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.
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
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!
- 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