My partner and I stayed at the Parador for 8 nights during this leg of our first trip to Costa Rica organised by our fantastic travel experts at Escape Worldwide. We had done quite a lot of research before choosing our hotel for the Manuel Antonio stay and quite sure that we made the best choice.
On arrival after a four-hour drive from San Jose airport (via Interbus who I would recommend for Costa Rica transfers), we were greeted with the customary tropical fruit drink and a check in process which summarised the hotel and grounds. We were delighted to have been upgraded from our Garden room to a Premium Ocean View room which was unexpected, but very welcome.
To access the rooms in the premium and premium plus block, you could either take some stairs or a quaint little funicular car (basically an elevator that would slide up and down some rails at a steep angle) – we used both depending how tired we were (or if we were carrying luggage).
The room itself was as good as we could have hoped for – two queen beds, mini bar, satellite TV, programmable air conditioning, telephone and coffee-making (no tea) facilities. There was also free wifi but we found this problematic most of the time and had to leave the room and try another part of the hotel for some access.
The highlight of our room, however, was the balcony. Fairly private and with views over the bay to Quepos, it was possible to sit there and watch the wildlife – without leaving our room, we could spot black vultures, small colourful birds, howler monkeys and large black iguanas in the trees literally meters from the balcony. We had halloween crabs, butterflies of varying colours, down below while night brought out the frogs, geckos and some amazing insects (check out the leaf bug image I've uploaded with this review – that was taken just outside our room).
As for the rest of the resort, it had everything you would expect and more. Plenty of dining & drinking options, multiple swimming pools including a nice quiet adult pool which is always good, as well as tennis courts, a spa, a gym, a shop, a tours/excursions kiosk, a free shuttle to/from Manuel Antonio beaches and National park and also, the highlight for us, a large private nature trail.
Dining was provided via several restaurants, including a themed buffet to an a-la carte restaurant serving Central American cuisine, a sushi restaurant and various snacks and light bites at the bars. We generally had larger lunches and so only really had snacks/light bites for dinners although we did try the El Quijote restaurant one evening. Breakfasts were the highlight for me – especially of note was the thick sugary French toast and the made-on-demand omelettes. However, the majority meals we had onsite were rather unexciting (apart from the meal at El Quijote) and in my opinion quite overpriced – we found dining in New York (during an earlier part of the same trip) cheaper! Drinks were equally expensive although there is a happy hour each evening which is when the bar tends to get a little busier and service gets a little slower). If you can accept the prices, some of the cocktails are interesting with a menu of drinks named after the native wildlife (the tree frog, the gecko etc).
There are no real other dining options in walking distance (well not at night at least) so if you do want to eat elsewhere during the evening (after the free shuttle buses have stopped), you need to get a taxi which will work out at around $10 each way to Manuel Antonio but if you eat at the right places, it may still work out cheaper!
As for the other facilities... the shop was great, if (again) a little pricey, for bottled drinks, trinkets and self-service laundry tokens. $10 bought us two tokens (one for the washer, one for the dryer) and a small clear pouch of detergent- still way cheaper for a full wash load than using the hotel laundry service. The tour desk was also useful – we booked a few tours through the desk, including an ATV tour to Rainmaker rainforest, a trimaran morning cruise, a boat trip out into the mangroves by Damas Island and also a night tour around the monkey trails. All were good and I’d especially recommend the ATV and Damas Island tours. I didn't use the spa - my partner did use it and she wasn't overly impressed - for the price (best part of 100 bucks), her manicure and pedicure was a little disappointing - the varnish application was a bit amateur and it had to be removed the next day after starting to chip off.
The real draw of the Parador is, for me, the monkey trails... essentially a private little rainforest, bordered by the sea cliffs, with it’s own wildlife.. everything from tree frogs to lizards of varying sizes, squirrel and howler monkeys, two and three-toed sloths and a whole host of other creatures that flew, scuttled and climbed around. We actually saw more wildlife in here that our two trips into MA National Park!
The hotel itself had no beaches of it’s own *being high up on it's own little peninsula), but a 10-minute walk down thehill and along a small trail leads you into a small secluded cove with it’s own sandy beach (Biesanz Beach), if you’re into that (I'm not really a beach person). However, as mentioned above, there was a regular free shuttle to/from the main Manuel Antonio areas and if you really like beaches, Playa Manuel Antonio inside the park is a fairly nice beach surrounded by rainforest filled with all manner of creatures.
Basically, if you like wildlife, comfortable surroundings and good service with a smile, I heartily recommend the Parador and I wouldn't hesitate to book there again if returning to Costa Rica.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Parador Resort & Spa, Costa Rica’s premier eco-luxury resort. Sitting high above the Central Pacific coastline, this award-winning hotel is built on 12 acres of rainforest in beautiful Manuel Antonio, just minutes from Costa Rica’s best beaches.Known for its dedication to preserving and protecting Mother Nature as well as its first-class amenities, Parador offers a long list of activities for your enjoyment and a staff ready to accommodate your every need. Experience inspired cuisine. Take a walk along a white sand beach. Swing through the rainforest canopy. Or simply relax and take in the view from your splendid suite. It’s all about responsible luxury, pura vida style. Parador Resort & Spa… Where Green Is More Than Just A Color. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Resort Parador
- Hotel Parador Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio National Park