Secrets Papagayo, Costa Rica

We chose Secrets because we were able to redeem points and get our stay there free. It helped that it was an all inclusive resort (rated as five star) with beautiful views. It is also located not far from a lot of different excursions that we were interested in taking. I’ve never stayed in an all inclusive five star resort, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The only other inclusive resort I have been to was for our honeymoon in Mexico, so I expected something similar or like a cruise ship on land. The above view is from the reception area. It is at the top of the hill and there were monkeys in the trees near where the vans are parked. At our check in, just like at the Mexican resort, we were approached to attend a time share presentation in exchange for our choice of presents. We decided to do it two days after we got there and received $200 toward a tour.

As you can see here, the resort is spread out over a bunch of hills. Some rooms were located on top of a really steep incline (as well as the reception area). The two pools, spa, and restaurants were all located at the bottom near the beach. Luckily, they had a shuttle service that consisted of vans and they would bring you to wherever you wanted to go if you didn’t want to walk. Sometimes the vans were very quick, but if it was during check in times, there could be a wait.

This is the view from our door. If we went straight, we would get to the main pool and all of the restaurants but one. The restaurants included: a buffet (open for every meal), a snack bar (open for lunch and closed before dinner), an Italian and Asian place open only for dinner, and a grill that was open for everyone for dinner and for preferred club members for breakfast and lunch as well. There were also several bars. This area had the gift shop, theater area, and the preferred club bar. We visited there on our second day because we were lucky enough to get two chairs in the shade. Much like a cruise ship, you had to be up early to get a chair with an umbrella or in the shade. We snagged ours after the time share presentation (around 9am).

It was windy season while we were there and around 2pm, the wind picked up and caused several umbrellas to fly away. The guests and servers quickly shut up all the umbrellas. This corner was a great spot to watch them perform dances, water aerobics, and we were next to two bars. The beach was a volcanic black beach. There were caution flags for dangerous marine life the entire time we were there. We found out that it was for jellyfish that you wouldn’t be able to see and also sea urchins that you could easily step on. We did not go into the water, but we did walk on the beach several times.

If you went to the other pool area, it was quiet. There is a spa, gym, and one restaurant on that side. It was almost impossible to get a chair in the shade there. We ended up moving our chairs to be in the shade for the longest time possible. I loved how peaceful it was on this side. The pool didn’t have steps into it though, so it was weird to climb down a ladder in order to get in. It was a great cool temperature though.

The drinks were usually pretty good. There were a few bartenders that didn’t seem to know how to make certain drinks, but once you found the right bartender, the drinks were quite tasty. We tried every restaurant except for the Asian one. Jef does not eat that kind of food. I am allergic to bell peppers and I made sure to get the correct vocabulary word for that (chile dulce) and tell every place it was a problem. All the restaurants had set menus that did not change. The most difficult place for me to eat was in the buffet. Every single dish had bell peppers in it or placed as a decoration in the food. The only time I could eat at the buffet was for breakfast. They made custom omelets that I loved. Otherwise, I could eat some vegetables, a salad, or dessert. The Italian restaurant was fine, but you had to be dressed a certain way to eat there. We had lunch several times at the snack bar area and liked the nachos and quesadillas. We ate once at the quiet side and it was fine, but didn’t have more than one thing we were interested in eating. Our favorite place was the Grill. It had a fresh catch every day and the grilled items were delicious. We ordered room service a couple of times as well and those were successful meals as well.

The room was fine. Our bed was a bit firm for us and when we called about it, the next day they brought us a new mattress! That was impressive service. The shower had both a handheld and a rain shower, so you could choose one or the other or both. There were plenty of English speaking channels on the tv and we watched some American Football playoffs while there. I loved the balcony area. We sat out there quite a bit and watched for birds and made friends with an iguana we named Lizzie.

These are the steps to our room. We only hung out at the resort for the first two days. We were gone from 8am to 5-7pm on the days that we had excursions. We live in Florida, so the tropical part of Costa Rica was not what drew us to the area. We wanted to see part of the country. It was nice to be somewhere that had places to eat and drink that were easily accessible. I think it is a place best suited to people to just want to hang out by the pool/beach and drink all day. You can certainly get your money’s worth doing so. They had all kinds of games during the day and at night including some kind of show every night. Although I learned the salsa one night, we didn’t participate in any of the other activities.

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