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“Great beach location; charging for Internet at an "all inclusive" resort?!” 4 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 #5 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence 2014
San Diego
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Great beach location; charging for Internet at an "all inclusive" resort?!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2013

Overall: Nice spot. Two very different pools. Quiet beach. No sunset views. Don't stay here for more than a couple days; there are SO many other great places to go and see while in Costa Rica.

Value: This wasn't exactly the best value. We spent as much on Internet access here as we did on our next hotel. To me, "all inclusive" should include Internet access in the room, but this did not, which is the reason I rated 4 stars instead of 5. It was so expensive already, why not charge a small bit more and include the Internet access. Dive hotels include free Internet that works much better than this Hilton's did.

Location: This is an amazing spot. You can walk on the beach and have it to yourself at times. We were a family of 5 people staying in two nice rooms here. The main reason we picked this stop for a couple days was it was on the beach and near (30 minutes) the Liberia airport. Since we were landing at night we wanted a short drive and wake up on the beach.

Service & Staff: Top notch. Everyone was very helpful and nice. The food was pretty good, not exceptional.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 6, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
Thank you for your kind review of Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa . I am pleased to hear you enjoyed your stay and will let our staff know they contributed to your one-of-a-kind experience. We hope to see you again soon.
Sincerely,
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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
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East Meadow, New York
2 reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2013

Stayed from December 21 – 26 in room 359 on the spa side. The major downfall of this room was that we could hear everything that was going on in the adjoining room. They need better soundproofing but thankfully they were a young family and seemed to be in bed early so they did not keep us awake at night. It was incredibly quiet and serene and we had a gorgeous view. We sat outside on the balcony every morning. The room was outdated but we were hardly in it. There were quite a few bugs which was no surprise to us since we were in Costa Rica – at night the bugs swarmed around the light outside or our room but we just made sure to hurry into the room so we didn’t let in the bugs.

Check-in was a slow process – there were about 10 people checking in at the same time and only one person was at the counter.

The grounds are huge and perfectly kept. We loved the shuttle that took us around the property. Pretty simple to get a shuttle, sometimes they were full and once they forgot about us but the drivers are so spunky and friendly that you just go with the flow. We did walk a few places and it was relaxing. It was a quick walk from our room along tot eh beach to get to the pool area where most of the restaurants are.

Housekeeping was spot on. Whenever we needed something we left a note and when we returned to the room, it was there whether it was more towels or extra water.

We used CostaRicaBestrips and Issys Tours for two excursions and our transfers which were both OUTSTSANDING tour groups and our tours were completely private and catered tour needs.

Food was hit or miss. We loved some food and hated other meals. Breakfast buffet had a huge selection of food and we never went hungry, we actually were not around for lunch but we did eat at every restaurant and had good meals except we think my boyfriend had some raw seafood Christmas night at Grill de Fuego because he was violently sick right after we ate. I e-mailed the hotel before we arrived and was able to make dinner reservations about a month in advance and had no problems. We really enjoyed EL Bocadillo for the one lunch we had there and we also ate dinner there twice. No matter where we ate or what bar we were at, everyone was so friendly and the service was spot on. The bar at the spa has amazing smoothies!!!

We LOVED the free snorkeling and went three times. Go along the rocks on the left hand side of the beach but watch out there are a lot of tiny jellyfish that sting but eventually the pain goes away.

P.S. Do NOT use the Alamo desk at the hotel. We reserved a car and when we went to pick it up we were informed they did not have any cars available which made for quite an interesting morning of trying to get to our fishing charter on time.

Room Tip: We chose a tropical view which was the cheapest room and we loved it. We stayed by the spa in a bun...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 7, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
Thank you for choosing Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa for your vacations – we are happy to hear it was a success! We look forward to welcoming again to Guanacaste – we enjoyed taking care of you.
Sincerely,
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Palos Verdes Estates, California
Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
83 helpful votes 83 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013

What a great Xmas present! My husband surprised us with this trip to celebrate my completion of a major book project. We took our adult sons and stayed from December 17 through December 26. There were some marvelous things about this place and some disappointing.

The Good (and Great)

Staff: fabulous, friendly staff who worked exceptionally hard not only to make us comfortable but patiently helped us with our meager Spanish. Santa arrived fully decked out on a jet ski. Dancers, singers and musicians entertained us without a thought to missing their own Christmas celebrations.

Facilities: A little dated but super comfortable. Adored the beds. The air conditioning worked like the dickens but the scrumptious and ever-present breeze made it less critical.

Transportation: Because the property is spread out, the hotel runs a trolley service 24/7. The drivers were not only energetic they were darn near effervescent with good humor. When they couldn't turn around on the narrow paved paths, they backed down, maneuvering around curves that would be tough to conquer facing forward. Each trolley carried 9-10 guests and it was on those Disney-like rides that we bonded with fellow travelers. I could have ridden those trollies all day.

Walking: Hiking the property was a treat and every once in a while you had an unexpected friends beside you: huge iguanas. Our rooms were at the top of a hill (affording us a fantastic view of the bay - rooms 388/89 if you can book them) and we could easily walk to the spa and the adult pool. We could also cut across the beach for a short walk to the main pool/bar/restaurant area.

Pools: The adult only pool was truly serene. The family pool had music and was laid out in such a way that even with a lot of children in the pool the noise was never overwhelming.

Activities: We had never kayaked before and all four us couldn't get enough. Snorkels were available and our oldest seemed to be perpetually under water. He did come up long enough to play beach volleyball and pool volleyball. Each evening found the four of us (and anyone who wanted to join) in the bar area playing cards. We weren't the only family who brought along a deck or adult children. We had the best intention of playing tennis but were too lazy. However, we did note that people were taking advantage of both the tennis courts and the basketball facilities. The kids club looked great but I don't have any first hand knowledge on that score. Oh, almost forgot. Sitting on the deck outside the rooms. Lots of us ended or began the day just sitting in the exquisite silence surrounded by nature.

The grounds: Beautifully kept.

THE SPA! Fabulous. We each intended to have one treatment. By the time we left, we had seven between us. Reasonably priced, excellently executed. A little bit of spa heaven.

Not so good:

Jacuzzis: Neither pool had one and the jacuzzis in the mens and women's spas were tepid.

Restaurants: Restaurant management needs to rethink the way this system works. Guests must make reservations for one of the three restaurants. Reservations had to be made well-ahead but we noted at least a third of the restaurant tables were empty each night we ate in a reservation-only restaurant. Even when I was making reservations and clearly saw the seating charts with empty tables I was told they were sold out. Service was slow, portions were small. The later is a plus or minus depending on your point of view. I loved it; my husband ordered double. The main 'walk-in' restaurant where we had breakfast and dinner when we couldn't get reservations was not our favorite. It felt like being back at college - lots of carbs, not a lot of taste.

The food was disappointing for three of us but one son thought it was great. The best restaurants were the one at the bar beside the adult pool (Grill de Fuego) and the El Dorado. At the first, we loved the vegetable quesadilla, the smoothies, the avocado salad. At the latter, tuna carpaccio was excellent. Any chicken dish at any of the restaurants was good. The beef, while excellent cuts, was never cooked properly. Medium rare was bloody, medium was well done. Cilantro seems to be a favorite taste and there as a lot of it. Hard to take sometimes. The best evening at the walk-in restaurant was Asian night only because of the sushi. It was fresh and plentiful. The main courses that night, we all agreed, tasted like bottled sauces were used. At breakfast, stick with the freshly made eggs and omelets.

Big disappointment:

Transportation to town: Originally told a round trip to Playa de Coco would be $40 we were charged $80 when my husband made reservations. I was sorely disappointed (to put it mildly) when a family on the bus back told us they had been charged $40. I spoke with the manager, she seemed concerned, but there was no follow-up. Never good business to have your guests feel ripped off.

In the grand scheme of things, however, the great stuff outweighed the mediocre. My husband and I relaxed and our children said this was the best Christmas they ever had. I have a feeling, the Hilton Papagayo will be seeing us again.

Room Tip: We were in 388/89. I preferred the 300s because they were isolated and yet you could easily walk to...
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  • Stayed December 2013, 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 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 6, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
Thank you for taking a moment to share your experience at Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa.

We did take note in your observations which gives us hope and further drive in correcting our issues as we consider them improvement opportunities to seek excellence.

The next time you are in Guanacaste, we hope you will come back to see the changes we have made and tell us what you think. We want to provide you with the best guest experience. Thank you for helping us improves!


Sincerely,
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Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013

Let me preface by saying I am Diamond with Hilton and have been for many years. I travel a LOT and have stayed at Hiltons all over the world. I have leaned that the word "resort" is used easily and really does not mean a lot. I expect above average when staying at a Hilton Resort.
Let me start with the positives:
1. Great location and very easy to get to from Liberia airport.
2. Beautiful setting! our room, 232 was an ocean view and the view was gorgeous.
3. The staff is gracious and very helpful.
4. Shuttle service around the grounds was great and very fast.
5. Rooms were clean and the cleaning each day was great.
6. The spa pool is great and quiet, but they only clean it early morning and by mid morning it seriously needed cleaning! The main pool had tons of kids and very loud music.
Negatives:
1. The restaurant reservation system is nuts. We started day two of our trip to make evening meal reservations and were able to get two nights only. One night is Italian and Christmas night in the Steak place. Both late. The resort was full, but every night as we passed the restaurants, there were lots of empty tables. The nights we ate on property, again there were lots of empty tables. If they were so booked, why the empty tables? The restaurant that is non reservation nightly is ok at best. Again, not resort quality. Breakfast choices were the same basic things daily. No change ups in pastry choices, etc.
3. The rooms are very small and seriously need renovating. There were holes in the walls and a coat of paint would do wonders.
4. When I checked in, I was told due to my Honors status, I had been given an upgrade. I asked to what? They said an ocean view. I told them I had actually booked an ocean view and she did not agree. I showed her my confirmation and she said ok, I had an ocean view. It was strange!
5. I did read many reviews and had a friend from work visit here this year. I knew the negatives and was prepared, but it is nothing that can not be corrected. I can't see why management does not correct the issues. If you read the negative reviews here, you will see responses from the mgt that are always the same. That seems wrong.

SO, just be aware if you go here. Know what you are getting in to and it will be fine.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 7, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience. I am very happy to hear that the property offered you the just right amount of space for you to spread out and relax. Hilton Papagayo strives to ring in the feel of Free to be you!
We can’t wait to see you again soon.
Sincerely,
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Toronto
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013 via mobile

My wife and I stayed at the Hilton from December 1 to December 7 and had such a great time! I would like to personally thank the staff for accommodating a surprise private dinner for my wife. They also let a lovely note in our room wishing us a happy anniversary accompanied by a bottle of champagne. We upgraded to a suite upon arrival. Amazing view and totally worth the extra money.
The food: I have been to several all inclusives and most recently the riu in Costa Rica so I thought I knew what to expect...boy was I ever wrong! The food was amazing! We tried all of the restaurants and honestly would have paid for the meals we received. The service in the restaurants was quick efficient and friendly! The only meal that was buffet style was breakfast but there was more than enough options and an amazing omelette woman!
The alcohol: as some mentioned in their review, they do not serve until 11am, this is a country wife policy not something specific to the Hilton! So that complaint is ridiculous. The bar tenders were quick and friendly and made delicious creations upon request :)
The activities: we took advantage of the bike tour, kayak tour and trails offered by the hotel. Luis Diego was our guide and he was great! He let us know all about his country and all the little towns we went through. I suggest everyone takes advantage of these as they are included in your package.
The shuttle: personally we enjoyed the way the resort was laid out. It felt like authentic Costa Rica. Not like some American developer came, bulldozed the land and ruined its natural beauty to build a mammoth building. With that comes the issue of getting around. Being at the top of the hill meant lots of shuttle rides but every driver was pleasant, fun and very helpful, we never had an issue.
The Friday before we left the locals all came to vacation as this is the start of their summer break, it was crowded and a definite different scene however I'm pretty easy going and can hang. All in all a great vacation! Thanks Hilton Papagayo!

Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 6, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
I just wanted to thank you for your recent stay here at Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa !

I am happy to read that you had a great time and particularly we met and exceeded your expectations during your vacations.

We are all about Satisfaction Guaranteed and I will let out team members know that he helped you have a great vacations!

We can’t wait to see you again soon.
Sincerely,
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Wayland, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013

We arrived when the hotel was fully booked, so we were initially unable to get a Hilton Honors Gold upgrade. But Pablo, the Guest Services Manager, made certain (1) that we were quite comfortable in our assigned room and (2) that we were moved to a beachfront room a few days later when space became available. Both rooms were well appointed, very clean, and everything, including the wifi, worked well. We particularly enjoyed the beachfront room, and we greatly appreciated Pablo's attention to make certain that we were happy.

During our 7 night stay we ate all all 4 restaurants, and we enjoyed all of them. The fish dishes, in particular, were prepared perfectly, so that they were fresh and juicy. The only fault was that some dishes were occasionally overly salty. Perhaps our favorite restaurant was La Cosecha. It was the simplest restaurant, but each night there was a different theme for the menu (such as Seafood, Italian, Costa Rican, etc). They have a buffet for the salads and for the desserts. The main course is always prepared to order. The house wines (which are part of the all inclusive hotel price) are from Chile and are very drinkable.

There are many activities to keep you busy while you are at the hotel, but it is also very easy to visit some of the national parks. At the hotel we enjoyed the cooking demonstration, the sunset walk, kayaking in the bay, etc. We also arranged visits to 3 national parks, a private sunset boat ride and transportation to nearby Coco Beach.

At a reasonable price I enjoyed a Swedish massage in the well-appointed spa on my last day. It was a great way to end the stay in Papagayo.

The overall cost (less than $200/night for us, including tax and service) was a great value by any standard.

But perhaps the best part of the stay was the very friendly and personal service we received throughout our stay from Pablo, the staff at the guest services desk and at the restaurants. Although there are more than 200 rooms at the hotel, the staff frequently addressed us by name and with a large, genuine smile.

  • Stayed December 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 6, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
Thank you for your review. I am pleased to hear you enjoyed your stay and will let our team member know that they helped you have a great stay with us. All of us at Hilton are passionate about hospitality and we hope to see you again soon.
Sincerely,
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Hamilton, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013

This was our second time to this resort. The first time was before it was taken over by the Hilton. The only difference we noticed was making it more kid friendly, and some updates to the room (linens and tv).
We loved the beach - yes it's black sand, but who cares, it was so velvety soft and fun to explore along the rocks on both sides. The lack of waves was great for our 5 year old daughter, and yes some jelly fish, but overall a beautiful paradise, since hardly anyone spent their days by the beach.
Our favorite restaurant was Bocadillio - Alan, and Roberto gave us service with a smile. Alan went out of his way to learn our names and remember them! They have the best salads, one with red tuna, and another with shrimp. It was so great to eat healthy while we were away. The burger there was delicious too!!

Rubi at the kids club was great! She went out of her way to find us at the pool to include my daughter in activities that were happening. Patsy was also very attentive to the kids.

The pools were cleaned regularly, and they seemed to use fresh water without any chlorine.

Overall, we would go back again to this resort because of the small size, it wasn't crowded, and the layout of restaurants made it easy to access food and drinks. Great selection of food all day! We would have breakfast at 7am, and eat again at the breakfast area for snacks at 9am. By 11am, Bocadillio was open, and later around 2pm we'd have nacho's at the snack bar.
Because of the time change (back an hour) - dinner was at 6:00, but for us it was really 7pm, and for us with a child, and even myself, I was starving by that time, and tired!!

Some recommendations I would make for the resort are minimal: 1) the walkways to the beach, those white rocks are horrible!! It doesn't feel good on your feet at all! I would suggest you use soft pebbles, or for a better look the wood you use on the floor throughout the restaurants would provide a great finished look!
2) The cat that always shows up at breakfast meowing is so annoying, and one morning I smelled his urine...not pleasant. There was another cat on the adult side. I don't know what you can do about these cats, call animal control? The black and white one had something going on with it's eye. I was surprised to see people even petting them! Gross! (i have cat's and love cats, but beware of the diseases they might be carrying).

Some tips on the Key/Safe and A/c: - don't put your key in with any electronics, the key will be cancelled out. We ran into this a few times before we got this tip. In general the keys(cards) were a little iffy at times, and a bit annoying. The safe says to enter code 3 - 6 digits, we entered 4, and it wouldn't work. Had a tech guy come out, still didn't work. Had to get another person to check it out, and ultimately it needed 6 #'s - then it worked. And the a/c - I noticed that so long as we kept it cold in the room (a bit too cold for our liking - 20C) was the only way to keep it from smelling mildewy.

Nice touches were that you didn't have to wear a bracelet, and the towels were plentiful without having to leave your key or anything, you just take them as needed and they had a basket to toss them in when you were done. Maid service in the room was very efficient, folding clothes, arranging toiletries on the counter, towel art every day.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miguel_Eugene, General Manager at Papagayo Resort & Spa, responded to this review, January 6, 2014
Greetings from Costa Rica!!
Thank you for taking a moment to share your experience at Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa.

I am happy to read that you had a great time and particularly we met and exceeded your expectations during your stay.

We look forward to welcoming to Hilton Papagayo again to Guanacaste - we enjoyed taking care of you.
Sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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
Amenities:
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 Romantic Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#3 Family Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#5 Luxury 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 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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