Really nice resort! I would recommend it to others. With the good comes the bad, so there may be little things I’d change about the resort, but it is really nice. There were 8 of us that went, my 2 sisters and their husbands, my brother and his friend and my fiancé & myself. 2 years ago we went to Punta Cana, Dominican (Barceló Punta Cana Resort – 4&1/2 *), we all agree we like Allegro Papagayo, Costa Rica better. My brother has also been to Cuba and liked Costa Rica better. And one of my sisters has been to Mexico and although she did prefer Mexico, she said it was very comparable. My sister & her husband even said they’d come back to this resort. We went during the week of March 8th-March 15th 2011. The weather was AMAZING! Between +37C – +42C (but feeling like +52C). Never a drop of rain! Biggest thing to remember about this resort is yes it’s beautiful and has an amazing layout built into the cliff, but that means all cement pads and walking up a very steep hill! There are little bus-stops throughout the resort that you can wait at and the van shuttles go by every 10 minutes to take you where you want to go. They has have phones at each bus stop so you can call the front desk to order a van if you need to. The only time we took the van was when we were taking our suitcases to the top to go home. They do not give away water bottles, to get 12 water bottles its $20US. At each bus stop, they have large water hugs that you fill your own water bottles with and they are not plugged in, so the water is warm. But they do have ice machines there. We still had our water bottles from the airport so we kept filling those up. They did serve water at the buffets and restaurants, so you get glasses of water there. You just get used to it; we’d fill up our water bottles on the way down to the pool and on the way back up. In Dominican they gave away water by the handfuls, so this was a little different, but again like I said, you just go with it and its fine. I had read other reviews before going about how the lobby staff are not friendly, but the workers and everyone by the pools, restaurants, etc are. And this is true. Below I’ll talk about the safe, and they really didn’t seem to care and on one phone call they told me that I had to wait my turn, well after 3-4 days of waiting, no I’m not waiting my turn. But the other works were really nice and friendly, they’d joke around with you and they would teach you some words of their language too. We took turns tipping at each meal, about $3-$5 and they would remember you and give you really good service.
Arrival: We flew with Air Transat, and flew from Edmonton to Panama to drop off and pick up people. We had to get off the plane there and had a lay over for about 45 minutes and then we were off to Costa Rica, about an hour flight. Between the flight & the layover, it was 9 hours, so felt very long! But we were on time and never had any difficulties, so can’t complain there. After getting our luggage, etc, we went and found our bus, when in line to board the bus, you gave your luggage and they gave you your hotel info (room key, info, wrist brands, etc), to save you time for checking in. The only people they forgot were myself & my fiancé, but they reassured us as soon as we got to the hotel, we could check in there. The bus ride was about 30min, but I really enjoyed it because the entire way the Rep was talking and giving you different info; history of Costa Rica, what the exchange is for $$ ($500 colonies is $1 US or Canadian), the different animals, birds, etc, it was interesting. When getting to the resort, we went & checked in, which was quick, because everyone else was already checked in. We found out we had to pay for our safe in our room, $2US/night (wouldn’t accept Canadian cash), but they told us they wouldn’t be able to send anyone down tonight to open the safe, we would have to wait until tomorrow. They have little van shuttles that will take you to your rooms, but we chose to walk to ours.
Rooms: We were all in building 7, which is nice because it’s halfway to the top to the lobby or halfway down to the pool, restaurants, etc. We had rooms 724, 730, 731 & 732. They were clean and looked good to us, pretty standard to other rooms in resorts. Our view from our balconies were AMAZING! The amount of comments we got for the pictures showing our view from our rooms shows how amazing it really was! Because the hotel is built into a cliff, you are able to see overtop of the other room buildings, so we could see all the scenery, ocean, etc, so nice! They cleaned the rooms every day, except they take turns starting at different ends of the building, so you’re never sure when your room will be cleaned. Only once did they miss cleaning our room, because we were the last room for the day and the workers have to meet the bus at 5:30pm to leave the resort, otherwise it was fine. Our cleaning lady did a really good job, lined everything up from our shoes to the stuff in the bathroom. We left tips and presents on the pillow for her. Nothing ever went missing, although our important stuff was locked up. For our safe…that was fun. We had gone back up the next day to book our A La Cartes and ask to get our safe opened. They never came down to open it. So we called the front desk to ask again, they never came. The next day I called again to ask, they never came. Later that day I seen a guy working in another room so I asked him to come to ours, he said he would and he never. Maybe I should’ve pushed it more then that, but we just kept our stuff in my sister’s safes, so at leas they were locked up. When we left the resort at the ending of the week, we told the staff at the front desk about it and they said to get a refund we needed the receipt we got for paying for the safe, which we gave to them. It took a while to get our money back, but we did. I know it was only $12, but really, why should I be paying the resort for something they didn’t do and could be using that money towards tipping the workers or something. They fill your fridge every 3 days with 2 water, 2 beer & 2 juice (not pop). The guys made friends with the workers filling the rooms and would tip them and our fridges would be loaded with beer every 2nd day or so. Also a reminder, there are no elevators, so you are climbing the stairs to the 2nd or 3rd floors.
Restaurants and Bars: The food was AMAZING! Breakfast opened at 7am, and they always had a good selection; fruit, yogurt, pancakes, French toast, bacon, sausage, hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, rice, breads, croissants, fresh made omelettes (if you wanted to stand in line they made it to however you wanted it), meats, cheese, etc. Lunch opened at 1:00pm and again a very good selection; pasta, fruit, breads, chicken or pork chops (whatever they made for the day), salads, rice, beans, soups, etc. The snack bar was also open before and during lunch until 4:30pm and then opened again that night at 11pm, and there was always homemade pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos with bean dip & cheese. The pizza was really good! The buffet at dinner was so good too, again having salads, pastas, steak/pork chops or chicken (again, whatever they were making), veggies, rice, beans, bread (homemade bread – very popular), etc. And they always had a really good dessert tray too, with at least 5 different desserts and they were always changing them. My sister is very allergic to strawberries and the first day we noticed everything had strawberries on them, so I asked them if they had anything without because she is allergic and they didn’t that day, but everyday after they made sure at least one dessert didn’t. The fruit there was also very good! They have 2 A La Carte’s, one was Italian & one was Mexican. We our vacation pkg we were allowed to book 3, so we did 1 Italian & 2 Mexican, both were really good. When we had booked our reservations we were told they couldn’t accommodate 8 people, so we would be split up with 6 at one table & 2 at the other, but both restaurants when we got there volunteered to put tables together, so we always were able to eat together. Our second reservation for the Mexican restaurant was on Sunday, but we had been left a note in our rooms saying the Buffet was having a Mexican theme night that Sunday and because we had already tried the A La Carte, we cancelled there for the Buffet and again were not disappointed. At the Buffet or the A La Carte’s, our waiter’s/waitresses were really god, always getting us drinks, joking around with us and just having fun.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: In Dominican we were very pool people, because the ocean always had huge waves you couldn’t just go in to swim, just jump waves. Here in Costa Rica, we spent more time in the ocean and spent maybe 1 day in the pool. Our ocean was more in a bay, so the water was calmer and we loved to swim in it. When the tide was out, you had to go a long ways to get deep in the water, when the tide was in, not so much. The beach is all black sand, which was different, but nice too. At first it felt like you were walking in dirt, but your feet never got dirty. When the tide was down, you could walk a long way’s down the beach. The beach isn’t all wide open like Dominican or Mexico, it’s got trees and all that, but since we don’t play in the sand, it still worked for us. The chairs filled up very quickly, so if by 9am you didn’t have your chairs reserved with towels, you were out of luck, even if just looking for a spot for 1 or 2 people. What we did was when we went down for breakfast at about 7 or 7:30am, we brought our towels and laid them on chairs to reserve our spots. Our towels were never moved, wasn’t a problem with that. The monkey’s are on the beach and jumping from trees to trees, but they left everyone alone and was easy to take pictures of them. There are black & red crabs that run around the beach too, just small ones. At night, raccoons will come out and come around the resort; sometimes they came into the Buffet restaurant, but would get chased out. There are also large iguana’s running around the resort, at first they scared the sh*t out of me, but after I realized they aren’t gonna eat me, lol.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: My brother & his friend booked a tour through our Flight Rep, Air Transat and did a full day tour of zip-lining, rock climbing, tubing down a river, mud bath, hot springs, etc, they said it good. The other tours we did, we went through Charlie’s Adventure’s to book. They are located by the pools, in the same room as you get your towels from. I would definitely recommend booking through them. One day all 8 of us went to Coco Beach, which is a 45 min boat ride. We left at 8am and it was a very scenic tour and they served water and pineapple along the way. Got to Coco Beach and they tell you about how you can go shopping and to meet them back at the beach at 1:45pm to get back on the boat. We walked down the streets to shop souvenirs, cigars, etc. The guys enjoyed going from bar to bar to drink. You have a choice of going to lunch with the tour guides to a restaurant deeper into Coco Beach, or finding your own to eat at. We went with the guides and the restaurant was amazing, the food was so good. And you got 10% off with going with the tour group. Definitely recommend, if you go to Coco Beach, go to that restaurant (don’t remember the name now)! The food and service was very good! Another day all 5 guys went Deep Sea Fishing for ½ a day, and it was only the 5 guys on the boat. They had a blast and were back by noon. My fiancé caught a Mahi Mahi and my brother-in-law caught a tuna. They are no longer allowed to bring the fish to the resort to for the chefs to cook, because a couple months ago at some resort (not this one) someone got sick and no one is sure where the blame should lay. So the tour guides took this fish back with them. You are able to take your fish to Coco Beach and someone there would cook it for you, but they didn’t. While the guys went to Deep Sea Fishing, us girls went to the Spa, and got the Seaweed Paste Wrap. It was good; normally I’m not too much into these things. They did too a good job and my skin felt amazing after. And the last tour I did was, myself, my fiancé, my brother & his friend al went zip-lining. They had already gone zip-lining, but it was another tour. This was a 20min boat ride over and at first it seemed really sketchy, they drop us off and you are just on this beach with locals and there is nothing around. But eh bus showed up and took everyone, some people went horse back riding and some went ATVing. We were taken to another resort, just the 4 of us. A BEAUTIFUL resort! Again, I don’t remember the name, but it was so nice! Just the 4 of us went zip-lining and the guides were so nice and a lot of fun. It was 8 lines, and we were able to go upside down and they even put myself & my fiancé into a Karma Suta position (as they said), with him in regular position and me upside down with my ankles around his head. They asked to take my camera to take pictures and videos of us, so we never had to pay to get it done. The guides definitely made the tour what it was.
Other Comments: The grounds are clean; you will see workers walking around picking up garbage off the beach and around the resorts. They clean the pool every morning too. Each night they have entertainment between 9-10pm. We never went to any shows, although I did hear some people complain they were just doing the same kind of thing, dancing over & over. I never went to the disco, but the guys said it was fun. They also had a beach party one night, again we never went, but they said it was really good. Pablo’s Bar was a hit. That was where the swim-up bar was, also where the regular bar was and it had 2 pool tables, a foosball table and lots of room to sit down. Twice during the week a guy came in to sell his freshly rolled cigars. Also, twice during the week if when they let the locals in to set up tables to sell their stuff. What was really nice is that they are not pushy at all! They stand there and answer your questions or whatever you want (unlike Dominican when they are so pushy they grab your arms or are in your face). I really enjoyed this resort, absolutely beautiful and I loved Costa Rica, definitely will go back again sometime! I loved the whole luscious jungle feel, rather then just a few palm trees here & there. The people here were so friendly; maybe because it was a smaller-ish resort, we made a lot of friends. I wouldn’t recommend this resort if you have a disability of sometime for walking or in a wheelchair, because it’s so steep for walking and going down to the pool and restaurants there are only steps, no ramps there. Just remember when reading the reviews, you take the good with the bad and really, you make it what you want it to be. In my tour book it said it was a 4*, other’s said it was a 3&1/2*, but I went to Dominican and stayed in a 4&1/2* and I prefer this resort to the one in Dominican. Each to their own.