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“A Mixed Experience”

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Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Sardinal
Certificate of Excellence
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“A Mixed Experience”
Reviewed 1 April 2013

My husband and I stayed at the Riu Palace Costa Rica in January 2013 for about a week. We had some really great experiences, and some not so great:

The Food:

Pros:
For the most part, the food was pretty tasty. We found that going to the buffets early (when they opened) ensured yummy hot food. Also, the main restaurant Arenal would often be cooking fresh food so you could just stand at the counter for a couple of minutes and get something fresh.

Cons: Booking at one of the speciality restaurants was a major PAIN! You had to show up at around 8:30am to get the booking line before all of the reservations were full. It was a crazy system and many people in line were complaining. First of all, on my vacation I want to be able to sleep until I wake up naturally and not set an alarm. Second, there were times I was in line and didn't even get a reservation because they were already full. Third, you had to book for the NEXT night, which was actually awkward because if were had an early tour that meant that we wouldn't be able to eat at a speciality restaurant the for two nights. We were only able to go to the Steakhouse and one other (can't remember the name) because of this.

Room:

Pros: We stayed in a Jacuzzi suite. It was huge and clean! The bed was very comfy.

Cons: Oh boy, where do I start?! We had our electricity (which means air conditioning too) go out at least 4 separate days, mostly between 9pm and 1am. And I mean like 20 times it would go out a night. Which meant on at least three occasions we had a maintenance guy in our room at midnight. They'd "fix" the problem only for it to come back the next night. None of them spoke english. I totally think it's great in supporting the local economy with local workers, but for something this important you NEED to be able to talk to the person about what the problem is and discuss the details that could help them find a solution. Finally, two days before our departure, I'd had enough and said we really needed a new room. We had early tours and being constantly up and down checking the breaker was not good. They did this without problems, but I wish they would have OFFERED it days ago.

Second: If you are booking a JACUZZI suite, DON'T expect any privacy. It is outside on the terrace in full view of anyone on the floors above. It was a crazy setup and that wasn't clear when we booked our room. That being said, we'd sit out there at night in our bathing suits and read, which we enjoyed. Definitely not romantic, though.

Third: This hotel is not quiet at night. Expect music from the shows until around midnight. The left side of the hotel (as you look out at the ocean from the hotel) is quieter. We were on both sides with our room change.

The Location:

Pros: The beach was really nice, and the water was warm. We saw baby sea turtles and iguanas! There are a ton of people selling tours on the beach (not pushy though) and we did a couple of these and they were very professional and great tours. The Nicaragua tour was amazing. A little rushed, and a lot of time in the van, but if you want a cultural experience, GO FOR IT! It was the best thing about our vacation!

If you want to sit at a pool or beach all day, you'd probably like this place.

Cons: You have to travel usually 3-5 hours to really see anything, and if you want historical architecture and such there just isn't anything available. This isn't me saying it, we heard it from multiple Costa Ricans who said those things were unfortunately destroyed a many years ago.

But there is beautiful nature around!! And the Nicaragua tour helped us get some of that historical feel we wanted.

Room Tip: Get early to the buffets and we had a great experience with the tours from the guys selling on the b...
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  • Stayed January 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank LovingLifeCK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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English first
Frisco, TX
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 April 2013

We were told when we booked our reservation for two rooms at the RIU Palace that transfers from the airport at Liberia were included.

I emailed the hotel a MONTH in advance to setup transfers, and received a reply asking for travel details to setup the transportation. We were picked up at the airport (good) but upon arrival to the hotel were asked for $70 to pay for the transportation. It turns out even though I was told transfers were included, the hotel simply forwarded my email to a local transportation company and it wasn't included.

When I asked about this, they said "You were supposed to book transfers through our call center 8 days in advance". Apparently it is all my fault. E-Mailing the hotel a month in advance was the wrong thing to do. I didn't follow the rules. Except no one ever told me to call the call-center to setup transfers.

The general manager here at the hotel says he can't do anything - not even book return travel for me. He told me to call the central call center. Okay. I called the central call center. They say I need to talk to the hotel.

Basically as long as you're stay and any issues that you have fall within the realm of their rule-book at the RIU Palace, you will be okay. Just don't have a problem that falls outside their operations manual, because NO ONE will have the authority to be able to help you resolve it.

Seriously, I'm paying nearly $1000 a night and they can't arrange for return transportation to the airport that was supposed to be included? I'm not even asking for my $70 back!

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank JLHAGINS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newark
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 March 2013

I visited Costa Rica in February 2013. Loved it! The grounds are cleaned all day. The staff was very pleasant and attentive. The rooms were beautiful. The food was absolutely fantastic. The only problem with the food was, I don't have a big enough stomach to taste it all. But, boy did I want to. The food display made you want to never miss a meal. I truly loved this place.

Unfortunately, there is 1 downside. The resort is surrounded by mountains that were always burning. The smell, smoke and ashes invaded the resort. But, the staff cleaned the ashes quickly. Nothing can be done about the smoke and smell though. This didn't stop me from loving this place. I will be returning.

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Josette F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Denver, Colorado, United States
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 March 2013

I was the person that another reviewer posted about getting food poisoning. I got it the day we arrived and was really sick the next day. Awful, awful stomach cramps the following day and night. Thankful that I met pradamommy and her boyfriend. They gave me something from the states that helped my stomach..but I dealt with discomfort for the rest of my stay. I also saw a little girl that was sick too. After speaking with her mother, it turns out that she and I ate similar things.
The hotel itself was Okay and not worth the money spent. We took advice of other guests and went next door to the Riu Guanacaste next door to eat and enjoyed their buffet much more. Plus, I was afraid to eat at the Palace after my food poisoning. Being sick most of the time, we only saw one show (Okay) and went to the coffee lounge one night where we waited 20 minutes for 2 coffees that showed up without the milk. The woman was rude..or didn't understand English. Who knows because she kept giving us dirty looks and walking away.
We also got locked out of our room because our key stopped working and had to go downstairs 3 times because the keys they reset did not work. Finally, I made someone come up with me. This was happening when I wasn't feeling good. The bathtub in the open is awkward and Riu should really re-think that concept. It doesn't work and there is a lot of negative feedback about it on the reviews. Also, why are there only sheets on the beds? The first night we were very cold and uncomfortable. We made sure to find someone who worked there and waited for them to give us blankets. Nights were much better after that. I can't tell you about the noise because I travel with a sound machine. No smells in our room...a plus, I guess.
The hotel is new and the trees have not matured so there was hardly any shade at the pools. We went next door but their pool wasn't as clean, so we went to the beach. It was lovely until everyone around us started smoking cigars.
I don't usually take the time to write reviews, but I am still dealing with a sensitive stomach and would like to warn people. Most of the negative reviews about this hotel are correct.

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank bucketlistingit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Antonio, Texas
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 March 2013

From the minute you arrive here at the Riu Palace you are met with the WOW factor. The view from the lobby is absolutely breathtaking! Often pictures on the website are an exaggeration of what you get, but that was definitely not the case here. In fact, the pictures really do not do it justice. The design is modern and stylish, beautifully decorated and with direct access to the beach. Staff is 100% friendly and attentive to a MAX. We felt like royalty the entire time. The service is immaculate and wonderful! The Riu Palace without doubt surpassed all our expectations and is the ultimate in luxury and most importantly in comfort. With its over the top service, and believe me I have traveled to many parts of the world and stayed at numerous places, THIS customer service is unparalleled and we highly recommend it.

Normally when we travel, on our way home we talk about the new memories we've created. This time around we not only discussed our new adventures, but also talked about our new friends. We came into this resort not knowing anyone and left with exchanged of emails and contact information from not only visitors but from the staff. We headed home with recollections of our trip and with new found friends. If you make it out to paradise at the Riu Palace ask for Susana Flete, she's a director at the resort. Shake her hand and gift her with a smile. Not only is she beautiful but, her kindness and attention are unmatched!

We highly recommend Riu Palace in Costa Rica, enjoy your travels,
Claudia I. Chavez & Kimberly A. Martinez

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Claudia C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 March 2013

We stayed at the Riu Palace March 17-24 and had an amazing vacation.We stayed in room 5068, an ocean view junior suite. The room overlooked all the pools and the ocean. The room is very modern, spotless clean with a safe, mini bar and liquor dispensers.The hotel has 4 restaurants a buffet and a 24 hour snack lounge and a great coffee bar where you can get great cappuccino and even speciality coffees with alcohol.
You can disregard any review that talks about problems making reservations or getting into one of the speciality restaurants, only the steakhouse requires a reservation... we went twice and had no problems, we showed up at 9:30am to reserve and there was not even a line up. The steak (fillet) and lobster was fabulous both times and there was extra lobster tail upon request, my wife had the half chicken on the 2nd visit and was very satisfied.
We ate at all the others, the Japanese was very good as was the fusion restaurant (Krystal), I would say that the only dissappointment was the Italian, where the service was poor (only instance of this in the entire week) and the food was mediocre. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and on our first night at the resort... great selection and quality, we really dont get some of the negative reviews.One tip when going to the speciality restaurants... the resort offers 2 seatings usually 6:15pm and 8:15pm... but you can go anytime... we showed up most nights at 7:30pm after our customary martinis in the Daquiri bar (wonderful) and never even had to wait for a table.
All the staff we encountered were friendly, genuine and very helpful and will go out of their way to be of any assistance.
The pools were very nice with excellent poolside service, no issues getting name brand alcohol... great cocktails and they even have Heineken beer!. There are many many loungers around the pools, you will not have any issue finding a spot to relax.
The beach is also very nice... more rustic than your typical Carribean resort but very charming with lovely views, as others have said the sand does get very hot..so wear your beach shoes!.
Please dont miss seeing the monkeys... simply go to the beach turn left and walk about 10mins you will see a sign for the "monkey bar" take a left along a dirt road and if you go early morning or early evening you will likely see the Howler monkeys amongst the trees... the will come quite close and it is quite a sight!
Also on the beach is the best massage we have ever had... see the ladies under the white curtained cabana it costs only $65 for a 1 hour couples massage listening to the waves hit the beach... heaven.
It was our wedding anniversary during the trip... we let the hotel know and they provided a welcome letter and bottle of champagne and mid week a bottle of rum!
We did two trips both with Alex on the Beach... there are no issues using the guys on the beach at all, we did an all day trip to the Llanos de Cortez waterfall and the Miravalles volcano... horse back ride into the transitional rain forest, local lunch, mud bath, hot springs, into the secondary crater and waterfalls... great fun, the only downside was the drive there and back... its a couple of hours over some bone shaking roads. Our tour was just the two of us with Alex himself as our guide..Alex was excellent and very knowledgeable. We also did the sunset catamaran.. there are a couple of these trips availabe, do yourself a favour and choose the Marlin del Rey.. its an 86 foot sailing catamaran, the trip sets off at 12:45pm from Coco beach (20mins from the hotel). fabulous scenery, great staff, open bar (cocktails and beer) we saw dolphins, stingrays and did some snorkelling. The sail back to coco beach was magnificent... we have seen many amazing Carribean sunsets but this one in Cost Rica was the best of any.. we highly recommend this trip.
The RIU Palace Costa Rica is a great resort, Costa rica is a beautiful and friendly country, take our advice and go you will not be dissappointed.

Room Tip: best rooms are 4th or 5th floor, choose the ocean side
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank PaulMcA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 March 2013

A group of 12 of us recently stayed at Riu Palace in Costa Rica March 14-24 2013. We found the hotel beautiful, the rooms clean, and the food good. The beach was nothing special, but the pools certainly made up for it.

We were worried that going during spring break we would have issues with seating by the pool and issues with seating at the specialty restaurants with such a large group, but we didn't encounter either issue.

We travel all over the world and we have stayed at many all-inclusive resorts. What made this resort and location stand out from all the rest was Emiliano Rodrigues, the Public Relations Manager. Emiliano helped tend to all of our needs, including fabulous restaurant recommendations. Emiliano checked on all of us throughout the entire trip and made us feel like we all had our own personal concierge.

For this reason, we will make sure the Riu Palace is a destination we travel to again in the future. We will also be passing this recommendation on to all of our friends and family. On behalf of everyone in our group, I would like to thank Emiliano for going above and beyond our service expectations and for the great memories we now have of Costa Rica. It's something we won't stop talking about for months to come. For the service alone, this is a place not to miss!

Steve & Friends

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Steve6543
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:
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 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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