When I received an invitation to travel to Costa Rica, I was surprised, excited, and nervous. I was offered the chance to visit Planet Hollywood Costa Rica, and I would be initially traveling alone to meet up with a group of travel agents. This would be the furthest I have traveled, and to have the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country was exciting.
To travel to Costa Rica from the US, you must have insurance to cover medical costs and quarantine accommodations should you become positive for Covid-19, and you must complete a Health Pass form online (https://salud.go.cr) no more than 48 hours prior to arrival. A Covid test is not required to enter Costa Rica at this time. Although I did take a test a few days before my flight for my own peace of mind, and in case the airline asked about it.
I flew from Boston to Miami which was about 3 ½ hours then from Miami to Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR) airport, which was just under 3 hours. The flights were great, and we actually arrived a little early. Once we arrived in Liberia, we were shuttled to immigration. You need to show your passport; Health Pass QR code (sent via email); proof of insurance showing your name, date of birth, destination, $50,000 in medical coverage and $2000 in quarantine accommodation coverage; proof of where you are staying in Costa Rica (the insurance form from Planet Hollywood listed it); and return flight information. I flew American Airlines so I was able to just show my return flight on the app. Planet Hollywood did offer insurance coverage, but the quarantine accommodation coverage was only $1400 so I purchased an additional policy very inexpensively to meet the $2000 limit. I also have an annual travel insurance policy but this does not list Costa Rica specifically. It was worth the extra money to feel comfortable that I had what I needed. All this information is given to the immigration officer to review. They confirmed why I was visiting, and stamped my passport.
Once through immigration, I picked up my checked bag to bring it to another area to place all bags through an x-ray machine, and then I was in Costa Rica. It was not required to fill out any customs forms. I walked out to the main terminal area to exit the airport.
Planet Hollywood Costa Rica is owned by Blue Diamond Resorts, which has a sister company, Nexus Tours. Nexus provides transfers from and to the airport as well as transportation to sites you may want to visit or to various excursions. Liberia airport, although an international airport, is relatively small. There is only one terminal, one way in and one way out. I was told to look for orange shirts worn by Nexus workers to find my ride to the resort. However, several people chose orange that day, and it took at little bit to find the correct place outside to wait for my ride amongst all the other taxi and transfer services.
Once in the van, it was about a half hour to 40 minutes ride to the resort. I was amazed by the beautiful country sides of rolling farm lands and sugar cane fields, pastures with Brahman cattle and horses, and looming mountains in the distance. Everything is so green, and it just looked wide open in the middle of nowhere. Cars ride on the right side of the road, and the roads are somewhat narrow and windy as they bisect the landscape. If you get motion sick, I recommend having medicine with you as a proactive measure.
Planet Hollywood Costa Rica is on the Papagayo Gulf in the Guanacaste Province in the northwest portion of Costa Rica. It is on the Pacific side, and in Costa Rica you can choose your coast, Caribbean or Pacific. The resort is nestled on the side of a hill facing the gulf and bordered by a black sand beach. To enter the resort, you come down a hill and check in at a guard shack then pull up to this vibrant resort that feels like you're in the middle of the jungle.
Planet Hollywood wants their guests to feel like stars from arrival to departure, so all guests walk the red carpet upon arrival, have an opportunity for a welcome picture, and get greeted by applause. Being here for a special event, we had an added treat of being greeted by some fun characters, such as a Stormtrooper, Alice in Wonderland, a stilt walker, and a flaming baton twirler. Everyone also receives a special welcome drink, which was so beautiful and sweet.
This is a family-friendly, all-inclusive resort which does enable you to eat and drink to your heart's content, although there are some food and drink items that may have an additional cost. If you don’t want to spend extra, just don’t order those items. Gratuities are not included with the resort fare, so it is appreciated to leave tips as appropriate. US currency is widely accepted, so I recommend bringing a supply of $1's and $5's to show your appreciation for good service.
Once I was checked in and received my resort bracelet, I was brought to my room. All guests get a satin cord bracelet that has an RFID placard which acts as your room key. White bracelets are for standard rooms. Purple bracelets are for "Star Class", and blue bracelets are for special groups/VIPS. Star Class is the concierge level of rooms with a personal agent to assist you during your stay. Some of the many perks of staying Star Class includes a stocked mini fridge in your room, an exclusive Star Class pool and lounge, one hour hydrotherapy in the spa every day, preferential restaurant reservations, and premium room locations and views.
I stayed in a Ocean View Junior Suite room. There are three room types in the resort: Junior Suites, Director’s Suites, and Producer’s Suite. Each also room type has a Star Class level. I was brought to my room and was very happy with the generous space in the room. There was a king size bed, although you can select two queen beds instead, a sitting area with a loveseat and coffee table, a desk, and a long spacious bathroom with a water closet for the toilet at one end, and a large walk-in shower at the other end. There is a large closet, lots of shelves, an in-room safe, and a mini fridge. There was also a nice balcony with a small table and two chairs to enjoy the fresh air and view of the Gulf. For Star Class, the fridge is stocked with beer, juice boxes, water bottles, and Pepsi (yay!) All rooms are provided with standard amenities, and Star Class rooms have additional items. One thing that is unique is the rooms have a bathroom scale so if you are trying to watch the impact of staying in an all-inclusive resort, they have you covered.
I spent my day checking out the resort, getting a feel for where everything was, taking lots of pictures and videos, and embracing that I was actually at Planet Hollywood Costa Rica. I made sure to check out where the restaurants were, and of course, I had to stop by the two gift shops. One in the lobby is for Planet Hollywood branded items, and the one by the pool is for Costa Rican souvenirs.
Costa Rica is an conscientious as the US in regards to Covid-19. Everyone is expected to wear facial coverings indoors, but they could come off to take a picture or if you were eating or drinking. Outside, you could take off your mask at the pool or while being social distanced.
I had lunch at So Cal, the food court, and dinner at Gusto, the Italian restaurant. I'll be sharing my dining experiences in another blog. But spoiler alert, the food was very flavorful, and I enjoyed my meals. I wrapped up the day after dinner. Since I had a 5am flight that day, I was pretty tired so it didn't take me too long to try out the very comfy bed. Costa Rica is two hours behind Eastern Standard Time so it felt late, and once I hit the bed, I slept great!
Be sure to check back for my next blogs about the resort and getting to explore some of Costa Rica!
Huge thank you to Blue Diamond Resorts for this opportunity and for hosting me at Planet Hollywood Costa Rica!!
April Botta is Co-Owner of Coasters & Castles Travel. Coasters & Castles Travel specializes in theme park destinations, ocean & river cruising, group travel, and all-inclusive resorts. Our Vacation Specialists are happy to do the work for you so you can spend your time making memories with your family and friends.