Riu Guanacaste Reviews

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Riu Guanacaste  

Playa Matapalo - Sardinal | Carrillo - Guanacaste, Santa Cruz, Costa Rica

Posted by: J on Feb 11, 2014
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Riu Guanacaste Reviews
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Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica Costa Rica

of 28 Hotels in Costa Rica

User rating 3.5

Based on 18 reviews

Riu Guanacaste Information

This new 5-star resort is located on the seafront in the beautiful region of Guanacaste, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. As well as a superb range of leisure possibilities, the hotel offers five modern, fully-equipped conference rooms, and fine restaurants.

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Riu Guanacaste Reviews

Riu Guanacaste Review: 3.5 of 5 18 reviews
Very good
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1 - 10 of 18

"If you live getting there from the Airport shuttle bus"

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 1.00 of 5

Posted by:  Karen  on May 2, 2012  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Apr, 2012 | Leisure | With friend
611 people found this review helpful

Road condition is horrible. Shuttle bus drives way too fast up the cliffs. This is the last hotel on the stop, making your drive back to the airport grueling and horrifying. Be sure to make reservations to eat in the restaurants first thing in the morning or they are booked. I lost 10 lbs. from Diarrhea. The food at the main buffet was horrible. La cuca Rochas (Cock Roaches) were in our room and when we told the front desk, the manager tried to say we had to go buy spray. After an argument, he finally sent someone in to spray and they left the dead bugs all over the room. Donald Trump would have shut them down. Don't drink Mrs. Clark's cranberry juice, either, as it turned my tongue red like a cherry slurpy and I got violently ill frmo this. I'm guessing it was cherry juice and pomegranite mixture, as I cannot drink either without getting ill. The best meal was the Tacos poolside. Other than that, I wish I packed slimfast and ensure. The sand at the beach is more like dirt and the casino is as small as an arcade. A Joke!! This trip made me never want to leave the U.S. again.

Room Number:

Arrived 4/21/12 -- Left 4/26/12

Cock Roaches.

Restaurants and Bars:
Nobody in the bar. They did have fruit in there; however -- the only thing worth eating.

The pool is the best part of the trip.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Didn't do any, as we would have had to go on the horror bus to get there.

Other Comments:
I was so sick and hungry we got two cheeseburgers and two small fries at the Liberia Aiport -- cost: $63.00. My cheeseburger smelled so bad, I could even eat it and it looked like it had a big vein running through it. I picked at the bread.

Also, you can bring lighters in to the country but when you get to customs leaving, they steal them from you and they dump out your belongings and pick on you like they are going to throw you in jail. They treat you like cattle waiting to be branded. Horrible trip.

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"Horrible place to stay on a honeymoon!"

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 1.00 of 5

Posted by:  Kiley  on May 22, 2012  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: May, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
597 people found this review helpful

The buffets were covered in flies. There were multiple times my food had bugs in it. The beds are very low quality. Servers were very rude. The hotel smells like trash everywhere you go. It all takes away from the views. Also, people in coco were very rude and we were almost robbed by some people that said they were a travel business. Stay at royal corin in la fortuna by arenal volcano. We had a marvelous experience there!

Room Number:


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"photograph your children without permission "

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 1.00 of 5

Posted by:  shauna  on May 6, 2012  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2012 | Business | Family and Kids
593 people found this review helpful

photos of your kids without permission. Muriatic acid in the water makes you sick waaaaaay over priced.

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"Not 5 star! Would never reccomend--worst RIU we've been to"

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 2.00 of 5

Posted by:  A.T.  on Sep 5, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Aug, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
377 people found this review helpful

Our stay: August 20-27 2011
Well first off, when we asked if it was a Palace (which is what we have stayed at previously with the RIU's) we were told that it was not technically, but that it was the only RIU in Costa Rica so it was comparable to a Palace. It was not. ...We were also told that it was 5 star. It was not. It was more like 3 at the most. Our ceiling leaked. We had large puddles on our floor. We had ants in our room (AND IN OUR BED--which was a "king"--no, it was 2 full size beds pushed together that rooled apart when we tried to cuddle!). The fridge in the room at the others we have stayed at were stocked daily. There, they stocked every other day. They give you 2 bottles of water which we drank in 1 day. When we asked for extra water and no soda as we do not drink soda, we were told "no"!! The wait staff was terrible (actually, there wasn't really a wait staff. They only came around and grabbed your empties.) The bartenders were rude, no matter how much money you tipped them. There were only 3 restaraunts to choose from and they were all buffet style (at the others we stayed at there were at least 5, you got dressed up and got waited on. Here, there were people in gym shorts and tank tops. Again, buffet) Their best vodka was Smirnoff (no thanks!). They had 1 large pool but you had to get out of the water and walk to another entrance to get from one side to the other...made no sense. So, to get to the pool bar, you had to get out, walk to the pool bar entrance and get back in. I dont know, we paid alot of money for the vacation and expected alot more. We had a great time, but were dissapointed with the RIU...considering that it is only 2 years old. Our excursions were really fun. We did the 1/2 day ziplining which was a blast! We also did the national park riverboat tour, that was also really cool. If you booked knowing that it was 3 star (or less), then you shouldn't have any problems. We were going in with too high of expectations.

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"I initially felt quite safe at the hotel"

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 2.00 of 5

Posted by:  Chris - Toronto  on Jan 8, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Dec, 2009 | Leisure | Family and Kids
453 people found this review helpful

Riu Guanacaste- The good , the bad and the really bad-long

Just returned from a week at this new hotel (myself and my teenage daughter). We are very seasoned travelers (several trips yearly) and usually stay at 5 star resorts although have stayed in lesser places as well. I research all vacations very thoroughly – this new resort was having an opening special that was very reasonable- we paid $200 per night for the two of us all inclusive. At that price it is hard to find fault with anything however, in reading this review keep in mind that the pricing for this hotel is going to be considerably above what we paid and some of the problems that it is easy to laugh off at $200 per night will be harder to ignore if paying $400-$600 per night! Overall, I would say that this hotel gives the appearance of being a 5 star (and I am very well aware that there is a different expectation for 5 star in the Caribbean/ Latin America vs North America or Europe) , but if you look below the surface I would say that this is actually a 3 or per! haps 4 star hotel at best. I used reviews on this site extensively and felt it would be helpful to summarize some of the things that would have been helpful to me in making a decision about whether to stay here.

The Good:
- The hotel really is quite beautiful. It sits on a very picturesque beach with hills surrounding it and is quite majestic looking. The lobby area is quite attractive as is the pool area. The vegetation is new but will be quite beautiful when grown in
- The rooms are attractive but small. Bathroom a very decent size. Large balcony. We stayed in a basic room and it was fine- actually preferable to us as it did not front on to the evening entertainment and we still had a nice bit of ocean view.
- The hotel is spotlessly clean- there was always someone cleaning every public area. The public bathrooms were also spotless
- There was an abundance of lounge chairs around the pool and beach areas. We never had difficulty getting a chair at any time of the day. There were approximately 1500 people staying at the hotel, so not full capacity, but I was impressed with the availability as lack of availability of pool chairs is one problem many all inclusive seem to have.
- Pool bar- great service and selection. Although no pool or beach bar service
- Pools- very nice and never felt crowded
- Staff- most of the staff at restaurants and bars were wonderful . Many had limited English but they were very attentive. The management is another story (see below)
- Wifi- this was a good thing while it lasted! Free wifi in the lobby but after 2 days it was not working. We were told it would be up the next day and were told this for 3 days straight- finally one of the front desk staff admitted that it was not going to be fixed at all. This meant that for any type of communication you had to use the hotel telephones or pay to use their internet (not bad at $5 for 30 minutes but machines often not working) There is absolutely no cell service anywhere near the hotel.
- The boat ride to Coco beach was fun (although a little bit difficult getting in and out of the baot from the beach given the waves). Prepare to potentially get very wet! This ride was supposed to be $10 but after the weekend (coincidentally the same time as a large number of Canadians arrived) the price went up to $15. This is also true of the hotel snorkeling trip- arbitrarily increased mid-stay from $15 to $25. By the way the snorkel trip is not really worthwhile- not a great reef and very little to see
- The beach- long and very nice although be careful of the intensity of the surf and undertow. A few people did get injured

The Bad I:
- Food: This is a difficult thing to characterize as everyone has different expectations when it comes to food. The food is certainly plentiful and well presented generally. I will say that my general bias is against buffets and try to stay at hotels that offer sit down meals so this may influence my take on the food. Both myself and my daughter are quite adventurous in terms of trying new things and we eat out at restaurants extensively ( one of the best meals we had on this vacation was on one of our excursions when we were taken to a small local restaurant and served authentic Costa Rican home cooking- nothing fancy but absolutely delicious and far better than anything served at the hotel!)
- The breakfasts at the buffet were very good although after a week it did get a bit monotonous as every day was exactly the same. Although there was considerable choice available. The lunches were the weakest offering- lunch was only available at the poolside buffet restaurant. Although we always found something to eat, and you will never starve here, this is not 5 star food. Much of it was bland and overly sauced or over cooked. Yes there always was fish available and some of it was good but seeing the same things day after day was monotonous- especially when the lunch offerings were often recycled from dinner the night before
- Dinners were hit and miss. I was not overly impressed by the dinner buffets- again, lots of food available and considerable variety but nothing really great. There were 3 restaurants available- of the 3 the steakhouse was not good at all ( and I was trying to be generous in my assessment as it was nice to not have to go to the buffet). The Italian restaurant was much better and the Asian restaurant was pretty good. However these restaurants did not change their menus so to eat there meant eating from the same menu each time.
- The process of reserving the restaurants was tedious- stand in line to get a reservation in the morning (although could reserve up to 2 nights at a time). This is not what I want to spend my time doing on vacation- also there were 2 meal times- 6pm and 8:15 pm so felt very cruise ship-like (although many cruise lines have moved away from this rigidity)

The Bad II:
- In the rooms the shampoo was supplied in 1-use foil packets- this is NOT environmentally friendly as another reviewer suggested and is really just designed to save the hotel money. For 2 of us this meant throwing out 4 foil packets daily ( 2 of shampoo and 2 of shower gel). A small bottle of shampoo and shower gel would be preferred. There was also no hair conditioner or Body lotion ( a necessity after long days in the sun and standard everywhere I have stayed) supplied.
- Restocking of the mini bar was hit and miss- in the week we were there ours was restocked once as opposed to every other day as was supposed to occur. This in spite of polite requests and a generous tip on the first and only day it was restocked
- This brings us to the management. There was a sense that the front desk had been told to agree politely to any request and then promptly forget about it! A number of people we met seemed to feel that any small request (ie please restock mini bar, repair a/c, etc) was agreed to and then nothing done about it. The upper management seemed to have an almost arrogant attitude towards the guests (see the really bad section below)
- Beds- the beds were VERY hard. Not comfortable at all- we were told that a foam bad could be supplied but then this never happened. Our sheets were not changed once during a 1 week stay- I know this because I spilled some diet coke on the sheet one day and the stain was there the full week! The beds were remade daily with the same sheets- this is environmental friendliness to the extreme!
- The hotel rooms were not very sound proof . Could hear conversations and movements from surrounding rooms and especially from hallways. One morning at 4:30 am the hotel staff decided to have the surrounding areas fumigated. Everyone on the south side of the hotel was awoken to the sounds of loud machinery from 4:30-5am-front desk staff laughed- more evidence of the attitude of the hotel towards its guests

The Bad III:
- On the day we left to go to the airport (a Saturday) the hotel decided to pave the road leading to the hotel (this was done by the hotel, not the government). This resulted in taxis and vans being delayed 45 minutes to and from the hotel- we had allowed 3 ½ hours to get to the airport but were almost late because of this decision on the part of the hotel. Our cab driver , along with many other that were literally parked on the road for an hour trying to get out to the airport, said the workers told them that the hotel was supposed to notify all guests checking out so they could leave more time but this was never conveyed to any of the guests I spoke with
- Towel service- you were given 1 towel card per person. This is fine if a bit of a hassle- the problem was that the towel service staff would not allow you to exchange your wet towel for a dry one! Given the extreme heat we spent a lot of time in the pool but had to return to a wet towel! They took “one towel per person per day “ quite literally and pointed to this sign when we asked to exchange for a dry towel. I can understand one towel at a time per person but have NEVER been required to use a wet towel all day at any other resort. We asked on 2 separate days to exchange our towels and were told no each time
- This hotel is very isolated. This is OK for a few days but many people were feeling a bit stir-crazy after a week! There is entertainment in the evening starting at 10 pm but not much to do in the evenings between dinner and the show. (although we did not go to the casino)

The Really Bad:
- My biggest concern about the hotel was its absolute refusal to allow outside tour operators on site. I travel extensively and always arrange my own tours as I prefer a smaller, more personalized excursion. I had pre-booked airport transfers, a Palo Verde tour and a sailing tour from home after extensive research. This hotel refused to allow my tour guide/driver to enter the premises. I spoke with the PR manager of the hotel who told me that this was a new hotel policy (apparently new that week) but she agreed with me initially that it was not really fair to guests and that she would speak with her boss and get back to me. I thought the problem was solved until she got back to me the next day and told me that the driver would not be allowed onto the grounds but I could walk to the exit (a 10-15 minute walk in blistering heat) and meet him there. This was even going to be true for my airport transfer (ie walk to the exit with my daughter and our suitcases!) I spoke with the hotel manager, Ricardo, who confirmed that my tour operator could not pick me up for excursions and that this was for my own good and my safety (ridiculous as all the other hotels in the area allowed private tours in for their guests- this was more to do with the commissions of the onsite tour operators I am sure). However Ricardo told me he would do me a favour (??) and allow my driver in to pick me up for a transfer back to the airport. His attitude was very arrogant and condescending and others at the hotel felt the same way about their interactions with him. This policy would be enough to prevent me from ever staying at this hotel again
- Theft- this became a big problem while we were there. I initially felt quite safe at the hotel with my items locked in the in-room safe. I also don’t take anything of significant value down to the pool or leave it unattended. However, we began to hear about numerous items being stolen from around the pool- particularly cameras and cash and very little concern by hotel management. We then heard of people having items stolen from their safe (and the safe code being reset so they could no longer open it). One couple had all their money stolen from the safe and the hotel would not even assist them in getting a ride to town to go to a bank! On our last few days items went missing from our safe as well- not sure how they did this- I set the code and every day counted my cash and each day felt a bit was missing but shrugged it off as a counting mistake on my part. On the last 2 days however I counted and wrote down the amount of money in the safe and $10 was gone each e! vening. On the last night we left the TV on and the Do Not Disturb sign on the door to deter anyone from entering the room- when we got back to the room at 11 pm the TV had been turned off and money was again missing! My daughter did not want to stay in the room any longer- luckily we were checking out the next day Overall, I feel we got our money's worth at $200 daily all inclusive for 2 people. However, once the hotel is charging full price I would certainly stay elsewhere. I also feel that even at $200 per night we would have preferred to pay more and stay at a better run hotel (in spite of the beauty of this one). Would we go back to Costa Rica- most definitely. Would we stay at this hotel again- most definitely not and I , like many people we met, would not stay at a RIU hotel again.

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Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 2.00 of 5

Posted by:  Daniel  on Dec 19, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Dec, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
380 people found this review helpful

The first glance is great! The grounds and lobby are so very beautiful....
The service is very good and the people are warm and friendly.
The rooms are not good, certainly not 5 star. The air conditioning does not take the moisture out of the rooms nor does the musty smell dissipate.
The food is not very good in the buffets. You must visit the three specialty restaurants to enjoy any meals at all.

This is not worthy of a five star rating.
We do not plan to return.

Room Number:

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"Pass on this one.........."

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 2.00 of 5

Posted by:  Gail  on May 25, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: May, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
371 people found this review helpful

We recently stayed at this resort and found that hardly anyone speaks any English. Only reception and tour guides speak English so it is impossible to communicate with anyone. They also do not understand the concept of air conditioning and leave all the doors open on the few areas that are air-condtioned -- expect they will blow the air conditioning system soon. The place is isolated and they charge a lot of money for all of the tours. The food is not very good -- meat is overcooked and they leave cheeses and sliced meats out for hours before the meals. The rooms are nice but the furniture is not comfortable to sit in. The pool is too far from the main building and it is downhill from the main building so difficult for older people to walk back from. The pool is too hot and they turn off the filters all night.

Your Arrival:
We had no problem upon arrival but the bus trip takes too long because most of the trip is down dirt roads.

nice but furniture uncomfortable to sit in --- the liquour in the rooms is horrid stuff -- not drinkable

Restaurants and Bars:
nothing to write home about

pool is nice but too warm to be refreshing

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"Fantastic Staff & Beautiful View"

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Gene  on Jan 2, 2012  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Sep, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
660 people found this review helpful

Booked with American Airlines. Will never do that again! Trip booked non-stop, but they changed return via Miami (a Very Long Day). We were delayed
leaving Dallas because they overbooked. American had to unload & reload the plane.
We booked the trip months ahead with adjoing seats, but they put us in different rows. Thanks to another passenger, we sat together.
Before we left, we found that AA didn't book our RT van, and we had to pay extra!
When we got to our room, I found my suit-case zipper was destroyed. How was I
going to get back w/o a suit case? The nearest town is miles away & cab fare
is well over $100. From Sat. to Mon. I fretted, until the Manager Ricardo, and
his Assistant Rosa rescued us. Rosa gave us an old suit case of hers!
Only because of them, am I writing my 1st review.
As for American, avoid them! They were once a great arline.

Was quick & easy.

Everything was as expected. Good. The bacony view of the hills & ocean was
fantastic! I think all rooms were ocean-view.
You have to take pictures of the sun set (only a few minute window).

Restaurants and Bars:
Mixed. Some food was good, some so-so. My wife didn't like the Japanese.
But she said the Sushi & the Peiking duck was very good. I loved the duck.
Only one place open for lunch & it was packed. The lunch salad was not good,
and I had to mask it with salsa.

Sand is dark (but not coarce), thus no turcoise ocean. I prefer Punta Cana,DR
beaches. The water was nice & warm, and easy to get into.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
My wife was a happy camper, because of the kayaks.
There's zip-lining only minutes away.
The nite show sounded above average, but we couldn't find a table. It was
Costa Rica's National holiday,so it was crowded.

Other Comments:
Many guests were rude, or oblivous.
The Costa Rican guest were fine.
We were there during the rainy season. Mornings were clear to about 1 pm.
Rain come between 1 & 5 pm. Some time, only 15 min to several hours.
Suprised how comfortable the weather was, given how close we were to the
equator we were.

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"Beautiful hotel but a few drawbacks"

Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Joy  on Mar 3, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | Family and Kids
400 people found this review helpful

Room Number:
2075 & 2076

The trip from the airport and checking in was uneventful. All went well and speedy. THe roads were terrible but that is not the hotel's fault. THe first impression of the hotel was awesome. It is spacious, well decorated and very pleasing artistically to the eye. THe floors gleamed as did the whole resort.

The rooms were great, large and the bed was comfortable. We did have a problem with our ref. which was never fixed. We told the front desk about it everyday with the promise it would be handled. Our room did not get cleaned until late in the day however if we called down to the desk, someone was sent up to clean it. The little complementary products that are in most resorts were not provided here. A shampoo dispenser was provided in the shower. The towel service was great.

Restaurants and Bars:
We did not like the special restaurants because of the menu which is personal but the line for the reservations were too long. We tried the Asian one but it was buffet, not sit down service which we had experienced in many other resorts. The food in the main restaurant was just OK. You would never starve but nothing was outstanding. The variety was great and we always found foods we liked. Some things were over cooked and dried out because it had been sitting out without proper refrigeration.

The grounds are well groomed and cared for constantly. The pool was very nice and unusual with many little aresas set aside. The beach had black, fine sand which was so soft. We always found a place in the shade w/chairs provided. The view was spectacular.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The excurisions were too far to travel for us. Being so isolated, you were a captive audience. The great excurisions were all 2-3 hours away so it was a day for anything with many hours on the bus. There were little shops but quite expensive. The casino was great. We like to go into small towns to visit but could not do that here.

Other Comments:
The above comments are of a personal like and dislike nature. Some people find the isolation great and others found the food wonderful in the special rest. It is what we experienced and compared to other resorts. I would recommend you see for yourself if you disagree with any of the above comments. It was a good experience over all and might even consider going back.

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Riu Guanacaste
User Rating:  Riu Guanacaste Review: 4.00 of 5

Posted by:  Teresa  on Mar 20, 2012  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Mar, 2012 | Leisure | With Group
636 people found this review helpful

We had a great time at Riu Guancaste in Costa Rica . When you check in get extra pillows right away! That truly was my only issue. Be ready - the beds are on the hard side it tolerable. We did have a room that had a musty smell it bothered me but not my husband, they were really nice and let us move .... No problem. Front desk was excellent. Everyone that worked at the hotel was very nice. Ok. On to food. We are extremely picky! Go with the buffet. It is excellent! Went to the steak house one night- not so great, but our party was large so maybe this had something to do with it! If you book any trips do it with the people in the lobby they are very informative and will give you all the Information you need. We stayed on the construction side and it never bothered us. Didn't even hear them working.....this hotel was very clean! If you hang out by the pool and want it to be on the quiet side go closer to the beach side. We also went into the town of coco- that was fun and had a nice meal. Picked a package at the front desk: zip lining , horse back riding, water slide , mud, and hot spring.- it was a great day ! I felt very safe in costa rica - enjoy your trip!

Room Number:

March 8 2012

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