My husband and I stayed at Parador to celebrate our first wedding anniversary from May 4-8. We bought a Living Social deal for 4 nights stay that included 2 passes to the National Park. I really don't have any negatives to state about our stay, I am only giving it 4-stars, instead of 5, because of the minimal food options (we personally like variety...but if you don't mind that sort of thing then consider this a 5-star review!). But we had rented a car so we ate all of our meals, with the exception of 1 dinner and all breakfasts, off the resort grounds. The breakfast was excellent, in our opinion. Always different options and amazing fresh fruits, breads and juices. We had sushi for dinner at the resort and it was very good!
The staff was exceptional; so sweet and helpful. I did not encounter one unhappy or unfriendly staffer at the resort. When we checked in to our room, I was curious to see if there were any other rooms available with a better view (just for kicks). The bell boy, Franklin, quickly took us to another room to see if we liked it better and VOILA! We paid an additional $100 and were in a room with an amazing view (420) within minutes. Very impressed by that.
I would recommend renting a car if you are the type that likes to explore the area you're in and you don't want to stay at the resort the entire time. We rented from VAMOUS rental cars and had a great experience with them. The car + all the insurance can be pricey but we felt it was worth it. (If you rent a car, the only advice you need is #1- get ALL the insurances and #2 do not to leave ANYTHING in your car at any time. That said, we didn't have any issues or breaks ins but I had heard of other tourists leaving things in the car and it being stolen- just be smart!).
Parador is located literally at the end of the main road through Manuel Antonio and not really walkable to other bars/restaurants so you will either have to take taxis or you're stuck on the resort (in terms of meals/shopping). But there is a shuttle to the Public Beach (where you can rent chairs/umbrellas and order food/drinks) or you can walk to the private beach. It is about a 10 minute walk but nothing outrageous. (If you're in normal health you can easily walk there, just wear sneakers since the area walking down to the beach is a little off the beaten path). But once you are there it's quiet and serene, hardly anyone there, which is a nice change of pace.
We did not hire a Guide for the Park tour. And I'm glad we didn't because even if there was an animal somewhere everyone would gather and the guide would tell you what he/she was looking at anyways so what's the point of paying for that when you can just walk to where the mass of people is anyways? We had a great experience without a guide and saw a TON of monkeys off the trail near the beach. And there was not a soul around at first, it was just us and about 10 monkeys then others started to gather. So not having a guide had no baring on our experience. But if you prefer to hear all the nitty gritty details of the Park then hire a guide.
We went to several other hotel bars for happy hours and meals. Was nice to get out and see other places and try more authentic costa rican food. My husband likes to try things off the beaten path so we went into places where the staff spoke very little English but even in those situations the Costa Rican people were so friendly and nice.
Weather: I was worried about the weather prior to the trip since May begins rainy season but we basically had picture perfect weather all but one day. It rained a few times in the evenings but it was nice to hear the rain so it didn't bother us at all. In the mornings it would be a little cloudy/foggy but by 8 am it was all sun! It was wonderful. Our last day it was pretty cloudy with intermittent rain but it was awesome to be in the pool while it rained. The sun peeked out a bit and we still both managed to get sun burnt anyways (The sun is much stronger there!). And I never burn that badly.....definitely beware of stronger sun. I noticed the weather changes there quickly. Even when some clouds rolled in, soon enough they were gone. Don't let the "rainy season" deter you; it's low season in terms of tourism so the resort wasn't crowded at all which was great. And like I said, we saw plenty of sun! :)
Overall, a great experience and I would recommend to those who wish to simply relax and soak in the sun/sights as well as those who want to tap into their adventurous side (you can schedule zip lining or hiking or anything you want right at the resort. The staff sets up the time for you and you show up in the lobby when told and someone is there to take you to your destination. It couldn't have been easier!). No need to worry about planning your activities before going, you can do it on-site.
So....long story short: awesome time! Go for it!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thanks so much for sharing. We do our best to make sure our guests have a complete 5-star experience, from the accommodations to the food, the pool, the spa, and yes, our staff is a big part of it as well. We hope that you had the chance to take one of the nature tours at Manuel Antonio or at the resort and took home many great pictures of the local wildlife.
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We love the rainy season, too, as things slow down a bit and we’re able to catch our breath—at least a little! The view from your room is really unbeatable and there’s nothing like enjoying it from your balcony. We’re happy to hear that it was a memorable vacation for all of you and hope to see you soon!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.