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“It was our first time to Costa Rica” 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 2014
Irving, Texas
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“It was our first time to Costa Rica”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2014

My husband & I researched tipping policies online since this was an all-inclusive resort & $1- $2 dollars goes a long way! The employees of this hotel act as though they are well paid with the exception of a few (of course this is expected). First know that there are two hotel Riu. One Guanacoste (we had family & friends staying at this one) & one Palace. If your staying at the Palace (which we did) then you can eat & drink at both hotels walking distance from each other, but if your at the Guanacoste (not the palace) then you can only eat at the Guanacoste. White wrist bands for the Palace & red wrist bands for the Guanacoste which is what they place on you when checking in. The Palace room we stayed in was pretty modern and had a large tub about 6 feet from the king bed (which was weird) other than that the room was set up pretty well. The toilet completely separate from the shower & sink area. which is a plus! The Guanacoste hotel (we saw a family members room to compare) had a normal room set up not too bad. They do have shops between both hotels to walk to and they were pretty pricey, there are also vendors on the beach near the Guanacoste hotel edge which is better shopping! We took a boat ride ($15 p/p round trip vs taxi ride of $30 p/p one way) to Coco Beach to shop and the prices there were not that different and Coco Beach, was not that impressive. Costa Rica is pretty expensive expect to pay $8 for 1 shot glass and T-shirts $24 and up. HOTEL FOOD: Being a great southern cook & baker myself, the food variety was great but lacks taste. I love dessert (who doesn't) but it had no flavor (which was kind of a good thing if you didn't want to over eat on sweets) My husband who usually tries everything & can handle any type of food, had severe stomach issues...I kept to the norm on food and was ok. Monkey's & Iguanas are everywhere on the beach/trees & if you don't bother them, they will not bother you! They are very entertaining! Knowing Spanish helps, but is not necessary as most hotel employees know English.

Room Tip: We stayed in 4072 and loved the view & even though it was close to the elevators it was really q...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
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1,560 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 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (582)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Greenfield, Wisconsin, United States
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2014

I have read some of the bad reviews and I am just dumbfounded by some of the 'complaints' people have. Although this was my first all inclusive trip and first trip out of the country, you have to realize that you are surrounded by forests and mountains and the ocean! There are going to be bugs and critters everywhere! You are in Central America...not everyone is going to speak English! Do not expect the country to bow at your feet upon entry because you are American or any other nationality. I can understand why some of the hotel staff would be less than friendly, especially dealing with some arrogant, pompous guests all day when nothing is ever good enough for them! So, with that being said, my experience was absolutely amazing!

The hotel was beautiful. I stayed on the first floor facing the mountain. Very clean, the staff was always smiling and friendly. Not all of them spoke English but they made sure to greet you the best they could. I loved coming back to my room every night and finding my blankets transformed into origami pieces like swans and flowers and even anteaters! My fridge was always stocked. My towels were always replaced. Mosquitos were out in the mornings and mostly moths flickered around the lights at night. Little lizards hung out on my balcony all night and I could watch the iguanas on the trees and ledges of the spa.

The restaurants were ok. I'm not a fan of sushi but at least it looked pretty at the Japanese restaurant. The steakhouse was ok. Arenal buffet was excellent. They had any type of food that you could want and lots of different desserts. You will not starve.

If you want crystal clear blue waters, go to the Carribean side. Same goes for the white sandy beaches. The views were breathtaking none the less. Never had a problem getting a lounge chair. Never had a problem getting a drink and of course its going to take a little time getting one. The waiter has to take multiple orders and walk the beach back up to the hotel pool bar to get them. There are lots of free water activities but you have to pay for anything motorized like jet skis.

I had the unique pleasure of hanging out with some of the local people on the beach. They mostly were venders selling jewelry or tours. Some people say to book your tours through the hotel but I disagree. The hotel will charge you more and it's standard service. They also pay their employees very little and keep the $$ for themselves. The locals sell you quality...they know all of the best places in the area and I felt very safe with them. I talked to them, met their families, learned as much about their culture as I could. I went horseback riding, ATVing, diving...every tour was better than the next! I want to give a shout out to Norman! I was pressed for time as my best friend was getting married in the afternoon. We had to be at the spa 3 hours beforehand and I wanted to get a special wedding gift but the shops around the Palace are pricey, limited, and every shop had the exact same stuff. Norman had to drop his sons off in Coco Beach and offered me a ride. He did not expect anything even though gas goes for almost $8 gallon! He took me to some different shops and stayed with me while I shopped, translating everything for me. He went out of his way and expected nothing in return...I cannot thank him enough! Jorge, Norman, Cesar, Alonzo....they were all amazing, wonderful people and I highly recommend them for any of your tours! Do not go to Carlos...the man in the yellow shirt. He completely screwed over a group out of their tour and when they wanted their deposit back he wouldn't give it to them! Just sayin'..

And the wedding...wow. Absolutely stunning. Rui took care of every last detail. They took care of us. I have no words that could accurately describe how fabulous it was!

I do not have anything to compare my experience to but as a first timer the whole experience was amazing!

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2014

Gina met us every morning for breakfast with a smile on her face and quick efficient service at all times, which was especially good because my wife drinks ....heavily, most nights and can a be a bit of a grouch in the am before her first Bloody Mary. (Kidding about the drinking but not Gina.)

Gina was extremely helpful for our larger family who arrived at different times during the course of the morning. She always had our favorite hot beverages ready and was willing to go the extra mile to make our breakfast enjoyable.

By the way, my husband got hold of the iPad while I was writing this review and so take the first paragraph about my drinking with a grain of salt... Pura Vida!

Room Tip: We had a room that overlooked the mountains and the garden. It was on the second floor on the south...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 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.
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2014

I absolutely loved our vacation here. All inclusive is really the only way to have a vacation! Everything you could ever want is included at this place! Every detail is well thought out even down to the scented toilet paper. All of the buffets and restaurants are beyond delicious. We booked our vacation from Apple Vacations and had a wonderful lady named Yari who helped us book everything. Did the half day zip lining and jet ski guided tour which I highly recommend both! Being guests of the Palace allowed you to access the other Riu property next door that had a nice pool as well. I did notice that there were more children over there compared to the Palace. You must go to the Monkey bar to the left of the beach, they were really nice. You should really come here if you want to have a good time!

Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2014 via mobile

I stayed at the Riu Palace Guanacaste 8/3-8/10 for my annual vacation with my best friends. We absolutely loved it. The lobby & the rooms were modern. The grounds were well maintained. The staff was always pleasant. There were occasional issues due to language barriers( ie drink orders etc), but nothing unreasonable. They need a better reservation system for the specialty restaurants, but quite honestly the food in the main buffet is actually pretty decent so even if you don't get a reservation you'd still be fine. The beach was so-so. Our first day on the beach We encountered lots of empty food wrappers, hulled pineapples and a weird spikey dead fish, so this was a little off putting. There was no staff on the beach to set up chairs or anything ( I think you have to do that yourself & it was literally 500 degrees outside so dragging beach chairs in the hot sun was not high on our vacation to-do list). We ended up mostly hanging out at the pool ( they have plenty of them) and then checking out some other local beaches ( tamarindo & coco). All in all i would definitely recommend the riu palace guanacaste!

  • Stayed August 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2014

Over all great experience at this property. We were 4 families ( 8 adults, 8 kids). All in Ocean View Suites on 3rd floor. Rooms were clean, spacious and full of amenities. Separate shower, double sinks and separate commode made getting ready efficient.
Hotel lobby some what uncomfortable due to lack of AC or AC not working properly.
Hotel staff very helpful including front desk, bar staff and dining area staff.
Food; Our entire group was vegetarian. Choices were some what limited. However no one went to bed hungry ! Chefs bent backwards to help us out. Enough choices of fruits, salads, shakes and Pizza.
I noticed quite a few visitors of Indian Origin; it would be helpful to have some Indian food choices. At least at the dinner time.

Excursions: Hotel is contracted with several independent agents. We used TAM agents wearing United and Delta Shirts. Cindy and Melvin were extremely helpful. Explained excursions to out satisfaction. They were not pushy. Prices were competitive.
I rec; Doing both Zip lining ( Dry and Wet forest). Make sure you have ample rain friendly attire during Rain forest expedition.

At last Costa Ricans are very friendly, tourist loving people. Very safe.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Hampton, Virginia
Top Contributor
120 reviews 120 reviews
69 hotel reviews
Reviews in 66 cities Reviews in 66 cities
167 helpful votes 167 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2014

I read and relied on the Trip Advisor reviews when I chose this resort for a vacation with our college bound sons before they go back to school for the fall. We were forewarned about bees and kids and the food not being perfect everywhere. What I did not read in the reviews is that the resort is unbearably busy and noisy.
There is not even a little peace and quiet anywhere -- not outside, not in the interior of the hotel and most definitely not in your room.
The floors everywhere are tile and the sounds reverberate throughout.
It's party central. People are yelling. There is music blasting. Doors are slamming. We had our door knocked on twice by accident. Plus every time someone yells or drops something or rolls their suitcase or a luggage/housekeeping/room service cart down the hall it is almost like they are doing it in your room. You can hear your neighbors television/music/conversations through the wall.
I talked to the front desk and they were very nice but told me this is what to expect at an all inclusive resort. I offered to pay for upgrades for quiet rooms but they explained there was no such thing.
We are not stick in the muds but we don't have a desire to relive Spring Break 1985, either.
We decided to leave 3 days early and forfeited a hefty chunk of change.

The food is fine. The people are kind and attentive. The dinner reservation system is ridiculous but that's okay (you can't get reservations day 1 or in our case day 1 or day 2 and to ever get reservations you have to report to this disgruntled lady behind a desk at Tokyo restaurant between 9 and 2 every day).
We also had great difficulty with wifi. Unfortunately we needed access for work purposes so that made things difficult, too.
If you want to party hard and you want a frenetic, loud atmosphere this is a fine place to come. If you want to relax and read a book and hang out with your family this is absolutely not the right place.

Stayed August 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
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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