If you are looking for a luxury beachfront all inclusive in Costa Rica, look no further than Planet Hollywood. Located just 25 minutes from the Liberia International Airport and boasting multiple restaurants, pools, excursions and a great Kid’s Club, this is a hotel you don’t want to miss!
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As we drove up to the expansive Planet Hollywood resort a bellman opened our doors and took our bags. We then walked a purple carpet while employees clapped, shouted “pura vida” and cheered to welcome us.
Next came a fun family photo in front of the Planet Hollywood sign before I was handed a perfectly chilled dragonfruit and vodka cocktail and spritzed with cool mist.
That’s the arrival at Planet Hollywood- one of my favorite all inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. In this article, I’ll tell you about our family’s experience with two young children at PH Costa Rica.
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About Planet Hollywood Costa Rica
Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica is one of the newest and top all-inclusive hotel/resorts located in Northern Costa Rica. The tag line is “Vacation Like A Star” and between the soothing purple decor, Hollywood memorabilia and amazing customer service, you’ll feel like a star the moment you set foot on property.
The hotel opened in October of 2018 using the facilities left behind from the Spanish-owned all inclusive Hotel Papagayo. The same building structures were used, but completely remodeled. The pools were completely redone as were all the restaurants, making the entire property feel brand new.
We chose to visit the resort for my birthday in 2019, both because I was curious about the hotel (we had visited the former property on our honeymoon) and because I wanted to celebrate my birthday in a super relaxing way. We were able to book with a local resident special as the hotel hadn’t been open a year yet, and so we packed up the car and headed north to the hotel.
Bottom line is that we loved our stay and I’d highly recommend booking. Our time there wasn’t perfect, but the minor things we didn’t love were not deal breakers and we would definitely go back. In this article I’ll tell you everything we loved and didn’t about our stay.
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Location – Getting There and Away
Planet Hollywood is located in the Guanacaste province on the Pacific Ocean. It’s on what is called the Papagayo peninsula. It’s located about 90 minutes south of the Nicaraguan border.
The property is about 45 minutes away from the city of Liberia and about 30 minutes away from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, also known as the Liberia International Airport.
Nearby hotels include the Andaz Papagayo and the Four Seasons Resort- all properties are near the Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course. Planet Hollywood is the only all inclusive resort on the Peninsula.
(We love to go to this area because our favorite hidden beach, Playa Nacascolo is located here.)
One of the huge advantages of the PH resort is that you really don’t need a car if you are flying in and only visiting this resort. The hotel will provide transfers. So that is a consideration when deciding if this is the right place to stay for your family.
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There are three types of rooms at the Planet Hollywood: aptly named the Junior Suite, Director’s Suite and the Producer’s Suite. Prices range for each room because of size and location to the beach and restaurants, but all have an all-inclusive option.
We stayed in the Junior Suite and loved it. The decor was modern yet Hollywood, and the room was spacious. We had a sitting area, a separate bath and dressing area with a huge mirror and lovely lights, and the two queen beds were super comfortable. These rooms are available with an ocean view or a garden view.
Rooms had hot water showers, towels, a desk, wireless internet, safe, iron,coffee maker and satellite TV.
We especially loved that 24 hour room service was included as we had several mornings where we ordered room service while we got the girls sunscreen and bathing suits on, and then had a leisurely breakfast on the patio before heading down to the beach and pool.
I ended up getting sick during our stay (ate some not so great food on the trip up) and the room service was amazing by delivering my bread and tea.
It’s important to note that this entire property is located on a huge hill- you’ll walk down to the beach and pool and a few restaurants and the main lobby is at the very top of the hill. There are golf carts circulating, but at check in and check out time it was nearly impossible to get a golf cart and we had to wait a long time in the heat. Plan accordingly.
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I wanted to go to PH because of the Kid’s Club. We love the Barcelo resorts in Costa Rica but the Kid’s Clubs are not very compelling and so we are with the girls the whole time. I wanted to have a little bit of alone time with my spouse knowing the girls were happy and safe.
The Kid’s Club has a ton a super fun activities such as Dance Classes, Acting and Directing Classes and more. However, you should ask for a schedule in advance as we found that many of the activities the girls wanted to do were only once a week and we weren’t there for the days they allowed. Otherwise the Kid’s Club has a pool, ping pong table, crafts, karaoke and video games.
Let’s be clear: I am not a huge fan of leaving my kids alone in another country on a family vacation. I’d never done it. So before we left the girls I toured the entire facility, asked a zillion safety questions and talked at length to the girls who would be watching my kids.
The facility was safe, clean, well staffed and the activities tailored to the kids present. We left the girls for about an hour to try the spa and they had fresh fruit for a snack, sang karaoke on a microphone and were having a fun dance party when we arrived. They didn’t want to leave.
The resort gifted me an hour in the spa for my birthday, so my husband and I went to check it out. The spa itself is absolutely gorgeous inside with spacious ceilings, low lighting and soothing music.
Massage, facials, nail bar and body treatments are all the name of the game at PH Spa. They also have a huge hydrotherapy pool, contrast showers and more. I loved the spa and highly highly recommend it.
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Near the pool and on the top floor above the spa is a fully equipped fitness center complete with free weights, weight machines, TRX and a rooftop outdoor yoga area.
The PUMPED fitness team offers beach abs class, poolside Zumba, sunrise yoga and yoga under the stars and more.
We had so much fun with an obstacle course the team set up by the pool. Several contestants were timed as they completed all kinds of fitness challenges, and every participant got a cute PH Costa Rica tank. My husband still has his and my girls still talk about how much fun it was!
Every night there is entertainment near the main lobby- we experienced everything from Hollywood movie shows to a silent disco. There is also a local artesian market a few times a week. There were beachside movies and live music as well.
The beach at Planet Hollywood is truly a bay. The water is shallow with very few waves, making it perfect for families with young children. You can walk really far out into the ocean and still only be knee deep in water.
The sand is black, and during Costa Rican summer (December-February) some families say the sand was too hot to walk along. We didn’t have that problem.
Paddle boards and sea kayaks are free rentals with your stay, you just need to book in advance. There are tons of water excursions on site as well.
There are locals who are on the public beach and may ask you to book a tour through them or purchase something. They are generally harmless but can be aggressive so if you are not interested in a service just make that known clearly and move on.
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Planet Hollywood can help you book almost any excursion or tour you want. You can zipline (we love Hacienda Pinilla), visit Rio Celeste National Park, go snorkeling and scuba diving, surfing, horseback riding, jet skiing, ATV riding and more.
We had a nice time just staying on property though, so if lounging by the beach with a pina colada in hand is more your style, this is the place to be!
There are seven restaurants on site, and we tried them all! Not all are open for all meals, and you will want to either make a reservation or plan to wait at popular times. If you are looking for traditional Costa Rican food, PH is NOT the place to try it. The food is very American here. It’s good, but not typical at all.
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These are the restaurants:
Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint – fast food delivered poolside and beach side. Kids loved it. Great burgers and fries.
SoCal Gourmet Food Emporium – buffet serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the restaurant that is pretty much always open.
East Sushi and Teppanyaki Bar – This Asian restaurant was INCREDIBLE. You can make a reservation for the Teppanyaki bar but you cannot be late or they will start without you and you can’t sit down. (We learned this the hard way). The table service was still incredible, and they brought food in from the other restaurants that were more kid friendly. Highly recommend.
Sunset Strip and Steakhouse Grill- open for dinner, typical steakhouse fare.
Blue-Star Tex Mex Cantina- Very popular for dinner. I was highly unimpressed.
Gusto Italian Trattoria- open for dinner. I love the way Costa Ricans make Italian food and this place was awesome.
Overtime Sports Bar- everything was good, it was just very television oriented and dark inside so it wasn’t really my vibe.
What’s Not To Like
We had some friends go to the resort at high season and they really didn’t like it. They felt like it was Las Vegas- tons of hard partying and loud music and craziness. We did not experience this at all but we didn’t go during Costa Rican vacation time so there really weren’t many people at the resort.
if you choose to upgrade on site you can become a Star Guest which basically means you get an oceanfront room, a day with a private cabana and other random amenities. We didn’t like the pressure of this upgrade or the “status” it brought to other guests. We spoke to a family that did it and they felt it wasn’t worth it.
Drinking age in Costa Rica is 18. When we were at PH the bartenders were checking IDs and ages and they were NOT serving minors. I thought this was great! But one mom was really mad at the bartender for refusing to serve her 16 year old son and made a huge scene. If you want your teens to have access to alcohol, this is not the place for you.
You will either plan to walk a lot up and down steep hills or you’ll need to wait for a golf cart to shuttle you up and down the mountain. There were tons of drivers and they were efficient, but we did have to wait occasionally and we couldn’t walk everywhere with the little kids.
Finally- Costco Travel includes Planet Hollywood in the offerings they have under Costa Rica all-inclusive resort so you may get a good deal there too.