Choosing your family vacation destination can be tricky when you have kids. You want a getaway, a place to relax, but has activities, and will suit the smallest members of your family all the way to the adults. Here comes the all-inclusive resort to the rescue! Enter the brand-new Planet Hollywood resort in Papagayo.
Planet Hollywood on the Papagayo Peninsula in Northwest Costa Rica was the second half of our family vacation to the country and we LOVED it. We spent the first half of the week in the Arenal Volcano region before driving to the Coast.
Why it’s awesome
The Papagayo Peninsula is perhaps Costa Rica’s best kept secret. It’s been able to (thus far) remain a not-too-touristy part of the country offering amazing landscapes, secluded beaches and adventure if you should so choose. It’s dotted with plenty of high-end resorts but Planet Hollywood is one of the only family friendly luxury all-inclusives on the peninsula. It’s brand new and amazing!
Planet Hollywood aims to give you the ‘vacation like a star’ experience and its in every detail. Our arrival was pretty hilarious. They give you a red carpet welcome with welcome drinks and photos on an actual red carpet with a photographer (with all the staff cheering and clapping like you’re a celebrity) and we were totally unprepared. We had driven 4+ hours from the Arenal region and were so ready to be there. The valet opens the door and the kids are crying, I’m wedged in between the car seats in the back, we’re disheveled… It was a pretty #travelwithkids #momlife moment but the welcome wagon was amazing and totally rolled with our dysfunction!
The hotel was incredible! It’s situated high up on the cliff and the views of the ocean are amazing. The main building houses the lobby and main dining areas and the hotel rooms are in various separate buildings down the cliff side until you get to the beach level which is where you’ll find the pool, spa, several restaurants, kids club, and gym. Because it’s a rather steep cliff and can be a lot of arduous walking there’s a complimentary shuttle that takes guests all over the resort.
The rooms are immaculate and so well done. We had a suite which worked out extremely well so we had space for the kids to play and sleep in separate rooms. Our room was in their Star Class category which gave us access to a private common pool with our own bar and service (pretty fancy). If you choose Star Class you’re also assigned a personal agent to take care of any dinner reservations and to ensure your stay is hassle free. The room details are individually tailored so they ask your preference for music, aromatherapy and they even boast award winning mattresses to ensure an incredible night sleep. It was pretty awesome!
The resort pool area is beautiful! The enormous pool with several swim up bars is a great way to escape from the heat. The pool area offers comfortable loungers and pool service for drinks. There’s also gorgeous cabanas you can reserve for private lounging and your own plunge pool and TV.
The Spa is full-service offering massages, facials, body treatments and a nail salon. The Spa amenities are also amazing with areas to relax, a private indoor pool and steam/sauna rooms as well as a cold water bucket plunge.
For you gym buffs and yogis they have an impressive array of fitness classes including sunrise/sunset yoga as well as boot camp, kickboxing, TRX training or a beach Spartan race. There’s really something for all fitness levels and interests. There’s also a gym to go at your own pace.
Parents rejoice! There is a Star Kids Club for kids ages 4-12 and offer a wide variety of activities. They have scavenger hunts, dress up, video games for bigger kids, and movies under the stars. The staff were so amazing with our (very shy) kids and they had a blast dressing up and playing games. It’s open from 9am-5 pm.
There’s also a kids splash zone for littles that is shaded and has small slides and spray hoses. Our kids (2 and 4 years of age) spent a ton of time there. There’s nearby loungers to watch your kiddos play.
Planet Hollywood will curate several tours for you in and around the Papagayo Peninsula and even into bordering Nicaragua if you should be so inclined. Trips to the waterfall, zip lining, hanging bridges, horseback riding are all activities they offer.
The Water sports stand near the beach can also help you book trips for boating, fishing, jet skis as well as SCUBA (classes) and excursions.
There’s a ton of dining options on site, and they were all really delicious. For breakfast there’s a buffet (with Veuve Cliquot mimosas!!) at the SoCal Gourmet Food Emporium with every type of food you can imagine.
Lunch is also buffet style poolside at Blue Star Tex-Mex Cantina or Gusto Italian Trattoria. There’s also Guy’s! Burger Joint poolside for quick service burgers and fries designed by the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives host himself.
All of the above restaurants are open for dinner but add to the list East Sushi and Teppanyaki Bar and Sunset Strip Steakhouse and Grill. Reminder, it’s all-inclusive! You’ll generally want reservations for one of the two seating times for the sit down restaurants.
The Papagayo Peninsula is accessed most directly by the Liberia Airport which is about a 40 minute drive to Planet Hollywood. We chose to start and end in San Jose as we spent time in other areas of the country. It’s about a 4 hour drive from Planet Hollywood to the San Jose airport so give yourself plenty of time to get there or stay the night in San Jose (we made it for our afternoon flight by the skin of our teeth- never a dull moment!)
- The area can be buggy (most of Costa Rica is) so be sure to bring insect repellent.
- Tipping is not mandatory but very appreciated. If you leave a tip generally an extra 5-10% is adequate at restaurants. $1-2 per night for housekeeping, $3-10 per person for an all day tour for your guide/driver, $1 per bag for the bellman, $10 for SCUBA for a 2 tank dive, 15% for spa services
- The outlets and voltage are the same as in North America so you shouldn’t need a converter if coming from the US
Our stay was hosted by Planet Hollywood. All opinions expressed here are my own.