I had never been to Costa Rica and was a bit skeptical about going but after reading several reviews on trip adviser I decided to give it a chance. I had a blast and do not regret going and as a matter of fact am planning to return some time in the future. I went during February and the weather was nice with great sun for tanning and a constant breeze from the ocean. We stayed at the old Riu Guanacaste and it was fabulous. The new Riu sits right next to the old one but some vacationers from the new one told me it was not all that great, so I was really happy and lucky to have chosen correctly. The old Riu had better events and pool atmosphere. There was always something so you won't get bored and the pool is huge and pretty much a constant party or relaxation depending where you sit. The beach was a bit disappointing only because the tide at the time was pretty rapid and it caused a lot of sand to be in the water so it was not as clear. However, I went scuba diving through the hotel and it was amazing. They took us out about 15 mins out and the water was pretty clear and sea life was awesome (e.g. huge sting ray, blow fish, eel, snakes, and plenty of schools of fish). The food was great because you had plenty of options. Plus I am not a picky eater to I welcomed any type of food with open arms. We didn't do to many excursions but I heard the National Park and Waterfall tours were amazing. Hope this helps the next person on their Costa Rica Trip.
Costa Rica was wonderful. The food at RIU was good (not a big deal to eat at the restaurants on the resort that require reservations) and go for the all-inclusive option. There are great restaurant outside of the resort space as well such as in the Cocoa Beach shopping area. My husband, daughter and me, had an excellent lunch at Papagayo Seafood Restaurant in Cocoa Beach for US$60 and it was worth every penny – get the red snapper, with garlic sauce on the side and ginger sauce on the side – my mouth is still watering. They did not typically prepare fried plantains (not sure why) but we asked and they made it for us. US dollars are acceptable everywhere and you should have some singles for tipping a few here and a few there. There are more cost effective tour deals on the beach rather than in the hotel lobby. You must try the one to the volcano, with the mud bath, hot springs, etc., fabulous. Look for Sergio who is generally on the beach by the RIU. Forgot to mention, the hotel has a fitness center and spa which I did not have the opportunity to visit but I hear it's wonderful. If you are going to go horse back riding, do not use the one at the back of the hotel. The horses are thin and weak and trip quite a bit. I spoke with another family who went horse back riding via the hotel and they had real stallions apparently. The Costa Rican sun is very sneaky because it feels so good. You have no idea that you've been sunburned until after it happens. Everyone, regardless of skin type must use sunscreen or sun block from day one (not the second or the third day). Trust me on this one; it doesn't matter if you haven't burned in the past. The women (tourists from far away as well as visitors from the surrounding areas) like to but on something a bit sexier in on evenings so take along a few simple, sexy evening dresses/nicer shorts with nice tops, etc., not to fussy but effective. My six-year old daughter had a great time, met other kids at the pool, etc., and she did everything with us. We're not into babysitting during vacation but its there if you need it. A few more points: • If you like ocean view rooms, then pay for it • Take a few rolls (bread) from the restaurant during breakfast each morning for feeding the fish on the beach. It will be like standing in an aquarium. The fish are plentiful and harmless • The exit tax is US$26 for each person • If you’re connecting on your return flight and you have to claim and recheck luggage, please note that if you have duty free liquor, it must be properly padded and boxed to avoid breakage. You may be forced to check it in as regular luggage/ may not be allowed to include same as carry on. I hope the above information is useful. Cheers, pebbles
Overall I think we made a great choice in booking at the Riu Guanacaste. It was located close to the airport and easily accessible to every entertainment and adventure option imagineable in Costa Rica. The location allowed us to be able to explore many areas of the country, while still being able to return every day to the beautiful beach and not worry about what's for dinner. The all-inclusive option was a "safe" one for us as we did not feel like planning every meal or figuring out where to eat every day at another place. It's the first time I've booked an AI vacation, and I'd say I was fairly pleased with it overall. I thought the food was fantastic, although a lot of the restaurants were very Americanized, which I guess is what a family would want on a vacation to a foreign country. My girlfriend and I were looking for more local and exotic options. There were some but the choices were limited. Booking dinner reservations for the more popular restaurants was difficult, so I would recommend getting down there at 9am if you want a table. The drinks were all local beer, cheap local liquor, and rather disappointing. They all tasted watered-down. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but there's no way I could order a mimosa with breakfast if I wanted one, for example. There is one type of beer and it's mediocre at best, a generic red wine and white wine, and plenty of cheap liquor to choose from. Just be prepared to drink what they have because you can't order a Red Bull or anything you might be used to. The beach at this place was amazing. There is about a mile stretch of open white sand beach at the resort which you can use for a plethora of activities - running, horseback riding, sun bathing, snorkeling, you name it. Some water sports like kayaks, snorkels, and paddle boats are part of the AI package - take advantage of this stuff! At low tide you can explore tide pools in the rocks on the beach and find hundreds of creatures you cannot see in the US! The service at this resort was exceptional. From the front desk staff to wait staff to bartenders to maids, everyone was extremely helpful and polite. I cannot speak enough to the level of service provided to us here. Unfortunately there were a few bartenders who, if you didn't tip them, would basically ignore you. This made the experience slightly annoying as we assumed tip was included as well. Don't get me wrong, it was never difficult to get a drink! The rooms were always impeccably clean, and the rest of the resort, it seemed, was always being cleaned. I would eat off the floors anywhere in this place. The pool was amazing - swim up bar, hot tub, multiple levels, water sports, they have it all. Could not have asked for any more. I would recommend this resort to anyone I know, and I have. I actually have friends staying there next month, just booked it when we got back based on my recommendation. Just be prepared to drink and eat what you would expect out of an all-inclusive resort. I'd give this place a 4.5/5 on any scale. Many many benefits and little to no downside. For the price, you cannot beat the Riu Guanacaste and Costa Rica as a country!
My husband and I got the chance to experience what paradise is really like. Upon arrival we were greeted with a welcome cocktail. The service was wonderful, anything you might have needed the staff was always more than accommodating! The resort was clean and inviting. After reading some of the reviews, I was skeptic about the beds, and food. I’m not sure what the fuss was all about, but my husband and I loved the food. For buffet style, it was tasty and fresh! They offered something new everyday. Our room overlooked the rain forest and was quiet and peaceful. We had the best sleep the both of us have ever had. Our rooms were cleaned daily, sheets changed, towels etc. Every other day our mini fridge was stocked. The entertainment was AWESOME!! The entertainment crew was always so happy, fun, up beat, and definitely put on a show with whatever they did. The pool bartenders were excellent and made the best drinks and quick too! The beach staff was also very accommodating in whatever activity you choose. We took the boat to Cocoa, went snorkeling, took a guided Jet Ski adventure, where we were able to see a sea turtle, dolphins (which came right up to our jet ski) and beautiful scenery. It did rain on a daily basis, but that is just that...you are in the rain forest. If you do not like or enjoy rain, you will not like this resort. I have taken several trips to Mexico, Jamaica and would get tired of the sun beating down on you all day; it’s nice to cool off to a little shower. This place was truly a romantic, fun filled, relaxing resort. We will most definitely visit another RIU resort in the very near future. For the price this resort is a 10!!
My husband and I traveled to the Hotel Riu for our honeymoon. I contacted the hotel ahead of time to let them know and they had a bottle of wine and a fruit basket waiting in our room for us. Some other guests told us that their housekeeper made cute little towel animals for them however ours did not (no biggie). Upon arrival to the resort after the flight (which is only about a 40 min ride) we checked in quickly and did not have to wait in line. The front desk staff speaks English well and we did not experience any language barriers. They were polite and efficient at getting us into our room. I'll try and be as detailed as possible for the rest of my review since I really depended on others' views when we booked our vacation. 1) Room- We knew we wanted oceanview, so we booked that room. From reading other reviews, I knew to request a 3rd or 4th floor room (some of the 5th floor rooms have a solid balcony which obstructs views). We also requested a king bed. I emailed the hotel several months in advance to request these specifics and they said they would try their best as these rooms were in demand. We were pleasantly surprised to have our request met. The view was the best! Our room was 3077 and was on the side that was closest to the entertainment area. I did not notice any noise during the day (which we were hardly in the room for) and at night it was not bad. We did stay up to watch the shows and went to bed shortly after and did not have a problem with the noise level. I am a light sleeper and always turn my white noise app on on my phone, so that may have helped drown out some noise. I would definitely stay in this room again! 2) Hotel Grounds- Such a beautiful landscape! The grass was super green and all the mature palms were gorgeous. The hotel itself is super clean. I always saw staff cleaning and picking up. We couldn't get over how clean everything was. One of the best parts of hotel, in my opinion, is that it is mostly non-smoking. There is an out of the way smoking area with tables available, however no smoking was allowed in the restaurants or in the pool area. Some people did smoke on the beach, but it wasn't too bad. 3) Pool- Loved the pool! Super spacious and was glad to see areas that are separate from the pool bar (who knows how much urine is in that part of the pool!?). Loved the lounge chairs in the water. In order to get a chair in the shade, you do need to wake up and get a chair before 7-8am. The pool towels were like sandpaper and cost $20 if you lose one. 4) Beach- I'm glad I live near a beach on the Atlantic and have nice sand. The beach directly in front of the hotel is kind of rocky. The sand is volcanic sand and is a dark color which makes it like walking on hot lava during the hottest part of the day! A short walk past the other Riu leads to a nice, sandy beach. The current is strong so I felt nervous going too deep in the water but it was nice to look at. There wasn't a beach bar, so if you wanted any drinks (including water) you had to go up to the pool bar. Luckily the hotel gives you 2L bottles of water, so we just brought those down to the beach with us. I'm glad I read the reviews and brought our water shoes. We used them several times on the beach. We went for a lot of walks and used them on the rocky portions. 5) Entertainment- The nighttime entertainment was a little cheesy, but it was entertaining. Honestly, we were exhausted at the end of the day and didn't really care too much about what was going on. The entertainment at the pool was good. We liked watching the water aerobics. They have photographers at the pool area taking pictures which you can purchase. The pictures that were taken of us turned out AWESOME. Gaston and Joy were the best. They cost an arm and a leg to purchase, but figured it was worth it to get a few :) 6) Excursions- After reading the reviews we decided to wait to book an excursion until we were at the resort. They always tell you it isn't safe, etc but we had an awesome experience. We booked with Daniel from Lifetime Tours (orange shirt) and had a blast! Our group had only 9 people vs the 40+ that would leave from the lobby. We did the mega tour which includes horseback riding, waterfall, volcanic mud bath/hot springs, waterslide, and ziplining. It was a long day but would recommend it. We also did the snorkeling that was provided (for a fee) through the hotel water service. We saw a ton of fish! We tried borrowing the fins/snorkel for free and going in front of the hotel but the water was too rough. 7) Weather/wildlife- We didn't realize that Costa Rica has 2 seasons, a wet season and dry. We traveled from Feb 14-21 and had the absolute best weather! Hardly a cloud in the sky for the entire week we were there. It was a dry heat, not humid at all. I was surprised to see a lot of brown when we landed at the airport because when I thought of CR I pictured green. It was so fun to see all of the wildlife at the resort! We saw baby sea turtles coming out of their nest and heading to the ocean, a blowfish on shore, beautiful green parakeets, and monkeys. The monkeys are all over on the jungle side of the hotel! 8) Food- This is our second all inclusive resort we've been to and the food was better at the Riu than the other place we went. There were plenty of choices. We didn't go to the steakhouse or the Italian (the line was always long). We had a reservation at the Toucan (fish) and it was good. The Asian restaurant was delicious...we went twice. We both love sushi and they had a lot of variety. The buffet was amazing. Had a huge salad bar, fruit bar, and entrees. There truly was something for everyone. The only complaint that I had was the wine. I could hardly even choke it down and have no idea what it was. My first clue that it would be bad is that it came out of a dispenser ;) We were glad to have the bottle of cab that was given to us as a honeymoon present and we saved it for our last night. Honestly you cannot expect a 5 star restaurant at a resort that feeds thousands of people. I think that considering the amount of people they feed and the amount of prep needed that they do a fantastic job. 9)) Necessities to bring- -Any sort of toiletries. I'm glad I usually travel with my own, because all that was provided was bar soap and a shampoo dispenser in the shower. -Sunscreen. They were selling it for $25 in the gift shop! Glad I packed plenty -Meds. I'm glad I packed some Pepto, Advil, Benadryl itch cream (had a few bug bites on excursion), band aids and triple antibiotic cream (husband cut foot on rocks on the beach) - Water shoes. - Travel mug for drinks from the bars. The cups they give you are small and require frequent refills Usually I do not like to go back to the same place twice, however my husband and I are counting down the days until we can go back. Next time we will do more excursions to see more of the country but we wanted a relaxing honeymoon. Costa Rica and the Riu were Pura Vida!
All I can say is that the Riu Guanacaste did not disappoint. First off, the resort as a whole looks beautiful! Whatever you'd envision a 5 star resort to look like, it did. The lobby was gorgeous and once your enter the resort it overlooks the beautiful beaches and clear blue skies. Our room was well maintained and maintenance and housekeeping were there to help us whenever we needed their services. In regards to food, the breakfast buffet was awesome with a wide array of choices. The lunch buffet was not bad. They had plenty to choose fun, but it was alright to me honestly. Dinner on the other hand was great! There was a buffet as well (American, Asian, Italian), plus they had specialty restaurants like a steakhouse or a fine dining restaurant. The steakhouse was top notch where they served my favorite, ribeye, while my girlfriend had a multi seafood platter. As far as entertainment, they had various performances and showcases throughout the week and bars galore. It wasn't hard to get a drink since the resort was fully staffed with bartenders ready to serve you. There was also a nightclub and casino, but we were so tired that we never got a chance to check it out lol. They also had a sports bar so I was able to watch my beloved Chicago Cubs win! Overall, this was a great resort with awesome amenities and I will never forget my stay there because not only did we have an awesome time, but, I proposed to my girlfriend on the beach, AND SHE SAID YES!!! Thank you Riu Guanacaste!!!
Today, my husband and I are leaving the resort, and we aren't too sad to be leaving. As much as we loved the area and people, we were disappointed particularly with the food. Like you, I read over plenty of reviews and even though I was warned, we decided to go with the RIU Guanacaste. Before I speak negatively, I would like to say that I believe you get what you pay for. For less than a thousand dollars a person, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Overall, our trip was okay, and while it wasn't a disaster, I wouldn't come to this resort. We do love the area and Costa Rica in general. Pros: The staff were friendly. Our room had a good view. The swim up bar and drinks were good. We particularly loved the mudslides and mojitos. The coffee is delicious! The resort itself is well maintained. People are constantly cleaning, shaping up the gardens, etc. The beach vendors are fairly priced and offer lots of activities. We went horseback riding and saw monkeys for $30. I had a wonderful massage for an hour, $39 as well. We also enjoyed going to Coco Beach ($15 water taxi round trip) to get out of the resort. Cons: The food. I read online that the Italian place had better steak than the steakhouse, so our first night we went for the Italian restaurant. It was okay. Nothing special. The other restaurants weren't always available which is very misleading. I am not sure if it's because we went during the off season, but each night one or more of the four restaurants were closed. We never got to try the gourmet restaurant or steakhouse because they were closed. The hotel information sheets will tell you that a reservation is needed for the gourmet restaurant, but that's not true. We found out it's first come, first serve and they only do one seating a night. We did eat at the Asian place and found it palatable the first night. The other two nights we were forced to eat it again because the other restaurants were not open, and each night the menu didn't change and it became lesser and lesser quality. It's wrong to advertise that your establishment has four restaurants to chose from when in fact half are closed down each night at random. The activities were lackluster and seemed commercialized and general. Very B rated shows at night, meanwhile the RIU is known for world class entertainment. Overall, not worth it!
We just returned from the Rui in Costa Rica and we had a great time. Without a doubt this was the cleanest resort we ever stayed at in the Carribean. Our room while a little on the smaller side was maintained daily while we enjoyed the day at the pool or at the beach. When we asked for an extra pillow, 2 extra pillows appeared later that day .Even the mens room at the pool bar was very clean. There was always someone making sure that the facilities were spotless. The only negative was we had to ask for our mini bar to be restocked when they forgot. But again, one phone call and it was done. Service was top notch. The bar tenders and wait staff were friendly and prompt even if they did not speak much English. While tipping is not required, I was so pleased with the service that I was happy to leave a few dollars every now and then which was much appreciated. The side trips to see the country were rather expensive, especially the ones offered by the companies in the hotel lobby. We found a local guide that we met on the beach who took us and another couple on the best side trip we ever experienced in the Carribean. Look for Victor when you go to the beach. All in all it was a great trip.
This was a great resort with beautiful landscaping, pools and beach. The rooms are brand new and in great condition, very cool with nice CLEAN bathrooms! The only down fall is the food options are limited and there is no room service or 24 hour snack bar.
This place was great. Food was good, drinks were a little weak but that's OK. Got a great deal through Cheapcaribbean. We had one problem and that was transportation to and from the airport. I looked for our name when we arrived but did not see it and we were directed to a transportation company that we were told was associated with Cheapcaribbean. We got to the hotel OK but as it ended up the company we used was not the one contracted with Cheapcaribbean. Make sure you take your transportation voucher and you won't have this problem. I also think Cheapcaribbean should use a company that list your name on a sign when you arrive rather than having to go find them.