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Riu Palace Costa Rica Reviews

Central America | Costa Rica-Guanacaste Beach Region Our Rating rating Details
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Customer Rating 121 Reviews
Value
 
4.4
Service
 
4.5
Beaches & Pools
 
4.2
Dining Options
 
4.1
Room Comfort
 
4.3
4.4 out of 5
"Beautiful resort. Very clean and excellent service." – Moe1
120 out of 137 (88%) customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Fountains to Beach Garden View Room Paddle Boarding The beach Wondrous Waterfalls Beach Beautiful view from our room Riu Palace Beach Gorgeous sunset

All Riu Palace Costa Rica Customer Reviews

1-10 of 121 reviews. Sort by
January 8, 2016
Exceptional Experience!

We really had a great trip! RIU Palace was a great choice. Food was very good. We had many eating options and the quality of the food was very good. Lobster was always on the menu! The staff went out of there way to serve us and they wanted to help!. They actually acted like it was there job to help us relax! The resort was very well staffed and food lined/ lines for reservations were never long! Costa Rica had great tours and was such a beautiful country! We can't wait to go back!


21 of 21 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 5
Value
 
5.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
4.0
Room Comfort
 
4.0
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From: Chicago, IL
Age: 35-44
Travel: 1-2 trips/year

May 20, 2013
Great service and hotel

The staff at the hotel were top notch and some of the most friendly people of anywhere I have ever stayed. My daughter and I became well acquainted with the staff on a first name basis. Jo Han works at the restaurant Krystal and the two buffets, and he was especially one of our favorites. Always there to help us on and off the property. The bartenders at the swim up bar were especially helpful and very efficient. Our rooms were spotless after maid service came in and it was always pleasant to return to such a refreshing room after a long day. No matter where you were on the resort, the staff was always saying hello, wishing us a good day, and joking around with us. The beach was beautiful, nestled in between large rolling hills and mountains that created this private paradise for all of the resorts guests. My daughter utilized the free water sports activities daily, trying out paddle boarding and wind surfing. Although we were staying at the Palace, we could also use the amenities at the RIU Guanacaste, which was right next door. It was nice to be able to go back and forth between the two because we started meeting people that were staying over there. The staff at the Guanacaste was also very nice and helpful. The one downfall to both the Palace and Guanacaste was that the discoteca (dance club) in between both resorts, was not all inclusive. The drink prices were very cheap, but it was disappointing that it wasnt included although it was in a shared space between both properties. We still went and danced with our new friends every night and the DJ had a variety of music playing at all times. If you are looking for some fun nightlife in the area but off the resort, Coco Beach is your place to go. Very safe little town, most of the residents there are actually expats that came for vacation, and never went back! The friends we met on the resort actually went there during the day to shop and then returned with us in the evening for an awesome night of dancing with some of the locals. Costa Ricans are extremely genuine and nice people, and it was refreshing to be in such a happy country. We plan to return to Costa Rica and the RIU Palace, and highly recommend planning a trip there.

The beach Paddle Boarding
40 of 42 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 5
Value
 
5.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
5.0
Room Comfort
 
5.0
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Top 500 Contributor
From: Houston, Tx
Age: 45-54
Travel: 3-6 trips/year

June 13, 2015
Good food, pools,service; don't go for the beach

My husband and I spent 5 nights at the Riu Palace in early June. The resort was new, very modern, and cleaned daily. There were some things mentioned in older reviews that are no longer the case: - they DO have free in-room Wi-fi (it's a little slow at night but not terrible) - they DO refill the minibar daily - they DO have room service The pools are gorgeous and there are a lot of activities in the pool area daily (pool volleyball, water aerobics, ping pong tournaments, darts, Spanish lessons, dance lessons). The staff are incredibly friendly and want everyone to have a good time. They're always asking if you need another drink and ready to take an old one away. There are a ton of excursions you can take - go with the vendors on the beach, not the hotel vendor. We did an ATV tour through Costa Rican villages (there's a different ATV tour to several beaches that others at our resort liked), a trip to Coco Beach for shopping, and a full-day trip to Buena Vista (horseback riding, zip lines, mud "bath" - actually just mud in a container that you smear on yourself, hike to waterfall). They were all really good and the beach vendors are reliable, speak English and are very friendly. The bad? The beach. We knew it was black sand from the reviews and that didn't bother us. The problem is that it's very rocky (one of the guys on our excursion cut his foot on the rocks his first day) and the waves are rough. It's just not good for swimming. They had kayaks and paddle boards, but hardly anyone ever used them because it was too rough. If you're going for the pool and the food, no problem, but don't go if you plan to spend most of your time at the beach (like we usually do). The buffet was really good for all 3 meals, and the lunch BBQ at the pool area was also really good. Reservations at the specialty restaurants are difficult, even in the off-season when we sent. You can only make them 2 days in advance (so you've lost the first 2 nights of your trip right there), and only from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm daily, so if you're on an excursion, you've lost another chance. We managed to get one reservation (in a 5-night trip!) at the steakhouse and it was good, but I wish we could have eaten at the Japanese and/or gourmet restaurants too (the fourth is Italian and it may be slightly easier to get in there b/c reservations aren't as strict but we weren't interested in that one). Summary? Go if you're interested in an all-inclusive with great pools, staff, activities and easy access to excursions. Don't go if you like to boogie board or swim in the ocean. And beware of the food on excursions. I got sick 6 hours after lunch at Buena Vista and spent our last day in the hotel room. But, my husband ate the same food and was fine, so who knows.


17 of 17 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 4
Value
 
3.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
3.0
Dining Options
 
3.0
Room Comfort
 
5.0
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From: Nashville, TN
Age: 35-44
Travel: 1-2 trips/year

April 8, 2013
Worth staying there only minor improvements needed

Overall great experience. The food is some of the best I have had at an all inclusive. The speciality restaurants are wonderful and we ate at one every night for the exception of one evening. The dinner buffet was just so/so. The lunch buffet at the pool is wonderful as is the breakfast buffet. The lunch buffet always had duck, veal, and lots of seafood. No complaints at all. The rooms are nice with a modern appeal we did experience the sewer smell for one day and then it was gone. The doors are noisy as is the hall but it is a hotel and that is the usual case. They could do a much better job introducing guests to the hotel. It was not until we spoke to the customer service person that we were told how everything worked including the page service for the restaurants. You can get lost and left out of this resort as they staff does not really clue in the newbies very well. Once you get a hang of it all goes very well. Drinks are nice but it does depend on the bartender. Coffee bar is awesome. Our kids drank numerous milkshakes there while we sipped wonderful coffee drinks. Beach is nice but hot. Use the beach message ladies they are the best and only $30 for an hour. We had one a day, awesome. We were at the resort during the busiest time of the year and we did not fight for anything including beach and pool seats which is really nice. It was crowded but did not feel that way. The pool can get nuts around 3pm and the swim up bar is crazy busy at that time but all other times it is pretty manageable. Go and have fun!


20 of 22 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 4
Value
 
4.0
Service
 
4.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
4.0
Room Comfort
 
4.0
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From: Virginia
Age: 45-54
Travel: 3-6 trips/year

December 1, 2015
Go with low expectations & you'll be happy!

Overall, I'd say we had a decent 5 day stay. I read so many positive reviews before booking the trip, maybe I expected more as a result. I traveled with a friend. There were several things we did like and several things we didn't like. Let's start with the the things we did like. Firstly, the grounds of the resort are truly lush and beautifully kept. It is stunning. The natural, dark sand beach is actually quite lovely and not like other beaches I've been to before. One of the coolest things is the ability to see monkeys on the beach early in the morning. We went down around 7am one day and walked just a few meters from the resort and saw a whole bunch of monkeys in the little forest area. It was very cool! I also enjoyed the selection of alcoholic beverages at the resort. I drank my fair share of champagne, which was nice. There are four pools at the Palace, so you can always find one that isn't too busy. Also, if you stay at the Palace, you have access to the pools at the Riu Guanacaste right next door, which is nice to have. In terms of food we liked, they had a bbq by the pool on Friday. It was the best meal we had at the hotel. It was fresh and flavorful. The daily breakfast buffet was also good with lots of options. Also, the cafe in the lobby makes good ice coffee and has chocolate covered marsh mellows we went to get everyday. We met a worker named Prince who performs at the Riu Guanacaste. He was SO fun & cool. He invited us to his show, so we went over. It was a hoot! He does Beyonce, Madonna, Tina Turner and Pink. We recommend going to see Prince's show. He was the best entertainment at the resort hands down. Most of the staff are pretty friendly in general. Now onto the the things we didn't like as much. Firstly, with the room itself. The rooms are not ideal for sharing with someone who isn't your lover. There is very little privacy, because the bathroom is not sectioned off as a self-contained room. Only the toilet and the shower are private. And the "room" the toilet is in is the size of a broom closet. There is nowhere to change privately while the other person is in the room. And if you're brushing your teeth at the sink, they can see you, because the sink is in the open room area. Also, the bathtub is smack dab in the middle of the room next to one of the beds. I would not recommend sharing these rooms for pairs who are not intimately involved with each other. Although, we manage to make it work. The room also had a damp smell most of the time and the air conditioning didn't seem to be working properly. Also, the bathroom products were never replenished. I'm used to getting new soaps, etc. on a daily basis while staying at hotels. We even called housekeeping one day asking for new soap and they never brought it. We had to track some down from the cleaning ladies in the hallway. The beds also seem very poorly made and slide around, hitting the wall even if you just gently sit on them. There was a fruit plate left in our room when we arrived. We called down to have it removed a few days later, since we weren't eating it, and didn't want to attract bugs. Again, nobody came to get it. There room doesn't come with robes, which most four star resorts/hotels do come with. Also, the mini-fridge is stocked daily with soda and water. However, the bottles of water are giant 2 liter bottles, so if you want to take one with you for the day it's kind of a pain. Smaller bottles of water would be more ideal. Now onto the food, it was very basic resort food for the most part. Nothing special. Most of it didn't have any taste. The lunch buffet as Papagayo was really blah. The Italian restaurant had to be the worst of them all. The lamb was overcooked, the tomatoes too raw, and the cheese tough. Also, the whole reservation system for the speciality restaurants is completely annoying. You have to make reservations between 10am-2pm each day at the Tokyo restaurant. People start lining up 30 mins in advance and you can only book for two days at a time. We got a reservation at the "Steak House", which is actually Papagayo revamped at nighttime. We both had the surf & turf. The caesar salad I had was watery. The lobster was overcooked and tough. We didn't eat at any of the other speciality restaurants for dinner, instead decided to eat off property. The food at the restaurants we ate at off property was noticeably better. We didn't really see the value in upgrading to the Palace versus the Guanacaste next door. The Palace is more modern, but the furnishings seem cheaply made. Also, the food quality from what I understand isn't much better. You're basically paying for some better quality drinks and a "prettier" hotel aesthetic. We didn't think it was worth the price difference. It would not consider the Palace a luxury hotel by any means. I travel a lot staying at 4 and 5 star hotels. The Palace is more equivalent to a 3.5 and maybe the Guanacaste is a 3. I also have to mention that often times it seemed the hotel staff failed to provide us with necessary information or weren't up to speed on various things. For example, my friend is a smoker. When we arrived, she asked about smoking areas. She was told she could smoke on the beach or down the road in front of the hotel. A few days in we discovered there were designated smoking areas near the Spa and at the Guanacaste, but again, nobody told her this. We also had massages at the spa, which were kind of lackluster. The therapist both barely spoke any English. Also, the staff member by the pool never told us the massages had to be by the beach to use the coupon we were given upon arrival. So when we showed up at the spa to get the messages we were told we'd have to pay full price to get them indoors. It was pretty hot that day, so neither of us wanted to get them outside, so we ended up paying full price, which was about 3x what we were originally quoted by the staff member who booked them for us. The nightlife at the resort seems pretty lacking. The disco across the street apparently is managed by a different company, and drinks aren't included. We peeked in, but never really stayed. Even staff members told us it was lame, so we went down to Coco Beach when we wanted to go out at night. There was definitely a lot of nightlife happening there. Again, we enjoyed our time in the sun. The weather for the week was great, but a lot of these details added up to become somewhat annoying and impacted the quality of our experience overall. I think if you go with low expectations and are just looking for a budget-friendly getaway, you'll most likely leave satisfied. Don't go in thinking you'll get luxuries, go in thinking you'll get basics.


14 of 15 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 3
Value
 
4.0
Service
 
3.0
Beaches & Pools
 
3.0
Dining Options
 
2.0
Room Comfort
 
2.0
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From: New York, NY
Age: 25-34
Travel: 3-6 trips/year

June 2, 2013
really nice place

i think the previous gripes about this resort were due to just getting the kinks worked out of tjhis brand new, huge resort. i think they are over the hump. everything was as advertised: food selection amazing, drinks served swiftly by nice, hard working people, beach expansive (and, yes, it is a long hot walk to reach it). vendors stayed back. snorkeling was ok-the big cataraman was a joy to ride. but travel to adventure spots takes a long time (be prepared for all day) and rental car travel absolutely requires a Garmin). nearest town is Coco Beach - WATCH OUT FOR THE TIMESHARE SALESPEOPLE-DO NOT GO WITH THEM. pay attention to the season (dry season much better than the rainy season).


6 of 6 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 5
Value
 
5.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
5.0
Room Comfort
 
5.0
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From: southeast
Age: 55-64
Travel: 1-2 trips/year

September 14, 2016
Worth Every Penny

Resort: Was very clean. We did not have to worry about teens or rowdy teenagers because the crowd was mature. The staff was very friendly and attentive. Even the gardeners were helpful and friendly. We tipped at the resort. And even the two times we forgot our dollars in the room, it was not a big deal like in other resorts we have stayed at. By a big deal I mean no faces from staff or any type of rude comments. They were still very pleasant and friendly. ROOM: Very clean. SPACIOUS! Bar at the tip of your fingers. Never seeing a mini bar in resort rooms (included in the price). LOVED IT. There was a Jacuzzi in the middle of the room I thought that was so sexy! The maintenance of the things could have been kept better. The door to our walk-in shower was a little hard and was making a rusty noise. There are POOLS for days. You have a main one with a bar and the rest of them have the waiters coming and going non stop. I never had a empty glass. They are also very creative with the drinks. I was drinking my Mango loco green drink the whole time there. AMAZING! FOOD: The food was amazing.


6 of 6 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 4
Value
 
4.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
5.0
Room Comfort
 
3.0
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Top 1000 Contributor
From: New York
Age: 25-34
Travel: 3-6 trips/year

April 2, 2015
Awesome Vacation!

The Riu Palace was exactly as pictured on the website. Very clean, very friendly staff. The pools, restaurants, lobby, lounges and rooms were immaculate and constantly being cleaned by staff. The grounds are amazing. The trees, flowers, shrubs, everything is just beautiful. The views are amazing and postcard worthy! We saw many iguanas and were pleasantly awakened each morning by the tropical birdsong. The A/C is not as strong but to cool a hotel of this size would likely cost a fortune so there are many un-air conditioned areas, including the lobby and some restaurants which just use fans. The rooms have A/C but at the highest setting did not keep the rooms cool enough which is why it didn't get the top rating from me. It's an all inclusive resort and the drinks were very weak when we first arrived. A request to the bartenders to add extra alcohol was all that was needed to remedy this so don't be afraid to ask! Restaurants require reservations and book up fast so reserve early. We couldn't get in to some which is why I rated them a 4 out of 5. The shops are very expensive but a water taxi to Coco Beach provided all the souvenirs you could ask for at half the prices. Many people on the beach peddling their goods as well at lower prices. Excursions were pricey but we found a reputable vendor located on the beach which cost less and provided the same tour so we were very happy. Overall this was a week in paradise and we can't wait to go back again!


5 of 5 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 5
Value
 
4.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
4.0
Room Comfort
 
4.0
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From: Long Island, NY
Age: 45-54
Travel: 1-2 trips/year

January 3, 2017
Fabulous resort, amazing excursions, but...

Riu Palace in Costa Rica (CR) was beautiful. Like many guests, we went on the zip lining, hot springs, horseback riding tour. Completely and utterly wonderful. Unlike most guests, we did the One Day Tour to Nicaragua. That was fantastic, from watching the lava boiling inside an active volcano, to the town of Granada. Long day from 5am until 9pm but worth every minute. Remember the average wage is $5 in Nicaragua (Nic), so reminds us of how lucky and often wasteful we are. Side trip to Coco Beach town on the water taxi. What we liked best: 1. Pools and all the activities. We did the bachata lessons and Zumba, as well as played volleyball and basketball in the pools. Fun team were terrific, keeping everyone entertained, wearing Santa hats for Xmas week. 2. Generally kept really clean, particularly around the pools. Employees are constantly cleaning everything. 3. Staff are awesome and hard working -- all of them. Nice friendly 4. Jacuzzi in the room. Room was really nice. We requested the alcohol was removed from the room and it was. Thank you for assisting us with this special request. 5. View from the room. We paid for a garden view and got the sea view. THANK YOU!!!! Coffee on the balcony was one of our favorite times. This made our trip extra special. 6. The guys on the water taxi to Coco Beach. 7. The AMAZING beautiful MASSIVE buffet dinner put on for Xmas eve! 8. We won more than $100 in the casino, while using your coupon!!! FUN! 9. All inclusive. Food and drinks just kept coming. Wow. The 24-hour snack room and patisserie near the lobby are wonderful. 10. JetBlue return flights BOTH delayed and didn't get home until 4am because of that. But JetBlue gave us meal vouchers and a $75 credit with an apology. Most weather related, so not their fault. So thank you, JetBlue. Most concerning was reading on another trip website about the the massive number of thefts from SEALED ROOM SAFES before our trip. Same scenario all the time in that website reports: Guest returns to room, can't open safe. Security comes in and opens safe. Some of cash is missing and next day, credit card number has been compromised. Staff and management do nothing, acting like they've never heard about the problem before. We contacted Cheap Caribbean a few days before we left with our concerns about this hotel, and they told us to leave our valuables with the management in the HOTEL not ROOM safe. We asked about this when we arrived and got a frigid response from management. Fortunately, we brought a lock box to lock our stuff inside the room safe and we put a motion detector alarm on the outer door of the safe where it could be seen. Nothing was taken during our visit and we didn't hear of any thefts. Also, on that trip website, lots of people said their iPhones went missing near the pool. Although we LOVED this place, we would not go back because of the massive number of people who have reported thefts from their room safes at the hotel. Makes you wonder how many other never knew that some of their cash was skimmed and that's why their credit cards were cut off. Until Riu Palace takes legal action against the thieves, their identities are made public, and changes all the master key codes to the room safes, we will not return or recommend this place. This is terrible for this beautiful country that depends upon tourism for a great deal of its GNP. Other small things we would improve, if possible. 1. Little info -- have to get it from the other guests. Water taxi, what you can do at the other Riu hotel, horseback riding on the beach, opening hours of the casino/disco, excursion companies, you have to ask people. They need a brochure with all the info. We found out the day we were leaving that they do a presentation in the lobby on all the available excursions. No one told us anything about that. You get a map with the restaurant times and not much else. Resort should do more to share all the great offerings they have. 2. Food temperatures in the Arenal buffet are questionable -- hot foods not kept hot enough, cold foods not kept cold enough, almost NONE of the food crew wearing gloves while TOUCHING food. Argh! Restaurant displays, food, and staff were wonderful. We went to 3 of the 4 restaurants and all were good. Get there early to get a seat unless you're doing the buffet. 3. Dirty, rude, unsanitary, disgusting behavior by a tiny minority of guests-- mostly parents of small children. Seriously, people -- sticking your hands in communal plates when tongs are right there? Your children picking up the food and putting it back in the display? People coughing all over the food in the buffets? Bringing your infant to the upscale restaurant and not leaving when it SCREAMED for 2 straight hours at 7pm. Unfortunately, almost no one notices the majority of lovely children who are well mannered and bringing their joy and giggles to the resort. What about placing signs about food hygiene and unattended children? 4. Discotheque music is deafening. Even the 20 somethings want it turned town. 5. Three days in a row, we had to call down for sheets and/or pillow cases because there weren't any. Even the day we left a big tip, no towels, and 2 missing pillow cases. 6. Got stung my jelly fish. Ouch! Please put up signs when you have a jelly fish problem because tons of people got stung. Also, why don't you have vinegar by the beach to neutralize stings? The price was really high because of the Christmas holiday, but normally this package is amazing value for what you get. We spent almost nothing except for our excursions and tips. You could stay there a week, have activities, eat and drink all day, and not spend a dime. Overall, we had a GREAT time and loved Riu Palace and our visit to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. But the room safe issue is a deal breaker for us recommending this to friends.


19 of 27 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 5
Value
 
4.0
Service
 
5.0
Beaches & Pools
 
5.0
Dining Options
 
5.0
Room Comfort
 
5.0
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From: Boston, MA
Age: 55-64
Travel: 7+ trips/year

May 18, 2016
Good Overall

To start- I go on vacation often but never to resorts. I've only been to one other resort and I didn't care for it at all. This place has definitely changed my mind about resorts and I'll probably visit again. For anyone that goes here just realize you are about 45 minutes away from the resort by shuttle, which you should prearrange although there are options at the airport for the same price. The staff at the front desk are very friendly and informative. We ended up with a free room upgrade (just to a room with a different view). The room was comfortable. a/c kept up for the most part. It took us a day to figure out how the hot water worked. It's actually as simple as a shower should be but water came out warm on the cold side and started out as ice cold before getting hot on the hot side. The pools are nice, spacious, and clean. the pool bar has plenty of seating in it. bartenders are pretty friendly, even friendlier and quicker when you leave a decent tip. even while sitting at the tables in the pool the bartender we stuck with always kept an eye on our drinks and would have full drinks ready as soon as we were empty. The beach is a black sand beach meaning the sand gets ridiculously hot so I highly suggest bringing water shoes- seriously. its not the best beach I've ever been to but it pretty decent. Most of the shows are pretty good. It's definitely not a bad way to kill an hour. We booked some excursions on the beach with Louis and Carol (very nice group)and some in the resort. We did a catamaran ride with snorkeling- that picks you up right on the beach at the resort, and a Adventure tour type thing that was zip lining, a water slide, horseback riding, and hot springs- that is about an hour and 45 minutes away but worth the trip. We also took a shuttle to the town of Tamarindo. They have a few shops there, a nicer beach, and a great Argentinean restaurant called Patagonia- I highly suggest that place. Any where you eat outside be ready to get attacked by flys. it's unavoidable, just eat fast and you'll get rid of them. The complaints- tokio and the buffet actually have GOOD food. especially Tokio. Barring the seafood restaurant (we never had a chance to go) the rest of the food was ok at best. The italian is the worst. We went with a group of 6 and not one person enjoyed their food. Overall this was a great resort. We went with 3 couple and we all had a great time.


4 of 4 found this helpful
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Overall Rating: 4
Value
 
4.0
Service
 
3.0
Beaches & Pools
 
3.0
Dining Options
 
3.0
Room Comfort
 
4.0
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From: New Bedford, MA
Age: 25-34
Travel: 7+ trips/year

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