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“Getting to know how to treat the Guests.!!” 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 | Carrillo - Guanacaste, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
windsor, wi
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Getting to know how to treat the Guests.!!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2010

Our vacation was March 11th 2010 to March 18th 2010.,. This is the 4th time we have stayed at a Riu. The first 3 were in Mexico, Playa Del Carmen.. the Palace being the BEST. I would rate this the third in line. The food for breakfast was great, lunch OK, and Dinner was OK at the 3 specialties. But only at the Steak house did you finally get to be served, and relax. Otherwise it is serve yourself. We had no trouble with Theft, but heard of some. The beach is dark and not very appealing . The Pool is Wonderful, new, and set up very well. . No drink service, by waiters, only get it yourself, but they are friendly. the liquor is not by far of any quality. One Beer served and the drinks lack alot. This can be a wonderful resort. We were without our luggage for 30 hours, and I quess this happens alot. Would like to visit in the future, but not for some years, as they are suppose to build a Palace Riu next to this one, and that service should be 5 star. Loved Costa Rica, loved our tour guides. the trip are always a long day. but worth it. Go and enjoy the country. From Wisconsin travelers. :))

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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3,580 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 (1,133)
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English first
Porland, Oregon
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2010

My husband and I went to the Riu informed thru trip advisor. Even though we were prepared and sufficiently sent our standards low, I still felt disappointed.

We began our Riu experience in a room that had two double beds pushed together to form a king bed. We were told there were no other rooms available and would have to stay put... what they actually insinuated was that there were no real king beds but only doubles pushed together...not exactly the things romantic getaways are made of... after a night of falling into the "grand canyon" between the two beds and finally submitting to sleeping in separate beds. I was not happy. The next day, we left our room and the maid happened to be cleaning the room next to ours ... I peaked in, and what do you know, it had a true king bed. I have to admit I was ready for war but nicely explained the whole situation and the front desk moved us to a lovely ocean front room with an actual king bed. I was very thankful for the swift move to a room with a king bed. Thank you !
Having slept in both a double and a king, they are equally uncomfortable and the pillows flat...

For the most part, the service is very good. They are trying hard. There were several times we requested something and received a nod and a smile in response, and never was the requested fulfilled. I believe this is still a result of the language barrier. I think they are told to reply in a positive manner to all guests but truly don't have a clue as to what is being said. I have never seen so many people cleaning the floors of a hotel. They are at work everywhere!

The food... YUCK...pretty much sum it up. Breakfast is by far the best meal of the day. As stated in previous reviews the same food re-appears over and over. Yes, we always found something to eat, but it was tasteless and usually cold. This resort claims to be a 5 star resort. I know 5 star food and this is not it...not by a long shot. There were a few times in Liberia that the food was good. The specialty restaurants were anything but special. There is no AC in the steak place... we sat for 20 minutes w/ out anything to drink. The waiter was obviously over worked and could not handle the large amount of tables he was responsible for. I truly felt bad for him. The people in our area, finally started serving them selves. We were hot and thirsty... We finally had enough and left, after receiving cold appetizers that had been plated at least an hour prior to being served. As my husband bit into the deep fried mushroom, cold grease dribbled down his chin... as I said before YUCK... it was bad. We ate at the Asian place and it was not any better and finally gave up and paid $30 just for transportation to go to town for a good meal. We talked with many people and they all had similar experiences. We didn't go hungry, but dinner was not a dining experience. We ate to fill our hungry stomaches and then got the heck out of there.

We went to the pool early in the morning before the "entertainment" crew showed up. I prefer relaxing at quiet pool and being able to read a book. It proved difficult in the afternoons when the music was blaring , whistles were blowing (to music) and people were yelling into microphones. The pool is not large enough to fully escape the sound, actually it is so loud we could hear it back at our room, w/ the doors shut (and we were on the farthest side from the pool). Just a tip here... the i-pod touch/phones have a sound machine app. We bought it the second day and it blocked out any unwanted noise in the room. Worked like a charm!

Overall I felt that the Riu was a minimalist resort. In the rooms, you find plastic clothes hangers & no pant/skirt hangers and small plastic packets of body wash instead of easy to use larger tubes. At the pool, plastic lounge chairs w/ hot plastic chaise pads await guests and they make guests check out pool towels like library books .... They have a steak house that offers two steaks on the menu, one of which they are usually out of. They steak they do offer, they cut in half, as to feed twice as many people.

I would return to Costa Rica and we loved seeing the country. We enjoyed the day trips and found the wild life amazing.
However, this was our first and last trip to a Riu and I can most definitely say it is NOT a five star hotel.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
kingsville ontario
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2010

This is a newer resort that is both terrific for couples as well as families with children. the food is fabulous. The heat of Costa Rica makes some days nearly too hot to eat. the drinks can be melted due to that heat. The slush machines cannot keep up. If you've stayed at a Riu before, then the entertainment can be a bit tedious. I have seen the Grease or Michael Jackson shows several times at different resort locations. the room was always cool but I had to unplug my fridge every night because of a clicking noise that drove me nuts. the pool is great but too deep for little ones so keep a close eye on them. Call a guy named Andy Madrigal at Andy's travel and Services for transportation to and from the airport. It is about 40 minutes each way. He charged $55 each way but I tipped him too. His english is great. He also offers tours but check your prices for tours at the hotel also. madrigalgutierrez@gmail.com is his email to set that up. We took our 7 and 10 year old boys zip lining. They were great. As long as you are over 5 yrs old. we saw crocs and monkeys in the wild too. On 3 tours, we spent about $400 for the four of us. Shop around. back to the hotel though. You are not ever going to go anywhere and never have a dislike. All of my nit picky stuff has happened at other resorts too. Go to Riu Guanacaste. You will love it. The beach is cool to walk on but too rocky to really enjoy a swim. Hang out by the pool. Trust me.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
toronto
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2010

We just came home last night after staying a week at the Riu Guanacaste. It was a typical all inclusive resort and we enjoyed ourselves as we knew what to expect. The hotel and staff were nice and giving small tips will definately improve your services. The pool is fantastic....lots of room and plenty of shade. The bar service was great and just this week they started offering pool side service with a bartender pushing a cart around the pool making drinks. The beach is okay....don't expect blue water and white sand. My 2 boys did get stung by a jelly fish but still enjoyed body surfing each morning on the enormous waves. The internet was interrupted many times but you are visiting a third world country surrounded by mountains. The entertainment is cheesy and loud but we didn't have a problem falling asleep despite the noise and the hard beds because we were so exhausted from the heat. The weather was outstanding....37 degrees everyday...so if you like the heat...this is the place to go. We did do two excursions and I would recommend booking with a private tour company. We booked with Amy at Avispas Adventures...you can find her reviews here on TA. The excursions allowed us to really experience Costa Rica. I would definately return to Costa Rica but I will look into booking a 3 bedroom villa and hire a cook instead. Amy at Avispas can make those arrangements.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with family
    • 3 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brampton, Ontario Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2010

We stayed at the Riu Guanacaste from March 20th-27th. We have been to many 5* all inclusive resorts before so we were able to compare.
The resort is beautiful as it is surrounded by mountains. The grounds are well maintained and the staff was always working hard to keep it clean. The floors were always spotless!
Our room had a great view as it overlooked the main complex. We could sit on our balcony and listen to the evening show. The beds are very hard. This is one of my biggest complaints. I guess that's why everyone was up by 6am walking around and getting ready for the day! The bar fridge in the room lets off a quiet ticking noise but nothing that should ruin your holiday as the previous person wrote. Our fridge was stocked daily and if you needed anything extra all you had to do was call front desk and they were there within minutes. Compared to other hotels you don't get many t.v. stations here, so if you like to watch t.v. in the evening you can forget about it.
The Beach - Because you are swimming in the Pacific Ocean the waves can be rough at times. There are a lot of stones so water shoes are a must...please if you go to this hotel do not overlook watershoes - you absolutely need them or you will not enjoy any part of the ocean or beach as the sand is very hot too! People who complain about the ocean being dark - this is what the Pacific side is all about. Dark ocean and dark sand.
There are many Pelicans flying around the ocean catching fish in the morning, by mid afternoon they would leave. One thing that the Riu really failed on was the beach setup. There are no Palapas(huts to sit under), so if you need a lot of shade you might not like it at the beach. They don't have a beach bar so you have to walk up to the lunch buffet or pool bar to get your drinks. We are not big drinkers but when you are lying on the beach with no Palapas in 107F weather, liquids are a must. So big tip - take a big thermos with you.
The Food - The food is o.k. Nothing fantastic but we are not at a 5* in Canada or the U.S. Go to the A la Cartes. We liked the Steak house the best. The ribeye steak with the land and sea kabobs were good.
There are many trips to go on so make sure you bring extra money for that. Some are not cheap!!!!
They have a casino on site. It is very nice for a resort Casino except the employees inside follow you around - they make you feel like you are a criminal. For the slot machines you pay and they give you a card to use. I think this part is totally fixed!
Overall, this was a good trip. I would not go back because there was nothing that really "WOWED" me!!!!

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Antwerp, Belgium
Top Contributor
112 reviews 112 reviews
66 hotel reviews
Reviews in 72 cities Reviews in 72 cities
169 helpful votes 169 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2010

Stayed for 10 nights in March 2010.
This was our 9Th RIU hotel in the past 5 years. RIU gold class guest, let's compare !
The hotel building, the garden, the rooms, the swimming pool and the beach are very nice, Riu worthy.
There are many rooms (+700) so a lot of guests. But, never felt crowded.
There is enough space in the restaurants, lobby and pool (many chairs).
Beach is very clean (thanks to Riu maintenance) but swimming in the ocean is most of the days dangerous due to very strong rip-tide. Not many people in the sea.
Compared with our experiences in other RIU resorts the service in this one is very poor. Once RIU decided to open a 5 star resort they should employ also 5 star personnel and not a bunch of trainees that still have to learn the job. Room cleaning was too late on the day (after 4pm) and not of a high standard (even after tipping every day !)
Although cleaning personnel walked between the tables in the restaurants the whole day to clean up the floor, this was overdone and not necessary, in my opinion only to keep up appearances it was even disturbing at diner time ! Maid came and asked if we needed cleaning ??? Hey, didn't we pay for every day cleaning ??? Staff, except bartenders, in general, not really friendly.
Food...poor, tasteless and practically the same every day.
Tried the Asian restaurant, this is announced as an à la carte restaurant but it's buffet again. Very very noisy due too uneducated guests ! Buffet was plundered after 5 minutes ! Italian was a very nice experience, good food (salmon) and quiet atmosphere.
Waiter service in main restaurant was below average, first glass of wine comes late, no refill until you ask for.
Waiter service in bar's is nonexistent ! Excuse me, RIU Guanacaste pretends to be a 5 stars resort ??? You have to collect your own drinks at the bar. The waiters only walk around to collect empty glasses and constantly changing ashtray's, very annoying.
It's clear that there was saved on staff/service and food.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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.
Chicago
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2010

Hello,stayed 3-2-10 till 3-9-10
My name is Steve I have never had to write a letter like this before and have been a lot of places for trips. I have made bookings with Beach Destinations4 times now. This last trip was very expensive and disappointing. My Wife and I love to lay on a nice beach with lots of shade and sun if needed, snorkel and play in the nice Blue Sea/Ocean. The Riu in Costa Rica-Guanacaste has none of the before mentioned.. The second day of the trip we wanted to pack and return home we where so disappointed. We spent $3,048.00 to have a great time and didn’t get 1 minute of that from Riu's beach or very small swimming peepool. ON the so called beach, There was no place to get shade but a few trees here and there and you had to get up at 6 in the morning to find and reserve a spot under one or you sat in the sun and baked like a clam in the hot sun all day. Even if you had gotten a place you had to fight to keep it because the sun changing during the day and folks getting closer to not burn up. We never ,ever had a problem like that before anywhere. Another very sad thing was the water was so terribly wavy that 95% of the folks ,including Barb and I could not play in the Ocean because you would get smashed to bloody heck on the rocks all around the beach area, the wave are relentless . I went into the water 4 times and 3 out of 4 I had a problem. I got stung by Jelly fish big time twice and almost drowned on the third because of the crashing waves .The water is not blue .It is brown. Brown because of the constant waves mixing up the sand. If you get a mouth full of water it will be a mouth full of sand also. This is the worst beach we have ever been to in our lives. What where the people of Riu thinking. People like us want to go have fun in the sun and shade and swim, snorkel in the ocean but you don’t get that at the Riu in Costa Rica.. Terrible terrible beach.. waste of good money going to Riu in Guanacaste .
On another note, more sad news. Our first room was on the west outside. What a terrible view. Looked like we where in the desert staring at a mountain with dead tress all over it. Big deal there where monkeys. I didn’t spend $3,048.00 to fly 6 hours to see monkeys. We where very disappointed with the room that we changed to a middle inside looking at the whole layout of the hotel and the grounds. Susanna helped with that .I thought now we got something. Ok this is very nice. But then at 9:30 pm that night when we wanted to go to sleep for a early start. Bam more trouble. The sound from the shows is so load that you can not fall a sleep till 11:30 or later at night. This was not acceptable. We are in our middle fifties and like to get a early sleep for a early rise.. Not at this Riu u wont. I talked to many people that where complaining about the same noise problem.
On our forth day there our room was not cleaned ,well from talking to people on the forth floor it sounded like the whole floor was not cleaned. People where complaining like crazy to the front desk but nothing became of it .I just went out and found one of the cleaning ladies and asked if she was going to clean the next day and she said yes.. Why would this even happen. I had to ask for water, beer 3 times for the fridge in the room. I didn't waste time with the front desk I went looking for the guy that fills the fridges up. Why did that have to happen. Lets talk about the fridge. Why would there be a fridge in all the rooms that makes LOUD ticking sounds like a Grand Father Clock all night and day.. Who puts a fridge like that in hotels rooms.. We had to unplug the thing ever sticking night so after 11:30 we could get some sleep. The liquor cabinet above the fridge was empty on 2 of four bottles for 3 days before I went hunting for the guy that fills them also so he could fix that problem for us..We need hard booze in these rooms so we could get some kind of sleep. There was a note on the glass door of the booze cabinet that said it would be filled and checked ever 2nd day.. NOT.
THE POOL. First off we didn’t pay all this money to sit by a pool that was half the size it should be to accommodate the amount of people using it because of a bad beach setup .Sorry what beach...Drinks at the Riu are low grade liquor no matter if your getting a drink at the pool or one of the restaurants. First time for that also. The very first night there MY wife and I had to get a few drinks in to get over the beach problem so we went to the pool till 6:30.Talked to some people that had just got there and been there at the Riu a couple a days already and we all agreed about my complaints here I am typing about. NOT a good first night for Hotel info about the RIU. SO its 6:35 pm and last call at the pool bar .The bartenders says they are closing and the pool will be getting its nightly chemical treatment and we should get out.. OK, no problem. NO sooner than he says that there is a lot of banking going on in the little pool for the kids and sounds like BIG fireworks going off. We all look up for the show and see nothing.This went on for maybe 40 sec's, BAM BOOM BAM AGAIN.. NOT KIDDING. All of a sudden here come this cloud of white smoke. We in the pool that are just talking and getting ready to get out see this and believe it smoke from gunpowder. The fire works with no show...NOT.. It’s a chlorine cloud. Yes a chlorine cloud. Someone mixed the chemicals wrong and almost killed us all at the pool including the bar tenders. IF someone had not yelled RUN some real bad things would have happened. I have asthma and my lungs shut down real fast on the first breath. I thought I was going to stop breathing. MY wife ran a different way and got out of the cloud faster than I could. WHY would this even happen..y.
U know I cant keep this up anymore. The people that work at the Riu are very nice. The Management where nice and the Restaurants where good also the food .BUT the good stops there. I am very sorry I wasted a lot of my money. Wish I had not gone to the Riu and most likely wont ever go to another IF this is what they are all about. Very Disappointed couple..out $3048.00 of hard earned money.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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*
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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