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“Some Good and Bad” 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 | Carrillo - Guanacaste, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Special Offer
Up to $2000 Resort Credit
Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Las Vegas, Nevada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Some Good and Bad”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2014

I just got back from Riu Guanacasta. There is a lot I didn't know before going there, so wanted to write some useful things.

First of all there are two Riu hotels side by side. Riu Palace/ Riu Guanacasta. Riu palace is high end it seems than Riu Guanacasta. Atleast the hotel staff treat you like second class citizens if you are in Riu Guanacasta. RG doesn't provide shampoo, conditioner or moisturizer in their rooms. If asked about it, they will tell you it a privilege for only Riu Palace customers and you don't get one. Its hard for us to understand that because even a cheap motel In US provides them, and while claiming RG a 5 star hotel, I don't know what the problem is. If you approach and management and tell them that this is something they should have mentioned in their website, they will tell you that you can leave if you don't like the place and with no refund.

Secondly, if you reach there after 10 you basically have no food to eat. The so called "sports bar" with snack is all about frozen burgers and hot dogs, which is very disgusting. You would imagine a better food considering the 5 star tag. But sorry you are out of luck. All the restaurants in the premises are closed and you can't even go out because it build far away from everyone. So sleep hungry. I approached the ASSISTANT manager "MARIA" and asked her about the food situation and instead of getting my suggestions and attending to my concerns she asked me to leave if i have a problem and she can do and talk what ever she wants to. At the end of the conversation I left calling her an "idiot". Because I am on a vacation and I don't have time to teach hospitality and manners to idiots.

For people, who enjoys drinks, more than food, you get drinks through out the hotel. The drinks are pretty good, but I feel that they use some local brands of alcohol versus our smirin off or jack Daniels. If thats fine with you, its all fun! The mini bar in the room gets restocked every two days. It has couple of water bottles, fanta, and couple of cokes. It has four different bottles of liquor in a tapped manner on the top of the fridge.

Coming to the food situation, there are 3 restaurants and one buffet. The buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The buffet for breakfast and lunch is more like Golden Correl standard. For dinner, it looked pretty good but we didn't have dinner there. There is one chinese and italian place which doesn't need reservation and there are first come first serve basis. They are open from 6-9. They are ok. There is one Steak house place and sea food one. They have pre fixed menu and I ate in the sea food one named "Tuscan" its good. I haven't had dinner in the steak house place but it has a ocean view. During the afternoons this place serves lunch buffet and it didn't appeal to me at all because of all the flies on the food.

The room are kept very clean. The beds are hard and moreover if you ask for a king bed they will combine two full beds and give you. Its pretty uncomfortable, so my and my hubby slept on one full and left the other one alone. The showers are bit rusted. The rooms are in the OK location. because some of them has a side view of ocean from the balcony. The towels are ok! Pool has some entertainment. The shows are pretty time pass. The Micheal Jackson one is good. The guy did a pretty awesome job.

Overall, out of all the vacations we took from past 4 years, This one is the most expensive and least quality. I have been to better hotels nice restaurants and nice location. The beach is more black sand beach, but its not dirty. I guess it gets the color from the mountains around it.

Weather, The rainy season started and it rained in the evening almost every day. But it was ok!

Room Tip: If you can afford it, take Riu Palace VS Riu Guanacasta.
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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
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English first
Jenks, Oklahoma
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2014

We recently returned from RIU Guanacaste, where we stayed a 7 days (Sun-Sun). On arrival the grounds are very nice and the staff is friendly. We got in early and had to go to the pool while we waited for our room to be ready. That was fine. The pool was nice and a little crowded. After Sunday passed the resort became very scarce and unpopulated. Actually very nice. The service was prompt and it was easy to get drinks by the pool and on the beach. Mon/Tue/Wed all the same. On Thursday we saw a distinct difference in the service and clientele. We finally figured out that on Thursday the locals began to check in for a long weekends. It became much more crowded and suddenly the pool and beach service stopped. So if we ever go back (we may) we will stay Sunday through Thursday.

If you want to zip line and have adventurous kids I recommend talking to Erick on the beach. Very trustworthy and will bargain for larger groups. His tour was $100 pp, and included Zip line, Tarzan Swing, water slide, lunch, horse back riding, waterfalls, mud bath and steam room, and natural hot baths. The drive to the Zip line is about 1.5 hours, so the guide stopped us at a grocery store for food and beer. After the tour we actually felt like we ripped these guys off, because the tour was so long, fun, and well put together. Well worth more than $100 pp. Very physical.

Bring sandals of water shoes. The beach is like walking on the sun.

Another thing to know before you go.... Wi-fi is only offered 90 minutes a day. If you are a Facebook junkie, you will need to tone it down. It was great for us because it kept the teens off the phones the whole time and forced them to interact.

Room Tip: Ocean views are not worth it. Save your money for excursions.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2014

This trip was great for my GF and I (we are 25 years old) because of the country and the excursions; we had mixed feelings about the hotel but it was good. Not sure we'd stay at it again, but it is a safe and well maintained place.

FYI, it did not rain for most of the week that we were there (May 26 - June 2nd), but it had started raining more frequently on our last 2 days. Rainy season warning!

The Bad

- The Asian restaurant. The food sucks and it got me sick (diarrehea) so I may be biased.

- Our room had bugs on the wall on the first and last day of our trip. We had to get them to bug spray the room (which they were very prompt about)

- FRUIT FLIES EVERYWHERE. The food is rarely covered since it is buffet style, so get ready for an enormous amount of fruit flies if you decide to get some fruit.

- BEES IN THE POOL BAR. So. Many. Bees. I avoided drinking there as every time I got a drink, a bee would be dead inside it within 5-10 minutes unless I clutched on to it for dear life.

- When it rains, the resort is excruciatingly boring

- The gym sucks (unless you just want to do cardio)

- If you arrive at the hotel in the morning (like we did), you are screwed because you can't check in till 3. That leaves you with 3-4 hours to kill with a carry on when you just want to shower and feel fresh after your plane ride. So if you're coming in the morning, I highly recommend packing some beach/swim wear.

- The beach here isn't that great. Extremely hot sand, random guy named Victor trying to sell you stuff, pissed off looking kayak operators. Head to Coco Beach using the shuttle instead.

- No one is kidding when they say this place is in the middle of nowhere. The roads getting to it are narrow and bumpy (as is most roads in the Guanacaste province, even in the highways)

- DO NOT do any hiking excursions (esp. the one of Rincon to see the volcano). It isn't as cool as it sounds. Its an exhausting hike and you see 2 small volcano crators while trying to avoid being bitten by a snake the entire time. Ditto for the Rainforest hike...spend your money on cooler excursions like whitewater rafting.

The Good

- The country is amazing and extremely green. It is a sight to see.

- The staff response is prompt and they are very friendly.

- Attractive women (esp. when you see the locals)

- The resort nightclub ("Pacha") is cool because a lot of locals come by and partake in salsa dancing. If you are looking for a "North American" clubbing experience, you won't get it here.

- Wi-fi is slow and only available for 90 minutes in the lobby. To be honest, I loved this because you're not sitting around on the internet for too long.

- Excursion leaders are extremely smart, knowledgeable, and well-spoken.

Advice

- Tip your room maid; it makes a huge difference. We tipped her $3 USD one night and it looked like a totally different room when we came back.

- Book excursions AT THE HOTEL (I would recommend Swiss Travel but I'm sure the others are good too....compare prices). I say this because a lot of times other people will recommend excursions that you had no idea about that are a steal.

- Avoid the pool bar unless you want dead bees in your drink.

- our favourite excursions were the Sunset Catamaran ($85 through Swiss Travels), which takes you on a boat through the pacific and allows you to go snorkeling. They also provide an open bar and a lunch. This was probably the highlight of the trip for us.

- Another excursion that you should definitely do is the megacombo tour. Well worth it.

- Take the shuttle to Coco beach and check out the local scenery. BUY YOUR SOUVENIRS AT COCO as you will get it at cheaper prices than the hotel. Highly recommend eating at Coco Beach as well as you can eat at local prices.

- If you want to buy Costa Rican coffee, get the "1820" brand (local favourite) and buy it at the duty free ON YOUR WAY OUT OF THE COUNTRY. You can get about 500g for $8 (no tax), which is cheaper than anything you can get from the hotel or even locally.

- Check out the Michael Jackson show put on by the hotel. Its amazing. In fact, almost all of their shows are.

- If you are a younger couple that loves adventure, I'd reccomend booking excursisons pretty much every other day. There is too much to see and do in Costa Rica to spend it sitting around a pool bar with bees.

Great trip!

Room Tip: We faced the Howler monkeys. It was pretty cool.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greeneville, Tennessee
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

Just returned from one week stay. Hotel is beautiful and staff is very friendly. However, the food was just average, even the places you had to make reservations for. This place is in the middle of NOWHERE. Be sure you rent a car so you can get away for a while. If you can get to Coco you can do some shopping and eat at Pacific Lobster, great food. If you are looking for a tour go down to the beach and look for Jose and Erick with Costa Rica Best Tours. Jose is great, we booked a private day tour and had the best day of the whole vacation!

Room Tip: Ask for a quiet room on either side facing outward.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
nottingham
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

stayed from the 4th of May to the 18th May,and really enjoyed our stay, the staff at the Riu were very friendly and helpful . On arrival we were given a room on the 2nd floor, but we had originally booked a wheelchair accessible room and on query the people at the desk realized the error and changed us straight away with no problem. On entering the room we could smell the drains like many reviewers have mentioned, but it really was not as bad as others have mentioned, the slight smell is because the whole site is eco friendly.
We took the advise of other reviewers concerning the beds so we ordered the bed toppers and they arrived within 10 minutes of us being in the room. The room was very good to get around in a wheelchair , but the one thing i would advise is to get a plastic chair for the shower if you cannot stand in the shower. The toilet has not got a seat raise, but it does have a grab bar to help you on and off.. The hotel itself is very good for a wheelchair, but the same problems apply to most hotels with access to the pools and to the beach, a person in a wheelchair on their own would not be able to get onto the beach and would need help to get in the pool.
Our room was on the jungle side, so every morning from about 4-30 the howling monkeys start howling,( imagine rottweilers barking ). There is a fenced off walkway all the way around the jungle side of the hotel and if you take this walk it will lead to the beach, but keep your eyes towards the fence to see the monkeys, different varieties of birds, squirrels , wild horses and other animals that we cannot name and also at night the giant frogs that liked visiting the hallways.
Outside the hotel out towards the main gateway that is a lovely walk on its own with humming birds, butterflies and iguanas of various sizes and also the trees and flora. If you go through the main gate way and turn right you can walk to Monkey bar, and pass monkey bar you can find some beautiful views and more wildlife and find yourself a secluded part of beach ( in a wheelchair with care and hard work and a helper you can do this).If you do this walk take plenty of water with you Costa Rica is very hot and humid.
The food was in plentiful supply and good quality and if you have any dietary requirements the chefs are only to happy to help (i.e.veggie etc..)in the buffet area where we had all our main meals,we did not feel the need to use the other restaurants.
Trips are easily bookable either in the hotel or as lot of people have used from the the beach, we did 2 trips- the Palo Verde boat safari and the all dayer to Nicaragua, both with Swiss Travel booked inside the hotel and were spot on with everything, in our opinion if you only do one trip, do the Nicaragua its a long day but the sights you see will be with you for a long time.
All in all we had a great holiday and would like to thank Maria and all the staff and entertainment team at the Riu .
At the weekends the locals do come in it can be crowded and more noisier around the pool area and at meal times but this just adds to the ambiance to the Costa Rica experience, majority of the locals we met were respectful and friendly.

Room Tip: if you want wildlife views go for the jungle side rooms.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Beverly Hills, Michigan
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

My wife and I were looking for something different and found a deal on Cheapcarribean.com. We stayed for 6 days in May, the 13th through the 18th. We were a bit concerned that this is the beginning of the rainy season but we were extremely lucky and did not get a drop of rain. We had requested a higher floor with an ocean view and were granted our request. We were also lucky in that we arrived at 12:15 and our room was available. The room was great, 3077 as well as the view over the grounds to the ocean.

Staff: Very friendly and very accommodating. If you need something, just ask. They will make all of the efforts to get you what you need.

Food: We at mainly at the main buffet that did not require reservations. Each night there was something different, and it was very tasty. We ate at the Japanese restaurant, very good as well, and also at the Italian restaurant, which had great steaks and great lasagna. We ate all of the fruit, all of the salads and neither my wife or I got sick once. The breakfast was very good, there was a little bit of waiting at times in line, but never more than a few minutes.
Seafood: We went on the fishing charter and caught mahi mahi. We took it to the chef in the main buffet area and asked to have it prepared for our dinner. We asked to have some blackened, and some pan seared with butter and garlic, some however he thought best. This dinner was amazing. They set a special reserved table for us, and presented the fish on palm leaves with some truly amazing homemade sauces. It was delicious.

Drinks: Plan to acquire a taste for a local beer called Imperial. Its a lager and is very easy drinking. Liquor: Most of the liquor is Rum and Whiskey made in Costa Rica. They do have other bottles, all you need to do is discreetly ask. I was able to get the well known Rum my wife likes and have her drinks made with that, as well as being able to get a couple of Johnny Walker Red labels, on rocks. We didn't dive into all the fruity slushy like drinks but a couple of times.

Rooms: The rooms are great, our bed was a King and it was firm but not hard. Shower and everything worked properly. I have heard of others complaining about the beds and the pillows but we did not have this problem. We also heard of some of the king beds down there that were two mattresses pushed together, but we did not experience this issue at all.

Beach: The beach has dark sand. Its really quite beautiful. At 10 degrees north of the equator you have to realize the sand will be hot. Make sure to wear shoes and at a minimum sandals to the beach. The sand is really, really hot. The water was great, we were there and were able to experience calm surf and really great waves. The day we planned to go to Coco beach via water taxi, it was too rough so we just stayed. Hint: if you like to snorkel, on the calm days, looking out into the water there is a rocky point to the left. Go at high tide, and its truly amazing. There are rock formations under water teaming with fish, a few corals its absolutely beautiful. Go when its calm and it will be clear as well. Puffers, damsels, Moorish idols, triggers, wrasses and a ton of other fish. We spent a few hours out there and we did not feel the need to go on a snorkeling excursion. We brought our own masks and snorkels and borrowed fins from the resort. The currents are VERY strong. Use caution. If you just float out in the surf, you will be moved 50 yards in a matter of no time. If the surf is strong, use caution with kids because they will get tossed about and knocked over. My wife was "May-Tagged" and we were fortunate enough to get it on video.

The Grounds: The grounds are extremely well kept and employees are working on it diligently at all times. No matter where you looked, someone was trimming or cleaning or scrubbing.

Casino: Not very big, but if you are playing table games they will bring you drinks complimentary.

Excursions: We used Jose and Eric (Pink shirts on the beach) and saved quite a bit of money by doing so. We took the Buena Vista Combo tour and it was amazing. Pay the extra for the "extreme" package. The zip lines are longer, faster, and higher. There was one run where we went through a tunnel cut into the canopy and then the ground just dropped out from under you and you were suspended hundreds of feet up in the air and could look down on an amazing waterfall. After zip lines and the horrifying tarzan swing, was lunch at the lodge. Then horseback riding, followed by a jungle hike to a waterfall, then a hike out to a spa in the jungle. Great time. The tour ended with a crazy waterslide made of cement on the hillside that is quite fun but frightening. We also used Jose and Eric for booking our fishing excursion. We were scheduled to be out for a half day in a smaller boat, but they were booked and for the same price we were taken out by a much bigger boat. Much more comfortable and much more room. 11 Mahi-Mahi in just a few hours. They were somewhat small (24-36in") but oh, so tasty.

Monkey Bar: We loved it- but remember where you are. You are in the middle of nowhere next to the jungle. It is a jungle bar in Southern Central America. It was great, they were very nice but not cheap but look where you are. A guy that hangs out in a hammock will take you to see howler monkeys hanging out in the jungle. He does this for tips. Very worthwhile.

Overall we had a great trip, spent quite a bit of time on the beach, and some time in the Pool. The pool was good and the swim up bar was fun and we didn't see anybody get rowdy at any point. The weekends were a bit more crowded with some local traffic but we were not inconvenienced in any way.

Room Tip: Face the ocean, if you face the mountain howler monkeys will wake you up every morning.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2014

Very nice resort, hotel is far from ocean so u can't really get ocean front, other then that I found place really well maintained, workers don't fight over tips in fact is kind them to be hesitant to pick up tips, so we left wallet in room, a lot of reviews talk about monkey bar, let me tell you it's getho and beaten, they serve drinks out of coolers, and the guy who claims that he is the owner is actually not, he tried to sell u excursions for cheaper then hotel prices, but u can see through him easy he is full of it, dont forget the excursions u buy from hotel lobby, the hotel will stand behind them if u have an accident and hospital bills, if u buy outside resort hotel will not stay liable and u will be responsible for all fees, I know this because couple with us bought excursions from outside hotel and she fell of horse and broke her wrist and hotel rep said that hotel will not pay for any bills because excursions were bought from outside hotel, so to be honest I feel better knowing there is little insurance behind me in case anything happens. I honestly think te guy from monkey bar is putting nice reviews on sites himself cause place honestly looks like crap. Any how back to hotel, Nice thing about this resort is that they have 24 h sport bar u can get beer anytime u don't hve to wait till 10 am to start drinking, and they have a small fridge with wraps, pool table, and more , flat screen TVs to watch sports. If u go here make sure u do the atvs, zip line, waterfalls, river and volcano, take bug spray

Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
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 | 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 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica

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