In Central America where the tenuous little strip of land separating North and South America becomes especially thin (just 10 degrees north of the equator) lies a tiny little country called Costa Rica. Considered the Switzerland of Latin America, it is known for eco-tourism and a higher quality of life than many other Central American countries. In fact, “Ticos” (as the local inhabitants refer to themselves) place lots of importance on family, friends and “pura vida” – a saying shared by locals which, strictly translated, means “pure life”.
On the northwestern coast of Costa Rica in the Guanacaste Province is a small beach called Playa Flamingo. There isn’t really a town located here – just a few quiet resorts and some high-end homes overlooking the coast. My family recently spent some quiet time here, at a place called Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa.
The hotel is located directly on Playa Flamingo (Flamingo Beach). The beach itself is beautiful, featuring light gray sand and beautiful blue water. Northwestern Costa Rica is known for it’s excellent surfing conditions and while we were there we experienced strong waves and light undercurrents while swimming in the ocean.
As a wedding photojournalist, I can tell you that Flamingo Beach Resort is a great location for weddings. It has all of the luxuries and conveniences that you would find in most luxury hotels anywhere combined with the privacy and anonymity you can only find in a place that is off the grid. Consider this: Flamingo Beach Resort isn’t associated with a town, per se; it is remotely located at where a road dead ends at a beach, where almost no one else has access to – a big selling point for someone who wants privacy.
One of the things that my family and I will probably always remember about our stay at Playa Flamingo is how genuinely friendly the staff were. We had initially read conflicting online reviews for Flamingo Beach Resort regarding how friendly staff were. But any reservations that we had regarding the issue were quickly allayed by the outgoing and personable staff treatment we received during our stay. Front desk staff including Pedro, Jose and others were always helpful and inquisitive as to whether we needed assistance. They were always saying hello and asking how our day was going.
Other staff at the hotel also exceeded our expectations. My son, who’s 18 months old, made friends with the cleaning staff and looked forward to seeing his friend Dora every day when she would visit our room in the mornings to turn down our beds, sweep, mop and drop off clean towels. Staff during our regular morning breakfast also made life lots of fun for my son. They were always warm and playful with him and encouraged him to engage them in conversation and fun.
Another favorite experience of mine was getting to know hotel staff at the upstairs patio bar, which had a fantastic view of the beach and coastline. Several of our nights were spent chatting with Oscar, the talented and friendly bartender, who makes fantastic mixed drinks, including the best Mojito that I’ve ever had (seriously!). Oscar was always glad to discuss recipes for his delicious drinks, Costa Rican lifestyle or a quick Spanish lesson (he, like most staff in the hotel, is bilingual).
As you can tell, we spent time getting to know the staff which is a testament to how important service is in the hotel. Flamingo Beach Resort is a full service hotel, offering services above and beyond the norm including, child care, quick laundry service, full sized rooms with kitchenette, daily turn down service, pool bar, world-class foods served fresh 3 times per day (room service available), transportation service, workout room, tennis courts, and a casino!
Our trip was during the end of September and the beginning of October, which is smack-dab in the middle of the off season for this region. This means that there were days where we rarely saw any tourists or anyone for that matter in the hotel or on the beach, which was great, given that our vacation objective was to enjoy a quiet week away from the hectic life that we live in Austin, Texas.
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