We just arrived at the Autentico Hotel in San Jose to begin our journey to Guanacaste. We decided to stay in San Jose overnight because our shuttle was scheduled for 7:15 the next morning. I also wanted Tezzy to see the Autentico Hotel because this was my first destination when I arrived in Costa Rica about a year and a half ago.
The hotel has seen many changes since the last time I was here. Back then, it was bustling with tourists from all over the world. Now, during this season of COVID-19, there were not many people in sight. Those who were visible were wearing masks, cleaning the bottoms of their shoes upon entry, washing their hands, and having their temperatures taken. It was all a little bizarre and a bit sad. Even the restaurant and terrace closed early, and the waitresses were wearing masks and face shields. It’s just not the same as I expected, but I understood the need for such changes.
After a delicious dinner, we headed back to our room and chilled the rest of the night, watching Netflix. The next morning we enjoyed a typical Costa Rican breakfast and checked out of our room before waiting outside the hotel for our scheduled Interbus to pick us up. Although the bus was running about 45 minutes late, when Diego, our driver, arrived, we headed out along Carreterra Interamericana Route 1, North towards Guanacaste.
Guanacaste, the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica, is known for its beaches and biodiverse parkland. This region supports Costa Rica’s beef and sugarcane production and has several national parks and wildlife reserves. The drive took more than 3 hours, but our Interbus shuttle has WiFi. As we arrived in Guanacaste, it seemed like a lot of people were visiting this Sunday afternoon.
We got a killer deal for our trip: A great price and all-inclusive, all you can eat, for 2 nights and 3 days. I must say, the Riu Hotel is huge! The Riu property and surroundings reminds me of Las Vegas—it has that kind of grandness and ambiance without the gambling. Our first night we dined at Furama, a Japanese themed buffet restaurant, and the food was awesome, which went along with the great service. I had to keep reminding myself that I was only on a 3-day holiday, but every day in Costa Rica feels like a holiday.
We were up and at it early the next day because the buffet breakfast was at the Liberia Restaurant, another eatery on the property. There are a 5 restaurants on the property, and we decided to do our best to eat at as many as we could.
Oh shit! The rain! I love the rain, but we needed the sunlight to capture a good feature picture specifically for this post. We waited for the rain to end before taking some good shots and venturing down to the Playa Matapalo beach, which was only steps away. We spent the remainder of the morning walking along the beach and splashing in the ocean water, drinking early morning margaritas, and listening to the Spanish music blasting poolside while snapping lots of pictures in this beautiful and pristine setting.
One thing I can say about the Riu Hotel is there efforts to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Before entering any restaurant, we had to put on a face mask or shield, sanitize our hands, check our temperature at some restaurants, and wear clear gloves for buffet services. Of course, we also had to maintain social distancing at all times. It felt like we were on some other planet, and I was waiting for the aliens to appear at any time.
For dinner we decided to go Italiano and dined at Toscani, another fine restaurant experience. We started off with a huge buffet appetizer and wine, and soon thereafter the main course was served. Tezzy had the salmon fillet on a bed of spinach with pistachio sauce, and I ordered grilled beef on a bed of mushrooms with marsala wine sauce.
Our last day in Guanacaste was met with a torrential downpour while we headed down to breakfast at Liberia Restaurant. We normally try to get to restaurants at least 15 minutes before they open to avoid waiting in the long lines. Luckily, the Riu Hotel also has an app that keeps guests up to date on everything happening at the hotel.
We finally jumped into our Interbus shuttle that was waiting curbside and are now about to depart from this beautiful hotel. Already our friends are trying to arrange a holiday to Manuel Antonio if the prices are comparable to the Riu deal. Most hotels are now offering special rates during Costa Rica’s initial re-opening phase to tourists from various countries and even parts of the United States.