Whether camping or staying in an Italian Villa, you embark with certain expectations and desired experiences.
If your stay at the Four Seasons on The Papagyao Penisula doesn't meet your expectations... it won't be because they didn't do everything in their power to make it an amazing.
The personal touch:
Beyond an obligatory hello and handshake... Manuel Leal, Resort Manager - Luis Gallotti, Director of Rooms and Rory Rodriguez, Pool & Beach Asst. Manager all made it a point to get to know us; asking how they could optimize our stay and checking in with us multiple times to make sure we were delighted with all aspects of our visit... even asking if they could do anything more to improve it.
It was common to hear the staff say "Thank you, for coming to our country." To each and every member of the Four Seasons staff, we extend our most sincere appreciation and gratitude!
It feels a bit dated but is impeccably maintained. Although, nestled between two broad beaches; don't expect traditional sweeping water views from guest rooms because Costa Rica's conservation policy doesn't allow property owners to arbitrarily clear trees... but that's part of this countries natural and rustic charm.
There are multiple buildings situated close to the pools, restaurants and spa as well as suites and villas offering more privacy but those are as much as an 8 minute trek up the hillsides. Upon arrival we were shown and offered either the room we'd selected or an upgraded suite.
We chose a room on the 4th floor of a closer building, facing the Pacific with large covered porch... a charming spot for morning coffee and candlelight dining. Our view was 60% tree tops and 40% ocean. I'd give it a comfortable 8.
The Hotel Location:
Uniquely positioned on a small peninsula within a hundred yards of two beautiful beaches. The Culebra Bay for sunrise and a lake-like calm; the other on the Pacific Ocean providing more waves and dramatic sunsets.
The property is rather isolated which pretty much, limits you to on-premise dining and requires you to engage in day excursions to get a true feel for the countryside and it's people... which, by the way, can be easily arranged.
The resort has 4 restaurants and a covered outdoor lounge serving food as well. Only two of the restaurants were air-conditioned... although, it appeared a third could be closed and may have air-conditioning. Temps while we were there ran in the 90's with high humidity so we ended up eating diner at the two that were air-conditioned or in our room.
Tico's, the lounge had three TVs, which made watching the World Cup games fun. I discovered a margarita made with mango puree and cilantro and the "Tropical Roll", a sea bass sushi incorporating mango and pineapple, with a touch of teriyaki sauce... both were delicious.
The best of the restaurants was Caracol, five minutes away, at the golf course. Chef Jorge has done wonderful job creating an excellent menu, building his staff and incorporating an organic garden. He came out and told us about his take on food sourcing, menu construction and even an intern program, teaching locals about food preparation.
Ask about the local oysters. Yes... warm water oysters. They were an amazing surprise... sweet and tender. Another must; the local, grass-fed fillet... one of the best steaks I've ever had.
Caracol gets a 9 for its menu, food, ambiance, personal touch... and air-conditioning ;-)
Di Mare is Italian cuisine and presents the nicest ambiance of their restaurants.... but very pricey for what we got, considering the uninspired menu and food. We're comfortable with big ticket dinners, in major cities like LA, Chicago and NY. Di Mare gets a generous, soft 7. Maybe we just hoped for more.
Papagayo's made it fun letting you pick out your "Catch of the Day" from that day's, locally caught fish... laid out on ice for the choosing.
Not all of the restaurants were open everyday, so if you want to try them all you should get their operating schedules early on. For example Caracol was closed on one of the nights we'd hoped to go and of the two nights we tried for Congo's, both were closed.
I'm not equipped to comment, in that we chose to do day excursions instead of availing ourselves to hotel driven activities. But I was impressed with the choices for children. We've done outdoor movies in our backyard... but imagine your children watching a movie, under the stars while floating in chairs in the swimming pool. This is an excellent family destination!
Most excursions from the hotel are a minimum of 90 minutes driving, except for the smaller zip-lining at Witches Rock, about 20 minutes out. The majority of the driving is done on safe, paved road... with the final few miles, often on dirt roads. I never saw rutted paths nor steep cliffside roads like in southern Italy or in the Andes of South America.
Like the local "tour providers" the Four Seasons offers many full and partial day excursions. They are offered on specific days, hold to managed schedules, can be private or group and run as much as 40% more.
Here on TripAdvisor we discovered CostaRicaBestrips.com... and hit the jackpot. Any trip/tour could be scheduled for whatever day suited us.
We tried them for our first trek... The Palo Verde river cruise where we saw lots of wildlife, including 10' - 15' crocodiles and had monkeys climb into our boat.
We immediately signed up for 2 more excursions: Borinquen for horseback riding, the best zip-lining available, hot springs and mud baths. The next was white water rafting in the mountains on the Tenorio Rver, ending with a surprise visit to an amazing water fall, where my wife and I swam in the mist of the cascading waters.
Our guide, Alex, was amazing. He was part teacher, part guide, part entertainer, part cameraman and part chef. He owns a small restaurant, called a "soda" and brought us some of his octopus and sea bass cerviche - soooo good!
Because he wasn't on a schedule, beyond tour timelines, he made a few added stops along the way to show us interesting aspects of the culture, cities, animals and plant life.
I realize I've stepped outside the norm of a typical "hotel review" but only because a trip like this is about the experience. Ours was equal parts pampering, exhilaration, education and entertainment.
It wouldn't have been as pleasurable and fulfilling anywhere else in Costa Rica - or even, Central America - except for here, at the Four Seasons. Enjoy!
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- Also Known As:
- 4 Seasons Resort Costa Rica At Peninsula Papagayo
- Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica At Peninsula Papagayo Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
- Four Seasons Costa Rica
- Four Seasons Liberia
- Peninsula Liberia
- Liberia Peninsula
- Liberia Four Seasons