Four Seasons Resort Guanacaste

Old Jul 31st, 2004, 01:48 PM
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Four Seasons Resort Guanacaste

Just back from six nights at this lovely resort. Happy to answer questions.
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Old Jul 31st, 2004, 07:49 PM
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I too have been comtemplating this resort, however, I was concerned that it would not be "Costa Rican" enough. Did you get a good flavor of the culture? What kinds of day trips were available? Was the place overrun by kids? Can you walk to anything or eat anywhere other than the resort itself? Also, how many nights did you spend here? Thanks for any info you can give me.
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Old Jul 31st, 2004, 09:14 PM
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We spent six nights there, and aside from the magnificent Costa Rican designed, ecologically minded architecture and the friendly staff, there was little about this luxury resort that was "Costa Rican". (We loved it, but don't really expect the Four Seasons, anywhere, to have too much local flavor.) The resort is built from local woods and is beautiful and restfull, but English is spoken by all of the staff, prices are quoted in dollars and if you are looking for a real local experience, I think the beaches (Coco, Hermosa, Tamarindo) would be more representative, if touristy. We had been to Arenal and Montevere (and my husband to the Osa Pennisula and Tortugero) already, so we had seen the Costa Rican rural areas by the time we got there.
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Old Jul 31st, 2004, 09:22 PM
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Sorry, forgot some key questions. The resort is VERY isolated. It is a 45 minute drive to anywhere. Eating elsewhere and "getting out" are really out of the question unless you take a tour somewhere or rent a car. We had a car for a few days of our stay there and did go out a bit, but it took so long to get anywhere that we did little of it. They have tours of all sorts (not inexpensive, but not outrageous) and an extensive menu of on site acitivites (cooking classes, nature hikes, yoga, etc.) that are free. Some people take tours to Arenal and Monteverde, but they are a LONG way away and I would not recommend spending 6-8 hours in transit elsewhere when this place is so pretty. There were kids there, but there is an adult pool and they were really unobtrusive. I would recommend staying as many days here as your budget/sensibilites allow and not planning on using it as a "base" unless you want to use their tours. It is beautiful and a wonderful place to just rest and watch the sunsets.
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 01:33 AM
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Glad to hear you had such a nice time. We will be spending five nights there in September, and I can't wait. We are trying to decide whether to do the meal plan or order a la carte. What did you do? Which would you recommend based on your experience?
Also, are spa treatment prices comparable to spa prices at places here in the States?
Was dress at dinner resort casual (nice shirt and slacks for men)? We will be coming from the Osa, and are trying to pack as efficiently as possible because of the weight limits, but obviously want to make sure we have appropriate clothing for our time at the 4S. Any thoughts on that would be appreciated.
Did you play any golf? Nice course? Were club rentals expensive? We are prepared for the greens fees, but weren't sure what to expect in terms of outfitting costs....
Thanks for your input!
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 07:09 AM
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We did not do the meal plan. What we generally did is have the breakfast buffet ($20 US + the 23% that is tacked into the room rate and any food and beverage charges) and dinner. Prices for food added up quickly, although nothing, except the wine, was outrageous. But it was easy to have a dinner bill of $100-120 for two for appetizers and entrees and a glass of wine. The wine prices were completely over the top. A bottle of Meridian wine that sells in California for $7-10 was $59-64 on their menu PLUS
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 07:15 AM
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Not sure what happened, but last message posted by accident...

PLUS the 23%. Drinks were reasonable at ~$6.

The Spa was very nice and reasonably priced. I had a wonderful massage for $95 and there is no tax or service (except what you choose to leave). Facials were $100 and they had the usual body wraps etc. We don't play golf, but the course was spectacular. We did the tour on golf cart and I wished we played. Greens fees are $180 in the morning and $110 later in the afternoon. Did not ask about rental fees for clubs, but you could email or call them.

We did the same kind of trip with the adventure part first, so also had to think about packing. We each had a couple of more dressy outfits for dinner, but it was mostly casual dressy that I saw. I don't think I saw a single sport coat or tie and the women were dressed similarly to me with a summer dress or nice pants and sleeveless top.
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 08:13 AM
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Thanks so much for the info...still torn about the meal plan issue. What a shame about the wine issue! That is a real bummer, but I suppose I should not be surprised. We asked them to put a bottle of champagne in our room (it's our honeymoon), and they gave us the choice between a $69 bottle or a $190 bottle. We picked the lesser of the two, and I suppose I should perhaps be prepared for a bottle of Andre Brut!
Did you spend most of your time by the pool, or did you visit the beaches too? How were they? Did you swim in the ocean there or not? I'm aware that they won't be like the Caribbean...
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 08:19 AM
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We got a free bottle of champagne for our anniversary, so if you tell them that you are celebrating something, I am pretty sure you will get one (it was Frexinet and perfectly fine). We brought some wine with us and I was glad we had.
I don't remember what the meal plan costs, but I remember calculating that the price was quite high unless you eat very big dinners.

There are two beaches, one ocean and one bay. The water is quite swimable. They are both lovely and they have snorkel gear, a few kinds of boats etc. available for free. (Snorkeling is OK, but not terrific.) The pools are lovely. I would highly recommend the nature walk on Tues and Thurs from 6-8 am. Julio is great and it is a beautiful walk.
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 12:05 PM
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we will be at this hotel later this month; did you do any of the excursions? Did you have an issue with bugs at all?
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Old Aug 1st, 2004, 02:13 PM
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We had already done Arenal and Monteverde and my husband had also rafted the Picuare, gone to Tortugero and the Osa Peninsual, so we just stayed put. We did take a drive to Playa Coco one day in a rental car we had, but that was it. There are numberous reports from people who did a lot of the tours so you might look around on this board. My one caution would be about distances. The hotel is very remote (it takes 20-30 minutes to get to a road that goes anywhere). Many of the trips I read about people taking involved 2-4 hour rides each way, so find out about the travel time. There are things like horseback riding closer by. The resort also has numerous classes and activities right on site. We decided given all that we had done, and the beauty of the resort to use the time to enjoy it, read, do water sports etc. but the concierge will give you a list of all the tours, the days, times, travel etc.

We had almost no trouble with bugs on the whole trip. We took some citronella candles for the places with porches but no screens, but the FS had huge beautiful porches in each room with full, retractable screens. We just left ours down and were fine.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 09:41 AM
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I would have to agree completely, the best strategy is to be prepared for the extreme markup in wine and champagne prices! We completed a trip recently and thoroughly enjoyed the expected Four Seasons luxury. Setting is gorgeous. We did blend our trip with a 3 night stay at Hotel Punta Islita, about 40 minutes away from Samara. There, we enjoyed a different type of luxury. Very laid-back and definitely very Costa Rican in flavor. The staff is local and charming. Beautiful architecture and delicious food. I will gladly answer any questions.

Cheers!

Em
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Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 10:28 AM
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Em -- I had thought of combing Punta Islita also but was daunted by the logistics of getting there. Sounds wonderful and worth thinking of for the next trip.

Just came from Trader Joe's where the Meridian Chardonnay (on the FS wine list for $59 =+ 23% tax and service) was $6.99. Wins my prize for outrageous wine markeup ever.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 02:56 PM
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I have also comtemplated staying at Punta Islita. I was concerned about isolation and the availability of day trips that do not take a ton of time to get to. I was wondering if emma or someone who has stayed here can comment on these things? Thanks.
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Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:22 AM
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We were quite adventurous in our driving! Flew in to CR through San Jose and from there drove to the Four Seasons... it took us about 4 hours on very good roads. (You can also fly into the Liberia International Airport in Guanacaste, the drive then is only about 40 minutes.) After 4 nights, we took another drive, basically bordering the coastline down South to Punta Islita. This took us all day but was definitely worth it since we got to beach-hop the whole way down. We returned the rental at Punta Islita, stayed there for 3 nights and then took a local flight back to San Jose (this only took about 30 minutes).

In terms of activities at Islita, we visited the nearby villages, took half-day tours including horseback riding, and personal vehicle 4x4 tours. The beach town of Samara is only about 30-40 minutes away. This would be a great day tour option, especially since you would get to visit Carillo beach along the way. This one is a real looker! Granted, from what I understand what we did should be done during the dry season, otherwise the dirt roads can be too challenging!


Hope this is helpful : )
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