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An All-Inclusive Costa Rican Adventure

If you've never tried an all-inclusive before or wanted to, let me tell you, it's kind of awesome when you have young kids. Dreams Las Mareas in Costa Rica is the newest resort of the Dreams chain and provides what they call an "Unlimited Luxury All-Inclusive." This means everything, from food and drinks (including room service!) to water activities like jet skiing and kayaking are all included into the price.

After a harrowing long day of travel with an 18-month-old and four-year-old (is there really any other kind?), we landed at the tiny Guanacaste airport in Costa Rica to embark on a family adventure we soon won't forget.

After taking a bumpy van ride to the resort we arrived at the Dreams Las Mareas Resort, a stunning oasis situated in the middle of lush green jungles and sandy beaches. You truly start to feel as if you're out-of-this-world.

And with enough heated pools to try out your entire stay (including a water slide!), this place is family-friendly to a T. If you can, opt for a swim-out suite which is beyond amazing. Just not having to pack up all your pool gear and trek with kids to the public pools when you just want a quick dip, is totally worth it. Seriously, anything that minimizes packing up and herding kids out the door trek time on a trip is practically priceless to this mama. Plus, the view ain't bad.

Cleary, we spent most of our trip in the water:

We'd never been able to take advantage of a Kid's Club at a hotel before, so we were both excited and nervous to try the one at the resort now that our eldest was old enough. And it was amazing. While we didn't get to drop the 18-month-old off, our preschooler had so much fun at the Explorer's Club that we had a hard time getting her to leave when it was pick-up time. And we got some much needed adult time (or at least just having one kid time.) The resort also provides babysitting if parents want to have an adults-only dinner at several of the adults-only restaurants on site.

We checked out all eight of the resort's restaurants (all included in the price) which ranges from Asian cuisine, to Italian to Mexican. While the food itself wasn't standout, the ambience of each restaurant was luxurious and well thought out. As parents on vacation, we especially appreciated small touches like kid and adult-friendly swing chairs at some of the bars for the kids to hang out in while the adults got to enjoy a mai tai or two.

There is, of course, also the quintessential buffet offered at breakfast/lunch/dinner which is really the way to go with kids as they don't have to sit and wait for a server to come take your order and they can pick out the foods they like. Breakfast was always a hit with the plethora of eggs, fruit, yogurt for even the pickiest of eaters. And for parents who are wondering, they do have milk and various fruit juices in addition to water as beverage offerings for the kids (although not organic.)

A small coffee shop on site became our morning go-to for some caffeine for Mom and Dad and small pastries for the kids—and a hot cocoa or five. It was vacation, after all!

And come night time is when the place really comes to live. With entertainment ranging from dive-in movies to fire performers and cultural dance shows, there's something for everyone.

And really, even just walking around the property with all of the lights aglow and the pools lit up was somewhat of a magical experience in and of itself.

As we walked the beach at sunset one last time we were fortunate enough to see some manta rays skim over the surface of the waves, and at that moment, I never wanted to go back home.


  • The ride from the airport to the resort takes approximately 2 hours down an often unpaved bumpy road. So parents with young kids, pack snacks/drinks accordingly. And if you or your kids suffer from motion sickness, prepare accordingly as well. My daughter personally loved all the bumps and thought it was a Disneyland ride.
  • There's not much outside of the resort and it's a drive to the nearest town/local restaurant. So just expect that, unless you're particularly adventurous, you most likely will not be leaving the resort to check out street food or anything like that.
  • The ziplining tour offered by one of the companies at the resort was excellent. For the real thrillseeker, you can go upside-down ziplining or "superman" style all in the presence of some screeching howler monkeys—both of which I highly recommend. Kids as young as five ziplined with us, but you know your own kid, so this may be a parents take turns kinda excursion.
  • The room service can take a while, so if you have really small kids that have to eat like RIGHT NOW, plan ahead and call it in about an hour before you actually want to have the food just in case.
  • The suites do not have a separate bedroom (in case you were envisioning putting the kids to bed first, but you can hang out on your gorgeously furnished patio or terrace if you want to stay up later.


Hotel name: Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

Rates: All-inlcusive rates start at $348 a night.

Indulgence: Dreams Spa by Pevonia. See a full list of other spa services here.

Kid-Friendly: Explorer's Club for Kids (ages 3-12), open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Core Zone Teens Club (ages 13-17), open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. High chairs and cribs available upon request.

(Disclosure: Dreams Las Mareas provided press accommodations for this trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

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