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“A perfect blend of nature and pampering.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Papagayo Resort & Spa

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Papagayo Resort & Spa
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica (Formerly Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #6 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Milton, Canada
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
11 hotel reviews
85 helpful votes 85 helpful votes
“A perfect blend of nature and pampering.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013 via mobile

Pablo at the swim-up Bar made sure we had a good time, All the time. The food was phenomenal and the setting was out of this world. We travelled across Costa Rica and yet we saw the tons of wildlife at the resort - From amazing birds like Osprey and tricolor heron to bulldog fishing bats (honest!) to pilot whales!

The resort was only 15 minutes from the airport, yet incredibly secluded. There's a nature reserve the right next-door and we were only an hour from Santa Rosa National Park, which was an amazing adventure in itself. I have no hesitation in recommending this hotel. It made for an amazing trip even better.

Be sure to take the two paths on either end of the resort and walk as far as you can along the beach as often as you can. The path on the north end of the resort leads up to a hilltop where you can watch the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen in my life! It was a photographers dream!

  • Stayed December 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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2,413 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 (622)
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English first
Colleyville, Texas
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

We stayed at the HIlton Papagayo the week of December 20th with our two kids (ages 6 and 7). The hotel was perfect for us - quiet and calm. Our boys loved the pool, and the beach is perfect, with few waves, warm water, and lot of opportunity to search for shells. We were on the spa side, which I found preferable, but it's a largely kid-free area so I was constantly asking the boys to keep their voices down - it's that quiet on that side. We loved the layout of the resort, as it gives the impression that you're much more on your own than you get at a typical hotel built with typical architecture.

But by far the best part of our trip were the excursions. We booked two excursions and our airport transfers with Diego Sandi of Sibu Tours before we came, and I can't say enough about how much our experience with Diego impacted our trip. Communicating with him before the trip via email, he was always helpful and responsive. He was always on time, full of GREAT information about Costa Rica, and really made the trip worthwhile. On our first excursion to Rincon de la Vieja, he stopped several times to point out wildlife that we would otherwise have missed, and to tell us about the history and culture of the areas we drove through.

My boys are young, and Diego went with us on the horseback riding trip, helping the boys get set up in the saddle, get the feel of riding the horses on their own and showing them how to hold the reins and control their horses. He also helped get them set up on the zip lines, which we really appreciated.

Our second excursion was the Palo Verde tour, and Diego made sure that we knew that it wouldn't be him driving us out to Palo Verde, but Elvis. Elvis was a great guide as well - on our way out, he took us off the beaten path to see the most interesting things, and made a point of pointing out key things as we drove through his hometown. Best of all, on our way to the park and out of the park, he stopped to point out wildlife - a colony of howler monkeys on the way there, and a scarlet macaw on the way back.

I can't say enough about Diego and everyone we dealt with at Sibu Tours. We're already planning to come back to Costa Rica in a few years and do more - and we'll definitely make plans for some new things with Diego. The Hilton was a perfect home base, and Diego really made the trip one of the best vacations our family has ever taken.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
12 reviews 12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

Property: Hilton acquired the property two years ago. The resort is tucked aways in the hills along a small peaceful bay with volcanic sand. Diamond member complimentary upgrade to ocean front bungalow was a plus including free WiFi. Also access to spa amenities for Diamond member was great, there is a decent size gym with free weights. Two large bottle waters, two Cokes, two Coke Lites and two beers are made available, complimentary, not sure if that was Diamond perk or included in all-inclusive. Unless the bungalow is near the pool, shuttle is required. The highest point/best view is bungalow # 391.

Food: The food, I found better than Hilton Montego Bay Rose Hall all-inclusive. Dinner reservations are required at 3 restaurants, Bocadillo would be my first recommendation, El Dorado next, Italian last. Service was slooow at two of the three dinners, overall Bocadillo was great. Dinner alternative, the buffet has a variety of fare, desserts are small shooters. Bars are decent, I only had red wine, and my wife tried a few mixed drinks that were okay. Kids enjoyed the smoothies and juices offered with meals. If you sit outside a bird or two can be pesky at times. Good coffee. Try the ice cream(even outside the resort), has a nice smooth home-made type texture.

Activities: Activities are offered by the resort. Definitely hike the trails on the property around sunset. The highlight of our trip was private tours, I would highly recommend a private tour guide, same cost as the one offered by the hotel, tailored to your liking and avoids the crowded times at tour attractions. Our private tour itinerary was...

Dec 26: Miravalles Volcano Private Tour

Included: Stoping by llanos del Cortez waterfall, canopy(zip lining), authentic CR lunch(Cassado),horseback riding,hanging bridge,hiking in to the rainforest,walk in to the crater,natural sauna,natural mud bath, hot springs,water slide.

Dec 27: Palo Verde boat river Private Tour and Tamarindo

Included: Fee to national park, 2 hours on the boat to see wild life, the best CR lunch, Guaitil pottery villa town, Tamarindo for shopping.

Dec 28: Arenal Volcano Private Tour

Included: CR breakfast, eco-center wild life tour, La Fortuna waterfall, good lunch, natural hot water river(tabacon).

Herson Segura was our tour guide, we found him here on TripAdvisor based on a review (Thanks!) he can be reached at herson03@yahoo.com or from the lobby phone 8990-8115.

For more photos please visit my Flickr set here

Room Tip: Ask for 391 or any of the units near the pool.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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.
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
10 helpful votes 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
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
24 hotel reviews
129 helpful votes 129 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
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
10 hotel reviews
14 helpful votes 14 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.
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Additional Information about Papagayo Resort & Spa

Address: Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica (Formerly Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa)
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Romantic Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Family Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#5 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Papagayo 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 Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort And Spa
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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