I booked three nights here with my wife, 5-year old son, and infant daughter - after much deliberation.
Whenever I see a big split in ratings on TripAdvisor with half saying "excellent" and a vocal minority screaming "terrible", I usually chalk it up to people's mismatched expectations - and found this to be very true with the Hilton Papagayo.
So I'll make this simple. It's a perfectly acceptable 4-star all inclusive. Not 5 stars. Not 3 stars.
If you want sparkling marble, crisp service, perfectly appointed rooms, uninterrupted power, and top shelf liquor - 4.5 or 5 stars - you'll be disappointed here. You should be staying at the JW Marriott Guanacaste, or better yet, splurging at the Four Seasons further up the coast. However, you'll be paying for this privilege with rates that are double that of the Hilton.
On the other hand, this property is clearly not as bad as some reviewers make it out to be. Compared to the Occidental Allegro, which is a true 3-star all-inclusive just down the road, the Hilton's bungalows feel like Buckingham Palace, the food looks like it has Michelin stars, and the wine tastes like Chateau Lafite. Plus you don't have to wear a cheesy wristband. Of course, the Allegro is one-third the price. You get what you pay for.
The resort is a nice size, not too big or too small for its limited number of rooms. It is, however, extremely hilly and with little kids, we made frequent use of the shuttles that ply its pathways. When we did decide to walk, we found it cooler and more direct to walk down to the beach and use that to cross the resort. The beach itself is nothing spectacular, but it is secluded and private. Most guests seemed to prefer the main pool area, which never seemed to get very crowded. We especially liked to relax under one of the many little palapas dotting the grassy hillside between the pool and beach areas.
They're older and in the process of being renovated. But they're also cool, comfortable, spotlessly clean, and nicely spaced away from each other. The minibar restocked daily with soft drinks and beer is a nice touch.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
The food service was fine. You get about as much variety as you can expect in a 200-room property, with fresh ingredients and a little bit of flair, served promptly with a smile. When we asked for a special smoked salmon plate to be put together for our little boy, they were happy to oblige. The house wine was perfectly drinkable, mostly table fare from Chile and Argentina, served from the bottle. Let's put it this way - at a truly "bad" all inclusive, you get house wine poured from a gallon milk jug, and you won't find any smoked salmon at all. This was clearly not the case here.
Attentive enough, if a little casual and spotty. We had great waiters, bartenders, and housekeepers, but mediocre service at the front desk. Don't expect too much from the events staff - the kids' club was just a glorified playroom with a babysitter, and no one even bothered with many of the planned activities. Mostly, this is the sort of place where you just keep to yourself and chill with your loved ones. That was fine with us.
In summary, if you want a luxurious, over-the-top destination resort, look elsewhere and be prepared to pay for it. But if all you're looking for is a quiet place to chill with space, seclusion, attentive service, fresh food choices, decent drinks, and the convenience of an all-inclusive, this might be the place for you.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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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