Hotel Parador in a Nutshell:
The last mile to Hotel Parador is down a badly maintained lane that seems certain to have been the result of a wrong turn. At the end is this 100-plus room resort and spa, which stands at the top of a cliff looking across tropical foliage to the Pacific. The lobby is tile and wood, the furnishings are Old World, and there’s even a small knight in shining armor to greet guests.
Rooms at Hotel Parador:
Most rooms have patios or balconies that face the rainforest or the ocean. Couples looking for privacy should avoid the garden rooms. Nearby walking paths pass too close to the patio and there’s no view of either the ocean or the rainforest. So while most rooms are similar and more than adequate at Parador, request one with an ocean view. All rooms are air-conditioned and have ceiling fans.
Dining at Hotel Parador:
The dining rooms at Hotel Parador take full advantage of the hotel’s location overlooking the ocean. So choose to eat on the terrace. The fish is fresh daily and we appreciated the tuna prepared on the rare side, just as requested. The wait staff is efficient, helpful, and cheerful. There is a swim-up bar with a lunch menu. A buffet breakfast is included.
Activities at Hotel Parador:
The two connecting infinity pools, with a hot tub between, and the adult-only pool at Hotel Parador are beautiful enough to almost make guests want to forgo walking (10 minutes down, 20 up) to the small, isolated and nearly private beach below.
The property also has a tennis court, miniature golf, a nature trail and a spa. The Pacifica Spa of Hotel Parador, connected to the adults-only pool, is a two story building on the cliff’s edge.
The spacious gift store in the main building feels much more like an upscale shop. There is a business center where the Internet is free for the first half-hour.
Destination Weddings at Hotel Parador:
Hotel Parador offers many wedding possibilities. Not only can they arrange for the officiant, they also can provide a violinist or flamenco guitarist for the ceremony and a Central American band, Calypso music or a DJ for the reception. The wedding planner should be contacted long before the wedding date to ensure that sufficient rooms are available and specific requests can be met. Wedding ceremonies at Hotel Parador can take place on a terrace overlooking the Pacific or at the small beach at the bottom of the cliff. There is also La Reina, a small private dining room that can be used for the wedding party.
Visiting Manuel Antonio:
The town of Manuel Antonio is a ten-minute shuttle bus ride from Hotel Parador. Beachside restaurants stand across from its lovely public beach.
An alley leads visitors to Manuel Antonio National Park. This park combines rainforest, a half-mile long white crescent beach, warm waters, and a coral reef. Naturalist guides are available for the hike on a wide path through the forest and down to the beach. Manuel Antonio’s guides are multi-lingual and carry with them small telescopes that they set on tripods. On our walk we saw three-toed sloths slowly gliding across the tree tops; iguanas; and a troop of wild monkeys.
Another seaside town, Quepos is nearby Manuel Antonio. This is the water activity center for the area, where boats can be rented for sports fishing (dorado, mackerel, snappers, tuna and marlin, among others) or diving. Jet skis, for water, and ultralights, for air, are available in Quepos. The surrounding forest offers river rafting, bird watching, spice farm tours, horse back riding— on the beach or into the rainforest— mountain bikes, canopy tours, and kayaking. Quepos is also a surfing center.
Experiencing the Rainforest in Costa Rica:
The Rain Forest Aerial Tram
’s gondola floats silently above the tree line. On one side (and below us) was the rainforest, to the other was the Pacific. Reaching the top at this privately owned conservation and education center, we were given an informative tour of the traditional medicinal garden and the snake exhibition, ending with a typical and tasty Costa Rican lunch of rice, beans and meat. There is another Rain Forest Aerial Tram park on the Caribbean coast, featuring a lodge in the middle of the forest, a popular place for weddings.
What Could Be Improved at Hotel Parador:
The rough road from the town to the hotel makes driving back and forth to Manuel Antonio a chore. Also, given the size of the hotel, to bill Hotel Parador as a “boutique” resort and spa is misleading. The desk staff was a little too indifferent for our taste.
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