El Mangroove Hotel, Playa Panama, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Tucked inside peaceful Panama Bay next to a large mangrove, beachfront El Mangroove Hotel blends seamlessly into its natural environment all while serving up sultry drinks and exquisite fine dining, a rarity in Costa Rica.
A welcome drink and cool towel from the front desk provides relief from the intense Guanacaste heat while you take in enticing views of a delicious looking pool, swaying palm trees, and a bright blue ocean just steps away. El Mangroove does an exceptional job of creating an intimate atmosphere complete with modern bohemian suites, two internationally renowned restaurants and eco-friendly operations, standing out among the myriad of luxury resorts popping up in the Peninsula Papagayo. Their claim as the closest resort to an international airport stays true to its word. You can be drinking piña coladas by the pool and digging your toes into the sand within an hour of touching down.
Though not an infinity, the pool is clearly the main attraction at the Mangroove Hotel as it stretches 130 feet toward the beach, as picturesque as any other pool in this tropical getaway. Lounge chairs flank both sides. There are also five private reservation-only cabanas elegantly furnished with a TV, couches, and a minibar. If you get hungry or thirsty, you don't need to go far as the beachfront Matiss day restaurant is right next to the pool.
The swanky El Mangroove Hotel rightfully takes prides in its two restaurants. The chef, an Argentinian native who worked at Jamie Oliver’s Michelin starred restaurant in London, whipped up a creative menu with fresh and light dishes. The kitchens aim to use only farm-to-table or ocean-to-table ingredients. This means seafood lovers will rejoice as they indulge in a variety of flavors and textures beyond typical Costa Rican at Matiss. The diced yellowfin tuna, octopus ceviche, and grilled prawn tacos are just a few of the mouthwatering dishes to feast on while looking out at the ocean.
When the sun sets, the indoor/outdoor Makoko restaurant opens its doors, inviting guests to try their savory cocktails with X-rated names such as Porn Star and Between the Sheets. Whether you dine inside their glass enclosed restaurant or outside in the sultry night air, the entire gastronomy experience will leave your taste buds plenty satisfied. You might try savory dishes such as beef tartar or Worcestershire glazed short ribs, then finish up with a deconstructed chocolate cake.
The 85 chic suites at the El Mangroove come furnished with modern amenities and then some: 42' plasma TVs, iPhone docking stations, air conditioning, a minibar, safe, rain shower, and items required for a raunchy night in. One unique feature is the spacious hammock set up in the living room, looking out to the surrounding forest.
The Bark and Nesto suites come in smallest at 485 square feet with the difference of the Nesto having two queen beds. Next up are the Root suites with two options. Root deluxe has indoor and outdoor space at 678 square feet and root superior is slightly bigger with an outdoor hammock. Those who want a bit more room should choose the Habitat Superior with a king bed, two plasma TVs, and an outdoor hammock. Couples will love the Crown Superior with a walk-in closet, his and hers sinks, and a plush king bed. The Canopy suite has a large terrace excellent for spotting howler monkeys, a large living room area, and an ocean view.
For those who want to go all out, the beachfront Mangle presidential suite is the clear choice. A private pool and personal sun deck top off this already luxurious house-sized suite that has its own direct beach access.
The beach El Mangroove Hotel is on doesn't exactly depict the typical tropical white sand and turquoise beach of postcard dreams but is gorgeous in its own way. Though black, the sand is still pillow soft and clean. Though dark blue, the water is warm and clear. In fact, Playa Panama is one of the best for swimming, stand up paddleboarding, and kayaking with its incredibly calm waters. Keeping up with costly Costa Rican tour prices, a board rental costs $30 an hour, a half day snorkel tour is $95 per person and a dolphin expedition is $120 per person. However, it is worth taking advantage of El Mangroove Hotel’s favorable location in the Gulf of Papagayo since you are one short boat ride away from what the Gulf is known for: hidden boat-access-only white sand beaches with crystal blue waters. The sunsets on the beach are sublime.
While the hotel is definitely a favorite for classy couples, families can still have a pleasant stay with the on-site kids' club. Additionally, Playa Panama is the ideal beach for little ones since it's waters are so calm. Parents can relax with a couples massage in the Bearth Spa or go for a bike ride around town with complimentary bike rentals while their children are entertained by the kid programs.
An additional attractive feature of the hotel is their dedication to sustainability. Awarded the highest level of certification of sustainable tourism with five leaves, guests would never know as the harmony between the hotel and the natural environment sings in perfect unison. There's an onsite water treatment plant and the trees that were cut down to squeeze in buildings were recycled into furniture and mirror frames.
Overall, El Mangroove Hotel is an extremely attractive boutique hotel that exudes chic style from every corner from its feisty cocktails, delectable beachfront restaurant, and inviting pool. Considering how close it is the Liberia (LIR) airport compared to other high-end hotels in the Papagayo Gulf, you won't waste any time to have that luxurious beach vacation of a lifetime here without a lot of transit time
Web Address: https://elmangroove.net/
Total Number of Rooms: 85
Published rates: $335 - $818 including breakfast but not taxes
Review and photos by Samantha Wei.