logo Old Reviews - Doubletree Hilton Puntarenas Resort
Fiesta Resort and Casino

November 2007
We booked our trip to Costa Rica's Fiest Resort and Casino through selloffvacations.com.

From the time we were greeted at the airport, we could tell that the people there were so friendly and excited for us to be there as well! Sometimes I wondered who was more excited for us to be there! They started off our 2 hour long trip to the airport by offering us drinks from a cooler they had in the back - a very nice gesture since were so hot all of a sudden after stepping off the plane! They made the 2 hour drive seem like 2 minutes and stopped whenever we wanted to or needed to.

Our time at the hotel was amazing as well - we enjoyed all the food. Yes the rice and beans is definitely a staple, although there is always sooomuch other food on the buffett that there was always something I liked - and I am a picky eater. Unlike other countries, neither of us got sick at all during our stay! The waitresses all dressed up in outfits that go along with the theme of the night. Some are Mardi Gras night (seafood), Costa Rican, Americana, Mexican, etc. All really good and great choices. The only problem I had with the buffett was that sometimes the service was a bit slow with getting water or something else to drink. We had better service at the smaller buffet (there are two buffets divided by a large bar) Both buffetts seem to display the same food, although we just found the service quicker - as its easier to notice a new person sitting down in a smaller restaurant - makes sense!

As far as the trips go - we did two and a half day trips. Although we travelled with Air Canada vacations - we hardly used our AC representative, as we found him to be a bit hard to deal with and rude at times. While trying to be helpful - he came across to me as very unhelpful and 'slimy'. Instead we found the guy who was running the CAT tours, who seemed to deal with Sunquest and Signature, etc VERY helpful. He was very honest with us. There was still a sense that he was just trying to sell the trip to us and wasnt telling us everything - but he still was much better. WE went on the Arenal Volcano tour through him (although we knew that we MIGHT not be able to see the volcano becasue of the low clouds) Knowing this ahead of time - we decided to go anyways and try our luck. Even if you dont get to see the top of the volcano - you still get to spent the rest of the day and dinner at the hot springs - which is sooooo amazing. Its a different resprt with 25 diff. pools of hot tub temperature water. We spent the day there - and were so relaxed until the ride home. (Take gravol with you if you are going on this trip or any day trip in Costa Rica. Although the roads are not horrible, they are windy and have lots of hills) They always stop though during the drives to break up the drive, and show you cool things like monkeys and coati on the road side.If you take this tour, or any tour with CAT - ask for Aaron! he was great!

Some other tours we were interested in were not offered through CAT tours. we wanted to go to Jaco Beach to take a surfing lesson, which is the closest beach and best for beginners. Santiago at CAT tours was able to get a cab for us to take us the hour drive back and forth to Jaco Beach. For 100$ they will take you to Jaco and stay there with you for the whole day until you are ready to go back to the resort. We were gone from 8-3, and he was AWESOME! Our cab drivers name was Chico - and he gave us a great tour!!!

On the way there he asked us he we had seen any monkeys yet - we had only seen a few from the ground way up in the trees - so he took us down to this woman's house where there were about 10 white faced capuchins that we could feed by hand with bread and bananas that she provided to us! you just tip her and you can play with them all day if you want! lol! Also on the way there, he stopped to show us crocodiles - dont bother taking the jungle crocodile tour - its like 65$ - just take a cab with this guy!! Also on the way there - he had the window down and was able to hear two tucan birds - so we stopped again and went looking for these birds! We were able to get amazing pictures that day!! If you go - ask for Chico!

I guess I'll wrap this up - as you can see we had a great time and would more than definitely recommend the Fiesta. Be advised though - this is the high season for them - so - they go to the fiesta as well as a summer vacation. Therefore, there are a lot of Ticos all around the resort - esp. on the weekends! However! Make sure you are in the new building and you will be set - it seemed that most out of country travellers were put in this building and it was soooo nice. The key is that if you are put in the old building - dont be afraid to speak up - if you ask - they will move you! Its worth speaking up for sure!

Hope this helps!
Fiesta Resort and Casino
Laurie & Hardy  
Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
February 2007
We were at the Fiesta Resort in Puntarena / Costa Rica early in February 2007. We had a great vacation but were initially disappointed with the accommodation. We were first given a room in the oldest building (#1) which was noisy and musty smelling. During the course of the week we were in three different rooms, with the last room being in the newest (#3) which was great. We found Puntarenas to be a good location as it was somewhat centrally located for white water rafting, zip lining and volcano tours, which we did and throughly enjoyed. The staff was friendly & helpful and the food & drink was fine.

I would recommend hiring Juan Espinoza to provide either tour services or taxi services. My husband & I spent a day with Juan and he took us to feed wild monkeys, to La Garden, Grecia, the Los Angeles Cloud Forest, Poas Volcano, and Sarchi among other places. Juan was diligent to ensure we made it to our destinations in good time. Juan was patient to allow us time to explore and not rush us on our outing, he was a polite gentleman, spoke English well and described things along the way and explained customs and life in Costa Rica. Juan can be reached at 506-664-1018 or 506-879-0154.
Fiesta Resort and Casino

October 2006
We went to Costa Rica during Easter last April 2006. This was our first visit, and we had a fabulous time. We are family of four and are planning another trip next year.
We stayed at the Fiesta Resort rated 3+ stars.

Our only complaint is the time of year we travelled. We went during the Holy Week. The roads were heavily travelled and the hotel was full & crowded. This hotel caters to the Costa Ricans and they are off that week.

Unless you put your towel out at the pool at 6 AM, you wouldn't get a chair. We had to line up for everything, even a glass of juice. The Costa Rican guests weren't unfriendly but they just left us alone.The Canadian & American guests, very few staying there, were friendly. Be careful when you are booking your vacation, that was the wrong time of year to go.
We booked a superior room which was large with 2 queen beds. Bathroom and closets spacious. We had a ground floor room opening out to the pool which was great for the kids. We were in the last building, which is the newest.

I read other reviews from other hotels that said they were short towels and face cloths. Maybe this is a Costa Rican thing as the bathroom was cleaned every day but fresh towels came late in the day and facecloths only every other day.
Buffet OK - No complaints. Disappointed in the Italian restaurant though, food was mediocre. We made reservations for the seafood restaurant but they decided to close it on that night so we never did get there. The buffet suited us though, the kids were quick to pick up on what they liked and the chefs would always accommodate them. Snack Bar at lunch was great. Amazing pizza.
Tours were expensive. Allow $ 75 - $100/U.S. per person per tour. No deal for children. But our tour guides were great, spoke excellent English and always happy to answer questions. We went to Poas Volcano and horseback riding followed by zip lining. Do that - it was a lot of fun for everyone in the family.The roads are in terrible condition and crowded so it took a long time to get anywhere, but they tell you this ahead of time so you are prepared. The scenery is awesome so the trip doesn't seem as long.

Ask at the tour desk about the monkey tour. This is a local taxi driver in a 4 wheel drive that will take 4-5 people for approx $25/each to see and feed wild monkeys as well drive through a bat cave. The kids loved it.
They are your best bet to get information. You need to constantly ask questions to find out what is going on, that is the only way you will know. Front desk is short staffed and not friendly. They will not change travellers cheques and currency, so try and do this in town or take U.S. cash in small bills. Gift shop is well stocked and prices aren't bad.
Black Sand - No one laid out on it. Crabs as well. There were surfers but very few swimmers. The ones that did had to empty out their bathing suits upon coming out, the water is rough. If you want the beach don't go there.

But we counted 5 pools at the hotel, and the free form pool is the best for the kids.

For our next visit we would like to try another area of Costa Rica so we can see more of the country.
Fiesta Resort and Casino

February 2006
My 7 friends and myself just returned from Fiesta Resort and casino. We had a great week because we met about 12 great Canadians to hang around with and we had a great personal tour guild (lots of fun).

The resort is good enough for the money you pay, the food is average as is the entertainment and accomadation.

If you get a standard room they will put you in the old section in the 1100`s, these tend to be alittle moldy smelling but as far as rooms go they were very clean and good enough.

The hotel had about 75% Costa Rician guests, and all the entertainment was done in Spanish. Very little english is spoken there and very few employees speak english although everyone was very friendly. The grounds are very nice and well kept up except the main pool which got really dirty and wasn`t cleaned for 3 days. The disco was smelly and full of 16 year olds so you never really felt comfortable there.

You can see lots of wild life running around the resort which was really neat, iguanas, birds, crabs and lizards but hardly any bugs.

The beach was hardly used by anyone as the sand was so hot and the water murky because of the sand colour and around the pier was full of crabs. They had 5 nice pools so you didn`t need the beach anyway.

As far as tours go we had a guy named Dimas take us around for less than half of what the resort tours wanted. Resort tours ran from about $89. to $110. Our guy took us out for about $35 to $45 dollars. Dimas was able to get us discounts at some shops and took us to places we never would have seen. He called the monkeys from the trees and we were able to feed them by hand. He spoke great english and we learned lots about the culture from him. You can call him when you get to Costa Rica his phone # is (home) [-] (cell)[-]. The staff at the front desk and the gate know Dimas. He made our trip.

All in all we had a great time. To enjoy Costa Rica fully you must leave the resort and see the country its so beautiful. Just know thats its a 3+ star and you get what you pay for.

***** By the way their summer holiday runs till the first week in feb so if you don`t like kids go after this date.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
June 2005
We just returned from Fiesta Resort (June 25, 2005) and were very satisfied. If we ever return to CR we will probably stay here again but only for a day or two.

Here are a few quick tips about the resort:
1) The resort is located on Route 23 and is 1km south of Puntarenas. You would think the website would have an address and directions, but it doesn't. Also, no one will ever respond to an email you send to the addresses on the "contact us" page.
2) Stay in the new building unless you can get an odd # room in the 600's. These are 1st floor poolside with a sliding door to a little patio and the pool. Room 643 is the closest to the gulf (not ocean). We had 637 and were happy. My son was out the sliding door an in the pool by 7am each day. Never take a room in the 700's (2nd floor) or 800's (3rd floor). These rooms don't even have a balcony. They will be opening more new buildings in December 2005.
3) Have a Tico or someone very fluent in spanish book the reservation. Costa Ricans will get quoted a lower rate than foreigners ($150 rather than $180).
4) Resort definitely caters to the Costa Ricans who make up about 80% of the guests. The shows and activities are are almost entirely in spanish.
5) Pools were very nice and large. I wish they had a water slide.
6) The gulf/ocean is very dirty and smells, but had ok waves for boogie boarding.
7) Food was good, especially the beef. We were disappointed in the Cana Brava seafood restaurant, which had no lobster, prawns or shrimp dishes as entrees. We went into Puntarenas to the La Yunta Steakhouse and had an excellent lobster dinner for 7000 colones/$15. The italian restaurant was much better and air conditioned. Cuban night is a good night to go to the italian restaurant.
8) Tip everyone in person on the last night of your stay. I wish they had a tip arrangement like on cruises. We left in the morning and only got to tip the maid and a waiter.
9) Spray yourself with a bug spray with deet for the late afternoon and evenings to avoid mosquito bites.
10) You might want to avoid returning to the resort at night if you have young kids. Hookers line Rte. 23 between Puntarenas and the resort.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas

May 2005
We are a family of three adults and enjoyed the all-inclusive Fiesta Resort and Casino, located in Putarenas, Costa Rica. We flew to Costa Rica on Martinair. Upon landing, collecting our luggage, and walking through customs, we were met by our driver named Dimas who held up a large sign with neatly printed letters of our name. (Before flying to Costa Rica, we contacted the resort to arrange for a driver to pick us up at the airport.) We quickly discovered Dimas to be extremely knowledgeable, personable, and spoke good English. He had a large, comfortable air-conditioned van. On the 90 minute drive to the resort, Dimas pointed out and described various vegetation and plantations we saw from the road, such as coffee and sugarcane plantations. We drove up and down hills until we reached a guarded entrance to the Fiesta Resort. The fare Dimas requested was just a flat rate of $70, which covered all three of us, and the rate would still have been the same if we had more people in our group.

We arranged all tours, except a catamaran boat tour to an island, through Dimas and we are thrilled to recommend him for tours. With him, we went on the Crocodile Man Tour, visited Manual Antonio national park, and visited the Arenal Volcano and Tabacon Hot Springs. All tours were amazing and worth every cent. Three reasons why we toured with Dimas rather than the tour companies at the resort: First, Dimas took us when we wanted to go, whereas the tour companies usually offer only one type of tour once per week. Second, Dimas personalized the tour and allowed us to choose where to stop and for how long, whereas the tour companies have a strict schedule to follow and travels with a larger group of people. Third, Dimas charged rates significantly lower than what the tour companies charge!!! This guy is the best because he knows the country, culture, language, makes awesome recommendations, and has super low rates!!! You can contact Dimas Saravia A. for transfers and tours at 506-663-0602 (phone), 506-396-4864 (cell), 506-663-3597 (fax), or email dimasa@racsa.co.cr

After checking in and arriving at our standard room, which had two full beds and one bathroom on the first floor, we were not satisfied because the room had a moldy odor and no view. We reported this to the front desk and requested another room. Immediately, we were re-located to another room, located on the third floor in a new building (our new room number was in the 800 series) with the assistance of a bellman. Upon entering the room, we noticed that it wasn’t just a hotel room we entered, but a living room with a sofa and two arm chairs. Exploring further, we discovered two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two wet sinks, two televisions, and a dinette set. All with a view of palm tree fronds and the pool area beyond. Best of all, the suite was an upgrade at no additional charge, had cold air-conditioning, and had no moldy odor! We were impressed that the staff not only fixed the issue we brought to them, but bent over backwards to make turn this into a positive experience without any hesitation. We also discovered that the staff throughout the resort speaks English well.

The resort has four restaurants: one buffet, one snack bar, and two a la carte restaurants (Italian and seafood). Each night, the open-air buffet restaurant had a theme such as Spanish, Costa Rican, Western Barb-Q, and Seafood. During each of these nights, the staff dressed accordingly. Buffet breakfast includes fresh fruits and juices, bacon, sausage, cereal, French toast, various types of bread, and three stations of cooks ready to prepare omelets, poached eggs, and tortillas. The snack bar is located near the pool and beach and served hamburgers, hotdogs, nachos, fries, and pizza. The resort’s two a la carte dinner restaurants require reservations. The air-conditioned Italian restaurant is located near the lobby, and the open-air seafood restaurant is located near the pier and ocean. All restaurants had an excellent variety of delicious food and were staffed by attentive servers. For desserts, we recommend the chocolate mouse and the crème puffs.

Five bars are available and open at various hours. The main bar, shaped like a huge sailboat, is located right next to the buffet restaurant. This bar is in prime position to view the stage where the nightly entertainment performs. A swim-up bar serves as an island within a gigantic free-form pool surrounded by lush palms. A pool bar is open in the afternoon and is located right next to the snack bar. The pier bar is open on some evenings during sunset hours. The sports bar is open at night when the nightly entertainment ends. All bars had extremely quick service. Our drinks were always ready in less than a minute and we had them all, including beer, pina colada, fiesta resort, dirty monkey, marco polo, mango tango, fresca Latina, san lucas, and huracan among others.

The nightly entertainment had a different theme each night and is performed by talented dancers for about one hour. Some themes we enjoyed included Legends in Music and Viva Costa Rica. We thoroughly had a blast watching all the shows, which sometimes were funny and other times were so energetic, we wanted to get up and dance, too!!

The Internet café is located in an air-conditioned room containing about five computers and a coffee maker. A password is needed for computer use. This password can be purchased in thirty or sixty minute increments from the resort gift shop.

Laundry service was quick and our clothes were hanging in our closets before sunset on the same day it was sent for cleaning.

One day, we spent the entire day at the pool and beach area, where staff members walked around, offering everybody fresh cut fruit on a platter. How refreshing! Lots of chairs, chaises, and small tables are available with umbrellas and palapas (natural, palm-like umbrellas). The beach is wide, long, and black sand hot enough to require sandals. Tall, long palms line the beach and the resort.

The gift shop, located within the lobby, has something for everybody at good prices and is air-conditioned. Items available included t-shirts, water, beer, snacks, sunglasses, bathing suits, souvenirs, magazines, sun block, hats, and ice cream treats.

Since Dimas, our driver and tour guide doesn’t have a catamaran boat, we signed up to participate in the full-day Tortuga Island tour with a tour company office located in the lobby. For this tour, we were picked up at the resort in mid-morning and driven to a dock about fifteen minutes away, where our catamaran boat was waiting. Aboard the catamaran, we relaxed, had a drink, and rode about forty-five minutes to Tortuga Island, a deserted island off the Nicoya Peninsula. The day was beautiful, the beach white, and the water calm and inviting. On the beach, various activities offered at a small fee include snorkeling and kayaking. After swimming for awhile in the refreshing ocean, we sat underneath a canopy of white umbrellas atop white linen tables where we were served a scrumptious lunch, which included appetizer, salads, main entrée of chicken, and desert with coffee. During the entire time, we enjoyed the sounds from a three-piece band: guitar-like instrument, drums, and xylophone. Several hammocks were available next to a bar serving sodas, juices, and alcohol. An open-air gift shop was also present on the island, selling postcards, picturesque towels, wind chimes, and other gifts. The island had a local, tame young boar and beach cat. Near the end of the day, we boarded the catamaran where on the way back, the crew held a dance contest, which was fun!

Dimas, our personal driver and guide, took us on the Crocodile Man Tour, which was a half-day tour and located about forty-five minutes away from the resort. After we were provided bottled water on the boat, our jungle river tour guide pointed out many species, most of these species were birds, including a flying toucan! Other creatures we saw were Jesus Christ Lizards (getting its namesake from being able to sprint across the top of water), iguanas, and crocodiles. Beyond the river, clouds gathered low and nestled atop trees at the nearby Carraca cloud forest. Later, our boat driver slapped the water with big piece of fish, and then he got out of the boat, and slowly walked to the muddy bank. Here is where our breaths were taken away . . . he lured a huge crocodile about three times his size out of the water, onto the bank, and hand-fed it! Wow!

Dimas, our personal driver and guide, took us to Manuel Antonio national park for the full-day. Our drive to the park took about two hours, which had many plantations along the way, such as teak, paper, rice, African palm, and pineapple plantations. After walking through the park, we stopped at the Manual Antonio Beach, which is a stretch of white sand, bordered by dense green tropical vegetation on one side and emerald, calm water on the other side within a bay. While we were swimming, we saw a huge monkey walk along the beach. After swimming for hours, Dimas pointed out many animals as we walked back through the park, such as monkeys, crabs, iguanas, and a sloth. For dinner, we ate at a seafood restaurant called El Barco de los Mariscos, located in Jaco Beach. The seafood was excellent; the seafood platter consisted of a huge lobster, clams, squid, vegetables and fries. This restaurant serves the best iced tea we have had in our lives!

Dimas also took us to Arenal Volcano and Tabacan Hot Springs. Dimas, first called that morning to friends he knew who live in the area to determine if the volcano’s cone was clear of clouds because many people visit Arenal Volcano but don’t get to see the entire volcano because of clouds and fog. When he discovered it was clear, we didn’t waste any time getting driving there to see for ourselves the Arenal Volcano in its entirety!!! While at the volcano observatory, we saw puffs of dark smoke from the cone, then a roll of thunder before huge rocks were spit out and tumbled, with visible steam, down the sides of the volcano. Behind us, an impressive view of the Arenal Lake looked as if it were a landscape painting. Next, we stopped by the Tabacon Hot Springs for the rest of the afternoon and relaxed in the cold pools while drinking cold drinks. Above one of the cold pools, a hummingbird made its nest. The waterfalls and lush vegetation were heaven.

The day before we left for the airport, Dimas drove us to a local supermarket to buy 100% Costa Rican coffee at cheap prices. He also uncapped a bottle of vanilla, which smelt so delicious, we bought several bottles. Then, he drove us to a shop to buy souvenirs, such as t-shirts, tank tops, postcards, and colorful kitchenware.

Overall, if you are going to the Fiesta Resort and Casino, you’ll have an awesome time, and as long as you have Dimas as your driver and guide, you’ll have the best of times and still have money left in your pocket!!!
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas

March 2005
We always wanted to see Costa Rica, and visiting the Fiesta Resort and Casino in Puntarenas lived up to our wildest expectations. The hotel itself, exotic atmosphere, the variety of delicious cuisine, and friendly staff made our stay in the resort pure bliss. What made the whole experience even more impressive and enjoyable was the entertainment activities that they provided. The "Dynamic Duo", Jose, Jeffrey, Joyce, fantastic dance group, and many others did their best to make our time in Costa Rica not only enjoyable, but extremely memorable. We would love to thank the management of the resort for the joyful experience that we had.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
March 2005
We are 4 middle age women who have travelled quite extensively throughout the Caribbean/Mexico area. This was our first trip to Costa Rica. Our 2 weeks at the Fiesta Resort was one of the best. Upon arrival and throughout the two weeks there we found the staff just excellent - very friendly and most accommodating.

The room was very clean and comfortable, but you should request the newer building which are room #s 600 and higher. The only complaint I would have with these rooms is that there are no balconies and you cannot open the windows, but this may be due to the air conditioning (which you need) and to keep the insects out. The older section of the hotel is not as nice and some of the rooms have a musty smell. But of course how much time do you actually spend in the room?

The food overall was excellent. The main dining room had a different theme each evening with lots of variety. Breakfasts and lunches were the usual buffet type of Spanish fare but the cooks were always ready to give you any special request (I asked for French Toast one morning and after explaining how to make it the cook did a wonderful job). The Italian and Seafood restaurants were very good and the snack bar was great (great pizza and chips). Of course the bars offered good service and a variety of drinks. The fresh juice bar by the pool was wonderful for those who didn't wish alcohol.

The pools were beautiful. Clean and well maintained although the whirlpools didn't work most of the time. We noticed that for those with children there was a wonderful children's program held each day in the pool area. There were activities around and in the pool most of the time for those interested in such things - volleyball in and out of the pool, aquabics, dance lessons, entertainment etc. There were evening shows each night and these were done mostly in Spanish. Some English was spoken but of course we must remember we are visiting a Spanish speaking country. Even so, these shows were well done and fun to see. The Casino was very small but we had fun at the slot machines.

There were many good tours available. We did the 1/2 day Canopy Tour, the Cloud Forest, and the Calipso Catamaran Tour to Tortuga Island and would highly recommend these. We also hired a taxi to take us for the day to Sarchi (a wonderful village inland near San Jose) for shopping at a cost of $80 US. This was well worth it as he gave us a few off the road side trips to see interesting sites.

Overall, I found this hotel great value for the money. The country is just beautiful and the people very friendly. There is something for everyone - adventure or just relaxation. This resort is good for families with small children as well as just adults.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
M & S 
Toronto Canada
February 2005
After months and months of planning our Costa Rican Honeymoon and reading countless reviews, my husband and I found out five days before we were leaving that our original resort had been overbooked and we had been moved to Fiesta Resort and Casino in Puntarenas. Given that we were getting married in two days, we didn't have any time to argue or change our plans and so we arrived at the Fiesta Resort knowing very little about it and without any pre-conceived notions.

We stayed at Fiesta Resort for the first 5 days (Jan 13-18, 2005) of a 2 week vacation in Costa Rica. The second part of our vacation was a bit more adventurous and took us all over central and southern Costa Rica so we were basically looking for R&R from the resort and less sight-seeing, entertainment. Overall we were really pleased with the resort and compared to the resorts we've stayed at in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Goa, India, the Fiesta Resort was probably the best value for money.

A lot of these reviews have covered the details of the resort, so I will only speak to what I found really good, unique or a bit disappointing.

The resort is geared more towards Spanish-speaking guests than I thought it would be. We don't speak any Spanish and enjoyed the opportunity to learn a few key phrases and words. The language barrier isn't a problem and everyone can speak English, but the night shows are definitely harder to follow. We still enjoyed them a lot though! Cheesy, but good dancing.

The quality of food is very good, both in the buffet and the a la carte restaurants. However, we thought that the buffet lacked variety and while each night is in a different theme, the themes are "Costa Rican," "Cuban," "Mexican," and "Spanish" so basically each night is some combination of fish, beans and rice. Excellent food but after a few nights you start to get a bit bored.

The grounds of the resort, especially the pool, are incredible! The pool is beautiful, clean and very big and has enough shade and sun to satisfy everyone. We spent three days just lounging by the pool enjoying the outdoor snack bar and fresh fruit juice bar. This was something I've never come across at other resorts - we loved it. During the day you have to specifically request alcohol be added to your drinks. Otherwise they will give you virgin Pina Coladas, etc. After sampling the drink menu we settled on the "Fiesta Resort" as our favourite.

We did a few day trips through CAT and the other tour operator (affiliated with Air Canada, I believe) - the Arenal Volcano day trip (didn't see the volcano, but had the best meal of our entire trip at the hot springs!) and the Poas Volcano (also didn't see the volcano....don't believe they actually exist). On the Poas trip we stopped in a town called Sarchi for handicrafts and wood souvenirs. Unfortunately because we were only at the beginning of our trip we couldn't buy much (strict domestic luggage limits and didn't want to lug things around), but if you don't have this problem, buy EVERYTHING you intend on buying here. We didn't have an appreciation for prices at the time, but after we went to some other places in Costa Rica we realized that Sarchi was very reasonable (even though some of the wood products seemed expensive at the time). Prices in other parts of Costa Rica were 10x as much.

Although the day trips were fun and well organized, they are very expensive. However, given the options at the other resorts we've been too (particularly Dominican Republic), there is certainly a lot to do at Costa Rican resorts. If you are up for it, I would recommend planning your own trips to these sights or spending more time touring around Costa Rica. It's a very easy country to travel and you'll enjoy your trips a lot more. We went into the town of Puntarenas one afternoon and shopped the market that had been set up for a Cruise ship in the port. I would recommend doing that if you have time. It's nice to get off the resort and based on what we saw in the rest of Costa Rica - the prices are pretty good.

Our room was our only disappointment. While it was clean, there was something 'institutional' about it and it didn't make you feel at ease. The furniture was very old and the room sort of felt dingy and musty. It didn't compare at all to the other resorts we've stayed at. However, given the price of this resort, it's not horrible.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time at the resort and it was a great way to start our vacation. The rest of our trip was even more fun and allowed for more sight-seeing (Monteverde, Carate, Puerto Jiminez, San Jose), meeting local people and learning more about Costa Rica's wildlife and vegetation. The entire country is beautiful. I think anyone would enjoy their trip to Costa Rica.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
Brian & Meg 
Toronto, Canada
February 2005
We're a married couple in our late 20s and have just returned from a week at the Fiesta Resort & Casino. We must say that our choice was heavily weighed beforehand through reading review boards such as this one. Concerns we had beforehand about safety, food quality and being eaten by spiders in our sleep vanished once we arrived. We constantly felt safe, even in the heart of the local town of Puntarenas; the food was excellent with service to match (yes even in the buffet restaurant); and I did not see a single spider on the resort. Iguanas, on the other hand, are plentiful and provided for lots of photos.

We are not big beach goers, hence didn't mind the dark sand beach with murky water too much, but if you're looking for white sand and clear water, either skip this resort or take some day trips to the relatively close neighboring beaches/towns along the coast. The pools however make up for the beach, as there are 3 of them, one strictly for adult relaxation, the main pool with swim-up bar, and another that seemed preferred by familes with younger kids.

The nightly shows are expectedly corny, best stated as a 9/10 for talent but a 2 for originality. The daytime/nighttime hosts are fun though and keep things moving nicely.

Our excellent tour guide Tatiana (with Sunwing/CAT Tours) explained that we got there right as the Costa Ricans' summer vacation was ending, which was in my opinion the perfect time. But although we had no language barriers during our stay, we were surprised that the kids' activities were totally geared towards the Spanish-speaking locals. Just something to note for if you are thinking of bringing the kids.

Instead of booking one of the expensive day trips, we decided to rent a car for a couple of days instead and go exploring. Lots of places to go, but *watch out* on the roads. I swear we saw cars nearly get swallowed up in the huge and numerous potholes. For a country with such an excellent education system and other advances, you'd think they'd shell out a couple bucks and fix up some of the roads. Some stretches of highway are fine, then all of a sudden you are braking/swerving to avoid huge holes in the pavement that could cause some serious damage. Drive carefully and consider paying the extra $ and renting a 4x4 vehicle. Finally, watch out for speed traps too - thankfully the locals are great at warning/flashing oncoming traffic.

The staff are the type of folk that'll genuinely reciprocate the friendliness you show them, not just kiss up to you because they're being paid to. It pays to get to know some of them.

Overall this resort delivers what it promises, the weather this time of year is literally perfect (7 nights, 7 beautiful sunsets), and the grounds are immaculately maintained. Highly recommended for a couples' getaway or a group of friends.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
Cheryl, Harry, Cyndy, Ron, April and Stu 
Ontario, Canada
February 2005
We have travelled to Cuba, Dominican and Margarita Island, and Costa Rica has been the best trip yet. I'm not complaining about the islands, but there was so much more to see and do in Costa Rica.

The 6 of us are in our 30's and 40's, but there would be interest for any age. I agree with Sarah and Eric's review completly. Tatiana, the C.A.T. (Central American Tours) rep, was at the resort every day for at least 8 -10 hours and couldn't have been more helpful. Anything we needed, including booking the Canopy Tour and Arenal Volcano Tour, to taxi's to Puntarenas, to general information, she was great - we suggest she needs a raise!!!

Our rooms were in the 700's and were perfect. This is the first trip my husband and I have taked that we didn't need to change rooms. Our maid, Scarlette, kept our room spotless, with towel 'creatures' on our bed daily. She even washed a pair of shoes (back to original white) that I was going to throw out because they were too dirty from the Canopy Tour!

The resort was full do to it being the last week of vacation for the kids, but we didn't feel over crowded. The only thing we had to wait for were chairs by the activity/bar pool, and then we just had to search around for the odd one and put them all together. The food, service and atmosphere were all fantastic.

The ratio of Spanish people to English people was probably 5:1, so the nightly shows were sometimes hard to understand, but you caught the jist. We were too busy in the Casino at nights to worry about it. The Casino is the smallest we have ever seen, but kept our attention for 6 nights anyway!

The Canopy Tour was a riot, something we couldn't do in Canada. George, the head guide, was a sweetie. At the waterfall where we stopped to swim, 2 of the guides caught an Armadillo and brought it to us to touch and take pictures. Further along the zip lines a Congo monkey came to watch us.

The Arenal Volcano trip was a long bus ride, but we stopped many times on the way so it broke it up. The hot springs were amazing. It was cloudy and rained while we were having dinner at the base of the volcano so we didn't see much, but it was a good day.

All 6 of us had a wonderful time and would like to go back tomorrow!
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
Sarah and Eric 
Ontario, Canada
January 2005
We are 2 young travellers (18) from Ontario, Canada back from a week vacation from January 9-16 2005, all inclusive, to the Fiesta Resort and Casino in beautiful Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Our trip was booked through Sunwing vacations, and our representative at the resort, Tatiana, couldn't have been more helpful. She is fluent in both Spanish and English and has no problem communicating with any of the tourists.

The flight there was very scenic. We were served champagne and the food was actually not terrible. Flying out of Toronto, you pass over many land masses before reaching your destination. The airport in Liberia is small but was not crowded when we arrived (departure time is another story). The staff there are not overly friendly, so dont be offended if they don't smile or say hello, this is normal. When you pick up your bags, get through customs (one guy sitting at a booth) then you look for your Sunwing representative who will escort you to the bus that's waiting to take you to the resort, 2 hours away. I was a bit hesitant to get on a bus after a 5 hour flight, but it's not that bad. The scenery is outstanding (as is from the plane when you are beginning to land, so have your camera ready!) and the tour guides really inform you about the culture of Costa Rica. Before arriving to the Fiesta, you receive a paper you must fill out on the bus as well as your wristbands and hotel number. This is great as it avoids any hassle at the receptionist desk...you don't even have to check in!

When you get there, a bell boy is more than happy to bring your bags to the room once you get in there and check it out. Ask for a room higher than 600 if you don't get one right away, as this is in the newer section of the hotel and rooms are much better. The a/c works great, though the room has a bit of a musty smell, but is normal for the climate. We had one big bed, kind of firm but I liked it, a table, a sink area just inside the door as well as a seat and a pull out sofa. There is a safe in your room that costs $3.00 per day, however my advice is to use the 24 hour safe at the main desk, it is free and as mentioned, is stationed 24 hours a day. you will receive your safe key which you must keep at all times as well as your hotel key on a shoelace sort of thing.

When we arrived we were starving, so we headed to the main restaurant for dinner. The food here is AMAZING! People who said they didn't eat a thing are just way too picky, and should probably bring their own vacuum sealed food to avoid unnecessary complaining. There are various themes throughout the week however, the same sort of foods are prepared everynight. For example the fish, beef, chicken and pork station is always available. And try the fish! it's incredible...doesn't even taste like fish, I think it was marlin or swordfish, very very tasty. Some themes include Mexican, New Orleans, Black and White (not sure what the significance is here), Cuban, American, Italian and Costa Rican.

Breakfast is great at the beginning of the week, but if you're like me, you can only eat so many omelettes before you get sick of them. There are 2 egg stations there where they will cook you omelettes, over easy, scrambled, whatever you ask for, just make sure to tell them to flip the eggs, or cook them longer if you think they aren't done. I had a few incidents of partially raw eggs, not good. They also have sausage, bacon, lots of bread, jam (the pineapple was my favourite) and fresh juices. There is also a woman at the back of the restaurant who makes fresh tortillas, but it seems only the locals eat them. One thing about the locals now that I remember, is that this resort was full of them at this time of year as it is their summer vacation. They don't talk to the tourists but some of them speak english well, especially if they are traveling with younger children who are learning English in school. Don't be afraid to start up a conversation with a kid!

For lunch we mainly ate at the snack bar which served hamburgers, hotdogs, really great fries, nachos with cheese and black beans (optional) and some sort of pasta every day. The snack bar is open from 12-5. The main restaurant is open for lunch as well, but after a big breakfast and an anticipated big dinner, we stuck with a smaller meal at lunch time. The main restaurant serves the same food as dinner time, but has jello and ice cream as well for dessert.

The 2 specialty restaurants are delicious. The seafood retaurant specializes in mahi mahi...for anyone who hasn't tried it, it has a fishy taste, but if you get it battered, it tates great. I got the mahi mahi with mushroom gravy, it was good but I was not hungry enough to finish everything. Also, they have ceviche (yum yum! it's fish that is prepared in lime juice) as well as the hot appetizers, I recommened the fish fingers, they are really good but quite hot when you get them, so let them cool off a bit before you eat! Also, for dessert I got flambed fruit, and they flambe right in front of you, so it's a good idea to keep you camera with you. The Italian retaurant is very fancy (it is recommended that nice pants and a nice shirt for men are worn, and a nice summer dress for women to both). I had the beef medallions, they were great! Very tender, served with mashed potatoes and veggies. You also get your choice of red or white wine, and if you order the caesar salad, they prepare it in front of you at your table. It's not overly garlicy, more of a mustard taste as it is prepared with dijon mustard. The dessert is great too, I had the cheesecake, a very generous portion I might add as well. You will not walk away from these retaurants hungry!

Just outside the main restuarant is the main bar in the shape of a sailboat (you really can't miss it). If you sit on the side closest to the restuarant, you can still have a good view of the nightly entertainment and it's not as hot as the other side. Be prepared as towards the end of the shows, the entertainment staff like to get up on the bar and dance around a little bit. The bartenders are all excellent! they will make you whatever you ask for, and there is a good selections of drinks to choose from (Bahama Mama's, Tequila Sunrise, Mango Tango, etc..) and if you ask, they will prepare a special drink for you. The local stuff is called Guaro...its is a clear liquor that they serve straight with a lime and a salted rim. Beware...intoxication arises easily from too much guaro. If you are a Canadian traveller, bring some souvenirs for the bartenders, it's like giving them gold. We gave out canada flag pencils and stuck canada flag toothpicks in the erasers for all of the bartenders one night, and trust me, they really enjoyed it. They will also take care of you for the rest of the night if you show them a little appreication and kindness.

It is recommended to do at least one excursion during your stay. As much as they tell you to go for the Arenal Volcano All day tour, don't go! It is highly unlikely that you will see anything, and it is a very long day to be gone from the resort. As well, they will push the all day canopy tour on you and try to scare you by saying that its so popular some people get turned away because there's not enough room..this isn't true either, but it is a good idea to book asap just in case. We went on the all day canopy tour with approx. 22 zip lines, 11 waterfalls, and a natual swimming pool around lunch time, and a nice meal at the end. If you are not into a long hot day that begins with an hour ride up the mountain and another hour on a horse, then the half day tour would be a better bet. There were the maximum 20 people on the excursion with us, and it takes a long time to get from line to line because of the amount of people to get through. We were originally only supposed to have 9 people, but suddenly almost everyone wanted to take part in this trip. You still have to travel about an hour (maybe even 45 mins. i dont remember) but the scenery is breathtaking, have your camera with you at all times! Once you get to the lodge, be sure to get some pictures up there too...just incredible!!

The Canopy Tour we did Tuesday, and we had a very relaxing 2 days off (you'll need it, be careful of the horses if you do the full day, and if you are not an experienced rider, don't say that you are..even if you have been on a horse before, they will stick you with Negro, he is his own horse...literally. At the beginning he took off so I was leading the pack about 5 minutes ahead of everyone else. But all the horses know where they are going, just hold on tight!).

On Friday, we took the Catamaran Tour to Tortuga Island. Each trip cost us approx. $98 USD each. For Tortuga Island, I recommend snorkeling because there isn't much else to do there. The catamaran gets very hot underneath where the bar is, so I suggest bringing your sunscreen up to the deck, wear your sunglasses and bring a hat if you have one. The catamaran had to make a stop at another island to let some older people off for their excursion , and they were picked up again coming home. The island's only income is from the tourists that visit daily but it is a public beach, so many small boats anchor close to shore, and there is a sort of gasoline smell in the air that gets nauseating toward the end of the day, so beware. Snorkeling is advertised to cost 10 dollars per person for the whole day , or 5 dollars per person for one hour. Tatiana the Sunwing rep was mistaken when she told us it was 5 dollars per person for the whole day, so I only brought 10 dollars with me to snorkel. I told the man we wanted the snorkel gear for the full day, but that we only had 10 dollars, and it wasn't a problem. Be sure to ask for a life jacket even if they insist you dont need one. For one thing, it's better to be able to float around while taking pics of all the fish, and there are lots! Way more than I ever saw in Cuba, and two there is a current along the rocks where they suggest you snorkel, so it's a good idea to have the jacket on at all times. The gear is in good condition. You can also bring your own if you have it, and snorkel for as long as you like! Many people have debated going to Costa Rica, for the reason of the "black sand beach". It's actually not that bad..the sand is hot, yes, and it isn't black, more of a dark brown colour, its actually quite nice and different. Remember, you're in Central America, not the Caribbean. Watch out for the waves, they can knock you over just walking in the surf, as well as crabs that might be poking out.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this location to anyone who is looking to get back to nature. You really have to appreciate the beauty and forget about not having the white sand beaches..there is so much more to see and do here that you could really care less.

If you are interested in seeing any pictures from our vacation, or if you have any other questions, feel free to email me at dwhite1228@rogers.com Have a great vacation!!
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
Tom & Lola 
Merritt Island, FL
September 2004
We booked our trip through Orbitz on line. In San Jose we were picked up by The Swiss Travel Service who were absolute professionals and went above and beyond to make sure we had an enjoyable, stress-free trip. The bus driver met us at the airport and took us on the 2 hour trip to our resort pointing out sights along the way. The resort check in was well organized and we were pleased with our 'superior' room. The resort had many amenities. The food was great, even the pickiest eater could find something to eat at each meal. The two special restaurants were great - the Italian one was our favorite, the best Caesar salad we've ever eaten! The Swiss Travel people called us the morning after our arrival to make sure we had a pleasant trip and a courteous driver. We travel a lot and that is the first time that has ever happened - very nice touch! We took 2 trips while we were there that we booked through the CAT agency in the lobby. The half-day canopy tour was great and the guides at the ranch were all knowledgeable both about our safety and about the surrounding farming area.....fruit trees, area wild life, etc. The volcano trip was a long day but broken up nicely with a shopping stop, the hot springs, a nature walk and then dinner at the volcano.

Unfortunately we live in Florida and at the end our trip Hurricane Frances was closing airports and canceling flights. The Swiss Travel people let us know as soon as our first flight was canceled and we made called American for information. When our second flight was canceled the Fiesta front desk people helped us get in touch with the Swiss Travel people (who were already on their way to pick us up for our flight). We decided to go to San Jose, nearer the airport, and see what options were available to us. Our Swiss Travel driver took us to the airport (while pointing our sights on the 2 hour drive) and waited for us while we got our flights straightened out. Unfortunately the American Airlines people were not very helpful and did not give us many options. We left with flights to Miami and then to Tampa (our car was in Orlando). The Swiss Travel driver then took us to the Hampton Inn Suites and negotiated us a rate of $100 (a 10% discount) and stayed with us until we were checked in. I think that again goes above and beyond the call. We were very much impressed with Swiss Travel in all our dealings with them.

There were plenty of towels except the first day when we got a late start. I noticed some of the kids were returning wet ones and getting dry ones so if everyone had kept the same towel for the day that probably wouldn't have happened. They had to wash and dry the wet ones so we had to wait about an hour or so for a towel. Most of the employees know enough English to get by and we knew enough Spanish to make ourselves understood to them. Our favorite bartender was Diego at the El Mastil bar, he knows quite a bit of English and remembered us and what we drank and would have it ready when he saw us walking up. We sat there for the shows each night. And yes, they are in Spanish but you can easily follow what is going on. They also have activities during the day - Spanish lessons, cocktail lessons and one day we went to the cooking lessons where they pulled my husband from the audience to participate. As soon as they saw we were Americans they started translating for us. Everyone we met was friendly, energetic and helpful. Our maid made great towel animals each day with fresh flowers on them.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
July 2004
My boyfriend and I, both in our early 40s, flew from Baltimore to Liberia CR via Sanford FL on July 17, 2004. Our return trip was July 24 for a Saturday to Saturday stay. It was arranged through travelbyjen.com and executed by Vacation Express, Pace Airlines, and Swiss Travel. Overall, it went very smoothly and we would recommend it to anyone. It was the first time for both us to visit Costa Rica or go to an all inclusive resort.

Arriving at Liberia, we got through the airport quickly, saw a Swiss Travel sign, and were led to our driver. We lucked out into being his only passengers as we headed down to Fiesta Resort & Casino in Puntarenas. Although it would have been more convenient to fly into San Juan, we were glad for the ride down the Pan Am Highway and the scenery we got to absorb. Our driver also took us to a Puma Farm along the way; it was full of puma, leopards, ocelots, love birds, parrots, toucans, iguanas, white faced monkeys, etc., seen just for a donation.

I must admit, the ride on Costa Rican roads can be harrowing, but it is what they're used to and I trusted our drivers. They did use both sides of the road in passing other vehicles and in avoiding pot holes, but they did a good job. Pot holes are problematic in some areas b/c the base for the road is sinking sand. Other areas have no pot holes and were a comfortable ride.

We were delighted when we saw Fiesta Resort & Casino. Check in was done in a conference room near the lobby. Many locals were checking in at the same time. They had juice to welcome us. If we wanted anything harder, the bar was nearby. We were thrilled with our room, #841, which was in the new wing. It had an outer room with leather pull out sofa and chair, a spacious bathroom and closet, then an inner bedroom with a queen bed, TV, and a table and chairs. Plus it had a view of the pool and Pacific Ocean/Gulf of Nicoya. We did talk to another American couple who were assigned to a 100s room and it was a dump, but they got to promptly change. Besides this, we heard nothing but good reviews from the Americans we met. As a bonus, most of the staff speaks English, so communication was pretty easy and they were all very accommodating and professional.

The grounds were maintained meticulously. We saw the pool being cleaned several times when we took early breakfasts. The pool does not have life guards, however. We were told that the lounge chairs at the adult-only pool were softer and more comfortable than those at the main pools, but we just didn't spend enough time lounging to take the advice. Lunch trash from food and drinks around the pool and lounge chairs during the day was picked up regularly, so it always looked neat. The four "hot" tubs were interesting - they were recessed areas in the shallow pool with jets, but the water was regular pool water.

We thought that the maid service was wonderful. We often had towel animals or hearts on our bed when we returned to the room after a day out. One night, our towels in the bathroom and on our bed were sprinkled with flower pedals. It was very sweet. I did not monitor how often they changed our sheets, but it was done several times. Early on, we called the front desk to request extra pillows and received them promptly within 10 minutes. We did find the bed to be a little hard and the pillows rather flat, but we were so tired each day, it didn't matter. Other than that, our only complaint would be how long the tile floor would stay wet after the maid mopped.

We both enjoyed the food at Fiesta. The water is potable and tastes good. Rice and beans are a staple morning, noon, and night! We got spoiled having omelets and egg crepes each morning. The evening meals had themes each night. Food-wise, I could not say that I liked everything I tried, but I could always find something else that I liked. We always had plenty to eat and found the variety to be incredible. The fresh pineapple was my favorite. The restaurant is open air (as is the Liberia airport!), but we didn't have problems with insects.

We did not go to any of the evening shows, but we saw bits of them and it looked as if folks were enjoying them. There were often a lot of kids participating, too. During the day, we saw other activities happening that we did not do: for example, volleyball, water aerobics, miniature golf, kid's club, and salsa lessons. We did enjoy the pool, pier, and dark beach, especially the swim up bar. Both bars by the pool were excellent with service. They only serve Imperial beer, but it is a good one. (Pilsen is a good one to try off the resort.) They have over a dozen mixed drinks that they make. Be warned, all the ones calling for rum came with vodka instead! I only found 1 or 2 that I didn't care for, though. The casino is small and lackluster, but we never even went in. We did meet folks who won there, so it isn't fancy, but it works!

At check in, we received 2 vouchers for going to the hotel restaurants. On Monday, we tried the seafood one at the base of the pier and Tuesday we went to the Italian one. Both were exceptional. My boyfriend preferred the Italian; I preferred the seafood, but both were great. The menus had English descriptions, so it was easy to figure out what you were getting. I would advise you put on bug spray before going to the seafood one; it is open air and I got bit before putting on spray.

In July, the sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya is about 6:15. It can be captured fully from the Fiesta pier. People gather there and there is a temporary bar set up right on the pier for sunset viewers.

We used CAT (Central American Tours, www.catours.co.cr) with good success; Tatiana arraigned the tours for us. The prices were reasonable, especially with what I'd researched online ahead of time. There were 3 tour offices for different companies on the premises, so arrangements were easy to make. We didn't bother to compare costs.

On Monday, we took a Canopy Tour at Finca Daniel-Hotel Vista Golfo (half day, $45; see http://www.finca-daniel.de/costa-rica-activities/tico-times(1).htm and go through Google to get the German parts translated) which was worth every penny. It was only about 30 minutes away from Fiesta, located up the mountain from Miramar and having beautiful views of the Gulf of Nicoya. Honestly, the 11 lines and platforms of the half day tour were plenty for us, but they did have a full day tour, involving horses, in which you got to zip over waterfalls not available on the half day tour. We had to pay $10 each extra for the driver, something not expected, but it was worth it. The canopy is in a dry forest (vs. rainforest or cloud forest) and the trees are often rather scrubby. The longest line for the half day course is 700M or about 1/4 mile and it was long enough to really drink in the view. There were 10 people in our group, including one very brave 10 yr old girl, and 6 of us were from Fiesta. We had 3 guides, one of whom was from FL, so instructions in English were not an issue.

On Wednesday, we did the Arenal all day tour (9:30-9:30, $85, driver included) and it was superb. It was about a 3 hr drive each way, but it was broken up well. Going, we stopped at a large gift shop with a beautiful butterfly farm. After that, we stopped for lunch (chicken, pork or fish with rice and beans) and it was very good. The blackberry juice served was out of this world. We also stopped several times as our guide pointed out birds to us and had naturalist's information about them as reference. Next we went to Arenal Lodge (http://www.arenallodge.com/) and spent 2 hours in the hot springs. It was very relaxing, plus they had a poolside bar with great prices. We then had another stop where the naturalist showed us two very colorful poisonous frog specimen. Lastly, we arrived at a great Arenal vantage point. We had a 45 minute hike down into the rainforest and then we waited in the park under a pavilion for buffet the buffet to begin. As we waited, the clouds parted and we were able to see lava flows coming from the top of the volcano. It was spectacular and fulfilled my reason for going to Costa Rica! The dinner buffet and desserts were excellent. The ride home offered only potty breaks for stops and we were back by 10. All the participants were from Fiesta and all were American, except one Mexican couple. Our guide presented things in both English and Spanish.

Our last excursion was on Friday. For $85 (I'd seen $120 online!), we took the Calypso catamaran out of Puntrenas to Tortuga Island. During the ride there and back, the staff served non-alcoholic drinks (alcohol was available for purchase) and many types of sliced fruits. The island is located just outside the Gulf of Nicoya in the Pacific Ocean; it had white sand. On the way, we saw several sea turtles. Once there, we paid $10 extra to go snorkeling for about an hour. A small boat brought us to a tiny island near Tortuga. (Because of our questions about the cleanliness of snorkeling equipment during our past trips to the Caribbean, we purchased and brought snorkeling equipment for this trip - and of course, it was the first time that we actually witnessed equipment being washed with soap and water!) I have never seen so many fish or types of fish in my life. The water is more murky (b/c of the volcanic ash) & coral less vivid than the Caribbean, but the fish were more plentiful than I saw at Roatan, Grand Cayman, or Grand Bahama. The waves did get rough and sometimes it was a little hard to control things, but it was very much worth it. After that, we received a delicious buffet lunch and could relax, do beachy things, or visit the gift shop. I enjoyed an hour in a hammock, particularly when the island pet boar decided to sleep under me! This trip did turn rainy around 3:00, but there was plenty of room in the cabin of the Calypso. For our ride back to Fiesta, we got assigned to a large bus and it was the first time we rode with non-Fiesta tourists. Everyone else was heading to San Juan. We did stress a little that our van driver for the way there was not there for our return, but it worked out fine. I would not recommend Puntarenas for sightseeing on your own. It was the least desirable town we saw: dirty, run down, and sparse, so not really worth visit unless you're doing something specific.

On Thursday, we decided to try the restaurant across the street from the Fiesta, Los something or other. My boyfriend had steak and I had lobster. It was an incredible meal. They add 23% to the bill (13% is some sort of tax and 10% tip), but our very tasty meal came to just $60. Afterwards, we walked next door. The little souvenir shop was closed, but the tiny convenience store was open. Funny, the clerk was Costa Rican, but he learned his English in North Carolina! It was quite unexpected hearing the accent. FYI, he has small bags of Rey coffee ideal for souvenir gifts, with 2 bags being just over $1.

We were warned about July being the rainy season in Costa Rica, but it wasn't bad. I liked it b/c rain made things so lush. Early in the morning, it would be cloudy, but it would usually clear up by mid-morning. The middle of the day was sunny. Late in the afternoon, it would cloud up again. It drizzled several times, but it only poured once or twice. I wouldn't let a rainy season vacation date cause anxiety.

Like for our arrival, we were the only people from Fiesta going to Liberia for departure. This time we were in a van; our driver stopped at a very scenic restaurant for restroom, souvenirs, and photo op. He was great about pausing along the drive so I could take pictures. I would advise getting to Liberia early on your return trip; they search each and every bag very thoroughly and you must throw away anything going into the cargo hold that is under pressure or flammable. This line took probably an hour, but we still had plenty of time. There is a good snack bar there (beer is only $1 and hot dogs $3.50) and the well-stocked gift shop has better prices that I'd seen elsewhere.

We definitely feel like we got our money's worth with Fiesta Resort. It was all inclusive with: a comfortable room, beautiful grounds and pool, gorgeous sunset off the Gulf of Nicoya, free beer and cocktails, 2 elegant restaurants, and a varied buffet. All in all, we had an incredible time and would recommend both Costa Rica and Fiesta Resort highly.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas

June 2004
Our family, my wife and two kids under 5, stayed at the Fiesta Resort and Casino at Puntarenas, Costa Rica from May 29th through June 5th, 2004. And it was not a present experience for us. Everything we were expecting, it turned out to be just the opposite.

First of all, do not believe everything you see and read on the www.fiestaresort.com web site. This web site is very misleading at least to say. The hotel shuttle bus ride from the Liberia airport was about 3 ? hours through an extremely bumpy roads and I must reminds you that most of cars and buses in Costa Rica drives across the double yellow lines to pass slow moving vehicles or pot holes. Make sure that your seatbelts are working properly.

Secondly, did you know that Costa Rica do not have any Rain Forests at all. They have ecological parks. Told me by the resort guide when I got there. Contrary to the most of ads I saw in the Internet about Costa Rica. Additionally, the beaches at the resort had dirty brownish sands and murky waters. The ocean waters at the Pacific Coasts were so dirty that we did not see anyone going for a swim. Most of all near by activities and attractions are about 3 hours away and expect to shell out $120 per person for each one.

Lastly, the casino wasn't much of casino at all. I think I saw more action at the local Fire Station’s Wednesday fund raise Black Jack table then what I saw here during entire stay. The swimming pool’s layout was friendly to the toddlers but the pool had a lot of tree debris and the grounds keeper were hard to find. And I don't think they check the pH levels of pool when I was there. There were enough of friendly hotel staffs in the resort but very few spoke English. And one more thing, the rooms were relatively clean but they looked very tired.

My recommendation would be to avoid Fiesta Resort, if possible, especially if you are beach goers.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas

May 2004
My boyfriend surprised me with a weekend getaway to the Fiesta Resort May 7-8 and it was amazing! The grounds are beautiful and the staff are very friendly. I believe we were there in the low season because we never found any of the amenities to be crowded. We were surprised that we never encountered lines for drinks, food, kayak rentals, towels, chairs, etc. We arrived at 10pm on Friday and the reception desk clerk had margaritas brought to us when we were checking in and then directed us to an after-hours snack bar! The food was delicious and the drinks were tasty! The evening shows were pretty cheesy and would be unbearable to non-Spanish-speakers, but we thought it was highly entertaining after more than a few tropical drinks!

This was the perfect site for a weekend getaway, but I think we would have gotten bored had we stayed longer then 30 hours (we're a little too restless to lounge by the pool for more then ten minutes).
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas
March 2004
My husband and I and two friends booked our holiday at the Fiesta Resort and Casino on March 1st to the 8th. The weather was wonderful! The fiesta has to change their advertising in the travel books and on the web!! We were in a premier room which we thought would be a much nicer room than the others. First of all our bed was so uncomfortable we had to complain the next day. When they took the sheets off, I could see the form of the springs and there were small holes in the mattress! They were nice enough to change the bed after phoning down to the reception to talk to an English speaking person. I then noticed dark mold around the tub in the bathroom. Another call to the desk and the maid came and scrubbed some bleach on it. We had a nice location as our room was 621 and 615 which were off by the kid pool. I asked that a handle be put on the outside patio door as it was hard to open from the other side but all week this did not get done. Too bad, because all the other doors had them.

They did have many people working on the resort and they were fixing the roof of the resort as well. They kept the landscape and surroundings clean. At night we were did not know what to do!! All the shows were in Spanish! No English speaking announcing was done and we wished that we could be involved or get the shows because they did look like they might have been funny, who knows we just sat there and got bored so we went to bed.

I asked at the front desk by Friday as we could see that other English speaking tourists were getting frustrated about this as well. We were told that they did have English speaking shows and we were at every night show all week and "no" there wasn't! We could not go to San Jose' as it was 2 hours there and 2 hours home at about $140 US dollars. In the books it indicates 90 minutes from the airport, it takes 2 ½ hours to Liberia. Weekends at the fiesta must be catered to other local residents that can come for the weekend as it got really packed with kids from Friday to Sunday.

Anyway, our biggest disappointment was the entertainment during the day (in Spanish again) and at night. It was not worth the money.

We were looking so forward to this trip to Costa Rica with our friends and they had never been at an All-inclusive place and found that it was not worth the money. I felt bad because I recommended this resort.
Fiesta Resort - Puntarenas

January 2004
We stayed at the Fiesta Resort & Casino in Punterenas for a week (Dec 13- 20). The hotel was two hours from the San Jose Airport by car. The hotel rooms were clean, and the grounds very picturesque. The pool was very large, and appealed to the very young and old as well. We travelled with our two teenage boys and my 70 year old father and his wife. For our teenagers, they found the stay very boring, as all activities were in Spanish, and they did not understand the language. My father on the other hand complained about the many children and amount of noise. We found the pool area to be very busy, as the hotel sells day passes to locals to come in and spend the day. Needless to say the grounds were always overcrowded with visitors from the outside. The pool area became dirty quite quickly from all the food plates and glasses left around the area. It was also difficult at times to get lounge chairs (which were not cushioned and hard to sit/lay in). We also visited Arenal and the hot springs and would recommend that to anyone.