I could go on for days about how wonderful this resort was, and all the staff, and the country itself. My husband and I chose Costa Rica as our honeymoon destination because it was a place that neither of us had ever been, and we wanted some adventure along the way. Our travel agent had recommended the Palace, and knowing it was going to be just a year old when we were traveling there, it sounded like a great idea. It certainly did not disappoint. There were very few downfalls, which I will note further down, but first, the pluses: The food was great, the specialty restaurants were good as well, with the steakhouse being the absolute best. The steak was excellent! The only reservation restaurant we did not enjoy as much was the Italian. It was very lacking in flavor, menu, execution, etc. The rest were great. Niche, but right up my alley, and so my fiancé went along for the ride, and even discovered a few new things that he likes. The service staff at all of the buffets, and every single restaurant were wonderful. A few shout outs are in order: Gina, the bus person at breakfast every day was so wonderful, and Jiovanni, the dining room manager, who seemed to be in every restaurant and buffet all the time, did a wonderful job making sure everything was in order. The food at the buffet was great, for every single meal. It's almost overwhelming how much food to choose from. Even the sushi and the pizza were very good. A few more service shout outs go to Edgar our check in customer service rep at the counter, he was great, and we saw him a few times throughout the week. And the woman that cleaned our room did an exceptional job every single day. We left her a tip at the end of the week, and if the front desk had more low bill change for a $20, we would have left a few bucks more. They never seemed to have cash change enough, which was frustrating. We certainly would have left more tips here and there with the staff if we had change.
Moving on, every single bartender we encountered in all places were wonderful. The pool bar, and above bar staff were great. The drinks were made very well, and were not at all watered down, which was wonderful. They were just right!
Maurice from Swiss Travel, whom we booked one our tours, was wonderful. Very nice and informative. In fact, every single Swiss Travel representative we encountered from the start of our trip to the end was exceptional. Going a different route, we booked a few things with the locals on the beach. They were very nice and we had a good experience. Daniel and Randy were super nice, and we very much enjoyed our Sunset Catamaran cruise and snorkel. Additionally, we did side by side massages on the beach with Canopy #5 Karina and Estefany. They were great, and we highly recommend them. If not for it being 'our' honeymoon, my husband would have gone back himself to get another massage. They do all types of massage, and it was super relaxing and extremely professional.
There are a few photo staff members around the resort and on the beach that you can take advantage of. They are paid to take your picture. Afterwards, if you wish, you can go to the photo store and purchase the images, though you are definitely not required. It is expensive though, $15 for each photo with a minimum of $75. The photos are so great though, the staff are super talented and very nice (shout out to Laura and Luisa). It was nice to see their smiling faces around the pool all week.
The rooms were very clean, and we enjoyed the layout. I know some other reviewers did not enjoy it, but I think it depends on what type of trip it is. If it's a couples trip, the room is wonderful. The jacuzzi tub in the center of the room is generally spacious enough for two people, and we partook in that almost every day. It was so relaxing.
Arenal Volcano Sky Tram & Sky Trek Zip Line all day tour. It was a very long day, and the hours driving on the super bumpy Costa Rican roads were nuts, however, it was well worth it. The volcano is quite a beautiful sight, and the zip lines were fantastic. The guides on the zip line tour were exceptional. The local meals as part of this all day tour were really great too. We recommend booking this excursion with Swiss Travel upstairs by the lounge. It was very professional and organized. Expensive, but well worth every cent.
The few negatives:
A lot of mosquitos, which we knew going in to this trip, but it was still a little worse than we anticipated. We went through 3 cans of bug spray, and still came back with lot of bites. You do not see them at all, but you know they got you because of the bites afterward.
The front desk never seemed to have any or enough low bill cash for $20's. Super frustrating.
The beds were ok, not great, but not terrible. I definitely couldn't wait to get home to our own bed, but that goes with any trip really.
We did not have an issue because we are early risers, but be sure to get to the restaurant reservation area early, and two days in advance of when you would like to dine.
The shows were just ok. Amateurish, but sufficient for something to do after dinner. The Sunday Michael Jackson show is the exception, the lead was unbelievable and fantastic! The live latin music after the shows every night was really nice.
After 12 midnight, the only place you can get alcohol is in your room by the pour spouts (which we used only once), and the 24 hour lounge. Cool little area, with a self-serve beer tap, wine in the fridge, etc. However, the big downfall here was the 24 hour snacks, they were just terrible!! Riu, you really really need to work on this!
Other than those few things, this resort was absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed our honeymoon and even met some other honeymooning couples, which made it even more fun. Cannot wait to stay at another Riu location someday. Thanks for a great time!!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.