The Four Seasons on the Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica transforms service into an art form. Staying here is like stepping into an alternative universe where every whim, each desire, and all needs are met with a kind smile and quick response.
Prior to my departure, I expected the resort to be pleasant, but after spending prior summers along the Almafi Coast and on Capri in incredible hotels, such as the Palazzo Sasso in Ravello, I didn’t have high hopes that the beauty of the Costa Rican topography would match my previous summers—I was very wrong. The Four Seasons has chosen a prime spot to develop a sybarite’s resort. Everything about the resort whispers “sheer luxury.” Upon our arrival we were greeted with freshly squeezed tropical juice and cold orange-scented towels. To our delight, we learned that the orange-scented towels would be a staple of the hotel, ubiquitous at points of relaxation, from the beaches to the restaurants. Built on the tip of the Peninsula Papagayo, this haven for relaxation has two beaches with warm Pacific Ocean water, an incredible Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, three spacious free-form pools, four outstanding restaurants, 165 guest rooms, and service that is exemplary. The public areas and the guestrooms are all designed by a local architect to reflect the natural beauty of the area, which never ceases to amaze the naturalist’s curious eyes. Indeed, do not be surprised to see monkeys and lizards roaming the property.
Public Areas: Driving up to the Four Seasons property offered one of the most dramatic entrances I have ever had while arriving at a hotel. It takes fifteen minutes to get from the palm-tree studded gates of the Peninsula Papagayo to the hotel property; however, the fifteen minutes flies by as you view breathtaking views and elegantly manicured lawns. The peninsula is a privately owned oasis that is being changed into an eco-friendly vacation spot, which will have everything from villas to condos to a world-class marina. The drive to the hotel sets the mood for the sensuous impression provided by the open-air lobby. The traditional boundaries of outside and inside are erased as you slowly saunter into lobby. Nature’s beauty is found in the open-air lobby with gorgeous flower arrangements and views of the ocean. It was to my delight that I learned that most of the hotel is open to Costa Rica’s warm breezes. However, as only the Four Seasons can do, the humidity outside seems to be is rebuffed by the invisible line dividing outside from inside. Each open air space from the lobby to restaurant is cool and dry providing a comfortable environment for dining or reviewing the numerous activities offered by the Four Seasons.
There are also plenty of public restrooms, all spectacularly designed in marble and stone. The locker rooms at the spa are graciously outfitted in marble and stone with luxurious seating areas. The bathing products, available only in the spa, are worth skipping a shower in your room, especially the coffee-scented lotion that leaves your skin feeling refreshed and hydrated. The gym area is one of the few areas of the hotel that is lacking in space and equipment. There are a few free weights, a mini circuit, and several pieces of cardio equipment, including treadmills and arc trainers. As in every other part of the hotel, the staff is quite attentive and armed with their orange-scented towels, which is amazing after running on the treadmill.
Guestrooms: The standard guestroom is very large with about 600 square feet. The floors in the sleeping area are a beautiful Brazilian wood. The double-sink bathrooms are marble with both a glassed in shower and a huge soaking tube. All towel and bed linens are Frette and very soft on the skin. One of the best features of the rooms are the screened-in porches that all open up to water views. Be careful here, however, standard rooms on the ground floor (what the hotel refers to as garden-view rooms) do not have unobstructed water views. The foliage is dense in Costa Rica and the higher up you go, the better your view. I would suggest going for third and fourth floor rooms in any of the three main buildings. The suites are very elaborate and large. I was shown an executive suite that had a large living room and an enormous outside area all with incredible Pacific views. The suites, however, are very far from the central lobby. This is the Four Seasons, so golf carts abound that are at the ready to whisk those with suites up the hill to their large abodes. Lastly, don’t be surprised if you have a few visitors in your room. Over a six-night stay, we were greeted twice by small lizards. However, if this is the price of admission, I’d gladly invite the lizards to join me for a cup of tea, after offering them an orange-scented towel to clean their hands, of course.
Restaurants and Food: While the food is not outstanding, as others have commented here, it is very good. Papagayo is good for lunch, but stick to the specials. Di Mare has reasonable Italian food, but not the best pasta. Congo is fun and the meat is delicious and served Brazilian style off of huge skewers. My favorite restaurant was Caracol, which was never full and had some of the best filet mignon I have ever eaten. Caracol also has delicious sides and a large selection of the chef’s special sauces. Try the Bernaise sauce and you will not be disappointed. Room service was also consistent. The service in all of the restaurants was outstanding. One day at lunch at Papagayo we asked for a sliced apple. What came back was a sculptural work of art. The chef had not only sliced the apple, he made a geometric pattern using his carving finesse and created a remarkably designed piece of fruit. This was so amazing that I’ve included an image of the sculptural apple for your viewing. Also, servers usually remembered us, after only a single visit, and we were often asked if we would like our favorite drink before even forming syllables to make a request. I would strongly recommend the Full American Plan. It is only $99 per day and it includes all food. This way you can eat all you want and only have to worry about paying for drinks (coffee and bottled water is included in the $99).
Service: I have stayed at several other Four Seasons properties and I am always impressed with their service, but this was something special. Everyone greets you with a smile and you will often be referred to by name. There was a constant flow of cold orange-scented towels being passed around at the beach and other venues. During both of my rounds on the golf course, a man on a golf cart carrying a silver tray filled with these delightful-wet towels greeted us with a smile. There is even someone who comes around to clean dirty sunglasses at the pool and beach areas. At the Four Seasons, the theme is proactive service. You can get what you want without even thinking about it; there is never any disappointment.
Spa: The spa is beautiful and the treatments were top notch. I strongly recommend the coconut-and-coffee pedicure with Carmen and Randall gives a perfect deep-tissue massage. Make certain you book early for these treatments, as the spa seems to be a bit understaffed. Who wouldn’t want to sit and be pampered as you look out over the Pacific Ocean?
Golf: What a golf course! Arnold Palmer did a beautiful job here and there are Pacific Ocean views on most of the holes. The course also has five sets of tees, so even those of us who are a bit golf challenged can enjoy the perfectly manicured course. The par threes are especially magical.
Excursions and side trips: I strongly recommend doing a canopy tour, which is frightening but very fun. When else will you get to glide through the air like spider man in the treetops? Witches Rock Canopy tour was excellent and it is close to the hotel. We also went on a hike in Rincon de la Vieja Park, which is about 1 1/2 hours away from the hotel. Those of you who like nature and hot springs caused by volcanoes will like this trip. I would recommend J and C Tours for these trips--jandctours. They were very professional, and you should compare their prices with those at the resort. J and C also did a great job of driving us to and from the airport.
1-Getting There: 40 minutes from the Liberia airport—airport code LIR with direct flights from Houston, Atlanta and other cities. The airport is expanding rapidly.
2-Weather: Hot all year with the driest months being November to March.
3-Business Center: Very easy to use with of free internet-ready computers, printers, and other office supplies. The business center has two computers and the game room has four computers. It is also possible to use you own laptop in the area by the front desk via wireless access. Internet access in the room is available but there is a daily fee. If you are simply going to check e-mail for a few minutes everyday, leave your computer at home.
4-Local Currency: Costa Rica uses the Colon (about 500 to the dollar as of August 2005), but everything in the hotel and surrounding area was priced in dollars. You do not need to convert money if you are coming with U.S. dollars.
5-Exit Tax: There is a $26 dollar exit tax when you leave Liberia airport. The hotel will get you a tax voucher for a $2 fee upon check-in ($28 total cost). Make certain you spend the $2 to do this, as the lines at the tax window at the airport looked long and arduous.
6-Dress: Casual throughout. The only dress code is on the golf course where a collared shirt is requited.
7-Toiletries:Every room has L’Occitane En Provence products, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, and after-sun body lotion. You do not have to over-stuff your luggage with excess bath products.
Pura Vida (pure life) as they say in Costa Rica…have fun and enjoy the tranquility, purity and wonder that the Four Seasons offers in this idyllic spot.
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- Also Known As:
- Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica At Peninsula Papagayo Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
- 4 Seasons Resort Costa Rica At Peninsula Papagayo
- Four Seasons Costa Rica
- Four Seasons Liberia
- Peninsula Liberia
- Liberia Peninsula
- Liberia Four Seasons