food was great, just a long wait -- but there were 13 of us.
One family of 2 adults and 2 kids room only had a king bed instead of 2 doubles, so the first two nights they had to all 4 sleep in one bed. When the family finally mentioned it, I asked the RIU to change them to a family room which has one king, one double and a roll away. The RIU gladly changed their room the next night, and did not charge an additional fee to us to do so. This being said, the family room, or even the 2 bedroom family room is well worth the upgrade when traveling with children. I makes your life so much easier, especially if the child is young enough to take naps in the afternoon.
The RIU also supplied a crib for our 2 month old, but that family's room was far away from the rest of us on a different floor. On check in, we requested that the rooms be closer, and they were able to get the whole party on the same floor, but other side of hotel. We had 2 rooms on the 5th floor down the hall from each other on the RIU Palace side, and 4 rooms on the 5th floor next to each other on the jungle side. This worked out fine for us, but we preferred the rooms on the jungle side. There the monkey's would be in the trees outside the balcony each morning.
We were there from a Sunday to a Friday, so missed the local weekend rush that I read about on other reviews.
The beds were hard, but were not uncomfortably so for us.
We really enjoyed the food. All of it. Our favorite was the Steak House. We had a BD celebration there and they even provided a cake. Our travel agent had tried to prearrange a birthday celebration at the Italian restaurant for us, but their contact was on vacation and we did not get the note about the reservation until 6pm on the day of the reservation. We had done a tour - ziplining, horseback riding, mud baths, and hot springs that day and didn't arrive back until 6p when the reservation was scheduled. We went down to the Italian restaurant to let them know we couldn't make it then, and they didn't know what we were talking about. I finally just told them to cancel. This was not a deterent as we had made our own arrangements for the Steak House the day before and arranged the birthday celebration. We had eaten at the Italian two days before anyway. Just a mess up and bad timing.
We had massages on the beach ($60 for a couple) that were fantastic.
We also compared the tours from the beach vendors and the ones offered in the hotel lobby. The ones on the beach are a better value. Although we did take one tour from CAT in the lobby that was very good, and ended up being a private tour for us since the had 8 adults and 2 kids. This was Ziplineing, horseback riding, lunch, mud bath, swimming pool and slide, and hot springs. They even arranged so the 2 year old and 5 year old could zip line with a guide, and have their own horses. Very accommodating! Only disappointment was that we misunderstood that there would be ATV's for one couple that were not interested in the horseback riding, and that wasn't there. The couple waited by the pool while we went horseback riding. This also included lunch which was excellent.
The reason the this review was not excellent, and the only real problem we had, was when we were leaving. The family from Spain had arrived right after us, and we actually met in the lobby, so the timing was great! The hotel took all the bags to our respective rooms after check-in and that all went smoothly. However, the Spanish family had not checked their bag when it arrived in their room, and when they were packing to go, they noticed one of the wheels was torn off of their bag. It was a large rolling duffle bag with four wheels. When we approached the manager (he would not give us his full name, but his first name was Santana) he asked if we had seen it happen. When we said no, it had happened when the bags were delivered at the room upon arrival, Santana stated that since we had not seen it happen, we could not prove that the damage had been done by the RIU. We heard them talking in Spanish (the Spanish couple are fluid in Spanish) about finding the wheel and throwing it away, but they would not admit that to us, and would not consider any compensation. I informed the manager (Santana) that we had spent a lot of money at the hotel -- there were 13 of us -- and I felt that he should make some kind of compensation to satisfy us, if for nothing else, good customer relations. He reiterated that we could not prove the RIU had done the damage, and that they would make no consideration. I insisted that an incident report be made out. Santana gave us a form to fill out and left. We filled it out and took a copy back to him to sign. Santana was no longer at the desk, and we had to wait for him to be called back. When he arrived, he filled out his portion of the complaint form (in Spanish), but did not sign it. Santana insisted the RIU was not responsible for the damaged luggage, since we had not witnessed the incident and could not prove it. We had to request, again, for Santana to sign the complaint form, which he finally did. We kept a copy of the form, and turned in to our travel agent when we arrived home. I agree that we could not prove the damage was done since the Spanish family did not find the missing wheel until checkout, but the attitude was very upsetting. It felt like he was accusing us. I will write a review on Trip Advisor and on the RIU website about this. I think it should always be assumed that the customer is right. This was not good customer relations! It also caused us to be 45 minutes late catching the shuttle to the airport. Luckily they waited as CAT knew what was going on and we were not late to the airport. Luckily he could still get the bag to the airport, but with an infant and one wheel missing (it was a big bag) it was not a good ending to the trip. The rest of the time and the staff were lovely. Too bad about this. We were hoping for a replacement of the bag - not that much. The Spanish family said they would probably will just forget it now -- it was the attitude that sticks with you, and not a great ending to a trip. Nor an easy transit home for the Spanish couple who had 2.5 hour flight to Miami, then a 9 hour flight to Madrid ahead of them, with an infant, stroller, and broken luggage.
Aside from this, the property itself is beautiful and well kept. We had a great time, although some challenges. Travelling with 13 people is a challenge in itself!
Too bad the bag incident left a bad taste in our mouths at the end of the trip, but it did not spoil the stay while there.
We have stayed in several other RIU properties, and the property itself was right up there, but the organization required to keep things running smoothly seemed somewhat lacking.
Choose 5th floor jungle side if you wish to see monkeys.
If traveling with kids - get the family...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.