June 24, 2024

Melissa's Unforgettable FAM Trip to Costa Rica: Secrets Papagayo Resort 


Last year at Delta U, Melissa won a 3-night stay at Secrets Papagayo, she invited her friend Kim, turning the trip into a memorable FAM excursion. To make the most of their journey, they extended their stay with a night at the Westin Reserva Conchal Resort. They found affordable airfare on United, flying from Denver to Liberia Airport, which is conveniently close to the West Coast and Guanacaste area. Unlike some travelers who mistakenly fly into San Jose, a four-hour drive from their destination, Melissa and Kim were just a 20-minute drive from Secrets Papagayo.

Day 1

Upon arrival, they were welcomed with champagne and the sight of howler monkeys. Although the check-in process was a bit slow due to a new staff member, they quickly found their way around the lush, green resort. The next day, they stumbled upon the preferred club, where a helpful staff member provided a site inspection, map, and activity calendar.

Resort Overview

Secrets Papagayo, with its 202 rooms, offers an intimate and laid-back atmosphere, ideal for couples and groups. Melissa recommends it for travelers aged 30 and above. The resort's hilly terrain might be challenging for those with mobility issues, as many bungalows are on hilltops, necessitating shuttle rides to the main areas. Melissa stayed in a junior suite with a tropical view, which she found perfect and conveniently located near a quieter pool, a lunch spot, a bar, the spa, and the workout facility.

The beach, with its warm, bath-like water, was a highlight. Melissa enjoyed walking along the beach during low tide, despite a few fun tumbles. The bungalow-style rooms featured private balconies, 24-hour room service, minibars, and Wi-Fi. Preferred club rooms, located on hilltops, offered stunning bay views.

Dining options included the Aqua Restaurant, Barefoot Grill, Himitsu (the only restaurant requiring reservations), Market Café, Portofino, and a delightful coffee café. Numerous bars were easily accessible, and the main area felt spacious and uncrowded, surrounded by lush greenery and open lawns.

Melissa loved the beach and its volcanic ash ambiance. The activities center made arranging excursions simple, and the resort offered snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking trails. Melissa and Kim enjoyed a sunset hike and a morning kayak activity, meeting friendly guests along the way.

Adventures Beyond the Resort

Before transferring to the Westin Reserva, Melissa and Kim visited Diamante Eco Adventure Park, where they saw sloths and other rescued animals. The park also offers ziplining, ATV riding, and horseback riding. Their driver took them on a thrilling shortcut through the Congo Trail, adding to the adventure.

The Westin Reserva Conchal Resort, larger and more geared towards golfers and younger groups, felt overwhelming due to numerous beach vendors and less distinct decor. Despite this, the food was excellent, and the accommodations beautiful, resembling a gated apartment complex. The golf course was also impressive.

Farewell and Reflections

Melissa and Kim's shuttle back to the airport, arranged through Viator, featured an English-speaking driver who shared insights about Costa Rica. The drive took about 45 minutes, ensuring they arrived in plenty of time for their flight.

Reflecting on their trip, Melissa noted they only scratched the surface of what Costa Rica offers. For a perfect itinerary, she recommends flying into San Jose, exploring the rain or cloud forests for a few nights, and then enjoying 3-4 nights at an all-inclusive resort in Guanacaste. Melissa especially loved the personal touches at Secrets Papagayo and looks forward to returning someday.

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