I stayed at the Riu Guanacaste with my fiance from May 26 to June 2. We are young adults and travelled alone mostly to relax but also to sightsee. However, we did not get too much of the former done. Before I get into hotel details, I want to note that though it's "rain season" (which really scared us!), the weather is absolutely beautiful. Yes, it did rain during the latter half of our trip but it always cleared up fast. It's SO muggy and I recommend bringing lots of bug spray! Also, the ocean is wonderful for all ages to swim in up until around 1 to 2pm, which is when the tide comes in. At that point, it is extremely rough even for experienced swimmers! Families with young children will have to stay by the pool unless they want to combat undertoe. There are also tons of jelly fish, we saw many people get stung while they snorkelled... So I don't recommend snorkelling! The water is NOT clear at all so you won't be missing out on too much anyway! The beach is also blacksand, meaning your feet will literally fry on the sand.
As for the hotel, I will divide it into pros and cons:
Everyone is very friendly and willing to help you, however you will be extremely disadvantaged if you do not speak Spanish (kind of felt like Spanish-speaking guests got the royal treatment!). The buffet is by far the best restaurant, it offers so much food with options for EVERYONE. There's a vegetarian section as well as a kids section. The morning fruit smoothies were undoubtedly the best part of my day. The grounds are so beautiful and so well manicured. There wasn't a single blade of grass that looked out of place. Check-in and check-out was very speedy. There are a couple English/American TV channels to watch in the rooms if desired. My favourite thing about this resort is that it was so tropical, it felt like we were in the middle of a jungle. There were monkeys everywhere, toads everywhere, beautiful birds chirping all the time, and crabs. The beach has plenty of lounge chairs and is very clean. There are areas with shade and those without. There is also a little market from which you can buy souvenirs.
There are so many infants and abnoxious kids running around everywhere. These kids were cannon-balling into the pool/splashing dry guests on the patios, and it was chaos. To say the least, we spent minimal time in the pool because it was so loud and dirty with cups, straws, and sand by the end of the day. We came to relax and were hoping to not have to deal with crazy children whose parents cannot control them. But that's not the hotel's fault, all i'm trying to point out is that this is more of a family resort than anything else. It is NOT refined; it is loud and sloppy, but comfortable, to put it nicely. The drinks are definitely not their forte, however the Blue Hawaaian and mojitos seemed to be the best ones. The rooms were not clean, but then again, it was pretty standard for these kinds of resorts. Our sinks had hair and soap scum in/on them when we checked in, and the shower mat was slimy. The shower curtain was also stained and pretty gross to look at so we showered with it open. There is also a pretty big step to get into the tub, which might not be good for seniors or those with limited mobility. The lobby offers 90 minutes of free wifi every 24 hours (to the minute) but it works very slowly. Try to use it when no one else is in the lobby. The A La Carte restaurants are not even worth going to. "Toucan" is disgusting, in fact we watched about 3 tables get up half way through dinner service and leave. I felt bad because the servers were genuinely concerned with why these guests left. In addition, the green sofa chairs in Toucan are invested with ants so you'll also want to avoid sitting on them and opt for a chair instead. The steakhouse seemed better, however I do not eat beef so my opinion doesn't really count for much. When they say the sports bar has food 24 hours, they mean the left over buffet food gets put into plastic containers and shoved into a self-serve fridge. It did not look appealing. The nightly entertainment seemed cheesy from afar, but then again, we didn't watch a single show. There are several locals on the resort. The comments from others that say this are true. I watched with my own eyes as a van pulled up with a local liscence plate and unloaded a family that knew someone who looked like a hotel manager. They were then escorted into the resort. On that Thursday, the resort was at its limit because it must have been locals night. They invested the resort which is not okay with me, personally. The worst part of the resort is that NOTHING IS AIR-CONDITIONED except for the bedrooms. NOTHING.
***Please be advised: Do not forget to pack shampoo and conditioner because the hotel does not offer any. There are gift shops at which you can purchase sunscreen and other stuff, however they are SO expensive. For example, a small bottle of sunscreen is around $40 USD, while a big bag of chips is around $10. I cannot fathom spending money like that, so if you're the same way, come prepared!!!! I also highly recommend booking excursions through the hotel. We booked one through the hotel and the other through a company on the beach called Unique. The hotel trip to Nicaragua was probably the best thing I have ever done in my entire life. It was simply perfect, there are no complaints! The beach trip was really ghetto and overpriced. The guide barely acknowledged our existence and did not communicate with us. He took us to off-the-beaten-path places (which was nice) that was definitely not worth what we paid. In addition, he left us hanging at each place, out in the middle of nowhere!!!!! And lastly, there are kittens in the lobby by the jewelery shop. They come out at about 6pm... Please feed them! They loved the fresh chicken from the buffet. The poor things looked like bobble heads because they were so skinny.
In conclusion, if you are travelling with kids, this might be the place for you. If you are travelling with adults and are looking to relax, please spend the extra few hundred bucks and go next door to the Riu Palace. IT'S WORTH IT. TRUST ME.
- 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