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“Pura vida!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Canton, Michigan
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Pura vida!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2013

My husband and I vacationed here this past April and had a wonderful time. The resort was beautiful and the rooms were clean and modern. The buffets were delicious too and had quite a nice selection. We ate at all the restaurant except for the Italian one. Our favorite was Krystal (I think...the one where men have to wear pants not shorts :) The staff was very friendly, fast, and efficient. The pools were great! There are five and a lot of seats, but get there early!! It seems people set their towels and belongings and then go eat or whatever so my husband and I had a hard time finding open seats. One day we asked the lifeguard to help us get an umbrella because the only seats were directly in the sun and when he came back with one he offered to save spots wherever we wanted the next day. We said yes and the next day we had awesome spots. We tipped him and the rest of the week we had saved seats awaiting our arrival! The pool water was a perfect temperature. The poolside drinks were great and fast (we tipped) and the music was great! We swam in the ocean and laid out on the beach one day only because it was really windy the rest, but it was still nice.

We booked an excursion via the contractors in the hotel. We were under the impression the one we booked would only be about an hour and half drive and that we would see the volcano. We were disappointed to find out it was a six hour drive roundtrip and no volcano!!! Others from the other hotel that joined us were also under the volcano impression. We confronted the lady who booked the trip for us when we got back and she denied telling any of that to us...??? I'm positive about what she told me because I did not want to be gone that long on an excursion. I went on a rain forest hike with a guide (Christian- who was awesome!) and a group of about 9 others. The hike was ok....wouldn't do it again. We didn't really see anything too exciting, although we did have to walk across 2 suspension bridges. While I was hiking my husband went zip lining and had an amazing time! The lunch and dinner provided was delicious. The bus ride was extremely bumpy and somewhat uncomfortable for me at times (I'm 18 weeks pregnant). We ended the excursion by going to a hot springs (Baldy Hot Springs...I believe) and that was fun and beautiful. All and all I would have rather save the money and stayed lounging at the hotel all day.

Make sure you have everything you need, sunblock, aloe vera, etc. before you get there because (obviously) it is really expensive on the resort. We forgot our sunscreen and had to pay $35 for a tube. A woman in front of us had to pay $115 for shampoo, conditioner, and sunscreen. Yikes!

We didn't visit the disco, but we did check out the casino. It was small, but sufficient.

We booked out trip through Orbitz (will never do again) and the hotel could not really help us with our booking since it wasn't through them. For example, we couldn't get the free shuttle from the airport because we didn't book through the hotel (although we were staying at the hotel ???). Also, we lost a day of our vacation and had to stay back home due to unfortunate circumstances out of our control and the hotel couldn't refund or do anything for us really. The spa vouchers couldn't be combined or changed because we booked through Orbitz. :(

The fitness center is ok....I expected it to be way bigger considering it was for both resorts. There wasn't enough equipment. I'm a runner and running outside was just too hot to do so I used treadmills.

The shows were entertaining and they seemed to always involve the kids before the night show. We saw a Michael Jackson and Grease show that was pretty cool. Lip syncing and awesome dance moves. Great costumes!

Overall, the resort was fantastic and we had an amazing time in Costa Rica. We would definitely stay at another RIU resort! Pura Vida!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2013

My family and I stayed at the RIU Palace from April 1st - April 8th. We have a 16 yr old daughter and a 14 yr old daughter. All of us had an amazing time. The weather was great, the resort was clean, the staff was extremely friendly and the restaurants were great with very few exceptions.
We ate at every restaurant except for Krystal. The Japanese was the best of the specialty restaurants, so we went there twice. The Steakhouse was very good and the Italian restaurant was just ok. The Buffets are AWESOME. They have a huge variety of selections and they are constantly replacing the food.
There are so many seats at the pools that we never had to wait for them. There are 3 levels around a few of the pools, and two of the levels have a piece of fabric above each group of 4 chairs that can move back and forth to block or let sun through. It was perfect. They do aerobics in the pool daily which I didnt like but my wife and daughters did. Drink service around the pool is good, but if you throw a few bucks at the drink girls, it becomes awesome. We would give 10 bucks at the beginning of each day, which was well worth it.
The beach had so few people on it, that it was a nice change of pace from the pool area. If you walk 5 minutes to the left, there is a sign for a Monkey Bar. There are 15-20 monkeys that are usually within about a hundred yards of the sign....they are really cool to see. There is a white sand beach about a mile away from the hotel that can be walked to. You can get there right on the beach if its low tide, but during high tide you have to cut into the jungle and go around a huge hill to get there. Bring water if you go.....its a long, hot hike. We went there one day and we were the only people there, it was great.
We booked a family suite, which is supposed to have 2 bedrooms that both have a shower. When we got there, only one of the bedrooms had a shower, and the main room had a tub. It wasn't the end of the world, but it was kind of annoying to have to go to our daughters room to shower before we went to dinner. After the second night, I went to the front desk to see if they had any other options, and they let me check out one of the connecting rooms to see if we would rather have that. The connecting rooms are essentially the exact same thing as the family suites, with a few small differences. The connecting rooms have a shower in each room, and they have two separate balconies (family suites have one big one). We liked the connecting rooms, so they allowed us to switch at no extra charge. They were VERY understanding.
The people who work at the resort were extremely friendly and went above and beyond to make sure our stay was enjoyable. If there is a problem......just ask....they will address it. I like Jack Daniel's whiskey, and the brand they had in the room was not something I liked at all. I called the front desk and asked if they had Jack, and the woman (Carmen) told me she would ask the manager and told me to call back. I called back in about an hour, and she said she couldn't find the manager, and told me I should come down to the front desk the next morning and talk to him. We went to dinner that night, and when we came back to the room, a brand new, unopened bottle of Jack Daniels was sitting on the refrigerator!! Again, if you need something at the RIU....just ask!!!
We booked a zip-lining trip with Alan (orange shirt). It was awesome and the guide did a great job of answering any questions we had about Costa Rica. We thought it would be cool to go to a random Costa Rican village and eat at a local restaurant, so he took us to a really cool little place across from an elementary school. The food was probably the best food we had during our entire trip, and we were so glad we did it. Why stay on the resort when you have an entire country (very safe) to visit?
Overall it was a great experience and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the RIU to anyone.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Kitchener, Canada
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2013

We just returned from a wonderful week at the Riu Palace. April 15-22, 2013. Our vacation was booked threw Signature Sunwing Vacations.

Riu Palace is a beautiful resort (just opened November 2012) in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We flew into the the Liberia International Airport. The Sunwing rep Stephano meet us at the airport and the shuttle bus ride was only 40 minutes to the resort. The weather was warm and sunny as it was the dry season!

We arrived at the resort around 11:30 am and our room was not ready. They offered us a welcome drink upon arrival and took care of our luggage. We changed into out swimsuits in the courtesy room which is just off the lobby. The Italian Restaurant (a-la-carte was open at 12:30 pm) After a delicious lunch we checked with the front desk and our room was ready. The staff at the front desk were very friendly and happy to answer any of our questions.

The beach is hot so wear beach shoes or flip-flops. You can swim in the ocean, just make sure the tide is out. The pool area is extremely hot as not much shade or protection from the sun. It was 37 degrees C. The good news is that guest from the Riu Palace Resort may walk over to the the Riu Guanacaste Resort during the day. They have a beautiful pool area with lots of chairs and shady areas.We did this every morning after having our breakfast in the Arenal Buffet Restaurant and picking up our beach towels at the Riu Palace. The Arenal restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner only. Lunch is served buffet style at the Papapaya Restaurant down by the beach.

The a-la-carte restaurants are as follows. The Steakhouse, you must make a reservation. We didn`t enjoy our meal as I think the chef didn`t marinate the tenderloin steaks (it was very tough) and the Lobster Tail was over cooked and burnt on the outside. It`s not worth the trouble to make a reservation to go. You don`t need to make a reservation at the other 3 a-la-carte restaurants Our favourite one was the Japanese Restaurant, we went twice, The Italian was very good and the Krystal -Fusion Spanish Tap-pas as a nice change.

The entertainment was very good. We liked the Grease Show and the The Broadway Show.

It you go to the bar you can ask the waiter to make you a Martini, We tried the Cosmopolitan and Banana Martini . Also, we ordered Pina Colada drinks with Barcardi Rum! Yummy!

We went on two tours. The Palo Verde Tempisque River Cruise from 1:30 pm -7 pm This was a great tour we saw lots of wildlife, crocodiles, monkeys, iguana and birds etc. We visited the Natonal Park Center and had a drink and fresh fruit for a break. The other tour was the Rincon De La Vieja National Park - Rain Forest and Spa tour a mini Yellowstone. 7:30 am - 6:30 pm We went for a walk threw the rain forest, swam in a waterhole under a beautiful waterfalls, saw a butterfly garden, humming birds, and went to volcanic natural hot springs and spa which included, mud bath, steam bath,, hot spring pools and enjoyed a Costarican lunch at the Mountain Lodge. Both the tours were worth the money.

You can take a shuttle from the resort to Playa Coco for a visit for a morning ($15.00US return per person). Great souvenir shopping and you will meet some of the local residents.

Room Tip: We chose a Garden View room 2nd floor Room 2121 in the back of hotel on the side away from the Riu G...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2013

I can't even believe I'm typing this, but it's true... we brought home bed bugs from our super sunny, relaxing and fun vacation at the RIU Costa Rica. We noticed them the second night after we got home and it's been close to a month since then and we're still working on getting rid of the problem. It is a nightmare!! We didn't notice anything in the mostly clean (but not sparkling - room #3080) except for a couple blood spots in the sheets when we woke up the second morning, but then the maid seemed to change the sheets every day. We didn't think anything of the blood spots at the time - figured I'd cut myself shaving or something. I walked into the room one day when she was cleaning and she had moved the entire bed and seemed to be cleaning and changing the pillow cases. Maybe I should have taken it as a clue then. We have stayed at other RIU hotels and enjoyed them, as we did this new one in Costa Rica. I think I would consider staying at another RIU but I would definitely do a thorough inspection of the mattress and bed area.

The pool area was quite nice and peaceful and there was always lots of choice on where to sit and swim. We walked down to the beach a couple times but didn't spend any time there as it's not a typical Caribbean beach area.

The food at all the restaurants was simply okay. Not bad, but nothing great, although lots of fruit, salad choices and veggies so that was good.

The service was friendly and hospitable although the photography staff became a bit annoying and intrusive.

The resort is definitely in a remote area so make sure you're okay with that if you're going to go. If you prefer to be able to "leave the compound" and walk around a strip with other hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, this is not the place for you.

Weather in mid-March was beautiful.

Took a tour to see some local villages, rivers, plantations, etc. and was definitely worth it. Lots of culture to see and learn about.

Room Tip: Oceanview rooms are worth it! Lots to see on the ocean and pool side; not so much on the other side!
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 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.
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

First experience at an all-inclusive. Stayed there from Apr. 11 until Apr. 19. New, generally clean, very nice ambiiance. Staff helpful and friendly. Those are the "pros". The "cons" as follow: No shade, so middle of day the cement just radiates heat. No plantings around walkways so this won't change any time soon. Maintenance fine, but only because it's brand new. Our maid was only average. Floors always gritty and not as clean as we've come to expect from our many trips to Mexico resorts. The food was good, but day after day same things put out. We did really enjoy the Italian Restaurant. Here food was excellent and service was super. We enjoy tours and this is really not an ideal location as you have to travel a minimum of an hour just to get anywhere else. Fortunately the hotel was very cool, as the weather was extremely hot. If ever travel to this area again will go later part of May or early January.

Room Tip: We were in 2075. Asked to be on a higher floor and were told Monday. By the time 4 days went by, s...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Perkasie, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

Just arrived last night April 14th through the 20th.The Riu was amazing with great people who are so friendly and helpful. The hotel was cleaned and always maintained. The food to my surprise was very good. I loved it in every restaurant. A must try is every fruit and vegetables at this country. Everything is fresh.We went a lot to the Arenal for breakfast and dinner. I was always greeted with a smile from Steven. He always made sure we had ice for our drinks and our plates were moved out of the way when we were finished. He was very friendly and helpful. He works hard and it shows, he has a million dollar smile. Good job Steve keep it up. I also noticed the supervisor Ana wow what a pleasure she was always making sure all were working and helping and making sure everyone had coffee, drinks and plates were moved from the table. She deserves Supervisor of the month. Another hard worker was Yorleny who I watched everyday work hard and always made sure everyone was OK with what they needed. Such an honored to known these people. I also want to talk about our tourist guy Alonso from Jacamar. Wow we were so impressed on the knowledge of the country he has. He was helpful and answered all our questions with no problems. He is a great person and has become a friend. I recommend Jacamar for your excursions and needs to get around. They are safe, knowledgable and trustworthy. We also enjoyed Boriquen where we Zip Line, ATVing, Mud, hot springs and we had such a blast. I recommend you do that and take the shuttle bus to Coco Beach. There are shops there where you can buy souvenirs which the prices were good. We also did the boat into the jungle and we saw monkeys, crocodiles, birds, it was an awesome time. The roads are bumpy and you go to high levels in some areas but the views are to die for. We had a blast and will return to the Riu. The shows at night at the Riu were good but our favorite was the Grease and Michael Jackson show. The guy who does Michael Jackson is a great dancer and in great shape. He also looks like Michael. The grease show was awesome as well with great dancers. The hotel room was really nice with great views from our balcony. I will return soon. Pura Vida and that aint no lie!!!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Morristown, New Jersey
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

Overall, this resort is new, clean, the staff are friendly and accommodating, and the pricing for this location is in a high, but in a somewhat affordable price range.
Rates (wish more customers would publish what they paid and # nights so consumers have this info).
Rates with direct flight from EWR: $3300 total, 7 nights.
As a frequent traveler to the Caribbean and other tropical climed countries, I will get to specifics:
1) Reservation process was sloppy and inattentive. Our initial on-line reservation was met with a call back to say they did not have ocean view available. Why didn't the online web system detect this? We were stuck in a parking lot/garden view on the 2nd floor where the toilet made noise every 5 minutes. We were changed to an ocean view on the 2nd night, which added stress of packing up and changing rooms. I don't want to have to do this during a vacation. Time is valuable and I don't want to waste it.
2) There should be a downward adjustment on rates if you arrive after 10PM and leave before 6AM on departure date. You are otherwise not getting fair consideration for the hours otherwise entitled. Travel is stressful enough, and feeling cheated of the resort time due to flight schedules is added annoyance.
3) Water Sports: Guided snorkeling trips on a boat costs $25 pp for an "hour in the water" I measured the time out in the water. 45 minutes. Sandals, Iberostar, and AM Resorts have guided tours that are included in the price.
No hobie cats for sailing.
4) Beach/Pool: Very far walk from the pool area, expect the volcanic sand to be hot. There are no umbrellas by the beach, just trees. Recommend umbrellas.
There were sufficient number of available lounge chairs by the pool area and beach.
5) Gym: 2 treadmills, too many people waiting for treadmills. For some, it is too hot to run outside. A year ago when I was logging 35+ miles per week, I would have been annoyed. Not so much now, but putting more treadmills in the gym would be recommended.
6) Staff: friendlier and willing to help vs. Caribbean resorts.
7) Food & Drinks: Availability of local agricultural products definitely make quality and quantity of food better than Caribbean resorts.
Drinks: One day they were low on ice. The frozen drinks that day were syrupy.
8) Tours by contractors: Expensive but fun experiences.
9) Entertainment: Same variation of evening entertainment (dancers and band were good for the location, but sadly not NYC Broadway caliber). Outdoor area where guests sat to watch the shows was too hot.
10) Resort Entertainment Staff: they were nice. I didn't appreciate photographers bothering me for pictures though.

Room Tip: Even if you provide requests when you book, you won't get what you want until you are face to fa...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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.

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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica

Address: Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica 4*
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica Guanacaste

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