by Candyce H. Stapen
When families with a child ages 4 to 12 arrive at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, staff from the Kids For All Seasons program greet the children, giving them information about the children’s program, and gifts await in the room.
The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo has guestrooms, suites and villas to choose from; each with amazing views and spacious for families. The pet-friendly property is not just another pretty beach resort with a good children’s program. The resort’s location and architecture set it apart. Situated in the midst of a tropical, dry forest in Costa Rica’s northwest Guanacaste Province, the resort is the crown jewel on the Peninsula Papagayo, a gorgeous swath of land jutting into the Pacific. The peninsula covers 2,300 acres, and has 15 miles of coastline with 31 beaches.
The Four Seasons, which features multiple pools, the beach, golf and tennis courts, not only raises the bar on luxury, but it sets a high standard for architectural integrity. Forget-about in-your-face glitzy high-rises with glaring lights and paved over lawns. The Four Seasons, poised atop a bluff, blends into the setting instead of shouts.
To create this effect, architect Ronald Zurcher, a native Costa Rican, combines indigenous forms, earth and palm tree colors, soft lighting and clever positioning. The low-rise brown and green buildings hug the slopes below the tree line so that the foliage helps obscure the structures. Carefully created rooflines echo natural shapes. Some roofs angle upward like butterfly wings; others curve like the rounded back of an armadillo.
That’s particularly fitting in an ecologically sensitive country that protects more than 25 percent of its land in parks, forests and reserves. Costa Rica, with its 900-plus species of birds and hundreds of species of mammals, serves as the quintessential inspiration for all those theme park jungle rides in which toucans pop out at you through twisting vines and monkeys chatter overhead. Except, in Costa Rica, you get to enjoy the real thing. It’s rare — and wonderful — to enjoy five-star luxury and wild monkeys too.
Our Editor Loves
- Upscale service and amenities
- Kids For All Seasons program
- Spacious accommodations for families
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo has 182 guestrooms, 25 two- to three-bedroom suites, 20 villas and three estate homes. Guest accommodations are in three buildings near the pools as well as in suites and private villas lacing the hillsides.
Once kids arrive at the room, a chocolate chip cookie with gummy bears as well as a bean bag lizard, stuffed turtle, octopus or other plush toy welcomes them. Young kids also find their name spelled out in sponges in the bathtub. Ages 12 to 16, either in the room or at check-in, receive a water bottle or a baseball cap and a t-shirt sporting the Tuanis teen center logo, and the words "Pure Vida" (Pure life). That's Costa Rica's slogan for "life is good."
In the rarified realm of luxury resorts, bad rooms are nearly non-existent. This is the case at the Four Seasons Costa Rica where even the standard garden room with its view of trees and lawn come outsized and dressed up with marble bathrooms, deep tubs, separate showers as well as double vanities and seductively soft comforters, cozy bathrobes and designer soaps and shampoos. At 603-square feet, including a terrace large enough for a couch plus a table and chairs, the Four Seasons standard rooms offer plenty of space. Most rooms, except for the garden rooms, which are located on the first or second floor, come with water views thanks to the resort's isthmus location with beaches on two sides.
The canopy one-bedroom suites and the villas do even more to bring the outside in. You enter these through a freestanding archway that leads to the path to your room. Walk through this threshold and you feel as if the plants, flowers and ocean views belong to your room. The suites have a large covered outdoor patio with lounge chairs and some also have their own plunge pools.
Most of the two- and three-bedroom villas have plunge pools as well and they are heated. No matter how hot the temperature outside, jumping into a cold, shaded pool is as inviting as a frigid bath. But at this resort, you can relax in the plunge pool and enjoyed the spectacular view of the beach and the water below without a temperature shock.
The villas, as they say are "to die for." Two bedrooms are nearly 3,000 square feet and three-bedroom units are 3,572 square feet. Cleverly designed, the master bedroom and bath, living/dining area and full kitchen are on one side of the covered breezeway with its plunge pool and another, equally large bedroom and bath is on the other side of the breezeway. The three-bedroom units have an additional bedroom and bath downstairs. This arrangement works well for multi-generational families and parents traveling with older kids and teens who want privacy. For young kids, a bedroom across a breezeway may feel too distant from their parents' room.
Cribs are complimentary as are baby bathtubs, lotion, oil, baby powder, bibs and bottle warmers.
We stayed at The Four Seasons with a large group. The service provided by all staff was incredible from Room Service, HouseKeeping, and Dining. The property is beautifully maintained and the grounds crew are always keeping the areas clean. We had some exceptional experiences with Concierge, Veronica at the front desk, and Server, Alex at “Pesce” restaurant. These exceptional staff members are the inspiration for this review however, the global experience could not have been as successful without the entire Four Seasons Team.
Thank you for everything - Giovanni and Irina
by Trish M
I was completely surprised with how amazingly gorgeous the Four Seasons Papagayo was since their interior refurbishment in 2017. The lobby is bright and welcoming with comfy furniture and beautiful interiors. So fun to see a family of white face monkeys gathering way out of reach to welcome you to Costa Rica. The restaurants have all had an inviting face lift that made them so much more comfy and welcoming. Cannot say enough about great staff people like Tomas and Lobo.
The Four Seasons resorts remain one of the few chains that still offer complimentary programs for children. At the Costa Rica property, the Kids for All Seasons (KFAS) program offers daily, supervised activities for ages 4 to 12 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Kids learn some Spanish, get their faces painted, create puppets, go on nature walks, build sandcastles and play pool games in the one foot-deep KFAS pool, good-sized at 540 square feet. The colorful welcome packet that children receive when they arrive features information about Costa Rica combined with pencil mazes and a map of Costa Rica to color.
The outdoor covered patio of the kids' club has a Foosball game and a mini-basketball hoop, as well as colorful child-sized chairs. Inside the two-room facility, toy cars, trucks, Barbie dolls, books and board games line the shelves; there are computers and a Nintendo Wii. As with many children's programs, this one attracts more kids in the 4- to 9-year-old range. Unless other 10- and 11-year-olds registered, kids this age may feel uncomfortable being grouped with younger children.
Children under 4 years old are welcome to use the facility, including the children's pool, with a parent or a nanny supervising. Kids may borrow the board games, toys and movies for free as long as these are returned the next day.
Tuanis, the teen center, although oddly placed at the end of a service driveway, is well-thought out. The facility is open 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. sometimes midnight during busy times. It affords those hard-to-please 12- to 16 year-olds a separate space to hang out and to meet. There are couches for slouching, and tall tables for enjoying the complimentary snacks, juice and ice tea, as well as chess and Chinese checkers set out on tables. Along with free Wi-Fi, teens can play Ninetendo Wii, X-Box and other computer games. The modular chairs provide trendy, outdoor seating. In high season, a "facilitator" assists teens with activities and Tuanis hosts movies on the lawn, a disco and other themed parties every night.
Beach and Water Sports
Of course, it may be difficult to get your kids off the sandy beaches. Playa Virador, on the ocean facing Monkey's Head, a popular snorkel spot, is used more for lounging while Playa Culebra on the bay hosts complimentary boogie boarding, sea kayaking and other water sports.
There are four pools at the resort, one of which is a quiet, adults-only pool. The two main pools, Tico's and Blanca, are located between the beaches. Lounge chairs, tables and umbrellas surround the pool decks. The kids pool features pool toys and complimentary Wi-Fi, too.
You can play tennis and golf with your kids; however, neither the tennis facility nor the Arnold Palmer designed Bella Vista golf course offer special programs for juniors or rates for families. Private lessons are available for kids and for adults in golf as well as tennis.
The Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo offers families several dining options, ranging from casual to upscale. Also all meals for children under five years old are free.
Cena Sociale - Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar
Modern Italian cuisine is served at Cena Sociale, with homemade pastas, gourmet pizzas and fresh seafood lining the menu. A children's menu features a plethora of dining options, including grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, BLT's, hot dogs, fish sticks and more. Dessert menus -- both for adults and kids -- include gelato, cakes and fresh fruit tarts. Open for dinner; reservations are required.
You may need a shuttle to take your family to Caracol, but it'll be worth it. The restaurant offers beautiful ocean views while you dine on steak, chicken, seafood, salads and more. Open daily for dinner from 6 to 10 p.m.
CR Burger Shack
Open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, CR Burger Shack is a more casual spot. Enjoy various burger options from classic to roasted garlic turkey burgers. A children's menu offers a corn dog or a smaller hamburger. Order a milkshake as a side or dessert!
Sol Y Sombra
Dine alfresco at this Latin-inspired seafood grill that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daytime attire is casual while dinner attire is more resort casual.
This open-air lounge located off the main lobby features light fare during the day. During dinner sushi, burgers, cocktails and mocktails can be found at Tico's.
Planning & Tips
All About The Extras
These attendants spritz you with Evian water, offer you cold towels and water and even clean your sunglasses when you leave them on the lounge chair to go swimming. If you don't wish to be disturbed, grab a rock painted with "Z z z" from the beach kiosk to place near your chair. At the kiosk, you can find a selection of magazines and books plus sunscreen -- just in case you forgot those beach necessities.
Babysitting is available 24 hours a day, for an hourly fee for the first child and discounted for a second child. Reserve ahead.
The resort is infused with a sense of place and that extends to the art collection. The property displays many works by Costa Rican and Central American artists.
The Art of Smart Timing
Costa Rica has two seasons. November through April is the dry season and also the high season. At the resort, March is the busiest month because of the U.S. spring break. April, despite being part of the high season is also the hottest month in Guanacaste with temperatures reaching 95 degrees Farenheit. May through mid-November is the "green" (rainy) season or low season. Expect rain in the afternoon. Generally, the slowest months are September and October. Unlike other areas in Central America, Guanacaste typically does not get hurricanes.
Peninsula Papagayo's gates are about a 30-minute drive from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport. It takes another 10 to 15 minutes to drive to the Four Seasons Resort at far end of the peninsula. The Four Seasons offers shared transfers via vans for $40 US per person or a private transfer for up to five people in an SUV for $150 US. Rates are for one-way transportation.
Families will find it convenient to walk around the resort.
For Mom and Dad
The 15,000-square-foot spa offers an array of wraps, massages, scrubs and facials. The outdoor terrace has plunge pools. A good vantage point to see the howler monkeys is from the outdoor terrace with its plunge pools. Often, the monkeys scamper through the trees in front of the facility in the late afternoon.