Thursday, January 21, 2016

{Vacation ReCap} Costa Rican Babymoom at the Four Seasons & Andaz Resorts

So this is going to be short because there isn't a lot a pregnant lady can do in Costa Rica, ha. However, I wanted to note our trip because it was in celebration of Finley and we can't wait to go back as a family.  We took this trip in May of 2015 which I highly recommend because it's just after the busy season so rates are extremely reasonable.

Where we stayed:  Four Seasons in the Papagayo Peninsula and then the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort.  We picked the Four Seasons for the majority of our stay because they were having such an amazing deal, but on what was to be our last night, the price more than doubled.  The Andaz was nearby and also highly rated so we transferred there for our final night.  At the time, the Four Seasons was rated #1 on Trip Advisor followed by Andaz, but as of this post, it seems to have flipped which surprises me.

We much preferred the service and offerings of the Four Seasons as the Andaz service wasn't quite "there" yet - you could tell they were still working out the kinks and I think they were understaffed at the restaurants and hotel.  It wouldn't have annoyed me as much if it wasn't categorized as a 5-star hotel and considered on par with the Four Seasons so my expectations were high.  We found ourselves waiting a long time at the restaurant and bar and the staff while, nice, wasn't as professional and friendly.  Our room at the Four Seasons also had this amazing closed in porch that was super comfortable whereas the porch at the Andaz just wasn't as conducive to relaxing (no place to prop your feet up, set a drink, etc).  There was also no beach at the Andaz and one of my favorite activities (probably because it was the only thing a pregnant lady could do!) was hiking up and around the beach at the Four Seasons.

However, the Andaz is quite beautiful and we preferred their pools because they were infinity pools.  I also appreciate that the mini-bar is free (no alcohol) and that they have things in the room such as a beach bag, hats, and flip flops available to borrow.  The rooms were gorgeous and modern and the shower was amazing (it was glass enclosed stone and opened onto the porch).  However, the bathroom was an open concept design which doesn't leave enough to the imagination if you catch my drift.  There is no way for someone to quietly use the bathroom or sink at night or early morning.   I think the Andaz is awesome and we would definitely stay there again, but it should probably be a different category of hotel because their level of service is no way on par with a place like the Four Seasons. That would also require lowering their price as well (usually they are comporably priced).

Our Porch @ Four Seasons - we spent many evenings and mornings out here.

Room @ Four Seasons

Monkeys outside our room @ Four Seasons. One morning we saw a huge group of them playing and running around each other.

View into bathroom @ Four Seasons

Beach @ Four Seasons

Pool @ Four Seasons

Room @ Andez.  We loved the style: concrete floors, modern ammenities and more of a nature inspired design. The resort as a whole did a fantastic job of building around the natural beauty of Costa Rica and blending in.

Note the open concept bathroom set-up:  Looks great! Sounds sure to room alone or be VERY comfortable with those you are rooming with!

The Shower, however, is incredible. The glass doors open onto the balcony.

The porch @ Andez looks good but isn't very comfortable. The lack of light late at night or early morning makes it impossible to read and there's nowhere to place a glass of wine or cup of coffee. The table isn't sturdy enough to prop your feet on either.  Gorgeous views though. Concept is great - just needs a few touches to make it more comfortable. As Tom is usually up before I am, he missed having a comfortable place to hang out while I slept in.

Gorgeous Pools - loved the infinity design and how much it's built into the land -  like it belongs there.

Cute, quirky van outside of Andez

What we did:  We pretty much stayed at the pool and on the actual resort due to the baby so we can't wait to come back and do the more active excursions Costa Rica is known for.  I loved that the Four Seasons had a ton of free activities such as guided hikes, cooking classes and the like.  One we were looking forward to was a star gazing excursion but it was canceled due to rain which was a bummer. I am also excited to come back to the Four Seasons as a family.  They did such a great job keeping any kids on the resort entertained and away from the more adult areas.  While I will obviously need a family friendly resort someday, it's nice to know that the adults in the group or those without kids can still come on vacation and enjoy themselves in peace!

We took several hikes while at the Four Seasons; some on our own and others guided, and soaked up the stunning views and wildlife.

The one big excursion we sprung for was playing 9-holes at the Arnold Palmer Golf Course which was stunning and something we still talk about.   I laugh thinking about the fact that I initially proposed we "walk the course" instead of ride - yeah right!

How we got there:  We used Southwest points (Tom is my "companion" so he flies free) and flew nonstop into San Jose.  If you aren't constrained by points, I'd fly into the Liberia airport as its only about 45 minutes from the resort vs 4 hours (we hired a private driver).

We had such a great, relaxing trip and it was over way too fast.  As soon as we were back in the States things got crazy: I lost my wallet at the airport (fell out of my bag when I flung it into a taxi has a happy ending though: someone mailed it back to me!),  we experienced the move from hell, and I had business trips galore.  So essentially, we counteracted the relaxation almost immediately.   Oh well - guess we will have to plan another trip!


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