Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hotel Spotlight - Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica


Happy Tuesday, my friends! Today I am starting a new travel series called Hotel Spotlight. In the past, I have talked a lot about the wonderful hotels I've stayed at when I travel, and have included them in my travel guides and/or city reviews. However, this will be a bit different, as I'm going to focus solely on my stay at the resort or hotel, versus what we did each day, or where we ate.

Like everyone else, I comb through the reviews on Hotels.com and Tripadvisor before booking a hotel, and I wanted to offer a more personalized alternative. To kick off this new series, I am sharing our stay at the Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica. We spent eight days at this luxury, adults only, all inclusive resort, and had a wonderful time.




Location
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica is located on the stunning Papagayo Peninsula in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, which is on the Pacific Ocean. Our flight from Houston was just a little over three hours, which made getting there a breeze. We had a direct flight into Liberia International Airport, and the hotel was a quick 20 minute drive from the airport (although it felt like it was hundreds of miles away from anything). We pre-arranged transportation with the hotel and we're picked up in an air conditioned SUV and whisked away to our home-away-from-home for the next week.





The Resort 
This was our fourth time staying at an AMResorts property, which have included Secrets Maroma Beach, outside of Cancun, Mexico, Secrets Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic (where we went for NYE 2017), and Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Obviously we are repeat costumers because we have had great experiences at their sister properties, and have grown to love all the unlimited luxuries that are included.

The Secrets Papagayo Resort has 202 guestrooms that offer tropical or ocean views. We stayed in one of their Preferred Club Bungalow Suites, and had a gorgeous ocean front view from our room and over-sized patio. We have opted during each of our stays at AMResorts to upgrade to the Preferred Club, which offers additional amenities for a nominal cost. Some of these amenities are, a private lounge that offers daily continental breakfast service, afternoon hot and cold hours d’oeuvres, dessert in the evenings, and top shelf liquor and wine. It gives you access to one of the restaurants that is available only for Preferred Club members for breakfast and lunch. Plus, upgraded mini-bar service and bath amenities, private check-in/out, unlimited connectivity (which includes free WiFi and unlimited international calls to the US, Canada and Mexico), and upgraded rooms. Did I mention that they bring nightly desserts to your room, as well?

Our room was nestled into one of the furthest parts of the resort, and we were situated right next to the Honeymoon Suite, which was really nice and made us feel like we were completely alone. The resort was fairly spread out and is built up into the hills, so a decent amount of walking is required. They do offer a shuttle service so that you don't have to face the daunting hills if you don't want to, but we enjoyed getting our daily dose of exercise going to and from our bungalow to the beach and the restaurants. That being said, if you're hoping to wear high heels while here on vacation, leave them at home. I had read reviews of how hilly it was, but didn't think it would be an issue....it was! My heels stayed in the suitcase the whole time, and I was happy I had brought several cute pairs of sandals with me.





Food
The resort has five restaurants, four bars, a coffee shop, and a special lounge for only Preferred Club guests. We had the opportunity while we were at the resort to not only dine in all of their restaurants, but to indulge in two special meals. These unique meals were curated just for us, and included a romantic beach side dinner, as well as a special "off the menu" five course dinner prepared and presented by the chef in the hotel's wine cellar. As you can guess, the two specialty meals were by far our favorite. Some of the items prepared for us that we enjoyed were lobster, beets four ways (who knew?! So good!), grilled sirloin, deconstructed apple salad, and so many other delicious things. It truly was a special experience. That being said, all the food we ate while we were there was great, very creative, and more importantly, incredibly fresh. Their five restaurants included:

Himitsu, which offered Pan-Asian cuisine, as well as a teppanyaki bar.
The Market Cafe, which is a buffet that's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate breakfast here every morning, and loved the variety of local and traditional cuisine they had.
The Seaside Grill, which was our favorite restaurant, featured several different types of fish, as well as steak, and delicious salads.
Portofino, the Italian restaurant (which we also loved), featured an extensive menu and had the most delicious spinach risotto and other pastas.
Aqua, which was located by the spa, offered small, healthy dining options and a fun bar. They had amazing juices and delicious burritos.






Service
From the moment we arrived, the service was outstanding. Every person was very attentive, not to mention incredibly friendly. As soon as we got to our room, we were greeted by our personal concierge, and had a gorgeous, personalized dessert and a bottle of champagne waiting for us (how cool is the picture of us?!?). By the second day the staff remembered our names, were always checking in to see if we needed something, and clearly wanted to go the extra mile to make our vacation one to remember.

Amenities 
The hotel has a world class spa, which was perfect for an extra dose of rest and relaxation. We enjoyed a 50 minute Swedish Massage in one of their darling treatment rooms that overlooked the ocean. They had several services to choose from, and the spa was definitely one of the most popular places at the resort.

We also enjoyed having a beach side cabana during our entire vacation. The hotel reserved the cabana for us, but you could easily reserve it (at no extra cost) the day before. It was nice to not have to worry about whether or not we were going to get a seat if we decided to sleep in! That being said, while we were there, we never saw people have any issues getting a chair by the beach, or by the two pools.




Among some of the other amenities they offered were daily activities and nightly entertainment, which included singers, dancers, and movies on the beach. Some of the activities they offered were morning and afternoon hikes (which provided a great vantage point and areal view of the hotel), beach volleyball, bocce ball, archery, yoga, and water aerobics, You also could rent bikes and explore the grounds, as well as play tennis at the hotel's tennis courts.They also offered water sports, and you could hire someone to take you deep sea fishing, or enjoy a sunset cruise around the bay, which we did one evening, and highly recommend.

They also offered tours that you could take through the hotel, and had a rental car representative there, which was really convenient. We ended up renting a car on Christmas Eve and driving to Arenal Volcano, which was a lengthy three hour drive, but the views along the way of the lake were absolutely beautiful and well worth it. Once we got there, we explored the town of La Fortuna, hiked the waterfall, and enjoyed the Mistico Hanging Bridges.





All in all our vacation was one to remember, and was the perfect way to celebrate this past Christmas. We can't wait for our next trip, and will definitely be staying at another AMResort property in the future. 

This post is in partnership with Secrets Resorts. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Ashley Nicole Style possible.




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