Travelers: My husband and me and our 15 yr. old daughter. We have been to several all inclusives in Mexico. This was our first (and definitely not last) trip to Costa Rica.
Arrival: May 25, 2013 The airport was a breeze to get through customs, get our bags, and get on our way. The whole process took less than 20 minutes. We prearranged pick up with Alexonthebeach.com. Alex himself was waiting with a clearly marked sign and off we went. He was great and gave us an overview of his country including the history of the Guanacaste region. He pointed out sites along the way and it felt like we had been on a tour before we ever got to the hotel. The ride was about 30 minutes. We arrived at Riu Palace at 2:40.
Check-In: There was no line at check-in. A very nice girl gave us all our info and told us to eat and come back. A cool, refreshing glass of juice was brought to us and we set off to explore our new home. We walked the grounds, checked out the lunch buffett and pools and beach. We went to find our room number to make sure it was on the quiet side away from the entertainment area - it was. We went back at about 3:20 and were given our keys. Our bags were already taken to our room.
Room: We were in room 3107 on the top floor of the wing away from the entertainment area. We were close to the end near the beach and pools - perfect location. the room itself seemed kind of small and I knew of the weird layout because of all the research I did before booking this hotel. The rooms look exactly like the pictures online so there were no surprises there. Traveling with our daughter, I was a little concerned about privacy. This turned out OK because our room had a curtain next to the tub you could pull across for a little privacy (think hospital room concept) I don't know it all rooms have this. Our balconey overlooked the trees behind us with a slight glimpse of the ocean. I liked it because it seemed more private than the rooms facing the pool. I felt completely comfortable sitting out on the balcony in my nightgown. Our room was cleaned every day between 8:30 and 12:00 and we always had fresh towels. The only thing we requested was an extra blanket and we recieved it promptly and then a follow up phone call to make sure we got it (excellent service!). My only complaint about the room was the the double beds. They really were too small for two adults. My choice was to sleep with my husband or sleep with my daughter and niether was comfortable. There is enough room to have two queens which would have been preferable. I understand that this resort caters to couples so just keep that in mind when traveling with children.
Food: We found there to be a lot of variety and we never went hungry. We enjoyed the food at the Tokio the best and also enjoyed the Italian. The buffet was OK - great at breakfast, but I found lunch and dinner repetitive - just never found anything I loved. The steakhouse was very good, but I forgot to bring the bug spray and we did get eaten alive and my husband was very hot. Our steaks were cooked medium rare just as we asked and I enjoyed the veg. sides. We had OK service there. As a whole the resort had the best desserts and drinks of anywhere we have been. The desserts did not only look good, they tasted good too! I was disappointed in the selection of food at the 24 hr. place and the room service menu is VERY limited. Other than that food was OK.
Pool/Beach: I loved that there were plenty of pool chairs and the awnings for shade are genius. Usually it is my job to go down at the crack of dawn and reserve pool or beach chairs and there is absolutely no need to do that here. The beach is exactly how it appears in pictures. I actually liked the brown, sparkly sand for a change. The trees right on the beach provide lots of shade and the mountains in the distance make a beautiful backdrop. Drink service at the pool was fabulous. We had Nicole as our server most of the week and she would come by about every 20-30 minutes to check on us. She was so cheerful. A few times she was slow in coming and it was no problem to go to the bar ourself and get a drink. I will say mixed drinks were pretty weak, but that is not a bad thing when you are consuming several each day. If you want stronger just ask for more and they will gladly take care of you.
Excursions: We used Alexonthebeach for our one excursion. It was fantastic. We had a private van and guide Ronaldo took us to the town of Filadelfia then onto the Palo Verde national park where we experienced a riverboat criuse that will not be forgotten. Ronaldo went out of his way to make sure we had an up close experience with monkey, crocodiles and other wildlife. We will never forget it. Then we went to a quaint, thatch roofed restaurant for a fabulous meal. He then took us to a coffee manufacturing place to learn about Costa Rican coffee. Then we went to the town of Coco Beach where he pointed out which shops sold actual Costa Rican things and not all imports. He would have taken us anywhere we wanted and was the right mix of tour guide and knowing when to give us space. It was a perfect day!
Random Thoughts: This place is quiet and serene and is better suited for adults than kids which was perfect for us. There were not a lot of children there, so no sticky fingers in the ice cream and screaming in the buffet restaurant etc. EVERY worker we encountered was genuinely nice and spoke english. We tipped because it is the right thing to do but it did not change the level of service we recieved the times we didn't tip. If you have teens be aware that they have no problem serving alcohol to minors. Granted our 15 year old could pass for 18 - they routinely servered her drinks with alcohol. We are not uptight about this kind of thing so it didn't bother us, but it may others. When we were there May 25 - June 1 it was really not crowded at all. We never waited for an elevator and never rode an elevator with another person. It did get slightly more crowded on the weekend, but we did not notice a big influx of locals that others have reported. The wing our room was on was pretty quiet but the last two night we did have loud neighbors - the walls are thin and you do hear doors slam (this has been true of every resort we have been to). All in all it was a great place to go and we would go back. In a few years it will be even more beautiful when the vegetation grows in.
Room 3107 was great. It was on the quiet side and faced the jungle. It was not far from the elevator...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.