The Top 10 Resort Hotels in Central America in 2020

Coastal aerial image of Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas
Photo: Courtesy of Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

The jungles, beaches, and volcanoes that make up Central America combine to make a stunning landscape, and its top resorts take full advantage. But we would be remiss not to acknowledge the incredible service, amenities, and food and drink that make our top 10 resorts in Central America a cut above the rest. These resorts highlight their beautiful surroundings while ensuring guests have an authentic and luxurious experience.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Costa Rica captured six spots on this year’s list, drawing in travelers with its stunning beaches, rain forests, and cloud forests. In Pérez Zeledón near the Pacific Ocean, Hacienda AltaGracia (No. 7) made the most of its 864 acres when it built its 50 casitas and suites that look out over the grounds’ lush hillsides. (Guests might spot toucans and capuchin monkeys hiding in the trees.) One reader called it “a true gem” and added that they “really want to go back again.”

Belize, which has been steadily gaining popularity among travelers in recent years, also had several winners this year, including two of Francis Ford Coppola’s resorts. The beachfront Turtle Inn (No. 9) in Placencia maintains a “very cool, laid back vibe,” according to one voter, but still has an “excellent staff [that is] very attentive.” No. 8 Blancaneaux Lodge, set in the center of the country, gives guests access to stunning nature reserves and Mayan sites.

Below, the full list of the best resort hotels in Central America.

1. Nayara Gardens, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Aerial Exterior View of Nayara Gardens
Courtesy of Nayara Gardens

Score: 96.46

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Nestled in the rainforest jungle with the spectacular Arenal Volcano as a backdrop, this resort (whose sister property Nayara Springs snagged the No. 4 spot) takes full advantage of its rugged surroundings while ensuring a luxury experience. Details like cozy casitas with private outdoor showers, a family-friendly pool and hot tubs fed from hot springs, multiple dining venues, and an array of tours and wildlife experiences combine for an unforgettable vacation. The thoughtful service and comprehensive amenities are near-perfect, as one respondent wrote. “Service is impeccable and genuine. Facility is amazing. Villas are incredible. Food is outstanding. Did not want to leave!” Another put it simply: “Paradise found.”

2. Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas
Courtesy of Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas

Score: 96.21

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3. Florblanca Resort, Playa Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Interior room at Florblanca
Courtesy of Florblanca

Score: 96.00

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4. Nayara Springs, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Lush greenery and pool at Nayara Springs
Courtesy of Nayara Springs

Score: 94.67

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5. Matachica Resort, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Exterior of Villa Matachia Resort
Douglas Lyle Thompson

Score: 93.00

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6. Rancho Santana, Tola, Nicaragua

Guest room with a view at Rancho Santana
Adrien Williams

Score: 92.91

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7. Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection, Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica

The pool at night at Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection
Courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection

Score: 92.38

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8. Blancaneaux Lodge, Cayo District, Belize

Interior of Blancaneaux Lodge
Courtesy of Blancaneaux Lodge

Score: 92.33

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9. Turtle Inn, Placencia, Belize

Pool and Villa at Turtle Inn
Courtesy of Turtle Inn

Score: 89.62

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10. Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Lounge at Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo
Courtesy of Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo

Score: 88.71

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See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.

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