Arrival: We stayed at Barcelo Langosta from Feb. 14 through 28, 2011. My husband and I travelled with another couple. We all loved our vacation. We have stayed at all-inclusives in Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Bayahibe in Dominican Republic and in Cayo Coco and Varadero, Cuba, but this was our first trip to Costa Rica. The resort is small enough that it is never crowded. Lots of loungers available around the pool and on the beach – the beach ones were much less comfortable. Other than the chairs, we loved sitting on the beach under the trees, watching the local surfers and the birds – pelicans, frigate birds and some kind of black vultures who ate the scraps the local fishermen left. There was also plenty of wildlife on the resort – several big iguanas who would pose for photos each morning, coatis (local raccoons) and 10 – 15 howler monkeys in the trees around the pool a few times each week. Staff at the front desk were not very friendly or helpful and seemed to have virtually no English speaking ability. I only mention this because other staff we encountered – wait staff, maids – had fairly good English. It seems odd that the resort would place the people with the least English ability in the positions that require the most customer service. I did notice that when we attempted to use our sparse Spanish, the front desk staff became much friendlier (and their English improved!) All other staff were extremely friendly, and any greeting we offered – Hola; Buenos Dias – was received with a huge smile and a cheerful response.
Rooms: We stayed in room 9202 – very close to everything like the pool and buffet. Our room faced the ocean, although we didn’t get much of an ocean view since they do not trim the foliage. We often saw monkeys and birds in the trees outside our room. The room was kept relatively clean – not dirty but not spotless, especially the floor. Hot water was plentiful and water pressure good. There was an adequate supply of towels daily. The bed was very comfortable. There is no charge for the in-room safe. This resort is quite eco-friendly. There are recycling bins around the resort, you let them know when you want your towels changed, and the drinks at the bars are served in reusable plastic cups instead of disposable ones. We brought our own insulated mugs, which they were happy to refill. There were ice machines and water coolers in the hallways and at the bars.
Restaurants and Bars: The buffet was small but the selection was good. The food was always well prepared and kept at the proper temperature. We visited the grill station in the far corner every day to see what they had to offer – eggs cooked to order for breakfast (and if you found the bacon a little underdone at the buffet they would cook it more for you), freshly grilled pork, beef and/or chicken at lunch and dinner, and often a carvery of some sort – ham, roast beef, ribs, chicken. There was an abundance of beautiful fresh fruit at every meal – bananas, pineapple, mango, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, etc. Also a plentiful salad bar and very good ice cream at lunch and dinner.
There is only one a-la-carte restaurant, but it is very pleasant – quiet, good food beautifully presented, and great service. You are only permitted one visit to the a-la-carte per week, which is a shame. There is a live band performing at the pool bar from 1:00 to 3:00 every afternoon and at the lobby bar in the evenings.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach is great for sitting and watching the wildlife and the surfers, but is not a swimming beach – too rocky and rough. It is also great for walking. If you turn to the right when facing the ocean you can walk to the town of Tamarindo. It takes about 40 minutes (at a slow stroll) and it can be a very hot trip. We walked to town and then took a taxi back to the hotel for $5 US. The weather was outstanding. It was 25 to 30 degrees during the day and almost always sunny. There was one brief shower during the day during our two weeks there, and occasionally it would rain overnight.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
One downside was the distance from this resort to the major attractions such as Monte Verde or Arenal volcano. The bus trip to get there is 4 to 4 1/2 hours each way. We didn’t want to spend 9 hours on a bus so did not get to see those. I did go zip-lining at a location that was less than an hour’s bus ride from the resort. $45 per person and well worth it. They take photos and videos of the guests during the zip-pining and you can buy a DVD when you are done, which makes a great souvenir. We also went on a half-day tour/boat ride in Palo Verde National Park – $65 per person – and on the Blue Dolphin Sunset snorkelling trip (I forget the price of that one). I would recommend any or all of these excursions. We purchased all trips for the TAM Travel desk off the main lobby. Service was great. On the other hand, our Noli Tours rep (Daniel) was pretty much useless. He tried hard to sell us on their excursions, but couldn’t provide any information about them other than the price, and he was very rarely available.
Other Comments: Internet service is quite expensive. You can use their internet cafe for $10 US for one hour of service, or can purchase wireless service by the day – $10 for a day, $25 for 3 days. However, the wireless service seemed to never be available until late morning, and the signal was only available in the lobby or around the pool – not in the rooms.
Overall the resort met and exceeded our expectations. We would certainly recommend the Barcelo Langosta, but likely won’t return because we want to see other areas of this beautiful country.