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“Wonderful trip to Costa Rica” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Riu Guanacaste

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Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
Berwyn, PA
Level Contributor
74 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Wonderful trip to Costa Rica”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 22, 2013

I just returned from the Riu in Guanacaste. Everything was absolutely wonderful. The resort was super clean, the food was delicious in the buffet and various restaurants, the pool was clean and warm, the staff was very entertaining and accommodating, and the total experience was excellent. We zip lined, took excursions, and relaxed.
The best part was we got to see a leatherback turtle on the beach one evening laying her eggs and another nest hatched and all the baby turtles made it to the water. It was just great!!

Room Tip: We liked the fifth floor with the ocean view. The monkeys can be loud on the jungle side.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank lizett251
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Kingston, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 22, 2013

Just returned from the RIU Guanacaste Feb 13 - Feb 20 2013 we travelled as a group of ten.
Food - very good, minor problems, had no problems getting into all 4 restaurants, buffet was pretty good considering the large volume of people being fed
Service : Very good, we left a $2. Dollar tip each day to the women who cleaned the rooms. We also left a $5. to $10. tip after the meals at the 4 restaurants, that is per couple.
Bar Service : We would leave a $2.00 tip when they brought us a round of drinks 10 people.
We took the shuttle at $15.00 per person into COCO Beach for a half day excursion and had fresh shrimp and lobster at "Papugayo Seafood restaurant", good food and excellent prices, some bars had the beer for sale at 2 bottles for $3.00 or 2 for $4.00
Excursions : half day "Palo Verde river ride" $70.00 per person we saw lots of wildlife, very relaxing afternoon, also get to go thru a gift shop.
Excursion : Sunset ocean cruise, music, lots to drink, light snacks, snorkling in a cove, half day trip at a cost of only $80.00 per person, this was on a catamaran that picks you up on the beach
Excursion : horse back riding on the beach, $25.00 per person 1 hour ride thru jungle and down beach, lots of fun. Book your excursions thru resort, they have insurance and only a few dollars more than the others. If you have a large group of people you can get the price reduced a bit.
Rooms: Nice and clean, no problems with sewer smells.
Pools : Large and they all connect together, very warm water always
Beach : Large beach, dark sand, water very warm unless it is a windy day, water can get cold and rough waves. We swam in ocean every morning, afternoons spent in pool.
Alcohol : Not top of the line wine, but my group said it was okay to drink, beer tastes like a draft beer and it comes in kegs at the bars in the resort. There is 4 bottles of booze in the rooms and 3 cans of beer, 4 types of pop and a bottle of tonic water and a bottle of club soda. Every other day they replenish the drinks in the rooms. We didn't spend much time in the rooms anyways.
Departure tax : Pay this at the resort, they have a booth set up at the front entrance, long line ups at the airport.
Liberia airport : 2 bottles of water and 2 subs was $29.00 U.S. very expensive
Gift shops on the beach and between the 2 resorts. Also a casino and disco just down the street between resorts. You have to pay for drinks at these 2 off resort locations.
Overall, it is a top notch resort, but remember they are serving a huge amount of people and sometimes you have to wait a while, make reservations the day prior to eating at the steak house and the Tuscan restaurant. The other 2 restaurants you have to be there as soon as they open because they fill up quickly.

Room Tip: We stayed on the lower level 0133, nice and quiet and no stairs to climb, rooms very cool
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank james m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
stratford, connecticut
Level Contributor
96 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 21, 2013

Absolutely beautiful location. Rooms were spacious and not bad - you could tell this is an older property. There was construction going on closeby (new hotel being built), but it did not bother us. Food was tasty and there were many different options. The views were stunning, unbeatable. We took a tour of the country for a day and got to see many beaches and the real "roads" of Costa Rica (dirt paths through wooded areas). This was a great experience.

Room Tip: Ask for higher floors for a better view!
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank melanie k
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 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 20, 2013

We vacationed at this resort in June of 2011.

First off, most people have complained about the rough bumpy road to the resort. If you are elderly or have back problems, then this might be an issue, but for myself and my family. We giggled and laughed at every bump! A vacation is an adventure, it's all in how you look at a situation!

The resort itself is very pretty, just like most all RIU's. The grounds is immaculate. The rooms were very well appointed with the great RIU mini bar!

The black sand beach was lovely, along with the beautiful view from it. The water tends to look a little murky due to the black sand, but it is indeed very clear. It does drop off very quickly tho, and the water was a little cool, but it was nice. If you bring down a piece or two of bread, you will have hundreds f beautiful fish swimming around you!

On to the food... Well it was probably the most bland food I have ever had at a resort, and that is saying a lot. Breakfast and lunch was generally the same. Dinner was always different, but seemed to lack taste. Not saying we lost any weight. Even a picky eater can find something to eat, even if it does get monotonous. The theme restaurants were OK, but nothing to write home about.

The staff were all very nice, and the resort was clean.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank misterrollie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 20, 2013

We stayed at The Riu Guanacaste for 11 nights on our Honeymoon. The Hotel was lovely. It was in a lovely area on the beach and close enough to all the nice sights to see on day trips. The hotel was kept immaculately. The grounds, room, pool and restaurants were kept beautifully and as a Maintenance Manager with high standards for a large International Health Club chain I could not fault them.

We arrived to a large bowl of exotic fruits and a card from the hotel congratulating us and thanking us for choosing them. The maid had also made 2 swans on our bed which formed a heart out of sheets and decorated it with flowers which was a nice welcoming touch.

There were 5 restaurants to choose from with an excellent choice of food for anyone whether you are a fussy eater, vegetarian or vegan. They had an excellent selection of tasty meats, fish, salads, deserts and fresh exotic fruits. We dined at 4 of the 5 restaurants and they were all very good. Our favourite was the Liberia. Even though it was the buffet restaurant of the hotel we received an amazing service. The waiters would make us cocktails and bring us drinks all the time. The manager of the Liberia also used to decorate our table nicely with flowers & candles and was so polite & helpful. We also had 2 top class meals at The Tucan which was one of their A La Carte Restaurants.

All the staff were excellent and couldn't do enough for you.

We couldn't of had a better Honeymoon experience at the Riu and would love to stay their again or at another one of their resorts.

Room Tip: Rooms facing the beach and pool were nice but rooms on the east side of the hotel on the upper level...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Samir D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 19, 2013

I just got home yesterday...I'm a pretty seasoned "tropical vacation" traveler. Sometimes I do the all inclusive and sometimes not...it all depends on who I am with. I chose the Riu because it was decently priced, all inclusive, on the beach, etc etc...We had a great time, here's what I can tell you about the Riu...

1. The Riu Palace and the Riu Guanacaste are literally 100 feet from each other. The Palace is more modern but the pool is not as nice, the foliage is not grown in etc. I am glad I was at Guanacaste. I did hear; however, that if you stayed at the Palace you could enjoy the amenities at the Guanacaste but not the reverse. Check on this, not sure it's true but if it's true and you can get a good deal at the Palace it may be worth having a room there.

2. Sunscreen is $40 a bottle on the resort...seriously....and there is no shampoo/conditioner/coffee in the room. But there is a free bar and fridge stocked with water, soda and liquor.

3. The rooms are big and almost all have some kind of ocean view with a nice sized patio.

4. Smoking is now limited at the resort but allowed in the rooms, patios etc.

5. Do not book your excursions beforehand. You can talk to tour people in the hotel all day long or on the beach as well....meet them first, don't worry about booking before you go...you can get anything you want in a day's notice.

6. We went deep sea fishing (didn't catch anything but it was beautiful - $1000 for the boat for the day) and the Ricon de la Vieja combo tour. It was great ($130/person) - both booked on the beach.

7. You can take a shuttle to Playa del Coco for $15/person roundtrip and to Tamarindo for $25/person roundtrip. Playa del Coco is 25 min away and great for shopping, a beautiful beach etc....worth spending a couple hrs and doing happy hour or lunch there. Tamarindo is 1 hr away and is a surf town with white sandy beaches.

8. If you are going to Riu Guanacaste for the beach, don't. It is black and not at all like the beautiful white beaches in the Carribean...It is a volcano don't forget, it is rugged. Right now is the dry season, it is all dead in the mountains but it is still beautiful and 95 degrees and beautifully sunny every day.

9. There is a decent swim up bar. Drinks are basically margaritas, daiquiris etc. Some people just stay at the swim up bar all day and get drunk...there are better countries to go to for beaches and swim up bars. Go to Costa Rica for the activities or you will be disappointed.

10. Food is not great, there is a lot of it but it's not great. I ate a lot of fresh fruit and salads...good coffee...good smoothies. the meat and fish is tough and bland. Don't go there for food.

11. Unless you want to die, don't rent a car. It's so treacherous, drivers are crazy, there are no signs, etc. The Riu is far from things, can't walk anywhere so tours or the shuttle are the only ways to get off the property.

12. The casino and discoteque aren't great. There's some decent live music in the bar Filadelfia but the nightly entertainment is basically the games of having couples do stupid things on stage etc. There is "entertainment" like this also at the pool every afternoon. After awhile it gets old, all the same people working etc. I felt so bad they worked morning, noon and night.

There's so much more I can add. I'm happy to get more in depth if anyone has questions. I was happy with the Riu but used it more for coming home to from excursions and getting into the pool, getting some drinks...food for sustenance rather than for savoring...you get the picture. It's huge too but it is immaculate, the staff is very pleasant...it's pretty....a lot of good things about it too. Let me know if you would like more info. elschulte@hotmail.com

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank colara1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 19, 2013

The hotel was clean and staff were very friendly. The beach wasn't great, but the pools were huge and more than made up for what the beach was lacking. The food was good, lots of restaurant selections. the rooms were a little on the small side, but who's there to hang out in their room all day anyway? Definitely a hotel I'd stay at again.

Room Tip: The howler monkeys are LOUD in the mornings, so if you plan to sleep late don't ask for a room w...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Carrie_R_1982
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Property: Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Address: | Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Guanacaste 4*
Number of rooms: 701
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Opening winter 2009/10. Situated in northern Costa Rica, in Guanacaste. Located on Playa de Matapalo beach. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 6-storey main building. Surrounded by 35,000 m2 / 41,86 sq. yards of lush gardens. Closest village: Nuevo Colon. 13 km / 8.1 miles from various shops. 33 km / 20.5 miles from Liberia airport. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica

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