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mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

Lancaster, PA
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mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

I've been reading through a lot of the posts and this seems like a great forum for people traveling to a destination for their first time. My girlfriend and I are trying to plan a trip to Costa Rica from 6/6 to 6/12, but didn't realize what we got ourselves into with all the options. We start graduate school in August, so we definitely have a budget. I think we've settled on the Guanacaste area since it encompasses a lot of activities and is close to the airport. We want a hotel that is going to be on the beach and be able to do day trips for activities, ie. Volcano, rain forest (zipline), horseback to a waterfall, etc. We do not need a fancy hotel or a lot of amenities as we can pretty much make do with whatever and go with the flow.

So, I've been searching through the various travel websites and have found that a flight from BWI or PHL to Liberia plus 6 nights at the following hotels are in our price range:

- Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa

- Sol Papagayo Resort (All Inclusive)

- Allegro Papagayo (All Inclusive)

We were really looking to stay under $800/person for the hotel and flight...but we are also both about to start grad school, so this is the last vacation for a long time and looking at six figures in debt makes you think a different way.

If there is any feedback, advice, info that anyone could give with regards to the hotels I would really appreciate the help. Even if your feedback is tell me I'm an idiot and they are the worst places ever...well, that's still a viewpoint and I'm interested in hearing it. Thanks!

Playa Conchal...
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1. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

If you don't need all the amenities and fancy stuff, I would recommend using smaller independent hotels. These will give you a much better taste for the country as you will be able to interact with local people, visit local shops, restaurants and bars etc. You could also plan a couple of nights away from the beach-for example at Arenal or Monteverde to see a different region.

Brooklyn, New York
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811 posts
16 reviews
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2. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

If you really want to save some pennies but also stay in a comfortable hotel, think about Conchal Hotel in Brasilito (see reviews on here). Not ON the beach, but a very quick walk to Playa Conchal, one of the nicest beaches in CR. This is TOTALLY not an all inclusive -- a total departure from the hotels you mention -- but certainly another option.

Conchal Hotel is small, intimate, cute and affordable. Within walking distance to some good restaurants -- a very good one at the hotel actually. It's not a luxury hotel, but it's very personable.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

Look at packages. Tourism is way down in CR right now, and I've seen some amazing deals -- gotmyfare.com (never used them in CR, but they did a good job for us with a trip to Iguazu falls a couple of years back), apple vacations, etc. I've received some emails from gotmyfare for fly+drive+hotel, and some of the hotels listed are okay, though the packages may be to and from SJO.

North Carolina
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4. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

I agree that deals can be had right now, but the packages are going to get you the larger hotels, mostly AI's - IMO not at all the best of Costa Rica. Those you listed are not the worst-places-ever, but they are not necessarily near the nicest beaches since they are on the gulf side.

If you can find decent flights on their own, pick at nice town, find the better smaller non-chain hotels on this forum and make them an offer.

Punta Uva, Costa...
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for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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5. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

Excellent advise by PP, AI hotels tend to take away from your true experience of your visit to CR IMO, seek out the small boutique family owned hotels, get out of the resorts and see the country, plus you will save some money for school too.

canada
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234 posts
6 reviews
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6. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

I completely agree with the AI comments. my travel history includes staying in 4 5-star AI's in Mexico. Loved them all, but costa rica just seems so much different in that you don't want to be secluded to your resort, theres just so much country to see and the all inclusives seem to be in inconvenient places to see the best parts of Costa Rica.

Landstuhl, Germany
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7. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

So, with your statments of tourism being real down in CR, I am leaving in a few days for 10 days in and around the area, should I expect lower costs on tours, restaurants, etc? I wasnt going to do some of the tours because the cost was so high and I pay for 4 people.

Lancaster, PA
3 posts
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8. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

Thanks so much to everyone that took the time to reply to my question. I am going to check out some of the vacation sites mentioned, and try and do some new searches on flights and then adding an independent hotel. This is exactly the advise I was looking for and I appreciate each comment on this thread.

Lancaster, PA
3 posts
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9. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

Plumboy,

I looked into the Conchal Hotel that you recommended and it looks PERFECT. The reviews are excellent everywhere I have looked and for 6 nights it would only be $250 a person. Flights seem to be around $475 per person from PA, but that is definitely in our budget and it looks like the hotel staff is going to be very helpful in getting us out and about.

Have you stayed at this location personally, or is it just word of mouth that you recommended it? You mentioned the beach nearby is one of the nicest. Is it a black sand beach as I was told all of Guanacaste is? Lastly, do you believe that a car rental is necessary from this location? We would ideally like to just use public transportation and "wing it," but want to make sure that is an option with where we are staying. Thanks again.

Langley City, Canada
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791 posts
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10. Re: mid 20's couple geteway to Guanacaste

Plumboy stayed at the Conchal Hotel and wrote a great review about it in the reviews section. If you read all of the reviews there you won't see any bad ones. I also like to check out the traveller photos section - rooms there are very cute and clean (and they include a mini fridge which I find a huge plus when trying to save money). We're going to spend our last 3 or 4 days here and take advantage of the $25pp shuttle back to the airport early in the morning our last day. The owner Simon is also by far the most helpful that I dealt with in booking each place for our trip which I think says a lot about the kind of experience you will have at a place.

We're going (27/29 year old couple) this January and wanted to save some money as well. I was able to piece together a 15 day trip for about $900 in accomodation charges staying at 5 different places like this around Guanacaste and in the Arenal region, so I think it will be a much better experience than planting ourselves at an all inclusive the whole time (which we normally do as well) to see some more of the country.