Disclaimer: This will be rather long but if you are planning a trip to the Riu Palace, Guanacaste, it's a must read!!
In November, I wrote a review of the Riu Palace, Guanacaste. I don't often do things like this because I am simply not computer savvy nor am I a big fan of these things. I prefer my smart phone and typing anything more than a few sentences can be a daunting task!! Having said that, I feel as though it's my obligation to give this resort the praises it deserves. I understand just how important Tripadvisor is to the tourism industry, especially in Costa Rica as my first review of the Palace, Guanacaste ( and only review ever ) apparently put me in the top 15% of all read reviewers, on the tripadvisor website.
My wife and I chose to return to The riu Palace, Guanacaste only 4 short months after our first visit. There were many reasons why we returned but the most important being we wanted to go back and visit all of the friends we had made, both on and off property. Friends that we found ourselves missing dearly! After being recognized at the Airport in Liberia, by a Riu employee, we arrived at the resort with greetings from several employees who made it very clear they remembered us and were very excited to see us again. There are 538 rooms in this resort not to mention the Riu Guanacaste next door. It made us both feel very appreciated at the amount of people that remembered us. From here on out, hugs were not in short supply on our trip. Keep in mind that the average employee turn over, in the service industry here in the US, is believed to be between 50 and 80% per year. Every single Riu employee we had hoped to see, on this trip, was still working and with a smile on their face!! This tells me that the Riu is providing a work place that is desired by the local people and that makes me and my wife happy!!
The Service: I have been in the Food and Beverage industry for many years. I am classically trained in French cuisine and service. The attention to detail and overall knowledge of service, as a whole, that the employees of the Riu Palace, Guanacaste show on a daily basis, even superseeded what we experienced on our first trip. It is simply impressive!! I could go on and on about it but, instead, I will provide two examples: 1. I will admit, I am a smoker. I hate it as much as you...trust me! On my balcony, I was using a glass of water as an ashtray. Guanacaste is dry this time of year and fire danger is very high. The winds are also an issue in March and I figured water was the best choice as to provent any possible fire. Our housekeeper, Ana Mercades, actually replaced that glass of nasty butts with a fresh glass of water. To me....that is attention to detail. 2. I was back in the room for a moment, to grab some things, when I had a knock at the door. It was the Bell Hop who had remembered us from the last visit with a bottle of very nice champagne, 2 glasses and a little pint bottle of some delicious rum!! With it was a note basically thanking us for our return visit. I asked him " who is this from" and with a huge smile on his face he said " it's from me.....and the managers". I loved that....$10 tip!! Keep in mind, prior to this second trip, I did not contact the Palace stating that we would be returning. Please understand, the vast majority of the service employees, at the Riu, had very little, if any prior experience or training in this type of luxury atmosphere and the level they and their managers have asended to is truly amazing!!
The Food: The food is great!! Many different options to chose from. Again, I could go on and on. But, instead, I will leave it to one example: My wife and I had arrived back at the resort late. We were with some local friends spending time in a very near by town called Artola. Once back at the resort, we looked for a sit down restaurant for dinner but unfortunatly, they were all full. They all offered a short wait time but we were hungry!! So, we chose the buffet restaurant called Arenal. You can imagine the joy in my face when the first thing I saw was a table full of lobster tail, cooked to order on the grill!!! Unlimited, might I add!! So yes...the food is Fantastic no matter how you slice it! I also had a conversation with a gentleman on one of the lobby balconys, one evening, about the food and hotel, about our second trip and my culinary training. He also seemed pleased with the resort throughout our talk. We found out a few days later that he is a food critic of some renoun. Take that for what you will.
People: There is something special about the people of Costa Rica. It's a feeling of genuine that you simply don't get here in the states. They are welcoming and rely heavily on respecting one another!! When you are there, be sure to ask Freddy to set you up with one of his many different bar games. He will keep you laughing and interacting for hours. At one point, the entire bar was full of people playing his different games. He is located in the lobby bar, in the evenings. Secondly, if you want the best cup of coffee you have ever had, go see either Jose, or Edwalls, in the coffee shop. Not only did these guys both remember the exact coffee drink both my wife and I ordered on the last visit, but our friend Edwalls took the time to draw my wife a picture of her likeness! The man is an incredible artist and a great guy!! And my wife now has plans for a new tattoo!!
The Locals: On our first trip, We met a lovely couple named Luis and Carolina. Luis sells tours on the beach and Carolina, along with her daughter, offer the best massages you have ever had!! We spent a lot of time with Luis and Carolina. We Got to see Artola, the town they live in, we were able to see their home, meet their children and grandchildred, we walked around the school they attend, we had a wonderful dinner at their house and we were able to meet a friend of theirs named Marta. Marta Is a lady that lives in Artola in very desperate conditions. Luis and Carolina only met her a few weeks ago and from that point on are doing everything they can to help this lovely, god loving elderly woman. We immedialy fell in love and felt it was our obligation to do the same and have started a fundraiser to help better her living conditions. Without going into detail, the way she lives in not good!! If you want more information on Marta or how you can help, feel free to email me here at Bleuchef2001@gmail.com
The Resort: The resort is incredible! the staff is amazing!! It is everything you could possibly want!! The beaches are beautiful! the sand is dark because of the volcanoes present in Costa Rica, however, if you take a short, 20 minutes walk south, along the beach and during low tide, you can cross over a rock formation and onto a completely different beach made of white sand, coral and shell!! It's breath taking!! However...what impressed us the most, on this trip, was the quick conversation I had with Susana Flete....her title: Sub-Directora Anfitrion. Loosly translated I believe it to mean the Assistant Director of Customer Relations, or along those lines. After our visit with Marta, I decided I needed to speak to someone at the resort about getting her some help. I knew that Susana had recognized us from our first trip and she always had a welcoming demener and smile. I will admit, however, my wife and I were both nervous in that we did not want to be disappointed by our favorite place on earth!! Nothing of the sort happened!! I spoke to Susana about Marta, her eyes literally lit up and she insisted that I get a full name and address, as soon as possible, as there is a program the Riu created to donate food, clothing and the like! She was very excited that we wanted to help and we were relieved they felt the same way! And as a matter of fact, I just received an email from Susana requesting more detail about Marta.
In Summary....this Resort, The Riu Palace, Guanacaste is simply amazing!! In our humble opinion, that is. We will be back very soon!!