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“Not bad, but needs some fine-tuning”

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 7, 2012

First off, in reading Truzella's review "Not for Me" submitted Dec. 3, 2012, I thought I had written it myself. We stayed there at about the same time. About the only thing Truzella mentioned that I cannot vouch for is the tour guide recommended because we didn't use him.

A few things Truzella did not mention was the distance from the Palace pool area to the restrooms. I would say it was at least 100 yards (American football field). And we found the walls were very thin...I kept thinking the couple in the room next to us was in our room, and they were just having casual conversation. One other thing is the room layout. We had an oceanview which was beautiful, but when you first enter the room, if you're not careful you could bang your shin on the rectangular Jacuzzi-style tub situated about 2 feet from the door...it's just there in the middle of the room...also not the best location if wife is in the tub and husband opens the hotel door for any reason!

While I am in agreement with Truzella that the Riu appears to be more elegant and the landscaping is fully matured, I think in time the Palace will have just as beautiful landscaping. And for our mimosa loving friends, we cannot leave out the fact that the Palace did offer champagne whereas the Riu did not.

This resort had been open less than a month when we visited. I think upon reading the reviews, the management at the Palace will probably be making changes to make the experience even that much nicer.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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5  Thank GreenMartian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 7, 2012

Let me first start off by saying that I have used the Riu all-inclusive resorts in other countries and have always been extremely satisfied. We vacationed at the Riu Palace, Costa Rica from 11/25-12/1, and it was not what we were generally accustomed to. The Riu Guanacaste (next door) is a "traditional looking" Riu. This new resort (which just opened the beginning of November, 2012) comes off as very modern looking (honestly, it looked like I was in a showroom at Ikea). After spending a week at The Palace I wished we opted to stay at Riu Guanacaste.
Pros: very good food, excellent service, not very crowded (as of yet, see additional comment)
Cons: not very well staffed, terrible restaurant booking procedure, be weary of the discounted rates on the weekends for Costa Ricans.
Let me elaborate on the cons portion: every other time we've stayed at a Riu resort we had zero problem booking a reservation for a themed (Japaneses, Steakhouse, etc) restaurant. At the new Palace they were less accommodating, and the reservations go way too quickly so be prepared to grab a spot on line very early. Secondly, we found out that this resort allows for native Costa Ricans to stay there on the weekends for a significant reduced rate. Not to appear insincere, but come Friday after 11am it turns into little San Jose, Costa Rica. So be prepared for extremely long lines at the buffet and a very crowed pool area.
In summary, I still like the Riu chain and would use them in the future, but I am not roaring to get back to Costa Rica on the next available flight.
P.S. Take a taxi to the Congo Trail (zip lining sight) to pet and hold howler and spider monkees. Very cheap cab ride/admission, and it was probably one of the best parts of our trip.

Room Tip: The ocean view rooms are very spacious and comfortable with a very good view of the Pacific.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank Nick M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 7, 2012

I'm currently here at the Riu Palace-Costa Rica (Dec 8/12). This newest hotel in the Riu chain opened the first week of November, and is in a wonderful secluded location. The staff are still learning to handle vacationing people. I feel that especially at the front desk, while extremely helpful some staff are very limited in English.
Food has been great, the only downside is attempting to make reservations for the specialty restaurants...wait in line to be told nothing is available, yet when you pass by some of them are only half full.
Drinks...awesome! This resort has a large variety of premium liquor and beers available in all their bars, and even in your room...not just local alcohol.
This resort offers room service which starts a 7 AM, great having fresh coffee & juice to enjoy on the balcony while preparing for the start of the day.
On weekends, Riu invites the locals to stay for 2 days at discounted prices, they do this at many locations to give them a chance to enjoy the resorts. Will follow up with further message to how this turned out here at Riu Palace - Costa Rica.
From the resort you can reserve a speedboat ride for $15 usd over to the nearby town of Playa del Coco. Quaint small town with lots of tourist shops.
The resort's grounds are well kept. Everything is still quite immature due to only being recently planted. I would expect that a year from now, everything will fill out and add to the beauty.
Great massages on the beach for $ 30 usd for an hour, less than half that the spa charges.
Nightly shows have been great.
I highly recommend staying here!!!!!
Steven

Room Tip: Junior ocean view suites...try to book on 4th or 5th floor
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank StevieWebbs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2012

Just returned from our stay at The New RIU Palace which just opened in Nov 2012. If you're your expecting perfection,take a pass as the Hotel has just opened and you can tell. Better choice would be The RIU Guanacaste next door. Thoroughly enjoyed Walter,bartender at The Melody Bar and Luis our waiter at The Arenal and Japanese Restaurant. Give the Hotel a year for the landscaping to mature and the staff to gain experience. The Hotel is isolated so your on an excursion most places you go. Great day trip to Nicarauga with Jacamar Tours, look for Jose in the RIU Guancaste lobby and get Rusby for a guide if you can.

Room Tip: If your going for an ocean view 3083 would be a good choice
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Bigscore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2012

If you've never stayed at an all-inclusive then there is is little to dislike. On the other hand if you have stayed at some very nice resorts this wouldn't necessarily be your first choice.

Costa Rica itself is great- really loved the wild life...and the people

Kudos to customer service (apologies= her name escapes me) provided excellent customer service to include going to the airport to pickup the luggage my BIL left behind.

All of the staff work hard and really do want to please. The challenge is that many have very limited English skills. What was surprising is that only a few of the workers smiled and greeted us as we passed by. I had not experienced this at other resorts.

If you are an earlier riser - you are out of luck. The restaurant doesn't open before 7

Waiting in line to go to one of the three restaurants is a joke. Everyone of the restaurants we went to it was about 1/2 full...the food was ok at best

Ask for Internet access code at the front desk when you check in. Each computer is assigned a unique access code. They would not give me the code over the phone so I had to go back down to the front desk.

You will not have Internet access in the morning and only occasionally thereafter. Can’t explain why but it happened every day. The Internet was down more than up-- beyond frustrating. My husband couldn’t get a cell which created a problem since he needed to stay in touch with his office. One staff member at the front desk said they would accommodate him if he show that he couldn’t get a cell. When he actually had to make the call they charged our room.

The pool area is large and beautiful. Five separate pools allowing for plenty of people. The down side is they do not provide enough staff to service the area. They had one waitress serving an entire pool. So many people were at the bar trying to get a drink-- it was a mad house.

The walk from room to room is open air. WOW a pipe must have burst and the smell of stench was overwhelming..the smell lasted all week

I read the reviews about the food and said to myself that wouldn’t be me because I am not that fussy. Well either I am more fussy than I thought or the food is not so much.
The Steakhouse-- I ordered the surf and turf and asked for the steak to be cooked medium well. It was rare. The lobster was good. We had to ask for drawn butter twice and everything was very cold by the time it arrived.

Like many reviewers before me have said, the massages on the beach are awesome. The massages are. $35 p/p or two for $65. The ladies under the white covering nearest the water were terrible. They have no massage therapy skills. The ladies a little further down on the left are great.. One word of caution that I would like to put out there. Apparently the ladies work with another gentleman who has his own business on the beach in order to drum up business. The arrangement is to pay him $5 for every person he brings. This guy spoke to us suspecting that we were going for massages (we had our $$ out and walking in that direction which was about 100 feet away). Said how nice they were, trained etc. Well he didn’t bring them the business, he seized an opportunity to make $5 that he didn’t earn. So if you are approached please tell the guy to take a hike ….

There are no umbrellas on the beach. Just trees here and there. Rarely do you see an attendant. So if you want a drink bring one to the beach.

We visited the RIU Guanacaste and honestly, I found everything about it more attractive. The large fountains, open air lobby, thatch roof umbrellas, the swim up bar is larger, the sports bar has a pool table and fuse ball tables….none of which are at the Palace.

No American beer or light beer. Some top shelf but plenty were missing. No Kahlua, no Bailey’s.

For those of you who enjoy football- forget getting a game in the hotel. They have tv’s in Lounge 24. One tv may have a football game but no sound. They will not budge about the sound.

BRING BUG SPRAY AND SUNTAN LOTION - the costs are $30-$40 (no kidding)

Best excursion deals are on the beach. Ask for Gustado. Very honest, nice young man who also is a preservationist.

Most of the food on the buffett is not identified. A lot of waste occurs because in some cases you aren't sure what you are selecting.

The Papayago (sp?) restaurant near the beach is the only restaurant that offers fountain soda. Every time we wanted a glass of soda we were given a bottle. While generous, we just couldn’t drink the whole bottle and often went to waste.

The area around the pool area is dangerous. They used a flat ceramic tile which is very slippery when wet.

I feel that RIU dropped the ball with the RIU Palace. To me, the RIU Guanacaste next door was superior to the Palace. (I’ll refer to the older hotel as the RIU and the new hotel where we stayed as the Palace). The pool at the RIU was a little smaller but awesome. Had a lot of character. Small outcoves for intimate conversations. Several jacquizzis within the pool, thatched roof umbrellas, the chairs had padded covers for the lounge chairs, and the walkway around the pool was cement that had a textured surface for safer walking. The luncheon area and restrooms were both close to the pool area.It was interesting to see how many people were coming from the Palace to the RIU.

There are several bars at the RIU including a Sports Bar with pool table, fuse ball and ping pong table. There were three bars all within the same area and each had its own ambiance. You aren’t going to find this at the Palace. The RIU has nice gardens with beautifully lit fountains –not at the Palace. There are little sandwiches in a containers within a refrigerator at the Sports Bar. They have lettuce and tomatoe etc available for the sandwhiches. At the Palace the small sandwiches are sitting out, they are hard and dry and no such condiments.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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9  Thank truzella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2012

We came back last week from the RIU Palace (26 November 2012). This is a very good hotel. The food, the service, the staff, the rooms are perfect. Very nice trip.

During our week we did two trips. The first was the "Rincón de la Vieja National Park." It is beautiful. We did horseback riding, thermal bath ... Second trip was to Nicaragua to see Lake Nicaragua, the city of Granada and Lake Apoyo. The Lake Apoyo seen is really impressive. But this trip is very long (5:30 to 22:00, 13 hours of bus for 4 hours at the city and lake).
Weekend there are many Costa Rican that come at the hotel. It is much more agitated. They arrived on Friday at noon and leave Sunday at noon. So we made our trip to.

There is no smoking allowed in the hotel. Unfortunately people smoke around the pool.

Great trip, beautiful country.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank David155032
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2012

We just returned from our vacation at the RIU Palace November 22-29 and throughly enjoyed it!

Overall:
The resort opened on November 2 and everything was in tip top shape. We have stayed the RIU Palace in Cancun and Aruba, this resort exceeded our expectations.
Service:
The service was very good and the staff were very friendly and accommodating. The pool entertainment staff made an effort to talk to us which was nice as well.
Food:
We ate at all the theme restaurants and found the food was very good. Our favorite was the Japanese, though the Steak house and Krystal were excellent also. The buffet was very good for breakfast and the Papagayo for lunch.
Drinks:
The swim up bar was enjoyable and someone kept bringing us drinks as we chilled around the pool. We also enjoyed the lobby bar at night before dinner and Sayonara provided great service. They don't offer top shelf liquor, but we knew that going in. We also took advantage of the in room minibar which was restocked daily.
Tours:
We went on the Buena Vista combo tour with HotelBeds which included a 425m waterside, 45 minute horse back ride, lunch, mud bath, hot tub, and zip lining. Awesome tour which left the resort at 7:30a and returned at 5:00p.
We also took the Palo Verde river boat tour from 7:30a-3:00p with Gecko Tours and saw crocs, monkeys, iguanas, and birds. A lunch of authentic Costa Rican food was included and was a highlight.
And we went on the sunset cruise from 1:30p-5:30p with Gecko Tours and it was awesome too. We snorkeled, saw mating turtles, manta rays, and monkeys. The cruise included an open bar, and went up the coast past several other beaches and monkey head island.
General Comments:
As has been posted on Tripadvisor, on weekends they rent the rooms at a reduced rate, but we avoided the hassle by taking our all day combo tour on Saturday which we recommend.
There are plenty of loungers around the pool and beach with plenty of shaded areas.
The beach was fine and the darker volcanic sand was not an issue for us at all. It was very clean with no sea weed and private to the the two RIU.
We walked on a road from the resort and saw howler monkeys early one morning and birds.
Oh, expect to have sketchy WIFI service as it didn't work most of the time, but you can go the older RIU next door, which worked every time for us during our stay.

All in all, this was probably our most enjoyable trip South we have taken, and we have been to Grand Cayman, Aruba, Nassau, Dominican Republic, and Cancun.

Room Tip: We had 4th floor ocean view rooms and highly recommend the little extra money for them. Spectacular...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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10  Thank Talking_Bob
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 Carrillo - Guanacaste, 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 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 2 Hotels in Sardinal
Price Range: $273 - $555 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica 4*
Number of rooms: 538
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The hotel lies directly on the beautiful, fine-sandy Matapalo beach, next to the hotel Riu Guanacaste. * The guest of Riu Palace Costa Rica may use the facilities in sister hotel Riu Guanacaste, except dinner meal * Main Building 6 floors 538 rooms * Next City Liberia 42.0 km approx. * Airport Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) 33.0 km approx. * Next ATM / Bank: 200 m * Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica Guanacaste

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