From the moment you enter the lush, gated grounds of the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, you are enveloped in pure relaxation and luxury for kids and adults alike. Nestled on the Peninsula Papagayo with direct access to two beaches, the property consists of 181 guest rooms spread out between suites, villas and estate homes, all large and beautifully decorated with local artisan art, bamboo and rattan furniture. The hotel boasts four restaurants, a full-service spa, an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf course and a spectacular kids’ club, making it the perfect choice for family rest and relaxation.
When looking for the ideal beach vacation, it doesn’t get much better than the Peninsula Papagayo. With the ocean opening up on one side of the resort and the bay on the other, guests have the luxury of choosing where to set up their loungers based on the activities on the daily agenda or the way the wind blows in.
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The Peninsula Papagayo is on Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific coast within the province of Guanacaste. Known as the least populated province, the landscape is rural and lush with a mix of grassy farmland, tropical dry forests, volcanic mountain ranges and white sand beaches, the perfect recipe for an eco-adventure. Excursions are easily arranged by the hotel concierge, but the beauty of the resort is that you don’t need to venture far for a taste of the country’s pura vida — the all-encompassing term for the good life.
Guests are greeted in the tranquil main pavilion, built out of stone with a thatched roof and housing three restaurants, the bar, the full-service spa and more. There is a comfortable seating area backed by beautiful artisan-tiled walls, with breathtaking views onto the main pool, the landscaped gardens and the beaches. The guest rooms are spread over the hillside, creating an intimate feel with plenty of room to wander in the forest.
Our Cielo Room was beautifully decorated in bright colors and boasted more than 600 square feet of living area. Each has a bonus room in the form of a separate, screened-in outdoor sitting area, perfect for listening to howler monkeys and exotic birds with the kids. The rooms feature a king or two double beds, and rollaway beds and cribs are readily available. There is plenty of room to lounge on the sofa or enjoy a room-service meal at the small table. The bathrooms have double sinks as well as a Jacuzzi tub and full, separate shower, which the hotel staff personalized with our children’s names upon arrival — a lovely welcoming touch.
There is no shortage of activities throughout the resort, both on land and water. Take advantage of an hourlong Trail of Giants guided tour via golf cart, where guests caravan around the vast property looking to catch a glimpse of monkeys, iguanas and endangered birds. Take a hike on the well maintained 1-kilometer trail to get up close and personal with the surrounding dry forest, and work up a sweat climbing stairs from sea level to a perch within the treetops. Classes are offered daily in a variety of activities, from painting to beginner Spanish to cocktail making. Paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling gear and sand toys are all available for guests to use as they please, and boating excursions and surf trips are easily arranged through the hotel concierge.
For those who want a more relaxed experience, there are three pools to explore (including a kid-free quiet pool), as well as tennis courts, a fitness facility and a full-service spa. Indulge in a therapeutic deep-tissue massage and chase your stresses away while you lounge in the cold and hot plunge pools in the outdoor oasis.
Families come first at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, and nothing is left to the imagination when it comes to making the littlest of travelers feel pampered. The Kids for All Seasons program accommodates children 4 to 12 years of age and offers an exciting array of activities led by seasoned and professional caretakers — indoors in the large, colorful play center as well as outdoors in the shallow, gated children’s pool or adjacent beach.
Between the plethora of high-quality toys, board games, craft supplies and video games for the older set, children will have no problem keeping busy. Supervised explorations might involve building sand castles, planting trees, participating in hermit crab races or going on a birdwatching expedition. It’s a magical program that has the children begging for more time at the club, a win-win for everyone involved. All programs are included in a stay at no additional charge.
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From casual courtside dining at the CR Burger Shack to Caracol, the perfect setting to celebrate a special occasion overlooking the golf course, the five dining options throughout the resort are top-notch. Start your day with the buffet at Sol Y Sombra Latin Market & Seafood Grill, where you can perch alfresco with views of the ocean. Children will love sampling the selection of fresh fruit juices and the chocolate chip waffles, and the friendly staff will bring a variety of options for the pickiest of eaters.
When evening calls, pre-dinner drinks are best at Tico’s Lounge, where you can pull out a board game or two and challenge your fellow travelers at the communal tables. End the night at Cena Sociale Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar — the freshest local and organic ingredients are expertly prepared by chef Dario Montelvere in innovative dishes inspired by the Mediterranean and Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
• Only 35 minutes from Liberia International Airport, the hotel offers a private transfer or shared shuttle to the resort through grassy countryside backed by impressive volcanic mountain ranges.
• The hotel offers many activities at no cost, including a guided tour through the tropical dry forest to view endangered birds, monkeys, iguanas, butterflies and more than 25 species of giant trees. It also provides paddleboards, kayaks and sand toys for the kids. There are a limited number of kayaks and paddleboards, so take one early in the day, or book group expeditions as soon as possible.
• The restaurants host free cooking and cocktail demonstrations and will even take the family on a tour of the kitchen while you wait for your dinner to be prepared. Kids 5 and under dine for free throughout the resort, including room service.
• The property is very secluded, so day trips do take some effort. However, you can easily spend at least a week without feeling the need to leave.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Nancy Deane except where noted.
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