Since I was 15 years old and saw a feature in National Geographic about Costa Rica, I have been dying to see what looked then like a faraway land that I would never see, that is until this year, 20 years later, when I had the chance to not only visit but do so much more than I ever imagined.
I woke on the day of my flight to take off brimming with excitement about the week to come, and I really couldn’t plan for how truly breathtaking and magical this experience was going to be.
As I arrived at the airport and checked in with my pals at Sunwing Elite Service, I not only felt the excitement build, I also had yet another easy breezy check-in with them.
This is now the third trip in a row I’ve taken with Sunwing in the last few months and I have to say, it’s been a real pleasure, not only for check-in, but also the flights, the staff, the food on the plane, it all makes for the most seamless experience possible when flying south.
As I sat down in row 15 (the door aisle seats with lots of leg room) and a Sunwing Elite seat, I turned on my Netflix, turned the world off and enjoyed the ride.
When I arrived at the other side, and we walked out of the plane, the deep, warm, beautiful air touched my skin, the sun hit my face, and I knew we weren’t in Toronto any more, we were ready to begin our adventure.
As we arrived at the hotel in our cute PH Resorts van, we were greeted like stars. From cool towels, to chill drinks, to a walk down the red carpet that ended in a photoshoot with the backdrop featuring props from Jurassic Park, it was a check-in for the books!
As we walked through the main lobby, costumes from The Hunger Games, American Hustle, and Star Trek greeted us in stunning display cases set amongst a modern glamorous main lounge, and striking foyer.
Set in the middle of what seemed to be the jungle near Liberia Costa Rica, sits Planet Hollywood Resorts Costa Rica, our home for the next 5 days.
As we made our way through the resort and into our rooms I noticed right away they were huge, featured a gorgeous bathroom with a sit-down rain shower, separate toilet, waterfront view (for my room), and a super fun vibe with purple accents throughout the resort.
PH totally had that star appeal. Through our stay, we would see that level of treatment and way of being from all the staff, to the choices on offer at the resort, but we would also venture off the resort, far into the countryside to see this amazing country.
Thanks so Sunwing Experiences on the second day we ventured out to do some ziplining, see some animals, do some snorkelling, eat some great authentic food, and go for a swim in the crystal clear ocean.
We came back each night to enjoy different restaurants on the resort. From the delicious Italian to the great Mexican fare, to the awesome American eats at their super steakhouse, the food on the resort was super, including the actual gigantic breakfast buffet, I’m talking real breakfast, lunch, fruit, snacks, creps, meats, cheeses, desserts, beads, and literally anything you can think of. I miss it for my mornings.
As the days rolled on we found ourselves at the pool, having a drink by the bar or a burger.
Planet Hollywood also offered:
PUMPED Fitness Center
PH Spa ($)
PH Beauty Bar ($)
Poolside Cabana Rentals ($)
….and so much more.
There were also many special moments we had off the resort.
On day three we took a catamaran out on the water to swing a snorkel and see some of Costa Rica from the water, and it was the perfect day, perfect water, and as we were coming back, I looked towards the resort and saw a rainbow, I turned and behind me was an epic golden sky, I turned again and it was a double rainbow and as I turned back the sky turned pink and the sunset.
It was really one of the most magical moments of probably my entire life. Man, Costa Rica, you took my breath away.
The second time I felt overcome with emotions was our last full day, it was such a wonderful energy riding horses up the mini-mountain, being around the volcano, and then having a mud bath, and soak in the natural hot springs.
I can’t say I’ve had either of those experiences happen before, one out on the water with beauty all around you and the other in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest.
Sunwing experiences, you blew my mind on this trip, wow.
For those of you wondering about danger, I never felt for a moment I was in any danger, saw any crime, rather quite the opposite, everyone we came across, met, was guided by, were super sweet, welcoming and very helpful.
The vibe of the people is good, and I also learned about them and their country, things I didn’t know.
The use no nuclear power at all, it’s all green power from 5 difference sources, they export a lot of coffee, which I knew, but also a lot of pineapple and bananas, and they are very advanced when it comes to tech, and programs around tech.
Not only that, like us fellow Canadians, they also enjoy free healthcare, regardless of some wait times.
As our time at Planet Hollywood started to end and the final day came, I must say, I was sad to leave. The beauty of the country, the amazing food on and off the resort, the adventurous experiences, the luxury of the hotel, I would miss is all, but I think what might have made it all so magical past the stunning views and the delicious eats, was the people.
The locals we came across were super, our guides through the journey where truly some special and amazing at what they do (our main guide spoke five languages), but also the amazing team at the resort.
Whether we were at the bar, pool, burger joint, main area, or somewhere in between, they all had a smile on, greeted you and each time asked, Can I help you with anything? In this already perfect place, can you, truly I don’t know.
As I was whisked back to Toronto and made my way home I couldn’t help but think, was it all a dream, did that just happen, to me, the small town boy? But hey, I have the photos and the story to prove it.
If you have the chance to see Costa Rica, take it, and if you want to start somewhere shiny and new and truly special, you should stay at Planet Hollywood, and if you’re like me, you’ll do it with Sunwing, and Sunwing Experiences.