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Costa Rica Luxury Travel: All-Inclusive Resorts And Non-All-Inclusive Resorts in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Luxury Travel: All-Inclusive Resorts And Non-All-Inclusive Resorts in Costa Rica

Last updated on July 22nd, 2021 at 12:01 pm EST

Some of the information below is an excerpt from our Costa Rica luxury travel guide, which explores Costa Rica’s seven types of high-end accommodations. This particular article discusses large-scale resorts in Costa Rica (all-inclusive and non-all-inclusive resorts), but you can learn about small-scale boutique hotels in Costa Rica; adventure resorts in Costa Rica; high-end eco-resorts in Costa Rica; mindful wellness, surf, or yoga retreats in Costa Rica; executive-style hotels in Costa Rica; and private villas / vacation homes in Costa Rica by reading our related blog post:

Costa Rica Luxury Travel: 7 Types Of High-End Accommodations For Luxe-Loving Travelers

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The large-scale resort experience

All-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s contribution of all-inclusive resorts are not unlike the all-inclusive resorts that fan out across Mexico and Caribbean nations. Most are large-scale, oceanfront properties that include three daily meals and unlimited beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks) in the cost of an overnight stay. The majority of all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica also treat overnight guests to: a) a collection of pools outfitted with poolside chairs, beds, and/or cabanas; b) a selection of on-site restaurants that incorporate diverse meal plans and themes into the dining experience; c) a few bars, including poolside bars or swim-up bars; d) sophisticated indoor and outdoor lounge areas; e) modern rooms and suites outfitted with comfortable and practical amenities; f) a full-service spa; and g) above-average service. You’re also likely to encounter the following common features, amenities, and services at an all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica:

  • Bilingual staff, a 24-hour staffed reception desk, and a concierge service that can coordinate curated tours and day itineraries
  • Room service, daily housekeeping services, laundry services, and emergency services
  • A gym or fitness center, a business center equipped with AV technology, and a gift shop
  • Electronic keyed room entry
  • In-room extras, including high-quality beds and pillows, an electronic safe, a mini-bar, a coffee maker, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a flat-screen television with complimentary international channels, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers, high-quality toiletries, and soft towels.

Depending on the all-inclusive resort you choose, you may also have access to the following:

  • Private chef services, valet parking, and nightly turndown service
  • In-room extras, including smart TVs that deliver complimentary streaming services, tablets/iPads, USB ports or charging stations, complimentary mini-bar items or in-room snacks and drinks, and black-out shades or curtains
  • Currency exchange services, child care services, dry cleaning services, and shoe-polishing services
  • Discounts for the on-site spa or gift shop
  • On-site extras, including hot springs, waterfalls, and adventure or nature tours
  • On-beach facilities and equipment, including bathrooms, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, beach towels, and watersport equipment

Non-all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica

You may be surprised to learn that the majority of resorts in Costa Rica are not all-inclusive. While this fact may disappoint some travelers, it’s actually one of the things we love most about Costa Rica luxury travel. In our opinion, non-all-inclusive resorts (compared to all-inclusive resorts) offer the best of both worlds. Choose to stay at one and you can surround yourself with all things lavish during the time you spend at the resort while also awarding yourself the freedom to discover other high-end Costa Rica experiences that take place off-site. The fantastic lunches and dinners that are served up at some locally-owned, top-rated restaurants are reason enough to consider selecting one of Costa Rica’s non-all-inclusive resorts over an all-inclusive resort.

Several non-all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica automatically include breakfast in the cost of an overnight stay. Many others, however, do not. Be sure to check the resort’s fine print for inclusion details. Keep in mind that if you do elect to stay at a non-all-inclusive resort, most have restaurants on-site which you can choose to dine at (for a fee) if you’d prefer not to venture off the resort’s grounds.

Akin to all-inclusive resorts, non-all-inclusive resorts are also typically large-scale, oceanfront properties that supply guests with pools (and accompanying chairs, beds, or cabanas), restaurant, bars, lounge areas, modern rooms and suites, a spa, and above-average service. The above bulleted lists of features, amenities, and services typically provided by all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica also applies to non-all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica.

Top luxury resorts in Costa Rica

Most large-scale resorts in Costa Rica have several years under their belt, but when we first started exploring the country, the majority didn’t exist. While the properties that currently house the Westin Golf Resort and Spa (Brasilito/Conchal area) and the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort (Herradura/Jaco area) originally put Costa Rica on the resort map in the late 1990s, today the properties compete with numerous resorts—several backed by recognizable brands and positive reputations—for travelers and top honors. If you want to stay at a large-scale resort in Costa Rica, don’t miss our guide to Costa Rica’s top luxury resorts below. Resorts are arranged alphabetically.

Note: For a property to be considered a “large-scale resort” and appear below, it must have at least 150 rooms.

Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo

The Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo (opened in 2013), by Hyatt, is a family- and pet-friendly resort on the exclusive Papagayo Peninsula, in the northwest corner of Costa Rica. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s rainforest-inspired architectural design, the expansive views of Bahia Culebra (Culebra Bay) from rooms perched on the peninsula’s hillside, the entertaining kids club, the proximity to Marina Papagayo, and the complimentary boat transfers to Playa Nacascolo where you’ll find the Andaz-owned beach house.

All-inclusive?Optional all-inclusive plan?Number of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
NoNo; optional breakfast plan44174
Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo: 4-4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo: 35 minutes

Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

The Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica (opened in 2014), by AMResorts/Apple Leisure Group, is a family-friendly, 4-star, all-inclusive resort that’s tucked away in the remote-feeling northwest corner of Costa Rica, near the border shared with Nicaragua. It fronts the beach Playa Jobo. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s diverse selection of restaurants and bars, endless entertainment, and 44,000 square-foot infinity pool.

All-inclusive?All-inclusive inclusionsNumber of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
Yes (wristband not required)Meals, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), wait service, entertainment, and gratuities153447
Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica: 4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica: 75 minutes

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo (opened 2004), by Four Seasons, is a family-friendly, 5-star resort on the exclusive Papagayo Peninsula, in the northwest corner of Costa Rica. Unlike the Andaz, which sits at the base of the peninsula (just beyond where the peninsula meets the mainland at Marina Papagayo), the Four Seasons occupies much of the peninsula’s narrow tip, which is blessed with beaches on two sides: Playa Virador, which faces the Pacific Ocean and the Golfo de Papagayo (Papagayo Gulf), and Playa Blanca, which faces Bahia Culebra (Culebra Bay). Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s beachfront property, the Arnold Palmer signature Ocean Course golf course, and the endless list of curated activities (from dance lessons to mixology classes to stargazing escapades) that aims to provide an adventure for every visitor.

All-inclusive?Optional all-inclusive plan?Number of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
NoNo; optional breakfast plan54181
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo: 4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo: 45 minutes

JW Marriott Guanacaste

The JW Marriott Guanacaste (opened in 2008), by Marriott, is a family- and pet-friendly resort on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, roughly a half-hour drive from the convivial surf town of Tamarindo. It’s a 4-star resort (though it’s sometimes cited as a 5-star resort) that fronts the beach Playa Matapalo. It’s also adjacent to Hacienda Pinilla, a private complex comprised of vacation homes. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s large, sprawling pool, yummy ice cream bar, and affordable (optional) breakfast.

All-inclusive?Optional all-inclusive plan?Number of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
NoNo; optional breakfast plan71310
JW Marriott Guanacaste information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the JW Marriott Guanacaste: 4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the JW Marriott Guanacaste: 1.5 hours

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort

The Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort (opened in 1999), by Marriott, is a family- and pet-friendly resort on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, roughly a 10-minute drive from the lively beach town of Jaco. It’s a 4-star resort that’s adjacent to the Los Suenos Resort and Marina—a nexus of residences, vacation homes, and yachts. It fronts the north end of Playa Herradura. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s unique swim-up rooms, where you can step off a private terrace into the resort’s adults-only swimming pool, and the on-site, rainforest-wrapped golf course, La Iguana.

All-inclusive?Optional all-inclusive plan?Number of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
NoNo; optional breakfast plan53201
Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Planet Hollywood Beach Resort

The Planet Hollywood Beach Resort (opened in 2018), by Earl Enterprises Corporation/Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts Inc., is a family-friendly, 4-star, all-inclusive resort on the exclusive Papagayo Peninsula, in the northwest corner of Costa Rica. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s expansive views of Bahia Culebra (Culebra Bay) from rooms perched on the peninsula’s hillside, the proximity to Marina Papagayo, and the upbeat energy and signature Hollywood memorabilia which translates to plenty of fun and entertainment for adults and children.

All-inclusive?All-inclusive inclusionsNumber of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
Yes (wristband required)Meals, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), wait service, entertainment, and gratuities124294
Planet Hollywood Beach Resort information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort: 4-4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort: 35 minutes

RIU Guanacaste

The RIU Guanacaste (opened in 2009), by RIU/TUI, is a family-friendly, all-inclusive resort that sits south of the beach town of Playas del Coco on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a 4-star resort (though it’s sometimes cited as a 5-star resort) that fronts the beach Playa Matapalo. Sister property the RIU Palace is next door. Best features, services, and amenities—some of which are shared with the RIU Palace—include the resort’s ample poolside lounge chairs, fun discotheque, and Splash Water World waterpark.

All-inclusive?All-inclusive inclusionsNumber of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
Yes (wristband required)Meals, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), wait service, entertainment, and gratuities93701
RIU Guanacaste information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the RIU Guanacaste: 4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the RIU Guanacaste: 45 minutes

RIU Palace

The RIU Palace (opened in 2012), by RIU/TUI, is a family-friendly, all-inclusive resort that sits south of the beach town of Playas del Coco on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a 4-star resort (though it’s sometimes cited as a 5-star resort) that fronts the beach Playa Matapalo. Sister property the RIU Palace is next door. Best features, services, and amenities—some of which are shared with the RIU Guanacaste—include the resort’s futuristic in-room stylings, fun discotheque, and Splash Water World waterpark.

All-inclusive?All-inclusive inclusionsNumber of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
Yes (wristband required)Meals, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), wait service, entertainment, and gratuities104538
RIU Palace information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the RIU Palace: 4.5 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the RIU Palace: 45 minutes

Secrets Papagayo

Secrets Papagayo (opened in 2015), by AMResorts/Apple Leisure Group, is an adults-only, pet-friendly, 4-star, all-inclusive resort on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It sits on the east side of Bahia Culebra (Culebra Bay), opposite the Papagayo Peninsula. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s use of premium spirits in its all-inclusive plan, rooms that have a private plunge pool, and the overall mature, romantic vibe.

All-inclusive?All-inclusive inclusionsNumber of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
Yes (wristband not required)Meals, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), wait service, entertainment, and gratuities122202
Secrets Papagayo information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the RIU Palace: 4 hours
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the RIU Palace: 25 minutes

Westin Golf Resort and Spa

The Westin Golf Resort and Spa (opened in 1996 and sometimes referred to as the Westin Reserva Conchal), by Marriott, is a family-friendly, 4-star, all-inclusive resort set in a private reserve on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It sits on the south side of Bahia Brasilito (Brasilito Bay) near Playa Conchal. Best features, services, and amenities include the resort’s Garra de Leon golf course designed by golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, on-site nature trails, and proximity to Tamarindo, a convivial surf town about a half-hour drive from the resort.

All-inclusive?All-inclusive inclusionsNumber of restaurants / bars / cafesNumber of poolsNumber of rooms / suites
Yes (wristband required)Meals, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), wait service, entertainment, and gratuities102406
Westin Golf Resort and Spa information

Approximate drive time from the SJO Airport to the RIU Palace: 1 hour
Approximate drive time from the LIR Airport to the RIU Palace: 4.5 hours

Map of luxury resorts in Costa Rica

The map below shows where all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and non-all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica are located.

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Which resorts in Costa Rica have you experienced?

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Costa Rica Luxury Travel: All-Inclusive Resorts And Non-All-Inclusive Resorts in Costa Rica
Article Name
Costa Rica Luxury Travel: All-Inclusive Resorts And Non-All-Inclusive Resorts in Costa Rica
Description
Everything you need to know about all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica (and non-all-inclusive resorts) that deliver a luxury travel experience.
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The official Costa Rica Travel Blog
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