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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
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Reviewed July 5, 2014

Airport Transfers : We used a local transfer company that charged us 60.00 one way and 50.00 for the return from Liberia Airport. The airport is approximately 35-45 minutes from the hotel. Roads are paved, scenery is lush, but the speed limits and traffic flow are fairly slow. Overall not a bad experience.

One thing about the Riu Palace is that it is literally in the middle of nowhere. Taxi's and Shuttles to Playa Del Coco are not as easy as the hotels or other reviews make it out to be. A private taxi to playa del coco is 60 RT while the shuttle is approximately 15PP RT.

Being in the "jungle" there are lots of bugs. Be sure to bring bug spray. If you like sweet drinks be prepared to be followed by bees and wasps. At night, mosquitos and small insects are out in full force.

The beach: The beach is nice, but not many people inhabit it. I'm assuming its because the sand is black and very very hot. My girlfriend and I had to wear sandals when going to and from the beach. The water is not clear but is blue. The beach is fairly far from from the nearest restrooms and food. There is no drink service on the beach.

Food: Food is just OK. I've stayed at other Rius and the menu is exactly the same at each of them. I understand feeding thousands of people is not an easy task. Don't expect fantastic food on any of the buffets. Stay away from the steakhouse. Its a waste of time. The food is not good and it is very hot as it is in the "Papagayo" lunch buffett open atmosphere at night.

The Kyrstal restaurant is good. Pants must be worn but it is a nice atmosphere. The food is probably the best in the resort , as well as the service. I would dine at Krystal twice instead of wasting my time at the "steakhouse" again.

Italian menu is lackluster. We chose not to eat there.

The Pool : Its upsetting that the Riu doesn't have an "adult only" section or pool. Kids overrun the entire pool area. Splashing, shouting, cannonballing, you name it. There are no "rules" or codes of etiquette for other guest. The pool facilities are nice, and abundant, but the lack of respect from others is quite annoying. Most guest here seemed to be from Costa Rica and other Latin Countries around. Very few americans were at the resort. The nearest restrooms are far away from the pool so getting to and from them can be a bit time consuming. Keep in mind , bees and wasps love to hang at the pool bar and around the loungers. We find the "cruise directors" at the pool fairly annoying. they are always doing small things to try to keep guest entertained such as darts, bingo, karaoke, volleyball, etc. I prefer the option to have a quiet atmosphere.

Rooms: Rooms are nice, typical "new style" riu layout. Bathtub smack dab in the middle of the room. The toilet has a private closet type atmosphere with only a louver through the door ( no ventilation ) and no exhaust fan. Needless to say, its a bit stuffy.

We stayed in the "right wing" facing the resort from the pool area. Floor 2. The view was fantastic as we were near the end of the wing. Don't spend money on ocean views. Ours was a courtyard and had a fantastic view of the ocean and pool. The room did feel very private. Beds are comfortable but nothing over the top. Furniture is terribly uncomfortable and simply there for looks. The fridge does come stocked with soft drinks , water, and beer. The rooms do have hard liquor dispensers which is typical of this resort chain.

Staff: Staff where great and very attentive. They do what they can to accommodate demanding and difficult guest. Overall I enjoyed talking to some of them and tips go a long ways. Everyone seems very grateful to receive a tip for providing service. and they deserve it.

Check in: Don't waste your time getting to the resort early. they will hold you until 2:30-3 o clock at best to get your room. They will give you a wrist band and allow you to go eat but thats about it.

Overall: Overall I've found Riu to be the equivalent of "Carnival Cruiselines" atmosphere. They are nice, fun , clean, but very predictable and just OK.

This property is pretty, the scenery is gorgeous, but for us the pro's don't out weight the cons. The distance from town, quality of food, bugs, and beach are enough to keep us from coming back.

We stayed 4 days.

Room Tip: Do not stay on the left side of the resort ( looking from the pool). the shows will be very noisy.
  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Sean M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2014

My family and I spent a great week at the Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica (6/22 - 6/28). What made our vacation especially amazing was the day we spent with Joseli & Kenneth Outdoor Adventures. We met Joseli and Kenneth on the beach at the Hotel Riu Palace on our first day. They spent about 5 minutes explaining the excursions their company could provide, and at no point did they ever pressure us into making a decision that day. They wear bright neon yellow shirts. I mention this because there has been other excursion companies passing themselves off as Outdoor Adventures.

We normally book our excursions through the hotel we stay at, but were intrigued by Joseli & Kenneth. The next day we returned to the beach and spoke to them again. Joseli explained that he would tailor the excursion to what my family wanted to do on that particular day. This is something that would not happen if we booked the trip through the hotel. With some trepidation, we decided to take a leap of faith and book the excursion with Joseli and Kenneth.

All I can say is that the day spent with Joseli on our excursion was one my family and I will never forget. We met Joseli on the beach at around 5:15 am and drove to a river about an hour away. Joseli then took us on a tour of the river in a raft (it was safe). What we saw was simply amazing; many species of rare birds, howler monkeys, iguanas, bats, coatis, and yes, crocodiles! My family and I felt completely safe the whole time. We even went fishing for a little bit and Joseli caught a tilapia and a cat fish.

When the boat trip was over, Joseli took us to an authentic local Costa Rican restaurant for lunch where they cooked the tilapia he caught in the river. This part of the excursion was very special for us because we really got to experience Costa Rican culture eating and talking with the locals. What made it even more amazing is we got to watch Costa Rica play England in a world cup match on TV where they won their division and advance to the next round. As huge soccer fans, my son and I will never forget sharing this experience with the Costa Rican people in the restaurant.

After lunch we took a small hike to a waterfall and spent some time taking pictures and hanging out in the water. To cap off the day, Joseli took us to a local volcano where we went on a crazy water slide, took a mud bath, and soaked in the hot springs. On the way home, Joseli took us to a Costa Rican supermarket where he showed us local delicacies and which coffee to buy (which was considerably cheaper than the coffees sold in the hotel lobby).

Throughout the day it was apparent how proud Joseli was of his country and their culture. His knowledge of the various species of birds, mammals and reptiles was amazing. He really made us understand what life is really like in Costa Rica, which you can't get a feel for if you stay at the resort the whole time. Joseli was an incredible tour guide; taking pictures for us throughout the day and educating us to just about every facet of Costa Rica.

I can't say enough good things about our experience with Joseli & Kenneth Outdoor Adventures and I would highly recommend them for any excursion.

  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled with family
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9  Thank Steven B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2014 via mobile

We have no complaints. It was very clean, very sophisticated. The food was good. Though i should mention that the buffet was always the same every day. Same for the italian restaurant, but the food was good. Also three pointers that will make them a great hotel: 1 they need umbrellas at the beach. And bar services 2. They need to move their garden/pool massage to the other side where there's no people walking. Its very distracting though the girls that did my massge was amazing. 3 they need to figure out a way to keep the bees under control in the pool bar and on the surroundings.
But overall: very clean! Very nice! Love it.!

Stayed: June 2014, traveled with friends
4  Thank jsl15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 3, 2014

I stayed at the Riu Palace Hotel Costa Rica for a destination wedding. It was gorgeous there. The hotel had many different choices for food and the landscaping, pools, entertainment, and staff were very kind and attentive. The omelette and juice bar were highlights in the buffet. The omelette cook, Randall, was a supercook, everyone enjoyed his cooking and his personality. And our server gina mora was extremely attentive; loved her ettiquette. The landscaping staff kept the grounds spotless. The pools were clean and the moutains surrounding the hotel truly made you feel like it was your own private getaway. The in-house plays and concerts were hilarious. And thank god for air conditioning!! Overall, i have no real gripes with this hotel and will definitely look at the riu chain hotels for my next resort based travel.

  • Stayed: June 2014
    • Value
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2  Thank Fedoke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2014

We are a young 40's couple who travel without kids. We have been to several RIUs and enjoy their consistency and reasonable price. We were celebrating our 15th anniversary.

Location: It's about an hour from the airport and town. You can *not walk to anything (except the Monkey Bar) and a cab, boat or bus ride is about an hour. And while the location was in the jungle on a very nice ocean front bay...this was the biggest down side for us. We like to walk to town or nearby villages and see the local life without being on a tour.

Resort: Super Modern looking. It is not my style and we prefer the palace style RIUS like they have in Mexico...but once we got used to it we enjoyed it. Think VEGAS. Some of the new features we liked include the coffee bar, the 24 snack bar, the room design and the separate pools designed specifically for each activity. My *favorite feature is the fact the pool bar is separate. Kids are not allowed (at least not supposed to be there). I don't hate kids. I just don't want to be splashed and bothered by someone else's kids when I'm chill'n on vacation. The families and kids tended to stay in a larger pool.

Rooms: I also liked what they changed with the room layout. There is a separate commode for privacy when the other people are getting ready by the sink or taking a shower. There are 2 sinks and yes...shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and a blow dryer. Yes, the tub is in the middle of the room. No biggie. We used it to put our dirty clothes in and my husband stubbed his toe several times:) There was the typical mini bar and fridge. I liked that this RIU had COKE products. Every other one has had Pepsi. There is a flat screen tv and digital safe.

Food: This resort had the best food yet. I gained 10lbs! Lobster on the buffet...the best chicken burgers and chicken strips. Plus fabulous fried calamari! Desserts always look great and are just ok...but the ice cream rocks. Breakfast had so many options. I loved the egg station with scrambled egg whites, ham and eggs and made to order omlettes. Plus the pancakes. waffles, and French toast...mmmm Don't forget fresh fruit smoothies every morning. We have stopped going to the ala cartes. At RIUs...the buffets have so many options we found them better than the sit down restaurants. Plus...no need for reservations so we don't have to be on a schedule. It's up to you. But, we're always pleased at buffets and we got mixed reviews about the ala cartes. Lunch is served at the Italian and the beach. I wanted to try the Italian...but we were always down by the beach in swim suits...so we ate there. They also have a pool BBQ. It looked good...but we needed a break from the sun...so we would always go to the buffet on the beach.

Beach: Volcanic sand is weird. But we knew about it going in and we spend more of our time by the pool. It did stain my white cover-up skirt. The water was nice...I wish we would have snorkeled. We walked down past the monkey bar and found a few small shells on the volcanic rocks.

Pool: I love pool volleyball....my husband played a few rough games of water polo. We spent most of our time at the pool bar meeting new friends and watching the afternoon activities from the entertainment group. We gave the bartenders a tip on the first day and we never had an empty glass. He was always one step ahead of us. It's not required to tip...but they deserve it. I liked that this RIU's pool bar was open later than most. Sometimes when you come back from an excursion you just want to jump in the pool and have a drink. Most RIU's close at 5...but this one stayed open until 7.

Staff: fabulous...always ready to help. It's spotless.

Shows: They're ok. RIU really needs to find a new musical. I'm so tired of seeing Grease! But, since you're staying at the Palace you can go to the resort next door so if you didn't like the show you could check out theirs.

Speaking of the other resort...we stopped by a couple times at night and enjoyed their theater bar for drinks. Their pool is much more tropical than the palace. It's prettier. But, it's a mish mash of kids, partiers and people wanting quiet. Someone puked in it one day and they had to drain it. It depends on what you want. It's still a beautiful resort and if you wanted a *cheaper option…I would definitely go there.

The airport food and water is expensive. Here's my tip. Order room service the night before you leave and take it with you. We had free sandwiches...even though we had to pay $10 for a water.

I wanted to take the water taxi to Cocoa Beach , but it was too choppy. So we ended up taking a bus to Tamarindo. Someone said they had good shells there. They were ok and it was nice to walk around town and eat local TICO food. But, it was an hour and a half ride and we were there all day. The shuttle and water taxi to Cocoa beach goes more often and is closer. In hindsight...I would do that instead.

We did the super mega combo tour from TAM. It was horseback riding, zip lining, a waterslide, volcanic mud...a hot spring and authentic lunch. It was nice seeing the countryside. But, I wish we would have done the tour with the tube down the river instead of the waterslide. We paid $110.

We got an airport transfer from Alex on the beach and he was great. He was good about emailing back confirmation. His driver even stopped by the Pali on the way to airport so I could buy vanilla and coffee. It was much cheaper there than the touristy shops at the RIU.
As mentioned in other reviews bring bug spray, sun block, and hats. Some people we met paid $30 for sun block and it was a small bottle.

As always…we were very pleased with the RIU. We do miss the old palace style and hope the RIU chain goes back to that look with remodels and new resorts. Feel free to message me with questions.

  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank newschick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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