As I’ve mentioned in my post last week, I’m currently looking into going to Costa Rica for our wedding anniversary in 2018. What can I say? I’m a planner. I would like to fly to Liberia airport if at all possible, but wanted to research San Jose options as well. The latter is way easier to travel “hack.”
In addition to American Airlines’ Miami hub, Spirit flies there from Fort Lauderdale. Better yet, Jet Blue has a non-stop route from Orlando, and that airport is much closer to where we live. See my post on why Jet Blue is a great program for those who live on the east coast.
The reason I’ve ignored San Jose was due to the fact that beaches in Puntarenas area (1 hour from San Jose) are supposedly not as nice as those in Papagayo peninsula. And I am a beach fanatic. I realize that’s not why most folks fly to Costa Rica, but I am hoping to have the best of both worlds. As in chill by the beach in the morning and hit the mountains in the afternoon.
In my research, though, I came across an interesting option: DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Central Pacific. I’ve never heard of this all-inclusive resort, but it is in Hilton family, so it’s bookable with points. Be aware, certificates (whether from Citi Hilton Reserve or Hilton Honors Amex Surpass cards) are not valid here.
It’s located 50 minutes from San Jose airport, and there are lovely ocean vistas to enjoy on premises. Unfortunately, most reviews indicate that the beach here isn’t that great. But it’s good enough to walk on and soak in the atmosphere. The resort has an amazing pool complex with multiple hot tubs. The best part, of course, is that everything is included: food, drinks, alcohol and cheesy entertainment.
Not too bad, especially if one signs up for Hilton Honors Amex Surpass I’ve mentioned few weeks ago. Just one bonus is almost enough to cover three nights at this property when you factor in minimum spending. Plus, according to reviews on Trip Advisor, Gold Hilton status opens the door to all kinds of perks, including an upgrade to oceanview room. Obviously, it’s not something you can count on, but if you go during off-season, the odds will be in your favor.
What if you want to bring the kids with you?
First things first. Rooms bookable on points have two full beds, a deal breaker for us. However, some families don’t mind this type of set-up. Of course, you may get an upgrade depending on how full the resort is at that time. If your children are younger than 4, there is no extra fee. If they are ages 4-12, there is a surcharge of $55 per child.
Obviously, it’s not dirt cheap. However, consider all the perks you’ll get as a result, and you may decide that the juice is worth the squeeze.
Of course, very few families can go to Costa Rica in September because that’s when the kids are in school. Here is what you can expect to pay in March of 2018:
That’s a significantly higher rate. However, let’s assume that both spouses get Amex Hilton Honors Surpass. Each will have almost enough points to cover two nights at this property. However, keep in mind, you can combine the points and get the fifth night free. Perfect for a spring break vacation.
Sure, you’ll have to pay $550 extra to bring the kids. But if you love all-inclusives and always wanted to visit Costa Rica, this could be a relatively economical way to accomplish your goal. No, this resort isn’t as good of a deal as IHG all-inclusive in Jamaica. But if you have no desire to visit Montego Bay, then it doesn’t really matter.
A “sweet spot” all-inclusive Hilton in Jamaica
Speaking of Jamaica, there is an all-inclusive there that gets rave reviews: Hilton Rose Hall All-inclusive Resort and Spa While you’ll pay 70K-80K points per night during spring, you can stay here for 55K points if you can take the kids out of school right before Christmas holidays:
Rooms have two queen beds, a huge plus for families. A nice perk of this resort is that kids under 5 stay free. There is a waterpark, lazy river, spa and much more. If you can fly to Jamaica during hurricane season, you should be able to snag an even better deal. Plus, Gold status may net you a suite upgrade since the resort won’t be full. If you have a ton of Hilton points, this is a good choice to consider.
Things you can do in the area
Back to Costa Rica all-inclusive. The resort offers all kinds of tours, including Arenal volcano, Manuel Antonio National park and Monteverde cloud forest. Some take all day, other ones only few hours. I’ve read that they will put together a lunch box to take with you even if you didn’t book tours with the resort.
You will most likely save money by reserving tours directly, see just one such example. The tour that really intrigues me is a cruise to Tortuga Island. This looks like an incredibly scenic place to hang out. A bonus: the island has wild pigs and monkeys coexisting together. How can you beat that?
To be clear, flying to Liberia and staying in Hyatt Andaz is still my first choice. It looks like a more suitable place for an anniversary getaway, more exclusive, if you will. But I am intrigued by the all-inclusive Hilton resort, which is the opposite of exclusive! I’m a simple gal, and I know we would enjoy it. Not to mention, we would save a ton of money on food each day. Should I hang on to my sign-up bonus from Amex Surpass for now? I think I might.
Readers, have you been to this resort? Are you as intrigued as I am?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.