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Reviewed 29 September 2022

My wife and I stayed at this property the week of September 17th-24th, 2022. We chose this resort since we have had positive experiences at Riu Properties in Cabo, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Punta Cana. The Riu properties are in a complex just off of Matapalo Beach. The property is a gated type property complete with a water park, and a small strip of shops for souvenirs and shopping. The check-in process was simple. We were greeted and welcomed to the resort, and taken straight to our room. Our room was a jacuzzi suite, with a view of the Pacific, located on what the hotel calls the third floor, which is actually the second. The room is a spacious open floor plan. It has a dining area, a living room split-level bedroom, and a bath area. The shower is large enough to accommodate 20 adults (yes, 20 adults if you like to shower with friends), a private bathroom, and a bidet. The living area has two sliding doors to access the wrap-around balcony that overlooks the grounds with a jacuzzi tub on the corner of the balcony. The rooms are a bit dated and could use a current refresh. There is a small liquor cabinet, and a refrigerator stocked with two beers, one Coke, one 7 Up, one Fanta, and one tonic water.
The grounds of this resort are beautiful and well maintained...because every morning at 6 am, the ground crew is outside using loud gas-powered trimmers and lawnmowers, so no need to schedule any wake-up call or to set your alarm on your phone! The grounds are covered in plumeria trees, hibiscus, Christmas, king, coconut, palmetto, and various other flowering shrubs. Pool areas are clean and well maintained. One of the main pools closed during our stay for a day because a child decided to defecate in the pool, which was reminiscent of the movie "Caddy Shack", with the exception the pool wasn't drained and sanitized, just a healthy dose of chlorine to fix it. The pool area was quite loud. I'm still wondering what was worse at the pool area...screaming kids or what seemed to be a hip-hop convention from the city of Atlanta yelling and carrying on like uncivilized people that have never traveled abroad before. What carried over from the pool went into the themed restaurants at night. Speaking of restaurants, let's talk about the food...The buffet-themed restaurant "Arenal" is where you will have breakfast or a dinner buffet. Tokio, sushi and Japanese cuisine, Krystal Fusion restaurant, Papagayo Steakhouse (open air closest to the beach), and we save the worst for last, L'Anfora "Italian cuisine". If you're a foodie, this resort is N O T for you. Out of all of our travels throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the food at this resort is terrible.

1. Arenal: You can find something edible here. It may take you a few different tries of various foods, but breakfast will be a winner, and something freshly cooked at night here.

2. Tokio: Sushi is obviously pre-made, refrigerated at a low temperature, and pulled before being served. I've had better sushi at a gas station. The entrees here weren't too bad, but still not something you would call up to standards at a "4-star" resort.

3. Krystal: Various types of entrees, even serving foie gras. Average quality.

4. Papagayo Steakhouse. Various steaks. The fries served with steaks were really good. Ribeye was good.

5. L'Anfora Italian w/antipasta starters...AVOID like COVID. This was the absolute worst of the restaurants. The food served here makes Chef Boyardee taste like something prepared by Gordon Ramsay.

I can't really comment on bar service, as we didn't spend much time at bars due to the noise and loud people that seemed to cling to them during our week-long stay. There is a snack bar-type restaurant off of the main lobby that was great to grab coffee and snacks in, as well as a draft beer in! The coffee bar right around the corner from that in the main lobby was great to visit at night for a dessert, coffee, or milkshake freshly made. One of the baristas recommended a sliver of red velvet cake for my milkshake and it was fire! So good.

Let's talk about the beach. If you've ever been to the Caribbean, you're going to be disappointed with this beach. It's not a pretty beach until sunset. There are vendors here, which will not harass you much. Just be kind to them, speak to them, and say no thank you if you're not interested. The beaches further south from this location are aesthetically more pleasing, but it's nice to stroll down the beach and get away from the resort(s) and away from people to reflect.

Entertainment...there is a small amphitheater on the property with nightly shows. We didn't go to any of them. If you've seen one Michael Jackson show, you've seen them all. If you have an ocean-facing room, you will hear them until 11-11:30 pm every night. There is a crew that entertains around the pool area and into the night, I didn't have much interaction with them, so I don't have an honest opinion.

If you enjoy wildlife, this resort has plenty of raccoons, birds, squirrels, iguanas, cats, and a dog or two on the beach, or around the steakhouse at night that are well fed! Our visit here was considered the rainy season, so everything was green, with a bit of rain here and there, but there were no capuchin monkeys on the beach or in the areas close to the resort. Apparently, they retreat to the higher areas during the rainy season and forage where there's plenty of food growing due to the rainy season. However, there are howler monkeys! We found a family of howlers just down the beach, near the entrance of the dirt road to the "Monkey Bar". Quite fascinating to see these majestic animals!

The staff...well, let's start by saying I speak Spanish. It is my second language, and I used it as much as possible when communicating with the staff. I would say the staff is somewhat friendly IF you are speaking Spanish. I overheard waitstaff speaking negatively about "gringos". If you do not know what a gringo is, it's someone that is not Latino/Hispanic. In Costa Rica, if you're not a Tico, you're a gringo.

Do NOT expect to be waited on promptly. Much of this resort is self-serve. If you do need something that is not self-serve, you may have to ask more than once and it will likely take a while if you're not a Spanish-speaking person.

If you choose this resort, you will likely enjoy it if you haven't stayed abroad much. I highly recommend getting away from the resort and trying authentic food from Costa Rica. There are many other friendly faces and interesting people that are willing to share their country and culture with you and your family while you visit Costa Rica.

Date of stay: September 2022
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank Flyinbyu
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
RIU Hotels and Resorts, Owner at Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, responded to this reviewResponded 5 October 2022

Dear Flyinbyu,

Thank you for taking the time to share this honest and detailed feedback of your recent experience with us.

We regret that your stay at our hotel did not fulfil your conception in some aspects as our aim is always to please every one of our guests.

Rest assured that we will forward all your impressions to our management team for follow up and we truly hope you allow us the opportunity to welcome you again and share a more pleasant experience.

Warm regards,

Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Online Reputation Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2022 via mobile

BAD
Pool entertainment- they only talk to the Spanish talking people (Same in all TUI resorts Cuba, March 2022)

Night Entertainment- Back to the 80’s - needs a lot more work, sound system did not help.
Only last for 30 min and they have 2 sittings (20.15pm and 21-15pm, they have to sanitise between each show (September 2022 !!)) we were out in mid September and it was quiet and still only did 1/2hr show each night.

Karaoke - the compare talks mainly (90%) in Spanish, when someone shouted to translate in English he made a joke of them and continued in Spanish.

Quiz night - asked everyone to download the Kahoot! App but expected everyone to get it done in 5min

Japanese restaurant- they tell you no bookings just turn up, but when you do turn up they say “sorry we are booked up tonight” no atmosphere

Sun beds are very uncomfortable need some padding on them.

You can’t get cash in the hotel, so you need to bring enough cash with you for tipping etc.

GOOD
The cleaning staff, waiters and waitresses are great
The gardens are immaculately kept and pool areas are kept very clean.
Thanks r
The rooms are very clean.
The rooms are a very good size with drinks in the room.

Will not go on another TUI holiday or stay in any of there hotels. VERY disappointed with it, but a beautiful country

Room tip: Bring lots of small $ for tipping no cash machines around and hotel will not change your money
Date of stay: September 2022
Trip type: Travelled with family
Thank iwan148
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
RIU Hotels and Resorts, Owner at Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, responded to this reviewResponded 4 October 2022

Dear iwan148,

Many thanks for staying with us and for taking the time to share your impressions.

First of all, we are glad to find that you enjoyed the staff members´ great service, the beautifully maintained grounds and your room´s comfort.

However, as it is one of our priorities to ensure that we exceed expectations giving an outstanding service and to provide an enjoyable experience to all of our guests, we are truly saddened to find that you weren't completely satisfied with your recent experience.

We appreciate your feedback and we will forward your comments to the relevant team for an adequate follow up as we really hope you will give us another chance to better serve you in the near future.

With best regards,

Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Online Reputation Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 September 2022

We visited the Rui Palace Costa Rica in April/May 2022, this hotel is absolutely outstanding- the rooms are lovely and extremely clean and comfortable. We previously stayed next door in the Rui Guanacaste which we also loved- the palace is a little more modern.

The food in this hotel is fresh and delicious and we were always spoiled for choice. The staff are very outgoing and friendly here.

I particularly love the animal noises around the hotel- the monkeys and the frogs etc. the garden and the amazing coffee!!!
The weather is amazing as are the Costa Rican people. Definitely our favourite place in the world! Some cute little shops just outside the hotel and plenty of excursions to go on- one of our favourites so far was to Haceinda Aromal- beautiful day out, really really enjoyable! Costa Rica is truly the most beautiful country in the world- Pura Vida!

Date of stay: April 2022
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank OonaghP3
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 26 September 2022

Our first family trip to Costa Rica and we’re so glad we picked RIU Palace! Everything was perfect and the service was amazing. There’s an issue with two of their sit down Restaurants, they are always booked and the wait time can be over two hours, besides that everything else was great.

Date of stay: September 2022
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with riu.com
Thank TeamPach
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 25 September 2022

A great hotel with amazing staff - all staff were so friendly and attentive we would particularly like to acknowledge the 5 star service from Raquel (dinner service) and Asdrubal (coffee lounge).
Food was superb. Beach offered shade and was sandy with lively waves some days. Service for drinks on the beach was an added bonus.
Lots of trips available - we loved diamanté.
Rooms clean and comfortable.
Wildlife in and around the resort which made it all the more fun.
Entertainment was good in particular the live bands.
On our last morning we could hear and see the howler monkeys which just cherry topped our holiday.
Thank you to the whole Riu team.

Date of stay: September 2022
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Jackie_thoughts
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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