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“Awesome time...” 4 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   |  
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Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Awesome time...”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

My husband and I visited the RIU Palace 7/7-7/15. This is my third stay at a RIU and this by far is the best...only a few mishaps. First the good...The hotel is clean (seems like the workers are always maintaining the grounds, cleaning the bathrooms, picking up cups, etc. The room decor is modern, not a cozy feel (probably because there's no carpet in the rooms). The food is good...I prefer Arsenal over the others, and not big on buffets but I liked this one. We ate at the Japanese restaurant, it was okay...food came kinda slow...reservation required. The Italian restaurant was good...no need for reservations. Then there was the Steak House (it was meh)...plus I had a dead fly on my plate. I was done after that...headed to the buffet. The pools are nice and there are plenty of chairs! There wasn't a lot of people at the resort so chairs and proximity to the pool wasn't a problem. We thought it was supposed to be the rainy season but it only rained for a minute, one afternoon. ..The entire time! The nightly entertainment was pretty good...we enjoyed the shows. The staff at the resort are friendly and helpful...tip them! Give a waiter/waitress a couple of dollars and they remember you and take EXTRA care of your needs. Same with the Bartenders! Look for Carlos...He was our favorite. The noon lunch at the pool is a MUST...food is awesome and fresh! Drinks were plentiful. We had a couples massage and I had a pedicure...very nice (a bit pricey).

The bad (or inconvenient)...There doesn't seem to be any air in the lobby or elevators...it gets hot In both. You have to leave your room key in the slot for the electricity to work. It's not a bad thing but they don't always remember to tell you how this works...One night we about baked because we didn't know the sliding door was cracked open. If that door is open, the air doesn't work. We figured out after a long, hot night. Beware of the No tank top policy (for men)...it's at almost every resturant (except for breakfast at Arsenal). My poor husband was turned away twice. My problem with this is that women can come in some restaurants with a towel on but a man can't wear a tank top...In a hot climate (weird). The restaurant closest to the beach (can't remember the name) is infested with bees and flies! You can't reach into the drink dispenser area without the fear of being stung. Flies were on all the food...but it is outside. Speaking of bees...If you have an allergy to bees, carry your epipen. The bees are all around the pool, especially the pool bar...it is bad. The towel card is the worst. You have to give a card for a pool towel. If you lose the card/towel it cost like $20. Well, someone took our towel off our chair. We told the towel guy and he said we had to do a report with the front desk. Luckily, the front desk lady just gave us another card...others may not be so lucky. Last, the pillow cases, towels, table linens, bedding, etc can use a better cleaning or discard the stained ones. I came across a few things, in different areas that shouldn't be given to guest.

We used Issy Tours for our excursions...they are more of a private tour, instead of large groups. We were able to join the excursions with larger groups but because we had a personal driver, so we could leave when we were done...stop along the way to take pictures, etc. We moved at our pace, not a group of 20-30 people. Loved it!

And in case you haven't heard...EAT BEFORE YOU GO TO THE AIRPORT!! I forgot this tidbit and my husband and I ate at the Players Club. We ordered two waters (they only have bottled), one ginger ale, a burger w/fries and burger minis w/fries....$73! That place is a ripoff...BEWARE! Also...There is an exit fee for you to leave Costa Rica. We didn't know until we got to the airport. It's $29 (I think) per person. You can't even check into your airline until this fee is paid.

Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,779 reviews from our community

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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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Atlanta, Georgia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

I and my wife along with 2 friends had a super time at the RIU Palace July 11-18, 2014.The hotel is very clean and the STAFF from the Bell hops to the Cleaning Ladies were so friendly and helpful it was amazing. The food was excellent and there was a great variety. My favorite was the Arenal buffet where Marrico Diaz and other staff, too bad I cannot name them all,seemed to anticipate our every need while dining! There was so many hotel activities, we now know we need at least 2 weeks to take advantage of everything! Only downside is although the shows were very well choreographed, and performed, the music was not loud and crisp enough to do true justice for the performers. We used LAR transporters for excursions and got a driver named Alexander Villalobos (Alex) who we can truly say is so knowledgeable, safe driver, and friendly that we hired him four days in a row! :) We wanted to see the good, bad and ugly of CR living and he came through above and beyond our expectations. So when you go to Costa Rica look up ALEX and tell him James, Pernell, Cynthia, and Warren sent you, you will not be disappointed! PURA VITA!!!!!

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 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.
Oceanside, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2014 via mobile

I recently stayed with my family and some friends the week of July 12 at the Riu Palace. The resort is amazing! The staff was very attentive and the grounds of the resort are very well kept and the staff continually clean the grounds. I traveled with 4 teenagers who had the time of their life. The food at the buffet was excellent, as was the food at the Italian restaurunt and the steak house. All I can say is that I would highly recommend this resort for a fun filled family vacation

Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Antonio, Texas
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2014

We traveled to Costa Rica with our three children: 16, 13, & 10. The area is beautiful, the water is gorgeous, the weather was HOT (totally expected). The reviews you will read about the sand being hot are completely accurate, but was not a big deal, wear flip-flops. The staff are very nice. The property is clean and well manicured. We did several excursions (booked all in the lobby of Riu): zip-lining, ATV, and deep sea fishing. The Rio Perdido zip-lining and thermal bath is amazing. The area, equipment, and instructors were wonderful. The view is beyond words, and we felt completely safe. However, if you are the least bit prone to motion sickness the trip to get there is extremely rough. We were able to enjoy a thermal bath (volcanic) and a delicious lunch (best food of the trip), after zip-lining. The guys on the beach will negotiate prices for the two ATV excursions my boys took. They loved every second of this excursion. Deep sea fishing was gorgeous. It was a bit slow, but that's to be expected. We did end up catching several mahi-mahi, and blackfin tuna. We took the mahi back to the beachside grill and ate it for lunch. This was our best meal, by far at the resort. We were able to tell them how we wanted the fish prepared and the chef did a good job.
Rooms: We had two ocean view rooms. It was "bare-bones". There was nothing spectacular, tile floors, the shower did not drain. Beds were very comfortable, and a great (helpful) ceiling fan.
Food: UGH! This was by far the worst part of the vacation! Every single restaurant on the property was a disappointment. I realize "to each is own"; however, every person we struck up a conversation with held the same opinion. You do need to make reservations for dinner, except for the buffet. We ended up canceling our reservation for the "steak" restaurant because of all the horrible feedback we had heard. Our only "decent" night was at the Japanese restaurant. Virtually no flavor, greasy, or generic. We love to eat, and I actually dreaded it. Room service food was not any better.
The resort is very large, LOTS of people. We definitely decided this was not for us. LOVE Costa Rica, and the people. We would go back, but not to this resort.

Room Tip: Ask before booking an ocean view room. If it is close to the outdoor "stages", they do pe...
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
New York City, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2014

I stayed in Riu Palace for 3 nights. I have to say it was the best experience I had. Food was excellent, from breaffast, dinner buffet and restaurants everything tasted DELISHHH (I think I gained like 20lbs, lol). Staff are so friendly, helpful and welcoming. Hotel is a very nice complex, excellent taste for decor, very clean, the entertainment shows are awesome. I think if you are looking for to relax, feel stress free, and do a little bit of adventurues excurssions on the side I think this is a good place to go to and stay at.. I truly had a great time and YES i would go back again :)

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2014

The Riu is by far one of my favorite resorts; with five swimming pools, plenty of places to eat and wonderful staff. The rooms are large with a curtain to divide the room with the dressing area. They have extra-large balconies with plenty of room and equipment to hang your wet clothes. We ate in all the restaurants except the Asian and my favorite was the Italian. I had read many reviews before we arrived so I knew about the monkey which we did go down there for a look. One thing that wasn’t really clear was how to get there. If you go to the beach and turn left and keep walking you will see a sign, however the mistake most were making was there is a trail right before the beach with a paved road. Some locals will tell you to go this way, we started out in that direction and it was a little spooky. Go all the way to the water and walk along the beach, people are always out in the water so it’s actually a safer way to get there and definitely worth the trip.
We also went in to town; this is a little pricey, but also worth the trip for your souvenirs and such.
As far as activities we did of course the zip line, white water rafting and a 4 hour ATV ride that did jungle as well as beach. All highly recommended.
The hotel offers shows at night; the only complaint was it was extremely hot. They need more fans going or they need to have them in a different location. We saw the “Rock & Roll” show the “Michael Jackson” show and “Grease”. Get there early as it gets crowded.
Great place for couples & families.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Castle Rock, Colorado
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2014

We traveled to the RIU Palace over the July 4th week. We traveled with four generations and some friends. The RIU was great for everyone. We loved Costa Rica and will go back.
The Good
The beds were very comfortable. The rooms were great. The sit down restaurants were very good. We enjoyed the short walk to the monkey bar just to the left of the hotel. The best part of our vacation was hooking up with Luis of www.luissolutions.com. We wanted to see a little bit of the country since this was our first trip to Costa Rica. Luis set us up on a great excursion the Buena Vista Family Adventure Tour, to zip line, horse back ride, lunch and mud bath. After that anything we needed Luis took care of us. We wanted a massage on the beach his wife Carolina took care of us.$30 and well worth it. We wanted to go to Cocoa Beach Luis set up a private tour with Oscar who was awesome. He really educated us on the Country and took us to a local restaurant for lunch. Luis can be found in a white shirt on the beach. We wanted coffee Luis took care of that too. Thanks for making our vacation special.
The palace is nice because you can go to the guancaste riu as well. It is a little crazier over there but fun to go hang out for a little while.

The Bad
It took forever to get a drink at the pool. There were also a lot of bees at the pool. Two of us did get stung. The buffets were nothing special. The food was cold a lot of the time. Stick to the specialty restaurants. We were there during a very busy time. The resort was sold out but it was frustrating how long it would take to get a drink.

Overall we had a great trip. When we did bring up a problem they were very quick to fix it. Would recommend for a family vacation. It worked out well for all ages.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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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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 Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa 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*
Number of rooms: 538
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica Guanacaste

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