Located on the northern Pacific side of Costa Rica, Guanacaste—an area where beaches form white ribbons around crescent-shaped bays—is fast becoming a haven for adventure- and nature-seeking travelers, and families are “catching the wave.”
And here, the best place for families to call “home” is, without a doubt, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, arguably one of—if not the most—luxurious, full-service resorts in Costa Rica. With all of its amenities and its ideal location, clients planning a multigenerational family vacation will find this Four Seasons resort has everything for everyone in the family.
the 4-1-1 on the accommodations
Located on over 2,300 acres of rugged hillside and nestled between two beaches, the resort has 154 guestrooms, suites and residences that offer a variety of accommodation categories for your family clientele. For extended families coming with grandma and grandpa, or the aunt and uncle, recommend the 3-bedroom Miramar suite, which can comfortably accommodate four adults, and two or three children. The suite has three bathrooms and a powder room, and is located hillside with views of the bay. The residences, meanwhile, provide all the conveniences of a private home, including full kitchen and laundry facilities, and are located a short stroll or golf-cart ride away from resort amenities.
If your clients want to play together but not stay together, any of the rooms in the four 4-story buildings are a good choice. These guestrooms, done up in tasteful and sophisticated decor, have king-size beds, marble baths, and living rooms with screened-in terraces that either have views of the water or hillside. Louvered doors provide total darkness and peace at night. Suggest perhaps the Terazza rooms for the older set, as these rooms are located on the first floor and are accessible by ramp. Regardless, the resort is handicap-accessible. In fact, there are specific rooms in buildings 3 and 4 that have handrails in the bathrooms and larger showers to accommodate a wheelchair. All buildings have elevators that make it easy to get up and down, and buildings 3 and 4 are also located closer to the restaurants, spa and main parts of the resort.
Recommend clients talk to the concierge upon arrival to map out the activities for the trip if you and your clients haven’t done so prior to arrival. In the meantime, we have some suggestions for you to make their stay adventure-packed and memorable. Here are a few….
As a taste of the fun that awaits your clients at this resort, suggest they start their vacation by taking the Trail of the Giants Tour. The trail itself is a certified Audubon Cooperative sanctuary, and even if guests don’t plan on golfing during their time at the resort, the tour not only shows off the award-winning, world-class Arnold Palmer signature golf course and the beautiful water and mountain views that embrace it, but also displays the dry forest tropical trees native to Guanacaste. On the path of the first nine holes, the trees are identified and discussed by knowledgeable guides, and along the entire route, guests—both kids and adults—will be delighted by the possible and probable sightings of capuchin (white-faced) and congo (howler) monkeys.
so much to do & plenty of time
take a hike
The resort offers its own hiking trail. The route begins at Playa Virador on one side of the peninsula, goes up the hillside and then down the other side. The stairs and pathways are carved into the mountain and offer a challenging (less than a mile) and scenic hike.
Be sure to tell clients to take advantage of the boating excursions available to them by the resort’s partner, Almaco Tours. We took off on a sea-going adventure to explore the Pacific Ocean and for some snorkeling. Options include full- or half-day excursions and offer lunch on a local and seemingly private beach. Sailing, sunset cruises and deep-sea fishing excursions are also available.
For anyone who enjoys or appreciates the game of golf, experiencing the links carved out of one of the peninsula’s highest plateaus and rainforests is a must. It’s a captivating 18-hole course that runs along and through diverse terrain born of an ancient lava flow from distant Rincon de la Vieja volcano. Here, dramatic elevation changes, and indigenous flora, fauna and wildlife surround players and provide a truly special experience. A wide variety of terrain, ranging from forest to valley to sea cliffs, ensures every hole provides a tremendous photo opportunity as well as a unique design and approach, and provides a variety of shots that will challenge players of all skill levels. Tee times are offered from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; shoe and club rental services as well as full-service locker rooms are available.
The centerpiece of the resort is its three full-service swimming pools and decks. Ticos, the main pool, offers an ambiance that is ideal for children, and the two smaller pools that bookend Ticos serve as more private areas that are perfect for adults and couples. At the main pool, activities include water polo, volleyball and introduction to scuba diving. There is also a hot tub with a waterfall, for when mom and dad want some alone time. On either side of the pools is a beach: Playa Blanca is where most of the activities are planned, and Playa Virador is where guests can get on the water taxi and sail off to Coco Beach, a local town with beachfront dining and souvenir shops (there is a fee for this service). We ate lunch at Claudio y Gloria in Coco Beach and had some of the best ceviche ever. Playa Virador also serves a mean sunset and, depending on the season, is host to Sunset Sessions, with live music, cocktails and snacks.
Not that your clients would get bored or not have enough to do on-property, but there are some fun things to do offsite that the resort can arrange. Here are just a few of the excursions available:
Arenal La Fortuna: This full-day tour takes guests to an active volcano, where they’ll experience hiking La Fortuna Waterfall, ziplining and checking out natural hot springs.
Papagayo Canopy Tour: Participants can zipline 11 suspended cables, walk across three hanging bridges and view crocodiles along the river banks.
Witches Rock Canopy Tour: This activity is the closest to the resort and a great option for kids (the name says it all!).
Papagayo Zip Line and ATV Tour: Adventurous souls can zipline above the Tempisque River and enjoy an ATV ride through the mountains.
kids & teens
Tuanis Teen Center provides activities as well as a way for device-addicted kids to get their fix with access to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, computers with complimentary Internet and iPod docking stations. Tuanis is staffed with its own concierge to assist teens with activities and tours. Outdoor adventure excursions and resort activities include ziplining through treetops, white-water rafting, jungle adventures, and volcano hikes, as well as weekly fitness classes. Another great feature is the 18-hole mini-golf grass golf course. Complimentary activities include snorkeling, boogie boarding, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing and kayaking.
Tropicsurf, meanwhile, provides surf lessons for beginners and excursions for surfers. Its 10-level skill progression allows surfers to learn quickly, have fun and transform their technique; video recording is available.
The Kids For All Seasons kids’ camp offers adventures in a natural setting for children ages 4 to 12 years old. The program includes indoor and outdoor activities conducted by qualified staff. For example, supervised explorations take children in search of local insects, reptiles and plants. Other planned activities include a hermit crab hunt, treasure collecting on the beach, sand castle building, birdwatching and soccer. This way, children are immersed in the culture of Costa Rica and learn about their surrounding environment. The program offers a weekly schedule of events and activities, so families can pick and choose what’s ideal for their time at the resort.
The 18 treatment room-spa, which offers beautiful views and amenities to match, has a lot of treatments on its menu, including some that look to their surroundings for inspiration. Examples are the Green Coffee Detox Wrap; the Natural Healing Bamboo Massage; the Mango-sugar Scrub and the Volcanic Mud Wrap, to name a few.
Additionally, for those who just can’t kick their exercise regimen when they’re on vacation, the resort offers over 2,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art fitness facilities with beach views through the surrounding trees. Equipment includes exercise bicycles, elliptical cross trainers and treadmills, as well as resistance-training machines. Aerobics, yoga, mat Pilates and spinning classes are also available. For families who play hoops, a basketball court is located near the teen center. And in case those fitness amenities aren’t enough to keep your clients happy, the resort also has four tennis courts, including one with real grass, with options for clinics and private lessons.
With all those active options to keep families busy throughout their stay, it’s no secret the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica is the ultimate playground for families, but we had no idea it also happens to cook up some of the best chow we have ever eaten in Costa Rica. With five restaurants to choose from, you can rest assured your clients will not get bored regardless of the duration of their stay. Our favorite dining experience was the chef’s table at Caracol. We marveled at the tuna sashimi and then we had what we can only refer to as the “steak Olympics.” We were served five different cuts of beef both from the U.S. and Costa Rica, all labeled to indicate where they came from and obviously also an attempt to showcase just how good in fact the local beef is (Costa Rica won, by the way). All courses had wine pairings and at $150 pp, we highly recommend it. The same type of culinary experience is also available at The Garden Table, which offers farm-to-table food, literally—the 5-course dinner is served al fresco (weather permitting) in the resort’s vegetable garden.
Other options include Di Mare (Italian), Congos Bar & Grill (churrascaria), Papagayo (continental), Tico’s Lounge (sushi), and the CR Burger Shack.
The resort is located less than an hour’s drive from the recently renovated Liberia airport—the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR). There are nonstop flights from Miami on American Airlines, from Atlanta on Delta Air Lines, and from New York (JFK) on JetBlue, and seasonally from Denver on Frontier.
Guests arriving during daylight hours enjoy a scenic drive through the mountains to the resort destination. The resort offers a private transfer from the airport (well worth the $190 fee), during which guests can check-in via Skype from the comfort of the SUV, which accommodates six people. The check-in process is seamless and quick, which with kids in tow is a welcome gift unto itself.
WHAT TRAVEL AGENTS ARE SAYING…
Q&A with cathleen casey, travel consultant, tzell travel, new york
Lorri Robbins (LR): What makes Costa Rica an ideal destination for families, including multigenerational families?
Cathleen Casey (CC): Costa Rica offers adventure, beauty, diversity and with an eye to the eco-conscious. I think nowadays there are many parents and grandparents concerned for the planet’s future for their younger generations. Costa Rica affords them an opportunity to have their families experience a different, more natural world and hope those lessons inspire hope for a change toward more conscious consumption. Kids learn these things as unspoken lessons when they see the differences between this destination and their worlds. Of course, this a bonus to the fun factor!
LR: Are you seeing a trend in more multigenerational travel to Costa Rica and to the Four Seasons brand in particular?
CC: Yes, people love to vacation with their families. More and more, they are including everyone—sibling’s families, grandparents—the whole extended family and not always as a special occasion trip…this is a trend I see happening all over in travel.
LR: Why is Four Seasons an ideal brand for families?
CC: Four Seasons is ideal for families for its range of accommodations, from connecting rooms to villas and estate homes. The activities are geared to all the generations, from kids to grandparents and include spa, golf, tennis, beach, watersports and more. It’s for the individual—or families—who love adventure and natural beauty, along with active lifestylers, spa lovers, foodies and overall lovers of luxury.
LR: What makes the Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo’s offerings stand apart from other top properties in Costa Rica?
CC: There are no other properties in Costa Rica that I consider to be “top properties” at this level. Nothing else compares.
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo: (800) 819-5053; fourseasons.com/costarica