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Home > Destinations > Costa Rica > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Costa Rica - Trip Reports

Paradisius Playa Conchal

Summary. This beautiful and luxurious resort on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica offers the best of accommodations, food, and service. I can recommend it to anyone, but there are some considerations.

Travel. The trip from Baltimore through Atlanta to Liberia, Costa Rica on Pace Airlines (Vacation Express charter) was on time and as good as it gets. The return trip was delayed in CR for about one, but we all made our connections and got home on schedule. The only complaint might be the lack of leg room, which was reminiscent of the way it used to be on every plane a few years ago.

Reception. Reception was efficient. It took about an hour to get from the airport to the resort after bags were through customs. At the resort, it was only a matter of getting on a resort bus to our room. We took a few minutes at the desk and changed rooms. It seems we always have to do this because, despite my wife telling them (by phone and fax) that she has a bad hip and needs a bottom floor room and reduced walking distance, every resort seems to book us on a second floor far away from pools and restaurants. But they did accommodate us as best they could.

Facilities. Melia Hotel resorts are huge. To get from one end to the other they offer bus service, though it is easy enough to walk. This resort was probably of a mile from end to end (not counting the golf course).
- Rooms. Melia Hotels/Resorts, and especially the Paradisius grade, have wonderful rooms--large, clean, and classy. Normally, we don't go for the best rooms, but we've been upgraded to a concierge room at a Sandals and the rooms at Club Melia Paradisius resorts are even a step above that.
- Restaurants. Usually, I like to tell a bit about each restaurant at a resort because they seem to provide different quality of food and service. At this resort, every restaurant was outstanding. This includes the buffet and the snack bar.
- Bars and drinks. The pool bar opened at 10 AM, and from then on it was top-shelf booze and excellent service all day into the night. The main bar opened with dinner at 6 PM. You could get any drink at any restaurant and order a bottle of wine.
- Pool. Big and beautiful. Well maintained. No Jacuzzi, though
- Fitness center. There was a small, poorly equipped fitness center at the other end of the compound in the lobby building.

Service. I have to say it again. Outstanding. It was rare that we had to wait for drink service, a water refill, or anything. I suppose a few people grumbled about not getting water at a restaurant fast enough, or something else, but everyone we talked to thought the workers were great, as did we.

Activities. Here, we had some disappointments. After spending a good amount to get to a nice resort and expecting activities as advertised, we don't expect or want to spend another several hundred dollars entertaining ourselves with excursions and other things. We probably miss out a few exciting things, but that's the way we chose to go. We go for the snorkeling, sailing, and other sports that we can't do at home. As with most resorts, there was a big emphasis on excursions, with some encouragement to participate in daily activities like exercise classes, etc.
- Excursions. We asked several people what they liked best.
o Volcano - An all day trip that most seemed to think was too long. But, the volcano was nice.
o All Terrain Vehicles - The short (2-3 hours) trip was supposed to be fun. $45/each. The long trip (5 hours) included a boat trip. Also fun. $65/each.
o Combo trip. Mud baths, canopy rides, water slide, horse-back riding, and water fall hike. Everyone seemed to like this. All day for $117/each.
o River trips. Everyone said these were nice.
o Animal shelter (Monkey zoo). Free and fun. About two hours.
o Several people took fishing and snorkeling trips with mixed feedback.
- Horseback riding. On the beach and everyone liked it. Part of the package.
- Canopy rides. This is sliding from tree to tree on cables. A short ride was part of the package. Longer rides cost $5-10 more. Fast, but fun.
- Snorkeling. It was off the beach and a big disappointment. This was the Pacific, so getting calm water was kind of iffy. Most days seemed too rough, but we did try once on a calm day and can safely say it is nothing compared to the Caribbean. Based on advertising, we kind of expected boat trips since there was no caveat any place that would lead us to expect less.
- Boating. Again, this being the Pacific, the right kind of surf to make paddle boating, kayaking, and sailing available was not always happening. Just to add to the disappointment, sailing was not even available because their chase boat was out of commission. The reason for no sailing changed depending on the weather. If it was rough, that was the reason. On calm days they admitted the motor boat was broke.
- Beach. The beach was public and crowded with vendors, though they rarely bothered anyone. Not too many guests spent much time on the beach, but you could walk for miles if you wanted. It was loosely packed sand and tough to walk on, though.
- Tennis. They had three nice courts, but no real program. You could sign up and maybe find a partner.
- Basketball, volleyball, etc. Only in the water. They had baskets set up on a tennis court, but no mention of trying to play. The courts were kind of out of the way, too. The water volleyball got plenty of participation, but the fun was limited because the water was so deep. Water basketball was available, but no players. Water polo was fun, but only one day of good participation.
- Exercise classes. They had water aerobics every day, and yoga or something almost every other day. These seemed popular.
- Laser skeet shooting. Fun, but once was enough.
- Golf. The beautiful golf course looked like wasted real estate. I wanted to play and our travel agent supposedly contacted the resort and made sure I could play for the cost of club rentals. When we arrived, the resort could not verify my status, so full price was the only way to play. This was $125 green fees and $40 club rental--way over my cost-benefit threshold. I did negotiate a reduced green fee of $85 later in the week because of the lack of sailing and snorkeling, but still too pricey. Apparently, I wasn't the only cheap Charlie, since of the many hours we spent walking by the course observing players, we saw only a few. On our departure day, we sat above the 18th hole for two hours from 1000-1200 and only one player finished. I talked to several potential players who felt as I did.
- Other. One pool table and ping pong table.

Entertainment.
- The resort band was quite good. They played almost every day at the pool starting at noon for an hour or so. They played every evening.
- Their dancing troupe was also good, and fun. They entertained every night and were as professional as you could expect at a resort.


Conclusion. A wonderful resort with the best service we've seen at any resort. It earns its stars and I can recommend it to anyone-except someone like us. I won't go back unless it is a heck of a deal and includes golf. If you go, be sure to take some bug repellent. My wife and I got several bites from something, and hers continue to itch after a full week home. Never felt a thing until the itch, though.

Thanks to Chris for this trip report ...
November 2003


 
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