I stayed at this resort several years ago and was surprised by some of the negative reviews I saw online prior to booking this trip, as I really enjoyed my trip the first time. Some of the reviews mentioned that the hotel had been rennovated, so I was excited to see the improvements that had been made since my last trip.
Here's the bottom line with this resort: If you expect a 5 star all-inclusive resort with all the bells and whistles, this isn't going to be the place for you. If, however, you're on a budget looking for a clean place to stay, friendly staff, good food and drinks, a good pool, and a beautiful beach, this IS the place for you.
We prearranged for a private hotel transfer from the airport to the hotel for about $70.00. We arrived a few hours before check-in, which is at 3pm, and the hotel let us change and hang out at the pool/beach while we waited, although we had to pay for drinks before 3pm, because that's when our all-inclusive started. The view from the lobby to the ocean literally takes your breath away. I immediately noticed some of the improvements: the bar and kiddie pool were covered with woven palm "tiki-type" huts now, and the outside restuarant expanded, added a second floor, and is now also covered in the same way. These improvements made such a difference in the ambience of the outdoor space--you really feel like you're in paradise from the moment you step foot outside!
As I mentioned before, we opted for the all-inclusive package. From my experience at Flamingo Beach Resort on my previous trip, I knew that the breakfast buffet at the resort would be excellent (tons of fresh fruit, amazing gallo pinto, bacon, sausage, hasbrowns, etc), the lunches decent (hamburgers, pizza, wraps, chicken and fish fingers, french fries, chicken and rice, etc.), and the dinners not much to write home about. But, we figured that for the extra $220 or so we paid per person for 6 days of the all inclusive, it would be well worth the money just to avoid the hassle of having to pay for everything out of pocket, even if we went into town for dinner a few times (which we did, at a cost of approx $50-$75 for two of us per meal). With the all-inclusive, you still get a "bill" at each meal and at the bar, which you have to "sign" to your room, but this was good because it helped us see how we were making out on the all-inclusive. Breakfasts "bills" ran us about $15 day (together), lunches about $20, and dinners about $30. We also had a few decent bills at the bar--one of which would have been about $70 US dollars. Given those, I'd say we made out well on the all-inclusive and--at a minimum--broke even.
We had a ground level room that faced the parking lot. It was big, but everything was basic. The bathroom was nice and large and looked like it had been recently updated. One thing that took a little getting used to was that room service came quite late in the day--usually between 3 and 5 pm for us. In hindsight, it actually wound up being a good thing because it meant that we tracked our sand in during the day as we were coming and going, and then had a nice clean room to fall asleep in at night. We used the hotel's wireless internet in the lobby several mornings to check-in at home and let our family know we arrived safely without having to run up expensive International phone bills, so that was a really nice ammenity.
The pool was great. It was never overcrowded, and the pool bar was a blast. It was so nice to swim up to the bar, sit down on a bench in the water, and just enjoy a few drinks in paradise. And it's even more beautiful at night. They light torches around the pool every night after the sun sets and turn colored lights on in the pool that create the most wonderful atmosphere--you really feel like you're in a special place.
We didn't participate in any hotel-sponsored activities, but they did seem to offer a decent amount. We paid for a horseback riding tour to Playa Conchal, but in hindsight, probably would have preferred not to do this because the horses seemed skinny and didn't seem to want to go out. We spent most of our ride feeling bad for the horses. Our guide was very friendly, though, and even stopped and got off his horse to take pictures of us on our horses on Playa Conchal.
We had a wonderful treat at dinner one night and got to enjoy an EXCELLENT reggae band while we ate. We later leaned that that band is there every Thursday, so we'd highly recommend that you plan to eat dinner at the hotel on Thursday nights to take advantage of this entertainment. We also got to hear a local costa rican band on Saturday night, and they were wonderful, too.
We spent about $8.00 one morning for a taxi ride to Playa Conchal (actually, the taxi has to drop you off at Playa Brasilito and you have to walk to the south to get to Playa Conchal--it's easiest to access the beach this way because the big hotel on Conchal Beach blocks most of the access to this beach) and spent 1/2 day there. Playa Conchal is so unique that I highly recommend that you spend at least a few hours here. The sand is composed of crushed shells and the water is crystal clear. Also, there is a little street market set up on Conchal every day where locals sell souvineers, so we did some of our shopping while we were there. We found one of the two-person moped taxis for the way back and spent about $6.00 to get back to Flamingo.
Check-out was a breeze, probably because we were all-inclusive. We simply had to turn our keys in and we were done. Two days before checkout, the hotel helped us arrange a transfer to Liberia airport. We were leaving at 4am, so we had to pay just a bit extra, and it cost us $75 to the airport.
Again, to summarize, Flamingo Beach Resort was a lovely place to stay, and we plan to come back again next year. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, the food and drinks were generally excellent (with the exception of limited choices at dinner), and the rooms were clean. If you're an American used to the busy hustle-and-bustle of the daily grind, the biggest adjustment you're going to have to make is that you're FORCED to slow down here. Everything goes at a slower pace, including service at the restuarants and bars. GO WITH IT!!!! That's what vacation is all about, right?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The only resort located on one of Costa Rica's most famous blue-flag, ecologically protected beaches, this resort location is the perfect beachfront base from which to explore all of Costa Rica’s natural beauty and adventure. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Flamingo Beach Hotel Playa Flamingo
- Flamingo Beach Resort And Spa
- Flamingo Beach Resort Costa Rica
- Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa Costa Rica/Playa Flamingo