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“The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey”

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Parador Resort and Spa
Ranked #10 of 46 Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Certificate of Excellence
Rochester, Minnesota
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey”
Reviewed July 15, 2013

Everything's better with monkeys. Even upscale Costa Rican resorts like the Parador. My first day at the luxury resort in Manuel Antonio I was hiking the hotel's Monkey Trail when what skitters by me - after the iguana, I mean - but a spider monkey going about his business. So whatever else you might say, you will never be able to accuse the Parador of violating any truth-in-advertising laws. I'm just glad it wasn't called the Poisonous Viper Trail.

To kill time during the slow check-in - I arrived at 12:30 and waited until 3 for my room to be ready (Their published check-in time is 3pm, and they stick to it like Moses made it the 11th commandment.) - I hiked the aforementioned Monkey Trail, and the expansive grounds studded with Ancient-Greek-style statues, which made as much as sense in a Central American setting as having kilts in the movie Gladiator, but my degree is in sociology not hotel design. Make no mistake, the 12 acres of manicured grounds are lovely and as relaxing as a deep-tissue massage followed by an umbrella drink: Overlooking the Pacific, the hotel offers a trio of adjacent pools angled to make it look as if you could leap off their edges into the ocean far below. Plus, the swim-up bar (open from 10:30am –6:00pm) allows you to stay sploshed while you get splashed. An adults-only pool about 50 feet away offers child-free swimming for those who like kids’ shrieks as much as they like scorpion bites.

My room was what I would describe as blandsome: plain, light yellow walks with some hotel-motel art, a garden view, and a small covered sitting area outside with a table and two chairs. Unpacking here was easy, with a closet supplying hangers and several shelves, and a safe for valuables. For those not sporting the rumpled-lined look of tropical climes, there’s also an iron and an ironing board.

The bed was at least more comfortable than the one in The Princess and the Pea. There was also a desk with adequate work space. Unlike the last 3 hotels I’d enjoyed in Costa Rica, the outlets were placed in a the pre-digital configuration - one under the desk, one between the TV and the closet, and two next to the bed. All of them were just a few inches above the floor. At the previous lodgings, however, the outlets were much higher - right over the desk’s surface while the ones near the bed were placed about parallel to where your head would be when you were lying down. Much more convenient that way, and it avoids that whole Gumby impersonation when you’re trying to plug something in.

The room also offered a coffee maker and mini-bar with snacks and drinks. The bathroom was spacious with a walk-in shower, average counter space for your toiletries, a hair dryer, and adequate lighting supplied by two overhead lights.

It was nice the way an Olive Garden is nice or Matlock is nice, but not nice-nice like The Bachelor Farmer restaurant in Minneapolis or Breaking Bad. Clearly meant to be a pooradise for the less affluent, the room was almost a disconnect from the lux pool, spa, and the sultry surroundings of 18th century dark woods, Spanish tiles, and antiques, not to mention the jaw-drop views of the ocean. The more upscale rooms at the Parador (i.e., the suites and the Premium Plus rooms), reachable by an outside elevator, are much higher up. Most come with ocean views and some have outdoor Jacuzzis. This elevated section also had its own pool and eatery, the La Fragata Restaurant & Tapas Bar.

Put it this way: My room was where Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Vacation would be staying; the high-end rooms were where The World’s Most Interesting Man would be lodging.

Now some of the bad. At registration the women who checked me in warned me the integer connection was bad. She was right: My connection appeared and then disappeared like David Copperfield. She assured me if I could lug my laptop down to the commons area, I would find a stronger Internet connection there. That was meant to be helpful but to me it’s like saying, We don’t have indoor plumbing but we do have outhouses that are a short schlep away on the beach.

Speaking of the beach, it's not the sandy idylls of Tulum or Hawaii. First you walk about 200-250 yards down the main road, then slog another 200 yards or so over a muddy, rocky strip. (It’s the rainy season now, so other months will offer dryer navigation.) There are no chaise lounges, ocean-side bars, or bathrooms. Think huts-on-the-beach in Lord of the Flies with flip-flops, and you’ll get it.

You can also take regularly-scheduled, hotel-supplied shuttles down to the Playa Manuel Antonio beach. The ride takes about 10 minutes to what is a half-mile-long crescent of white sand fronting an aqua sea.

The hotel has four restaurants and several bars (some of them close in the rainy season but their menus are absorbed into the others). The food in the main restaurant, La Galeria ranged from about $15 to $35 for an entree. Service was crisp, attentive, and friendly; the food fresh if not remarkable. I recommend the Azteca soup and the Indonesian rice. The wine list is also good.

The Happy Hour at the Don Juan bar runs from 6pm - 7pm with beers, liquors and cocktails (like Cuba Libra, Mojito, Caipirinha) for prices ranging from $3 to $5.50. That's not bad, but the drinks were so watery you could have started your own aquarium in them. Seriously, you could be in AA and not break your pledge drinking there. The chips I ordered for $6 came with about 15 chips and pico de gallo and salsa in containers so small, Thumbelina could have made her home in them. (Strangely, I ordered the same dish the next day in the La Galeria restaurant for an afternoon snack. This time it came with a enough chips and containers of salsa and pico de gallo to satisfy the binge part of a binge-and purge eating disorder –and all for the same price, $6.)


Breakfast, is included in the room rate and also served in the open-air La Galeria. Running from 6:00am – 10:30am, it was, in a word, lavish: Pancakes and waffles (accompanied by caramel and maple syrups), scrambled eggs, a design-your-own-omelet area, gallo pinto (i.e., rice and beans), two cereals and granola, yogurts (e.g., strawberry and plain favored),
fresh breads and pastries, tropical fruits (watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe), juices, and, of course, potent Costa Rican coffee.

A few other notes: There's a self-serve laundry, with two washers and two dryers. To use it, you buy tokens and laundry soap from the gift shop. Some of the covered outside seating areas have outlets you can plug your [phone, laptop, or tablet into. It’s a nice convenience that lets you hang there for extended period, contemplating the oceanic vista and basking in the soft-as-cotton breeze, while you read a book, surf the Net -or hang with a monkey.

Room Tip: Try to book the suites and the Premium Plus rooms. They have ocean views, updated design, and some h...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
7 Thank ChasPappas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 23, 2013
Thank you for sharing your experience about your stay. We are very happy to hear that you enjoyed all that Parador is about – the pools, the beach, our surrounding jungle, its unique fauna and flora, our amenities, and our delicious daily breakfast buffet. We also appreciate your feedback on the food & beverage as it helps us review and improve our product. We hope to welcome you back in the near future. Pura vida!
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Boston
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed July 15, 2013

We spent three nights at the Parador, the room was good, the grounds are nice, the view was Total Perfection! The highlight of our stay were the guides who took us on a tour of the national park and the dawn and dusk hikes around the property! Breakfast buffet was good. This is a typical resort that caters to the masses. Nice to have a coin op washer drier on site!

Room Tip: Garden rooms are fairly standard hotel room with no view.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Mom2OneBoston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 23, 2013
Thank you for your comments! We love that you chose Parador for your vacation and enjoyed our wonderful private piece of paradise. So glad that to hear that you enjoyed our breakfast and our national treasure – Manuel Antonio National Park. We look forward to welcoming you in the near future. Pura Vida!
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Boston, Massachusetts
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
Reviewed July 12, 2013

My husband and I spent 2 nights July 3rd and 4th. We wanted to be on our own schedule.
The hotel was very accommodating to schedule a private tour of the National Park. Our guide who is exclusive with the hotel was great. Because it was a private tour we were able to hike into trails tours usually don't go. He found and explained animals and insects we never would have noticed on our own. On the last day we had a kayaking tour of the mangroves scheduled but we wouldn't get back until hours after check out. They arranged for us to have a room to shower and change when we returned even though they were fully booked for the night. We had a long drive and the ability to clean up made the trip much more comfortable.

The rooms were clean and the views were nice.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank TravelerHSboston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 23, 2013
We are glad that you enjoyed your our facilities, the excursions - especially the private guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park - and learned about the unique fauna and flora of our region.

Thank you for sharing your comments on this forum and hope to welcome you back in the near future. Pura Vida!
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Chicago, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 10, 2013

Our family had the grand fortune of staying at El Parador July 2012. The property is gorgeous, expansive, and full of wonderful treats. From the infinity pool to the hot tub on the balcony, we were elated with the cleanliness and glow of all El Parador offered. Breakfast buffet every morning was full of choices. The beach is a bit off the beaten path, but that is to be expected in this neck of the Costa Rican forest. Hope to one day return!

Room Tip: Our king sized room was spacious, balcony facing Manuel Antonio National park.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Pradogirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 11, 2013
We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your stay at Parador –Thank you for sharing your comments in this forum and we hope to welcome you back in the near future! Best wishes of Pura Vida
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Charlotte, NC
Level 6 Contributor
165 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
Reviewed July 9, 2013

Initially, I was very torn about our hotel choice in MA as our family usually opts for small boutique properties or the B&B experience when traveling. All the glowing reviews and photos of the Parador were solid, but we were not looking to have that “big hotel” experience. This was my group’s first trip to CR and being a former travel agent I really wanted to get it right. The most helpful information I can pass along to other travelers is—if this is a concern of yours also—please worry no more, look no further. Our expectations were exceeded and I was very happy we chose Parador over the other hotels. (I even went as far as to visit the public areas of two others while there)
The outside grounds and views are absolutely stunning. For the inside decor think "Spanish Galleon"--large Spanish medieval artifacts, black iron stair rails, and intricately carved dark woods. The service was excellent; the staff was always friendly and attentive.
We stayed in one of the “tropical” rooms since we were traveling with our 11 yr old son (separate building for families). The beds were comfortable, upscale linens, a/c & wi-fi worked great, and although the room was not extravagant--we did find that necessary as we prefer to spend our time enjoying the common areas when not on tours. I liked the convenience of this building being very close to the main area.
Others in our group that were childless booked one of the luxury rooms in the adults only area.
I highly recommend going this way if you are able. They had a private hot tub on their balcony and the views were breath taking. As other reviewers have mentioned, this hotel is built at the top of a long winding road into the side of a mountain. As a side note--every time I walked by the adult only pool on the way to their room there was never anyone in it, so if you need privacy and quiet it is certainly there.
We did not have a rental car while in MA and did not need it. Cabs are cheap at $10 each way to any restaurant in the area, and of course there is the daily complimentary hotel shuttle from the national park that you can sign up for in the lobby.
There is a small, public beach within walking distance of the resort. Let them golf cart you down to the trail entrance if possible. The road is steep and narrow,and it is a 15 min (?) walk each way-- you should wear appropriate shoes. Personally, I prefer the larger beaches close to or inside the MANP, but this is a nice option for those that don't feel like going into town.
If I had any complaint at all, it would be that the drinks served at the pool bar had very little alcohol in them. It was mid June during our stay, which is summer break for families in the US but the hotel was never crowded at all. We always felt comfortable and well taken care of. After five nights I was sad at check out and not ready to depart! They have a wall of celebrity photos in the lobby who have been past guests, and I understand why. We enjoyed our time immensely here and I would go back and recommend this resort without hesitation.
Just a little tip on souvenirs, I was told buy a local expat I could buy just as well at the airport and unfortunately waited to do most my shopping on departure.
This only goes for coffee—it is the same price in the Britt shops in the airport as it is everywhere else in the country—and perhaps alcohol. However, if you want anything else make sure to get it before hand. There are two ample gift shops on premises of resort that I wish I would've made use of.

Room Tip: If traveling without children choose the luxury suites with a view!
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank rockmama12052
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 11, 2013
We’re thrilled to know you had such a fantastic time! Your review was so detailed, we’re sure you’ve probably made more than a few readers fall in love with Costa Rica and Parador before they’ve even visited us. We agree: Manuel Antonio National Park is a real treasure, and we think our staff is, too. We put every effort into making sure our guests have an exceptional vacation, and we’re always glad to hear that we’ve exceeded our guests’ expectations!

We hope you brought a camera to take some of the memories home, and we thank you for taking the time out to let everyone know what a great vacation you had. Gracias and come back soon!
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Denton, Texas
Level 6 Contributor
314 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
Reviewed July 9, 2013

As we wait for our ride to the local airport, I thought I would share my experiences at the Parador. First, it is a big property, so do not expect boutique type experiences. Our room had a great ocean view and was well maintained. We found the service staff to be friendly and accommodating...maybe it is the way one treats service personnel. I don't know, but I would praise the hotel staff. We arrived at check-out time on a Sunday as a big wedding party was leaving. The staff was swamped, but we were provided drinks and nice cool damp towels, and were looked to as soon as possible. The breakfast buffet was very good as were the little tapas snacks we had. With the large breakfast and a lunch out we never found it necessary to try a restaurant for the evening meal. But, enjoyed happy hour drink prices while we snacked and watched folks enjoy the beautiful pool. This was the end-stay to our Costa Rican vacation, and the Parador provided a great experience after spending time at Areanal and Monte Verde. We would certainly recommend this property to anyone...family, singles, newly married, etc. when back in the area, we would definitely consider returning.

Room Tip: We had room 418...nice ocean and forest views...not far from the main reception, breakfast and resta...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank MarkMM55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 11, 2013
We love to read reviews like yours! Thank you so much: our staff is a huge part of the Parador experience, and when we hear that they made someone’s vacation so special, it just makes us so proud. Costa Rica is known for its friendly people and warm embrace, so we’re glad to know we’re representing our country in the best way possible. Come back and see us soon: your ocean view room is waiting!
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
Level 5 Contributor
70 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed July 7, 2013

This was the last stop on our trip and by far the most high-end. The hotel is beautiful. The rooms are clean and large. The pools are beautiful and there is an adult only one to avoid the little children if desired. On a rainy day we went to the spa and got our nails done and hung out in the hot tub. We saw monkeys, sloths, and iguanas all from the hotel walkways.

The staff is very helpful and the shuttle service into the town makes everything very convenient. On our last day, they gave us an extra room to clean/shower in since we had to check out before we were leaving. They also gave us umbrellas to go out in the town with when it was raining.

We walked down to the beach from the hotel. We saw squirrel monkeys and swam in the calm warm water.

The breakfast was an extravagant buffet. For lunch we had sushi there two days which was very good and the bar serves some nice drinks including a very reasonably priced happy hour menu.

Overall, it was a wonderful stay, I'm very glad our only VERY rainy day on the trip was here rather than somewhere else because there's so much to do and see either way.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank kralphie711
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jrodriguezarroyo, General Manager at Parador Resort and Spa, responded to this review, July 11, 2013
Muchas Gracias! We are very happy you had a very nice experience at Parador. Yes, indeed, our guests have the opportunity to enjoy tons of monkeys in the hotel’s surrounding jungle. In fact. Parador has three different varieties of monkeys including the endangered Titi Monkey which now lives in our private reserve.
We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at Parador and look forward to welcoming you in the near future!
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Additional Information about Parador Resort and Spa

Property: Parador Resort and Spa
Address: | Punta Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manuel Antonio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#4 Luxury Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#5 Spa Hotel in Manuel Antonio
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Parador Resort and Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 121
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Parador Resort & Spa, Costa Rica’s premier eco-luxury resort. Sitting high above the Central Pacific coastline, this award-winning hotel is built on 12 acres of rainforest in beautiful Manuel Antonio, just minutes from Costa Rica’s best beaches.Known for its dedication to preserving and protecting Mother Nature as well as its first-class amenities, Parador offers a long list of activities for your enjoyment and a staff ready to accommodate your every need. Experience inspired cuisine. Take a walk along a white sand beach. Swing through the rainforest canopy. Or simply relax and take in the view from your splendid suite. It’s all about responsible luxury, pura vida style. Parador Resort & Spa… Where Green Is More Than Just A Color. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Resort Parador
Parador Resort And Spa Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio

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