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“Very Nice Resort”

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
Peoria
Level Contributor
60 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Very Nice Resort”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 16, 2013

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.

Room Tip: Already did
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank ewnaly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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green bay wi
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 15, 2013

We just returned from a 2 week vacation, at the Riu Palace.

The property is lovely, but was constructed very quickly. It all looks nice now, since it only opened in Nov., but it will take constant maintenance to maintain that pristine look. With most of the walls being white, they will need a full time person to just keep them painted and fresh.
I really enjoyed the modern decor, rather than the heavy Spanish look of most of the other Rius. When I go to the Tropics, I want it to feel like that, and not like I went to Spain.

My husband and I did everything with the guys on the beach and can't speak highly enough about them. We dealt with Luis, Ceasar and Alex. Everything we did, was just my husband and I and very personalized. There is no truth to what the hotel will tell you about them not being insured or licecensed. They are, or they couldn't be running a business. We felt very safe and they were very knowledgeable and we learned about their country and people.

Luis's wife does the most awesome massage you could ever hope to have. She is located on the beach and you can inquire with Luis. When you walk down to the beach, he is on your right by the big dead tree. Her name is Carolina and an absolute sweetheart. Don't bother with the pricey spas at the hotel. You are getting a massage under the trees, with the birds singing and the sound of the water on the beach. A beautiful breeze blowing, so it doesn't get any better than that. If you talk to any of these people, tell them Judy and Bill from Wis. say Hi.

Go and enjoy, remember, no one asked you to come to their country. Respect them and you want respect from other people. They are beautiful people.

Any questions, feel free to contact me.

Judy

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank schoen45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Guelph, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 13, 2013

I traveled with a large group of various ages from Feb 4-11/2013. Truthfully, I have nothing else to compare it to as this was my first resort trip ever. I have mixed feelings of the good and not so good but one thing I will say is that the people that work there are AMAZING and will help you in anyway possible. If you want to go on an excursion, talk to a rep in the hotel and not the people on the beach.We were there thru sunwing and there rep (oryan) helped us out and gave us a few good deals.The beach people may be a bit cheaper but they are not regulated and safety is not their main concern. Part of our group went out 4-wheeling and 3 of our people got injured because of faulty machines. One girl's machine had a makeshift part in the steering and it broke and she could not turn in time and ended up flipping the machine into a rock wall...She spent our final 4 days in a wheelchair. The guide who was with them ended up throwing the broken part into the tree's as to not get caught but someone saw and picked the faulty part up and taking it back to the tour guy...I will commend the vendors on the beach close to the other resort..They have pretty much anything you will get off the resort in Coco beach or Tamarindo and they will barter..Watch out for the Roy & Bons sunglasses...lol not Ray Bans..

The resort is beautiful and will be much more in about 5 years. The rooms are quirky with the tub as soon as you walk in but it you have a few people get a family suite as they are perfect and private..As far as A la Cart's go and the waiting time to book one..not true. Not one person had a problem booking anything at anytime..They are not that good anyway..still in transition to get things running a bit smoother..Food in them is OK but I would stick with the buffet for supper. They have theme's almost every night and the food is fabulous. If you want something and you don't see it just ask and they will try to get it for you. Food and drinks are always available..You are allowed to go to the resort next door and eat too if you want..We ate lunch one day and it was ok..

Bathroom is far from the pool area..a big flaw when designing the outdoor space..

It is VERY VERY HOT between Jan-June..Make sure you take plenty of sunscreen as it costs upwards of $36.00 for a small tube of it in the stores. We were told the best time to go is just after the rainy season, so about the beginning of December. When we went was the dry season and everything was pretty brown and many many wild fires happening. We were getting soot flying down on us many a times throughout our stay. Our balcony's usually had a lot of it on it in the mornings..

The catamaran sunset cruise/ snorkeling adventure was by far my favorite excursion. We went to a private beach where you could snorkel but the water wasn't the clearest..Still really cool day..We saw dolphins and tuna fish jumping around in the water when we were out in the ocean.

So that's about it..if you go in with eyes wide open to make your own opinion then you will be good..Take all the negative advise with a grain of salt..It is what it is and maybe one day in the near future they will iron out all their issues and become a true 5 star..One last quick observation. If you see a tall guy in a suit always walking around..apparently he is the GM of the resort...I never saw this man smile EVER!!! I tried smiling towards him to possibly get one back but nope!!! Don't know why this bothers me but it does..Greet everyone that you pass with a Hola and a smile and your days will be better for it!!!

Room Tip: Any room would be fine..how often do you actually need to be in your room anyway??
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank tatialeaderlodge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
152 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 124 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 11, 2013

We stayed here for a few nights in early February. This is a sprawling property that is only a few months old. It still looks new. The rooms are large...nice and ultra modern. Huge walk in showers with dual shower heads. Separate jetted tub.

We enjoyed the lobby bar, nightly entertainment. Buffet food was very tasty.....a surprise for us at an all inclusive. Only downer was the reservation process for a la carte options. You must appear in person between 9-2 to make reservations. At 9am there were already 50-75 in line. Not the way I want to spend my vacation but the game Riu plays to force people to the buffet.

The pools were great. Drinks were good. Liquor and wines were all good quality.

Overall, a good choice!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank okie74012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Heredia, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
45 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 11, 2013

This hotel is brand new, and it feels like that. My wife and I felt really comfortable during our anniversary and would like to return any time soon.

So, first of all, the good things:
-The hotel is huge, brand new and extremely clean.
-Even though the hotel was full, the attention was excellent. Whenever I wanted a drink or a snack I was able to get it really easily from the staff, room service was very efficient and the staff was always willing to help.
-The food was nice, not mind blowing but it was pretty decent, with good variety, also, some days you may find some specialties in the buffet, such as lobster or Asian food.
-The alcoholic brands were recognizable, not generic brands.
-Plenty of gorgeous pools with lots of space.
-Very quiet/calm/relaxing environment.
-The suites were very nice too, specially for couples, with jacuzzi, flat screen, mini-bar, etc.
-Nice modern design of the hotel restaurants, bars, suites and lobby.
-You are also able to go (by walking) to the Riu Guanacaste hotel right next to this one if you want.

Now, the not so good:
-If you want to reserve in a specialty restaurant, you need to stay at least 3 nights, it is not a rule, but they get booked usually with 2 days in advance.
-Not a real 24/7 bar, but a restaurant with self service drinks and food, some table games and TVs on mute, pretty boring. Work around: go to the sports bar at the Riu Guanacaste.
-Lunch at the check out is not included (surprisingly riu guanacaste is cheaper but it does include it), so you need to eat something before check out, they don't mention this at the check in. In fact, there isn't much information provided at the check in.
-Night shows are recycled (same as the other hotel), it gets very repetitive if you have visited these hotels several times. Also, the live music was awful.
-It depends on the room location, but the "garden view" was more like a "nowhere view".

Some considerations:
-Suites are really nice for couples, but if you're going with kids or family, you won't have so much privacy since the jacuzzi is in the middle of the room, the bath room wall is kind of translucent and the door does not have a lock.
-This is a pretty quiet hotel which is good if you want to take a break and rest, but if you're looking for nightlife after 11 pm, you may get bored.
-Bring your own medicines! they just have the basic ones, my wife had an allergic reaction (a frequent situation in this environment I guess) but we had to go to El Coco 20 km away from the hotel to get a pill.
-As a tip, if you're looking for a Costa Rican experience, none of these all inclusive hotels are the best option. Look for smaller places.

In conclusion, we really had a great time at Riu Palace, it is a step higher in quality than the Riu Guanacaste but obviously you have to pay for it. I would recommend any of them for vacation but if you want to impress, this is the best option.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank DiMurillo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
warrenton ,va
Level Contributor
54 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 7, 2013

One reason I write reviews is because I depend on reviews for every place I visit. It is quite difficult to read between the lines of most reviewers as many would not be satisfied anywhere and some love even the most pitiful of places simply because they ave not travelled much. As a frequent traveller and a discriminating but fair writer, I hope my reviews are a little more practical. There were few reviews for this property when I left in Jan , so I remained quite open- minded when I arrived. I was a little disappointed not to get an ocean view room as is always my preference, but at check in, I put myself on the upgrade list for the next day as a first floor garden view was not what I have ever purchased. I arrived at the hotel before the 3 PM check in but had no trouble seeing a clerk who was friendly and very accomodating. I walked around and checked the property out while I waited, got my usual Marguerita and , again , had no trouble checking in at 3 PM. During my wait time I had a very quick 2 minutes to check in with the dining reservations clerk , Caroline, who is a total sweetheart. She was able to "sneak" me in a reservation for that night as a solo female needing little but an extra chair. During the course of my stay, she continued to be accomodating in every way and had the patience of a saint with people demanding reservations that were simply not available..more on that later.
I arruived at my garden view room, expecting to tough it out for one night and was pleasantly surprized to find it perfect for my needs. It was modern, clean (yes, there might have been a bug or two ..it's the tropics!!!), a big whirlpool tub in the center of the room , double sinks and a large, clean, modern shower. The king size bed was beautifully presented with a multitude of pillows ( I brought my own because of a review), a convertable sofa, desk, and a bacony with a lovely view of the water.
The rooms are set back quite far from the public areas so as not to cause much in the way of resort noise.The only noise I did not like was the banging of the room doors, especially in the early AM for people leaving on early day trips.I took my nam off the list for upgrades as this perfectly suited my needs ..and...I spent very little time there. One word of caution though that I didn't see next to the farthest sink is that the water is not potable, they reuse for environmental reasons. Fortunatly, as a frequent traveller, I only drank the bottled water, but the hotel should make that sign a little more visable and there should be some worning at check in.
The resort itself is very modern and doesn't have the ambiance of the Riu next door as the landscaping has not yet grown in. But the 4 pools were more than adequate for all guests( a seperate vollyball pool was pretty interesting and well used). No need to reserve chairs and no need to look for shade as overhead silders were in abundance to keep you in the sun or shade as desired.
The beach is not as well used as many but quite ice nonetheless. The sand is dark and VERY hot .Always bring beach shoes. Chairs and shade, again, are in abundance here. The water of this inlet has some choppy waves, a roped off, safe, swimming area, and the usual trinket sellers who respect your privacy of you act like you don't want anything. Also on the beach are the wonderful $35/hr masusses who do a wonderful job. Horses for rental for a beach/jungle ride are also in the back of the beach. A little farther down the beach is a path that early morning walkers take to view the monkeys before they nap for the rest of the day. Bring a large camera to get the best shots at they can be too far up for your cell phone or small camera.
The restaurants are an entity unto themselves. There are 5..the buffet, Italian, steakhouse, japanese and the gormet.The buffet is the best I have ever been to. There is an interior and open air portion and seating is always available. Breakfast is served there and is quite extensive in its selections. The different stations were quick to cook to order and the servers were right on their game to keep coffee and other essentials served. The dinner theme is changed each night and the meals are all well- prepared and much better than any other buffet at any other all inclusive. Many a dinner reservation at the other resturants was bypassed when people saw what was being served here! The 2 top restaurants in my opinion were the Steakhouse and the Gourmet (Krystal). The steakhouse served a good cut of steak cooked to order and even steak and 1/2 lobster. Waiters very attentive and professional. This restaurant is open air and the beachside lunch place during the day. The lunch here is outstanding and quite comprehensive. Seating is always available and dress is covered swimsuit. Gourmet (Krystal) is very sedate and intimate. food well presented and of a gourmet standard. Reservations for the steakhouse and gourmet go first. The japanese is a la carte and not the usual cook at the table. Good but not outstanding. The italian is in the lobby and open for both lunch and dinner. No reservations are needed here. It also stays open the latest of all the restaurants. Again, good but not outstanding.Singing up for these restaurants is the only gitch that most people objected to. Caroline sits in the nightclub area from 9-2 to sign up for the nights and next nights dinners. The queqe at 9 am is quite long as many want the preferred restaurants. However if you are out on a day trip, this becomes a problem. I think the hotel needs to get a little more creative here as it seemed to be the #1 complanit about the resort. I DID find out one thing and that is many reservations go unused and tables are empty. The restaurants staff told me that the best time to await an unfilled reservation is for the 7:15 seating as many either change their minds or get caught out on late day trips.
Plenty of free daytime resort entertainment..kayaks, jet boats, scuba lessons, extensive gym and poolside activities, drawing classes, yoga..just about anything that appeals to the variety of people here. The swim-up bar is in a seperate pool and wuite adequate for the number of guests at a full resort. Also each pool haswater loungers which are also available at all times. so one can get a drink at the bar and carry it over to the water lounge there and relax while meeting allt the people around. It is a very friendly plece indeed. Lots of young people here, but then I found many of the older people imitating their younger counterparts and acting as goofy as they were!!!
Day trips abound here and it is difficult to choose which ones are the best. The beach reservations people are able to set up some trips,but not all are reliable as they have to make sure they have enough people to charter a bus or cab. I lost a trip this way as there were not enough people for the trip the next am. They do reserve for the sunset cruise off the beach though. The boat leaves at 1:30 or 2 (can't remember) and is a lovely introduction to the topography of the area. It stops st a cove for snorkeling, but the fish are scarce. I didn't see 1 fish!!! But the beach is nice for walking and collecting shells and coral. Snacks are served on the way back and the boat stops for a lovely view of the sunset before returning. You can also see an occasional whale, dolphin or sea snake from the top deck. Joshua was so enthusastic about his job an loves to talk about the area and takes very good care of his patrons. Drinks/ beer included also.....
The zip line and volcano/rainforest tour is by far the most popular and quite safe for any adult and child as there are "catchers" on the lines and your own brakes if needed. This trip also includes a waterfall hike and mudbath, horseback and jungle tour.
The interior rainforest tour is a long day with a long drive , but well worth the time to see what te real Costa Rica is.
Palo Verde National Forest is either 1/2 day trip or a 1 dy trip combined with shopping (lots if "trinkets').You cruise along the river and see lots of crocs, monkeys and birds. Tony was our guide and was a wealth of knowlege about Costa Rica in general and all the animals in the forest. I took the 1/2 day tour as it is not real relaxing to get up early each day to take these trips as they are set up.
I also chose the white water rafting trip on class 3/4 rapids. Im still not sure what posessed me to take this trip as I am recovering from a total knee replacement, but the sense of adventure just got to me, I guess. As I arrived at the start and looked down at the rapids, I was really not sure what posessed me, but there was no turning back. One group went with "The Terminator" and turned over a record 11 times. But Manuel,my boat's guide took exquisite care of us and we never turned over. Apparently the guides tailor their boats to it's inhabitants joy du vive and can keep you safe, even over the 10 ft drop. After "surviving" and having a lovely lunch, this turned out to be the highlight of my trip along with some very funny pictures of me screamig!!
The casino and nightclub activities are the nighttime entertainment. the nightclub is packed full of young couples next door to the casino. The games actually pay well, unlike most caribbean casinos and there are a few table games for the more adventurous. The resort also has the standard entertainment in the lower area which is usually over by 10 pm, so there is not too much late nite comotion nearby as the nightclub is in a seperate area away from the rooms. There is also a 24 hr area for snacks and berverages and also for an early morning mini breakfast.
Leaving was, as usual, difficult. Check out was easy, especially since most people check out at the same time. Again, staff friendly and helpful. Save yourself a very long line at the airport and pay your exit tax at the hotel. I was so happy I took that advice when I saw the length of the line at the airport!!The airport itself is quite modern and efficient. Yes, food is expensive, but all airport food is. There are some nice shops to get last minute gifts in and they are quite reasonable. As a matter of fact, ALL my shopping was here... All in all a trip not to be missed and I have made most of the Caribbean destinations. This was one of the very best...

Room Tip: No need to upgrade...garden view are jsut as good. I lined 0092 as it was halfway to the pool and l...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
38 Thank perWarrenton_va
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. John's, Canada
Level Contributor
40 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 7, 2013

Last year we stayed at the RIU Guanecaste and loved it but, we ran out of time to do all the great activities and tours.

So, this year we tried two weeks at the new "RIU Palace Costa Rica" and it was the best holiday ever. We were treated like family. Many of the staff from the original RIU Hotel next door were now working in the Palace......and they remembered us. What a feeling to see their faces light up as they saw us, and to have them embrace us with a warm "Welcome Back".

The staff were nothing short of amazing. From our check-in (Julia, Victoria and Carman) to the happiest bell staff ever, (Louis, Louis and, of course, the new Louis). The awesome bar staff (Jeffery, Walter, Freddy, Our old friend from last year L. Edwardo and the super awesome Edwin-Pool bar supervisor.

The best restaurant, by far, was the Italiano. There food was really great and the atmosphere was charming but, the thing that keep us comming back night after night was the service. The leader of this awesome team was Carlos (Captain extraordinaire) he was so charming and genuine as your host yet always the perfect professional manager. Keeping his eye on everything to ensure everyone had the best dining expierance. Our "stand-out" server was Esteban, This guy poured his heart into every table he served. Yemeln was the beautiful young Lady who always made sure we had lots to drink and always greated us with a huge warm smile. Special mention also to: Chef's Riseo, Jose and the whole cooking team for a super job.

The Entertainment was fantastic. We enjoyed shows almost every night and were so impressed at the quality and variety. The energy these preformers put into the shows is outstanding. Our highlight evenings were the "Rock Station" show and the "Africian night".

House keeping and Mini Bar service were great as well.

We would like to acknowledge the most amazing member of the RIU Palace Costa Rica team. The Lady who made us feel so welcome last year and this year was a key part of everything wonderful at this place, The Super hard working, most amazing Susana Flete. She is the hardest working, happiest, most deadicated manager I have ever met. We call her "The star Jewel in the RIU Crown" and she is the main reason we are already planning our next trip to RIU Palace Costa Rica.

Room Tip: Ocean views are a little until 11pm, but worth it for the awesome view.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank J E O
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

Property: Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Address: Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
Amenities:
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 2 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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