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“We will be returning next year! PURA VIDA!!”

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 27, 2013

First off, my husband and I chose this RIU property because we stayed at the RIU Palace in the Dominican Republic with our daughter and really enjoyed our stay there. This RIU was actually better and that's quite a compliment to them seeing as they've only being operating for approximately 6 months.

The only issues, not even really issues, were the following;

1) When we checked in, the girl at the front desk was a little snippy and seemed very put off that we didn't want to leave our bags in the lobby for someone to bring up for us. Not a big deal but we felt it was a little strange for someone to get upset over this.

2) For the most part our room was clean but our tables and the area around the sinks were left dirty. We had mentioned this to management when they approached us at dinner one night for our opinions. Not a huge deal but it did improve after we had mentioned it.

3) The steakhouse restaurant wasn't great and we didn't really think we would need bug spray at dinner but unless you want to get eaten alive, either spray or don't go. My wine was replaced several times and you had this feeling that something was always crawling on you. After having that experience we decided we were quite happy eating indoors.

**** EXCURSIONS...we found that this was the most difficult decision we had to make and learned some tough lessons. First off, the signature vacations rep was utterly useless! He wasn't interested in helping us choose the best excursions based on what we wanted to do. He didn't have any visuals, all he gave us was a sheet that gave the name of the excursion and how much of our day it was expected to take up. Customer service was really at an all time low!

Now for the tough lesson...we had read on TA that LUIS of LUIS Solutions was supposed to be the way to go...so we found the huge tree on the beach and LUIS. He was very excited and enthusiastic and we felt good about this.

We told him that we wanted to book 3 excursions which was NOT cheap so we kind of expected a discount somewhere (did not happen)...the first excursion we went on was with Christian and he was great. There was a little bit of a language barrier but this seemed to be the way with almost everyone there (English was limited). This excursion took us zip lining, to a waterfall, for lunch, a tractor ride up a volcano, a trek into the rainforest, a tour of the crater, mud baths and hot springs and then back to the resort. It was $135 US each and well worth the money!!!

Day two was completely different...We met at the beach for what was to be a 1/2 day tour. We were supposed to get on a boat and see the crocs and monkeys. Apparently a boat broke down (didn't happen...it was a mismanagement of time) so our tour guide didn't tell us right away.

We took the very looong way to the boat and stopped to walk into the woods to see one bird that was very high up in a single tree. I think I can safely say for myself and the 6 other passengers that this was unacceptable. It took us 3 hours to get on this boat which is an awfully long time in a van.

Once we were on the boat we had a great time with the monkeys and saw the crocs. By the time we went and had lunch after the fact, it was very late in the afternoon and if we had gone to Coco Beach like the tour had promised, we wouldn't have made it back to the resort until well after 6 pm.

Everyone on the tour agreed that we just wanted to head back to the resort because too much of our time had been wasted. We went to talk to LUIS and expected him to do something. He said that a boat would take my husband and I to Coco beach whenever we wanted.. fair enough.

The next day we had let LUIS's son know well in advance when we wanted to go to Coco beach but were left waiting for the boat and its captain...not happy! We eventually got there and back but didn't feel good about the experience.

The cost of the botched 1/2 day tour was $85 but LUIS put 7 of us together (doubled the groups) and dropped the price to $75 each. In the process he cheated people who had requested a private tour only and actually sent two people who were on their LAST day of vacation on the WRONG TOUR! They had actually been scheduled to do the tour my husband and I did the previous day but got stuck on this one.. LUIS didn't give them a discount or even refund their money. He also didn't do anything of the sort for us or anyone else.

We all should have been back at the resort around 1:30pm at the latest but almost 5 hours later than scheduled, we returned. This was a big deal because our time was limited and we wanted to see and do as much as possible. We ended up not going on our last excursion because we didn't want to take the chance with the last day of our vacation.

Essentially, we got over it. We were ticked off at the last experience but my husband pointed out that LUIS wasn't going to do anything but apologize so why waste the final hours of our vacation doing something that would have no impact whatsoever. I very much wanted to share this with other travellers because if you do choose him and have a bad experience then you really have no recourse when it's all said and done. Whomever you choose for a tour just make sure they are insured and are prepared to accept responsibility for the mistakes they make.

POSITIVES...

There were so many positives that we have decided to return next year with our daughter...

1) The resort is clean and beautifully decorated
2) The rooms are laid out differently (the tub in the middle of the room was different but neat) but the showers are beautiful, the double sinks and large vanity is great, the beds are comfortable, closets are roomy and balcony is large
3) The food at the buffets was varied and fantastic. There was a lot of choice and something for everyone
4)There are five pools and tons of loungers
5) The beach is fairly secluded and quiet
6) Management is helpful and friendly
7) Cristina at the pool is great :0) Awesome service
8) Arenal restaurant staff were friendly and helpful.
9) Reception and room service was prompt and helped out whenever we needed it
10) The RENOVA SPA was amazing!!!! PURA VIDA combination was excellent and well worth the $
11) The drink selection in the room was great however frozen drinks could have been varied with a little more flavor but good nonetheless

Tips...
If you have to call the airline or dial any 800 number...do it at the front desk (it's free...from your room, it isn't :0(

Try and get an extra room key...we left one of ours in the slot to keep the room air conditioned while we were out

Bring LOTS of sunscreen...if you run out, you'll pay appx $38 US for ONE bottle

We took a small backpack...invaluable for excursions and just toting everything down to the pool...sunscreen, money for tips, ipad, towels, etc...

Bring enough clothing...if you have to use the hotel washing service, you will pay A LOT!

Room Tip: We stayed on the third floor facing the ocean and the view was fantastic! Fewer ants and other bugs
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Tasha1233
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 25, 2013

After reading all the reviews about Riu Palace Costa Rica, I decided to share my own after finally visiting the resort for a week vacation with my husband and 14 year old son.
We booked the trip before the resort was even open and were really worried simply because there are expected issues at the new properties and also because it was our first visit to Costa Rica.
Now I can safely say to everyone who is trying to make a decision to book or not – must book and do not listen to any negative reviews.
I am not crazy picky, but somewhat picky. I expect the value for my money. I have been traveling to all-inclusive resorts for almost 20 years and I know how to compare them. Riu Palace did not disappoint in any way. Everything was exactly as described on the RIU site and other travel sites.
The food was very good and with huge variety. If someone couldn’t find what they liked, maybe they should stay home and cook. By the way, we were able to visit every single a la cart restaurant without any wait time.
Same goes to people who complained about modern design – do your homework, there are pictures and description of the design everywhere and it is not a secret. In fact, that is why we booked it, we like new and modern because we got tired of the Caribbean scene by now.
People of Costa Rica are the friendliest happiest people who do everything possible to make you feel welcome. And I am not just referring to the hotel staff.
Overall, we loved Costa Rica and Riu Palace. You will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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9  Thank AMILoveMexico
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2013

My husband and I vacationed here this past April and had a wonderful time. The resort was beautiful and the rooms were clean and modern. The buffets were delicious too and had quite a nice selection. We ate at all the restaurant except for the Italian one. Our favorite was Krystal (I think...the one where men have to wear pants not shorts :) The staff was very friendly, fast, and efficient. The pools were great! There are five and a lot of seats, but get there early!! It seems people set their towels and belongings and then go eat or whatever so my husband and I had a hard time finding open seats. One day we asked the lifeguard to help us get an umbrella because the only seats were directly in the sun and when he came back with one he offered to save spots wherever we wanted the next day. We said yes and the next day we had awesome spots. We tipped him and the rest of the week we had saved seats awaiting our arrival! The pool water was a perfect temperature. The poolside drinks were great and fast (we tipped) and the music was great! We swam in the ocean and laid out on the beach one day only because it was really windy the rest, but it was still nice.

We booked an excursion via the contractors in the hotel. We were under the impression the one we booked would only be about an hour and half drive and that we would see the volcano. We were disappointed to find out it was a six hour drive roundtrip and no volcano!!! Others from the other hotel that joined us were also under the volcano impression. We confronted the lady who booked the trip for us when we got back and she denied telling any of that to us...??? I'm positive about what she told me because I did not want to be gone that long on an excursion. I went on a rain forest hike with a guide (Christian- who was awesome!) and a group of about 9 others. The hike was ok....wouldn't do it again. We didn't really see anything too exciting, although we did have to walk across 2 suspension bridges. While I was hiking my husband went zip lining and had an amazing time! The lunch and dinner provided was delicious. The bus ride was extremely bumpy and somewhat uncomfortable for me at times (I'm 18 weeks pregnant). We ended the excursion by going to a hot springs (Baldy Hot Springs...I believe) and that was fun and beautiful. All and all I would have rather save the money and stayed lounging at the hotel all day.

Make sure you have everything you need, sunblock, aloe vera, etc. before you get there because (obviously) it is really expensive on the resort. We forgot our sunscreen and had to pay $35 for a tube. A woman in front of us had to pay $115 for shampoo, conditioner, and sunscreen. Yikes!

We didn't visit the disco, but we did check out the casino. It was small, but sufficient.

We booked out trip through Orbitz (will never do again) and the hotel could not really help us with our booking since it wasn't through them. For example, we couldn't get the free shuttle from the airport because we didn't book through the hotel (although we were staying at the hotel ???). Also, we lost a day of our vacation and had to stay back home due to unfortunate circumstances out of our control and the hotel couldn't refund or do anything for us really. The spa vouchers couldn't be combined or changed because we booked through Orbitz. :(

The fitness center is ok....I expected it to be way bigger considering it was for both resorts. There wasn't enough equipment. I'm a runner and running outside was just too hot to do so I used treadmills.

The shows were entertaining and they seemed to always involve the kids before the night show. We saw a Michael Jackson and Grease show that was pretty cool. Lip syncing and awesome dance moves. Great costumes!

Overall, the resort was fantastic and we had an amazing time in Costa Rica. We would definitely stay at another RIU resort! Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Candace M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 24, 2013

My family and I stayed at the RIU Palace from April 1st - April 8th. We have a 16 yr old daughter and a 14 yr old daughter. All of us had an amazing time. The weather was great, the resort was clean, the staff was extremely friendly and the restaurants were great with very few exceptions.
Food
We ate at every restaurant except for Krystal. The Japanese was the best of the specialty restaurants, so we went there twice. The Steakhouse was very good and the Italian restaurant was just ok. The Buffets are AWESOME. They have a huge variety of selections and they are constantly replacing the food.
Pool
There are so many seats at the pools that we never had to wait for them. There are 3 levels around a few of the pools, and two of the levels have a piece of fabric above each group of 4 chairs that can move back and forth to block or let sun through. It was perfect. They do aerobics in the pool daily which I didnt like but my wife and daughters did. Drink service around the pool is good, but if you throw a few bucks at the drink girls, it becomes awesome. We would give 10 bucks at the beginning of each day, which was well worth it.
Beach
The beach had so few people on it, that it was a nice change of pace from the pool area. If you walk 5 minutes to the left, there is a sign for a Monkey Bar. There are 15-20 monkeys that are usually within about a hundred yards of the sign....they are really cool to see. There is a white sand beach about a mile away from the hotel that can be walked to. You can get there right on the beach if its low tide, but during high tide you have to cut into the jungle and go around a huge hill to get there. Bring water if you go.....its a long, hot hike. We went there one day and we were the only people there, it was great.
Rooms
We booked a family suite, which is supposed to have 2 bedrooms that both have a shower. When we got there, only one of the bedrooms had a shower, and the main room had a tub. It wasn't the end of the world, but it was kind of annoying to have to go to our daughters room to shower before we went to dinner. After the second night, I went to the front desk to see if they had any other options, and they let me check out one of the connecting rooms to see if we would rather have that. The connecting rooms are essentially the exact same thing as the family suites, with a few small differences. The connecting rooms have a shower in each room, and they have two separate balconies (family suites have one big one). We liked the connecting rooms, so they allowed us to switch at no extra charge. They were VERY understanding.
Service
The people who work at the resort were extremely friendly and went above and beyond to make sure our stay was enjoyable. If there is a problem......just ask....they will address it. I like Jack Daniel's whiskey, and the brand they had in the room was not something I liked at all. I called the front desk and asked if they had Jack, and the woman (Carmen) told me she would ask the manager and told me to call back. I called back in about an hour, and she said she couldn't find the manager, and told me I should come down to the front desk the next morning and talk to him. We went to dinner that night, and when we came back to the room, a brand new, unopened bottle of Jack Daniels was sitting on the refrigerator!! Again, if you need something at the RIU....just ask!!!
Excursions
We booked a zip-lining trip with Alan (orange shirt). It was awesome and the guide did a great job of answering any questions we had about Costa Rica. We thought it would be cool to go to a random Costa Rican village and eat at a local restaurant, so he took us to a really cool little place across from an elementary school. The food was probably the best food we had during our entire trip, and we were so glad we did it. Why stay on the resort when you have an entire country (very safe) to visit?
Overall it was a great experience and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the RIU to anyone.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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8  Thank Eugene C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 24, 2013

We just returned from a wonderful week at the Riu Palace. April 15-22, 2013. Our vacation was booked threw Signature Sunwing Vacations.

Riu Palace is a beautiful resort (just opened November 2012) in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We flew into the the Liberia International Airport. The Sunwing rep Stephano meet us at the airport and the shuttle bus ride was only 40 minutes to the resort. The weather was warm and sunny as it was the dry season!

We arrived at the resort around 11:30 am and our room was not ready. They offered us a welcome drink upon arrival and took care of our luggage. We changed into out swimsuits in the courtesy room which is just off the lobby. The Italian Restaurant (a-la-carte was open at 12:30 pm) After a delicious lunch we checked with the front desk and our room was ready. The staff at the front desk were very friendly and happy to answer any of our questions.

The beach is hot so wear beach shoes or flip-flops. You can swim in the ocean, just make sure the tide is out. The pool area is extremely hot as not much shade or protection from the sun. It was 37 degrees C. The good news is that guest from the Riu Palace Resort may walk over to the the Riu Guanacaste Resort during the day. They have a beautiful pool area with lots of chairs and shady areas.We did this every morning after having our breakfast in the Arenal Buffet Restaurant and picking up our beach towels at the Riu Palace. The Arenal restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner only. Lunch is served buffet style at the Papapaya Restaurant down by the beach.

The a-la-carte restaurants are as follows. The Steakhouse, you must make a reservation. We didn`t enjoy our meal as I think the chef didn`t marinate the tenderloin steaks (it was very tough) and the Lobster Tail was over cooked and burnt on the outside. It`s not worth the trouble to make a reservation to go. You don`t need to make a reservation at the other 3 a-la-carte restaurants Our favourite one was the Japanese Restaurant, we went twice, The Italian was very good and the Krystal -Fusion Spanish Tap-pas as a nice change.

The entertainment was very good. We liked the Grease Show and the The Broadway Show.

It you go to the bar you can ask the waiter to make you a Martini, We tried the Cosmopolitan and Banana Martini . Also, we ordered Pina Colada drinks with Barcardi Rum! Yummy!

We went on two tours. The Palo Verde Tempisque River Cruise from 1:30 pm -7 pm This was a great tour we saw lots of wildlife, crocodiles, monkeys, iguana and birds etc. We visited the Natonal Park Center and had a drink and fresh fruit for a break. The other tour was the Rincon De La Vieja National Park - Rain Forest and Spa tour a mini Yellowstone. 7:30 am - 6:30 pm We went for a walk threw the rain forest, swam in a waterhole under a beautiful waterfalls, saw a butterfly garden, humming birds, and went to volcanic natural hot springs and spa which included, mud bath, steam bath,, hot spring pools and enjoyed a Costarican lunch at the Mountain Lodge. Both the tours were worth the money.

You can take a shuttle from the resort to Playa Coco for a visit for a morning ($15.00US return per person). Great souvenir shopping and you will meet some of the local residents.

Room Tip: We chose a Garden View room 2nd floor Room 2121 in the back of hotel on the side away from the Riu G...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Liz_Brom_Holiday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2013

I can't even believe I'm typing this, but it's true... we brought home bed bugs from our super sunny, relaxing and fun vacation at the RIU Costa Rica. We noticed them the second night after we got home and it's been close to a month since then and we're still working on getting rid of the problem. It is a nightmare!! We didn't notice anything in the mostly clean (but not sparkling - room #3080) except for a couple blood spots in the sheets when we woke up the second morning, but then the maid seemed to change the sheets every day. We didn't think anything of the blood spots at the time - figured I'd cut myself shaving or something. I walked into the room one day when she was cleaning and she had moved the entire bed and seemed to be cleaning and changing the pillow cases. Maybe I should have taken it as a clue then. We have stayed at other RIU hotels and enjoyed them, as we did this new one in Costa Rica. I think I would consider staying at another RIU but I would definitely do a thorough inspection of the mattress and bed area.

The pool area was quite nice and peaceful and there was always lots of choice on where to sit and swim. We walked down to the beach a couple times but didn't spend any time there as it's not a typical Caribbean beach area.

The food at all the restaurants was simply okay. Not bad, but nothing great, although lots of fruit, salad choices and veggies so that was good.

The service was friendly and hospitable although the photography staff became a bit annoying and intrusive.

The resort is definitely in a remote area so make sure you're okay with that if you're going to go. If you prefer to be able to "leave the compound" and walk around a strip with other hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, this is not the place for you.

Weather in mid-March was beautiful.

Took a tour to see some local villages, rivers, plantations, etc. and was definitely worth it. Lots of culture to see and learn about.

Room Tip: Oceanview rooms are worth it! Lots to see on the ocean and pool side; not so much on the other side!
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank grapegirl26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2013

First experience at an all-inclusive. Stayed there from Apr. 11 until Apr. 19. New, generally clean, very nice ambiiance. Staff helpful and friendly. Those are the "pros". The "cons" as follow: No shade, so middle of day the cement just radiates heat. No plantings around walkways so this won't change any time soon. Maintenance fine, but only because it's brand new. Our maid was only average. Floors always gritty and not as clean as we've come to expect from our many trips to Mexico resorts. The food was good, but day after day same things put out. We did really enjoy the Italian Restaurant. Here food was excellent and service was super. We enjoy tours and this is really not an ideal location as you have to travel a minimum of an hour just to get anywhere else. Fortunately the hotel was very cool, as the weather was extremely hot. If ever travel to this area again will go later part of May or early January.

Room Tip: We were in 2075. Asked to be on a higher floor and were told Monday. By the time 4 days went by, s...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank DeanieHoodsport
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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