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Reviewed March 14, 2015

Traveled to Costa Rica as a honeymoon destination in November 2012, and this resort was perfect! As a very first destination, and nothing to compare to, now I hold this level of quality to each place I go. It is a long flight, and then quite a drive to the air port but it is totally worth it!

The hotel room was large and had everything you needed (safe, closet, iron/ironing board, dresser, tv, balcony, etc.). The room was cleaned and restocked daily.

The hotel staff were exceptional. We were able to find a young server that was interested in learning English, and we wanted to learn Spanish. His name is Ernesto, and he treated us like royalty. There are several a-la-carte restaurants, but we found ourselves going back to the buffet because of the service. He reserved and decorated our table for breakfast and dinner each day, and he always gave fresh flowers to my husband to give to me. Such a sweetheart!!!

There is shade by the pools, and we never had issues with people reserving chairs.

The beachfront is large, and you can go for a wonderful walk, but the clarity of the water is rather dark. So the ocean lacks the appeal to swim in. Many do, but it wasn't quite what we were expecting. Now, because the beachfront is so natural, it is used by animals. For example, a security guard on the beachfront told us that it was the right time for the sea turtles to lay their eggs. So they do this on the beachfront of the resort. We woke up very early to see this, and still missed it, but you could see the tracks and markings in the sand of where the eggs were laid.

For excursions, we did the river boat tour. It was very informative and gave you a good look at animals in their natural habitat. The bus ride is long, and bumpy... Excellent excursion as the tour guides were very informative and spoke excellent English.

Our second excursion we visited Coco Beach. This was on a bus that visited hourly to the beach and back. At the beach you do some shopping at stores or with local vendors. They will pay you in their currency, so just be aware as to approximately the exchange. You can barter. We walked the strip rather quickly, checked out the beach and went back. We were gone a couple of hours.

The third excursion was an ATV tour with the locals, and went to some remarkable beaches. The sand was crushed sea shells, and the water was perfect! You can definitely feel an undertow. The ATV's were semi automatic. We did drive on the local roads, which some may find very risky but it was not for long. We negotiated a 4 hr ride for $40 each. Not sure if they are still willing to do this but it was a deal from what was listed on the pamphlets. We had two tour guides with 4 people on the excursion. I cannot remember the names of the beaches we saw, or the towns we visited, but, this was by far the best event of the trip!

In correlation with the resort we did do some photos with the on-resort photographers that go around during the day. These photos captured exactly what we wanted from the trip! The photographer was fun, energetic, and willing to do anything to get the perfect photo.

Overall - this was a wonderful resort! The staff, food, and weather were superb. Cannot wait to revisit this place!!!!

Room Tip: Free wifi in the lobby/public space for 90 min a day. Good connection signal, so you are able to keep in touch with family/friends etc.
  • Stayed: November 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank 12RogersM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2015

Our 2nd visit to the RIU Gaunacaste and again more than happy with everything.
Travel from airport by bus is well organized, check in a breeze, our room was good with stocked mini-fridge/beer, water, soft drinks. If you want more water than the 2 big bottles each day, go to front desk, they'll give you more.
Wi-fi is now free in the lobby 24/7 as of early March.
I don't know how anybody can complain about the food, there literally is so, so much to choose from. There's 2 buffets, BBQ at the pool each day and various restaurants that some do/some don't require reservations. Also the best guacamole I've ever had ! They have varieties of fresh squeezed juices every morning, eggs done 10 different ways for breakfast, tons of fresh fruit all day. If you can't find something you like, you are just beyond picky.
Hotel is U shaped so all pool/garden inside rooms have an ocean view, ours was lovely on 3rd floor. Complaints of noise are for the early to bed folks. The entertainment shows end at 11:00pm so its quiet by time the bar shuts down there by 12:00. Noise didn't bother us in least.
The pool is amazing, massive with waterfalls, lounges in the water, fountains and swim up bar. Bar staff did an excellent job on both pool and back side.
The property is beautifully landscaped and immaculately clean.
Staff is excellent, always friendly, always greet you and always a smile. They care about your stay and go above and beyond to please. Although tipping is not required, it is appreciated, show these people appreciation cause they do work hard. I tip at home and I tip on vacation to show appreciation for good service.
The entertainers do a great job. I was pleased to see Morgan from our first visit, wonderful young man, always greeted us with a big smile and a hug, Superman (what can I say), Fofo and a few others work very, very hard to make your stay enjoyable. The Michael Jackson show was great.
Costa Rica is an amazing country. I've been on at least 25+ tropical vacations and this is my 3rd visit this amazing country. Do get out and go on excursions, see what makes this country so special. We booked at least 6 excursions with Daniel on the beach. The tour company will tell you not to deal with the beach excursion people, book with them - it's a crock, they are wonderful. Never heard a complaint from anyone in both visits to the RIU, they are reputable. Daniel was amazing, whatever excursion you wish he will arrange and gives 1st class service - if you want to do something different, on your own, or a custom tour, he will arrange that as well. He has many connections. We went sailing on the Hibiscus catamaran - highly recommend this, 1/2 day fishing and caught mahi-mahi and dorado and also hired a van 2 times for full days on custom excursions to various beaches, surfing in Tamarindo, the turtle reserve in Ostional, snorkeling, hired a water taxi to Coco beach for shopping with a perfectly timed return sunset with dolphins following us. All perfect excursions and couldn't have been happier - thank you Daniel :)) !! You can horseback ride about 5 minutes down the beach, my daughter is an avid rider, loved the trails and final ride on the beach. Coco beach had some good shopping and I hear some good nightclubs, by shuttle/taxi ride about 15-20 minutes.
3 of us had massages at the same time on the beach - Isabella and your 2 girls - wow. I've had many massages but this was the best ever. $30/1 hour.
There's a fun bar about 10 minutes down the beach, a bit into the jungle, the Monky bar. We had a blast there drinking Corona's.
Wish we stayed longer, lot's more we could of done.
BTW - the airport food is ridiculously overpriced.
Pura Vida !

  • Stayed: March 2015, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
11  Thank pjohn57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2015

This Riu Palace is just like the other riul palaces ---big and beautiful. The hotel is built away from the beach and ocean but it's only a short walk. You can't really see the ocean from the ground.The beaches have black sand and the scenery is gorgeous. Plenty of chairs near the ocean or near the pool. We did not have to worry about saving chairs every morning as there were plenty to go around. I like the idea of the draw blinds above you as you could get shade . There were 3 large pools plus a bar pool and a volleyball pool. They had the same activities that all of them have. The shows were not that great but I did enjoy a few of them especially the one where they impersonate the various artist. I usually don't like buffets but they have the best buffet. I actually liked it better than the reservation restaurant. The one restaurant that I really enjoyed was the Italian. We all really enjoyed the barbecue at lunch time. We ate there every single day as everything was so fresh and tasted so good. We saw plenty of Iguanas walking around plus if you go down the beach and off the trail a little bit you are likely to see monkeys. We took a half-day tour to one of the national parks. We hardly saw any wild there except a parakeet a iguana and a monkey. It was not worth it. But then we took a half-day tour beginners zip lining tour and it was a lot of fun. We would definetly do that again.. The weather was in the low 90s every day and sunny. I would suggest trying the dirty monkey drink as that was everybody's favorite. also the mojitos were good. The workers were more than happy to make your stay as comfortable as possible.. Everyone was very nice and pleasant. Also the Wi-Fi was good as you could hook up practically anywhere. I really hate making dinner reservations as we never know what we are going to be doing. Other resorts let you come whenever and it looks like it works out well. The only thing that we were upset about was that our Apple vacation representative did not tell us that we could pay the costa Rica tax at the resort so we ended up waiting an hour in line to do that at the airport and then another hour in line to get our tickets. That was not a good ending to a most wonderful trip. Pura vida !!!

  • Stayed: January 2015, traveled with friends
    • Service
3  Thank LeeChicagoIllinois
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 12, 2015

We visited Costa Rica from March 2th thru March 10th. Freddy took us on the Boringuen all day tour. Freddy spoke very good English and was a wealth of information about the country and culture. It was a private tour which was very nice. We went horseback riding and the zip-lining was the best I've ever done. The zip-lining was very safe and the guides were awesome. We also took the Palo Verde Boar tour and Diego and Alejandro were our tours guides. We saw white faced monkeys, howler monkeys, crocodiles, green iguanas and several birds. We had the most awesome private lunch from a Costa Rican family. These guys are the best tour guides ever!!!!

Stayed: March 2015, traveled with family
1  Thank Linda C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 12, 2015

Getting out of the February cold to the warm breezes of CR and the facilities of Riu Guanacaste was just what the body needed. The hotel and grounds are very clean and very beautiful. Compared to other resorts, Guanacastes was nice and compact as you could walk to just about any place on the grounds within 15 minutes. WiFi available free for 90 minutes a day in the spacious lobby.Beach was typical black sand for the Pacific, a little stoney in the water and lots of shade along the beach. Take water shoes or strap on sandals for the beach and most of the excursions.. they are a must. Food at the buffet and Asian restaurant was very good with lots of variety. Yandet the hostess at the Asian eatery made the two evenings memorable. Meat at the steakhouse was tender and cooked just right.- beef tenderloin. The ceviche was available on the buffet most days and again very tasty. The chips and cheese at lunch were a hit with many. I would pass on the Tucan. Our room was on the 5th fl above the entertainment area and had a great view of the ocean. Rooms 5070 to 5100 and 4060 to 4100 would give you the same results. Selection of excursions from several tour operators allowed for a great choice both full and half days. We selected our excursion from Sun Wing on the way down..at Cda$. At the resort you pay in US $. Worthwhile checking on line before leaving to get an idea of the areas and sites to see. We chose the Vandora - horseback riding, zip lining, waterslide (a little disappointing), great organic lunch, hot bath and mud baths. All fun and made a memorable day. From others heard the several long trips to the volcanoes were amazing bit due to the length of the bus ride we did not go.Not much to see or do in nearby towns and cab fare was expensive. Certainly would return to Guanacaste and I am sure many of the other Canadians who were at the report would too. About a 45 minute bus ride to the airport. Felt it was good value for the money..just the air fare from Canada makes it a more expensive time in the sun...but you are almost guaranteed hot days and no jacket nights. Alot more of CR to see and enjoy the vast areas of the country they have set aside as national parks.

Room Tip: Upper Two floors NOT facing the entertainment and bar areas were quieter. Upper two floors above teh bars and entertainment areas had afternoon shade on the balcony.
  • Stayed: February 2015, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Douglas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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