My wife and I spent our honeymoon at the Paradisus Playa Conchal from September 7 to September 14, 2008. This is apparently the rainy season in CR… but we did not have one day of rain… it was sunny and hot the whole time!! In a word, the resort was INCREDIBLE. We absolutely loved most everything about this resort.
I’ll try and break down a few things about the resort to try and help you out if you are considering this as a vacation option.
Some people on this site seem to be opposed to Royal Service and suggest it is not worth your money. Let me disagree wholeheartedly: GET IT. With Royal Service you get access to the private pool (no kids allowed — which, trust me, when you walk past the gong-show that is the main pool, you’ll come to appreciate), you have guaranteed shuttles everywhere (they have Royal Service golf carts that are available exclusively for the RS guests), your rooms are gorgeous and overlooking the garden or pool, and the concierges and butlers bend over backwards to make your life easy. As a shout-out, let me say that Andrey, Ivanna, Ivan and Hector were amazing and we were grateful for all they did. They score you reservations, they take care of your laundry, they refill your bar fridge with whatever you want… trust me,spend the money if you can and do it. And, love every minute of it.
Royal Service Lounge:
For Royal Service guests, every night they serve hors d’oeuvres. This is a great time (between 6 and 8pm) to go and check your email and relax. They have all sorts of alcohol to drink… we made it our routine to have Baileys on the rocks while checking our email and having some appys. Worth it. Plus, hardly any guests go — which is too bad because it is a real gem in there.
All Inclusive… and then some!: Everything, and I mean everything, was included. If you want to order 10 bottles of wine to your room, you got it. Room service, 24 hours. Drinks aplenty. Food at the restaurants non-stop. Like my wife said, all the staff there just want you to have an amazing time — they urge you to have dessert, encourage you to try everything on the menu, drink more, party more… honestly, it is terrific and you want for nothing.
The only thing I would give a pass to is room service… not that great.
Restaurants: Gabi: Right by the Royal Service pool. Food is quite good. The buffet in the morning is for Royal Service guests only. The lunch is a la carte, but also only for RS guests as well. The restaurant opens in the evening for all guests — but make your reservations. The food and the restaurant’s location next to the gorgeous RS pool make it a hot commodity. Spices: This is the Asian restaurant. Food is not bad, but I would probably skip it if I had to do it over again. 19th Hole Restaurant – Right off the main lobby of the resort, overlooking the golf course. It is open only for lunch. GO HERE every single day if you can. We didn’t realize this restaurant existed until our final 2 days… awesome food. Get the stuff potatoes with chicken and jalapenos. So good. Faisenella: The Italian restaurant. AWESOME. Make reservations though as it books up fast. Have the chicken breast with the gorgonzola/spinach rice dish. So good. They also have a sketch artist that goes table-to-table to draw your picture, as well as a piano player to set the mood. Very good. Mitra: Out of all the restaurants, this one just did nothing for us. Service was poor, salad and dessert bar were unappetizing (too many flies) and it just seemed too much like some crappy buffet chains. I’d give it a pass.
We didn’t get to go to the Mexican place as it was closed until our final night there. People we met at the resort said it was quite good.
Alex on the beach: Give "Hightide" a pass — they are the resort’s in-house or contracted tour guides. Mark-up is high. Instead go and talk to Alex Rabbit (yep, that’s his name) on the beach. He has a baseball cap and a black ponytail and is a great guy. He set us and many people that we met on the trip up for sea-dooing, sport fishing and ATV/Canopy Tour and it was all incredible. Here’s what we got: ATV/Canopy Tour ($110.00/pp): We were picked up from the main lobby by a local from Brazilito (the neighbouring town) and driven about 5 minutes from the resort. There waiting for us were 6 ATVS (there were six of us) and our guide. All the ATVs were new. The guide even had a cooler to put cold drinks in (raid your bar fridge in the a.m. so you don’t have to buy anything). Then from that point you ATV about 1.5 hours up into the mountains/countryside all the way to the canopy tour. This is where you get suited up and go ziplining… awesome… what an experience and the guys who run the ziplining company (Congo Trail) are awesome. Lots of fun. Then after a couple hours ziplining, you get back on your ATVs, go all the way down the mountain again and they cruise you along the beach back to Alex. It was terrific. GO!! Sea-Dooing ($80-$100pp): Sea-doo was nice and new, worked like a breeze and was TOTALLY worth it. Sport Fishing ($350 per boat which holds 5): We didn’t do it but another couple and some friends of theirs did… they loved it… mahi-mahi jumping, tuna… they even had fresh sushi on the boat.
Alex Rabbit is amazing and will swing you a good deal. Do yourself the favor, get to know him and his team… he’s a good guy and just wants to make an honest living.
Seabird Sailing ($85pp): This had to be one of my most favorite things to do. Go to the Royal Service lounge and ask to book a catamaran day-trip with Seabird Sailing. You will not regret it. You are picked up and driven to Flamingo Beach where you are picked up by a little motorboat and taken to a beautiful catamaran. On-board: open-bar and beautiful food. And, it is exclusive versus some massive party boat. They take you to a deserted island and cove where you can go snorkelling and lay on the beach… it is honestly like something out of Survivor. Just amazing. On our way to the island, they served us fresh pineapple and watermelon. When we were done snorkelling, they had a lunch of fresh guacomole, meat, cheese, fresh banana bread and vegetables for us to eat. It was delicious.
If you do nothing else, do this.
Trip to Tamarindo ($50 roundtrip): Go to the main lobby (or if you are Royal Service, have them book for you) and book a cab to take you into Tamarindo. The cab will take you there and then they give you a voucher to give to any shop or restaurant there and they will call and then come back to get you. Lots of shopping… bit overpriced… beach at sunset is beautiful… surfing is apparently amazing… but I liked staying closer to the resort… Tamarindo was a bit sketchy.
BRAZILITO (about 15 min walk from the resort): Rough-looking little town with a good restaurant. "The Happy Snapper". Go.
Beach: It is honestly beautiful — a bit rough in terms of sand and the way the waves come in and pull-back out mean you often get a mammoth load of shells and sand in your suit, but the water is super warm and it is a blast to have the waves crash into you. Be forewarned though: The riptides are strong. So if you get caught in one, don’t panic. Turn your body parallel to the shore and the waves will carry you back in. Lots of little vendors on the beach but they weren’t pushy at all.
Overall, this was a great vacation and I would go back in a minute. Honestly, if you have a week or two to spare, go and enjoy everything the resort has to offer.