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Monday, April 18, 2016

Resort Review: Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica

Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica opened in November 2015. While we were there the resort celebrate their Grand Opening. The owners and their guests had a VIP section, but the rest of the event was open to resort guests. Awesome entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, and fireworks! Below is a full review of our experience at the resort (and pictures!).

Room
Several different room types were offered. Rooms were spread out in small groups across the property. We reserved one with a panoramic view and I’m pretty sure we lucked out on having one of the best views (room 433). The room was a good size; king bed, two closets and several areas to store clothes, and a good size bathroom with a beautiful modern design. One design complaint though, the lack of counter space in the vanity area made it difficult to get ready. I was constantly having to juggle different products or switch them in and out from the lower shelf.

Maid service came twice a day; in the morning to clean and replenish the minibar (included!) and once in the evenings for turn down service. At night the staff leave a schedule for the next day and chocolates.

Food
The resort offered 5 restaurants. Each with a different menu for each meal. The consistency in quality of food varied. The burgers and steaks at Seaside Grill were delicious, Himitsu (Asian inspired food) was ok, but the hubs enjoyed the sushi, breakfast at Aqua (near the spa) was really good and we heard lunch/dinner was good there too. We tried Portofino (Italian) one night and it wasn’t good, but then had a private dinner in the wine room with a four course meal prepared by Chef Dennis and that was delicious!!! Excellent service by our server Jonathan. In short, some food was good, some needs improvement.

We ordered room service almost every night after drinking at the Fire Lounge. Room service was usually quick and the food was good. You had the option to have it delivered inside your room or placed in the “Secret” box, a box accessible by staff on the outside of your room and then by you inside.


Pools
The main pool was located by the restaurants and another near the spa. Two totally different vibes! The main pool had a swim up bar and staff walking around to take drink orders. You never wanted for alcohol! The pool near the spa was low key and quiet.

It was difficult to get chairs at the main pool, especially those under umbrellas. Some guests would come down early and “reserve” chairs by leaving a towel and magazine or cup and wouldn’t return for several hours. Even though the resort said there is no reserving of chairs and items would be removed after 30 minutes, there was no enforcement of this rule. Most days we had to ask for chairs (which staff had to carry up from the beach) and did without an umbrella until someone finally vacated theirs. As the resort grows I hope they add more chairs and umbrellas and enforce the no chair reserving rule.

Activities
Each day there were different activities planned by the entertainment team (pool volleyball, rum tasting, cooking lessons, kayaking, hiking, dance lessons, etc.). We enjoyed the activities we participated in, especially the cooking lesson where we made crepes! Nightly entertainment in the Fire Lounge was nice too. Fabian, the bartender, at the Fire Lounge bar is amazing! Shout out to two members of the entertainment team, Marilyn and Jason! These three staff members were the best and we were sad to say bye to them.

Excursions
Swiss Travel has an on-site agent who explains the different excursions offered and you can book directly with this representative. Both full day and half day trips are available. The hubs and I decided since we were at the resort for a limited amount of time we didn’t want to spend a whole day away and went with the half day Palo Verde river tour were we saw monkeys, birds, and crocodiles. The tour guide, Jose, was amazing and so funny!

Spa
The spa on-site offered many services. I am not much of a massage person and I had my nails done before the trip, so the hubs opted for an 80 minute massage while I did yoga. Booking the appointment was easy. He said the facilities were clean, modern, and the staff friendly and professional. His only complaint was that he was shorted 15 minutes.

Misc.
Other points to note, to travel around the property you have to pick up a shuttle at designated locations. We never waited more than 5-10 minutes and if it did start to seem like a long wait we would ask a staff member to call for a shuttle and it would arrive quickly. Some guests complained a lot about long wait times, but we never experienced that.

Upon arrival we were bombarded by Unlimited Vacation Club staff asking us to sit through a “time share” type presentation. I didn’t appreciate being greeted that way or wasting a morning listening to them talk about their membership options.

Overall
Overall we enjoyed our time at the resort. There is room for improvement in quality of food, communication among the employees (they had different responses to questions or didn’t know the answer), and the addition of chairs/umbrellas near the main pool area. The resort opened in November and with time I know they will improve. The resort has the potential to be great! I hope upper management rewards their star staff members (like Marilyn, Jason, Fabian, and Jonathan) with promotions and recognition because they truly are providing the best customer service for guests. Many of the staff members we spoke to told us prior to working at Secrets they did not speak any English and now that they know a little they desire to learn more and practice with guests and even family members at home. English teachers were brought in to help staff learn the language and I hope management continues to provide development to their staff because you could tell it made them happy.

Thanks for reading! Until next post…xoxo Becca

10 Tips for Staying at an All-Inclusive Resort
Pura Vida! – Costa Rica Trip

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pura Vida! – Costa Rica Trip

Back from paradise aka Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica. Sad day 🙁 We had so much fun by the pool, talking to the locals, and meeting new people. As mentioned in my tips for staying at an all-inclusive, we enjoyed having everything we needed on-site. If you followed along on Snapchat then you know most of the trip involved laying by the pool and drinking lol Sharing pictures below and a full review (with more pics) is coming on Monday.

Pura Vida! (“pure life”) Until next post…xoxo Becca

Ready for vacation!

View from Main Lobby

View from our room

The hubs making crepes

Flambe

We met some really great people on this trip. This beautiful couple is from Long Island.

Fabian, the bartender at the Fire Lounge, made us rainbow shots

Howler Monkey

White Faced Monkey

Stop along our excursion

Grand Opening party at the Main Pool

Aerial dancers at the Grand Opening party

Private dinner at Portofino, pictured with Chef Dennis

Costa Rican flag shot, made by Fabian

More of the friends we made and our bartender Fabian

Last night together!

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