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Trip Report 9 Nights in Costa Rica - Guanacaste....AMAZING!

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My husband and I just returned from 9 nights at the Palace. It was our first trip to Costa Rica, our second experience with an 'all inclusive' and a much needed get away. We really liked the Palace!! Some of the reviews on this site were not complimentary but we found the rooms to be very large, the grounds will be lovely once the plants have another year to grow and the food was so much better than our first encounter with an all inclusive (not a Riu Property). The staff was extremely responsive and conscientious. Ramon runs a tight ship throughout the restaurants. His staff is professional , engaging and many spoke excellent English. We had wonderful servers in each restaurant and remember Pedro in Italian with great fondness. I thought the food choices were extensive with well supplied buffets. The specialty restaurants had lovely presentations, attentive service and great choices. The housekeeping staff was also wonderful; our room was cleaned early each morning and extra towels were delivered at night. I was very impressed with the constant cleaning, scrubbing, landscaping, etc on the property. We were always greeted with smiles and Pura Vida!

The hotel is what I would call 'European Smart' with lots of glass, chrome, frosted glass, large open areas, etc. Beds were comfortable, extra pillows were available. Our room never felt completely cool at night - the fan made a litte annoying noise so we didn't use it continually and the A/C has moderate efficiency. If you are looking for a quiet space, ask for a room on the opposite side from the entertainment areas and ask to be on the 'back side'. No, you will not have an ocean view but the quiet was worth it for us and honestly, we didn't spend much time in our room except to sleep.

A couple of suggestions: fans in the common areas could use larger blades to move more air efficiently; some bathrooms near the swim up bar would be nice - we didn't use that bar and heard that the nickname was 'the latrine'; while this may be out of scope, the shops tended to keep erratic hours - the sign on the door would indicate an opening hour but then nobody would appear, the time would change and again, nobody would appear; offer unsweetened iced tea - its easy to add sweetner but you can't take it out; opaque curtains in the Japanese restaurant would add a little more privacy to the space; adding some 3/4 walls to create more intimacy in the lobby bar and coffee area would also help keep the noise level down a bit.

Pool activites near the swim up bar were plentiful. The Riu team attempted to engage many to get involved in a polite way and to have fun. If you are seeking more seclusion and less noise, the upper pool accommodated this nicely. Pool attendants were always coming by for drink orders.

The beach is volcanic; a mixture of finely ground volcanic sand and beach sand. Ocean activities were abundant (kayaking, jet skis, paddle boards, fishing, snorkeling, etc). The long beach was great for enjoyable morning and evening walks.

The exercise room was large and with adequate equipment. A larger selection of machines would be an improvement. Also, given the climate, a more robust A/C system is needed when the room is full.

RIU grounds, facility and other crews were constantly going around the property to wash, shine, polish, etc. They took great pride in providing a well developed, organized and smart stay for our holiday.

Overall, I would heartily recommend this hotel to anyone.

Next up....Excursions and Restaurants

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