10 Days in Costa Rica (part 2) Dreams Las Mareas

After a few days in the rain forest at Arenal Volcano, we were ready for some sunshine and Pacific blue.  We were heading to Las Mareas, to check out the brand new Dreams Las Mareas All Inclusive resort.  Whether you are traveling from the Arenal Volcano, or directly from the airport in Liberia (Dreams has a complimentary shuttle), you have hours to spend enjoying the scenery.  Dreams Las Mareas is very isolated and there is a long pot hole laden gravel road on the final stretch.  You are surrounded by mountains and jungle, seeing few people, as you approach.  The contrast between the lodge and cabin style accommodations at Arenal Paraiso and Dreams contemporary resort are stark (click here to learn about our stay at Paraiso) When arriving at Dreams, you notice the resort is impeccably designed, from the unobtrusive buildings that look like they belong amongst the jungle foliage, to the cascading infinity pools that flow from the upper lodging area down to the beach.

The grounds are a photographer’s dream – with flowers, blue tiles,  pacific vistas, huge Guanacaste trees, and colorful birds.  Its serene, the background music is peaceful and spa like.

Unlike our quick and mellow check in at Arenal Paraiso, we were greeted by not 1 but 3 staff who stashed our luggage and steered us toward a sit down desk complete with champagne and fresh juices.  Next, typical of All Inclusive Resorts, was a meet and greet with the sales staff who is ‘explaining a few things about the resort’, but mostly inviting you to the 90 minute timeshare presentation (nope).  Immediately it was clear to us that the predominant experience here at Dreams would be immersing ourselves in all the resort had to offer.  While at Arenal the jungle and rain forest were the dominant sensorial experiences.  Both added to our amazing vacation, but they were very different experiences.

The room we booked was an Oceanview Double.  The alternate options for us were Swim Out or Preferred Club.  I think we chose well.  Many of the Swim Outs had no bay view and the Swim Out rooms’ pools are small isolated strips fronting those buildings.  While the Club rooms are closer to the beach, they don’t necessarily have a better view than the Oceanview rooms. The main amenity with the PC status here is the proximity to the ocean and a private lounge.

click on a photo to view the gallery

Our room was beautiful and roomy, with a breathtaking view of the bay.  The configuration was open,  bed and bath are all one large room, including the shower and toilet which have a frosted glass door.  To separate the vanity from the beds, you draw a sheer curtain, but it doesn’t prevent light from disturbing the sleep area if someone needs to rise early and enjoy the day.  So for couples its perfect, but with a family there isn’t a lot of privacy when sharing a room.  For us it works, because we are rarely in our room, we’re at the beach, or dining!

Dining is a huge part of All Inclusive Resort experience.  Dreams Las Mareas offers a Buffet, Hibachi, Mexican, Steaks, Italian, and Seafood.  No reservations are required for dining except the Hibachi table at Himatsu.  The Italian restaurant is adults only inside, but outside we saw many tables seated with the kids.

The buffet had a small selection of foods and a small fruit /salad bar.  Offerings like fish, chicken or beef in sauces, some soups, and breads were the daily norm.  It was small compared to what we’ve experienced at other All Inclusives.  Its our first stay at Dreams so I’m not sure if this is typical or unique to this spot.  My favorite venue for lunch was the Ocean / Sea Side ala carte.  Dinner was El Patio – the mole tacos were authentic and delicious.  And the service was A+.

For the first café of the day, Coco Café was it!  Quick service specialty coffees, plus an assortment of pastries and fruit.  You can also grab and go bottled water, sodas and juices, which my girls loved.

We are such beach bums when we stay All Inclusive!  Our only venture off property was a ‘Jungle Hike’ offered through the activities team.  It was actually a Jungle Walk, where we saw lush vegetation but not much else.  Still, the scenery was beautiful and we ended up on the beach.  I didn’t try the spa, but it looked and smelled wonderful.  I also did not make it to the fitness center, except to snap a picture, but it had the usual equipment.  Another spot we didn’t take advantage of was the Disco.  We stopped in one night at 9 and had the whole place to ourselves.  But the staff told us it gets hoppin’ around 11:00 at night (when we are sun sleepy and in bed).  As far as kid and teen activities, Explorer’s club for the kids was busy and entertaining.  Our girls are Teen Club ages, but that club didn’t offer them much excitement, maybe the wrong season so not enough teens visiting.

The beach is wonderful,  the water is very calm.  We saw little rays every day, and were able to snorkel off to the right of the bay where we saw an eel, dozens of pufferfish, colorful blue striped fish, and an odd looking yellow puffy oblong fish with a funny face!  If you want a snorkel tour, there are several vendors who work the beach, but they aren’t aggressive and their prices were reasonable.  Zipline and canopy tours are also offered.

A big plus for us when staying All Inclusive is the on site photo sessions.  Dreams offers a photo session as a complimentary service, and on our final day we did a beautiful shoot with Julio.  We purchased a DVD to take home and print ourselves  (email me for details on pricing).

Finally — my highlight — seeing monkeys on our last day!  Someone from the staff placed bananas in the trees on the beach and down came some white faced monkeys!  Everyone we met who was on their last day at Dreams was sad to leave, and reported having an amazing vacation.  We would definitely return.   Tomorrow, we move on to our final night, with a stay at the Andaz Bay.  Click here for our review!

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