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“Been twice and can't wait to go back again.” 5 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
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Been twice and can't wait to go back again.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

My husband and I spent the first 2 weeks of Feb 2013 at Hilton Papagayo. This was our second visit, as we loved it so much when we stayed there 2 years ago.

We would have gone back again last year but we thought we should try somewhere different, so we visited an all-inclusive in Dominican Republic. As luxurious and beautiful as the hotel in DR was, and as much as we enjoyed our time there, we couldn't stop thinking about Costa Rica. So of course, this year, we had to go back to the Hilton Papagayo.
Next year, if we go anywhere, it will be back to the HP for a third time.

While the HP Resort is perfect for us, it may not be for everyone. I think it depends upon what you are looking for in a vacation.
Our hotel in Dominican was probably more typical of what most people expect from an all-inclusive, with its perfect white sand beach, meticulously manicured grounds, marble interiors, massive pools and fountains, grand architecture and party atmosphere.

I would say that if the above is what you are looking for, the HP probably isn't for you. The HP is none of those things.
If you're looking for peaceful relaxation, beautiful, natural scenery, sunny skies, tons of interesting wildlife, and a friendly, laid-back atmosphere, the HP could be just what you're looking for.
I think it's very important to research in detail before you book so that you don't get any unwanted surprises.

Talking to other guests at the Hilton, I found that most loved the place and said they'd like to return. Only a couple of people said they were disappointed to find it so different from what they had expected.

The HP is quite rustic. While it is spread out in acreage, it is fairly small as far as the number of guests it accommodates, with only 202 guest rooms, mostly semi-detached sleep cabins (all modern, clean, air-conditioned and with balconies or porches), built into the steep slopes overlooking the sheltered bay - which, by the way, looks more like a lake than open sea.

Because the property is so spread out, it rarely seems to have a lot of people around. There are always plenty of places to sit. There are never any sun-bed wars like we saw in the Dominican resort, and no-one seems to bother getting up at dawn to reserve one.

The pools are not huge, but big enough for this hotel. There are 3 in a grouping in the main area of the resort. One has a swim-up bar, manned by some very generous and good-natured bartenders. A second pool is for kids, and the third is for games.
The pool over at the spa is lovely and often has nobody in it!

Walking from one place to another isn't easy because of the steep hills, heat, and distances between, but the shuttles run constantly and are a lot of fun to ride. During low tide, we often took a shortcut by walking along the beach between the spa area and the main area.

I think the beach is beautiful. Like many of Guanacaste's beaches, this beach is beige and grey, marbled with wavy ribbons of black volcanic sand.
Ultra-shy crabs pop up from the many holes they dig every day at low tide and scamper across the wet sand, quickly darting back down when they see you moving toward them.
In the afternoons, the blazing sun dries the black sand, turning it into a virtual bed of hot coals. You don't want to spend much time trying to walk on it without something on your feet! Make sure to pack flip-flops or water shoes!

Pelicans swoop down catching fish, frigate birds glide with the breezes like kites, hawks sail overhead searching for prey, and lazy iguanas sunbathe on the gnarled tree branches that hang over the water's edge.

Above, in the trees, you might notice a flock of noisy parakeets or other brightly coloured birds. In the early mornings and late afternoons, the birds sing their loudest. I guess they siesta in the mid-day heat.

My husband made friends with a big iguana we named Larry. Every day at 3 p.m., Larry sauntered down to the beach and waited for my husband to show up with bananas (smuggled from breakfast and saved for him). It got to be a regular thing, and Larry was always on time, just like clockwork. Other guests started going down to watch Larry eagerly chomping on his bananas. I bet he can still be found lounging on that same branch down at the spa beach every afternoon. I hope someone else is giving him his daily bananas.

The spa end of the property is perfectly peaceful. It was our favourite place to just sit and watch nature.
It has the adults-only pool, spa treatment rooms, a gym, a sauna, whirlpools, a quiet private beach with palapas for shade, as well as a restaurant/bar that features healthy, delicious foods and ice-cold drinks and smoothies made with fresh fruits. Soft music around the pool adds to the relaxed mood.

Something new for us: the outdoor spa restaurant now re-opens at night, as an Italian a-la-carte restaurant. It, along with El Bocadillo, the outdoor grill restaurant overlooking the main beach, were our two favourite places to enjoy dinner. Advance reservations (earlier in the day) were required, but we never had trouble getting a table at either one.

Another change from two years ago, was the discontinuation of the buffet dinners in the main restaurant, La Cosecha. Now your meal comes cooked to order from a menu posted on a chalkboard outside the door. They still have an unlimited salad bar, soup, and dessert table however. Each night it's a different theme.
While it was mostly enjoyable, we didn't like it as much as the other restaurants, and wish they would go back to serving buffet-style for extra variety.

The breakfast buffet served at La Cosecha was my husband's favourite meal of the day. He loved Marcia's cooked-to-order eggs and omelettes, as well as the huge variety of other breakfast foods - both North American style and Costa Rican. I preferred to try the Costa Rican dishes myself.

On the whole, the food is very good at the Hilton Papagayo. In fact they seem to have added a gourmet flair to the dishes that I don't recall so much from 2011. They put a lot of imagination and creativity into their cuisine. They make the best soups in the world. Try the cream of potato soup for lunch in the spa restaurant... to die for. We had some most days.

Of course you can always get the old stand-bys of hamburgers, pizza, wings, nachos, etc from the snack bar during the day, and from the main bar anytime. The hamburgers and the pizzas are as good as I've had anywhere.

To be honest, I think this lovely resort is starting to show its age a wee bit, but we saw lots of work being done to spruce things up.

The grounds are still very beautiful - but maybe not quite as lush as they were. This year it seems like all of northern Guanacaste is extra-dry, to the point where there were actual brush fires burning up on the hills behind us, sending smoke down over the bay, whenever it got windy. Maybe there wasn't as much rain during this past green season?

The paths up to the bungalows really do need to be fixed. Some of them are dangerous. We had a steep, crumbling path, combined with a few steps here and there, up to our room. At night, there wasn't nearly enough light to see where we were going. Luckily we had a flashlight.
While we took it in our stride, I can see why some reviewers have been critical of this sort of thing.

When we arrived at the resort this time, we noticed some of the clay tiles on the roofs were broken, as also noted by past reviewers, but they replaced them all during our two weeks' stay.

They are obviously working on fixing things up, as we noticed that the old porches and railings have been replaced since our last visit.
I hope they have plans for the paths and steps too.

Despite its minor imperfections, we still love the place as much as before... maybe even more, as we have got to know the staff better.
The staff help make this hotel what it is. They are lovely, lovely people who are genuinely friendly, and not just because it's their jobs to be.
The same people stay working there for years. They always look happy, despite their long hours of very hard work. Their easy-going, friendly attitude rubs off on the guests, and you find that just about everyone talks to everyone else.

We couldn't get over the fact that a couple of the staff members remembered us from 2 years ago! How do they do that, with the thousands upon thousands of visitors that stream through that place week after week? You can't imagine how welcome that made us feel!

We became friendly with many of the hotel people this time and will miss them. There are too many names to mention, and we don't know them all anyway, but some of the stand-out stars are Adilia (our breakfast hostess and volunteer Spanish teacher), Jose, Diego, Dennis, Roberto, Cristian, Pablo, Fabio, Roy, and Marcia the excellent egg cook.
The bartenders knew our drinks and a couple of the shuttle drivers didn't need to be told our room number.
There were some wonderful ladies working at the restaurants whose names I wish I could remember too.

The Hilton Papagayo is laid-back and casual. If you don't feel like dressing up for dinner, you don't have to. I packed way too many clothes that I didn't feel like wearing once I got there. It's good to have one dressier outfit to wear to the more upscale El Dorado restaurant, but as long as a person is decently covered - men wearing Bermuda shorts and shirts with sleeves - women in sundresses or capris rather than bathing suits - casual dress at the other restaurants is common.

Having a 4 weeks' experience with the HP under our belts now, we have learned a few things that aren't obvious at first.

For instance - the red flag at the beach.

We used to think it was a just a warning about rough water, but it seemed odd because sometimes it was flying when the water was calm.
Here's something you need to know about that red flag. Every now and then, a school of tiny, transparent jellyfish will drift into the swimming area. It seems to happen on the windiest days. On those very few days, the red flag goes up.
You don't go in the ocean unless you don't mind feeling like somebody is sticking pins in you.

We didn't know this at first... and sure enough, one day, when the red flag was flying, we both got stung by these tiny little critters. You can't see these guys in the water, they are invisible. You can see them on the sand along the water's edge if you know what to look for.

Honestly, the stings were no big deal to us. We felt like pin cushions for about half an hour afterwards, but there weren't even any marks. I took Benadryl right away, to be on the safe side, because I tend to be allergic to some biting insects. My husband didn't bother and he was fine.
Another guest who swam into a bunch of them way out in deeper water, did end up with pink spots from the stings, so she must have been more sensitive to them than we were.

There were only two days out of our whole stay that these pesky little things kept us out of the ocean. The rest of the time was fine... once we knew about the flag.

I strongly suggest you take Benadryl tablets and the Benadryl sticks with you to Costa Rica, and use them immediately if anything stings or bites.

Another good thing to pack is bug spray. There were hardly any mosquitoes when we were there, but my husband was bothered by a few no-see-ums in the evenings, so he sprayed his legs before heading out to dinner.

A fly swatter is handy too, as well as a flashlight for walking at night. As a matter of fact, the power went out a few times the first week we were there, so we were glad to have the flashlight. They do have generators that kick in after a few minutes, which manage to keep things going throughout most of the property until regular power is restored. That was quite impressive, actually.

If you decide to go shopping in nearby Coco Beach one day, don't do what we did, and get talked into being driven there, by a guy on the beach selling tours. It turned out we could have ordered a taxi from the lobby for half the price and got the same service!

Apparently the tours that can be arranged with the beach sellers are worthwhile - we heard lots of good things about them. Two years ago, we took some of the day trips offered by Swiss Tours at the hotel, which were great, but we later heard they are more expensive than with the beach guys.

Because the beach at the Hilton is cut off at both ends by outcroppings of coral and rock, it's very private, although all beaches in Costa Rica are officially public property.
At this hotel, no outside beach access means no annoying bracelets necessary for guests.

There are a few beach hawkers around, who must come in by boat, selling pottery "made by their families" - coincidentally identical to pottery sold in town for less than half the price - but they are polite enough to leave you alone, after a friendly but firm refusal.

Well, I've gone on too long with this review. I could go on all day about the wonderful time we had. But all I really needed to say was that the Hilton Papagayo is a beautiful, magical place where you can go to clear your head of all your worries, and then go home feeling relaxed and refreshed. It's the perfect way to escape the worst of an Ottawa winter.

I wish we could have stayed longer, and hope we can become "regulars".

Room Tip: We stayed in the quiet 300s, on the spa side both times. This year, our room was right beside the sp...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

We went for our Honeymoon and we were thrilled to get away for 6 days. When we arrived we were not greeted well with the front desk staff. He was rude, rolled his eyes and just didn't care. He said he didn't find our reservation and said sorry. I handed him our print out and then huffed and said Oh I see it... I tried to be nice but he was just a jerk. He said he would call a shuttle to take us to the room...30 minutes later they came...and when we went to ask about the shuttle he said its coming..and then turned to his co workers and said something and laughed. Finally when we get to our bungalow, its really nice. I had asked if we could get a ocean view room and he said NO we are booked. So we were like ok no problem. When we go to the bar we meet a very nice couple and they said they were upgraded just 5 minutes ago to ocean view and their staff also said they are not booked.
The food was bland, no spices..but they are all very accomodating to vegetarians. they really did try to get us what we wanted.
We had great help with Charlotte, she spoke english, was very nice and even tried to get us another room after we had a 4 foot iguana in front of our room. I think if the staff had her hospitalitiy and helpfulness this resort would be amazing. The front office manager did call me to see how things were afterward. She was nice but not accomodating.
The bartenders were really friendly and nice. There are only 2-3 bartenders so getting a drink is hard since everyone goes to the bar...but still not that many people at the resort.
DO NOT use the hotels cab service...askt them to call a local cab. They were trying to get us to get a car service and 20 dollars per person when the cab was 15 dollars one way for both of us. Do some research on where you want to go and buy the trips ahead of time. We went with fun jet and it was much cheaper than the hotel's. Plus when we checked out they never gave us a bill and gave us hilton points so we now can't get points for the stay. Make sure you get the BILL!
Overall not a horrible experience, the front staff guy was horrible but charlotte was amazing.
not sure I would ever go back.

Room Tip: Ocean view are nice!
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Jarvenpaa, Finland
Level Contributor
33 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2013

I stayed here with my wife and 3-year old for 4 nights. In short we were pleased but it is nothing special. If I were to book another all-inclusive in this area I would select another hotel next time.

ROOM: The resort is spread out over a very large area. If you get a room at the further end, there will be a 10 minute walk to the pool/restaurant area or you have to go with the frequent shuttle. Luckily we got a room very close to the pool area. Don't get too close though as there will be a lot of noise in the evening. The room itself was pretty simple a quite worn, but well cleaned. There was a minibar with 2 beers and 4 soft drinks, this was refilled daily.

STAFF/SERVICE: All of the staff were friendly and helpful. They were very happy to help us with special requests due to our daughter. Especially Yoselin in the kids club was super. The only real negative experience was upon check-in when I asked to pay for an upgrade, (I'm a Diamond-member with Hhonors) I was told I would only get my complimentary upgrade but was denied to pay for anything better. Apart from the upgrade, there were no Diamond-benefits really.

FOOD/BEVERAGE: This was the big letdown of the resort. Food was pretty bland and disappointing, especially at the speciality restaurants. We found the main restaurant food to be the best. However we soon got tired of the same offerings, the desserts were basically all variations of the same whipped cream with chocolate, berries, etc. There were no brand name drinks and the drinks orederd were at times very badly mixed. Wine at the restaurant was always only just white or red from a container. I had expected more from a Hilton property.

POOLS: We never visited the adults-only pool but stayed at the main pool area. This is divided in 3 levels and found them to be very nice, especially with the pool bar. The kids pool however was full of dirt, glasses and drink contains on the first day we arrived. It was only when we complained about this that it was cleaned, it was then kept clean.

BEACH: The beach was very nice and there were never a problem to find beach chairs.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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St. Louis, MO
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

We just returned from our honeymoon in Costa Rica spending 7 of our 9 days at the Hilton Papagayo, Jan 31st-Feb 6th. I am a frequent traveler and very loyal to the hilton brand...this property did not disappoint and reminded me why I love Hilton. Right off the bat from check it we had a great experience, the staff was friendly and helpful, the reception area was beautiful with great views of the ocean and property. The resort was absolutely beautiful.....we loved how it was built into the bluffs looking down towards the beach... it offered great views. We had champagne, a fruit tray and chocolates waiting for us in celebration of our honeymoon when we arrived in our bungalow. The resort is very spread out, which we thought was a positive because it was very private and quiet, unlike many other all-inclusive type properties. We did have an ocean view bungalow that was close to the main pool and restaurants but the little shuttles were easy to come by and provided quick transportation to other parts of the resort. If you like exercise, like me, walking is fun because there is great views of the coast and beautiful plants along the nicely manicured property. I would take the shuttle to the gym facility each morning at the Spa and then walk back to our room after my workout. All of the staff on the property was friendly and helpful, we were really impressed with how people remembered our names, room number and drinks we like to order.....we loved Pablo at the pool bar..he was super friendly and always ready with another drink for you. We enjoyed the food... they are very European in portion size with elegant presentation...but you can order whatever you want so if you aren't full with the first thing you order they are happy to get you something else. I do recommend trying to plan ahead an make reservations for the restaurants as they only do a few seatings and fill up quickly...if that happens they have a "buffet" type restaurant where no reservations are needed. I say buffet type because for lunch and dinner they have salads and desserts on the "buffet" but then for your entree you pick from a menu of 4 things and if is cooked fresh and served to you at your table, they change the menu everyday so that is good if you plan to eat there most nights. The Italian restaurant was amazing...pumpkin ravioli! And we really like Bocadillo as our 2 favorites. They have a huge spread every morning for breakfast. The main pool is definitely where all the action is...but if you like things a little quieter you can go to the spa side where they have a second pool and it is adults only. We were on this side most of the time as there were a couple of groups with children where, I'm sorry...but the parents were not monitoring them and they were very annoying to other guest. That would be my only complaint about the whole property or stay and that is the guest fault, not the hotel. The property and rooms themselves were great. You can tell they are updating things in groups along the resort... out bungalow deck needed a little TLC as well as the shower, but everything else was great. You could tell that they are replacing these across the resort and just had not gotten to our side yet. You should expect a little where and tear when the rooms are pretty much occupied 24/7 - 365 days a year. I noticed some people mentioned power issues, which we did have while we were there, but the generators always came on almost immediately, and we did not experience the lengthy outages that some mentioned, I think it was 20 minutes max for us. I think the power thing is common in the area as it was not only our resort that had this problem, other in the area lost power too, I think it has something to do with the power company and the fact that all of the countries power is generated from water, steam and wind. They have Kayaks you can take out during the day and because of the area the resort is in, it is pretty smooth waters for a nice ride along the coast line. Really all in all we had a great time at the hilton and were not disappointed. We will definitely be back!

Room Tip: ask for a room closer to the main pool area.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tinton Falls, New Jersey
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

We just returned from a week at this resort. We were a group of 10 older adults. This is a good place to go for a do-nothing but eat, drink, and loll-about vacation. The resort is set along a series of hills that slope down to 2 beaches and several swimming pools. The "bungalows", i.e. 2 adjoining motel type rooms per building, are scattered on the hillsides. There are shuttle vehicles that you call when you want to go from one location to another. The shuttles come quickly, except late at night when there may be only 1 shuttle available. The lobby is at the highest level. That is where free WIFI is available. Below that are several pools and restaurants and bars, including a swim-up bar. These pools can get raucous as the day goes on. Below these are the beach (about another flight of steps down. There is also a pool at the sauna. That pool can be entered only by ladder. The ladder rungs are rounded and slippery. (I lost my footing and had to be pulled out by a waiter!) The walking paths connecting all of these facilities are not well-lighted and not well-maintained. Beware of missing pavement and stepping stones.
Food is ample and very available. It is better than average but not so good that you eagerly await the next meal. Breakfast is delicious, with a lot of choices. The service staff is very pleasant, although not always efficient. If you call for something for your room, you will be told "right away". We needed more hangers - called 3 times - they never came. We went on one off-premise excursion purchased from Alexandro on the beach (blue shirt.) It was excellent, comfortable, informative. If you go to this resort, bring a flashlight to illuminate the menus and light your way on the paths. The rooms are a little tired looking but the beds are very comfortable and clean. Some bugs around, but it is the tropics. There is nothing to do outside oof the resort area. If you go, bring a flashlight, nightlight, bug and sun spray, and plenty of reading material.

Room Tip: Choose a room near the sauna. There is a nice gym, pool, hot tub, beach, and restaurant.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
19 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2013

A quiet location and the drive was not too far from the airport.
Overall a great stay.
Good service. Staff was professional and friendly, yet somewhat reserved.

We are not super picky people but like good value for our dollar-and this was just that and more. The only time that we ran into a snag was when we booked a taxi through the service desk at the pool and it didn't show up on time. This because it was waiting at the airport for delayed flights from the States. Not the hotel's fault. When the staff was told that our taxi didn't show up they were on it IMMEDIATELY to see that a found us a replacement which arrive at the agreed upon time this time.

The water in front of this hotel is calm for the most part.

This resort has many hills that need to be climbed/walked in order to get to most rooms. Our GPS figured that the highest rooms from the water were 250ft above the water. Quite a hike if you wanted to walk up the hill, but if you don't want to walk there are shuttles that are readily available and never required much of a wait to catch. A quick call and the shuttle would be there in minutes if not seconds.

If you are a person with disabilities or a family with kids and lots of gear in tow, request a room nearest the MAIN pool area so you don't need to take the shuttle. Getting on and off of the shuttle could also be difficult for a short person. It's a big step up for a person with short legs.

We enjoyed it when the shuttle went to different areas of the resort, as the views and sights are different depending on what area of the resort you are in.

We stayed in a bungalow a couple of rows back from the spa. We found this a really nice area. Our room had a partial view of the bay and we really liked the garden setting. Had monkeys playing and eating in the trees above our room one evening on our walk back to the room.
The highest rooms/area in the resort didn't have as much character as the bungalows, but apparantly they had and awesome view.

The quality of the food was excellent. Most of the food is freshly made to order. The only true buffet is breakfast, but even there the grilled items were freshly prepped. Even the "buffet" at lunch and dinner was, order your main course, and then "buffet it" for your soup, salad and dessert. Because the food is being freshly prepped-that means waiting. Count on spending at least an hour for lunch and dinner. Even ordering items from the "snack bar" meant waiting for half an hour for the food to be prepped. Snack bar food was not prepped at the snack bar, but made across the pool area in one of the restaurants and walked over by staff. Odd.

If you can't stand the wait for quality food, then this is not the resort for you.

If you are not a fish eater, then this place may not be for you. The majority of the items on the menu were fish based. There was always a single choice of beef, chicken or port on each menu. Even as someone that doesn't like fish, I tryed the raw tuna salad and it was DELICIOUS. That was the only item that I went back for a second time all week.
My husband is a fish eater and he said that some of this fish is the best that he's ever had.
Was disappointed with the pork here-was tough, and often fatty. I think that they tried to do a "quick cook" on cuts that are supposed to be cooked a long time-resulting in the toughness.
Was most dissappointed with the "El Dorado" as this was supposed to be the most upscale of the restaurants but we found the food just as comparable with all the other food, and the service the same as the rest of the resort too. Not good for the "upscale" restaurant-but speaks about the excellent quality of the rest of the food on the resort. Salads and fruit were good.

We thought it odd that we needed to give our hotel room when requesting things, even though it's all-inclusive.

Nice not having to wear armbands all week.

The spa area is VERY quiet and it felt like being in a library. Not for us, but would be good for someone looking for peace and quiet. Only one small restaurant is next to the spa, with limited hours-so you need to walk to the main area if you want more choice.

The snorkelling was our biggest disappointment. The water was often cloudy and there weren't too many interesting fish to see. Biggest problem were jelly fish in the water for a day and a half. Beach staff didn't warn people heading into the water of their presence even after knowing from guest that they were there. We even paid the big bucks for a half-day trip through the resort and were disappointed even more. Snorkelling at that beach area was even worse than at the resort. The best part was the boat ride to the location and seeing dolphins(so very briefly) on the way back.

The hike up the hill is just that-a hike. The look out is 350ft above sea level, and requires a fifteen minute steep climb to get there. Don't climb this if you have a heart condition. Not a climb to be made in flip-flops either.

Took the Palo-Verde boat ride to see some interesting birds, but found that the yellow, blue and even green birds right on the beach just as good as seeing the blue herons that we see at home. The tour guide told interesting stories. The drive there and back was like taking back country, gravel roads in Canada.

Overall a good experience.

Room Tip: Some of the bunglows still have stairs and a bit of a climb even after the shuttle drops you off.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, MN
Level Contributor
43 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

We stayed here for a couple nights in early Feb 2012. We had an ocean front room a short walk from the pool to the southwest. During our stay, power went out at least 4 times. One outage lasted 7 hours from 9AM to 4PM. As you can imagine, a tropical hotel with no power is less than desirable... although I shouldn't say no power because there were generators for certain areas (but not many of the guest rooms). When I called the desk, they said they know power is out and there is nothing to do about it. Twice at dinner the power went out for 30 minutes to about two hours. When we prepared to leave, you guessed it, power was out once again. WE couldn't even discuss anything with a manager because "there was nothing they could do" and we were not going to wait around any longer with no power. Our room was badly in need of paint and plumbing services. The shower drain would back up causing water to run out all the way to the bed (didn't notice this when I took my first shower). A few fire ants got into our room and I sustained a number of bites one night. The food was actually decent for an all inclusive, liquor was also OK, but nothing special. The pool looked dirty, and I got a bit of an ear infection after leaving. I truly wish we would have gone elsewhere.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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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
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 Top resorts Hotel in
#9 Spa 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 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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