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The Nakuti Papagayo

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the most popular Pacific coast resort destinations for US travelers. One of the reasons for this is the sheer variety that the country has to offer. Contrary to popular belief, Costa Rica isn’t exclusively a land of mountains and rainforest. The north-western province, Guanacaste, is low-lying, and suffers from relatively little rainfall. Temperatures are high, humidity is low, and the general ‘feel’ of the place – in terms of weather at least – is more like that of a Caribbean island that a typical central American state.

Guanacaste is a particularly good place to visit during the winter months in the US, as the weather is at its most reliably dry and warm during this time. One of the most popular resorts in the province of Nakuti Papagayo, which lies on the Pacific Gulf of Papagayo, a little to the west of Liberia, the provincial capital.

The Nakuti Papagayo is a small resort, and has a pleasantly homely air that can’t always be found in some of the larger resorts in the region. Slightly unusually for a small resort, it operates and all-inclusive pricing strategy. So all during your stay all of your meals and activities, and most of your drinks, are included in a single fee. Because the Nakuti Papagayo doesn’t have the size and staff to run as full a range of activities as some resorts, the pricing structure includes a reciprocal deal with other smaller resorts in the area – so if the activity you want to take part in isn’t provided, you can be sure that you can enjoy it somewhere nearby at no extra cost.

The nature of the accommodation reflects the generally relaxed and informal atmosphere or the resort. This isn’t a high-rise tower block hotel. All standard rooms are contained within a series of low-rise villas which are divided up by pleasant gardens and well-kept lawns, all within easy reach of the central pool. All the rooms are well-equipped with king-size (or two queen-size) beds, plus air conditioning – which is vital, as the temperature doesn’t drop very much during the night!

If you want to splash out a little, you can upgrade to one of the Nakuti Papagayo’s superior rooms or suites. The superior rooms all have private terraces and a separate dining area, so if you wish to eat in the privacy and comfort of your own accommodation you may do so. If you’d like to upgrade further still you can opt for one of the resort’s junior suites, which are pleasant, airy and spacious, and contain just about everything you could wish for in a mid-range resort room.

For a relatively small resort the Nakuti Papagayo offers a surprisingly large range of activities. All the usual resort fun and games are available, including diving, kayaking, swimming and sailing. But, unusual for a resort of its size, the Nakuti Papagayo offers a variety of live entertainment, including some excellent Latin American music played by talented local musicians. There are also a few activities that you don’t even find at really large resorts – the Nakuti Papagayo makes a big deal, for example, of the fact that it offers a fully-featured photography activity. If you’re a keen snapper, this is a great offer: the resort lies in some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the Americas.

Golfers are also well catered for, though it is something of a round trip to reach your destination. The Rancho Las Colinas is beautiful 18-hole course which lies a forty minute drive from the Nakuti Papagayo – though you don’t have to get yourself there, as transport is arranged.

After a frenetic day’s activities you’ll probably be in search of refreshment when you arrive back at the resort. The Nakuti Papagayo features two restaurants and a bar, which is pretty respectable considering its size. Don’t expect anything too dramatic: the cuisine is described as ‘contemporary international’ – resort code for ‘pleasant but safe’. So you can rely on getting a meal that everyone enjoys, which could be important if you’re traveling with kids, who, as we all know, can be notoriously picky eaters.

If you’re after a great value vacation, the Nakuti Papagayo is almost certainly the place for you. Its combination of reliable winter sun, friendly service and a great range of activities make it very nearly unbeatable in its class. It also lies within very easy reach of a number of fascinating areas of Costa Rica, in particular the small-is-beautiful city of Liberia, which, with a population of only slightly more than 30,000, is the kind of relaxed and intimate place that makes for a great day trip if you feel in need of a change of scenery during your vacation.

‘A lot in a little’ might be the national motto of Costa Rica – it’s certainly a phrase that sums up the Nakuti Papagayo perfectly.

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