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“Tips for the Hilton” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa

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Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica   |  
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Special Rate
$99/person ALL INCLUSIVE
Ranked #5 of 16 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Park City, Utah
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Tips for the Hilton”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

After a week of vacation, I'm generally ready to return home. This trip was the exception.

My wife and I spent a week at the Hilton. It was our first time in Costa Rica, and it provided the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation.

We had 6 full days at the hotel, given our travel before and after our first and last nights. We mixed things up with 3 days of activities and relaxation at the hotel and 3 days of tours. We're a younger couple with travel experience ranging from do-it-yourself drives across Alaska to all-inclusive European cruises, so are writing from that perspective.

Here are my thoughts on the various aspects of our experience:


Hotel:

Feedback on this site seemed a bit mixed regarding the hotel, but we thought it was wonderful and was an excellent value for the food, service, rooms, and recreational opportunities. Here's my breakdown of each.

Food:

Breakfast was a large buffet with multiple offerings. We loved the fresh fruit.

We at lunch nearly every day at El Bocadillo. Good food, not too heavy.

For dinner, we rotated between the 3 restaurants which required reservations, and enjoyed each one. We never ate at the buffet for dinner, but overheard some negative comments about the food quality.

In comparison to our previous all-inclusive experiences (cruises on Holland America, Carnival, and Disney), I would say the food was better than the latter two but not as good as Holland America, for what that's worth.


Activities:

I had read a post on here in which someone complained there wasn't enough to do on-site. I would have been bored had we spent all 6 days on site, but having 3 full days, with a couple of half-days, was a nice mix.

Snorkeling: I took full advantage of the free snorkeling offered through the hotel and went 4 times during our stay. The recommended snorkeling site is a rocky area on the left side of the beach, as you're facing the ocean. I snorkeled a low and high tide, and had my best experiences during low tide. I saw all sorts of fish and even a sea snake (scared me a little). I don't consider myself an extensive snorkeler, but have been to Hawaii many times and would classify it as a middle-of-the-road snorkeling experience relative to the various sites I experienced in Hawaii--can't complain if it's free.

Kayaking: Again, another nice free offering. They have single and double kayaks available. We kayaked to a nearby beach which is just beyond the resort property, then walked around and explored that area (they ask that you not go much beyond that). Given the gulf's relative calm, it's not an exciting experience of riding waves, but a nice experience to mix things up a bit and explore an area that doesn't seem to be accessed much (we only ran into one other person during our 30 minutes on the beach).

Biking: Again, a free experience--a guided bike tour! This one surprised me a little bit in that it was more adventurous than I thought it might be. Every morning, the hotel offered a one-hour guided tour on mountain bikes to a nearby town. We called the activities desk the day before to make our reservation, and toured with 2 other couples (they had 7 bikes--one for the guide). We saw howler monkeys on the trip--our first monkey sighting on our vacation--and rode through the streets of a nearby town (can't recall the name). We then traveled back on a dirt path through the forest and took in the views at a nearby beach.

Hiking: There are two marked trails on the resort property. Both are fairly short hikes--maybe 30 minutes each--and one offered beautiful views of the property, gulf, and ocean. The resort does a guided sunset hike each evening up this trail. We got our favorite picture together at the top of this hike.

Pools: We absolutely loved the pools. The main area offered 3 different levels of pools, and we spent hours soaking in the sun and cooling off in the water. I would go back just for that.

Other free activities: The activities staff offered activities during most of the day, and provided a schedule for us when we checked in. Activities ranged from guided kayaking and snorkeling to Spanish lessons to a game of giant Jenga to pool volleyball to beach soccer. I was a fan of the pool volleyball game, which happened every afternoon at 4 pm, and was a nice opportunity to meet some of the other guests and get a little physical activity in. We weren't avid participants in the activities, but they usually seemed to have a group of at least 5 or so people as part of these.

Jet skiing: We rented a jet ski through Resort Divers (on-site) during our last afternoon. Rental was $65 for 1/2 hour--a little pricey, but comparable to what I've seen at other resort sites. The day was a little windy and the water was choppy, which made for some exciting jet-skiing in the gulf. 1/2 hour was plenty of time, and it made for a little adventure on one of our days spent at the resort.


Rooms:

I didn't see any of the other rooms besides ours, so can only comment on ours. I had seen comments on here that the rooms could use a little updating, and can't disagree with that, but had no complaints. Our room was always clean and had a nice little patio. Multiple TV channel offerings (many in English), which came in handy in the evenings (as others mentioned, not a whole lot to do on-site in the evenings), but would have been nice to have some pay-per-view movie offerings. Internet access was paid in the rooms, free in the main hotel lobby, and I learned that if you accessed the Internet at the lobby, you would receive a code at the time of access which you could then use throughout the resort for continued access for free for 1 hour total.

I had also seen comments about the fridge--we were told the first night our fridge in our room would be restocked daily with beer and Coke, but found that wasn't the case. After 2 days, we called down and asked that it be restocked, and found that every day after that it was stocked.


Tipping:

If we go back again, I will bring a supply of 1s and 5s. We rarely saw anyone tip, but the one time I can comment on this was a woman who left the server a couple of bucks for bringing her beers at the pool. This was during one of those pool volleyball games, and by the end of the game, she had 6 full beers lined up at the side of the pool (hadn't requested them, and we were all sort of laughing about it together). Needless to say, I got the impression that a little bit of tipping would go a long way.

The resort information they provide states that a 10% gratuity is included in the stay, but guests are welcome to tip additionally. We didn't tip at the time of the service, due a lack of small bills (I asked the front desk for bills, but they didn't have these), and had no complaints about the service (a little slow at dinner and the bar a couple of times, but not horrible). We did leave tips on our credit card at the end of our stay (again, not requested or required, but something we chose to do), but I thought those tips would have gone a lot further had we left a couple of dollars here and there, with, say, a 5 at dinner. Again, I rarely saw anyone else doing this, so I wouldn't go with the expectation that this would be something to plan for, but I had just made a mental note of this as something I would do if we return.


Tours:

We booked our tours on-site at Swiss Travel. I've included below the price for each, but I'm guessing there's some seasonal variation. We didn't try to negotiate for lower prices, and didn't look into other tour providers. If I were to do it again, I would book with Swiss Travel. The operation was very professional, and our longer drives were on large, new, air-conditioned buses--which seemed to take some of the bumps out of the road and provided large windows to take in the views. We did tours on days 2, 3, and 5 of our 6 full days at the resort, which provided for us a nice mix of resort time and an opportunity to experience much more of Costa Rica.

Ziplining. $50/person. This was surprisingly good--I was expected a couple of zip lines in the forest that you would do a few times. The site had a network of at least 15 ziplines traveling through the forest canopy, with platforms suspended high up the trees between each one. I don't think it's something I would do when returning, but it made for a fun afternoon.

Palo Verde National Park. $60/person. Nice afternoon adventure which included a stop at El Silencio, a historic site, and a one-hour boat ride on the Tempisque River. If I had to choose 1 of our 3 excursions to do without, this would be it, although we had a nice experience. We saw several howler monkeys, included a mother with a baby on its back, at El Silencio, and saw capuchin monkeys along the river on the boat ride--our only capuchin sighting during the trip. The boat ride offered plentiful views of crocodiles and iguanas.

Arenal Volcano. $120/person. We started this all-day trip from our hotel at 7:30 am and returned at about 9:30 pm, and while this was out most expensive outing, I also felt this offered the best value and greatest overall experience. The drive through the Costa Rican countryside was beautiful--we traveled about 2 hours, then had an included lunch provided at a restaurant near a lake at the base of the volcano. We then traveled by boat across the lake, which provided beautiful views and great photo opportunities of the volcano. We hiked through a rain forest at the volcano base, which was our only opportunity on the trip to truly experience a Costa Rican rain forest. The tour then included an hour and a half at a hot springs at the volcano base--not quite as hot as I had expected (as an avid hot-tubber, I would put the temperature at around 100 degrees, at best), but a refreshing experience. Finally, we had an included dinner at a 5-star hotel with amazing views of the volcano. The drive back (3 hours) was a killer for someone like myself with significant motion sickness (even with Dramamine), but that's my only negative feedback about the tour. We did this tour for our second-to-last day, and it provided the perfect capstone to our Costa Rican experience.


Overall, we absolutely loved our experience, both as our first time in Costa Rica and our experience with the hotel. We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather throughout our stay, which certainly enhanced our experience. We're the types who like to experience different places and have new experiences when vacationing, so don't often talk about returning to a site with regularity, but, with this site, we've already been thinking ahead about a possible visit next year or sometime in the near future.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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2,113 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (514)
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English first
Redlands, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 3, 2012

We stayed here on the last leg of our honeymoon at it was a major disappointment after staying at other resorts.

ROOM: We reserved the King Junior Suite with Private pool (number 451). The room was spacious and comfortable, but in need of some serious repairs. This was the most disappointing part of the experience. The ceiling lamp in the shower was very dirty with mildew. The entry door needs painting and the frame needed to be replaced or repaired as it separates from the frame when opened all the way. The stone floor tiles are pitted in several places. The exterior deck was heavily damaged and the private pool area only SLIGHTLY resembles the photograph from the website. The privacy screening around the pool was horribly damaged and the pump/pool equipment was very loud and obnoxious and did not have a way to shut it off. At night, the sandblasted/etched glass door from the adjacent room filled the room with bright light and there are no shades to block the light. We improvised with a towel and a few pillows. See photos.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas, Texas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2012

Went with my wife for a week. Did not want to come back to Texas. We were in room 454, overlooking the ocean with a dipping pool. Very secluded, beautiful grounds, good food, activities and drinking :-). Would recommend to anyone. Pura Vida!

Room Tip: 454! wexcellent view, can hear crashing waves. Has its own pool.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aurora, Colorado
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2012

My first all-inclusive, my first trip to Costa Rica and my first (and only!) wedding. Gorgeous resort, friendly staff and it was great not having to worry about the cost of anything. Just eat, drink and be merry.

Kudos to Meredith and the staff. They made our wedding stress-free and gorgeous. People are raving about the photos. El Velo Photography is top notch!

Some of our guests got to the resort before we did, and I was a little nervous, but when one posted to FB that they didn't ever want to leave, I know we had a winner. By day two, my now husband was asking when we were going to return.

Great resort, can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cleveland, Ohio
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2012

We (Diane and Ed) had a fantastic time at the Hilton Papagayo. The staff was excellent and accomodations were very good (no problems at all). We especially want to thank JD (of JD Adventures and Monica) for making our trip truly memorable. JD (we met on the beach at Hilton Papagayo) actually made our trip an enjoyable favorite vacation. They arranged small tours and events that enabled us to experience a relaxing no hassle way to see tours in the area. Also, we received a totally relaxing message from Monica and her Mom right on the beach (at a nearby hotel beach).

A great time!!!

Ed and Diane,

Ohio

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2012

My boyfriend and I just got back from a week-long stay at the Hilton Papagayo Resort and absolutely LOVED it. From the beautiful views to the helpful staff and great food, we had a relaxing and unforgettable vacation. It was our first time to Costa Rica and first time staying at an all inclusive resort but we are loyal Hilton patrons and decided to give this place a try and it was well worth it! We can't wait to go back. Here are a few things about the resort:

We would highly recommend, depending on what you prefer, to request staying in rooms in the lower 100s area. We had a great view AND were only 3 bungalows away from the main pool. The resort is very large and if you are staying up in the 400s (which does also have a spectacular view of the bay), you need to call the 24-hour shuttle to take you to and from the pool because of the hike. Our room was very clean and the housekeeper even made a different towel animal to sit on our bed everyday. We definitely were happy with where our bungalow was located so we could come and go from the pool and most of the food whenever we wanted.

Speaking of food, you can’t really go wrong. It was actually pretty good, especially for all-inclusive food. MAKE RESERVATIONS at the restaurants that require them as early as possible. Our favorite places for dinner were the Italian restaurant (it is by the spa) and then El Bocadillo, which is right by the main pool –- both require reservations. And always try the dessert!

Most everyone speaks English (except the driver from the airport – we booked the shuttle service thru the hotel to and from the airport and it was efficient) and are also SUPER friendly and helpful. The drinks as the bar are made very well and rather strong for an all-inclusive property, we thought. The Howler Monkey, Papagayo Bay, and Mojitos were delicious!

All the activities seemed fun and there were tons to choose from. We absolutely LOVED the sunset cruise on Friday night. It was so peaceful and the views were spectacular and we saw dolphins, etc. It was only $70 per person from the Divers shop right in the hotel. Ziplining was a blast as well. We did the half-day package for $50 a person and it was fun and just the right amount of time, in our opinion. We also did a hot rocks massage for 90-minutes and it was incredibly relaxing and worth the price! As Hilton Honors members, you got a 15% discount at the spa there.

And a tip we learned the hard way -- Absolutely wear bug spray at ALL TIMES! They sell it at the gift shop and it will come in handy – we got eaten alive by bugs our first day there. And also, watch out for the huge iguana. It lives near the pool and it LOVES bananas. Seriously, don’t bring any bananas by the pool. It bit a lady with one and then jumped up on a table where another lady had one. It seems pretty harmless except when there are bananas around.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2012

Just back from our honeymoon, and can't say enough great things about the Hilton Papagayo. As an all-inclusive resort, they take care of everything. You can stay there a week and not have to break out any cash or credit cards even once. Only drawback is you're a little isolated from the rest of the beautiful country, so your options are to book a tour, an expensive bus ride into Coco Beach, or to rent a car. The room was clean and well appointed, and as an NFL fan deep into his fantasy season, I was able to catch some games on TV on Sunday. (They're Dolphins fans down there, who knew?) The view from just about every room is an unobstructed vista of the ocean, with maybe some birds in the foreground. Staff is friendly and eager to please, and able to acomodate any request I made, which was very helpful when my credit card landed under the floor of El Bocadillo. If you're an adventure traveller used to staying in hostels and beachside shacks, there's cheaper options out there for sure. If you want a truly relaxing vacation in a beautiful part of an exceptionally friendly country, I can't imagine anything better than the Hilton Papagayo.

Room Tip: choose one of the ones that isn't part of the multi-floor building, preferably opens out onto a...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa

Address: Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Romantic Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Family Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#5 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 202
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in a bay surrounded by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Papagayo in Guanacaste, our resort is the perfect place to let your worries drift away. The magnificent view of the tranquil waters, the surrounding lush tropical gardens and abundant wildlife will make you experience the true Costa Rican feel.This magical all-inclusive resort also offers:- Convenient location, only 20 minutes from the Liberia International Airport- Large property but with an intimate atmosphere and feel- New all inclusive concept with boutique-style service without the need of bracelets or towel cards and no limit in à la carte dining. - Private beach feel with calm tides year round- Casita-style bungalows perched hillside overlooking the bay. - World-class Spa offering full range of traditional and exotic treatments in a Costa Rican – inspired natural ambiance- Unforgettable setting for Honeymoons and Weddings - Venues which add a local flair to your meetings, incentives and other social gatherings.- Just minutes away from major local attractions, National Parks and beaches ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort And Spa
Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
Fiesta Premier Costa Rica
Hilton Gulf Of Papagayo
Gulf Of Papagayo Hilton
Fiesta Resort Costa Rica
Fiesta Premier Resort Spa Costa Rica

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