“ Address: Hacienda Pinilla / Santa Cruz / Costa Rica „
JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa at Tamarindo, Costa Rica
This was one of the most amazing places I have ever stayed I think. We arrived at the end of about 10 miles of dirt road past some pretty luxurious houses; according to our guide Mel Gibson has a pad in the area. The hotel looked like a film set hacienda, huge, neat and palatial even. We were met by the bell boys and trolleys and then taken to the reception area where were given a bottle of cold water and a cold towel which was most refreshing. Our keys were plastic card type keys with a picture of the hotel on one side which we were impressed with!
The hotel resort was enormous and our room was 347 - there were only 5 or 6 floors but the 5th and 6th floors were only in the central part of the hotel. Interestingly floor 3 was at ground level as we came in but we had to go down two levels to get to the restaurants beach and pool. Our room had a forest view rather than a pool or beach view but it was EXTREMELY sumptuous.
We walked down an open corridor past two large garden and patio areas before finding our room. As we opened the door we both said 'Wow!' It was so very posh and we discovered that the price of a room at the resort during the low season was $400 US per night just for the room. It can go up to $600 per night and we were there two nights in this palace of luxury.
The room was pretty big and the first part was the bathroom which was enormous. A wonderful big bath, a shower and basin area then the toilet was separate beside the shower with a door. The most amazing thing was that you could lie in the bath and open the wooden screen and watch the TV in the bedroom. It was of course possible to shut this and be private but we found this very exciting, we are just big children at heart! In the middle of the bathroom was a wooden stand with towels, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion all of which smelled very nice, slightly orangey.
As you walked past the bathroom area along the wall was a tall wooden stand/table with a huge mirror over it then you saw the room itself. Two large double/queen beds that were so high I had to climb to get in and so many pillows that I wallowed in them as I lay back. The sheets were such lovely quality cotton sheets that they felt wonderful as you slipped between them. The air conditioning was very efficient so I had the most comfortable night's sleep that I had had in a long while.
In the bedroom area there was plenty of storage space with drawers and a wardrobe plus an iron and ironing board and safe in the wardrobe and storage area. There was a fridge/minibar within this storage area and the large flat screen TV was above the drawers as was the coffee maker and an ice bucket. Ground coffee was provided as well as two silk tea bags, one with green tea and the other with English breakfast tea. I've never had silk tea bags before so that was novel too.
Each room also had a small veranda or balcony, ours was on ground level so we could walk out onto the grass and take photos of the humming birds on the flowers. On this veranda was a cushioned chair with footstool so you could lie comfortably on it as well as a table and two more upright chairs. There was also an insect screen sun shade that could be wound down to floor level to keep you cooler and more private should you want to be. We had ours up as we wanted to look at any birds and other wildlife that might appear in the dry forest. You could hear howler monkeys and some people saw them on a walk but we didn't go on the walk so missed them.
We were with a tour company called 'Caravan' (I plan to write a review on the tour at a later date) and as part of our tour all our meals were included, plus the nature walk and then on top of that we had a special 'Caravan' Happy Hour stall at the pool from 1pm till 4pm when all drinks were FREE. You could have beer, soft drinks, rum based drinks like pina colada and tequila based ones and many others which we thought was wonderful and made good use of this. One or two people made too good a use and suffered badly the next day but that was their silly fault for sitting in the sun and drinking. We found a comfortable area up on the patio with cushioned chairs that were a bit Moroccan looking in the shade to enjoy ours.
The meals that we had as part of our tour include breakfast, lunch and dinner and they were all served in the Mansila,,,,,, which was down on the level next to the pool . We were greeted and seated and then after that we could help ourselves to the buffet which was fit for royalty. The salad bar offered some salads on small plates presented as in a posh restaurant and then there were bowls of about 30 different salads arranged on different levels and in different ways. After the salads there was a section with cheeses and cold meats, then there were two cooked sections where you could be served from whole baked fish or a roast, a soup tureen, freshly baked breads and then about twelve dishes of hot vegetables, Mahi Mahi fish, Dorado fish, meat and other rice and potato dishes such as mashed potato with truffle oil. Each night was different but those are dishes that come to mind. The dessert area was an array of about 25 different choices in small dishes ranging from cheese cake, to rice pudding to brownies and so many more all beautifully presented in different small portion sized ways.
Breakfast was different but equally varied choices from porridge to waffles, about twenty different fruits, the hot stuff went from egg varieties through sausages and gallo pinto ( rice and beans) cheeses cold meats and fruit juices all set out in the buffet area so that you really were spoiled for choice and I am not a big breakfast person usually however my husband and brother in law were in their element trying everything.
The lunches and evening meals were similar but at each one the salads and main courses were different for every meal as were the desserts. You really could see me increasing in size after every meal but it was just so tempting. With each meal we were offered a fresh fruit juice or iced tea and iced water also as part of the deal. Alcohol was extra but we were cheeky and went to collect our happy hour drink and took it in to lunch with us and they were quite happy with that.
Although it was a really posh hotel and the food was first class they did not expect you to dress up for meals. They stated that you needed to wear a shirt and shoes but sandals and shorts were accepted. We did dress up on the second night but on the first night we had only been there an hour or so and had decided to go down to the beach to watch the sunset and could not be bothered to go back to the room to shower and change so we went in what we were wearing. The sunset was amazing and worth the wait and missing our shower before dinner.
There were a huge range of activities offered by the hotel some of them at extra cost of course. You could learn Latin dancing, learn about Costa Rican culture, learn Belly Dancing or Choreographic Dancing, alternatively try your language skills with Spanish lessons, and try various games including bingo, checkers, cards, chess, darts, jenga and poker. For the more active there was beach volleyball, Frisbee playing, beach stretching, guided bicycle tours, aqua aerobics, soccer or nature walks. Water sports on offer included sport fishing, scuba diving, kayak tours, surf trips and surf lessons and there was also a sunset cruise. You could also go horse riding, play golf or tennis if you fancied those activities. As well as all this there was a daily activity programme for children which changed each day. I was really impressed with what there was on offer besides the enormous pool, beach and of course all the spa treatments too.
We spent the day we had by the pool and on the beach as we had a few days of travelling and sightseeing so it was good to be in one place for a day without being on the bus. It was a wonderfully relaxing place to stay and I could have had a couple more days there after that I would have been looking for something else to do as I am not the 'sitting on a sun lounger holiday' sort of person I like to see things and find out about different cultures and places.
The pool was a curved meandering one that filled the area from the hotel down to the beach. There were islands within the pool that held about 30 sun loungers and there were a huge number of sun loungers and umbrellas available all round the edges of this curvy pool. A huge cart full of clean white towels was kept full and there were also round pool pillows so that you could lie and read comfortably on the wooden loungers with sponge cushions. Very speedy staff were on hand to help you move the sun loungers or umbrellas so that your every comfort was tended to. It was really very luxurious and I felt truly decadent as I lay beside this beautiful infinity pool overlooking the beach on the Pacific Ocean.
Down at the beach was a bar and a mini curvy infinity pool and in the evening a band played softly using a clarinet, flute, didgeridoo and soft drums which was most atmospheric. On the second evening we swam in the smaller pool listening to this band while watching the sun set before we went to change for our evening meal. We decided to give the Costa Rican dancing miss which was a pre dinner affair and was also part of our tour but on previous dancing shows they have got people up to join them and I hate inter active shows so we enjoyed our swim, the sunset then had a shower before enjoying our evening meal.
I am sure I have forgotten something but hopefully you can get a picture of how fantastic this place was. Wealthy readers might enjoy staying here at the normal cost but for those with less money read my 'Caravans' review which will follow and you will see what an amazing bargain holiday we had. This was a truly luxurious place to stay and I cannot fault it in any way. I give 5 stars for every part of the hotel in every way.
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