More about Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Just got back from an amazing trip at the Riu Guanacaste! The staff was very friendly and helpful. Our first room had a problem with the lights but the front desk was extremely helpful and moved us to a better room as soon as they had one available. The hotel is brand new so extremely clean. One would expect kinks for a new hotel, but they are doing an amazing job with the resort.
Breakfast was great with tons of options and AMAZING Costa Rican espresso! A word of advice, you need to make reservations VERY early for the specialty a la carte dinners so try to get there at around 7am if possible. The dinner buffet has a ton of options so if you don't feel like waking early, don't sweat it. The italian and steakhouse were very good options and worth waking up for but skip the Asian.
The staff & entertainment were awesome and very amusing. LOVED their song that the staff sang at the pool ... it became a vacation anthem.
The beach is beautiful, it is volcano sand so it is brown and black but the water is crystal clear. The waves are not rough and the beach is private so it is very safe. Definitely a plus.
The only downside is that it is a very long drive to go to another town or part of Costa Rica. However we split the trip up and spent half by Arenal at the Tabacon and then drove over to the Riu. Once we were at the Riu, there was no reason to leave so we didn't mind.
The casino was just opening but looks promising ... we had fun and lost a little money there. The nightly shows were amusing and a good place to hang after dinner for some drinks.
Overall the Riu was excellent for couples, groups or families. There weren't too many kids but I saw that there was a daycare center.
Definitely visit the Riu Guanacaste for its beauty, service & value.
This is one Beautiful Resort
Just returned from the most beautiful country we have ever traveled to. The Riu Guanacaste is every bit as beautiful as they advertise. The buffet was excellent, we ate there everynight, selection was awsome, the wine is excellent. The water is drinkable and the rooms and service we top notch. The resort pool was the best - the swim up bar had premium drinks and the entertainment was professional and amusing to watch. The staff is very nice and the local doctors are very prompt. One of our fellow friends stepped on a Sting Ray and the doctors were at the beach in seconds, he was really happy with there service. The doctors even went to his room to check on him, so no worries there. We found xplorecostarica.com on line two weeks before departure and I decided to take my chances and pre book all of our tours in advance and pre pay on line so we didnt have to carry so much extra cash. I can tell you... I was not sorry in the least. Denise and Paul were the most professional and awsome tour guides, they speak both English and Spanish and their tour buses are new and very clean. We appreciated all the extra stops they made for us, pointed out monkeys, cool trees and Oselets. They stopped at local vendors for us where we got the best purchases. We toured with Paul to the Arenal Volcano and hot springs for two days and then Denise scheduled a fishing charter for 5 hours from Tamarindo for dad and my husband Bob (they caught some beauty fish), while she took us girls shopping and to some local bars, then Denise and Paul took us to a fabulos dinner at the Coconut in Tamarindo which I highly reccomend if you can get there worth the 1/2hr drive, the food was exceptional by far the best dinner we have ever had. On Sunday Denise and Paul took us to the Pala Verde National Park, where we saw crocodiles, birds monkeys and more, topped off with a local lunch that was excellent - what a perfect day and holiday. Travelling to and from Guanacaste is at least one hour each way and Arenal was 5.5 hours. The weather was high 89 every day and if you want to have some real fun book the Zip line tour - our dad who is 75 zip lined 11 platforms - what a trooper - we had a ton of fun!
Looking forward to returning to Costa Rica next year - figers crossed! See you then Paul & Denise.
We had a great three-day stay at RIU Guanacaste. Excellent rooms, courteous staff, gorgeous pools, a good beach, and good all-you-can-eat dining. What more can one ask for during a vacation?
-Check-in: Very quick. They had our envelopes with keys ready. Took all of 10-minutes (you have to fill out a form).
-Flexibility: We were given rooms on the lower floor. We called the front desk and requested rooms on a higher floor - to which the manager readily agreed. As a bonus, this room had an ocean view. Very satisfying.
-Room: While the reservation agents will not give you a triple room (one king bed and one double bed) unless your family has five members, we requested a triple once we got to the hotel. The manager agreed to this request. The rooms are clean, spacious, with big bathrooms.
-Food: All-you-can eat dining with outstanding deserts. Plenty of snacks/foods between meals.
-Drinks: Besides drinks in your room, the hotel has 3-4 bars, including a swim-up bar in the pool. Our kids would swim up to this far and order kiddie drinks. For adults, I would highly recommend Caipirinhas - a Brazilian concoction.
-Pool: The pool was great. It is actually three or four pools joined together with a waterfall, the aforementioned bar, plenty of lounge chairs, and activities every hour.
-Activities: The hotel desk can help you organize any number of activities - snorkeling, scuba diving, horse riding, excursions, etc. (Tip: You can rent horses on the beach from an outside operator at half the hotel rate.)
-Entertainment: I have seen some critical reviews re: entertainment. All I will say is this: If you want Broadway quality shows, go to New York. If your expectations are good singing and dancing with some element of campiness (it is, after all, a tropical all-you-can eat resort), you will be happy.
-(For Some) The beds may be somewhat hard.
-(For Some) We did not encounter many bugs other than grasshoppers that were fairly benign.
-Driving Directions: RIU has done a horrible job of posting directions. For GPS, please enter "Playa Matapalo" and it will take you directly to the resort. For driving directions, see other posts. Note that you have to drive on a part gravel/part asphalt road for 15 kilometers from Sardinal to get to the resort.
-The Disco: It is not bad but it is pretty empty which can spoil the experience for some.
Bottomline: A top-notch hotel.
I just returned from a very enjoyable week (November 7-14, '09) at the Riu Guanacaste Hotel. It's hard to give a general review, so I'll talk about each aspect of the week.
HOTEL: Honestly Beautiful. The hotel is located on a dirt, pothole ridden road with local rickety houses and shacks nearby. The lobby is open to the elements with "internet cafe'" that consists of a pc that worked 10% of our stay (at inflated rates). The room was nice with tile floors, mini-fridge, iron/ironing board and balcony. We had an excellent view of the ocean from our third floor room, but I doubt many of the other rooms did. The pool area was very nice and plenty big enough for everyone. The 'huts' around the pool provided good shade from the scorching sun, but were hard to come by if you didn't "reserve" them early enough. The bar areas were fine (open at 10am for the early indulger).
STAFF: The staff was very friendly and helpful although the language barrier was a problem at times. The room was cleaned well every day and when our air conditioner leaked the first night, someone was there within 5 minutes to work on it. (Of course, it continued to leak for the rest of the week - we just dealt with it!) The waitstaff in the bars and restaurants were a little slow, but friendly.
BEACH: The Riu beach, with grey-ish sand and volcanic rock. We took a few walks and illegally collected a few shells, but never spent too much time there. Everyone came to the beach around 5-6pm to watch the sunset. BEAUTIFUL!! (After that, it's pretty dark - from 6pm on.)
WEATHER: Amazing! Believe it or not some says that still you can get some rain in November but we never got a drop of rain until the morning we left. (I think Costa Rica was sad to see us go!) It was a little too hot at times, but since our room was the only air conditioning we knew, we got used to the heat and humidity. Sun bathers beware: get a GOOD base tan before coming here. The sun can burn you in an hour!
FOOD: Hmmm...It's okay. You won't starve. All-you-can-eat all the time. Breakfast is the best meal with eggs, bacon, and gallo pinto (a local specialty - very good!) Lunch and dinner consist of various veggies, pastas, fishes, fouls, and meats. Avoid the Meat!!! Fish is safe - and good. Previous reviewers raved about the fruit. I've had better in the US. Avoid the desserts except for the tres leches (three milk) cake. The ala carte restaurant is not worth the trouble of the slow waitstaff. The $28 'surf and turf' meal is disappointing. The local beer (Imperial) is good, but the stronger drinks are not so strong. I had to keep asking the bartender for more rum in my pina colada. Once we went to Tamarindo, we ate at Gecko's and the Lazy Wave (both quite good). In Brasalito, we tried Marco Polo's pizzaria (wonderful!).
TOURS: Just one, THE NICARAGUA ONE DAY TOUR! Since my wife and I had planned to lay around, relax and do as little as possible for that week. The day after arriving, there were an assortment of tours offered by the resort. This was the one thing my wife and I do not participate in when we travel. The thought of getting on a bus and being kidnapped for the entire day is not what we enjoy doing. But since we heard a couple from Jersey talking about their “One day tour to Nicaragua” we kind of got curious about it and asked them, they did immediately referred us to this Nicaraguan Tour Operator “Macua Tours Nicaragua” and we contacted them via internet you can actually google it. I never wanted to go to Nicaragua. I never thought of going to Nicaragua. Nicaragua was like Iraq to me. So I signed up. Maybe because it was so close to the resort. Maybe it was the adventure of going to some bad place for the thrill.
We pass through the border and there was a handsome man standing in the front of the bus. The Costa Rican driver introduced Edwin, and handed him to us. The rest I will say was "Nicaraguan History", Political history, geography, Culture. I enjoy watching the History Channel here in the United States. Edwin was like watching the History Channel and the subject was "The History of Nicaragua". He was superb! He taught me more in that afternoon than I would have never imagined. Edwin, and Nicaragua was the highlight of my week visit to Central America.
I would like to pass along a very special thanks to Edwin, and look forward to visiting his wonderful Nicaragua again.
Loved It - Great Stay
My wife and I stayed 11/14 - 11/21 and had a great time. The hotel is beautiful and like others have mentioned they have some issues but they are doing a good job. We had an ocean view room and found it very comfortable. We asked for and received extra pillows and extra cervaza for the fridge. Fridge was supposed to be stocked every 2 days but ours was stocked everyday or it seemed that way. Specialty restaraunts - you have to make a reservation - only one of the three is open each night. To make reservations you need to go to the Liberia restaraunt in the morning - they start taking reservations at 7am. We thought the food was very good at the buffett and I liked the Italian and Steak - didn't like the Japanese at all - but I think it's really a matter of personal taste as I have seen different opinions on all of them. Service was good everywhere and drinks were strong and plentiful. Favorite bartenders were Juan at the pool, Johnny in the lobby and Mario is everywhere. Take time to talk with them and you'll find them all very friendly and I have very limited Spanish but they are all so willing to help and try. I tipped often but didn't really make a difference because service was good regardless, I just like to help them out when possible. It's not a RIU Palace so the selections and service in the speciality restaraunts is a little below what you get at a Palace.
I loved the beach - dark brown/grey but the water was always swimmable. I never used any bug spray and was never bothered although my wife used spray all the time and it worked for her. If you are facing the beach - you can walk around to the right side and there are a couple of roads that I went exploring on. Very remote - be careful - we saw several snakes but it was very cool to see the wildlife - lot's of birds, lizards and butterflies. The sand does get extremely hot during the day so make sure to have beach shoes.
Pools were great - I agree they are a little spread out and it's a ways to get to the restroom and to get drinks. No beach or pool service, again it would be nice but not necessary if you bring insulated mugs. I highly recommend oversized mugs and they will fill them with whatever you want.
Tours - we did several things while there. We we're picked up at the airport by Memo and he arranged a white water rafting tour in the Tenario River and a trip to Arenal. You can find his information by googling Memo Costa Rica Tours. He is really a great guy and we even went to his house. He runs a small and very personable operation. The river was so cool - one of the best experiences of my life. It was a little ways a way but definitely worth the trip - about 1 1/2 to get to the place - then you go down a dirt road to get to the river. They sell a CD for $40 and I never buy them because they are always a rip-off - but I'm so glad my wife talked me into getting it. It was so incredible - the shots they get while you are rafting are unbelievable - I'll attach a couple.
Went fishing with Papagayo Fishing Charters - actually went twice - it was great!! Caught a Sailfish, several dorado and bonitas. Saw 2 whales very close up and a ton of sea turtles. We went with Arnauldo (captain) and Luis and Carlos (deck hands) - they worked they tails off and made sure we had a good time. Those guys were all fantastic.
The only thing I have to say I didn't enjoy was the buffett at the Baldi Hot Springs - the springs are nice enough but the buffett dinner was horrible - I would avoid it and eat some place in town or just order off the menu.
In short I would recommed Memo for all tours as he will work with you to personalize your trip and Papagayo for fishing excursions, although Memo can help you with that as well. I did a lot of research before going and it paid off. This was our 2nd time to Costa Rica and definitely won't be the last. Let me know if you have any specific questions and I'll be glad to respond.
One last thing - Disco charging for drinks - Ridiculous - that's such a rip-off - I encourage everyone to boycott the Disco and maybe they'll change their minds about charging.
Big Beautiful place with even bigger bugs and bad food!
The new RIU is an amazing hotel and lives up to the RIU standards (and yes, it is finished) in regards to the wonderful room accommodations. However, with its 701 rooms it was too big for a romantic vacation. The biggest issue was the LARGE bugs that come out at sundown and they are everywhere. Your room balconly is off-limits as soon as the sun goes down, unless you like hanging out with 3 inch long grasshoppers (not kidding about the 3 inches). As for the pool it was constantly overcrowded (and the manager told me they only had 500 rooms filled out of the 701) and there are only 2 bars for the entire pool/beach area (yes, you will wait for a drink). As for their advertized restaurants they state that there is 1 buffet and 3 a la carte. WRONG! They all are a buffet and 2 of the 4 will then bring your dinner choice (consisting of 4 choices) to the table after you get your apps, soup, salad from a buffet. We were thoroughly disappointed in the food as were the majority of the people we talked to around the pool bar (yes, you got it.....waiting in line for a drink). Also, as the Manager told us after he put on our trending RIU bracelet (yes, this is a bracelet wearing hotel and you only get 1 towel at the pool) everyone must eat at the buffet their 1st night because you have to make reservations each morning for the 3 other restaurants (between 7am and 10am) and since check in isn't til 3pm you do not get a chance to make a reservation. The nightly entertainment is a hoot, that's all I'll say about that. I could see this hotel being a nice place for a huge corporate outing (if those still exist) or a massive 300 person wedding. If you are going for a couple’s getaway or a family vacation this is not the place.
Ok, but not great and service is not their specialty
We just arrived home from a six night stay at the Riu last night. The resort is beautiful and the beach is stunning. However, we were very disappointed in the level of service at the hotel. For example we requested extra pillows upon our arrival and again later in the same day. The pillows arrived only after a visit to the front desk (24 hours later) to remind them of the request. The staff seldom answers the phone when you call the "Customer Service" extension or the Front Desk. On the third night of our visit, we arrived back to our room after being out all day to no air conditioning. We began calling for assistance and after 30 minutes finally got someone to answer the phone. The staff responded that they would get to it when they could, but they had a long line at the front desk and had to go. After about two hours of service men in our room and discussions with the hotel manager, we finally were offered an upgraded room (with working AC) - but only after we threatened to contact the credit card company to deny all charges.
There is only one bar in the pool area with no wait service as we have had at other Riu Resorts. If you want to enjoy a beverage on the beach, that is virtually impossible as it is a long walk to the pool bar from the beach. We felt as if there were more Riu employees attempting to sell excursions and services to us then trying to provide service. If only this were reversed, our opinion would certainly be different.
Over the weekend of our stay, the hotel filled up with Costa Rican Residents. This was fine except that the hotel was very ill prepared for this major influx of people. The food and beverage service in particular could not keep up. They were running out of food at breakfast and at one point, there were no coffee cups. The meal service is somewhat inconsistent as they seem to not offer certain staples at each meal - like guacamole.
Sunscreen and bug spray with deet are musts. Also be aware that the hotel is in a very remote location, so any excursions take even longer because of the additional travel time. If you are ok with a beautiful resort that provides less than stellar services, this place is for you. We would probably not recommend this hotel or visit again.
Staff were more than willing to help.Brand new so very clean.Food was exceptional in buffet.Italian menu did not seem really Italian based.It is close to jungles so bugs are too be expected.The praying mantis style bugs are harmless.I did not find them too bad with a little spray at nighttime.
I did the half day tours so I did not have to leave resort as much.Most tours are 8-12 hours long unfortunately.
They really will need another bar at poolside when they are booked at capacity or perhaps they could serve drinks to ease the congestion a bit.
The heat is intense and we only went in November so take that into consideration for January and February when it is 40 degrees. If you like cold beer DO NOT forget your insulated mug.
This brand new resort is stunning. Clean, extraordinary pools, excellent food (lots of choice) and beautiful large rooms. Great selection of day trips. We did the Nicaragua (5:30a.m. til 9:30pm) and while we enjoyed all the things we saw, it was too much time on a bus (border crossing a very very slow process). The Paulo Verde river trip is incredible - half day and saw monkeys, crocs, iguanas. Many took the Combo Tour (waterslide in the forest, zip-lining, hot srpings) and raved about that. There were giant turtles that came out of the ocean onto the beach at night to lay their eggs right at the resort. Things I'd like to see change - the level of noise at night at the mainstage. The pre show entertainment was bordering on annoying at times. The actual shows were well done. Also, the music volume around the pool during the day. I like the music just not so extremely loud. We solved that problem by heading to the beach and the ocean waves. The pools are the nicest I have ever experienced. The staff is excellent and addressed every question we had immediately.
definitely not a 5 star
This was our 4th trip to Costa Rica and we have probably been to a dozen hotels. While the Riu is not the worst hotel that we have stayed at, it clearly was no where near the best.
This hotel is newly opened so perhaps some of the issues will be dealt with once they finish their learning curve however there are basic issues that need addressing.
The food was plentiful but best described as very Americanized. No real local flavour. And while I don't mind leftovers, it was disappointing to find the same food disguised in diffeent dishes for 3 -4 consecutive days.
The is no coffee maker in the rooms which meant that it was an almost 10 minute trek to get a cup each morning. Even then coffee was unavailable unless the main restaurants were open. As we did a number of ecotours, that meant we went without both breakfast and coffee several mornings because the restaurant opened at 7 and we were leaving before that time or basically at that time.
Room service was non existant. I accidently broke an ashtray and scattered glass littered the floor. we called 3 times to get either someone to sweep as there was no broom in the room or to tell us where we could get a room and gave up after the thirn attempt because no one would come to the room.
The nightly entertainment was very loud and, shall we say cheesy. Most annoying was that it was so loud that it prevented anyone from sleeping until the show was over usually after 11
I don't know if it was our room only but the air conditioning always was turned off for periods during the night.
We did 5 day trips during our stay. The tour company is not technically affiliated with the hotel but clearly is endorsed and supported by the hotel. There are sinficant logistical issues that need to be ironed out on the tours which hopefully exist only because the hotel is new. However the trips are expensive and some are advertised as full days when they are barely 1/2 day tours
The final issue on checkout was the hotel trying to charge us a $28 connection fee for one long distance call to our children--- where we used an international calling card and a roll free number. while the hotel finally backed down after 30 minutes, it was not done gracefully and left a bad final taste in our mouths
There were other issues but I don't want to go on too long. There were good things also. Free wi fi downstairs was a nice touch. The bar firdge was refilled daily and was entirely free. As always the Ticos in the hotel and locally are the warmest and friendliest people you will ever meet.