This Stunning Costa Rican Resort Is Nestled Between 2 Crescent-shaped Bays — and Was Just Named One of the Best Hotels in the World

Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo just made the T+L 500, a.k.a. the best hotels in the world, according to our readers.

Outdoor dining at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo during sunset

CHRISTIAN HORAN/Courtesy of Four Seasons

Slowly making my way through the semi-open hallway of the Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo for a morning yoga class, I realize I'm not the only one up well before 6 a.m. on a Saturday. My eyes are drawn to a group of coatis looking for breakfast that emerge from the lush plants near the walkway. Daily wildlife encounters at this lush beachfront resort are part of the experience.

At the tip of Costa Rica's Peninsula Papagayo, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the 198-key property, one of Travel + Leisure's newly announced top 500 hotels in the world, is surrounded by tropical dry forest bustling with color and wildlife. Nestled between two calm, crescent-shaped bays, guests at Four Seasons Costa Rica have access to a couple of wide, sandy beaches in addition to the three pools, five restaurants, a spa, many family-friendly amenities, and an Arnold Palmer championship golf course.

While the hotel opened in 2004, it received a $35-million facelift at the end of 2017, giving the public spaces and guest rooms a new look. Now, after a 40-minute ride from Liberia International Airport, travelers are greeted by the courteous staff with chilled coconuts in a spacious open-air lobby and can check in from large, comfortable sofas. 

Lounge chairs at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

CHRISTIAN HORAN/Courtesy of Four Seasons

When renowned Costa Rican architect Ronald Zürcher was designing the sprawling property, he put his signature naturalist approach to work, ensuring that, while impressive in size, the resort was not overwhelming the landscape and, instead, blended with it. As a result, the resort has five earth-colored buildings sculpted in sinuous shapes paying homage to the local flora and fauna, perfectly camouflaging into its lush setting. 

The biophilic theme continues in the spacious rooms and suites where textures, colors, and materials celebrate Mother Nature in a sophisticated way. Conceived by Meyer Davis Design Studio, the decor incorporates local wood, art sourced from local Indigenous communities, and an organic color palette offers an effortless, inviting luxury ambiance. My favorite feature in the guest rooms were the large private balconies and patios separated from the bedrooms via French doors. I left mine open at night (don't worry, the balconies have mosquito nets), so I could fall asleep — and wake up — to the soothing sound of crashing waves.

Interior of a guest room at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Don Riddle/Courtesy of Four Seasons

View from a guest room terrace at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Don Riddle/Courtesy of Four Seasons

For those who'd like to splurge, the resort has one- and three-bedroom suites with sweeping ocean or jungle views and private plunge pools. Or if complete privacy and seclusion are at the top of your wish list, rent one of the sprawling Prieta Bay Residences that range from three-to-five bedrooms and feature private swimming pools and expansive outdoor areas for entertainment and lounging. The resort's newest offering is the spectacular Casa Las Olas, a sprawling six-bedroom compound with a sunken courtyard and a 150-foot infinity-edge pool with 180-degree ocean and bay views. 

Food is easily one of the highlights of this award-winning resort. While the five dining concepts have a distinct theme and aesthetic, they all have one thing in common — locally sourced organic produce, seafood, and meats. Bahia, the hotel's all-day alfresco eatery overlooking the pools and the beach specializes in grilled fare, and was my go-to spot for breakfast (try the traditional Costa Rican chorreado and the fruit-topped açaí bowl) and lunch (where I savored ceviche with mahi mahi).

Sunset hour is best spent with cocktails and light bites at Añejo, an open-air lounge-like space with a nightly DJ and live music. Pesce, the resort's Italian eatery, has a distinct coastal vibe thanks to the many seafood options on the menu, such as yellowtail tuna carpaccio and grilled octopus salad. Finally, steakhouse Nemare is located at Peninsula Papagayo's golf clubhouse, a short 10-minute golf-cart ride from the hotel rooms, and treats patrons to premium dry-aged beef and smoky cocktails (nemare means "smoke" in in the local Indigenous language).

Swinging lounge chairs at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

CHRISTIAN HORAN/Courtesy of Four Seasons

As a resort that advertises itself as family-friendly, the kids' club truly stands out. The property's Kids For All Seasons program was designed to educate its youngest guests about the lush environment while keeping them entertained with activities such as hermit crab and treasure hunts on the beach, bird-watching, and aquatic games at the kids' pool, lined with cute kid-sized cabanas and sun loungers.

And for the adults, activities include yoga classes, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, hiking, monkey spotting, and mountain biking. The resort's surf school, SurfX, has been steadily expanding for the past couple of years and now offers everything from beginner classes and boat tours to renowned Witches Rock surf break to workshops that help surfers improve their breathwork, focus, and flexibility, and fun events celebrating local surf culture. 

Palm trees around the pool at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

CHRISTIAN HORAN/Courtesy of Four Seasons

"In partnership with Peninsula Papagayo, Four Seasons has created the most amazing experiences in our 1,400-acre backyard that connects our guests to nature while also giving them the flexibility to return to the resort in just a few minutes," Ian-Robert Ciappara, the property's general manager, told Travel + Leisure. "Guest can choose their own adventure with land activities like The Outpost with ziplining or water-based like surfing with SurfX or water bikes."

Nightly rates at Four Seasons Costa Rica start from $1,035, and you can book your stay at

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles