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““A great experience””

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

We stayed at the RIU Palace for one week. The resort is beautiful, very clean and well maintained. We had a very nice room on the third floor, it was decorated nice and was very spacious. The maids that cleaned the room did an excellent job. The staff and bartenders were very attentive and couldn't be more helpful. The beach is hot because of the black sand and the water is not very clear, obviously not a typical white sand beach, but still very nice, refreshing and relaxing. The view from the beach is awesome, the sunsets are amazing and the pools are gorgeous!



We booked all of our tours thru Chris with “Issys Tours” and his staff. They were always on time and courteous, they went out of their way to make sure you were completely satisfied. We also went on a fishing Tour and had a great time, Louis was our guide and he was amazing and spoke very good English. Costa Rica has many adventures, so be sure to get off the resort and enjoy them. Overall we enjoyed the trip, beautiful place with courteous people. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank ben b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 2, 2013 via mobile

Our stay at the RIU was fantastic! Rooms are very nice, food was excellent no matter where we ate, service was friendly, grounds were beautiful & well maintained! You must remember to bring sandals or flip flops as the tile around the pools and the black sand on the beach are super hot! Skip the Spa & visit the massage huts just to the left on the beach...$35/hr or $65 for two people...and very nice massage. Only downside to this beautiful resort is that it is so remote.

  • Stayed: May 2013
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2  Thank GBCheesehead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2013

We enjoy staying at the RIU Palace because of all the entertainment both by the pool and the shows at night. Graven works both and is one of the best hotel employee's we have ever met. RIU is lucky to have him!! Hope to get back to see you all again soon.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled on business
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3  Thank pgk453
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2013

About us: seasoned travelers ages 29/30 who have travelled around the world. We have stayed at 5-star properties (ie the Ritz and Four Seasons) and travel in luxe. We also have stayed at mid-priced places and own a timeshare so we've stayed at hotels to condo properties. This is our 4th Riu Palace: Cabo San Lucas, Aruba, Punta Cana. Some things in our review are picky just because we've travelled a lot. We are also experienced travelers so there are some things we deem are normal but not to newer travelers. Pictures attached.

We stayed at Riu Palace Costa Rica for a week. Our room was an ocean view room 5064... I would say this is the best room in the hotel. There are about six of them similar to ours. The difference was that the balcony is oversized! It's the same size balcony as those with jacuzzi in the patio. It has an unobstructed view of the ocean and the pool. We booked directly with Riu.

The resort is very clean. People were always cleaning every hour!! The employees work so hard. I don't think they sleep! We saw the same employees from breakfast to dinner, then breakfast again the following day! They are proud of their country and take pride in their work. Please be kind to them and give them tips. $1 per dining goes a long way!!! They make about minimum wage only which is around $2 per hour, please be kind to them.

The restaurants are nice and the food is good. They changed their system and you no longer need reservations, except for the steakhouse. Don't believe other reviewers, there is plenty of seats in the restaurants and you can get a table.

The beach is actually nice. I knew beforehand that it won't be a white-sand beach. For a black sand beach, it is quite nice. The shore is expansive and the beach service is great. The beach is about a mile long. Husband jogged everyday and measured about 1.81 miles round trip. I gave $1 per lawn chair and $1 for drink service.

I booked activities through Swiss Travel but there are other companies who also provide excursions. They are all lined up in the hotel lobby bay. Don't try to be cheap and book with vendors on the beach. You can gamble but I wouldn't recommend d it based on what we heard. Swiss Travel was good and so was HotelBeds. We went with HotelBeds to hire a private driver for a day. We got a very good English-speaking driver who was so knowledgeable. We were able to pay with a credit card unlike the LAR company that is outside the hotel driveway. We had an air-conditioned new SUV for 10 hours. Highly recommend doing this if you want a personalized excursion. We went to Playa Conchal, Playa Flamingo, and shopping in Tamarindo. No other companies had that type of excursion.

The reason why I knocked down 1 star is that the hotel design had some missing stuff. 1) there's no dish soap 2) not enough drawers or counter space 3) families could have potential Privacy problems when changing 4) uninviting walkway from resort to beach. Housekeeping, although very good, also was off some days. 1) the Kleenex wasn't refilled 2) toiletries weren't changed daily 3) towels weren't changed often even if they were left on the floor... Again I'm being picky because we have stayed at 4 Riu Palaces before and we are seasoned travelers.

Tips:
1) pay the exit tax with the LAR counter in the hotel driveway. You could use credit card... Surcharge is $2
2) don't be afraid to shop around for hotel excursions located inside the hotel lobby. each company has a different itinerary even if the destination the same.
3) if you want white-sand beach, hire a personal driver with HotelBeds (ask for Esteban or Mario) and go to Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal---- if you do your homework, you'll know where they are!
4) buy your souvenirs with the beach vendors. They are cheaper than the stores--- even in Tamarindo--- and you can haggle.
5) give tips!!! $1 goes a long way with these employees!!!!!some of them are the sole provider for their family so your $10 tips for the week will enable them to have a nice meal or a fun day in the beach when they have their ONE weekly day off.
6) the resort is located about 20 minutes from the main road so leave plenty of buffer time.
7) you'll feel like on a private beach since there are only two hotels there: Riu palace Costa Rica and Riu Guanacaste

Have fun!!! You won't regret your decision to stay here.

Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
2  Thank joy126
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2013

In a nutshell...loved it! Details...

Decor...it's new and clean. And they're always cleaning!

Front desk: Great! Friendly! I think they (maid service) were hesitant to speak to guests first, but were quick to smile and respond when ya said "Buenos Dias!" or "Que Tal?" Or..."Hi!"

Need $1s: Grab a $10 or $20, and ask the front desk for $1s. You'll get them. I never used "Colones"...always US.

Smell: Yes. Like a Honey Bucket (aka Porta-Potti) at an event. NOT everywhere, NOR overwhelming, but you will smell it...sometimes. Outside. In your room. We shut the bathroom door, so that helped. Did it take away from our experience? Not at all. But it is there. We laughed about it.

Sleep/Phone: If you're a light sleeper, download a "white noise" app and use it on your phone at night...we did and were glad. BTW...Verizon is NOT in the area. I have international phone service, which didn't help me in the slightest. I used company e-mail to stay in contact back home. Wi-fi in room worked fine. Called WA State twice (maybe a couple minutes each time) cost $8 US...no big deal. Pick up the phone. :)

Food: Three couples from our group said "Papagayo" was "just okay", so we never ate there.

We ate at "Tokio"...Good. My wife ordered the beef...it was awesome! Honestly, I enjoyed the fried Tempura Ice Cream the best!

"Krystal"...Very good food! Only place requiring pants (I think...maybe Papagayo?). Should be the one requiring reservations, but glad it wasn't. This one's the best!). Service: Not awesome, though (for us). The "tapas" (pre-appetizer) ...GREAT! I had to eventually ask for my "real" appetizer (Beef Carpaccio...GREAT!), since they had brought the other three at my table, their's. We couldn't figure why we had some (Very yellow...cool looking) butter on our table. When the "waitress" cleared our table, prior to the dessert, we asked what it was for. She said "Bread...but apparently we're out.". Hmmm. We were given champagne when we first went in, but after water was poured, we were never asked if we wanted anything else...we had to ask. All four of us liked everything we had!

"Arenal": Only ate breakfast there (twice)...but great selection. I had them make me omelettes each day. Only meat there (meant for omelets...you'll see what I mean) was ham. BUT...grab what you want and add it to the bowl (think Mongolian Grill). I added Carne Asada (nearby) and bacon). FYI: I used the right-hand-side omelette "station"...the left-side one has sour cream you can add. NOTE: (Kinda funny) It's next to chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, etc. My assumption was it was whipped cream...it wasn't! Added that on top of my omelette and added some pico de gayo, from the middle buffet stuff. Killer!

"24 Hour Don't-Know-the-Name" Place: The mini-burgers are good, as are the tarts.

"Cappuccino": Great cappuccinos and desserts. Wife now likes Cappuccinos!

Alcohol: Free and good...I discovered "Batida De Coco"(s). Just. Don't. Do. It. Darn tasty!

1/2 Day ATV & Zip Line tour: Very fun! Eddie (our Guide) was awesome...we wished we would've tipped him more! Eddie? Send us your address! You'll have to answer some security questions for verification, though! :)

Swiss Tours: Maurice was a rock star for us. Ernesto (competing tour guide, but who we used for the tour) very helpful and informative. All "Hotel Tour Guide" help, is in the bar, near the front desk. They sit there every day, all day (although staff changes). They all have a different color shirt on, based on their company.

Exit taxes: As I had learned by reading these reviews, do it at the hotel!! The line at the airport was 50 people deep.

LAST TIP (do it and you'll be the envy of even the folks in 1st Class. No offense 1st Classers!): Buy a big bottle of water ($4) in the "Duty Free" store, prior to boarding. You CANNOT drink it until you get on the plane...but if you buy water, prior to boarding...it will be taken...as you go through one last security check right as you walk on the plane. NO LIQUIDS! I bought one, went through security, and then showed a man my receipt. He handed my sealed, plastic bag with my bottle of water in it. Walked on the plane, drinking my water. Trust me...

That's it! We thoroughly enjoyed Costa Rica, the Riu Palace, and the local folk!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Itmman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2013 via mobile

In April we took our associates to the Riu. There were 6 of us total, and we all enjoyed the trip immensely. The hotel was exactly what we expected, and frankly for the lower cost was extremely nice. Some of the food was questionable, but you can't go wrong with the buffet. As a few extras: do not book excursions through the hotel, go see the guys on the beach, ask for Eric in the orange shirt. He was able to get us a full day of ATVing, a zip line tour (awesome), and a river boat tour all for about 190 a person. We also were able to get a full day of deep sea fishing for 620, landed 7 sails and 1 blue marlin in 8 hrs. Finally do not forget your towel card when checking out, there is a secret "hidden charge" of 25 dollars if you don't have it! My wife and I mistakeningly thought it ok to leave the towels at the pool on our last day. Also keep in mind the difference between rainy season and summer there. I am told this makes all the difference in scenery!

  • Stayed: April 2013
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1  Thank Reese56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 28, 2013

We arrived at the Riu Palce and were greeted by a great staff that took very good are of us during our stay. Our room was very clean and comfortable,but hallways are very loud, we heard the door slam every time someone went into their room. The balcony looked out into the jungle where one morning we saw a howler monkey sitting in a tree along with various birds and squirrels etc. The sounds we heard at night and in the morning as we sat on the balcony were awesome.
The food was good in the restaurants and the buffets, and we found a little breakfast buffet just off the lobby that had a great view and was just perfect for a snack before an excursion!
The pools were uncrowded and they had games and activities for guests (hitting a lime with a croquet mallet is harder than it looks!). Try some of the local rum at the pool bar but watch out for the bees!
We had booked the catamaran snorkeling tour through TAM Tours for Friday morning but due to weather..(Red tide).. we had to change it up a little. We opted for the Palo Verde National Park river tour and our vacation expert Aurora had no trouble getting us on the next available tour . Our guide Alex was very knowledgeable and friendly and we had a great time! I recommend TAM Tours for excursions. Pura Vida

Room Tip: Jungle view rooms seemed to be more private, the ocean view rooms kind of faced each other. Hallway...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank DlmrCastle
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 - $554 (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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