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“Very Nice!” 4 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, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
New York
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Very Nice!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2014

We liked Costa Rica in general, it was just as I expected. We had no expectations of white beaches or Caribbean waters; here is by the Pacific Ocean! We were mainly there to see the rain-forests and the beautiful landscape of the country. The resort had the best food among the all-inclusives we've been to so far but it was kind of far from the beach.. I mean it wasn't a long walk at all, but the beach was not really visible from the hotel areas, there was not even a beach bar!
The weather was gorgeous however the days ended so early, it was dark at 6 pm --in June. If you get up 9 pm or later, you don't get to have a long day. We loved the cocktails, service, rooms, etc.. Well worth the money!

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
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3,588 reviews from our community

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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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,137)
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English first
Grand Prairie, Texas
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2014

as soon as we arrived to this hotel we had a reservation for an ocean view room 2 beds .. well the lady told us that we had an option to stay in a Ocean view room with one king bed and 1 child sized movable cot. or change it to another standar room with Garden View , i aked her why when we call to do reservation they told us that we had a double standar with Ocean view and she said to me that is how their call center works to attract more costumers ...JUST WRONG!! We had to take that room since we had our kids and there's not another HOTEL near by .at the moment that we were ready to pay the card did not passed and the guys start acting very rude i told him that prob was their system because i knew i had enough to cover it .. and well it was an error on the machine we had to call our bank, we had to wait about 2hrs for them to charge Us because their system was wrong but they had an attitude that was our fault. well 24/7 snacks only .. so if you expect to get decent food after 8.00pm you are lost you can have all the fridge sandwiches for you to warm it on the microwave as you want but not a restaurant. their buffets are extremely crowded. You do have to make reservations for the special restaurants 2 days in advance and they have limited menus.. OK well we deal with that .. but as soon as you get in the beach.. is a DEAD BEACH .. yes no waves and it's really dirty .. they have a lot of expensive rentals ( jet sky for $70.00 1/2 hr).. the Pool was fine and the crew from the hotel are very nice but the night crew of the front desk .. One of the elevators was not working ..they have 2 in each side of the hotel so the right side had only one fits 8 people and it was a line to use it so 3rd floor and we had to use stairs all the time ..they have a over priced mini super outside of the hotel .. if you forgot your sunblock be ready to pay up to $40.00 dlls for one .. seriously is nothing close to this Hotel ... Our reservation was made from 08/09 to 08/14.. we stayed only 2 night we had to move to another place.. to me this place is a wonderful building and nice gardens but that's it .. is my 6th Visit to this amazing Country but the 1st and last to this Hotel ..

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2014

I stayed her with my mother and two children in mid August. We had a great time. The buffet was good. Most of the staff was nice and attentive. The only issue we had with our rooms was the very strong smell of the septic tank at night. The beach was great, the pool was okay except for being taken over by the locals on the weekend. They were a bit rowdy and drunk so I opted to take the kids to the beach instead. We bought the excursion package when we got there, what a great time we had! Zip lining, horseback riding, hot springs.....It was great. I would recommend the Riu Guanacaste for a good all inclusive family resort at a reasonable rate.

Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lebanon, Virginia
19 reviews 19 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

My best friend and I try to take a vacation once a year to a new tropical place. This was the first time that we ventured to Central America and really enjoyed ourselves. Beautiful hotel! We had a room on the side of the hotel and were able to see the howler monkeys one of the mornings from our balcony.

The beds are pretty hard and the pillows pretty flat, but it wasn't that hard to adjust to. We would call to have the refrigerator stocked more than every other day and it was never a problem.

The food was surprisingly good. I think that a lot of times, people expect US 5 star food when they go on a vacation like this. For a relatively cheap all-inclusive resort, the food was great. It was really annoying getting your reservations for dinner but most of the all-inclusive's do have an annoying process. The Italian and Asian restaurants do not require a reservation and you can just go up to the host and if there is a wait, they will provide you with a cell phone to call you when your table is ready.

The water was great! We did see a lot of fish and actually a group of us were feeding them ice cream cones. A lot of people in other reviews talked about how rough the water was...I would have to say that I didn't find it rough at all (if you have been to the Outer Banks in NC, you will think this is like a pool!).

I would definitely suggest getting a massage at the tents on the beach as they are super cheap! Carlos and Juanita were great!

There were a lot of kids/babies at the resort. The pool could get a little overcrowded with kids, especially if you were trying to relax on one of the water chairs.

If you ask for Smirnoff vodka or Bacardi rum they will give it to you. They also had a few other "top shelf" liquors that you could just ask for.

If you are a smoker of any kind, I strongly suggest bringing vapor/e-cigs. There is one designated area for smoking on the resort and if you wanted to have a cigar while watching the shows, you can't do that.

I think that the worst part for us was on our last full day, a company retreat came in and took over both the Riu and the Riu Palace, so it was insane with the crowds. If they had been there the entire week that we were and no one from the resort warned us, I would be pretty annoyed, but since it was one day, we figured we could deal with it.

We did the Mega Combo excursion and had SO much fun! If you plan on taking a lot of excursions, I don't know that an all-inclusive is worth your money as you could get a pretty nice hotel that includes breakfast and then just grab dinner after your excursions.

Also a group of us that met at the resort booked a cab and went to Coco Beach one night. It was a lot fun!

A lot of the locals hate the Riu group as they are probably one of the worst mega resorts when it comes to conservation... or so we were told.

Room Tip: I would ask for a room on a higher level so that you can better see the monkeys!
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Denver, Colorado
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

Stayed at the Riu on August 10th. This hotel was extremely crowded. Buffets were destroyed by parentless kids. The pool and pool bar were over run by bees. The 1hr I was at the pool I saw 3 people stung by bees. You could not even sit at the wet bar is was so hazadarous. Beach is nothing to write home about. One of my least favorite of Costa Rica. Then there is the 3am power washing of the sidewalks. I don't know if this happens every night but just figure if it does you will be up watching TV. Also our room bar/mini fridge was not stocked upon arrival and after several calls to the front desk I just gave up. House keeping is severely lacking. Found dirty socks in the night stand and a half drank bottle of soda in the fridge. For the amount of money you spend here this place is not worth it. Look elsewhere.

Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

Traveled to Riu Guanacaste Aug 8-15, and overall it was a fantastic experience. There seems to be a lot of negativity from a few reviewers, but a lot of these complaints can be avoided.

The food is decent for an all inclusive. As stated by some reviewers, the breakfast is the best meal of the day. Great pastries, fresh fruit, waffles, pancakes, eggs, etc. Lunches are fine as there is usually a large selection. Many seem to complain about reservations for 2/5 restaurants on the property. The reservation system is not uncommon and is actually not difficult at all- if you are going on an excursion and cannot make the reservation, book another night. You can also book the day of if they are not full. The other 3 restaurants do not require reservations.

Our hotel room was facing the jungle and very quiet. I can understand how people may be annoyed if they are ontop of the entertainment stage, but this can easily be avoided by simply stating that you would like to be far away from this at check-in. You can also simply ask the front desk staff about what type of room you have before checking in- a little bit of forethought goes a long way. The beds may be a little hard, but we both slept fine.

The grounds are absolutely stunning and the pool is fantastic. The pool bar does have bees around it, but you can easily grab a drink and head to a different area of the pool or back to lounging near the pool. The beach is black sand and does require you to wear shoes/sandals. A word of advice- if you are looking to kayak or paddle boat, it does require a reservation but that can be made at anytime. Snorkeling does not require a reservation. The people complaining about the pool/beach area most likely encountered a single bad experience which colored their entire trip. The music is completely fine- a mix of top 40 as well as Spanish songs. If you dislike it, just put in headphones and listen to your own music. As for lounging- there is absolutely no possible way someone can complain about not being able to get a chair. There is an abundance of chairs- granted the later in the day you wait, the less prime spots are available- however there are plenty available.

I would agree that the entertainment is lacking even though they do try hard. Your best bet is to grab a few drinks and take a walk, sit by the pool, casino, walk on the beach etc.

Many complain about the drinks and the 'bottom of the shelf' liquor, but all you had to do is ask for Bacardi, Smirnoff, etc. Just ask for whatever drink you order with it- very simple and the bartenders are happy to do it.

The last thing to mention are the locals on the weekend. Yes it is a bit more crowded, but even with the influx of people, the hotel does a great job catering to everyone. During the week they have drink service at the lounging seats near the pool, and a drink cart set up at the beach. They also have different drink tables set up during the week that feature things like sangria, coconut drinks, tequila, etc. It was a very nice touch.

Overall fantastic trip and I would definitely recommend the hotel.

Room Tip: Rooms not above the entertainment are quiter
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Allentown, Pennsylvania
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

We, my wife and I, took our first trip to Costa Rica and stayed at the Riu Guanacaste All Inclusive. The resort, food and staff are all terrific. One thing, however, that was a big bummer was on Friday when the locals arrived which, we were told, happens every weekend. The hotel went from 800 to 1700 in the afternoon. Once they arrived many of the nice amenities mysteriously disappeared. No more servers coming around the pool. The portable beach bar went from serving mixed drinks and beer to water only. The coffee liquor bar in the lobby disappeared as did the snack sandwiches in the Sports Bar. It became very crowded. One employee told us that some double occupancy rooms now had five and that one of the reservation only restaurants had a booking for a table of 14. The pool became a complete zoo, trashed, and we spent our last two days there at the beach which was a little more tolerable.

On the plus side the beach vendors were all terrific, not pushy at all and very friendly. Every excursion that people we met went on had only great reviews. We went to Nicaragua for the day and it was terrific. Also, the beach massages are very affordable and also terrific. We highly recommend them. We went to Janet who is located next to the sister RIU next door. Also, for excursions we recommend searching out Maurice on the RIU Guanacaste beach. Five stars to him.

We would definitely go back here but recommend setting your trip up for arrival and departure mid-week. Do your excursions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the local crowd should not be a bother

Overall, we had a great experience at the Riu Guanacaste despite the crowd!

Room Tip: Beautiful views of the jungle to the North or ocean to the West. Very exotic with the mountains.
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
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, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
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*
Number of rooms: 701
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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