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“very modern & yet very relaxing........”

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
Ruskin, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
139 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“very modern & yet very relaxing........”
Reviewed February 10, 2014

i knew going into this vacation that this hotel is incredibly modern, but had no idea how much. the outside looks like the typical alabaster white palace that many riu resorts resemble, but once inside it felt like i was in a modern hotel in new york, london, chicago, etc. not in the jungle area of guanacaste costa rica............mostly decorated with a very industrial, modern flair of clean lines, bright colors, marble and metals. it really is stunning, but longed a bit for that classic colonial spanish style i've become acustomed to when in the part of the world......the riu guanacaste, next door, has that style, but not nearly as opulent and high end when it comes to all the ammenities.
rooms are comfortable, again very modern, with an open concept design right out of a scandanavian design book.......purple glass block, marble, ikea-like furniture, bathtub in the room......beautiful!!! we were on the 5th floor, which was really the 6th, because the ground level floor is not counted as the first floor.
water fountain lined walkways led us to the pool area......5 pools to choose from and NEVER a shortage of lounge chairs.....the pool bar has it's own pool with a swim up bar and tables and stools too.....it was like i was in a flooded bar, very cool,.
the restaurants offered world class cuisine......4 specialty restaurants, which you need reservations to eat at 3 of them, were varied: a steakhouse, japanese, fusion, and italian (the only one located inside the hotel, the rest were accessible from outside lower level.)
for krystal, the fusion restaurant, men need closed toed shoes, long pants and shirts with sleeves......otherwise you won't be allowed inside!!! they're trying to keep some standards here. the rest of the restaurant, you can wear what you like, but men must have shirts with sleeves on them, tank tops are not permitted!.
the food at krystal was absolutely devine!!! beet gazpacho, peanut crisp and smoked salmon dome were among some of the appetizer........my steak was perfect!!!
at tokio (spelled with an I not Y) food was wonderful, but service was SOOOOOO SLOW!
the italian eatery was delicious too, allthough lacked any ambience....too bright, no music, but the service was SUPER friendly.....the appetizer and dessert buffet were better than the main course. the italian restaurant is also open for lunch, again, without reservations required, but we never tried it.
the steakhouse also was wonderful......large seafood collection appetizers, caesar salad and either bbq or steaks (also lobster) were the choices.....we all loved it here.
the buffets were spectacular......one night there was a mountain of chilled lobster tails and large shirmp that greeted you as you walk in......the buffets at the resort were better than most cruise ship buffets.......breakfast, lunch and dinnner were all perfect enough to write home about. just splended!!!!
service is friendly and quick.......the shows were hit or miss, go see the "crazy night" show, it was truly great!! entertainment was great too with wonderful local bands singing latin music that made you want to dance........
the beach was beautiful, longer than it looks and if you walk it all the way to the end, go into the jungle and walk a bit, you will see horse running about and monkeys swinging from the trees, as we did.
as a guest of the riu palace you are able to go next door to the riu guanacate for swimming, drinks, lunch or breakfast, but not dinner......they are not allowed to come onto the riu palace resort however.
we loved this place and we HIGHLY recommend it........time goes slow, but that's what we wanted. your vacation is what you make of it.....positive attitude gets you a positive experience.
***the only minor complaint we had was that smoking, not permitted on premises, was allowed along the walkway down to the beach, so that one is hit with a cloud of smoke coming up from or going down to the beach, and you have to maneuver your way through the clusters of smokers that are not willing to step to the side.....we wished that they had an area, with chairs or tables that the smokers could hang out at, but not be near us that don't smoke.......

Room Tip: higher up is best....the 5th floor is the highest, but amount of rooms are limited. you will pay mor...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank pyramoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed February 9, 2014

I tend to write long reviews but I will attempt to be as concise as I can. Firstly, the rooms here are sheer luxury and sexy. The food was great and never have I stayed in an all inclusive resort as big as the Riu and had such good food. The quality of the food was as if prepared solely for I and my BF. I also loved that traditional Costa Rican food was incorporated within the rest of the meals, and made sure my breakfast plate was filled with rice and beans each morning ( unique and yummy). There were a few other speciality restaurants that required reservations and held dress codes. My favorite was the Steak house and the Japanese restaurant. The grounds of the resort was so well designed, that I did not mind the long walk to the pool and beach. Did I mention that there were a thousand pools??? Lol I also loved the black sand on the beach. Most people I know prefer white sand, but I find the black sand quite exotic. On the beach we went to Spa #1, with Hanniah and Janeth. They were local masseuse who charged practically nothing for an intense relaxaing massage. They even gave me a bizarre butt massage but it was more hilarious than it was uncomfortable.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank Jantraveldiva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bellville, Ohio
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 9, 2014

The staff were very friendly and helpful when our luggage was delayed by a day and a half.The best food at the resort was found at the buffets.Very well maintained property with plenty of monkeys to watch and would highly recommend the zip line tour in the mountains.
We will be going back!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Jim M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
Reviewed February 9, 2014

My wife and I stayed at the Riu Palace Costa Rica for seven days in September. This hotel is located directly beside the Riu Guanacaste, which allows guests of the Riu Palace access to the facilities of both resorts. The resort is less than two years old, and is very modern. We have been to many all-inclusive resorts, and would have to say that this resort has some of the best food we have every tried on vacation. The buffet has plenty to choose from, and the a la carte restaurants are all very good.

The pools are beautiful, and there were always plenty of chairs available. The beach was usually empty as the pools are so inviting, and people didn’t seem to like the black sand which we were told was created by the volcano. The resort is surrounded on three sides by mountains and faces the ocean. My wife and I noticed that this seemed to protect it from the rain as when we went on excursions it seemed to be raining everywhere except for at the resort. When it did rain it was only at night, and didn’t last very long.

There is a twenty-four hour snack bar located on the main floor next to the lobby, it has several comfortable couches and a super automatic espresso machine, so you can make a cappuccino any time you need it. There is also a coffee bar where you can have your latte made for you, with a wide variety of deserts to eat with your coffee.

We booked our excursions with Carlos you can find him on the beach; he usually wears a yellow shirt. He was amazing we paid half of what the resorts was charging, and Carlos went out of his way to customize the excursions to our liking. If you like zip lines, Costa Rica has some of the best we have ever seen.

Our only complaint was the reservation system for the a la carte restaurants. You need to book as soon as you arrive or you will be eating at the buffet, and space is very limited. I understand the reason for making reservations in advance, but it would be nice if the resort was a little more flexible with booking like most of the other resorts we have visited. The resort is small and quiet and perfect for couples. The service was good, the hotel and grounds are beautiful.

My wife and I would return to this hotel.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Russell V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Broomfield, Colorado
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed February 9, 2014 via mobile

Stayed with a group of 25 for 10 days. The people were great. The service sometimes was a little slow and dishes in the restaurants outside of the Buffett came out staggered and wrong. The Buffett was good based on the number of people they were feeding. The grounds were ok. Grounds could of been a little cleaner but overall were good. The pools, bars and sunshine was fabulous. Don't plan on putting more than two people in a room. They are small and the bath tub takes up most if the room. It was a once in a lifetime trip with good friends and family. Probably will stay further south next time it seems to suite our needs better with closer towns and more vegetation.

Stayed January 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Elena C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed February 8, 2014

When I decided to go to this hotel, I found that my friend was planning on going several weeks earlier over New Years. I didn't get to see her before I left so first is her review and then mine. I apologize for the length of this combined review.

Costa Rica was amazing - the Riu was good. Pretty much the same as the one we stayed at in Aruba. Good food, good service, very clean. The resort itself was brand new (only a couple of years old I think), but a bit tacky… Hope you like purple, because EVERYTHING is purple!! We had 18 people in our group, and a number of people had minor tummy issues. I was fine, but I usually am… If you tend to have a sensitive tummy when you're away, maybe take some Imodium. Actually, take it anyway. The resort is in a small gated community, which I believe is all owned by Riu Resorts. There is an older Riu right next door, which you will have full access to. There is a small strip of stores there as well - souvenirs, some clothes, a VERY expensive convenience store… That sort of stuff. There is also a small casino on the strip, where we spent a couple of nights. There was a disco beside the casino, but it must have opened very late at night because I never saw it open. You will most likely stay on the resort at night, as there is nothing close by with the exception of the casino. No towns or anything like that. The entertainment on the resort (in the 'Theatre') was always very good. You can get food pretty much all the time, but the '24 Hour Bar' is pretty awful! They have some food - hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, etc., but it's usually stale. I would suggest eating at the buffet as often as possible - great selection and good food. The only other restaurant we ate at was the Steak place… Near the ocean. It was good as well. We found at the pool bar it was important to be clear if we wanted alcoholic drinks… Daqueri's, etc… We had a lot of kids with us, so maybe they were just making all of the drinks virgins for that reason, but I really don't think they put any alcohol in them unless we specified. Do some excursions for sure. We went with SunWing, and booked excursions through them - they were all fantastic. We tipped a lot on these outings as well, so maybe have some cash on you. We went ATVing one day… Through some small dirt roads and shallow rivers to a waterfall - very cool, but VERY dirty. It was a long trip and my hand was sore by the time we got to the waterfall (about 45 minutes)… And then we had to get all the way back! We went to Coco Beach one day… You can book a car through the hotel - there is a stand at the front door outside. Make sure you get their number because they forgot about us and it took us an hour to get them back to pick us up. Don't just take any cab - we were told not to, make sure you book through the hotel. I highly recommend seeing Coco Beach. A lot of local shops and bars, the beach is at the bottom of the strip. We sat at a bar right at the beach… I forget the name… Drank beer and watched the local activity. Ate some fish (red snapper maybe?) really yummy! My favourite outing was a full day excursion where we took a bus to the base of a volcano, swam in hot springs (which is really a swimming pool, but it is fed by natural hot springs), had an amazing lunch that was all organic and local, went on a small safari and then ziplining in the cloud forest. Amazing day. It cost $160 per person, but was totally worth it. The ziplining was much more intense than I had expected… I am not afraid of heights at all, but I was SCARED. Also, it wasn't just one line, it was TEN - and took about 45 minutes to get to the bottom! After the third line, I was okay, but if you are afraid of heights at all, you may not want to do it. Finally, you have to visit The Monkey Bar (during the day only)… It is a small local bar just a short walk down the beach. If you are looking at the ocean, head to your left… Probably about a 7-10 minute walk… There is a small dirt road that heads away from the beach (just past some tents - if the tents are still there… It was the holiday when we were there, so I'm not sure). You can't see it from the beach, but it's just through the trees. The beach is public, and the locals can point you in the right direction. Neat spot. The owner served us and gave all of the women a hand massage. Again, I would only go there during the day.

Now my review. I have also been to Riu Palace in Cancun. It appears that no matter when you arrive, the room is not available until 3 pm. Just off the lobby is an area with showers and change room. I had to open my luggage to get my suntan lotion so if you need your suntan lotion make sure you can get it out easily before they take your luggage. Another issue is that you do not get your towel card until you get your room key. If I had to do it again I would ask if getting a towel card at reception before you get your room. When they gave me the room number, it was on the first floor. I had to wait until they handed out all the rooms and asked for room on a higher floor with a view of the mountains. Not only did I get that, but I noticed the next day that if looked to the right, I could see the water. It was room 3102. I was surprised at the number of bugs in my room considering it was on the 3rd floor. I was amazed that the sheets in my room were rough. I stayed in 6 different hotels last year and never had this issue. If I knew this in advance, I would have brought my own pillow case so it would not have rough sheets next to my face.

I had read a years worth of trip advisor on this property before I left. For drinks, be specific. I met people who had hated their drinks all week and when I suggested they try mine, they were amazed. Ask for Stolichnaya as it makes huge difference if you are a vodka drinker. I ended up drinking a blended mango mojito no sugar with Stolichnaya. It was amazing. Also I am not found of sugary drinks so I took my own large mug to breakfast, asked for it to filled with ice and then filled with fresh juices. Next I either put sparkling wine or vodka to drink. I took the 2L bottle of water from the room to drink around the pool everyday. I left a message and a tip and received an extra bottle of water in the room. I never drank any water from the taps or shower and did not have issues.

I ate at both buffets, Italian restaurant and the grill around the pool. The grill was surprise as it was not junk food. I had amazing ribs that melted in my mouth. I checked the grill before I went to a buffet for lunch. On Saturday afternoon they had the grill area set up again for banana splits. I was surprised at how good the beef was. Be careful as I found the fried beef was tough. One night the roast at the carving station was so good that I had seconds instead of having desert. I also ate excellent duck and lamb. Other people told me the turkey was good but the piece I had the same night was dry and almost inedible. It is very difficult with a buffet to keep everything fresh but they did a good job.

I also went to Coco Beach. I took the water taxi for 9 to 12:30. If you are going shopping that is probably the minimum amount of time you need. You will get wet getting into and out of the taxi. One person with me almost lost their flip flops. The stores will bargain if you pay cash. I found that 10 to 20% was the maximum (plus no tax) that I got off the price. The further from the beach, it appeared the better the prices. I went approx. 6 blocks to the grocery store and purchased coffee, hot sauce and some hot jelly all made locally for much less than the hotel. I also purchased some interesting costume jewelry made locally. There is really nothing that expensive to purchase. I spent more money at the airport than in the week before. Remember if you purchase your alcohol at the airport it doesn't count in the weight of your baggage. I purchased a bottle of honey Stolichnaya at the duty free for $10 US.

I did go on one trip to rio peridido. Since my back was hurting, I decided not to do the zip lining and received a massage at the resort instead for the same price. After waiting in the hot spring pools at the resort for the people who zip lined to get back, we all went to the river that was fed from the hot springs. It was an unforgettable experience with the hot water and the canopy of the forest above. After an excellent 3 course lunch, I had the fish but others who had the steak or chicken or pork all enjoyed the meal. After that we left to go to the water fall. Even if you are not zip lining take running shoes as I took flip flops and it was not appropriate for walking up/down to the springs and falls. One thing no one mentions is that on every trip at some point the paved road ends and you are on unpaved roads. That is why all the trips take so long to go short distances. I took this trip though Sunquest in the hotel and found others who did similar trips for less than half the price from the beach but since I was on my own, I was OK with paying the premium.

I had a great time but this is not a 5 star property. You make your own good times...

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank MelodyTO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed February 8, 2014

We really enjoyed our recent trip to Costa Rica - first time visit, and staying at the Riu Palace Costa Rica. Room was nice, food was excellent. Staff very friendly - special recognition to Miguel at Show Bar and Dania in Arenal restaurant. The shows were good. We were really impressed with the number of chairs by the pool (s), never had a problem finding a good 'shady' spot.
Travelled with Sunwing - took a tour - Expedition Tour - to a beach then ziplining and water rafting. Great day - tour guides: Jose and Eric. Tennis court is down by the Riu Guanacaste - good condition and never had a problem playing in the morning. Went on one snorkelling trip - with the Dive, water sports team. Water was rough but we saw lots of fish, including puffer fish.
We would go back to this resort again.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Sue8422014
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$
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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