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“Unbelievable Experience” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Riu Guanacaste

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Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
New York City, New York, USA
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Unbelievable Experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 July 2014 via mobile

This was our first time visiting Costa Rica and I must say my experience at this hotel left me itching to return.

The checking process was very easy. We arrived early but since our room was ready we were on the beach in minutes. Regarding the rooms, if you are a family of more than 3, be sure to ask for a Family Room at check in. It costs less and will provide more space than the ocean view. The hotel staff were really helpful in changing ours once we realized the difference.

The hotel amenities were great and the staff did everything in there power to ensure your stay was amazing. A night the facilities are brilliantly lit with colorful fountains and many photo spots. The entertainment was excellent, including nightly themed shows with professional dancers and the hotel staff. Bartenders were friendly and made every drink just right.

The best part for us was the food. Liberia restaurant provided tons of options for breakfast and dinner. We ate there 6 of the 8 days we were there. They had different themes each night. The food was fresh and tasty. Best resort food ever. They also had various themed restaurants. We loved the Italian and steakhouse, though be warned that the steakhouse is outdoors, so wear bug repellent.

Best of all Costa Rica provided the most picturesque environment we have ever visited. We were initially disappointed that the beach sand was a dark grey until we stepped into the water. Costa Rica had by far the clearest water I had ever seen. We were watching fishes swim around us without the need for snorkeling gear. The nearby rocks provided great opportunities for amateur snorkeling and the hotel provides equipment free of charge.

Of course there were many options for excursions provided by the very friendly tour operators in the lobby. We did the Arenal Volcano with ziplining tour, evening catamaran tour, and a boat ride through the river in the national park. All were amazing and provided a different experience.

Overall, I would rank my time at this property as one of my best vacation experiences ever over the past 20 years. I will definitely return in the future. Highly recommend this property.

Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
7 Thank Rohan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,782)
Date | Rating
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English first
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2014 via mobile

We stayed at the Riu Guanacaste from June 26 - July 3 for a 50th anniversary celebration. We had 4 rooms on the fifth floor facing the ocean. Everyone had an amazing time. The buffets were perfect when you needed them. The kids loved running to the Ocatel buffet next to the pool during the day. We tried every specialty restaurant. All were great. We loved the Italian and Gourmet. You can walk into the Asian, so we went there a few times. Make sure to make your reservation the day before! If you're hungry after the restaurants close, go to the Sport Bar and grab a sandwich, burgers, hot dogs or sushi from the fridges. They also have build your own nachos there. Don't forget the amazing jalapeños from the fridge!

The rooms aren't fancy but we weren't in them too much. The beds are very firm and the pillows a little small, but it wasn't a big deal. Also, they only provide facial soap and a liquid soap dispenser in the shower, so make sure to bring your favorite shampoo and bathroom items. Don't forget lots of sunscreen, too. It's the most expensive item in the stores! (Supply and demand!). Also, bug spray and aloe lotion for sunburns!
If you're allergic to bee stings, be careful around the outdoor bars and buffets. There are a lot of bees flying around attracted to the fruits. If you ignore them, they won't harm you. But, we had a couple of stings during the trip due to people not realizing they were there.

My husband and I have been to several five star resorts... What Riu lacks in fancy shampoos and soft beds, they make up in service! This is, by far, the hardest working staff we have ever seen. They are constantly cleaning and picking up. In fact, there are almost no trash cans in the resort. Everything is quickly picked up by a staff member. We were always greeted with a smile and an "hola". The rooms were always cleaned and the fridge stocked with water, sodas and beer.

The check in process was fairly simple. One piece of advice... Don't expect to get into your room early. The hotel is very organized and they simply don't give you your keys before 3pm. If you're early, change into some comfortable clothes and enjoy some drinks by the pool or in one of the bars.

We had an amazing trip because we didn't stress out about the little things. We did a tour with GeckoTico (find them in the lime shirts on the Riu beach... Amazing excursions!). We did a family photo shoot with the Photo Ventura team. The results were 80 amazing portraits of our family, the kids, couples... If you want to skip the photo shoot, grab one of the photographers at the pool and they will take individual shots. You can take pictures during the whole time you are there. Just write down the dare and time and photographers name. Go to the Photo Ventura store across from the disco and they will pull together all of the photos into one folder on the screen for you to preview. The minimum purchase is 5 photos on CD for $75. Trust me... They are professional photographers and you'll be amazed at the pictures.

All in all, we loved our trip to the Riu and Costa Rico!

Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank Eric L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Littleton, Colorado
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 July 2014

We love Riu Guanacaste. We have been there two years in a row and cannot wait to go back! The cleaniness of the hotel and grounds is wonderful. There are not too many bugs either, which is very nice! The pool is great for families and couples. They have great activities throughout the day that will keep you entertained. We traveled with our daughter (6 and 7 at the time) and she loves it too! The kids club is great and the shows at night are perfect for families and adults. We did the zipline tour one day and that was fantastic! The food is very good, but we liked the buffets better than the sit down restaurants. If you forget your camera do not worry, the photography staff at Riu is great and you can take some wonderful family photos! I also used the fitness center several times and went for runs along the grounds to keep up my workouts. I felt very safe being by myself early int he morning. The staff is great and you feel very relaxed while vacationing. We would recommend Riu Guanacaste again and and again.

Room Tip: Rooms facing the pool/theater can be a little noisy, but have the best views!
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Beth E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, FL
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2014

I went on vacation with my husband and my 11 year old daughter from June 15th to the 25th and I can tell you that everything, absolutely everything, was spectacular. Since we arrived at the airport everything flowed quickly. Outside, the LAR driver was waiting for us, he was very friendly and along the way he explained many interesting things about the country. Check in was really fast and the front desk employee was very friendly and helpful. We spent 10 great days, we liked the beach, mainly the landscape, the pool is very large and you always find a place in the shade as well as on the beach.
The food was very good with plenty of choices for everyone’s taste.
Very good the service of all the employees, at all the bars, restaurants, housekeeping, reception and I want to thank the animation team as they work hard to entertain everyone and make our stay more enjoyable and fun. I would mention David, Morgan, Daniela, Nana, Nina, Jason, but especially Armando for his friendliness and charisma. They made us have the most pleasant days. Very Good guys keep it up (a greeting from the Miami Cubans). I’d also like to mention that we liked all the shows, including Grease and Michael Jackson but the one we liked the most and enjoyed was Crazy Show, we laughed a lot.
We did two tours with Alex on the Beach which Sergio sold us on the beach, he was very nice and sociable, we did the Buena Vista mega combo with Cortes Falls (thank you very much to our driver Norman which was great) and we also did the 4 hour ATV tour, we recommend both tours, very good and well worth what they cost. Do not listen to the bad reviews. We have visited several All inclusive hotels in the Caribbean and this one was up to our expectations and we will gladly return.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Floridacguey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newton, NC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2014

We stayed at the Riu Guanacaste from June 25 - 30th. From the start we felt welcomed. We arrived early (about one) and were in our room in minutes. Throughout our stay the staff was incredibly kind and friendly. My Spanish is very poor, but staff was always willing to stop and help me learn. One tiny example, the man who places chairs at the beach was holding a butterfly. When he saw me look he brought it and put I on my hand, stopping a moment to talk, both that day and the next. This was typical of interactions with staff.

Food: Lots of variety and flavor. The buffet has tons of choices and typical Tico area. We ate at the buffet more than we expected because we enjoyed it. The pool buffet was good too. We really enjoyed the Italian restaurant, not the Asian as much though. We did not ever have to wait, but one night if you went late we noticed folks waiting.

Beach: We were there during rainy season, which was great because things were green and cooled off a bit late afternoon, with not much rain at all. You could even walk barefoot in the late afternoon. The walk along the beach was lovely, with monkeys at the far left, and black rocks to climb around on the right. Snorkeling at the beach is not like a coral reef, but in an hour I did see large schools of fish, puffers, a huge fish of some sort, a good size sting ray, needle fish and smaller yellow and white fish.

Service: We had great service, and warm interactions with people.

Room: I wrote a couple of weeks ahead and asked for third floor jungle facing room, which they gave us. It was quieter and we wanted to get up early and walk. Be aware the sun rises early (about 5:15 and sets early as well). The room was comfortable with a nice balcony, but we did not see monkeys from there. The bed is a bit hard, but was not a problem. Temp was fine.

Tours: We booked through Avispasadventures. They were awesome!!! I will write a separate review later. We toured Palo Verde, with side trip to a family run farm for lunch that was just a great experience, did an Eco tour (horse back riding, zip lining, water slide, lunch, mud and hot springs) that was one of the best days ever, and a day going to various beaches (galloped a horse down Conchal) and watched Costa Rica play in the World cup in a soda on Brasilito with local people. That was an amazing day as well. Chepe and Carlos were great, stopping whenever we wanted and really tailoring the tour to us.

We also took the water taxi at the beach to Coco Beach and that was enjoyable as well. We happened to go the day Columbia was playing in the World cup which made the day even more festive.

Entertainment: Shows were fun. We saw a few. The ones by the pool were a bit naughty, but very funny. If you wanted to stay on the resort it appeared there was plenty to do for all ages.

Spa: Never got there or the casino or the disco. Just not enough time.


All in all the five days we were there can not be put into words, and this review is inadequate in expressing how much we enjoyed Costa Rica, the people, the Riu and our time there. Pura Vida came to really mean something as each day was so rich and full. We had so much more we wanted to do. Guess we will have to go back!

Room Tip: If you want a quieter room ask for jungle side. Floors, 3rd or above have a better view, though som...
See more room tips
  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Donna D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto
Level Contributor
19 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 July 2014

Hotel is great. Clean rooms; good service; well maintained grounds; great pools; nice beach. Food is good; prob more like 4 star than 5 star; buffets have lots of choice, food is always fresh; the 'fine dining' restaurants were ok but not excellent; nightly shows were good. You need to travel 45-60 mins to get to most attractions from the hotel. Not so good on the water sport activities. There is a 3rd party company that runs this for the hotel and they have very poor customer services for anything that is included for free (e.g, snorkelling, free 1/2 scuba lesson). You need to be somewhat pushy to get the service you deserve with these guys.
However, I would highly recommend this hotel for value. If you are planning to go on some excursions and rest at the hotel or enjoy the beach and pools for other days, this is a great hotel for that.
Also note that weather in Costa Rica at this time (last week of June) was EXCELLENT. It's the rainy season but that means it rains sometime during the evening (max 1 hr). NO impact to daily activities. The heavy rains come later in July and Aug.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank ski_guy_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 July 2014 via mobile

We enjoyed our stay here. We liked that there was a lot of food to choose from. The food didn't knock my socks off, but it wasn't bad either. the entertainment was pretty good also. The beach had amazing views. The staff was also very friendly. The hotel was also very nice inside. Lots a of activities on and off the resort. I would come back, but we would book at the RIU palace, because our resort had a lot of children there.

Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Leslie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Property: Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Address: | Playa Matapalo, Sardinal 50503, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo > Sardinal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Sardinal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Guanacaste 4*
Number of rooms: 701
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Opening winter 2009/10. Situated in northern Costa Rica, in Guanacaste. Located on Playa de Matapalo beach. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 6-storey main building. Surrounded by 35,000 m2 / 41,86 sq. yards of lush gardens. Closest village: Nuevo Colon. 13 km / 8.1 miles from various shops. 33 km / 20.5 miles from Liberia airport. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica

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