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“2.5 Stars, glad we used points.... don't expect Diamond service” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa

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Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica (Formerly Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa)   |  
Hotel amenities
Michigan
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“2.5 Stars, glad we used points.... don't expect Diamond service”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

I'm not going to harp on everything you can read from other reviews- food okay at best but frequently bad, rooms in need of some TLC (shower broke 2x), only okay looking grounds, etc. I would like to say that on the positive side the staff, although severely under trained were incredibly nice. I got the sense they wanted to help and provide good service, maybe just lacked training which I consider Hilton's fault. Also positive is the beach, it is not "dirty" like others suggest, the sand is just a dark color from the volcanic rocks... it is actually pretty peaceful and the water very clear & enjoyable.

The first issue though is that I am so glad we used hotel points and didn't spend our own money to stay here. The cost of such lackluster experience would have made me pretty depressed. That being said, we were able to use points b/c of Diamond status.... which you don't really get the perks of at this hotel. We've stayed as Diamond members worldwide and have always had fabulous service with additional perks like executive lounges, prime rooms, etc. however that was not evident at this hotel. Yes, we did get the free internet in the room and yes, this is all inclusive but I still think there should be some other perk for being a Diamond member.... maybe a VIP bar/lounge area, top shelf liquor, etc. Just.... something. In fact, several of the restaurants have additional wine selections for purchase, I think that should be free if you have Diamond status since everything else is included, but it is not. Instead of top notch treatment, we were put into a double room b/c we wanted an ocean view and although the resort was definitely not full, were never able to move to a king room b/c of "availability" issues... not sure I believed that one. Also, my biggest issue was that while we left one day on an excursion we forgot to make dinner reservations and tried to make them when we got back. After being told by front desk and also by calling ourselves that all restaurants were full we had to play the "Diamond Card" on the phone and were finally given the last seating at El Dorado.... and walked into a half empty restaurant. I realize this might sound trivial or incredibly spoiled, but given that we spend literally months out of the year staying in Hilton's for work, I think you should be able to be accommodated in the restaurants without having to go through all that hassle only to find it barely occupied (also note that the reservation was for 9:15 for a restaurant that is supposedly open until 10pm).

My second issue would be with the spa. We booked a couples massage for our last evening there and while the massage itself was very good, there is nowhere to enjoy a couples experience. You're taken into the male/female locker rooms, which unlike most European spas clearly state you need to have your bathing suit and towel on for the sauna and hot tub to use on your own. Umm.... if I booked a couples massage, this is something I want to do with my boyfriend, but you can't. The spa was also empty and we were the last appointment of the day so I asked if it really mattered if I used the men's locker room or my boyfriend the ladies (again, you have to be clothed) but no go. The layout isn't the staff's fault, but if you're looking for a couples massage don't expect to get the full experience together. Also, DO NOT book the outdoor cabana. The Spa is right above the adult pool and next to a restaurant. We were lucky enough that most folks had left the pool for the day already and dinner service hadn't yet started.... but that didn't mean we couldn't hear every part of the dinner prep- dishes clanking, blenders running, staff instructions/conversations, etc. Again, not the staff's fault but a design flaw in the spa and not at all a relaxing atmosphere and probably even worse when people are actually at the pool so just be aware before you book any treatments.

Overall, the resort was just ok.... a good value I'm sure, just not at all what you'd expect from a Hilton.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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2,420 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    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 (624)
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English first
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013

We stayed 12/26/12 - 12/30/12. The resort is close to the Liberia Airport, however, that is about all it is close to. The resort is tucked in a valley, thus making a walk to any rooms up hill. It is spread out, which cuts down on any noise form other rooms. However, the if you are staying the room in the 200's you can hear the pool party music well into the night. The bungalows on the beach need updating in the worst way. There is little to no shade around the main pool area, unless you get a table in the bar area. In general the pool area is cramped, not a whole bunch of room to spread out. Do not go to this resort for the beach!! There is just not much of it, nor is it something to be admired. There are not many onsite activities.....if you don't like sitting by a pool or hanging out on a so-so beach, find another place.

The rooms we were in need some TLC. Each room has it own AC unit, however, we were very allergic to something in the air while the AC was on. The exterior decks, and roofs of the rooms need some help as well. Looking down a roofs with missing, or broken tiles bring the whole ambiance down a bit.

They do have a good shuttle service to and from onsite restaurants and pools. The staff is friendly, and seems to be doing the best they can with what they have.

The one main complaint our group had was the food. The food at all three restaurants is nothing to write home about. With no options near the resort, you are left to eat all your meals on the resort grounds. Nothing we order left us feeling full or satisfied. Small portion, lacking flavor, rubbery chicken, over cooked shrimp.

I would not recommend this resort for anyone that enjoys their meals, or personal service while on vacation. There is nothing special about the Hilton Papagayo, or worth another visit.

Room Tip: If you are going, try to stay in the 300's or near the spa. This seems to bee the quieter area.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, Kentucky
Level Contributor
78 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

My family and I stayed here from December 19th through December 28th. We had a very good experience. We stayed in rooms 216 and 217 which offer the best location for the pool and all of the restaurants but the Italian restaurant. The property is very hilly and some units require quite an effort to walk particularly if you want to go back to your room several times a day. A shuttle service is offered about every 15 minutes for transportation. I'm just inpatient when it comes to waiting on mass transit type transportation. Room 216 offers a view of the bay through the trees and is $75 dollars a day cheaper than room 217 which has virtually the same view. I found that unacceptable.

The food, with the exception of one bad meal, was very good particulary for an all inclusive.

The service was excellent. We regulary tipped the staff though many didn't tip. I didn't detect that we received any better service because we tipped. Still, I think it is the right thing to do.

We opted to go against Hilton's advice and use Issy's Tours rather the Hilton sponsored Swiss Tours. "Michael" is the local representative for Issy Tours. We met him on the beach. Ordinarily, I don't do business with anyone I meet on the beach but I allowed Michael to make his pitch because he seemed reasonable and friendly. I am glad I did because we had an even better vacation by using his tours. We went fishing, toured the national park toured the nearest city, Cocoa Beach and also went zip lining. His guides were outstanding. Issy Tours has excellent reviews from Tripadvisor followers. I recommend Issy Tours without qualification.

The property is very beautfiful and well maintained. The hotel grounds keepers are constantly working to keep the property looking pretty. Our rooms were clean and nice. The water in the bath tub didn't drain very well in room 217 but it was not a major issue.

The only real complaint I had about the property was that the internet which cost 16 dollars a day unless you were in the lobby of the hotel, kept going off as if the system was overloaded. It was aggravating to keep getting bumped off line. If use of the internet is important, I would not pay the daily rate unless you have a lot of patience for getting bumped.

All in all, our family of 4 really had a great time. This hotel is not perfect but then there are few hotels which I have ever rated a 5 star. It is excellent for families and couples. However, if you are looking for a party atmosphere this is not the place. That being said, you can always connect with others who want to have a very drinks and tell stories. (We did met some really nice people)

I would return to this hotel and I recommend it for you and your family.

Room Tip: Try getting a room close to the main pool and restaurants.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
48 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

My family spent 5 days at the Hilton Papagayo and I would honestly rate it as a 3.0 or 3.2 on a 5-point scale. It is NOT elegant or luxurious, but basic. On a positive side, the meals were good and the staff tried to provide an upscale experience, but were simply unable to. The bungalows are absolutely in poor condition and in desperate need of renovation, but at least they were clean. The air conditioning was barely workable and the amenities were minimal. In this location, you will NOT feel special nor pampered, so if you want that experience in this region, then make your reservations at the Four Seasons in Papagayo. I guess if you have young children, then this type of all-inclusive would be a good choice, otherwise, don't do it.

Room Tip: Most rooms have a nice view of the Gulf of Papagayo.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2012

My husband and I recently returned from our stay at the Hilton.
Grounds: The Hilton is spread out over a large hill. From reading other reviews, I anticipated that it would be quit hilly, but I assumed I could walk most places. Once I there I quickly realized I really couldnt. There are shuttles constantly running which make navigating the grounds quick and easy. I never waited more than a few minutes to catch the shuttle. There are two pools, the large main pool had a swim up bar and lots of seating. There weren't many umbrellas, although if you wanted shade there were small huts just steps away on the beach. The beach is gray sand, a result of the volcanic area. It is also a short beach, but easy access.

Rooms: were set up as small bungalows usually two per building. The room was a basic hilton room with no frills. It could have used a little love, but they were clean. The mini fridge was free and included coke, coke light, beer and two giant bottles of water. The tv had multiple english speaking channels.

Food; Breakfast buffet was great. everything you could imagine. eggs, fruit, omlette station, traditional costa rican breakfast options, as well yogurt, breads, cheeses. The restaurants were average to above average. Our favorite was El Bocadillo. During the day they served fresh pizzas, sandwiches and salads. In the evening the menu changed to an assortment of black angus beef options as well as fish. The liquor was not top shelf,and if you wanted the Costa Rican beer Imperial you needed to ask for it, otherwise you were given a Mexican beer.

Service: everyone was extremely friendly and willing to help.

Don't forget; kayaks are free but not well publicized. We also enjoyed the bike tour offered by the Hilton, but dont forget to reserve a spot the day before. Wireless internet in the lobby is free and speedy. Also, there is no ATM on the property, the closest ATM is 20 minutes by car so plan accordingly.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pickering, Canada
Level Contributor
27 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

We first came to this hotel when it was the Fiesta Premiere resort. We liked it so much then that we decided to book a last minute holiday there again. Now that Hilton has taken it over, it is even better. You don't always have to eat in the main buffet restaurant as every evening one can reserve a table in any of the three specialty restaurants. Food is superb and the beds are extremely comfortable.

Room Tip: Tropical bungalows in the adult area are lovely and have access to a swimming pool which is not busy...
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  • Stayed December 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
    • 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.
Liberia, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

The main pool area (and the only one that kids are allowed at) has no shade, no umbrellas, and is surrounded on three sides by buildings, the fourth side is a dirt beach and and looks run down. There is too much concrete and few trees/plants in the main area (rooms do have some nature around them). The all inclusive food is only a buffet for breakfast, otherwise it is a la carte and the menu is terribly disappointing, gross and unedible at times. Service not great. Due to the hills and distance between everything there are motor carts running everywhere at all times carrying people around which adds to the noise, exhaust, and the sense that you are not in real Costa Rica at all. We left early and the only nice thing I can say is that the management was very kind to not charge us.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa

Address: Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica (Formerly Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa)
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in
#3 Family Hotel in
#7 Luxury Hotel in
#9 Spa Hotel in
#9 Top resorts Hotel in
#12 On the Beach Hotel in
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 202
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in the exuberant Arenilla beach, Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica will offer adults a stunning Unlimited-Luxury(R) getaway in Costa Rica's Gulf of Papagayo. The secure community around Secrets Papagayo provides striking views of native flora and fauna and miles of unspoiled Pacific Coast beach. This all-suite resort boasts 202 spacious suites, each with a private balcony or terrace as well as a superb Unlimited-Luxury(R) experience starting with 24-hour room service, a daily refreshed mini-bar and more. The Preferred Club will provide an enhanced level of luxury with 65 ocean view suites and additional privileges including access to a private lounge, upgraded bath amenities and mini-bar, concierge service, pillow menu and much more. Guests will enjoy limitless gourmet cuisine, without reservations, at four restaurants and one café in addition to five bars that will serve unlimited top-shelf spirits. Days and nights are filled with land, beach and water activities and live entertainment. Two pools and a pristine beach await. Rejuvenation reigns supreme at the Secrets Spa by Pevonia(R), offering massage, body and facial treatments in 13 treatment rooms and a full-service beauty salon. Follow up this rejuvenation at the fully equipped fitness center or by taking part in one of many daily and nighttime activities. Just 20 minutes from the Liberia Airport and a mere 15 minutes from the touristic town of Coco Beach, Secrets Papagayo offers guests a privileged location both within the resort and throughout the area for an ideal Unlimited-Luxury(R) getaway on the Pacific Coast. ... 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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