More about Paradisus Playa Conchal
We loved the Paradisus Playa Conchal and loved Costa Rica!!
We were at the Paradisus Playa Conchal ("PPC") from 10/30/04 to 11/06/04 and it was fabulous!
First though, let me give you a little info on Costa Rica. All of the locals ("Ticos" as they call themselves) we interacted with were great. Costa Rica is a unique country in that just about every creature, except mosquitos, is protected so they really pride themselves on enjoying their wildlife and their environment. They are also very cordial to each other. Everyone waves at everyone else, they let each other pass when driving and in general have a great disposition. Not sure if the locals are like this all the time, but we thought they were great. This is a third-world country so the average income is about $250 per month, but the majority seem to be very hard-working and very proud of their country...as they should be. Also, Cost Rica does not have a military, so any funds for a military is put towards education. All of the children are required to wear a uniform, depending on what grades they are in so no child feels inferior and all feel equal. The government also pays for each child to eat in school so there is an incentive for the parents to send their children to school.
In conducting my research for Costa Rica I did visit the CDC’s website. They said to get a vaccination for malaria and bring medication for malaria. We never experienced any problems whatsoever with any of the food while there. Now, we did not drink the tap water (only bottled water), but we did brush our teeth with it and never had any problems at all. Not sure if that information is outdated or it may apply to very remote areas of the country. If you plan on staying at a resort, I would assume you would not have any problems. However, to be on the safe side I would look for other reviews of other resorts you are considering during your visit.
The week we were there was the end of the rainy season. It rained just about everday, but soon cleared up, and it never rained for one entire day. The temperature was in the 80's during the day and was in the 60's to 70's at night. I did wear a sweater here and there at night, but never wore a jacket at night around the resort.
All of the reviews on this site are accurate in that the roads are horrible. Pot-hole city. Some pot-holes take up 1/2 the road. However, the drivers have mastered the art of manuevering around them and not through them. Yes, the ride is a bit bumpy, but it wasn't bumpy enough to jar our backs or anything like that (and I have lower back issues). Also, it gives you a chance to see the country. The bus drivers are great in that if they see a family of monkeys or a sloth in the trees, they will point them out and stop so you may take photos. We were concerned about the roads initially, but we didn't let it stop us from going on tours, and I'm glad, as we thought the tours were worth it. Now, if you get car-sick, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe take dramamine or ginger root before the ride, as the ride will be bumpy.
PPC was a great hotel. As his occupation my husband works with resorts all over the Americas so we are used to 5-star hotels (Ritz Carlton, Fairmont, JW Marriott, etc.) and we were very pleased with the PPC and the level of service the provide.
STAFF - Not sure if we just got lucky, but all of the staff we met were great and always willing to assist. Yes, you may run into a staff member or two who spoke very broken English, but if that person could not help us we always found someone who could.
PROPERTY - The PPC is very spread out, but very beautiful. It's very tropical with beautiful plants and birds flying about. If you need to get from one end of the resort to the other, the guests are shuttled around in hotel-style golf carts. The pool is huge with a fun swim-up bar, volleyball net, basketball hoops, and a zip-line/canopy over the pool (will get to that later...). The resort is also very secure. There are guards at the entrance to the resort as well as at the entrance to the beach. The resort sits on the beach, but the beach is public so only hotel guests may enter the hotel at the beach. There are locals at the beach selling their wares and tours, but very cordial and friendly. If you say no to a tour they won't haggle you or follow you around, at least they were not that way with us.
ROOMS - All all of the buildings are no more than two-story so oftentimes the rooms are hidden behind the lush greenery. Also, each building houses 8 rooms. 4 on one side and 4 on the opposite side. It was nice because each room was bungalow-style so you can only get to your room from your own outside private door and private porch.
TIP: We looked at an "oceanfront" room in the Royal Service buildings. We were somewhat disappointed in that instead of having an open porch, the porch was enclosed with glass. Not sure if these opened or not, but our whole purpose of wanting oceanfront was to enjoy the view, breeze, etc. So, we just opted for a room on the 2nd floor that was not oceanfront.
TIP: The rooms on the 2nd floors have vaulted ceilings so they seem a little bit larger. When you check-in ask if you are on the 1st or 2nd floor. If you're on the 1st, ask if they have any 2nd floor rooms available that you may change to. We did ask and they were more than welcome to change our room.
Included in your room rate is ALL of your food, ALL of your alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, room service, mini-bar (no food in the mini-bar, only drinks). Your rate also includes a bunch of activities...these are listed on their website.
We really liked the restaurants on-property. Our favorites were Spices (Asian-Fusion Cuisine) and El Faisanela Ristorante (Italian). If the resort is busy when you check-in you may want to make reservations either that day or the next day, as they did fill up.
TIP: They say Spices and El Faisanela have dress codes, but you can wear nice jeans, shorts, sandals, etc. I just don't think they want to see cut-offs and tank tops. So for men shorts, sandals and a Tommy Bahama-type shirt would suffice. Nice jeans, shorts, capris, nice top, sandals, etc, would suffice for women.
We also had a great lunch at Hole 19 which is located in the main lobby. It has a beautiful view of the golf course and the ocean. Caracola Seafood Restaurant is Caribbean Cuisine and it was good, but we liked Spices and Faisanela better. Mitra is the breakfast and the dinner buffet area which was also very good. Great breakfasts with made to order omlettes, pancakes, waffles, and French Toast. There was a lunch buffet near the pool (can't remember the name) that was good and a snack bar where you may get hamburgers, pizza, nachos, etc., all very good...no complaints.
OFF-PROPERTY EATING - If you go to PPC you MUST try an off-property restaurant called the Golden Shrimp. When you make reservations through the concierge they will arrange transportation for you. It's about 10 minutes away and some say you could walk, but it would be a very hefty walk. It's very small and casual, but the food is fab and it's right on the beach so you can watch the sunset while you eat. The bread is wonderful (warm french garlic bread). Before dinner they will bring around a bowl of fresh flowers and water to wash your hands in. After dinner they will bring around another bowl of a minty type of fresh liquid to wash your hands in. If you order drinks, they are strong so know that one drink will be the equivalent of a double. Of course, this meal will not be included in your all-inclusive rate, but it's worth every penny.
TIP: The shrimp and the mahi-mahi were really delicious, but we did not like the lobster AT ALL. If you're used to lobster in the U.S., especially Maine, don't order it, as it's not the same...not even close. But again the shrimp and mahi-mahi were wonderful.
TIP: Because you're right on the beach, wear bug spray on your skin that is exposed. If you're wearing long-sleeves, pants and closed shoes you'll be fine. If you're wearing shorts and short sleeves you'll need bug spray. We used "Deep Woods Off" with Deet and it worked like a charm. It's available at Walgreens, Osco, CVS, etc, so pick it up before leaving the states.
TIP: If you are visiting PPC during high-season book your tours the first day you're there. We arrived at the hotel late Saturday night so we booked out tours on Sunday and none were booked yet, but our resort was not very busy during the first half of the week.
Horseback riding from the hotel was wonderful. It's about a 45 minute ride, is right on the beach and is really fun. You could ride every day if you choose, you'll just need to book it.
BUENA VISTA COMBO TOUR - This was probably our favorite tour. It's a two-hour bus ride each way, but the trip was worth it. It included a canopy tour, waterslide, hike to a waterfall, horseback riding and relaxation in the hot springs. For those of you who are canopy/zip line illiterate like I was, once you arrive at the tour site, all those who are willing will be equipped with harnesses attached to their legs and waist. After a short, but brisk hike (wear good walking/hiking shoes) you will come to your first platform (I believe there are 12 in all). You'll walk up the stairs to the first platform and you will have two guides with you. One will go ahead of the group and the other will go after the group so he can harness everyone in and give instructions. Each person goes one at a time and you have a pulley attached to your harness and this will go onto the zip line. Once you're all strapped in you'll "zip" or travel across the cable line and you will use one of your hands as a break. They DO provide you with gloves to protect your hands...it's really fun and you'll have wonderful views of the rain forest. Take a small camera to take photos. We also recommend doing "superman". You will be harnessed to the guide's harness, strap your legs behind you around the guide and your hands will be free. The guide will zip you both along the cable line and it will feel like you're flying. It's so fun!!!!
The waterslide was quite the slide. Here's a little hint of it...everyone wears a helmet!! It's really fast, the water is freezing, but once you start going you don't feel the water because you're going so fast. Make sure you keep your arms and elbows glued to your side, as if they scrape the side of the slide you'll get "rub-burns". You end up in a small pool of water where others will be sitting watching the other nuts going down the slide. It's a lot of fun! There are bathrooms and changing rooms throughout so you'll be able to change from wet clothes to dry ones, etc. This tour also included horseback riding, hiking to a waterfall, and relaxation at man-made hot springs that are heated by a local volcano. The hike to the waterfall has a lot of stairs so make sure you bring hiking/walking shoes. The waterfall is spectacular so bring your camera.
SPORTFISHING - We arranged this tour from Carlos on the beach at the back of the resort. He provided our transporation and we met his fisherman and helper at the marina in Tamarindo. The views are really beautiful...again bring a camera, and if you go hopefully you'll see lots of fish. We saw dolphins, sea turtles, and we saw a sailfish jumping in a out of the water. They do have whales there, but this was not the time of year - I believe February is the best time of year to see them. One of the folks in our boat caught a huge Eldorado (mahi-mahi). We gave half of it to our guides and took the other half back to the resort and the chefs at El Faisanela cooked it for us...delicious!!
ATV - This was really fun and we highly recommend it. We liked it so much we actually rented them twice. They take you through the little villages and up to the top of the local mountains so you'll have wonderful views...again bring your camera. ATVing on the beach was great, my daredevil husband did doughnuts on the beach and had the darn thing on two wheels. Luckily we all had our own.
ARENAL VOLCANO - This was a very long drive, but they make frequent stops so it doesn't seem so bad, plus it's a great way to see the local scenery. We first arrived at a lodge and hiked into the rain forest. This was neat...lots of interesting birds and they stop at a replica of a Maleku Indian tribe hut where Maleku Indians are there to greet you, give you information about their life, and some of there wares are for sale...nice holiday gifts if you're looking for something unique. Next we were shuttled back onto the bus and take us to a local restaurant for lunch. There is also a nice gift shop to purchase more gifts. Next we headed up to the volcano. This is one of the most active volcanos in the Americas...not sure how it compares to Mount St. Helens. Anyway, aside from being at an active volcano, the best part are the Tabacon Hot Springs and Resort. This resort is truly spectacular and is at the base of the volcano. At night if you're lucky (it rained while we were there so we did not see it) you may see lava flowing from the top. There are about 20 hot springs throughout lush, gorgeous pathways...bring your camera. The higher up you go toward the volcano the hotter the springs get. They are just as hot, if not hotter than a hot tub, but they feel fabulous. If I were to go again I would definitely take and wear water shoes as the bottoms of the hot springs have quite a few rocks to you must maneuver through them pretty gingerly. It was well worth the drive time there and you'll stay there for dinner on the patio right with views of the springs and the volcano (if it's a clear night). The bus ride back to the hotel wasn't bad as we all slept the entire way.
To conclude, we will definitely return to Costa Rica and would definitely return to the PPC. The only reason we may not stay there again is so we could experience a different part of the country that was too far from the PPC. But, if we return to the same region there, we will most certainly go back to the PPC - it was wonderful!!! If you're reading this and are considering Costa Rica, I hope you're able to go there...it's a wonderfuly country!!
Melia Playa Conchal
Our air and hotel 770.00 US 5 star resort with excellent pool area and good food I would suggest taking the all inclusive plan
Best Vacation Destination
My husband and I spent our honeymoon at Paradisus Playa Conchal last October (2003) and are returning for our year anniversary. We loved everything about the hotel and its staff. We are well traveled and have never had such wonderful service. I can not say enough about our experience. Honestly, I cried when we left......and, you'd think I would be ready to go home after two weeks.
This hotel is an all-inclusive all-suite hotel that is located on a private beach. The suites are great by top notch international standards.
The location is rather isolated. The hotel offers lots of daily activities, and also hosts a small casino. This is a great couples destination.
75% of the customers are Canadian/US. The hotel has Central Americas largest pool, and I mean it is HUGE. There is a swim-up-bar that makes good frozen drinks:)
Most people stay at the pool over the beach. The ocean is a bit cooler and more refreshing than the pool.
The resort has 4 restaurants from a buffett style, to fancy Asian. There is a shopping complex that has sunscreen, and local product like coffee and liquor. There is also a cyber cafe.
The Best of Playa Conchal - Condo Living
I have stayed two times at this resort and have just come back from PPC after staying at the condos there. If you are not big on the all-inclusive eating and drinking, like us, then the condos are a great way to experience PPC.
We had a three bedroom, 2 bath unit on the middle of the three floor buildings. It was really nicely furnished and had all the kitchen stuff we needed. We never cooked a full meal though it had pots and pans and the like. The condos overlook the golf course with the ocean in the distance. We had an ocean view, but some condos don't.
The condos are not right on the resort, but a fair bit away. You could walk it, but its downhill all the way to the resort and uphill all the way back. We could call for a shuttle to bring us to the lobby. There was also one that circulated from time to time. We often drove our rental down to the resort.
We got a great list of local restaurants from the condo owners. We ate several times in Brasilito, the closest town. The Camaron Dorado was our favorite. The Happy Snapper and Perro Plano were also very good. Marie's in Flamingo was really good and there was a local joint on the beach before Flamingo that had great 'casados' the local dish of fish/chicken/meat plus beans & rice, plantains and a small salad. All these places are very reasonable and the service was good.
We had access to the resort pool, beach, gym, etc.
We went on one tour recommended by our condo owner; the Buena Vista Combo tour. This was a great day of canopy, horseback riding, mud pack/sweat lodge/hot springs, and an awesome water slide, plus lunch. Our unit was a 3 bedroom / 2 bath unit that slept 6. King master bedroom, king 2nd bedroom, twin 3rd bedroom. Nice kitchen with granite counters, GE applicances, all in good condition.
Ocean view, but not that near the ocean, on the golf course, about 7 min walk to the resort proper.
Wonderful, Wonderful Resort
We absolutely loved the Paradisus Playa Conchal. From the first moment we arrived until we left (sadly I might add), we were treated so great. Everyone there is so friendly and helpful. Our room was very well appointed and kept spotless each day. The whole resort is just beautiful and very relaxing. We enjoyed the food at the buffet, the Italian resturant (twice) and the Asian Spices. The Buchaneer was closed. Another great spot is the El Hoya in the lobby for lunch. We ate there twice and both times the service was great and the view awesome. We enjoyed a day away from the resort visiting the Rincon Volcano and also a day on the ATV's. So much fun! We booked the ATV's with Alexander on the beach and he gave us a great trip. Look him up. One comment about the sunset cruise, they should tell the participants that it is necessary to wade out in knee high water to the boat that takes you to the cruise boat. It would have been nice to have this information before the trip. Loved the coffee--we brought lots home. We walked to the little town of Brasilito and bought some in USD for less than 1/2 of what the hotel was charging in the gift shop. Be sure and try the canopy tour over the pool to determine if you want to try the real canopy tour. We ran out of time, but hope to do it next time. So much to do at this resort--you will love it. THe beach is great for early morning walks--necessary to compensate for all the food. Drinks were really pretty good--try the Miami VICE! Please go visit Costa Rica--you will love the resort, the people and like us will want to return soooooon. Pure Vida!
We visited the Paradisus Playa Conchal the week of October 2-9, 2004. Just like you we read a majority of these reviews and were looking forward to a great time. Most of the reviews were so positive, we tended to overlook the negative ones. Both Vacation Express and Apple Vacations rated the Paradisus as one of their best - 6 stars or 6 apples as the case may be so we thought that was worth something. However, I must admit, some of the negative comments we read about were true. Especially with the staff. Some of the staff are great, go the extra mile and are very cordial. Others will walk right by you and never utter a word when you speak to them (whether in Spanish or English) they ignore you. So that was disappointing.
I have to admit I'm biased because I work in management at a 4-star, 4-diamond resort and have for 15 years. I know what it takes to stay at that top level, both with staff training and upkeep and maintenance of the facilities. I also realize we were in Costa Rica, so I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. That being said, there were still some missed opportunities there.
This time of year is the rainy season and it was very hot and humid. We found ourselves changing clothes at least twice a day and showering at least twice as well. It rained a lot in the afternoons and evenings so when the sun came out the next morning, the humidity was tough to deal with. You really need to plan to do any touring in the mornings. Most of the afternoon tours ended up being “rained” out. Fortunately, most all of the tour companies offered their tours in the mornings.
The ants are everywhere and if you are susceptible to bites, be sure to bring along some bug spray and/or calamine lotion. We both got bitten quite a bit on the last day or two. We had the bug spray, but it didn’t stop the ant bites. We didn’t even know we were being bitten until it was too late. So again, plan ahead.
The rooms/suites are very nice. I agree with everyone else, you want to be on the upper level. Our first night they put us on the lower level and I asked to be moved and they could not accommodate us. By the end of the 2nd day, it was getting very frustrating that we could not be moved. The staff said the hotel was at 50% occupancy and walking around you could see empty rooms. However we really had to push with the Front Desk Manager until we were given another room. This to me was unnecessary considering the low occupancy. We should have just been given a room. We talked to another couple who experienced the same frustrations with the Front Desk Staff. They ended up asking for the General Manager because they didn’t feel they were being treated well and to get resolution to their problem.
There are 8 suites in each bungalow. The last digit of the room number tells you what level you are on. If it ends in 1, 2, 3, or 4 those are on the lower level. If it ends in 5, 6, 7, or 8 those are 2nd floor suites. The first one or two digits is the building number. (ex 345 is building 34 room number 5) Building location really doesn't matter as shuttles are constantly available to pick you up and take you wherever you want to go. Some people prefer to be by the pool, but we actually were in building 30 and enjoyed the walking.
This was a big disappointment. While the food was very good, only 2 restaurants were open; the Asian and the Caribbean. We like to eat a nice dinner each night and going to the same two restaurants got old. The selection of restaurants was one of the main reasons we went to this resort. No one would tell us why the Steak House or the Italian Restaurants were closed, they just said, "they're closed". We didn't have any problem getting reservations, because occupancy was low. Even still, you have to make your reservations early in the morning each day. They start taking reservations at 8:00 am. We only had to wait one day in line, but then again, this was low season. They do not allow you to make reservations in advance.
The golf course is beautiful and we only saw a few people play the whole week we were there. Because of the rainy afternoons, people that did play, played in the morning. The rate was between $100 and $140 per person depending on the weather. It would make sense to lower the rate a little bit so more people could play. We talked to a lot of people who wanted to play, but felt the rate was just too much.
The beach was a huge disappointment. We’ve traveled all over the Caribbean and I guess we’ve been spoiled by some fabulous beaches. There was really nothing there at the Paradisus beach. It was a shell beach, so it’s not sandy. No chairs or anyone on the beach. It’s just there. We saw less than a dozen people on the beach any of the times we went down. It was not very popular with the guests.
We did go out snorkeling around the rocks off the cove nearby and never saw a fish. Some people did go on tours and say they saw some fish. But around the hotel, it’s a waste of time.
Again, this was a huge disappointment. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the pool is huge. However, the pool itself is made of 2x2 tiles - thousands of them. So just like in a tiled floor or counter top, the grout gets dirty if it isn’t sealed. The grout in the pool is very dirty. So it gives off the impression that the pool is dirty. Then, there are bees and insects in the pool all over and no one ever coming around to skim them off. I’m sure they skim the pool early in the morning, but only once in a week did we ever see someone tending to the pool. Not what I would expect from a 6 star resort.
We ended up going on more tours than we planned because there was nothing to do at the hotel besides lay around the pool. We did our share of that, but we also are active people and wanted to do more.
We booked the Canopy Tour through Scuba Caribe at the hotel and enjoyed it very much. We felt the $44 was worth it. We also booked an ATV tour through them with another couple and our guide, Orlando, gave us a very VIP tour. The 4 of us felt we really got our money’s worth and saw parts of the country you would probably never see otherwise.
The roads are so bad in Costa Rica you want to pick and choose tours carefully. We talked to people who took tours to the Volcano that spent 4 hours on the roads each way. The pot holes are so bad cars and especially busses can’t travel very fast. They said 8 hours on a bus on those roads was not worth it. The afternoon snorkeling and sunset tours were cancelled because of the rain.
The hotel does offer a few free tours and you can take advantage of them as well.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay, but will not go back. There are too many fabulous resorts in the Caribbean and other destinations to go back to one that was dissappointing.
Paradisus Playa Conchal – Guanacaste, Costa Rica
"Arrival and the Resort"
Arrival at the airport in Guanacaste was uneventful and relatively efficient. As usual, there was a string of buses outside and travel company reps with signs directing people to the appropriate bus. Check-in was on the bus during the drive the to resort which was actually quite good. Because of this there were no long line-ups at the front desk when we arrived. There was a staff member there to tell people if rooms were ready – ours was, but several were not.
First impressions of the resort were quite good. The long and winding driveway is well landscaped and the lobby is nicely set-out and well furnished. The main building houses the lobby and 19th Hole on the main level and the spa, gym and pro shop on the lower level. It is open to the ocean and provides a gorgeous view of the ocean and the resort grounds.
A “bus” takes you and your luggage to your room. The property is enormous and these buses travel throughout the resort every few minutes picking-up guests. If walking is an issue, there is nothing to worry about.
The Suites: We had asked for a second floor room with a king bed as close to the beach as possible. We got a room on the first floor with two twin beds as far away from the beach as you can get at this resort. I understand that requests are just that, requests, but we usually get at least one of our requests. Anyway, we asked at the desk for a room with a king bed as we wouldn’t have minded a double bed but the twins just weren’t going to cut it. There were none available but the maid fastened the legs of the two beds together and used king sheets. We requested this 3 times of various people and when it still wasn’t done, we asked the maid to do it. She took care of it right there and right then.
The suite-style rooms are quite nice with the bedroom area on a raised section (as is exactly like the pictures in the brochures). There was a fridge and a minibar, a small sink and a coffeemaker. We didn’t actually pull it out but the loveseat looked like a pull-out. The TV spins so that it can be watched from anywhere in the suite. The bathroom is all marble with two sections. One area has a sink and counter area with a nice big closet and mirrored sliding closet doors. The only thing is that there were far too few hangers. We usually bring a bunch of wire hangers from home that we just leave in the closet when we depart but, for some reason, didn’t do that this time. That said, the closet also has a lot of shelf space and there are two dressers in the bedroom area. Also in the closet is the safe and an iron and ironing board. The second section of the bathroom contained the toilet, shower and bidet. Sufficient towels were provided daily, including face clothes. The faucets in the shower were a bit antiquated but the shower had good pressure. Just had one complaint about the room – it was too hot! The air-conditioner was on “high” and the thermostat was set to 50. We only called the desk once about this. It was never fixed.
I loved sitting on the patio before getting ready for dinner. We forgot bug spray but the only time I was bitten by mosquitoes was when I walked barefoot into the grass to take a picture of the patio area. There are two chairs and a table. Our room/patio faced the 18th hole of the golf course. There is a large water hazzard between the fairway and the villa. Behind that, the mountains. It was actually quite a nice view.
The Property: The grounds are beautifully manicured and well maintained. The lushness of the trees (on the well-watered resort) is beautiful. There is a lot of walking if you chose not to take the buses. This resort is huge. There is a shopping area between the villas and the pool. Here you will find a coffee and tobacco store with an internet café, a clothing and souvenir store, a jewellery store, a convenience-type store, the tour agency, and a craft-style souvenir store. They are all quite nice and the prices are reasonable. This doesn’t include prices in the jewellery store, as I did not really look at the prices.
The Pool: The pool is everything it is built-up to be. There is lots of shade both from palapas and from natural shade trees. There are areas with ladders and steps with railings to get in and out as well as a couple of gently sloping entries. There are lots of interesting features and varying depths throughout the pool. There is a shallow area for children with a small slide. There are a few basketball nets, a volleyball net, and an area where water fitness classes take place. Finally, the pool boasts both a large jacuzzi area and a swim-up bar. The pool is so large, there could be activity in all of these areas without making the pool seem crowded!
The Beach: The beach is much as described with both soft white sand and shelly course sand. There is a slope to the water and the entry into the water is course directly in front of the resort entrance and softer to the left. The surf is fairly strong. There are no chairs on the beach as it, and all Costa Rican beaches, is public. It is a perfect beach for walking. All in all, it is a gorgeous beach. There are vendors as you leave the resort and enter the beach. Their prices are about four times that of the same products in any of the towns.
The Restaurants: I have come to realize that food is mainly a matter of personal preference so I will only comment on the restaurants themselves. All restaurants are in the same area. Every restaurant is appropriately decorated and each is beautiful. Breakfast is only served in the main buffet restaurant or you can order room service. Breakfast begins at 6:00am which, for early birds like me, is a welcome change from the standard 7:00am. The food through room service is actually very good and the menu has a relatively good selection. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Booking the specialty restaurants is a little difficult. Twice I tried to make a reservation between 7:00 and 8:00am and was unable to as all restaurants were already booked. You cannot book for the following night – only for that night. I can’t explain why everything was already booked at that hour of the morning but there were two very large corporate groups there and all I can think was that the restaurants were held for these groups.
On-Resort Activities: There was so much to do on the resort that you would not be bored if you stayed on the resort. There were tons of aerobics, yoga, and exercise classes, both in and out of the pool. There is also a fitness centre. Also volleyball and basketball in the pool, all the usual non-motorized watersports, walking groups, a zip-line, spa, golf course, and on and on. The resort also has a casino and a disco both housed in the same building. The disco is aesthetically worth the trip to the top of the hill on which the building is located and the views are beautiful. There are several pool tables at the back of the disco. We didn’t visit the casino but it appeared small and very dark from the entrance.
There were approx 10 excursions offered through the resort. There were several trips to the rain forest, the volcanoes, and the hot springs. There was also a day-trip to Nicaragua.
Two things we did that were not in the brochures: We took a catamaran half-day trip on “The Lazy Lizard”. I can’t say enough about this trip! We have done these trips before in many places in the Caribbean and Mexico but in terms of crew and knowing how to please your clients, these guys were tops! I have to say the snorkelling was not the best I’ve seen. There had been strong winds since we arrived and this caused a lot of sediment in the water making visibility very poor. However, the crew were absolutely outstanding serving lunch and making sure every guest on the boat was happy – all the time! When we were coming in the sun was going down and they were playing “Sailing” on the stereo. Even though the music choice was obviously not a coincidence, it was one of the most beautiful experiences we ever had on a trip. We were on the Pacific ocean, coming back to the bay, the sun was a brilliant red as it touched the water, and there were pelicans floating gracefully in the air and the ocean. It was if they had been hired to accompany us back to land. It was like a Costa Rica Tourism commercial! It was $65US.They offer several different trips. http://www.sailingcostarica.com
On our last night, still not having seen a monkey, with which my husband is now obsessed, we rented a golf cart for $10US and drove the course. As a beginner golfer, I couldn’t muster the interest to play the course in the heat preferring instead to be near the pool or the ocean for most of the day but we both wanted to see it. Before dinner as it cooled somewhat (“cool” being a quite relative term!!), we started out. The flora and fauna seen on the course is spectacular. This is probably the most beautiful golf course I have ever seen. And finally, at the 18th green, success! A monkey! We videotaped him just as the sun was sinking beneath the horizon so that by the end of it all you can see on the tape is his eyes glowing in the darkness.
All things considered, we had a great trip. The resort was beautiful, the people friendly and Costa Rica itself beautiful beyond words. A final word about the resort – while we enjoyed it, I did feel it was overrated based on other places we have stayed for the same or lesser cost. I would recommend the resort but with managed expectations. I think if we had not read such glowing reviews, our expectations may have been met or exceeded. I also think this resort may become overcrowded in the future as an extraordinary number of condos are being built around the golf course and their occupancy may over-tax the facilities unless they are expanded.
Adventure in Paradise
"Cost Rica self-drive vacation"
Wow, what a destination Costa Rica turned out to be. My main objective was an adventure vacation, and I got it.
I went the last week in April which is right before the rainy season starts. I think I timed it perfectly, as the only time I had a downpour was when I arrived.
Some of the tours I did included class 3 white water rafting, arenal horseback riding, ATV, rain forest hanging bridges, canopy tour. I also visited the hot springs at Tabacon (where I stayed) and got a spa treatment to the sound of the rain forest at dusk. Talk about relaxing. See my Arenal Tamarindo and Playa Conchal page for more information.
You can use U.S. dollars pretty much everywhere. The exchange rate when I was there (late April) was araound 430. Which means that 100 USD, is equal to 43,000 Colones. I suggest exchanging colones for things you want to pay for locally in cash. This becuase if you pay a $12 purchase with a $20 bill, not only will they give you local currency in return, but a horrible exchange rate. Your hotel is a good place to exchange.
Credit cards are also widely accepted. Visa and Mastercards are the biggest. Don't expect ATM's everywhere.
For more details I will create seperate travel pages for the places I visited. Arenal, Playa Conchal, and Tamarindo.
I planned the trip to do the adventure part first with 4 nights in Arenal, and then relax and lick my wounds at the beach for 4 nights.
In retrospect I would have preferred 5 nights of adventure and rain forest, and 3 nights of beach luxury. It is really amazing how such a small country can be so diversed and include some many climate zones, and landscapes.
I also learned that this is not a good singles destination, as far as meeting people. 90% are couples, and the other 10% are families.
Oh, and I survived a 6.2 earthquake in Playa Conchal. Since it was my first, I have nothing to compare with. But roof tiles, plates and glasses were breaking all over the place. Nature can be the biggest adventure.
"Food & Drink"
The Costa Rican food is not too exciting. If you care what kind of meat you eat, then stay away from the beef dishes. You don't know what kind of meat it is, and it's pretty tough and cooked medium or well done. Chicken and fish are better bets. I had lunch in local restaurants in La Fortuna a couple of days. Since I like to try new foods, I would order the "plate of the day" without knowing what it was. That will run you $6, and it comes with a drink. Food in general was better at the all-inclusive Paradisus Playa Conchal resort.
For drinks I suggest "Cristal" bottle water. The domestic beer "Imperial" is good, and they have several good coffee liquors.
Sol Melia Resort Playa Conchal
I stayed at the Sol Melia all-inclusive resort on the Pacific coast, about an hour west of Liberia. I was there for 4 nights after having been up to Arenal for four nights doing all kinds of adventure. It was a nice way to finish a trip and relax.
However, I was travelling solo, and this was not a good place to meet people. 95% were couples, and the rest were families.
The resort itself was great. There were 39 villas, that each housed four Junior Suites. The air conditioning was great, and the cleaning crew left it on all day. I had it set to meat locker for when I came back from the pool/beach.
The resort also hosts a Trent Jones golf course that looks great. I had a tee time one morning for 6:30AM, but it was just too humid for me to play. They also offer tons of daily activities for the guests, including: pool volleyball, yoga, rifle shooting, sailing. There is also a gym and tennis courts on the premises.
For shoppers there is a small mall area with various stores, and a cyber cafe to check your e-mail.
If you are looking for powder white soft sand, and crystal clear water, you will be be disappointed. The beach is big and pretty empty most of the time. The sand is actually crushed seashells, a bit corse.
The water is cloudy from the waves dragging up sand. So not ideal for snorkeling. I tried in the afternoon, and they say it's better midday. The nice think with the beach is that the water is a bit cooler than the pool, and it's almost empty.
There were som amazing sunsets in the beach.
The pool deserves it's own chapter. If you are a pool fan, you will love this. It is HUGE. You need a water taxi from one end to the other. And it's warm too, about 86 degrees, which is a bit too warm for me. The pool has a swimup bar which makes good mudslides and other drinks. The also have basket hoops in the pool. Nowhere does it get to 6' deep.
The food was very good in the resort, much better than anything I had in Arenal. The resort is all-inclusive. For dinner you have a choice between a buffett, which was very good, an Italian and Asian restaurant. Both of which you need reservations for.
Get the American room service breakfast. They say it will be delivered in 45 minutes. Every day they surprised my by being there in 20 minutes. They also have a room service snack menu with wings, and enchilladas and stuff you can order after 6PM. For lunch you have a choice between a buffett or a fast food place with burgers, pizza, and pasta.
Playa Conchal sunset
PARADISUS PLAYA CONCHAL - COSTA RICA
Has anyone stayed at this resort? Any information would be great.
RE: PARADISUS PLAYA CONCHAL - COSTA RICA
If you did a simple Google search your would have fond this website with 208 reviews from people who have stayed there
RE: RE: PARADISUS PLAYA CONCHAL - COSTA RICA
Thanks.....I'm not a Google searcher...but I guess I need to become one.. Thanks for the help!
RE: RE: PARADISUS PLAYA CONCHAL - COSTA RICA
I have not stayed there, but I have a friend who stayed there and LOVED it. She said it is gorgeous and very luxurious. I'm going to Costa Rica in May and we may be staying there too. Good luck!
Costa Rica - Paradisus Playa Conchal
Hi - going to this resort in March and was wondering if anyone has a map of the grounds and layout they could email me - I have M.S. and walking long distances can be difficult so I want to request a centrally located room. Thank you!
Re: Costa Rica - Paradisus Playa Conchal
I dont have a map but I have their web site with on-line live help ( or so they say):
Re: Costa Rica - Paradisus Playa Conchal
I would go to there web site and give them a call directly asking for a layout, and tell them you situation. I'm not sure if they even have a map of the hotel grounds. The tambor had a model of there resort in the entrance which you can view.Give them a call.
Re: Re: Costa Rica - Paradisus Playa Conchal
M.S. is Multiple Sclerosis, sorry, just assumed everyone knew what that stood for - many people in Canada have M.S. - your own antibodies attack the myelin sheath which is the protective coating of your nerves, resulting in muscle weakness and fatigue, among numerous other things. I have gone on the hotel's website and they don't display a map. I do have their number though, so I guess I should call them.
dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
Hello, I have a client who is staying at the Playa Conchal resort this december and he needs to get is open water certification. Is there any PADI dive shops in the area? Thanks in advance.
Re: dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
There is a PADI dive shop in Tamarindo and in Flamingo. Both are easily accessed from Conchal.
Re: dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
Thanks Suzie, but would you happen to know the names of the shops?
Re: dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
It is called Aquacenter Diving.
Re: dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
Sorry, the one I am referring to is the one in Flamingo. They do offer PADI certification.
Re: dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
Just did more research. Bill Beards Diving group offers service out of Playa Conchal as well.
Re: dive shops around Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort
Thanks Suzie, ur fantastic!!