We just returned from Playa Flamingo on January 26 and I've been telling everyone I want to go home. (They get confused because I *am* home, so I have to tell them "I mean I want to go back to Costa Rica, and want it to be my new home.") Flamingo Beach Resort was our headquarters and because we were looking for a relaxing vacation, we rarely strayed from it. (*Next time* we'll do the ziplining, etc.) It is a lovely little resort that had everything we needed.
The hotel is immaculate, which made me happy because I had initially chosen another hotel that got not great ratings on this front. The rooms are not luxurious but they are very comfortable-- this is the second most comfortable hotel bed I've ever felt and even my Princess-and-the-Pea husband agreed. I do not like the fluorescent lights in the room but I understand this is environmentally friendly and we did not spend a lot of time in the room anyway.
The staff was very friendly and helpful. I remember Augusto who welcomed us warmly at the front desk and Kistler who helped us depart in a timely manner. The concierge was very helpful too, and I want to give special thanks to the guys who man the pool bar. That is not an easy job; the bar is always crowded and they never got grumpy or impatient. I also think they probably need to be paid more as that situation was not conducive to generous tipping (it's hard to carry money in the pool!). The drinks were yummy and not watered-down. I'd also like to thank the security guards in front who helped my husband when he fell into a ditch on the main road.
We had the breakfast plan and the breakfast was more generous and had more variety than I've had under other similar situations. The bacon and coffee are delicious. It's one of the most pleasant settings I have ever eaten in and the couple of dinners we ate there were tasty. There are excellent restaurants within walking distance or shuttle distance too.
The bathrooms are clean and new and whatever they've done to the showers, they now work fine.
We had a room facing the gardens and road-- I had requested one because some reviews said it could get very loud at the pool area at night in high season. On the weekends, it got very loud (music) even on our side. I can only assume this was because of weddings or parties and I won't begrudge anyone their good time. It stopped at midnight which I found reasonable and acceptable.
The pool, beach and grounds were absolutely beautiful. If you are looking for a quiet shady getaway, check out the gardens on the road side, a spot few people seemed to know about. I did not find the vendors on the beach to be overbearing, btw.
While the bracelet system is not perfect, I understand the need for it because I have been to hotels with similar physical layouts where the facilities are overrun with non-paying people, and appreciated the fact that paying guests got precedence here and it felt safe enough to give my kids (14 and 10) a little more freedom than they are used to at home to wander. I also did not find the towel system to be prohibitive.
My only constructive criticism to the hotel is that you may want to give your foreign guests some additional options for getting in touch with you before and after the trip. I was unable to phone the hotel from my cell and email went unanswered. Before the trip I had a question about the facilities. After the trip there was a mistake on my debit card charges, and I was very concerned about this. The mistake was fixed so I can only conclude that the staff is honest and diligent, but additional communication options would be good.
All in all a wonderful trip and I'm already trying to figure out when I can come back!