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As the tittle implies, this is a very silly thing for me to ponder. But let’s face it, much of this hobby has to do with escape from reality of a day-to-day grind. My family has been under a lot of stress lately, and the way I usually deal with it is by planning future vacations.
One area of the world that has fascinated me for a long time is Costa Rica. Some of you may remember that in 2019 my husband and I almost went there, but our plans were thwarted by a hurricane. I’m not one to easily give up on a good idea, so I’ve been looking for a redo ever since. Of course, Covid has complicated things for the last two years.
But I’ve decided to finally visit Costa Rica in 2022 with my husband, barring some extraordinary circumstances. No more hurricanes, please! Of course, I intend to keep my plans as flexible as possible. Since I previously had a reservation in Nayara Gardens, that’s where I looked first. But then I figured why not upgrade the experience and treat ourselves to Nayara Springs, their adult-only sister resort.
The pros and cons of staying in Nayara Springs
Screenshot taken from Nayara Springs website
How cool is that? Magnificent breakfast is included, and you can have it in your room if you want. The resort has a jungle-like atmosphere with views of Arenal volcano.
Naturally, all this fanciness comes at a price. For various reasons, we can only go during rainy season, and even then, the best deal I could find was $1,800 all-in, or $600 per night. And in order to get a refund, I would have to cancel a month ahead. Otherwise, you forfeit all of your money. Obviously, this isn’t ideal during Covid pandemic when things can drastically change in a matter of weeks.
Sure, I could buy travel insurance with cancel-for-any-reason option, but I would have to commit to specific dates. Plus, even then I would get 75% of my money back, which isn’t ideal. The thing is, I’m not normally into hotels that cost $600 per night. I’ve never paid that much in my life, though this isn’t a run-of-the-mill kind of resort. Still, we have a lot of travel expenses coming up, and I feel guilty dropping that much money on a getaway.
Then there is the drive from San Jose airport. It takes around 3 hours to reach this resort via private transfer, possibly longer during rainy season. Between driving to Orlando airport, flight itself, plus getting to Nayara Springs, we are looking at a very looong day. My husband won’t be pleased, that’s for sure.
Plus, if our Jet Blue flight is delayed, we would potentially have to spend the first night near San Jose, since driving to Arenal area at night is too dangerous. Even if a transfer company was willing to do it, I would refuse since my kids need their parents to come back alive.
I really do like this resort (a lot!), so I’ve tentatively booked a roundtrip Jet Blue flight from Orlando. If we have to cancel, I will get the points re-deposited at no cost, and should be able to use $140 travel credit from taxes towards my planned trip to DC.
The case for staying in Andaz Costa Rica
Andaz Costa Rica has been reviewed by many bloggers, including Nancy. Her family loved their stay in 2020, and I trust her judgement 100%. It really looks like a special place that I’m sure I would enjoy. One big plus is that it’s located only 30 minutes from Liberia airport.
Nancy’s photo of adults-only pool
The thing that stopped me from booking it in the past was the lack of decent flight options from our neck of the woods. We would have to drive to Miami airport (3.5 hours away) and spend a night before the morning flight. Plus, I never saw decent award availability via Avios (AA partner) for this particular route.
We have flown from Miami before, but it’s something I really try to avoid if at all possible. It’s a hectic city, and the airport itself is super busy. Fast forward to 2022. Frontier Airlines has just added a non-stop Orlando-Liberia route, and I’m intrigued. This could be a game-changer for finally booking a stay in Andaz Costa Rica.
I don’t have any Frontier miles, but I do have 50k Merrill points that have been sitting there for four years. In fact, just recently I wrote a post saying that I was thinking about cashing them out for $500. Instead, I could burn them towards two Frontier tickets, which right now run around $425 per person for my dates.
Frontier is a low-cost airline, but it doesn’t bother me in the least. What I mostly care about is having a direct flight with a convenient departure time. Plus, the flight is only three hours. There are some additional fees, but we will survive.
Andaz resort is totally different from Nayara Springs, so comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. The former consists of rooms instead of private bungalows, and only the most expensive suite has a private pool.
On the other hand, I like the Andaz setting quite a bit, since I’m a beach person. The biggest differentiator to me is the cost, since rooms in Andaz run at 17k Hyatt points per night during low season. This is a very good deal and surely beats $600 per night price tag. Plus, you can cancel Hyatt stay 7 days in advance without penalty.
Of course, Papagayo peninsula is nowhere close to Arenal, but maybe I can talk my husband into booking a day trip tour there. Even without it, I feel that Andaz would provide us with a unique/boutique experience, where we would be surrounded by nature and wildlife.
I value 17k Hyatt points at around $240, so this is obviously a much better deal compared to Nayara. Even if you add $60 for breakfast, it’s still half the rate. Is having a private plunge pool worth $300 per night? I’m not convinced that it is. Plus, I like to be able to actually swim laps in a pool.
Since our stay will take place sometime in the fall, I’m not quite ready to book Frontier flights just yet. If I need to change them for some reason, it will involve a penalty. And in the event of cancellation, I would be stuck with a travel credit voucher that will expire in 90 days. I did reserve a stay in Andaz via Hyatt points, since there is literally no downside to doing so.
Right now, I’m leaning towards this option for all the reasons I’ve mentioned. However, if you have stayed in both resorts, I’m curious to hear what you have to say.
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.