Paradisus Playa Conchal Reviews

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Paradisus Playa Conchal  

Bahia Brasilito, Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

"Truly a 3-star hotel for the price of a 4-star resort"
Posted by: Norm on Apr 14, 2011
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Paradisus Playa Conchal Reviews
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Paradisus Playa Conchal Costa Rica Costa Rica

#5
of 28 Hotels in Costa Rica

User rating 3.9

Based on 9 reviews

Paradisus Playa Conchal Information


Nestled in the green forests of Costa Rica's magnificent North-Pacific Riviera.

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Paradisus Playa Conchal Reviews

Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 3.9 of 5 9 reviews
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"Truly a 3-star hotel for the price of a 4-star resort"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 3.0 of 5

Posted by:  Norm  on Apr 14, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Apr, 2011 | Business | Family and Kids
314 people found this review helpful

The staff is very friendly and certainly personifies the Costa Rican hospitality. The dinners in most of the restaurants is very good to excellent with good to very good service. Rooms are adequate, well designed, but miss with details that I would expect with this pricing.

Room Number:
344

Room Block:
34

Arrival:
Reception was well done and really encouraging since we arrived relatively late and it was dark. Staff explained the facilities well and what was and non-inclusive. The big up truck with rows of bench seating will remind you of something out of Disneyland, but is a walking path road hog. The vehicles are load, too big, smelly and are road hogs that should be discontinued. For Eco-friendly place like Costa Rica, I could not believe that they don't use extended length with extra horse power golf carts. This would work better to for sharing walking paths with pedestrians. The drivers roar around the resort too fast and I can't tell you how often we had to dive out of the way for safety. Don't let grandma, the handicap or small children an arms length away on the paths, otherwise they might get hit by these huge mack tracks that race these paths.

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"go for the weather"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  steve  on Feb 24, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
367 people found this review helpful

flew Canjet...never again, 737 aircraft very narrow seats, we booked "select" seating but they still tried to charge us for wine...12 hour delay on return flight because Canjet forgot Liberia airport does not open until 6.00 AM
...Costa Rica is beautiful but full of challenges...very friendly, polite people & tipping is not even expected ( unlike Mexico)...weather was 35 C every day & 27C at night with little humidity...on the Pacific side they have had no rain since the first of December...there are no private beaches in Costa Rica, so the resort ended at a public road bordering the beach where vendors set up their wares...the beach sand is coarse ( crushed sea shells) & the drop off @ the Paradisus was 3 feet with a tremendous undertow ..poor swimmers should not swim there...
...Paradisus offers tours ...we took the Arenal volcano / hot springs tour...be prepared for a 10 hour day @ $336 US per couple...the bus ride through the rainforest to the interior is 3 hours, we took a boat to within one kilometer of the active volcano , picture taking was poor due to clouds etc...the grounds of the Hot Springs is beautiful however beware , sunburns & hot water do not mix well, also beware bar drinks...one beer ( Imperial ) & a diet coke was $11 US.Buffet lunch at the Hot Springs was tolerable but supper at the open air restaurant on the way home was not.

Room Number:
123

Arrival:
Liberia airport is an open air structure with few amenities & surrounded by fields of sugarcane.The bus to the resort was comfortable & the ride was 75 minutes

Rooms:
Rooms were very nice,& clean...bathrooms need some work , old style tubs with shower that you have to get in the tub to turn the shower on...you need a room key to turn on the electricity...which died twice during our weeks stay... our room 123 bordered the 18 th fairway of the Reserve Private Golf Course...a round of golf will cost you: $150 for 18 holes. $20 for my wife to drive the cart, $44 for rental clubs, $26 eco fee & $62 for one dozen golf balls...sorry I love to golf but I could not justify the expense

Restaurants and Bars:
Four a la carte restaurants...all good, you need reservations ( or so they say) we never had a problem getting a seat ( with or without a reservation)...Gabi's you have to pay $10 per person extra to dine...the rack of lamb is fabulous...but surf & turf was an additional $18 per person...they have a dress code for these restaurants ( no shorts or sleeveless shirts or sandals allowed) but no one enforced the dress code so we wore shorts & sandals the rest of the week...there is one International Buffet , not air conditioned & the food was just OK...all the wine comes from Chile so is quite good...there is one swim up bar at the one pool...the swim up stools were always busy but the opposite side of the bar was not...drinks are quite week not sure whether they had any alcohol in them...

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
one pool , OK ...
Beach...poor
Grounds ...well maintained but they have a trolley service ( the resort is not that big, I don't know why they needed one)...these are not golf carts but 1/2 ton trucks pulling small trailers for luggage...you had to get off the walkways to allow these trolleys to pass...
...there is lots of wildlife...birds, iguanas ( big ones) , pizote, a curious blend of raccoon, monkey & skunk...monkeys, Howler & White Faced...all plentiful on the grounds

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Other than the Arenal Volcano tour ( after one 10 hour day) we did not to spend another tour on a bus...we spent lounging around the pool ...we took a taxi to Tamarindo ( the surf capital of Costa Rica)...but be prepared for over priced souvenirs & poor restaurant food & service


Even at the pool you will have the noise of vehicles from the public beach, the smell of smoke from campfires on the public beach etc...there is no service at the pool...

Other Comments:
Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful but expensive. They pay as much for gas as we do in Canada so anything vehicle related is very expensive...the people are charming and very friendly...it is virtually an agrarian country...they farm pineapple, mangoes, coffee,sugarcane, teak & rosewood trees...

...would I return...not to the Paradisus Resort, to Costa Rica...probably not

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"Poor experience... Not worth it!!!"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 1.0 of 5

Posted by:  Mauricio  on Feb 14, 2011  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Dec, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
353 people found this review helpful

Our group consisted of 17 people and we occupied 9 rooms between December 25th and January 2nd/ 2011.

Overall our experience was like a three star hotel for the price of a five star hotel... it felt like a Carnival Cruise.

Upon our arrival to this isolated locale, we encountered a “bait and switch” (as did other guests we later found out) of selling an upgrade for a considerable amount of money to change rooms so we could all be together near the pool with oceanfront rooms and better service. The oceanfront rooms had no open balconies and with good reason. They were facing the public beach (dirty) with all sorts of vendors, a road and a parking lot where people slept and barbecued all week long, as well as vomiting and other things within 15 feet from the rooms. The hotel website does not say the beach is private but the pictures and descriptions are most definitely deceiving. Meanwhile, the oceanfront rooms and bathrooms were old with toilets and water pipes not working properly.

Although the upgrade included family concierge services, we never received most of the services stated on the website.

Two rooms were moved to the Royal Service, where at least there were balconies and the rooms were relatively new, although the big suite had no outdoor furniture except for a picnic table! In the Royal Service pool area the furniture was old and in bad condition while the regular pool had new and superior furnishings not to mention an overall better appearance.

The menus at the different restaurants (which were not really eight as stated on the website) never changed during the week and the food was average to say the least. Liquor was of mediocre quality. I have traveled quite a bit and have eaten food in many places and in different situations and again I feel that I have to compare the resort to a Carnival Cruise. Wine was only served by the glass although we had a table of 17 people every night. On New Year’s Eve we had two bottles of the House Sparkling Wine for the table and we were charged because they were not served by the glass!

There was no bar service (although the website claims there are 5 premium bars and lounges) for cocktail hour except by the pool where you had a barman working and no waiters to serve drinks. We ended up setting up some tables at the royal service pool and getting our own drinks every night before dinner and having to ask for glass instead of plastic glasses.


The only positive aspect of our experience at Paradisus Playa Conchal was the excellent staff that went out of their way to accommodate us which made our vacation bearable.

If you have traveled the world and eaten at the greatest restaurants then this is not the place for you. If you are content with 3 star cruises then this is the place for you.

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"Things to Do at Playa Conchal Paradissus"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  George  on Oct 7, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) United Kingdom
Visited on: Oct, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
372 people found this review helpful

Before signing up to any offical tours via Swiss travel go down to the Beach gate and just ask for Alex Rabbit. Once you have found him do a deal for the ATV Tour up to the canopy (zip wire)ride. It is a blast.

The boat - fishing and snorkelling - excursion is also great.

If you play golf - take your own clubs with you. The course - which is RTJ designed is a test especially when wet. It plays every inch of the 7,000+ yds. If you play early (tee off at 06.30) you can be finished and back for breakfast with the bride for 10am. Voila - everyone is happy.

All in all a good trip and good value.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
See above

Other Comments:
Great trip, great venue.

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"Can't go wrong with this all-inclusive"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Crissy  on Mar 10, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | Family and Kids
366 people found this review helpful

We traveled with two children 9 & 6 yrs old. This resort was the second half of our week after coming from the Tabacon Grand Spa Resort at the Arenal Volcano. (Which by the way we highly recommend for every traveler to Costa Rica.)

So after doing the rainforest/volcano thing we wanted an all-inclusive family friendly resort at the beach. A beautiful resort where we could relax and have the choice to do any number of activities from the various costa rican tourist activities to the various water sports that most beach resorts offer. ...And lucky for us we did in fact find what we were looking for at the Paradisus playa conchal.

We stayed in a family concierge suite and it was well worth the small increase in price. We were treated like kings. The kids get spoiled with goodies likes t-shirts and cookies but the real benefit is the concierge service that you have all day long! They are practically by your side when you are at the pool (beautiful) serving you drinks, food, discussing dinner reservations, giving suggestions for activites, and they will pretty much drop everything to get you what you need immediately. Whether you are at the pool, in your room or anywhere in the resort. You don't have to lift a finger (except to take care of your own kids ;).

The only small downside was the beach. The beach is beautiful however it's not private to only the resort. So you walk out of the resort gate and you have to wade through local vendors selling you their goods and services. So you kind of lose that luxury resort feel while you are at the beach section. But overall, there any many good things at the beach which is that it is close to the pool area, you have the choice to do many different water activities and many that are included in the all-inclusive price, and that the beach is nice with fairly soft sand and some waves for body surfing.

So if you are looking for a good all-inclusive resort you will be happy with this choice.

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"Paradise!"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Deborah & Bill  on Feb 28, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
404 people found this review helpful

Deborah & Bill would like to share this with anyone wondering about travelling to Costa Rica and staying at either the Paradisus or the Riu. We both felt this resort particularly,... is a real gem, a true paradise! The landscape of and surrounding this paradise, is absolutely beautiful, extremely well laid out and has been designed for people to easily get around, due to such an efficient shuttle service. The whiter beach here is very lovely verses the darker beaches in Costa Rica,... and all of the natural vegetation surrounding the beach makes it so picturesque. We have travelled many places and found this to be as good as it gets from our perspective. Having said that, albeit the food was very good, it is a bit of an adjustment in comparison to the, perhaps more refined North American diet. We indulged in the Royal Service package and it was well worth the extra. All of the staff are there to please and this they do very well. They are extremely accommodating, obliging and so willing to please. Our compliments to all staff and just to mention a few names from Carlos the Manager, to Irene, Oscar, Johnathan, Charlie, Luis, Jose, and I apologize for so many others we cannot remember their names. Just know that each and every one of you that work there and make a point of doing the best job you can to make it such a pleasure for your clientele, deserve high accolades and a big thank you from many. In Cost Rica "pura vida" is their motto, which is spanish for "pure life". This expression is used there in many forms, from a greeting, to a synonym for "excellent";...also a synonym of "hakuna matata", translated...life is wonderful, enjoy it! This pure life, relaxed lifestyle of ticos (the self appointed slang term Costaricans chose for themselves), is much to be admired. We truly now have a very genuine appreciation for the Costarican culture and the very beautiful race of people they are. They are educated and charming and very down to earth and make foreigner's feel very welcome on their turf. We had a wonderful 2 weeks in Costa Rica at the Paradisus and then spent the 3rd week at the Riu, which felt like a step down in comparison. See "Other Comments" for a further review of the Riu.

Other Comments:
The Riu was a very different establishment. The food was adequate, similar to any resort such as this. The pools were definitely not as nice, nor was the beach compared to the Paradisus. This was the darker beach sand, hotter to walk on with a lot more rocks and tougher surf to get in and out of. The night life here would be to some, perhaps a little more entertaining, but we would say that overall, it was not nearly as relaxing or as conveniently laid out to the bar, the beach etc.,...as was the Paradisus. On another note, the staff at the Riu would be well served to take notice and mimic the way in which customer service is executed at the Paradisus and the professionalism displayed by all the staff. Kuddos to management at the Paradisus, as they very obviously work hard at trying to ensure good customer relations. Not to sell others short, many staff at the Riu were wonderful however, the establishment just seemed to overall lack the same consistency and polish that was displayed at the Paradisus. I hope our comments will help others travelling to either of the resorts; perhaps make a more informed decision on their choices. In summary, Costa Rica is a very beautiful place with its own uniqueness, perfect weather and lovely people. We will definitely look forward to returning and appreciating all that it has to offer.

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"Go for the Royal Service, it's very much worth it"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Melissa from Houston, TX  on Jul 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jul, 2009
327 people found this review helpful

Arrival: July 2009:
I must start by telling you we are from Houston, so the humidity and mosquitos at dusk that some people mentioned in their reviews were non-existent to us. The weather was actually cooler than what we left in Houston and we never once got bitten by a mosquito! We did spray ourselves with bug spray before going on the zip-line tour in the rain forest but other than that, never needed it.

Rooms:
We got the Royal Service, and our room was great, our balcony looked out over the pool, where the bar and the Gabi restaurant are. We filled out a request for mini-fridge items to be removed and some to be added and that same day our butler had stocked it with our request! Fresh fruit in the room is very good - try the pitaya, we'd never had it and it is sooo delicious - yellow bumpy looking fruit.

Restaurants and Bars:
We tried Gabi our first night - SKIP GABI. it was a waste of a dinner for us and we talked to another couple who had the same opinion. It is however, excellent for breakfast, they have a big buffet with plenty of different items to choose from. We had breakfast here every morning. The Mexican restaurant is excellent - we actually ate there 2 times because we loved it so much. We had the enchiladas, I had them with green sauce, and my husband had the red sauce and we both loved the enchiladas but the red is very spicy. If you go there one night, you should definitely try the enchiladas! We never tried the Italian restaurant, we were going to but then booked a sunset cruise in our time slot, so we went back to the mexican place instead, but we heard very good things about the Italian restaurant, so worth trying I think!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Pools are beautiful, we hung out at the royal service pool and it was just sooooo relaxing to sit and read a book and when you get hot, you just take a little dip into the pool , swim on over to the pool bar, get a drink and wade back to your lounge chair. There was a man who was supposed to be walking around serving drinks and food but he didn't come around very often so i suppose that service could have been better. The weather when we were there in July is such that it rains every afternoon, so if you really want to get some great poolside time in, go in the morning. Around 1-2 pm every afternoon it clouds over and would rain, sometimes not a lot, sometimes a drizzle off/on but every afternoon there would be some kind of precipitation so keep that in mind when planning excursions or poolside time! The beach is very shelly, not the soft sandy kind , and when the tide is coming in, it's a very small beach area, just be aware of the tides when you set up your chair/stuff, if you plan on hanging out at the beach. we just walked down by the beach a little, we didn't spend a lot of time there. The vendors at the beach area are very nice and friendly, not pushy.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did the sunset tour and it is really great, very very beautiful and just so nice to be out on the water. It is BYOB, they don't provide any beverages, so grab a few beers from your fridge if you'd like those while on the boat. We also did the ATV/zip line tour and that was a blast! Definitely recommend that! Rode ATVs for about 30 min to the zip lining, zip lines for an hour or so and then rode ATVs for 2 hrs, we rode some pretty rough terrain (it really stormed the day before so lots of mud puddles to go through) and then we rode to the beach, out on the beach - that was so cool - this area of the beach was secluded, nobody there at all, as we'd rode through the jungle practically to get there! this was a fabulous way to see Costa Rica off the resort. it was my first time on a 4 wheeler , so it's very easy to do, the guy gave me a mini-lesson before we set off. We booked ours through the desk that is downstairs from the main entrance, by the golf pro shop - we just went to the first guy and booked it. it was $110 a person , we thought that was a great rate for 4 hrs of fun! all of our guides were excellent. At the Royal Service desk they have High Tide for their tours, but it's so overpriced compared to the others.

Other Comments:
If you are going without kids, go for the Royal Service, it's very much worth it. We were taking an anniversary trip without our 2 yr old and especially when it's a mini getaway from the parenting life, you don't want to be surrounded by kids! That said, when we walked around the resort and saw all the kid things to do that is on the other side, away from the Royal Service area, we thought how fun it would be to come back with him when he is older. When you're on the Royal service side of the resort it's so quiet and peaceful and just perfect. We would have loved to stay a little longer to enjoy more tours and more of the resort, but 3 days is all we had.

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"The food was wonderful!"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Lynne from Indiana  on May 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) 
Visited on: May, 2009
323 people found this review helpful

Arrival: May 19-26:
We were in Costa Rica for our son's wedding. Some of the wedding guests preceeded us to the resort, we arrived on Tuesday. We were met at the airport by two limo-buses for our group of 8. Enroute we were given a 'tour' of the Costa Rican countryside, including a stop at a local liquor store to buy beers and 199 Viejo calling cards -- very tasty, the beers that is!

Rooms:
Costa Rica was very humid in May - don't know if this is usual year-round, but air-conditioning was #1 on our list of 'must finds'. Our group had a variety of styles of rooms -- one room had a completely air-conditioned enclosed veranda, while the others were not. Some had two queen beds, or a king, or two queen beds together. All rooms were very clean and completely air-conditioned. One of our group even got upgraded to Royal Service -- VERY nice! We didn't opt for this service due to the size of our group and financial situations. However, we could not have had as much fun if part of our group was in RS and the rest at the main pool. All amenities seemed to be the same for each class -- at least we didn't notice any difference in treatment. We have had up-graded service at many other resort hotels in the past, but didn't seem to miss it this trip. Perhaps this was due to the large size of the group and the many places to go on the resort properties.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food was wonderful! We were expecting some bland Costa Rican fare, but were very pleasantly surprized by the tasty food served for breakfast and lunch. They seem to have Americanized the entrees, but still managed to put a tropical twist on things. The wait staff was wonderful and very attentive. We only had one surly waiter (Gabi's restaurant) and he might just have had a bad day. The Hostesses were gracious and the bartenders were outstanding -- especially at the swim-up bar, which was generally crowded, but we didn't experience any delay in getting service. Some employees that gave us exceptional service were Carolina, Roberto, Minor, and Kenneth. I don't remember the names of the other wait-staff employees at Mitra, but they were great in the morning with coffee and water for us. Several of the restaurants were not air-conditioned (Mitra, 19th Hole, Snack Shack and the lunch area near the pool) but the other restaurants were (italian, japanese, mexican, Gabi ). The Italian restaurant was very good - we ate there twice. The Mexican restaurant was not air-conditioned when we arrived for our reservations, but it was soon fixed. Had a nice experience at the Spices Restaurant (Japanese-style food) - they serve a variety of sushi appetizers so you don't have to pick and choose -- very helpful for those of us who were unfamiliar with sushi, etc. It was a dining experience for some of our group -- but at least they tried some of the foods. The entrees were delicious - for all - and the Flaming Coffee was great. The desserts at all the restaurants were excellent and should not be missed. Every night there was a show at Mitra and most of our group tried to make an appearance there. After the show, it was on to the Disco or the casino. Plenty of things to do at night!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The pool was very warm (to my liking) - probably due to the extreme heat and humidity encountered in May. The grounds were kept up nicely, with very little interruption of our peace and quiet. The groundskeepers even would come to the pool to tell us that the monkeys were in trees near us, just in case we would like to watch them. The beach was a little disappointing -- it was small and there didn't seem to be any service out there, i.e., chairs, blankets, etc. We stayed in the pool most of the time, but would have enjoyed being on the beach if there were accommodations. The beach vendors were entertaining!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We had a bad experience with an attempted bachelorette party - the hired driver refused to take us where we wanted to go - only taking us to the disco he recommended -- we ended up going back to the hotel and trying to continue our party there. Suggest you get something in writing when dealing with the drivers - they may be getting 'kick-backs' from the different bars/restaurants in Tamarindo. We did end up getting back our $120 - but it took some talking. Our group went ATVing several times and each time got a different view of the countryside. The men golfed - the course looked beautiful, but it was just too hot/humid to attempt golfing -- they quit after only 13 holes and opted for the swim-up bar in the pool. Some of the group went to the rainforest and others went zip-lining. Some also used the spa facilities and seemed pleased with them. The major activity of our large party was "The Wedding" which was held on Friday. The Romance Director didn't have a pleasant attitude toward the event and after many 'hiccups' in the planning stages, the wedding went off as planned. The 'reception' was held in the disco and the food served was amazing. We all had a great time eating and dancing. The bride and groom then honeymooned in the Arenal area of Costa Rica -- with a view of the volcano.

Other Comments:
Be careful using the phone in the room to call the United States - make sure you get and use the 199 card -- it seemed to be the easiest and most efficient way to stay in touch with the States. I took my laptop and got great signals -- there are wi-fi stations at all the restaurants and at the pool. You can also get wi-fi in the villa near these areas - unfortunately our room was not one of these villa, so we carted the laptop to breakfast every morning and logged on there. No problem. There was a slight fee for wireless, but some in the group with laptops got wi-fi without having to pay for the service. Suggest you try before you buy! We had some problems with Swiss Travel (our travel agents at the hotel) - especially due to language barriers. The majority of the employees that dealt with the public spoke moderate English, which made it easy to communicate. Our stay at Paradisus was great - but don't know if I would go back to Costa Rica again -- perhaps if the humidity wasn't as high in other months -- like when the whales visit offshore, or the turtles make their trip up onto the beaches.

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"In a word, the resort was INCREDIBLE"

Paradisus Playa Conchal
User Rating:  Paradisus Playa Conchal Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Michael  on Sep 1, 2008  >  1 contribution(s) 
Visited on: Sep, 2008
349 people found this review helpful

My wife and I spent our honeymoon at the Paradisus Playa Conchal from September 7 to September 14, 2008.

This is apparently the rainy season in CR... but we did not have one day of rain... it was sunny and hot the whole time!!

In a word, the resort was INCREDIBLE.

We absolutely loved most everything about this resort.

I'll try and break down a few things about the resort to try and help you out if you are considering this as a vacation option.

Royal Service:
Some people on this site seem to be opposed to Royal Service and suggest it is not worth your money. Let me disagree wholeheartedly: GET IT. With Royal Service you get access to the private pool (no kids allowed -- which, trust me, when you walk past the gong-show that is the main pool, you'll come to appreciate), you have guaranteed shuttles everywhere (they have Royal Service golf carts that are available exclusively for the RS guests), your rooms are gorgeous and overlooking the garden or pool, and the concierges and butlers bend over backwards to make your life easy. As a shout-out, let me say that Andrey, Ivanna, Ivan and Hector were amazing and we were grateful for all they did. They score you reservations, they take care of your laundry, they refill your bar fridge with whatever you want... trust me,spend the money if you can and do it. And, love every minute of it.

Royal Service Lounge:
For Royal Service guests, every night they serve hors d'oeuvres. This is a great time (between 6 and 8pm) to go and check your email and relax. They have all sorts of alcohol to drink... we made it our routine to have Baileys on the rocks while checking our email and having some appys. Worth it. Plus, hardly any guests go -- which is too bad because it is a real gem in there.

All Inclusive... and then some!:
Everything, and I mean everything, was included. If you want to order 10 bottles of wine to your room, you got it. Room service, 24 hours. Drinks aplenty. Food at the restaurants non-stop. Like my wife said, all the staff there just want you to have an amazing time -- they urge you to have dessert, encourage you to try everything on the menu, drink more, party more... honestly, it is terrific and you want for nothing.

The only thing I would give a pass to is room service... not that great.

Restaurants:
Gabi: Right by the Royal Service pool. Food is quite good. The buffet in the morning is for Royal Service guests only. The lunch is a la carte, but also only for RS guests as well. The restaurant opens in the evening for all guests -- but make your reservations. The food and the restaurant's location next to the gorgeous RS pool make it a hot commodity.

Spices: This is the Asian restaurant. Food is not bad, but I would probably skip it if I had to do it over again.

19th Hole Restaurant - Right off the main lobby of the resort, overlooking the golf course. It is open only for lunch. GO HERE every single day if you can. We didn't realize this restaurant existed until our final 2 days... awesome food. Get the stuff potatoes with chicken and jalapenos. So good.

Faisenella: The Italian restaurant. AWESOME. Make reservations though as it books up fast. Have the chicken breast with the gorgonzola/spinach rice dish. So good. They also have a sketch artist that goes table-to-table to draw your picture, as well as a piano player to set the mood. Very good.

Mitra: Out of all the restaurants, this one just did nothing for us. Service was poor, salad and dessert bar were unappetizing (too many flies) and it just seemed too much like some crappy buffet chains. I'd give it a pass.

We didn't get to go to the Mexican place as it was closed until our final night there. People we met at the resort said it was quite good.

Alex on the beach:
Give "Hightide" a pass -- they are the resort's in-house or contracted tour guides. Mark-up is high.

Instead go and talk to Alex Rabbit (yep, that's his name) on the beach. He has a baseball cap and a black ponytail and is a great guy.

He set us and many people that we met on the trip up for sea-dooing, sport fishing and ATV/Canopy Tour and it was all incredible.

Here's what we got:

ATV/Canopy Tour ($110.00/pp): We were picked up from the main lobby by a local from Brazilito (the neighbouring town) and driven about 5 minutes from the resort. There waiting for us were 6 ATVS (there were six of us) and our guide. All the ATVs were new. The guide even had a cooler to put cold drinks in (raid your bar fridge in the a.m. so you don't have to buy anything). Then from that point you ATV about 1.5 hours up into the mountains/countryside all the way to the canopy tour. This is where you get suited up and go ziplining... awesome... what an experience and the guys who run the ziplining company (Congo Trail) are awesome. Lots of fun. Then after a couple hours ziplining, you get back on your ATVs, go all the way down the mountain again and they cruise you along the beach back to Alex. It was terrific. GO!!

Sea-Dooing ($80-$100pp): Sea-doo was nice and new, worked like a breeze and was TOTALLY worth it.

Sport Fishing ($350 per boat which holds 5): We didn't do it but another couple and some friends of theirs did... they loved it... mahi-mahi jumping, tuna... they even had fresh sushi on the boat.

Alex Rabbit is amazing and will swing you a good deal. Do yourself the favor, get to know him and his team... he's a good guy and just wants to make an honest living.

Seabird Sailing ($85pp):
This had to be one of my most favorite things to do. Go to the Royal Service lounge and ask to book a catamaran day-trip with Seabird Sailing. You will not regret it.

You are picked up and driven to Flamingo Beach where you are picked up by a little motorboat and taken to a beautiful catamaran.

On-board: open-bar and beautiful food. And, it is exclusive versus some massive party boat.

They take you to a deserted island and cove where you can go snorkelling and lay on the beach... it is honestly like something out of Survivor. Just amazing.

On our way to the island, they served us fresh pineapple and watermelon. When we were done snorkelling, they had a lunch of fresh guacomole, meat, cheese, fresh banana bread and vegetables for us to eat. It was delicious.

If you do nothing else, do this.

Trip to Tamarindo ($50 roundtrip):
Go to the main lobby (or if you are Royal Service, have them book for you) and book a cab to take you into Tamarindo. The cab will take you there and then they give you a voucher to give to any shop or restaurant there and they will call and then come back to get you.

Lots of shopping... bit overpriced... beach at sunset is beautiful... surfing is apparently amazing... but I liked staying closer to the resort... Tamarindo was a bit sketchy.

BRAZILITO (about 15 min walk from the resort): Rough-looking little town with a good restaurant. "The Happy Snapper". Go.

Beach:
It is honestly beautiful -- a bit rough in terms of sand and the way the waves come in and pull-back out mean you often get a mammoth load of shells and sand in your suit, but the water is super warm and it is a blast to have the waves crash into you.

Be forewarned though: The riptides are strong. So if you get caught in one, don't panic. Turn your body parallel to the shore and the waves will carry you back in.

Lots of little vendors on the beach but they weren't pushy at all.

Overall, this was a great vacation and I would go back in a minute. Honestly, if you have a week or two to spare, go and enjoy everything the resort has to offer.

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