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We are parents, too. We think traveling well and traveling with children shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. We have limited vacation time, and we’re not spending our few days of freedom in lousy hotels eating bad food. We know the world is full of wonderful resorts, cool urban escapes and far-flung lodges that can make our time with our kids count. We want it all, and we don’t think it should be so hard to find. So we’re going to share it with you.

 

Checking In: Costa Rica's Coastal Hotels

Travel Journal

Travel Journal

Dispatches from around the world

Checking In: Costa Rica's Coastal Hotels

Henley Vazquez

One size doesn't fit all. Costa Rica's Guanacaste coast has hotels that suit every style of family, from those who want to spread out in a gorgeous villa to the surfers and the traditional resort lovers. These are our favorites.


Harmony Hotel

Guiones Beach, Nosara
Tel: (506) 2682-4114

BESTS

  • Serious surfers swoon over the location on Playa Guiones; grab a board and walk down the small path to the beach to catch the mornings best breaks or take a sunset walk.

  • The Harmony, like Nosara itself, epitomizes the barefoot-chic vibe that attracts a cool yet unpretentious crowd; if you love the northern beaches of Ibiza or Tulum before the Park Avenue crowd discovered it, you’ll find kindred spirits around the pool.

  • Spa-lovers who like an Eastern medicine approach will adore the hotel’s Healing Centre, which offers energy balancing and ayurvedic treatments in addition to the massages and facials; daily yoga offerings include beginner levels as well as challenging aerial yoga and meditation classes.

 

 

BASICS

  • Like Nosara, the Harmony Hotel is a place so special that guests feel torn between wanting to tell everyone and wanting to keep the space to themselves; this is the place to stay in town, and if you want to score a room, plan well ahead of time to beat everyone else who’s dying to go or burning to return.

  • The hotel’s 24 rooms split between small but comfy Coco rooms that ring the pool and more spacious bungalow suites dotted through the grounds; families with older children can do two Coco rooms, which can connect through their back patios, while those with younger kids should plan well ahead to score a bungalows or the one suite.

  • Although being in the Harmony is easy—between the great food, gorgeous pool and perfect beach, it’s tough to leave—getting there is not. Driving from Liberia requires 2.5 to 3 hours (and an SUV for unpaved roads), or you can charter a small plane into Nosara’s air strip.


Las Catalinas

Guanacaste
Tel: (866) 357-3872 or (506) 2654-4600

BESTS

  • All of the houses and some of the smaller flats come with the Catalinas “house mom” service, a charming combination of cook and housekeeper who arrives in the morning, prepares breakfast, tidies up and even does your laundry.

  • Town is still growing, but already there’s a good surf shop for SUP rentals and gear plus two restaurants and a soon-to-open gourmet deli and grocery.

  • Unlike some vacation villas, these houses are built as real homes and come stocked with everything a family could need; any extras are a speed-dial away to the included concierge service, which will pre-stock your groceries, schedule your activities, hire a chef for dinner or rent your car—the high-touch hotel service with the privacy of an amazing home.

BASICS

  • Part resort community, part burgeoning beach town, Las Catalinas offers a high-end villa enclave for active families who want the space of a home with the walkability of a pedestrian village and the services of a hotel.

  • Still under construction, the town will ultimately have 2,500 residential, hospitality and commercial properties, but it’s ready for business now for those who want to beat the crowds (and score a deal) and stay in some seriously beautiful beachfront homes.

  • Las Catalinas sits an hour from Liberia airport, where most of the international visitors will arrive; the Monkey Trail, as the road to Las Catalinas is called, is mostly unpaved, but it’s not a challenging drive, however the fastest option is to arrange a pick-up from the town concierge and rent when you arrive to avoid the long airport lines.


Four Seasons Costa Rica

Peninsula Papagayo
Tel: (506) 2696-0000

BESTS

  • When it comes to kids, the Four Seasons nails it; a fantastic kids’ club, complimentary meals for children under 5, multiple pools with shallow areas for young swimmers and such a welcoming attitude towards families that even the most exhausted parent can score some rest and relaxation.

  • Although surfers will need to leave property to find a good break, the resort’s two beaches offer every other water sport, from kayaking to boogie boarding and snorkeling plus safe swimming areas thanks to the protected bay setting that keeps strong currents away.

  • Costa Rica is known for lots of things, but good roads aren’t one of them; the Peninsula Papagayo properties have the distinct advantage of being an easy 30-45-minute drive from the Liberia airport, making getting there significantly easier than almost any other coastal destination in the country.

BASICS

  • One of the first five-star resorts to take a stake in Costa Rica, the Four Seasons secured its spot on the luxury circuit when it opened on the picturesque Peninsula Papagayo in 2004.

  • The 182 rooms include standard rooms with connecting options for families, all recently renovated, as well as spacious suites and residences with multiple bedrooms, private pools and full kitchens for home-away-from-home comfort; families who want to be right by the pool and restaurants should book the rooms, those who want space should take one of the residences that sit on the ridge above the resort and have breathtaking views of the bay.

  • Although guests can visit neighboring resorts for more dining options, most never leave the Four Seasons thanks to four restaurants that range from casual burgers by the golf course to excellent Italian overlooking the beach.

Passported Perks: Daily breakfast for two people per room, spa credit of $100 once during stay, for suite bookings, one complimentary round of golf per guest per stay, early check-in/late check-out and upgrade subject to availability.


Andaz Peninsula Papagayo

Peninsula Papagayo
Tel: (506) 2690-1234

BASICS

  • A relative newcomer to Papagayo, the Andaz opened in 2013 on a stretch of coastline between the peninsula’s marina and the Four Seasons; embracing both contemporary design and Costa Rican style, the resort features loads of open-air spaces, natural woods and woven textiles.

  • The 153 rooms, all with private patios and views towards the water, offer connecting options for families as well as more spacious suite (families of four will need the Andaz Large to fit everyone).

  • Like at the Four Seasons, the resort keeps active types happy with golf, tennis and almost any water sport imaginable; plan ahead to strike out on more adventurous excursions or to score a good tee time on the popular Arnold Palmer course.

BESTS

  • The Andaz brand  has made a name for itself as a younger, hipper cousin to the Hyatt brand, but in Costa Rica, they’re as accommodating of families as of couples; parents will love the complimentary kids’ club and shallow family pool with natural rock features.

  • The resort’s food is fantastic; even if you’re staying at one of the area’s other resorts, pop over for dinner.

  • Costa Rica is known for lots of things, but good roads aren’t one of them; the Peninsula Papagayo properties have the distinct advantage of being an easy 30-45-minute drive from the Liberia airport, making getting there significantly easier than almost any other coastal destination in the country.

 

Passported Perks: Buffet Breakfast for two daily at Rio Bhongo, $100 spa credit, per room, early check-in/late check-out and upgrade subject to availability.