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.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
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
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.