Overview. My wife and I stayed at the Riu Palace last week of Jan and first week of Feb, 2013. At this time of year the weather is incredible, everyday was the same, sunny and 32/33 C. The resort is quite new, so the environment is not as mature as the larger Riu Guanacaste next door. I agree with those who said that if you want a more lively, busy, crowded resort then choose the Guanacaste rather than the Palace, which is more subdued. Both resorts are in a very secluded location where there is no public transportation (the buses are for the workers). To get to the nearest town, Cocoa beach, most people use the LARS shuttle which cost $15 return and takes about 25 min. If you plan to get souvenirs this is the best spot, not where the shuttle drops you but check out the main drag. Be sure to bargain, we got some great deals. There is also quite a modern supermarket where you can get items such as sunblock etc at a much better price tan the resort prices.
Room. We were on the third floor on the west side overlooking the pools and ocean - it was great!!! Definitely be as high as possible and away from the center unless you like noise! The decor is modern and somewhat unusual (bathtub placement, as others have mentioned) but I did not find it a problem. Wifi in the room is free. Our signal was weak but it was adequate for what I did including watching a couple of Netflix movies. I noticed also that the signal was much stronger when I was on the balcony or down near the center around the reception area. We found the safe in the room worked well.
Restaurants. The two buffet restaurants were excellent. The variety, quality and presentation were all top-notch, you will not be disappointed. The specialty restaurants were another matter. Do try them and come to your own conclusion. I did not understand other reviewers' comments about the reservation system. We never bothered to line-up in the morning but later in the day there was no line and we easily got reservations for the following day (you can only reserve for the current or next day). We enjoyed the Krystal (Fusion restaurant) but was disappointed by the Steakhouse and especially the Italian.
Tours. We went on three of them. There are resort approved tour operators with reps inside the hotel and non-approved who are on the beach. They all seem t0o be fine. However, we would recommend Jacamar tours. They are a little cheaper and the groups tend to be smaller so you get more personal attention. Also the guides are excellent and really work hard at making it an enjoyable experience.
Service. This was a highlight of our stay. Everyone was incredibly helpful and would always acknowledge you. The wait staff and chefs at the restaurants get to know you and your preferences. Your wish is really their command. Do get to know them and treat them with respect, you would be amazed. Finally tipping. I could write a book about this. However, i will leave only one comment. The neglected folks in this tend to be the ladies who clean your room. They have to be on the lowest rung of the hierarchy. After the first week I tipped the main cleaner (her name is on a card in the room) Towards the end of the stay I went down the hall with a handful of dollar bills and tipped everyone of these ladies I could find. Their reaction was priceless!!!
Hope your stay will be as enjoyable as ours.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica Guanacaste