There are only a handful of all inclusive Costa Rica resorts. All but one are located in semi-isolated areas without towns within walking distance. The majority are located on the scenic Gulf of Papagayo.
Out these resorts, only a couple are on par with what many would expect out of a tropical all inclusive resort. The Westin Playa Conchal, Dreams Resort, Riu Palace, Mangroove Hotel and Secrets Papagayo are the only true 5 star all-inclusive resorts. The Secrets Papagayo Resort is a beach front resort located on the Gulf of Papagayo and is known for great customer service, beautiful grounds and convenient location to Liberia Airport, which is only 25 minutes away. The Westin Playa Conchal is located on Playa Conchal and known as one of the most luxurious resorts in Costa Rica. The Dreams Resort is the newest all inclusive luxury resort in Costa Rica and one of the nicest options. It is however located at Playa Jobo, which is near the Nicaragua border, adding a significant amount of travel time to most itineraries. Riu Palace is located near Liberia Airport, but is fairly islolated and more expensive than other hotels in the same category. The Mangroove Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel with an all inclusive option. The hotel is beach front on Playa Panama, which is not the prettiest beach in the country.
Three other resorts, the Occidental Grand Papagayo, Riu Resort and Barcelo Tambor Resort are also rated 5 stars by ICT, though in all honesty, they are 4 star facilities at best. The Occidental Grand Papagayo is located on the Gulf of Papagayo and known for nice hillside facilities and mediocre service at best. The Riu Resort has highly questionable environmental policies and mediocre service would be an overstatement. Barcelo Tambor is located on Playa Tambor on the southern Nicoya Peninsula. The location is a little isolated, the service is mediocre and some of the rooms are a little dated. On the plus side, Barcelo Tambor offers very reasonable rates for all inclusive.
Out of the 4 star (ICT rated) options, the most popular is Barcelo Langosta Resort, which is located on Playa Langosta of Tamarindo. The resort was recently remodeled and is a great base for taking advantage of the nightlife, shops and activities in Tamarindo. Flamingo Beach Resort, which is the highest rated of the 4 star options, is located at the beautiful, but quiet Playa Flamingo. The Occidental Allegro Papagayo, located on the Gulf of Papagayo has seen better days to put it lightly. The dorm style hotel is located on a hillside and the service is not what you would expect from an international resort chain. On the positive side, they usually have availability when the other all inclusive resorts do not. Villas Sol Resort, which is also rated at 4 stars is located on a hill in Playa Hermosa. If you can see past the hillside and timeshare pressure, this is actually a comfortable hotel with great views and reasonable rates.
Sol Papagayo Resort is the only 3 star (officially rated) all inclusive option and is located at Papagayo. They do have great deals for all inclusive, though the beach is not the greatest. The service is pretty good, but the resort does have a feel of isolation despite being only a few minutes drive to Playa Hermosa.
Visitors to Costa Rica's all inclusive resorts should be aware that meals are usually served buffet style with one a la carte meal per 7 night stay and advance reservations are necessary. We encourage you to check the resort's policies if you would like to reserve an a la carte meal. The majority of these resorts include non-alcoholic and alcoholic (house) drinks, but rarely include top shelf, premium, or imported alcohol. In addition, be prepared to pay for WiFi, internet access, and local and long distance calls as this is rarely included.
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