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Staying at the RIU Palace in Costa Rica

  • RIU Palace Costa Rica

After staying at several different hotels & resorts in Costa Rica this was my first time staying at the RIU Palace  in Costa Rica.  Beyond the entrance gate driving along the manicured road brings you to the pristine white palace.  Here I spent 3 wonderful days being totally spoiled.

Ready to experience a modern style resort with lots of amenities?  Here is my overview of staying at the RIU Palace.

This 5-star property borders along the Matapalo beach, 1.3 km of golden sand.  The resort features 4 pools, swim up bar,  5 restaurants, a shared gym, casino, disco, and Renova Spa.  The spa is my favorite with the hidden jacuzzi behind the treatment rooms.

The resort offers guests complimentary snorkel, windsurfing, kayak, and SUP boards.

Riu Palace Costa Rica

Closest Airport

My drive was from Puntarenas, but from the closest airport, Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR) is about  33km away.  The main roads from the airport were a pleasant drive.  On Ruta 911 use a little caution and watch for pots holes and divots in the road about the last 8km.
When you arrive at the gated security provide your reservation number and then it’s a short drive to the RIU Palace on your left and the RIU Guanacaste will be off to the right.


There’s ample parking for guests as most people arrive via shuttles.  I would try to park in the shade if possible.  Cars get pretty hot inside with the heat & humidity.

Room Types

I stayed in the Junior Suite Ocean view, with an in-room Jacuzzi tub, 2 patio doors that opened up to a long balcony with views of the ocean and pool.  I was impressed with the dresser and side table storage and closet space.  A girls dream come true!

There are 6 floors with 5 different categories of rooms.  A Junior Suite, Jr. Suite Courtyard, Jr. Suite Ocean view, Suite Jacuzzi, and Family Suite.  When you enter the room put one of your key cards in the slot which will activate the lights, fan, and air conditioning.  This helps to save on electricity which newer hotels are starting to use.

All the rooms are very spacious with white glossy furniture, touches of purple color in the drapes, on the wall, and a fabric throw across the large bed.   The bed was super comfy and I love having outlet plugs so I could recharge my phone while I slept.  If you enjoy reading before bed they thought of that too with reading lights over the bed.

ocean view room riu palace
jacuzzi tub ocean view room

[Junior Suite Ocean View]

[Jacuzzi Suite Views]

Restaurants & Bars

Staying at the Riu Palace in Costa Rica you’ll be spoiled with lots of food choices even for the picky eater you’ll be tempted to try a new dish or two.  My day usually started with coffee in the Arenal restaurant which serves buffet breakfast & dinner.  You can sit inside the restaurant or out in the courtyard area.  I prefer the openness of the courtyard myself.

The buffet has a large assortment of food to consume.  Wear you stretchable shorts you may need them!  There’s everything from bread, fresh fruits, a variety of juices to sample, and hot dishes.

I tried all the al-a-cart restaurants except the Steakhouse.  Not because I didn’t like it just not enough time in 3 days.  All the food was plated nicely and taste just as good as it looked.  I do recommend arriving about a half hour before opening time to put your name in for a table.  The first night I missed out on this.

At the Kystal restaurant, I had my heart set on Mahi Mahi but turns out with my luck not available even though it was on the menu.  They did serve red snapper in replacement.  I have to say that fish can be quite bony but the chef prepared it perfectly without a bone in sight.

Afternoon lunch I loved going to the Papagayo restaurant by the beach.  This is served buffet style which had several areas serving hot dishes from pizza, pasta, to sushi.  The dessert section was another area I would have loved to dig in to, but one can only eat so much.
The RIU Palace offers 24-hour service so you will never go hungry.

There are 6 bars at this resort with one in the main lobby and another by the pool.  My last day I stopped at the Cappuccino bar to grab a quick coffee & sandwiches for the drive.

Tokio restaurant Rio Palace


The RIU Palace in Costa Rica has plenty to keep you occupied and entertained.  I watched a dance lesson held by the RIU team for merengue by the pool.  Just down past the Papagayo restaurant is a hut for scuba, jet skis, and other activities you can purchase.

Every night in the theatre there is a live show to entertain the guests.  When you check in to the resort they will provide you with a list of entertainment options.  I was watching the performers practise through out the day for their Michael Jackson show.

If you like gambling you can try your luck at the casino on the main boulevard between the two resorts.  Feel like dancing the night away the discotheque is on the same street.

My favorite place was the spa.  I almost booked a massage but just not enough time when you tour both properties, try as many restaurants as possible and do a day tour off-site.  I love the calming smells in the spa area and just behind the treatment rooms was a gorgeous large jacuzzi.  That one I have to save for my next trip back.

If you’d love to try zip lining or want to see lots of animals in a sanctuary we loved our day off the resort at the adventure park nearby.

Riu Palace beach

Spa, Casino, and shops

Take a stroll along the El Poblado Street between both resorts here you will find a mini-mart, medical office, photo shop, coffee shop, and a few boutique stores to browse for souvenirs or clothing.

In the spa building is a gym, 8 massage treatment rooms, and large whirlpool Jacuzzi surrounded with beautiful architectural details.  Guest may use the Jacuzzi however you will need a reservation if you are not having any treatments.

If you require the use of an ATM this you will find located in the casino.

jacuzzi Riu Palace Costa Rica

My thoughts

I really loved my stay at the RIU Palace however I only wish they used little touches of the countries local craftsmanship in wood and artwork.  It’s a little more modern than I’m used to in Costa Rica but very comfortable & clean.  Staff worked hard every day to keep the hallways clean and the gardeners kept the grounds immaculate.

The staff are always very friendly and professional.  I never felt uncomfortable nor unsafe on the property.

As always my thoughts are my own.  I received a complimentary upgraded to the junior ocean view room.

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About the Author:

Laurie Johnson is travel writer, agent, and founder of Pura Vida Vacations. She finds her inspirations from travelling of the beaten path, meeting the locals, and sharing her travel stories, reviews, and tips with her readers.

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