Hi - Just wanted to send you an e-mail
and tell you what an amazing time my friends and I had on our Costa
Rican adventure tour. We did the #4 Waterfall Canopy Tour in Miramar and
it completely exceeding all of our expectations. We had a fantastic tour
guide named Manny who really went above and beyond to make sure we had a
good time. He talked with us the entire ride to Miramar, telling us
about the local culture and economy and even teaching us some important
Spanish words. Manny acted as our photographer as well and we have some
really spectacular shots on the zip lines. Our driver Jon was great as
well. On the ride home he spotted a tree full of howler monkeys and
stopped so we could all take a look. Thanks again for helping us plan
the highlight of our trip! I will definitely be recommending your
company to anyone going to Costa Rica in the future.
Hi there Josta and Michael and Ricardo,
My apologies for not contacting you all sooner. As soon as we came home
from Costa Rica, it
was back to work, and school and life in the fast lane. We now have very
many lovely memories
of our time spent in your beautiful paradise. I wanted to commend you
and your staff on what a
difference they made to our stay. We had a lot of fun and really enjoyed
the company of the
driver and tour guides. I will always mention your outstanding services
to anyone that I know
is planning a trip in your part of the world. It was a pleasure meeting
you and chatting with you,
Know that you have left a wonderful impression upon us with your
kindness and hospitality. God Bless you.
(Carmen, Maya, Jeremy and Isabel)
“Vargas Tours- Highly Recommended”
We stayed at
the Hilton the last week of July and I wanted to post a few things about
the hotel before I get to the kudos about Vargas Tours...
The food was average at best, actually our family enjoyed the buffets
more than the formal dining. The beach was black and tan sand which made
for murky water for about the first 20 feet then the water became pretty
to swim in. I heard reports about stingrays, but never saw them. I also
read reports about racoons and monkeys begging for food during outside
dining but never witnessed it. Ask Javier, the pool bartender, for a
Dirty/Chunky Monkey--my wife's favorite drink while there. Bring your
own insulated plastic cup---this way if you put your drink down
somewhere pool side it doesn't get mixed up with someone elses. We
stayed in a bungalow just behind the snack bar. A great location. Make
sure to print the resort map before you go. I don't know if all of the
rooms are this way but our room had 2 beds, but they were 2 double beds.
In the US, we are used to 2 queen beds---just something to consider if
you are traveling with 4 adults staying in one room. If you don't like
your location as to change it. Go on a JetSki tour at the hotel and get
Jerry to take you around...we saw dolphins, sea turtles, and amazing
Renting a Car-We were told not to pay Costa Rican cops (in cash) if we
are pulled over for a ticket. A couple we knew was pulled over and was
asked to pay $20 for their son not being seat belted in the back seat.
(this is not a law). The dad refused to pay cash; instead asking to be
written a paper ticket, then the cop said never mind and let them go.
Shopping-We rented a car from the hotel and went to Tamarindo and
Flamingo. You don't need a GPS for this trip. It will take about 1.5
hours though and you don't need to pay extra for 4 wheel drive as all of
these roads are paved. Good shopping in Tamarindo, not so much in
Flamingo. We ate at Marie's and the food was ok. We had to send 1 entree
back. Just past the restaurant about a half mile is a wonderful beach. I
recommend it. Another town for shopping, Cocoa Beach is a fishing town,
about 15 minutes from the Hilton and has even better shopping.
Vargas Tours- Absolutely amazing. Ricardo is the owner. He offered
transfers to and from the airport. An extremely trustworthy businessman.
On Saturday, I paid him the roundtrip fee to and from the airport and he
confirmed pickup times via email and was there at 4:30am to bring us
back to the airport with a smile on his face. We went on the canopy
tours, and Manny and John were always on time and had the day planned to
a "t". Manny was the tour guide and John was the trusty driver. Manny
was extremely knowledgeable keeping us excited and engaged the entire
trip. Manny is also extremely patient and wonderful with my two
daughters. One of my daughters was afraid on the horseback ride and
Manny talked to the horse owner and he asked him to "tow" my daughter
through the trails on her horse. He made sure to check in with us
regularly to ensure we were having the best time possible. The other
family was looking for a special soccer jersey and Manny took time out
of our tour to bring him to a soccer specialty store to locate it for
them. Excellent! We took 2 trips with Vargas tours. The 2nd was a river
tour. Not my favorite, but it was absolutely no fault of Vargas.' Living
in the south, near swamps, I have seen similar scenery, but once again,
Manny kept the excitement level high and ensure everyone had a great
time. After the tour, he took us shopping. Manny went into the grocery
stores with us, and pointed out things that he recommended were Costa
Rican popular souvenirs. While we were shopping-John stayed back in the
van with the A/C running while my 2 daughters slept. He also stayed back
each tour and watched our valuables. Another nice thing is that on both
tours we never went with more than 4 other people. That was nice and
made the tour more personable. I would recommend that if you go on other
tours (with other companies) that you ask that tour company how many
other people are going.
I only hope that one day, if Manny makes it to the states that we can
return the favor of playing tour guide for him.
I found out about Vargas tours through the kindness of a tripadvisor
member that posted great things and I want to continue the POSITIVE
“Can't wait to go back! Thank You Vargas
Costa Rica Roc's”
3/4 found this review helpful
The Allegro Papagayo was
what I was expecting for the price.
It is an ideal place for money conscious families. The food was fine
and the rooms and ground were very well keep. The employees all over
the resort were extremely friendly and helpful. We choice this hotel
because we wanted to put our time and money into the tours.
All of our tours where booked with Vargas Tours. I must admit I was
a little nervous about booking everything with one tour company but
turned out great. Vargas is a small tour company that only has tours
in the Guanacaste Region. For this reason they are able to really
custom fit the tours for you. Our driver and guide could not have
been more knowledgeable and freindly. I really wish they offered
tours all over Costa Rica. You will not be disappointed if you go
with Vargas Tours.
Annette from Miami
1/2 found this review helpful
We have both positives and
negatives from our stay at the Hilton. First, the positives:
-room was attractive and comfortable
-good toiletries and thick towels
-beautiful views in the resort
-helpful and friendly staff
-stretching "class" near beach
-much of the food was tasty
-room was on small side
-food selection was limited and became somewhat monotonous
-severe lack of fresh fruit, available only at breakfast and often ran
out of mango even though there was a large mango farm just down the
-Italian restaurant was nothing special
On our first day our room flooded when a water pipe broke. The staff
quickly helped to move us to a new room.
On our second night, we went to bed early because we were being picked
up at 6am for an all-day excursion. However, we were unable to sleep
because a live band was playing at the outdoor bar and the noise
invaded our room. This was really annoying. The band was nothing
special, just covers of American songs. The staff had no real response
to our complaints that the noise coming in to our room was
unacceptable. We were told that vacationers wanted to have fun. This
went on until 11pm and we went off the next morning without a full
night sleep. Luckily, this only happened one night and other
entertainment was inside.
We booked our excursions through Vargas Tours and we highly recommend
them. We went to Monteverde Cloud Forest, the Palo Verde River Tour,
and Witches Rock Canopy Tour. The ride to the cloud forest was long (3
1/2 hours), but it was good to see such a different part of the
country. Vargas took us in small groups (sometimes just our family)
and the tour guides had a wealth of information to share. The
restaurant we went to on the Palo Verde River Tour was authentic and
good. The personal attention on the Vargas Tours really made this the
worthwhile choice. Another family told us that the Swiss tour trip to
Nicaragua was great too.
The hotel's location is good but once it's not an all-inclusive hotel
they will need to bring up the quality of the food and some service
for it to be worth it.
Loved every minute”
4/4 found this review helpful
Despite some of the reviews
on this hotel, my husband and I decided stay here and loved every
minute. The hotel grounds were beautiful with a variety of different
types of vegetation and animals. The views from this hotel were
We went during the off-season so the hotel was very quiet. We had the
beach to ourselves almost everyday as everyone stayed at the main
pool. At about 3:00 pm everyday the tide would come in forcing us to
leave, as the beach would disappear but we could always find chairs by
the pool. The food at the main restaurant was good. Although there was
not as much variety as other resorts we have been too, there was
something for everyone’s taste. Our favorite was the snack bar at
lunch as the served hamburgers and hotdogs. The hotel rooms were clean
and comfortable. The shower does not have a shower curtain so the
water gets all over the floor however the floors are washed on a daily
basis. By the end of our trip, the hills were becoming more tiring to
climb but the hotel offers shuttles services that are constantly
running. There is very little nightly entertainment but everyone meets
at the lobby for a few drinks and a little socialization with new
Tours- We decided to go with a local tour company to get a more
personalize feeling. We booked three tours with Vargas tours and they
were the highlight of our trip. I booked the trips prior to arriving
in Costa Rica and then just had to confirm the times when we arrived.
We went on the Palo Verde River Tour, white water rafting and on the
Borinquen Combo tour where we did the canopy, horse back riding and
then to the mud spa. We and another couple were the only ones on these
tours so we were on our own schedule. I would highly recommend Vargas
tours as the guides are very friendly and knowledgeable of the
country. Our guide, Manni was more then happy to answer any questions
we had and took the time to show us different types of vegetation and
animals that we would not have notice otherwise.
My husband and I have been to many places around the world, but this
trip was one of the best trips we have ever taken and it will be hard
to top. Costa Rica’s natural habitat is unlike anything else in the
4/4 found this review helpful
We have just
returned from a two week stay at Allegro from the 2nd to the 15th
August and have to say that all five of us had a fantastic time. The
facilities at the hotel were great, providing everything that we could
need. The staff were excellent - very friendly, speaking English and
Spanish (tried to teach us some Spanish!), very helpful and
accommodating to our every need. JB our rep from First Choice and a
local from Lincolnshire really went out of his way to get to know us
and help us with any queries that we had. Pura Vida JB! We took one
tour to Nicaragua with the hotel and had a fantastic though long and
tiring day, but well worth it! We did three other tours with
Papagayo/Vargas Tours: http://www.costarica-realestate.com/Papagayo%20Tours.htm
and can highly recommend them for their small, personalized, flexible
tours with very friendly and knowledgeable staff. I provisionally
booked three tours with them through email before we got to Costa
Rica, no deposit has to be paid, and we gave them a ring from the
hotel when we landed to chat about the tours and decide when we would
like to do them - very easy, and nice to do the tours in a small mini
bus with just our group rather than on a large coach. The rooms were
good with fridge and coffee making facilities which were refreshed
daily. Towels and sheets were changed daily also. We all received a
towel token for a beach towel, which could be changed daily if you
wished. There was a wide selection of food, with a different theme
every night, and always food on the go with the snack bar in between
meals. There are lots of extra activities available at extra cost, but
the prices were reasonable. The fun club put on lots of activities
throughout the day for everyone, not just the children, and were good
fun! We decided to take cash to Costa Rica, mainly Dollars and a small
amount of Colones and are pleased that we did as one of our party took
travellers cheques, but had problems changing them for Dollars at the
hotel. They would only exchange a small amount at one time and
wouldn't accept one cheque as the signatures were not exactly the
same, even though he had his passport with him! That was the only
problem we had though. There is a hugh variety of wildlife at the
resort (monkey's, raccoons, Iguanas, and lots of insects!) We saw
something new every day - too many to list! I recommend booking the
other restaurants and the private beach club - we only went to each
once, and wish we had done them more, especially the private beach
Overall a fantastic time was had by all, and will hopefully go back as
soon as funds allow!
Graham, Sarah, Josie, Chris and Charlie Thorpe
2/2 found this review helpful
We absolutely loved this
experience! Probably the most exciting/scary thing I have done. We
booked a tour to attend the lodge through Vargas tours, they picked us
up at our resort and took us there.
It is a very rough and rocky road once you get up on the mountain and
takes a while.
Once there we did a 2 hour ATV tour with the Lodge. Awesome ride,
incredible views of the mountains, saw howler monkeys, white faced
monkeys and a toucan while in the forest.
Then we did the canopy tour, rode horses to get up there (horses were
in great condition! well looked after) then did the zip lines. What a
rush the first one is 450 feet above ground! you go across the valley,
trees way below you and a waterfall off to the side. Incredible view.
You do 11 zip lines to get to the bottom. Our guide came with us and 2
employees of the lodge. If you're really scared you can ask the guide
to "double" you across. We did the first time then saw home fun it was
and did it ourselves.
A fantastic lunch followed, best food we had while in Costa Rica, much
better than the resort food.
Then after lunch we did the hot springs/mud bath. Nice and relaxing.
We had the best time ever! I would recommend this tour to anybody
looking for adventure and thrills.
This review is the subjective opinion of a
100/100 found this review helpful
We stayed at the Fiesta
Premier Resort and Spa from December 11-18th 2006. This was our 3rd trip
to Costa Rica and I have to say that this resort was the best so far. We
found that the resort was immaculate in the grounds keeping, restaurant,
and especially the rooms.
We really enjoyed that the rooms are actually 2 room bungalows as
opposed to the typical apartment complexes. We stayed there with our 12
year old son and our 13 year old god son. The 2 rooms were connected by
a short hallway with one way doors at each end. This was perfect for us,
as it allowed us to be right next to the boys, yet maintain some
privacy. The rooms were well furnished, clean and spacious. Ver y
comfortable. They had a mechanical safe in the closet which we really
liked. You make up the code, so it is extremely comforting to know that
our valuables were secure. Our bungalow was 306/307. It was right next
to the adult area . Right next door to us was the spa pool, gym and the
bar (which was the Italian restaurant at night). Very convenient for
hopping over for a quick beer or munchies. Our room was just a hop-skip
and jump from the beach. We really enjoyed the 5 minute walk up the
beach to the main complex area.
The pool was quite nice as it is in 3 stages. One with the swim up bar,
the next is a level down with the volley ball net, then down another
level that was a wading pool for the kids.
The food was really quite good. The main buffet had a good selection of
food and was well prepared. There wasn't any problems with finding
something to eat. I have to admit that I really liked the beef stew that
was served at breakfast. The Italian restaurant was excellent, while
Eldorado was ok. They made an incredible ceasar salad, right infront of
you at your table,, but the rest food was over done.. The service made
up for that fact. The waiter came up and asked how things were going.
When we explained that it was a little over cooked, he immediately
wanted to get us another plate. That impressed me. The snack bar had a
good mix of North American and costa rican snacks. They made awesome
burgers, which my kids loved. The chimichangas were very good. The only
down side was when it reopened at 10pm, By the time the grill/fryers
heated up you couldn't get anything to eat until about 10:30 - but that
wasn't really a big deal.
The grounds were beautiful. But if you haven't been to Costa Rica
before, be warned that the resort in built on a hill side., so there are
a lot of up and down walking. But don't worry, the resort provides "transporation"
to pick you up and take you where you want to go on the resort. I think
the longest I waited for a driver was 5 minutes at one of the stops.
If you wish to be decadent, I have to strongly advise that you take time
to visit the spa. For $80US I had the Ancestral Hot Rock Massage. It was
one of the best hours of my life . I do believe I melted into a puddle
on the ground. I decided to have my massage in one of the 2 ocean front
cabanas, It was heaven to listen to the ocean while receiving my
I also recommend that you do the jet ski tour offered at the resort. It
was a blast and lasted for about 2.5 hours. We stopped by The Allegro
Papagayo private beach to watch a troop of howler monkeys then went to
investigate a sea cave. It was well worth the money.
But I do have to say that what made our trip was the tours we did with
Vargas Tours. We have used this company before when we were in Costa
Rica 2 years ago. We decided to use them again and did not regret it for
a moment. Ricardo was amazing paitent with us over 5 months of constant
e-mailing and planning. He met with us the second day we were at the
resort. We decided to pay for all our tours (4 of them) in advance so
that we didn't have alot of cash on us at the resort. He provided us
with vouchers for the week. I had to say it was great for finally meet
him after so many years. He was very friendly and professional. Since we
were doing 4 trips, he assigned Manuel and Flaco to us for the week.
These two were absolutely fantastic as guide/driver. They were extremely
knowledgable, friendly and most importantly completely bilingual. They
did the best they could to make sure that we enjoyed every aspect of our
trips. It was no problem at all for them to stop so that we could
capture that Kodak moment, and when it came to shopping they were
patient as can be. It was wonderful, because we explained what we were
looking for and they must of taken us to a half a dozen places that they
knew of that could have it.
We did the Palo Verde River Tour (saw monkeys, crocodiles, more iguanas
and birds then you could shake a stick at.) Then we went to Monteverde.
A very long day, but the cloud forest and the scenery was well worth it.
The hummingbird and butterfly sancutaries were amazing. Next we did the
Marivailles Volcano/Canopy tour. That was so cool playing on an active
volcano vent and last but no least we went white water rafting on the
Colorado River. That was cool. Class 1&2 rapids. The rafts were 2 man
boats, so each of us was with an experience guide. These guys are great
and very playful - expect a couple of water fights along the way.
I would recommend Vargas Tours to anyone who wishes to do some
excursions. Like I said they are very personalized and the most people
we had with us was 2 other couples and their vans are new and very
comfortable. Lunches are usually provided and they always find the best
little restaurants to eat at . Their prices are competitive, but the
value they provide is exceptional.
We will definitely be coming back to Costa Rica, and we will definitely
be coming back to the Fiesta Premier Resort and Spa.
- This TripAdvisor Member:
- Liked — 2 room bungalows, very spacious
and well furnished
- Disliked — really had no complaints
- Tips/Secrets: — if you
can avoid traveler cheques as they are a real pain to try to cash
On July 22, 2006... we chose Vargas
tours and were incredibly satisfied. It was just me and my wife on the
tour - incredibly private. We did the Buena Vista hot springs spa,
horseback riding, water slide and canopy tour. Our guide for the
majority of the trip, Marco, spoke fluent (and I mean FLUENT, and
ELOQUENT) English as well as Spanish and pulled over during our ascent
of the mountain to show us native plants, butterflies, fruits and
rivers. We had an abundance of wonderful picture taking opportunities. I
usually am not a fan out 'tours', most of them seem commercial - but on
this occasion, it felt like we were being led through previously
unexplored places. The roads leading to the mountain were incredibly
worn and I was glad an experienced guide was driving instead of me.
At the top, we did the horseback ride and spa first (there were barely
any people there at all). The ride was through the deep woods, through
streams and dense vegetation, simply surreal. The spa was very relaxing
and unpopulated. For lunch, we stopped in a local place (The Coate (sp?)
restaurant) for some very fresh and flavorful food. At the end, we did
the water slide (warning: very very cold water!), which was thrilling,
and the zip line tour (again, we were the only two up there, with two
local guides helping us along). We saw some howler monkeys, exotic
orchids, colorful birds...
In all, this tour is a wonderful value and a great alternative to taking
the big tour buses up the mountain. I highly recommend it!
Liberia: Grand Papagayo: "Missing it already!!!"
firstname.lastname@example.org, Surrey, England Jan/2006
We have just returned from a glorious 14 nights at the Occidental Grand
Papagayo and as this site was so useful to me in making my original
decision to go there, I thought it only right to make a contribution
myself! Please feel free to email me any questions you might have.
The dynamic of our party was quite varied– 3 families comprising of 6
parents (in our 40’s), one child of 10, 3 teens of 16 and five 17-19
year-olds. 15 of us in all.
We are from the UK and go away together in a group every Christmas.
Traditionally, we choose the Caribbean (all-inclusive resorts) but this
year we decided to be a little more adventurous – so glad we did! As
there is no direct flight to Liberia from the UK, we flew via Miami,
which meant a stop-over each night outward and return.
Arrival – The immigration at Liberia is the fastest ever! We were out of
the airport with our bags within 30 minutes of the aircraft touching
down. However, Liberia is a very basic airport so don’t plan on spending
too much time there when it is time to leave!
Resort- First impressions of the resort were mixed. It was a lot smaller
than we were used to, but this actually became an advantage. It had a
more intimate feel as a result.
The Rooms – Pretty good. 'The parents' had paid a little extra for an
Ocean View, which was a spectacular thing to wake up to every morning.
Clean, spacious and comfortable. Let’s face it, this is not the sort of
place you are going to spend much time in your room, apart from
sleeping, showering, dressing, etc! We had no problems with ‘lumpy
pillows’ as mentioned by another reviewer below. In fact, our king-size
bed had a total of 8 pillows to choose from (6 more than we needed!).
The Beach – I am a keen snorkeller and found this aspect a little
disappointing. At low tide, the beach is super, but there is very little
of it at high tide! We did have some fun taking kayaks and paddling over
to the next bay where there is a lovely beach bar.
For the first time on my vacation, I spent more time at the pool than
the beach. However, contrary to expectation this didn’t seem to bother
me at all. The pool volleyball was always great fun to be involved with,
and allowed you to make new friends. The only cautionary point I would
make is that you need to get down early to ‘reserve’ your prize position
(preferably a place with a little shade!)
The Food – overall it was very good. The buffet always combined a fine
choice with good quality. The Italian restaurant, as many here have
noted, was excellent and the Oriental was ‘good’. However, it is the
dining system that created our biggest complaint and problem. The
reservation process is ridiculous, particularly if you are trying to
accommodate a large party.
The first week we stayed there (pre-Christmas) it wasn’t particularly
busy but, despite repeated requests, we were unable to persuade them to
move a couple of the tables together so we could enjoy an occasional
However, the puzzling thing is that in the second week – their busiest
of the year – they seemed to be happy to assist with two groups of a
similar size to our own!
Every time we saw the Guest Relations desk, they seemed to be fielding
complaints about the Reservations system from someone. It’s a shame as
this was the only flawed aspect of the entire resort. Someone below
mentioned a ‘rude man from Guest Services’ – I know exactly who you
mean: he is still there, unfortunately!!
The Staff – Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Genuinely warm, friendly
people who are rightly proud of their country and we were privileged to
have been shown around by a couple of them on their night off! We found
that if you treat the staff with appropriate respect, then it is
reciprocated. Combine this with decent tipping and you have the ideal
formula for an enhanced experience! Unfortunately, there seemed to be a
number of people who believed giving a tip entitled them to treat the
staff like lackeys…. This does not go down too well, believe me!
I reiterate – the staff are fantastic (with the singular exception
The Trips – I will say this once, but it is the most important point I
want to make in this whole review: You MUST make the effort to see as
much of this beautiful country as you can; therefore organising some
trips is absolutely essential!
We did a little research beforehand and reserved our tours with Michael
and Ricardo at Vargas Tours – so glad we did!
[------------] Not only were they and their guides phenomenal, the trips
gave us several unforgettable experiences that the teenagers in our
party will remember for the rest of their lives! I really cannot stress
how important it is to do this.
The tours we attended were:
1. The Buena Vista Mega Combo. Despite the hype-ridden title, it
certainly lives up to the description. If you only have time for the one
tour, it should be this one! I won’t go into a description of these as
they can be seen on the above site, but needless to say it fulfils (and
probably exceeds) any expectation you may have… and mine were pretty
high to begin with!
2. The Beach-hopping tour. We combined this with a Quad-Bike tour and
some of the group opted for horseback-riding. We followed this with
surfing lessons for the ‘younger generation’, which was one of the
highlights of the vacation for them!
3. The Palo Verde River Tour. Monkeys, Crocs, Birds and a real flavour
of the wildlife generally.
4. The Sunset Sail. What a way to end the vacation! Not only viewing the
most spectacular sunset ever, but also having schools (shoals?) of
dolphins swimming by our boat and then the actual sunset framing the
silhouette of 3 whales jumping and diving into the Pacific!
One final point to make about the tours is that the Costa Rican roads
are not the best (understatement), so be prepared for some bumpy rides!
In summary, I would say that Costa Rica is up there with the best places
we have visited (and that includes Hawaii, Maldives, Cuba). The resort
itself I would suggest is a four-star rather than the advertised five.
However, the minor foibles of the Grand Papagayo are more than offset by
the warmth and charm of their staff. Very, very highly recommended.
Oh and one last thing – although it was the dry season and there were
very few mosquitoes, we did get bitten many times by those ‘no see-ums’.
Very irritating so make sure you take good bug spray and also a decent
anti-histamine cream to treat the bites.
The motto of Costa Rica is ‘Pura Vida’ and that pretty much sums up the
culture, attitude, beauty and people of this wonderful place. Can’t wait
to go back!!!
Sol Playa Hermosa - Kathy
Food here was very flavorful, not too hot and spicy. Lots of flavor
though, nothing bland about it. No it is not a five star resort with two
buffets and five a la cartes. But the food at the buffet was always a
bit above average. The soups were always excellent. Fruit was great
pineapple in particular. If you ever do get tired of the food great
inexpensive chicken, pizza, escargot and cold beer etc at Pizza Love on
the beach. Also for something different at night Ginger’s closed Monday
evenings, kind of an Asian influence appetizer menu, very unique in this
tropical setting. Rooms are plain but quite nice considering it is a
three star hotel. All I saw were clean. Villas seemed to be not as
maintained as the hotel rooms. New pool area is gorgeous, although they
do need more deck chairs at both the pool and also at the beach. People
here were extremely welcoming. Very honestly glad you came to visit
their country. We were lucky enough to be in the country when it was
time for their festivals, which include bull riding. We follow the rodeo
here in Canada. So for us it was a great opportunity. We went to a
neighboring town, can't remember name of it. Went to the bull riding.
Every single person we recognized from the hotel came over and said
hello and introduced us to their spouses and children. The tour driver
we used for one tour we took through Mike Mills made us feel
exceptionally welcome at this event. I am quite sure we were the only
tourists at this event, and only felt very welcomed by all the people
there. Bottom line food is good, rooms are OK, but the staff there makes
the stay there great. I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel to
anyone who wants to enjoy Costa Rica. Just keep in mind it is rated as a
three star, personally I would give it a solid four as for what they
lack in fanciness they make up for in their welcoming attitude. Lots to
do in the area, we used a guy named Michael Mills to book all of tours
through. Definitely one of our better choices. Unique, personal approach
to your trip and his company will pick you up right at the hotel.
Both my husband and I wanted to let you know what a great time we had
while we were in Costa Rica and we wanted to let you know that all of
the tours you organized for us were fabulous. Especially, thank you for
organizing the surfing trip to Tamarindo........we had a blast and our
tour guide was great. It was my husband's first time surfing and now we
wants to go surfing in Tofino on Vancouver Island as soon as possible!!
Thank you so much for all or your hard work.
We had a great time and we will definitely come back to Costa Rica one
Erin and Mike Munsie
It was hard to believe all the glowing comments by former travelers and
the advertising hype of your web site BUT... it's not brag it's just
fact. Every tour you set up for my family was first class and exactly as
advertised. It's hard to imagine how incomplete our vacation would have
been if we had missed even one of those adventures. The drivers, the
guides, the people we met and the places we went added up to a simply
fantastic experience for all of us. Small and private makes everything
that much more unique.
Please keep in touch so we can plan our next trip with you.
Thanks again, Bob
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the wonderful tours you
set up for us. We cannot say enough about your professionalism and
attentiveness. I spent many years as a Promotions/Marketing Specialist
setting up incentive trips for groups from 10 - 600 people. You are one
of the best operators I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.
Our sunset cruise was the perfect way to end a great vacation. Again,
thank you for knowing just what we would like. What a great experience!
We enjoyed the company of Captain John and Edwin so much - we even had a
private bongo show in the darkness of the bay before departing.
Actually Mike, you would almost believe the cruise had been
orchestrated down to the last detail. First, that beautiful boat all to
ourselves. Followed by champagne and the perfect amount of wind to set
the sail and glide gracefully around the coast. An exciting moment when
we were "pirated" by another thirsty crew wanting our beer....okay, we
forgive you!! Then, the magical moment - - my husband landing a 22 pound
Amberjack off the back of the boat right as the sun set....wow!!
Mike, again, a sincere thank you for making our trip perfect. You are a
true asset to the tourist industry in Costa Rica. God Bless and keep up
the great work.
"The Laid-back Foursome"
Bob and Penny Newton
Mike and Lynn Koewler
PS Lynn did the zip line. Isn't that fantastic? She never would have
even considered had we not been in the hands of our wonderful guide,
David. What a treasure he is too.
I cannot thank you enough for setting us up with Bob and his group. We
had an exceptional trip with Rafael and his crew. On our full day trip
we caught about 30 fish including 4 sailfish and two of the biggest
Wahoo I have ever seen. I have always heard of the the great reputation
Costa Rica had for its fishing but going with Rafael proved. Him and his
crew are so experienced in locating the fish and and making sure you get
them in the boat. Out of all of the fish we had we only lost a couple.
The resort prepared all our catches that we brought back and was by far
the best meal of the week. We highly recommended booking the crew for
future trips to everyone who heard about our fish stories at the resort.
And let me tell you there were quit a few because I caught two of the
sailfish and I have never been so thrilled so I had to brag allot into
the wee hours.
Thank you again for all of your help in making our first trip to Costa
Rica an unforgettable one. Costa Rica is a beautiful place and we are
already planning our next trip so hopefully on the next one we can meet
We appreciate everything and thanks again.
My group of 13 just got back from a
week at the Grand Papagayo. I planned the whole trip, so I was very
stressed out about how the resort would be for us all. Upon arrival, I was
instantly relieved. At check-in we were all given champagne and Harold,
the manager I had been in contact with, came to meet me to assure me that
we would be taken care of. From there, the trip was awesome...
Rooms ~ each person in our group decided on an ocean view room. This was
perfect. We woke up each morning to hear the waves crashing on the beach
below. It was a decent walk to the rooms from the main building, but not
out of control and there was constant transportation to take, if
necessary. The cleaning service was impeccable ~ our girl came in to meet
us our first day and each day she would go above and beyond her call of
duty. One day she even put my earrings back in their little case, since I
had left them on the floor (lazy me!!!).
Service ~ all of the staff at the hotel was awesome. They all spoke
English and Spanish, and were patient with those of us who were trying to
practice our Spanish speaking skills. Tipping is not necessary, but they
do appreciate it (so much), and they will be even happier than before to
Food ~ all of the restaurants were great. When we arrived we found out
that the Italian and the Oriental were only available to us one night
each. At first I was concerned and a little annoyed that we didn't know
this ahead of time, but the truth is that the buffet is a 5* restaurant as
well, and it was great eating there also.
***Tip - if you have a large group, tell them ahead of time and see if it
is possible to arrange the Tatami Room (for up to 8 people) for a night.
It is a private room in the Oriental, and it is beautiful and fun.
The Beach ~ we went to the beach on multiple days. It was a little rocky,
but there were chairs and kayaks down there. It was fun to hang out and
relax a little.
*Tip - Go at least one night at sunset.
**Tip - It was a short walk to the snack bar, but still kind of a pain to
go get a drink. Bring a BIG insulated mug, and they will be happy to fill
it up and send you on your way
Excursions... Where do I begin???
We used Michael Mills at Allegro Vargas-Papagayo Tours for all of our trips. He
is probably is the happiest man in Costa Rica that we are now gone!!!
Seriously, he was so accommodating and was happy to arrange all of our
trips, even ones we did at the last minute.
1. Canopy Tours ~ we did Witches Rock. I still wish that we had done one
of the combo ones, but this one was great. The cables were 3 years new and
it was very safe. Tip ~ bring a hat/cap to wear under your helmet so you
don't have to wear the ugly hair nets ~ the boys looked pretty silly with
2. Jet skis ~ we did jet skis through the hotel, and they took you to the
Fiesta Premier to do it. (Our hotel was much prettier, but this one
definitely had a different feel) The jet ski tour was 2.5 hours long and
we got to see all of the different local beaches and resorts. Very cool ~
while out there we got lucky and saw dolphins, a six foot turtle, black
fin tuna, and starfish. It was very cool.
3. Whitewater Rafting ~ very cool, very hard. We saw so many butterflies
and monkeys. We did Class III, IV, and V... VERY tiring. Tip ~ bring power
bars; you will be exhausted by the end...
4. Llano de Cortez ~ this was my FAVORITE thing. This is a waterfall about
an hour away from the hotel. It was surreal how beautiful this was ~ we
were able to all get in and play in the water and get a "massage" from the
waterfall. It was about 60 feet tall and 40 feet across. This is not a
true "tour" ~ Michael Mills arranged it. This is a waterfall that mostly
locals go to. It looked like the beginning of Jurassic Park where the
waterfalls all surround you. Tip - bring your waterproof camera. You will
want to take a lot of pictures...
Other random things.
*There are stray cats wandering all over Costa Rica that are very nice.
They will stay away from you if you are not a cat person, but I did wish
that I had some kitty treats.
*Bring lots of waterproof cameras ~ everything you do involves some water.
*Insulated mugs ~ muy importante
*Call Michael Mills ~ he is wonderful. You can Google him under "Allegro
*Tip the staff. They will love you as much as you will love Costa Rica.
ok ~ time to get back to reality. Enjoy yourself ~ Puda Vida!!!
Mike, thank you for the
wonderful time in Costa Rica. The tours you set up for us were the
highlight of our trip. The small groups and the personalized service were
just what we were after, and our guides were outstanding. I cannot talk
highly enough to my friends about our experience.
Hoping to return soon,
Vikki and Cliff Feb 2005
Finally found some time to send off an e-mail to you regarding our tour
with your company. The tour Buena Vista Mega Tour was great. Steve & I
enjoyed many firsts together. I even attempted the canopy tour with a lot
of help from the guide. Even though I didn't do it by myself, I can at
least say I did it. The water slide was fun, but later that night, we
found out at supper that a man at our Hotel went down the water slide and
while going down, he noticed a snake's head pop up from his tube. He said
it scared the @#$% out of him. It turned out to be a poisonous snake, so
I'm glad I heard the story after the tour and not before. Also, the horse
back riding was a first for the two of us and when the trip ended nobody
wanted to get off. I think that was the most favorite part of the tour for
me. Steve would say the canopy and he is ready for the next level. We also
enjoyed the hot springs and mud bath. It was great for the sunburn.
We wanted to thank you for the discount. Everyone in our group enjoyed the
tour, the small group and the fact that we were always ahead of everyone,
at least a half hour, which meant no line ups, etc. It was great! We have
told everyone we know about your tours, so we hope you get lots of
business. We even told our travel agent about you and your tours and she
was going to post these on her website for her clients to review before
going to COSTA RICA in the future.
Also, we wanted to let you know how impressed we were with our guide
"DAVID". For a young man, he was full of lots of information on Costa Rica
and it's history. David showed us how cashews grow, which nobody knew. He
was very nice and made our tour that much more enjoyable. Something that
meant a lot to me, was that I had asked David if he would find some poor
kids for me to give the clothes, hats, books and pencils to. David came
with me and Steve took lots of pictures. I cried as the kids were so
polite and grateful for everything they got. Not one child grabbed or
screamed, they just stood there with big smiles on their faces and if I
offered they said Gracias. Children in Canada have so much and are
ungrateful and these little ones had nothing and were very thankful. After
our tour one of the couples on our 6 man tour wanted to get some souvenirs
and David and our driver (sorry I forgot his name) took us to a souvenir
shop before heading for our Hotel. The souvenirs were very reasonable and
probably half the money as at our Hotel. You have a good man in David and
we just thought you would like to know as it is always nice to know that
you have good knowledgeable help. Please say hi to him for us.
An English man by the name of Kenton from the Toronto area (who we
referred on to you as well) was also very impressed with the Buena Vista
Mega Tour and his guide. Kenton's son was sick the day originally planned
for their tour, and your company made arrangements for another tour the
following day. He was very impressed.
Well, should close for now, but just wanted to pass this information on to
you and to let you know how informative your web site was for planning
tours before heading to Costa Rica. Not only did it tell us about your
tours, but it also told us about our Hotel "Allegro Papagayo" (which was
wonderful). Bye for now and we look forward to planning more tours with
you next year when we return to Costa Rica.
Kim & Steve - March 2005
April 5th/2005Hola Michael,
My name is Brandy Parker. My family and I took your sailboat tour on
Sunday March the 27, I just wanted to let you know that it was the
highlight of my entire vacation. We were staying at the Allegro Papagayo
Resort. Costa Rica is paradise if I have ever seen it, with the most kind,
most beautiful people in the world. After that week in paradise I am
honestly thinking of ways to move there.
Thank you for your time,
Brandy from Canada
: Allegro Papagayo by
« Reply #16 on: Mar 23rd, 2005, 8:49pm »
We just returned from one of the best vacation weeks of our lives...the
resort is first class, food is fabulous , shows are professional, pool,
bars and activities are excellent, and most important, everyone was
extremely friendly and helpful and bent over backwards to accommodate any
request. Our only "problem" was the air conditioning not cooling our 3rd
floor, cathedral ceiling room very well...it was over 100F outside, so the
AC there works hard. When we called the desk they were there within 5
minutes to fix it, and when it still wasn't cooling, they immediately
offered to move us to another comparable room...the bellboy was at the
door within 5 minutes and cheerfully waited while we packed up. Make sure
you take water shoes. the black sand is muy caliente (HOT!!!) and you
don't want to step on anything in the water (it is an ocean, after all!)
howler and whiteface monkeys in the trees at the beach. Book your tours
through Michael Mills ...we had 3 fantastic days of private tours us and
our guide/driver) and the cost is about the same as the "40 people on a
bus where you don't see anything and are on everyone else's schedule
tours"...plus Mike was terrific about finding the best guides and staying
in touch each day....he made suggestions, worked with our requests and
problem solved to make sure we had a great week. Don't worry about booking
at Allegro Papagayo; if they've had customer service difficulties in the
past, they have certainly resolved them...we were treated like royalty.
Province of Guanacaste: Fiesta Premier Resort & Spa: "Second trip to
March 17, 2005:
August, 2004: We returned for our second trip to Guanacaste and again
stayed at the Fiesta Premier. I will not repeat the details from our first
trip in April 2004 (you can see our trip report from that one in a
previous posting). The Fiesta Premier was as much fun as before. This time
we stayed in a 2-bedroom unit (which was two 1-bedroom units joined by a
short hallway), since we has not only our son but our 17-year-old daughter
(Rachel) with us. Each of the rooms was very spacious, and this
arrangement worked great. My wife (Sarah) and I actually managed to stay
awake for most of the shows this trip, which was a lot of fun, especially
since they drafted Rachel into performing for one show and Sarah for
another (the Ms. Fiesta Premier show). This was definitely Sarah’s
15-minutes (actually more like 15 hours) of fame, since she had multiple
fans come up the next day to tell her what a great Elvis impersonation she
The biggest difference from April was that this was “rainy season”. Like
others who have done trip reports from this season, we ended up thinking
“Rain? What rain?” We really only had one day-time rain during our
week-long stay, and that only lasted for an hour or so. The main tangible
differences in the rainy and dry seasons were that (1) everything was much
greener and lusher, with millions of beautiful butterflies; and (2)
instead of getting stung by jelly-fish, my wife got bitten by bugs. (My
wife is apparently very tempting to many wild animals -- including yours
truly.) Anyway, the lesson here is to take plenty of industrial strength
bug repellent, and apply it early and often.
We again took 2 tours, each of them pretty much all day. One was similar
to the “Buena Vista mega-tour” we did before, except that this time we did
a canopy tour on zip-wires that were longer and steeper (ie, faster) than
the ones we used before. We requested this mainly because our 12-year-old
son wanted an even bigger thrill, and believe me, we definitely got some
adrenaline pumping! But it was REALLY fun, even for my wife and myself,
who are normally big chickens about heights. (The kids, of course, are
fearless.) The tour is $135 per person (compared to $120 for the mega-tour
that includes the tamer canopy), but in our opinion well worth the money.
This sounds like a lot at first blush, but considering that we got the
personal service of a tour guide and driver all day (just for our family)
and that on the canopy tour the guides outnumbered us, it looks pretty
reasonable. We also did a white-water rafting tour, which was a blast. Our
guide told us these were class 2-3 rapids mostly, with one or 2 short
stretches of class 4. None of us had been white-water rafting before, so
frankly this information didn’t really register. Naïve little me thought
that as long as you stayed in your raft (really more of a 2-person kayak),
the flow of the water would guide you through the rapids without much
skill required. Wrongo, Dumbo! At my request, I started out in the kayak
with just my son (no guide), and within about 5 minutes I had gotten us
hung up on rocks 3 times. Each time required one of the guides from
another kayak to get us un-stuck. We were never in any danger (the river
was only a couple of feet deep), but it was clear that if we wanted to
finish the rafting before we were scheduled to leave Costa Rica (in 2
days), we’d better make some adjustments. So, we re-arranged ourselves so
that each kayak had a guide. David, our overall guide for the whole tour,
was in my boat (unfortunately for him – read on). After that, things went
much smoother, although even with a guide, things got a bit hairy at
times. Again, no mortal danger, but we did overturn a couple of times and
get carried along with the current a bit— enough to keep things exciting.
We arranged our tours again through Mike Mills and to avoid exhausting my
supply of superlatives, let me just say that this is a fantastic tour
company. They really go out of their way to accommodate you with
personalized service. We did the Buena Vista tour with Ricardo, who is a
real gem (see my April trip report), and the rapids with a younger guy,
David, who is also extremely knowledgeable and very nice. Even when I
accidentally whacked him in the nose with my paddle (by the way, I’m
signing up partners for my next whitewater trip, if anyone is interested),
he was unflappable and gracious. We heard some complaints from other
people at our hotel who had gone on tours with another big company
(Swiss), so we will definitely stick with Vargas on our future trips.
So, in sum, we now think that this vacation was about the best bang for
buck we’ve had. We would highly recommend it to anyone, especially
families. And if you go, say “Hi” from the folks in Falls Church to
Ricardo and David, as well as to Mr. Raul Montero, the front desk manager
at the Fiesta Premier.
Province of Guanacaste: Fiesta Premier Resort & Spa: "Fantastic Trip"
March 8, 2005: A TripAdvisor Member, Detroit Compare prices with:
Province of Guanacaste: Fiesta Premier Resort & Spa: "I want to move
March 8, 2005: Nitram7@aol.com, Williamsville NY Compare prices with:
I stayed at this hotel in:
My ratings for this hotel are:
Activities and gym
I traveled to this hotel with: spouse/partner, small children
I recommend this hotel for: couples and romantics, honeymooners, singles,
families with small children, large groups, students, budget travelers,
My visit was for: leisure
Returned from Fiesta Premier March 1st. Hated to leave. My wife and two
children, ages 7 and 10 spend 9 days at the Fiesta. The best thing about
the resort is the people. I don't know how they keep smiling. They are
very open and there to help you have a great time. Will is one of the
staff that keeps you busy through the day with activities and a smile.
Henry is a great guy who will entertain your children with face painting
and games. Martin was my favorite bartender who gives you the low down on
what's up. Unfortunately I only became familiar with these few and Ogre
who you'll see hustling first thing in the morning until late a night. I
only mentioned men, but the women glowed with friendliness. Hey i can only
say so much about the women, remember i'm married. These people work their
behinds off for your comfort. Don't forget to tip. I didn't do it enough.
My kids loved the pools and they were never crowded. It always felt as if
the resort was half full. The food was always good, with a different theme
every night as well as an ala carte restaurant.
I thought the beach was great and there's another even better one just a
stone's throw away. Bird life is everywhere in all sizes and colors. You
can't beat the temperature and there usually was a nice breeze blowing
when needed, yet the bay was very calm. My kids also loved the little
tidal pools of sealife that formed on the rocks.
I didn't give the resort five stars because the room is nice but it is not
luxurious. But it is almost irrelevant since we all just crashed and slept
like babies at night.
We did some day tours with Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s
(previously Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Allegro Tours)))))) through Michael Mills. Great
people.With the politically inspired David Blanco, future president of CR.
And we were very fortunate to spend the day with Richardo the owner, just
a terrific guy.
At the resort you can get other tours and it is very easy to do. I also
recommend that you somehow get out on the water for another perspective.
Just a wonderful trip and a great time in CR.
If you need any other info please feel free to email me.
One last piece of advise, if you are offered a shuttle through your tour
agency you may just want it to the resort. It was a heck of a lot easier
to take a taxi back to the airport as far as saving time.
We are back in Canada and missing your beautiful weather. I just wanted to
say thank you for the wonderful tours you and your partners set up for us.
Your staff is amazing and so knowledgeable about Costa Rica. All questions
were answered, every request was taken care of and even extra stops along
the way were fit in when requested. (We are the big group of 16 from
Canada) We never felt rushed, we were always asked if we were ready to
continue on. Best tour guides I have ever come across. I must thank you
personally for the private use of your sail boat for our group on
Valentine's day. It was the best afternoon and evening and I will never
forget it! We enjoyed getting to know you better, along with Michelle and
the crew. The saxophone player and guitar player were awesome and every
time I hear a sax it takes me right back to your boat and that beautiful
sunset. I can't thank you enough for making our stay in Costa Rica the
greatest and if we ever make our way back, I will bring you some Canadian
The Mandseth's Feb 2005
Thanks for a great time in Costa Rica. Our group of 16 especially enjoyed
the Valentine's cruise . You made it very special by presenting the ladies
with roses and chocolates. And of course the champagne didn't hurt either.
We loved listening to the saxophone player and the great singer on the
guitar while we were sailing . That is something none of us will forget.
Our friend Kathy thought she had died and gone to Heaven. Our pictures of
the sunset from the boat are absolutely awesome. Having the sax and guitar
players come with us and continue to play at the restaurant, was such a
nice touch and the pizza was delicious. Too bad some of our group had to
be escorted home early ( for unknown reasons Ha! ) . Our whole time in
Costa Rica was great, and thanks to you, we had awesome tours . The Mega
Combo tour and the Palo Verde River tour were fantastic. Hope to see you
again, as we have much more to see and experience in Costa Rica. Thanks
Bob and Wendy Bignell
19 McLeod Crescent
Leduc Alberta Canada
Allegro Grand Papagayo Darlene
& Kate ~ Canada
We have just returned from a fabulous week in Costa Rica. Allegro Papagayo
Resort was everything it was advertised to be. The frequent shuttles
throughout the property made it possible for those less able to navigate
the hills to be able to navigate the resort. It is a beautiful spot with
The resort was busy and at times staffing was stretched to the limit in
the main restaurant. The steak house was a much more relaxed atmosphere
and service was excellent. The menu choices were great and it was a nice
change to be served your food as opposed to the buffet.
The staff were pleasant and friendly. The Entertainment staff in
particular worked hard to get people involved in the activities of the
day. They were an enthusiastic and fun loving group. They work very long
hours as do the staff in the dining areas. Despite long hours of work, the
staff never failed to smile and execute their duties efficiently.
We booked two tours through Mike Mills, a Canadian who has re-located to
Costa Rica. The small group approach to tours is the way to see Costa
Rica. Our first tour was Paola Verde Wildlife Sanctuary and the river
cruise. It was exciting to see the many birds, monkeys and crocodiles in
their environment. Every effort was made by our tour guide David Blanco
and boat operator to allow us time to take photos as well as to observe
the wildlife. A stop at a local restaurant for a delicious lunch was a
great end to the tour.
I would not hesitate to recommend Allegro Papagayo Resort as a place to
vacation. Having traveled extensively in the Caribbean I feel this resort
is great value for your money. Likewise, the tours booked through Mike
Mills were exceptional. The knowledgeable tour guides, David and Maynor,
both possessed a sense of humor which added to each tour.
The second tour we embarked upon was Rincon National Park. Once again our
tour was exceptional. Two other participants had cancelled at the last
minute which resulted in a private tour for us. The tour was conducted by
Maynor of Tours Your Way and we were very fortunate to have such a
knowledgeable guide. We stopped for several photo opportunities enroute to
the park. Maynor reversed the path of our tour through the park so that we
saw the volcanic areas in the early morning and were able to walk in the
shaded areas when the sun was at it's hottest. Maynor went to great
lengths to spot birds, monkeys etc for us. Once again we stopped at a
lodge for lunch and were able to enjoy yet another aspect of the
Province of Guanacaste: Fiesta Premier Resort & Spa: "Fun at Fiesta"
March 1, 2005:,Port Washington,NY Check prices with:
We just returned from Fiesta after a one week vacation with our two
children, ages 15 and 13. It was Presidents week break and we were looking
for a fun vacation for the kids. The resort had about 85% of its
vacationers from Canada. They obviously do not celebrate Presidents week.
So there were very few kids at the resort. This was a problem, although
the universe provided, and we met up with one other American family with
kids the same age. That said, and that the resort seems to be more adult
orientated, our kids did have a good time. The resort has a lovely spa
with 2 wonderful therapists, Graziella, and Fernando. The spa area is
separate from the main area of the resort and kids are not allowed in the
spa area. The activity organizers at the resort did manage to keep us
entertained, with beach volleyball, pool volleyball, water aerobics, dance
lessons, eco walks and a bicycle ride that took place in the surrounding
area outside the resort. The bicycle ride was wonderful. We got to see a
lot of monkeys and the trail was shaded and lovely. Henry, the activities
director was a wonderful host and he has a great, upbeat personality.
Jehinner,another activities specialisy was wonderful with water aerobics,
and the bike ride. All the activies personel couldn't do enough to make
our stay enjoyable. The nightly shows were fun. The dancing was really
good. The food at the resort is above average, with a variety of protein
choices and vegetable choices at each meal. I especially appreciated all
the different fresh vegetables, prepared grilled, steamed, and sauteed as
well as fresh salads. There was always a pasta choice at lunch and dinner,
and a variety of fresh fruit at all three meals. The deserts were varied
and tasty. We ate at the a la carte restaurant one night, The El Dorado. I
preferred the buffet. The smoothies at the Spa are wonderful, and there is
a healthy variety of sandwiches, grilled chicken, avocado, whole wheat
bread, etc if you choose a lunch there. After breakfast, the snack bar
opens thru lunch and until about 5:00. There is an assortment grilled
meats, hamburgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, nachos, BBQ ribs etc. Plenty
of choice for everyone. As far as the layout of the resort goes, the
resort is built into a very steep incline. The rooms are clean, and the
airconditioning works well. If your rooms are at the top, the 400 level,
you have great ocean views, but you really need to take the shuttle. The
shuttle does come in 5 minutes or under, so there is no issue, unless you
really like to walk everywhere like I do. It really was quite a hike, and
the extremely hot weather makes it difficult. I walked early in the
morning, but at nite it's buggy, and during the heat of the day its too
hot. But this shouldn't be a deal breaker. The shuttle is fine. The beach
is a black sand beach, which makes it look a little tar-ish. The water
looks dark, because the dark sand absorbs the light. The water is clean
and warm, but it is not the beautiful turquoise blue of the carribbean.
The gulf of papagayo is very calm and the snorkeling around the resort is
good, with a lot of school fish. If you like to dive, there is a diving
school on premises. You can also do a snorkeling trip by boat through the
resort. It is about $50.00 per person. You can also book a snorkel trip on
a catamaran through Michael Mills at Allegro. The highlight of our trip
was the two excursions that we booked through Michael Mills at Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Allegro Tours)))))). His website is ------. We booked the BuenoVista Mega tour( bug
spray a must, and not the natural kind. It has to have deet or you will be
scratching for your whole vacation.) and took an excursion to Tamarindo,
where the kids did surf school for the day. Tamarindo surf school did an
excellent job with our kids. They had two instructors and the surf was a
safe level, great for learning. Our guide from Allegro was Roberto. He was
fantastic. Very knowledgeable about all things Costa Rica, he kept us
informed and entertained. His English was very good and he was wonderful
with the kids. I can't say enough about Allegro and Roberto. It was great
to book a tour with a private guide and a small group. It was about the
same money as booking through the resort, but you were not on a big tour
bus with a lot of people. It really helps to go outside the resort,
because staying all day at the resort for a week is a little boring. Even
with the activities, it can get a bit repetitious. HELPFUL TIP: When we
arrived on American into Liberia, our luggage did not arrive with us. It
was a real hassle, because there is only one flight a day, and the flight
does not arrive until about 2:00. We did not get our luggage until Wed
morning and they made us get it. We sent a taxi from the resort and it
cost $90.00! Definitely pack a carry on with a bathing suit, shorts, and
toiletries. We had to buy everyone bathing suits, flip flops etc and that
was a big expense. Hopefully we will get reimbursed, but I'm not holding
my breath. The airport is a rinky dink hanger, understaffed and
discombobulated, (if there is such a word) There isn't even a vending
machine or or soda machine. We were stuck filling out paperwork for over 1
hour. We were hungry, hot and tired. Not a great way to start a vacation!
Be prepared and plan ahead. All and all, we had a great time and we were
sad when it was time to leave. That is a good indicator of our vacation
even though there were some rough spots. I would definitely recommended
this resort for couples, friends, and groups, and if you want friends for
your children, I suggest that you bring them with you. There are probably
kids around the Christmas vacation, but in general, I wouldn't depend on
Thank you for all your
assistance in organizing our vacation during the week of February 5-12th.
I'm especially grateful that you were able to direct me to the local
watering hole to watch the super bowl. Being from the Philadelphia area it
meant a lot to our group. Unfortunately, the results were not those we
wanted, but what better place to recover from the loss than Costa Rica!
The people were incredibly friendly and honest to the extreme. All the
tours that you arranged for us were first rate and the groups were small
and everyone got to know each other . Our guide, David Blanco was
exceptional. He was with us for two days and went out of his way to teach
us about Costa Rican flora and animal life. He also taught us the local
customs and gave us a real insight into Costa Rican life.
By the end of the trip we wanted
to take him home to meet our daughter , who is a wildlife and fisheries
major. He is truly an asset to your tour company. At the resort ,people
couldn't praise him enough and called later in the week to try to set up
tours only if he was the guide. I'm personally thrilled with the fishing
tour that you arranged for my wife and myself. Catching sailfish ,tuna and
dolphin all in a 1/2 day was great, especially when others were catching
nothing. Will try to send pictures when I get them developed. All in all
,I want to compliment the Vargas tour group on there professionalism and
courtesy. I will definitely contact you on our next trip to Costa
Rica. Sincerely, John Urbanek Feb 2005
We arrived back in Ottawa over the weekend. I just wanted to say thanks for the
great tours you provided for us on our vacation!
We started the week on the Palo Verde river tour was excellent. We saw many
crocodiles, monkeys, birds, iguanas….David was very pleasant and knowledgeable.
The restaurant where we had lunch was really nice. The food was great!
Next, we went to Witch's Rock for the canopy tour. Stephen was quite nervous,
but once he got started he enjoyed it. I really thought it was a blast! It is a
The day out on the "Cool Running" was most enjoyable. Sorry for the confusion
about the meeting place. Thanks again for sending the small boat back for us.
The snorkeling was fun and the cave was really neat.
The day at Arenal was great. It was cloudy so we didn't get a really good view
of the volcano, but we still really enjoyed the day. Walking through the rain
forest was awesome! Chico was a great guide. He stopped so we could see a coati
(I think that is the correct name) at the side of the road. The hot spring (it
wasn't Tabacon and I can't remember the name) was to die for!
The trip to Nicaragua was also really great! It was amazing to look into the
crater of the Masaya volcano. The market in Masaya was really fun. Granada was
really beautiful. Going though the border is quite an eye opener. Thank goodness
we had Ciro (I don't know if I spelled the right) to help us along.
Overall, the tours we took made the vacation! The guides were all helpful,
knowledgeable and fun. The places we saw were worth seeing. I would recommend
them to anyone going to Costa Rica. There wasn't one tour that we were
disappointed in. Thanks for everything!
Grand Papagayo review
« Thread started on: Jan 30th, 2005, 5:57pm »
This place is amazing! My fiancé and I were at the Grand Papagayo Jan 22-29. I
really wonder why people are writing such negative reviews. I guess people
really feel a need to let little things in life bother them. A vacation is
really what you make of it. By far this was the best all inclusive resorts we
have ever been to. I have to admit that I was a little afraid of what I was
going to find considering the poor comments made by people who had traveled here
when the resort first opened. Have no fear this place is GREAT!!
Hotel – When we first pulled up to the resort and got off the bus in the lobby I
was mesmerized by the view of the beautiful bay of Papagayo. Right away I knew
this was going to be a great vacation. Everything was so new and elegant. We had
to go up stairs to the meeting room where we were given champagne. Then we were
given our bracelets and room keys and sent on our way. One evening we had a
family of howler monkeys right in front of our room. Their so cute! Also almost
everyday we saw howlers down by the beach where the locals park there cars.
There is a family of approximately 15 with one Alfa male that watches out and
makes a really loud noise if he feels threatened. There were also many species
of birds flying around the resort. Bring binoculars so you can get a closer
Rooms – We stayed in room 2203 with a beautiful view of the bay. It was quiet
and far away from any sort of activity. It was great. We wanted some peace and
quiet and we got it with our room. Our room had 1 king size bed a nice big
bathroom and a big veranda with 2 chairs and a small table. This was where I
spent a few evenings reading a book in the very warm summery air. The rooms were
clean and tastefully decorated. There is a stocked mini fridge, a safe, ironing
board, T.V with satellite (mostly Spanish channels but who cares), alarm clock
and a hairdryer. We only had one minor problem with our safe the first day that
we arrived (the battery was dead) but by the next morning they had come and
replaced it and we could lock up our valuables. Also the air conditioner was
really loud when it would turn on and off which got on my fiancés nerves (I was
smart and brought ear plugs).
Restaurants – High quality of food every meal here is a breakdown of each
Buffet- Excellent selection! I really enjoyed that they cooked Costa Rican
dishes rather then trying to imitate North American food. It was always super
good. Everything was pretty hot and fresh. I was impressed by the fact that they
actually used spices to season their food unlike Cuba where you can even find
salt and pepper. Every meal had a great assortment of fresh local fruit always
super sweet and ripe. They also had very nice deserts and the service was
incredible. My drink was never empty! And the waiters always pushed in my chair
when I sat down.
Oriental – Also was very good, excellent presentation of food. The service and
the décor were top notch.
Italian – Probably one of the best meals I have had at a restaurant in years. I
have never experienced such amazing service as I did here. They really work hard
to make everything perfect for you. The food was to die for. It was a 5 course
meal consisting of an appetizer, soup, pasta, main course and dessert. They even
make Martini’s with olives! My fiancé was shocked.
Staff – Talk about a nice group of people. Everyone was so polite and easy
going. Nobody was expected to tip which I found to be a nice change. Our first
night there we were tipping and we were always getting strange looks from the
workers. So we stopped and our service remained great.
Entertainment – If you are looking for nightly shows and a lot of night life
this may not be the place for you. During the day time there are a number of
activities happening around the pool area. In particular at 9am every morning
Ruben and Eva take you on a walk to look for birds and howler monkeys. Then
there is water aerobics, Spanish lessons, volleyball and archery. Then at 5pm
they take you on a sunset walk to Costa Blanca one of the most beautiful area’ s
to watch the sunset over 3 rocks. So pretty!!! At night time people mostly sit
around the bar area’s and talk about there days. Then they show a movie in the
meeting room and then they have a Disco. We were usually in bed by 9 because we
had gotten up so early in the morning.
Beach – Typical Costa Rican beach, soft black sand not very long but great for
swimming and snorkeling. The water was warm and calm. The snorkeling was great
on the left hand side of the beach where the rocks go out about 300m. We saw
many different varieties of colorful fish. We saw quiet a few eels, octopus,
puffer fish, and sting rays. I got stung a few times by small jelly fish but
they are so small that it really only hurts for a few minutes. I would recommend
bring water shoes because of the random rocks and the cloudy visibility. One
thing we found really cool were all the hermit crabs that are on the beach at
night time. If you go down at night and stand still and look around you will see
hundred of moving lumps. It was truly amazing!
Excursions – We booked our tours through Michael Mills. They were great. We went
to Rincon National park and had Manuel take us on a hike through the forest and
the hot bubbling mud pits. We saw spider monkeys swinging from the trees as well
as toucans. There were also many strange bugs and lizards. Then we made our way
through the forest to a waterfall. It was breathtaking. We ended our hike and
Manuel had fresh cut up Cantaloupe and pineapple. Then he took us on another 20
minute hike to another waterfall that we could swim. The water was extremely
cold and we just had a nice time looking at all of the butterflies and watching
this other couple swimming in the icy water. Then after we hiked back to the van
we were taken to Liberia for lunch. We were given a typical Costa Rican meal of
rice, beans, salad and fish. It was great!!! Then we made our way to a souvenir
shop then headed back to the hotel.
Our second tour was to Palo Verde. David was our guide. He was also very
knowledgeable. When we got to Palo Verde we were paired up with a boat driver
they call Hawk Eye because he can spot things a mile away. We were informed that
there was a group of white faced monkeys so we set off to find them. When we got
there we were greeted by the cutest little faces looking out at us. Right away
the monkeys were excited that we were there and started jumping all over the
boat, coming with in arms length of us. Talk about a rush. I had never been so
close to a monkey in my life. So after a while we set down river to find some
birds and we came across herons and a bunch of other birds I can’t remember the
names of. Then we headed back the other way and found tones of crocodiles.
Apparently there are 200 crocks per mile. The place was crawling with them.
Another group of people that were on our boat was feeding them chicken pieces.
They were like 3 feet from the boat. Another amazing rush! The cruise a little
over 2 hours and then we were taken to this little tiny restaurant where
everything is cooked on a wood stove. That’s were we learned of a condiment they
call Salsa. Its not they everyday chopped up tomatoes and onions it’s almost
like a ketchup but much tastier. Needles to say we came home with some.
We also took a Taxi to Coco beach to do some shopping. Cost $30. I recommend
getting your coffee from the grocery store everywhere else charges double. We
also picked up some hot sauces “salsa” coffee liquor and rum. We did a little
souvenir shopping and picked up a few small items. Really thought 3 hours is the
most one can spend in Coco Beach. It’s just way too touristy.
In conclusion I would have to say that we would come back here again, and
probably will sometime soon. I have totally fallen in love with Costa Rica and
her people. I have never felt so at home in a foreign country. How could you go
wrong with sunny skies and 30 degree weather everyday and surrounded by one of
the most ecologically diverse places in the world!
if you have any questions please feel free to email me!I will have my pics
VILLAS SOL & FIESTA PREMIER RESORT &
My husband has written this review.
In my opinion, how you get there is not important, what is important is how you
were treated and if you had a good time when you were there.
First, we spent one week at Villas Sol. We previously emailed both resorts and
let them know that it was our first anniversary and requested a complimentary
upgrade from a standard hotel room. We brought my daughter, her husband, my
grandson and his grandmother.
Upon arrival, we were surprised to find that we had received an upgrade to a
huge 2-storey villa on the very top of the mountain. The view was absolutely
spectacular. Both lower and upper floors had windows from floor to ceiling which
overlooked the bay. We couldn’t ask for anything better, except there weren’t
any drapes or blinds on either floor and the sun comes up around 5:30. There was
also a full-length balcony on each floor. It was also a little inconvenient
having to call for a shuttle whenever you wanted to leave the room to go
anywhere. As I said, it was on top of a mountain and I mean a mountain. I am 45
and fairly fit and I could not walk up to the room. After the second day, we
elected to move down to the main building where the rest of the family was
staying. It was much more convenient for us and closer to the pools, bars and
restaurants. I should also mention that the main area is still only halfway down
the mountain, so it was still a bit of a hike down to the beach or you could
take a shuttle.
The bars were close to the pool and the staff were very attentive and very
friendly. I don’t know how they can keep on smiling when they work 14-16 hours a
day, 15 days in a row and then only get 2 days off. The people deserve every tip
they get and much more. The average employee makes under $300 a month and only
sees their families 4 days a month.
As we were off the resort on eco-tours for 3 full days the first week, we did
not reserve the specialty restaurant. We ate all of our meals at the buffet. It
was not large or extravagant, but the food there was always very good. You could
always find several things to fill up your plate, and we did, sometimes 2 or 3
times. No complaints for the price that we paid.
There are no bars on the beach owned by the resort, but there are a couple of
restaurants, bars and a grocery store. It costs about $3 for a beer and a rum
and coke, very reasonable.
We met an amazing guy, Michael Mills,(Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s
(previously Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Vargas-Papagayo Tours (previously Allegro Tours)s (previously Allegro Tours))))))) who we had communicated
with before we arrived in Costa Rica. He is from Canada and has been in Costa
Rica for about 7 years. He knows all the best tours to take. Michael can be contacted to arrange the tours. Michael took care of every
detail of our tours. They only take small groups of people in 10 passenger vans
and have the most knowledgeable English speaking guides. We were so impressed
with our guide Felipe, that after our first tour, I called Michael and requested
Felipe for our second day trip. These guys are amazing. They know everything
about their country and made a 3-hour drive to the volcano an educational
experience and it made the time just fly by. After our second day trip (the
Buena Vista Mega tour combo), we called Michael again to see if we could get
Felipe for our third day trip. Michael, in turn, called VargaTours and with
some very thoughtful maneuvering, switched guides around so that we could have
the guide that we requested.
These small group tours are far superior to the large bus group tours. You have
one driver and an excellent guide with personal attention that they just can’t
match. You can vary your trip to suit your group. You are not on a tight
schedule like the large tours. You arrive at your destinations before the large
tour buses, can stay there longer if you choose and can stop anytime that you
want to take pictures, go shopping or for whatever reason.
For an example, on our way to the Palo Verde tour, we stopped at a grocery
store, picked up bananas, chicken parts, beer and pop. I was having problems
sleeping so Felipe suggested that I pick up some sleepi-tea, an all-natural
herbal tea that helps you get a good nights sleep. Once the family saw what I
had, they then decided that they too wanted some of the different kinds of
herbal teas and our driver and guide had no problems in waiting for us.
When we got to Palo Verde, Felipe had arranged for a very special boat captain.
He had a lot of knowledge and patience in finding the wildlife for us to see.
While we were stopped on the river looking at 2 different kinds of bats
camouflaged in the bark of trees and taking pictures of them, the large tour
companies went whizzing by us and totally missed so much wildlife. We were also
the only boat that pulled ashore for over half an hour, sliced up bananas and
everyone on our boat got to hand-feed a group of about 15 white-faced monkeys.
They came right on our boat. The other tour companies only stopped and looked at
them in the trees and then took off down the river without feeding them.
Next were the crocodiles. Our captain knows a large, formerly captive male
crocodile named Salamon. When he saw our boat, he swam directly toward us. We
parked on the river bank and when Salamon got a couple of feet from our boat,
fed him pieces of chicken. We also saw a few of Salamon’s girlfriends. What an
exciting and exhilarating experience for my 9-year old grandson to hand-feed
monkeys and have 10-foot crocodiles eating so close to our boat.
We were also the only tour boat to feed the crocodiles. You just can’t beat
that. It is something none of us will ever forget. The personal attention and
the patience of our captain and guide made the experience unforgettable. We also
saw about 20 very large iguanas and an osprey. We stopped, got right off the
boat and got under a whole family of howler monkeys. They are herbivores and
don’t eat bananas, so we just go to take close-up pictures of the howlers.
After getting off the boat, we were taken to a local small restaurant to have a
traditional Costa Rican lunch. All the courses were in large bowls and passed
from person to person. Lunch was excellent. There was a Spanish speaking parrot
sitting above us saying “Hola” most of the time that we were there.
All 3 of our trips were unique and unforgettable and would not have even come
close to what we experienced with a group of 30 to 40 people.
All our unforgettable experiences were directly due to the personal attention of
our guide Felipe. The love of his country, the drive and determination of a
Canadian who fell in love with this country and wants other people to see and
experience as much of the unique country as possible during their short holiday.
My hat is off to Michael Mills, Felipe and Varga Tours for our experience of a
On to our second week at Fiesta Premier Resort & Spa. Since we had booked 2
separate all-inclusive packages, our transfers from Villas Sol to the Fiesta
Premier were not included, so I, in turn, called Michael to ask him the best and
cheapest way to get there. Michael told us to give him a few minutes and he
would get back to us. He returned my call and told us that we were all set, he
had called Vargas Tours and Ricardo had volunteered to personally pick us up at
Villas Sol and take us to the Fiesta. When I asked him how much this would cost,
he replied there would be no charge, but we could try to give Ricardo a tip if
we would like. After being transferred to the Fiesta, we tried to give Ricardo a
tip, but he refused and said that he had heard about us from Michael and it was
his pleasure to take us because he wanted to meet us before we left Costa Rica.
We previously visited the Fiesta Premier 6 years ago when it was called Blue Bay
Papagayo. Since then it had been bought by new owners, was closed for a couple
of years to receive a multi-million dollar renovation.
Let me say that everything, the grounds, rooms, restaurants and pools have been
renovated. A new snack bar and bar had been added beside the pool and the old
restaurant by the pool had been opened up to accommodate a large buffet and
air-conditioned sitting area. New internet, tour, dive and souvenir shops have
also been added. They have landscaped the area above the beach so that there are
4 separate flat lounge areas with plenty of chairs and palapas with small sets
of steps between them leading up to the main pool, bar and restaurant areas.
Much better than laying on a lounge chair sloping downhill.
The beach is a black sand beach with good snorkeling just off to the left of the
resort and there are lots of parrot fish, trumpet fish and sergeant major fish.
We even saw a yellow-fin tuna not 10 feet from the beach and lots of puffer
The Fiesta Premier has a specialty restaurant for dinner that requires
reservations. My wife and I did not indulge, but my daughter and her husband did
and said it was very good. The only reason that we didn’t try it was because we
were so impressed with all of the food at the buffet. I have never eaten so much
in my entire life. The staff at the restaurant and bar are top shelf, always
smiling and very attentive.
The activity staff are very active during the day, but not pushy like some
resorts we have been to. They are also the stars of the nightly entertainment.
These shows are also much better than others that we have seen.
Just down the beach to the right, about a 15 minute walk, there is another bay.
It is very private and a nice morning walk. One morning, my wife saw a
white-face monkey. Another morning, we walked a little bit further and took a
path that goes into the forest. About a quarter of a mile in, we saw several
families of howler monkeys.
Unfortunately, on our first full day, I broke a toe on a lawn sprinkler. It was
very painful to walk, never the less wear fins, so I only ended up going scuba
diving once. A 2-tank morning dive with the equipment rental was only $80. We
took Diving Safaris from the beach at Villas Sol. Michael arranged for us to get
picked up and transferred to their dive office and returned to our resort at no
extra charge. The Pacific Ocean doesn’t have the clarity of the Caribbean, only
25 feet or so, but the marine life we did see was amazing. On our first dive, we
saw 4 different kinds of Rays, green sea turtles, starfish, urchins, angelfish
and countless species of fish of all colors. After an hour, we went to our
second dive site. It was a large coral head with a sunken fishing trawler that
was just packed with all kinds of fish. Both were very good dives.
On our last full day at the resort, we were invited by Michael to go on a
Trimaran boat . He picked us up at our resort. We went down the coast for a few
miles to a deserted, pristine bay to do some snorkeling. We snorkeled with a
guide that went to the bottom and brought up starfish, puffer fish, urchins and
even an octopus that was latched onto his arm for a few minutes. He brought up a
whole feed of oysters and brought them back to the boat. With a little Tabasco
sauce and lemon juice, we enjoyed the freshest oysters ever.
On our way back to the resort, to make the day perfect, we had a small pod of
bottlenose dolphins just a few feet in front of the boat. What a way to end our
holiday! Even with a broken toe, it was the best holiday we have ever had.
Sorry for being so long winded, but I just wanted people to know what a fun
filled exciting holiday that we had in Costa Rica, largely due to Michael Mills,
Varga Tours and of course a very special guide, Felipe.