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“Our second visit to this incredible property in the past 4 months” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
Idaho Springs, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Our second visit to this incredible property in the past 4 months”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

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!!

Room Tip: The rooms are REALLY nice. The hydro tub and rainforest style showers are outstanding! However, if y...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
16 Thank Shane M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,314 reviews from our community

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Charleston, South Carolina
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013 via mobile

We had a great time. ATe steak and lobster 3times. . They have improved the reserving dinner reservations. when we were leaving they were starting with a new procedure of not having to reserve most of the restaurants. I don't know whether that will make you wait to get a table. But if we went in the afternoon, there seem to be cancellations that allowed us to get in where we wanted to.
I agree that they should have a bathroom at the pool, instead of having to walk back to your room or the nearest restruant . MOst times it was easy to get a drink at the swim up pool. The service at the walk up bar in front of the pool was not as easy to get a drink.

Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
3 Thank doughnutdolly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brantford, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

This is the 3rd Riu I have been to in as many years and I can say that for me it was my favourite. The modern decor may not be for everyone but it did have some interesting features,some good some not so good. Your room key turns on your lights ,which pretty much solves the problem of leaving your key in your room . The overall interiors are very clean ,almost sterile. They finally figured out that a coffee maker in the room would be a good idea for those early morning risers.The safes are digital as well so no need for a key ,you just enter your own code and thats it. Great feature. The entertainment staff was the best I have seen., and I don"t go for the shows. Don't miss the Michael Jackson show,you would swear it was him . The meals where as usual, good but not great, and if you want something hot you better ask for it to be made as you wait. I prefer to sit outside to eat but the group i went with all wanted to eat inside the buffet area (which was like a cooler). Maybe this accounts for the cold food? The resort itself is well laid out except for the washrooms as mentioned.,and there is a pool for everyone.lots of chairs to sun in and some very effective shades instead of umbrellas. Another great idea. The resort is located basically in the middle of nowhere so if quiet is what you want then this is the place. You can take a taxi to Coco Beach which is about 15 minutes but you could take a water taxi which is way cooler. Our excursions included a river boat ride though one of their parks. Saw lots of Crocs and a variety of birds and Iguanas. this is a very laid back ,for everyone type of tour. All the guys in our group went fishing which was one of the highlights of my trip as my nephew landed a 45lb Rooster fish (Papagayu). along with 20 or so Black tuna. There is also a nice white sand beach to the south of the resort were you can learn to surf. Another really cool excursion. They guarranty you will stand up and catch a wave ,Everyone did!!! On our last day we rented a Catamaran from the Scuba Caribe people (they run the water sports hut on the beach) ask for Diego he will hook you up. It is pricey $900 for 6hrs which accomodated a group of 13. about $75 each but well worth the cash. I was able to sail the boat and learn alot of geography while we sailed. We stopped to Snorkel at a private beach and then chased Dolphines across the bay . VERY RELAXING DAY!! If you head out early in the morning, 7 AM ish, you are pretty much guarranteed to see monkeys just down the beach . One morning we helped a location Conservation Officer harvest baby Sea Turtles from their nest,right out in front of the resort. The people of Costa Rica are very friendly and always greet you at anytime of the day . If you can, try to stay longer then 7 days, as there is just too much to see and do in a week. Pura Vida (Good Life!!)

Room Tip: The rooms facing the Riu Guanacaste dont have the best view but are very quiet.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank KPRBRANTFORD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Springfield, Missouri, United States
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

First off, if you are expecting a white sand beach like in the caribean, you won't find it here. I knew this before I went there. Because of volcanos in CR, the sand is black. NOT DIRTY. The black is from the past volcanic activity which I find very interesting and it was a nice change of scenery. The mountainous regions surrounding the beach made it a sight to see. Another thing to keep in mind: CR has a rainy season and a dry season. If you go to the beach during the dry season, It will not be very lush and green. So if you go from around Dec-March, the land around the beach is very dry and brown but still beautiful. If you go inland about an hour and a half you will come to the lush green rainforests, which are very beautiful! So with that said, KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. I went during march and the weather was beautiful, and I thought the entire country was beautiful. I can't imagine how much more beautiful it would be if I had been during the rainy season.

The staff there are so friendly. I didn't feel like they were annoyed by tourists, or annoyed that our Spanish wasn't very good. They even tried to teach us a little which was fun. I thought the food was great all around. My favorite was the Italian restaurant. It also is nice that you don't need reservations except for the Steak House. However, don't expect to be sat down right away since you don't make reservations. When we had to wait, the staff was very friendly and did their best to make room for us. The bartenders were a lot of fun, especially Freddy and Jeffry in the lobby bar and Luis down at the pool bar. And if you aren't a drinker, no worries! They will allow you to take different stuff from the lobby bar and will make you something tasty! I also had several staff members remember my name every day I was there.
The hotel is very modern and not as european as other RIU's. But very nice and very clean. Mini fridge stocked and room cleaned every day. It is safe to buy excursions from the beach. I purchased a mega combo adventure from Carlos Compos. I highly recommend him. He set us up for a private tour with a bilingual tour guide that made it a very educational experience for us. I highly recommend a visit to Costa Rica, right here at this Riu. HOWEVER... If you are wanting a white sand beach and a warm ocean water, make sure you consider everything I said above in my post. It really is a beautiful country and I don't see how someone wouldn't like it unless they didn't know what to expect.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
10 Thank Ashley C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Biggar, Canada
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

We had a great time in Costa Rica and the hotel was awesome... If we had to complain about anything it would be to have more bathrooms closer to the beach ..

The sidewalk to the beach should be extended. The sand is so hot on the feet even with sandals.
We used the waiters on the beach alot... that was a great service. they brought us loungers, tables and drinks for as long as we were there..

The staff was freindly and very attentive and accomodating.. We would definetly go there again.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank BarbB550
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stony Plain, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

Beautiful 2 Week Holiday. Staff was wonderful and talkative, they even tried to help speak a little more spanish. Our room was fantastic, center of resort looking right down the middle of the pools to the ocean. We had 4 a la carte' restaurants and they were super. The only one not that great was the steakhouse. We went one nite and the lobster was dried out (what little chunk that I got) and the steak was over cooked. The trees are pretty imature, give it a couple of years and the pool area will be lush and tropical looking. Resort next door is nice and lush but very, very noisy and full of very young people.

Room Tip: We had a junior suite with ocean view on 4th floor. People above us kept moving furniture around la...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank MichelleC5150
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

This hotel is v.modern (eclectic) with all the traditional elements of Riu chain hotels.The rooms
are v. spacious with toilet separate from the bathroom and whirlpool bathtub outside opposite to
the mirrored closet, seperated from the rest of the room with only a fabric curtain.Everything was spotless clean.The interior decorating is v.beautiful and interesting.You won't get bored just
walking around the hotel and admiring lobby, lounge area, entrtainment area, restaurants
and bars (coffee bar too). The restaurants are one floor below the lobby, avoids unnecessary
traffic.The grounds are vast with 3 large pools and 3 levels of chairs. The top level has a foldable canopy. The entertainment area is large with two stages on opposite ends. On one side live band performs a v. good repertoir of dance music and on the other there are dance
shows: v.proffesional, interesting and enjoyable performed by wonderful dancers with this
typical costarican warmth. During the day there is a lot of activities, something for everybody
like yoga, dance lessons, bingo, ping-pong, riu art etc.
The beach is large and clean with dark sand, but a lot of people enjoyed it anyway.
The staff is amazing, very accomodating and extremely kind. We enjoyed our vacation a lot
and recomended to friends and family.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Sophie R
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, Costa Rica
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 3 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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