Staying at an all-inclusive resort, like RIU Guanacaste, can be a great way to travel with children.
Riu Guanacaste Rooms/accommodations:
The rooms are nice and spacious. If traveling with a baby, the resort offers pack n plays, which I prefer over hotel cribs. The resort staff will likely have it set up in the room when you check in, if requested in advance. They do have sheets for the pack n play, but I recommend bringing your own.
The water that comes out of the faucet is non-potable water, so it is not drinkable. I wouldn’t even recommend brushing your teeth with it. Use the bottled water in the fridge instead. This was my biggest complaint about the hotel. Also, the walls are thin. We heard our neighbors doing things that may be embarrassing to try and explain to older children. Thank goodness our daughter was only 6 months old! But that also meant our neighbors probably heard our baby crying at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. and so on… (She did not sleep well on this trip.)
The buffet has plenty of food choices for picky eaters, and without reservations required, the buffet offers families the flexibility of eating whenever their children get hungry. The food was much better, however, at the restaurants that required reservations, so I would recommend visiting at least one or two of them. Most of them are open-air restaurants which means noisy kids won’t be a nuisance to other diners.
The pool was great for children. The water was a good temperature, and it was big enough that older kids could splash about without disturbing the childless travelers. Our baby actually napped in the pool on her grandma’s shoulder. (Side note: if possible, traveling with grandparents, extended family members or friends is always a good idea. There is strength in numbers when traveling with an infant. The extra sets of hands are a huge bonus!)
The beach is a little disappointing, but don’t let that stop you from going. Let me explain. Right in front of RIU Hotel Guanacaste, the beach is very rocky. It’s a black sand beach so the sand is also HOT. Pool shoes are a must. We have a complete list of beach basics for babies to help you pack for your trip. There is no way around the hot sand, but to avoid the rocky beach simply go 20 yards down the shore. For some reason, right in front of the RIU’s sister resort, the sand is smooth. But at both resorts, there are plenty of lounge chairs and Palm trees offering shade from the sun.
The kids’ area at the resort really isn’t worth visiting. It’s small and doesn’t offer much entertainment. However, I will give this resort a B+ for family-friendly entertainment. Each night, they have kid-friendly, one-hour shows starting at 8, so the kids can watch a show and still be in bed at a decent hour.
The RIU Guanacaste is approximately 45 minutes from the Liberia airport. The drive is fairly easy and the road was well maintained unlike many of the other roads in Costa Rica. However, the resort isn’t really close to the rain forests, so if you are planning on doing excursions, such as zip-lining, hanging bridges, or hikes, you will have a long drive ahead of you.