This is Luxury Travel spent one week at the Four Seasons Costa Rica. It was a week of adventure and pure relaxation. It is the perfect place for families or group of friends wanting to connect with nature. Read on for my review and practical tips.
Getting to the Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
There are 2 options to arrive at the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo:
You can fly to either Liberia or San Jose. San Jose has more flights options, but it is at least a 4-hour drive. We arrived in San Jose and rented a car. The road is excellent and easy but can be slow at a time as some sections have only one lane. The drive is not particularly scenic, but pleasant enough.
On the way back, I flew out of Liberia Airport. It is only 40 minutes away from the Four Seasons, so it was a much better use of my time.
If you have booked a residence at the Four Seasons, you will have a full kitchen and might need to stock up on groceries. There is a Walmart in Liberia. It is about 1 hour from the Four Seasons, so it is best to do it on the way.
Checking in at the Four Seasons Papagayo
Our check-in was a bit of a disaster. But don't stop that from going to the Four Seasons Costa Rica because the rest of our stay was fantastic! Feel free to skip to the next section if you want to avoid my (too long) rant about our check-in mishap.
The entrance of the Papagayo Peninsula is stunning with palm trees and dramatic cliffs views at every corner. We were excited to see a few coatis by the side of the road.
We arrived at 11 am and were told that the people previously in our room had already checked out. Our room would be ready at around 12:00.
We asked them to put our groceries in the fridge and went for a walk.
I call the reception at 12:00, and I am told the room is not ready yet. At 12:45, I call again. I talk to a different person who tells me that our room won't be ready for at least 2 hours as the previous guests just checked out a few minutes ago. By this time, I am confused as we were told differently before and would have changed into our swimming suits to enjoy the pool if we had known we had 4 hours to wait instead of one hour. The receptionist responded in a curt way that anyway check-in is at 3 pm and that I must have misunderstood.
At 3 pm I get a call that our room is ready. They drive us to a room in building 62. The bell boy tells us he has already put our groceries in the fridge.
I realize that my room key is for a different room in building 60. So, I suspect that they gave our original room to someone else, and that might be why we had to wait much longer than expected. Our groceries where nowhere to be found. They brought them after 20 minutes. They were warm, and we had to discard some of the food. All in all, not the kind of check-in we would expect from a Four Seasons hotel.
Our check out was a bit chaotic as well. I was walking back to our room to get a quick lunch before departure when I met a lady leaving our room. She thought we had already checked out and had emptied the fridge. I found the groceries getting warm again on the kitchen counter. I am sure those isolated incidents, but I do think some frustration could have been avoided by better communication between the staff.
The resort at the Four Seasons Papagayo Costa Rica
The Four Seasons resort is located at the tip of the Papagayo Peninsula. It is a stunning piece of land covered with tropical rain forest. It felt like staying in a national park, and we often encountered wildlife just steps from our room: coatis, monkeys, and iguanas were all casually seen around the place.
The central point of the resort is around the reception area. There you find the 4 swimming pools, the restaurants, the spa, and the 2 beaches. One beach is facing the Papagayo Bay, and the other one is facing the Pacific Ocean. Both beaches are beautiful and great for swimming. The beach on the Pacific side also enjoys a beautiful sunset.
The hotel has usual bedrooms but also residences. Boasting 2 to four bedrooms, they have a kitchen and are much more spacious than standard rooms. They are great for families. We stayed in a three bedrooms residence, and you can read my review below.
Upon arrival, I was a bit disappointed by the old looking pools and buildings. The pools look very 80s and are quite shallow. The residences don't really have a sea view or the wow factor of some of the other Four Seasons residences. It took me a few days to really appreciate the spirit of the Four Seasons Costa Rica. They built this resort to be in true communion with nature. This place has not been designed for Instagram.
Review of the Pacific 3-bedroom residence at Costa Rica Papagayo in Costa Rica
The 3 bedrooms residences are perfect for a family or a group of friends traveling together. The rooms are located near the reception amongst the canopy trees by the entrance of the resort. The residences are spacious and great for entertainment and relaxation.
The interior of the rooms is inspired by natural beauty. The color scheme of the rooms is in contrast with the surrounding scenery. The lighting of the rooms is so well-balanced. The wooden furniture makes the room eco-friendlier and provides a partial indoor-outdoor experience. All the windows and doors have a screen for mosquitos, which is excellent if you like sleeping with your windows open with the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep.
From some residences, you can enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Ocean from your room windows. My room didn’t have much of a sea view, but I could still enjoy the sound of the waves. At first, I found the obstructed view frustrating. What is the point of coming for a beach holiday if you can't even see the sea, right? I quickly changed my mind. Preserving the trees and building in communion with nature is what makes this resort truly special. You can barely see the buildings from the beach, and it gives the feeling of being in the middle of nature.
TIP: If having a sea view is essential to you, ask for a residence with sea view. Many residences' views are obstructed by trees, but some do have a sea view. In general, Residences on the third floor have a better view. There are no elevators in the residence building, so if you have mobility issues, you will be happier on a lower level.
Our residence had 3 bedrooms. They were all comfortable with large bathrooms and dressing area. It felt very spacious for 6 people. The insulation is excellent as we didn’t hear the downstairs neighbors for the whole week. We also had a semi-outdoor terrace with a coffee table as well as a large living room with a fully equipped kitchen.
TIP: Tap water at the resort is 100% drinkable, the fridge had an extra filter for purified cold water so no need to use plastic bottles.
It is a great place to entertain, and it had a Bose speaker for music. There is also a room with a washing machine and a dryer which is convenient if you are on a long trip or to dry swimming suits after a day at the beach.
We were in building 60, which is the closest to the reception. On the one hand, it was great to be so close to the spa, gym, and pools. On the other hand, it could be noisy at some times of the day. We could hear the music from the gym spinning class early morning, staff cleaning the Gym at 3 am or the music from a wedding reception at night. Fortunately, they stopped all the music at 10 pm.
What to do at the Four Seasons Papagayo
The Peninsula Papagayo is a great place to reconnect with nature, and most of the activities reflect that. There is so much to do at Peninsula Papagayo and the seven nights we spent there almost felt too short. Make sure you book a long enough stay.
The Four Seasons has a fantastic program of complementary activities. It is one of the best programs I have ever seen in a hotel, so take advantage of it.
TIP: Book the activities as soon as you arrive as the events are often fully booked. We could not do activities for the first day and a half after our arrival as everything was full. We were, however, able to book everything we wanted for the rest of the week.
Even if an activity is full, it is worth showing up. We learned through the week that most people book and don’t show up. We were often the only participants to activities that had been booked by 8 or 10 people… Please, if you can't make it to an activity, cancel so that other guests can enjoy the activity.
Golfing at Papagayo Peninsula and the Trail of the Giants tour
The golf course is truly spectacular, and it is no surprise that so many people come to the Four Seasons Papagayo to golf.
If you do not golf, the tour Trails of the Giants is a great way to see the golf course and encounter wildlife.
We were given golf carts and went on to explore the most scenic parts of the domain.
It lasted about 90 minutes and was a great introduction to the Peninsula and its natural beauty. Our guide explained the fauna and flora, and we saw coatis, monkeys, and many birds. This is a great tour to do with kids
Birdwatching at the Four Seasons Papagayo
The bird watching tour is an easy walk in a beautiful forest. Our guide for the day brought binoculars and had a fantastic eye to spot birds. From the smallest Colibri to the largest eagles, we saw countless species of birds. We also watched a family of monkeys playing in the trees and beehives in activity.
We finished the tour by a visit to the nature center, where we learned plenty of cool facts from the center manager. Did you know that some birds use spider webs to tie their nests? Like the Trail of the Giants tour, the nature center visit is an excellent activity to do with kids.
Mangrove tour at the Four Seasons Papagayo
We took a car to Nacascolo Beach and went for a 90-minute walk to the mangroves behind it. Our guide was great at explaining the geography of the land. We learned a lot about plants and animals’ behaviors. I love seeing all the crabs in the mangrove carefully watching us. Don’t miss this tour. The walk is flat and easy
TIP: Put some mosquito repellent on. There were no mosquitoes in the four seasons resort, but the mangrove area had many mosquitos
Kayak tours at the Four Seasons Papagayo
Kayaking is a great way to see the Peninsula and all the secret beaches around. We did the kayak tour to Nacascolo beach. It is the most extended kayak tour, and it was a good workout. We paddled for about 40 minutes each way. It was over 5 kilometers of paddling! My arms felt very much alive by the end of it. Nacascolo is a very nice-looking beach that is full of wildlife. We had sore arms the next day, but it was definitely worth it.
TIP: If you want a shorter kayak tour, try the Jicaro beach tour. It is the beach before Nacascolo, and it covers about half the distance.
Snorkeling expedition at the Four Seasons Papagayo
I had booked the snorkeling excursion for Monday, but somehow the schedule of activities changed from week to week, and the snorkeling tour had been canceled. True to its fantastic service reputation, the concierge told me not to worry that they would organize a private snorkeling tour for me. I was most impressed. We snorkeled right off Playa Blanca to the little rocks on the right side of the beach. There were plenty of fishes and even a nurse shark at about 2 meters depth. I also found a scorpionfish. Not bad for 60 minutes of snorkeling right of the beach!
Rhum and chocolate Tasting and Mixology
Every day, the Four Seasons offers a tasting class. From rhum and chocolate to mixology or infused rhum, the choice is yours. Those classes are entertaining but also very different from the other activities at the Four Seasons.
Mixology is outstanding if you want to learn to make cocktails in a fun and relaxed way. We made a Mojito and a mango margarita. It was also a great way to meet other guests.
Rhum and chocolate tasting was a lot more serious. This workshop gave us plenty of information about the history or Rhum, Rhum making, … And of course, we got to taste four different rums that had been paired with chocolate.
Exercising at the Gym and Yoga
Yoga is a great way to start a day at the resort. I did the gentle yoga class and really enjoyed it. The only downside for me is that the yoga room was indoor without much of a view and was too cold for my taste. The teacher had a gentle yoga flow going. We were the only 2 participants, so it was very relaxing. The Four Seasons has a great yoga and exercise schedule with 3 to 4 classes to choose from every day. There was a fee of 25 USD per course.
A great gym is also available for the fitness freaks who never compromise their lifestyles (yes, even on vacation). And on this trip there was a lot of those, as the gym was often busy.
Relaxing at the Spa
In most Four Seasons, the spa is fantastic. The Four Seasons Papagayo Costa Rica did not disappoint. I did a rainforest massage, and it was incredibly soothing. Softness was the theme of the day. My therapist had the softest hands ever. The bathrobe and massage bed cover felt like silk. Don’t miss it if you like being pampered.
TIP: The spa has a beachfront hot and cold plunge pool and a steam room that you can access even if you are not doing a treatment. I ended up going almost every day as I found it so relaxing.
Diving from the Four Seasons Papagayo
The water around the Papagayo Peninsula is teeming with life. If you are a certified diver, don’t miss your chance to dive up there. From manta rays, bull sharks, white tip sharks, nurse sharks and plenty of nudibranchs, the diving is incredible. Diving and water activities are provided by outside companies. We booked directly with Rock Divers Costa Rica and had a great day out on the water. You can read the full review of our diving adventure here.
Sustainability at the Four Seasons
The Four Seasons Costa Rica has a healthy sustainability initiative going on. We could see in the room that they only use glass bottles and that no plastic straws are available. But the Four Seasons also does a lot behind the scenes. The hotel has a solid waste and electricity management program. Furthermore, all employees are trained in sustainable practices.
The Papagayo Peninsula has committed to keeping 70 percent of the land untouched to protect biodiversity and have a protection program for animals and trees in place
When to go to Papagayo Four Seasons Costa Rica?
The Guanacaste state, where the Four Seasons is located, is protected by volcanoes and therefore enjoys a microclimate with less rain and hurricanes than the East coast of Costa Rica.
We went there mid-August, which is the rainy season (that many trendy hotels now call the "green" season). The rainy season didn't disturb us much. It rained mainly at night. We experienced a total of 3 to 4 hours of rain during the day over the whole week.
Four Seasons is probably the best hotel in Costa Rica. The hotel has been providing excellent service to its customers for over a decade. The hotel offers a classy ambiance, cozy rooms, delicious food, spa, fantastic nature activities, and beautiful beach experience
People looking for the nightlife of Instagramable hotel won't be happy at the Four Seasons Papagayo in Costa Rica. But if you are a nature lover, Four Seasons should be next on your bucket list. Nature, stunning location, and fantastic Four Seasons service all complement each other to offer you the vacation of a lifetime.