Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise, and those headed to the Guanacaste region have plenty to explore. From a night in the rainforest to a beachfront paradise, there is something for everyone. Luckily, there is also something for every type of hotel points aficionado.
El Mangroove, Autograph Collection, is one of the many Marriott Bonvoy options in the area. Whether you come here for a complete vacation or pair a few nights here with the other Marriott hotels in the country, this beachfront resort will not disappoint.
If you’re looking for an El Mangroove Costa Rica review, here’s our take on this outdoorsy, upscale resort.
El Mangroove location
The resort is about a 20-minute ride from the international airport, putting rest and relaxation within easy reach after your plane touches down.
El Mangroove is in the Gulf of Papagayo, which means the dark-colored sand on the Pacific Ocean beach is right in front of the hotel. From there, guests are within a short drive of all kinds of activities, from zip lining and horseback riding to water sports and hiking.
El Mangroove design
What really makes this hotel special is its architecture and the way it blends in with nature. The al fresco reception area features a trickling fountain behind it. At check-in, guests are greeted with a breeze, a cold towel and a glass of tropical juice.
The two-story buildings are positioned around the property’s garden, in a forest-like setting with views of the surrounding woods. Adding to the ambiance, the occasional bird, raccoon or monkey will pass through.
One of the resort’s restaurants is a beautiful, airy space with striking architecture and views of the pool and the beach. Natural light streams in from an open roof. And separately, there’s an air conditioned, glass-walled dining room that provides comfort to those who prefer to be indoors.
Pathways wind around the resort, taking guests to the five swimming pools, small gym and spa. It’s a short walk to anywhere at the resort, and a fun way to explore the grounds.
El Mangroove food and beverage
Three restaurants await El Mangroove guests, including Makoko, which is open all day and has an international menu featuring everything from the day’s fresh catch to tasty pastas and salads.
At breakfast, guests can choose from a buffet with rotating Costa Rican specialties and eggs made to order or an a la carte menu. Don’t worry, the traditional gallo pinto dish (a Central American favorite made with seasoned rice and beans) is a daily staple; don’t forget to try one of the homemade sauces to go with it.
The Mexican chef often uses some of his favorite recipes to add spicier options to the menu, and his special sauces are a perfect example. One sauce includes oven-roasted tomato, habanero chile, onion, cilantro and herbs — ingredients that make it both smoky and spicy at the same time. You can even buy the sauce to take home!
Matiss is the lunch and dinner restaurant closer to the beach. With tables set in the sand, it provides a tropical vibe and a casual menu of fish tacos, guacamole, salads and burgers.
Especially impressive is the food and beverage team’s commitment to offering vegetarian, vegan and children’s menus. They go beyond one or two dishes; instead, they offer a full menu of options for alternative diets.
A third restaurant, Malú, is a guest favorite, offering tasty Mediterranean food such as paella, pizza from an open oven, hearty pastas, and delectable grilled meats like rack of lamb and steak. Open only for dinner, this is a real crowd-pleaser that earns high accolades.
You’ll struggle to find a friendlier staff than the team at El Mangroove. Not only do they try to get to know each guest, but they provide doting service from the moment you arrive. The Costa Rican “pura vida” lifestyle is in full force here.
Bar service is available on the beach, by any of the pools, and in the restaurants’ own bar areas.
El Mangroove rooms
The guest rooms at El Mangroove are spacious and comfortable, offering a unique layout. Many of the suites feature an adjoining room, separated by a sliding glass door, where guests can lounge in a hammock by the window or relax on a sofa taking in the views.
These screened-in sitting areas are not always air conditioned, giving guests a more natural, beachy feel in the privacy of their own room.
In the bedroom, air conditioning and ceiling fans work overtime. Comfortable beds feature a quartet of big pillows, a soft duvet and easy-access power outlets.
Open-plan baths provide little privacy, but they offer beautiful shower stalls that have eye-level glass panels that permits views of the forest while showering.
The best views are from the oceanfront building, but many guests prefer being outdoors, enjoying the beach, pools and surrounding forest.
Some of the top accommodations come with their own private plunge pools.
El Mangroove amenities
Each of the five swimming pools at El Mangroove is unique. One is a long, lap-style pool reserved for adults. Another is round and faces the beach. A third is ideal for kids.
Two more pools attract guests looking for a quick spot to refresh from the daytime heat. Poolside cabanas carry a $150 charge, but they pack in the perks with a private cushioned seating area, pool chairs, ceiling fans, fridges stocked with beer, water and soft drinks, and butler service.
The resort features ample meeting space, with several traditional ballrooms, boardrooms and outdoor areas for receptions. Weddings are especially popular here.
Plans are in place for updated furnishings in the meeting rooms soon.
In exchange for the $30 resort fee, the hotel offers numerous amenities, including activities like coffee tastings, yoga sessions, valet parking, an hour’s use of watersport equipment, and bikes for cycling around the area.
In the gym, guests will find chilled towels, fresh apples and filtered water. And El Mangroove is the only resort in the area with two private tour boats.
Scheduled for an update is the resort’s spa, which has four outdoor treatment cabanas as well as several indoor spaces, including an option for couples. Massage and beauty offerings provide relaxation for guests.
During their stay, guests can also participate in one of the hotel’s nature-focused activities, like the on-site planting of a tree that’ll later be repositioned to a local forest. This activity is free for guests.
How to get to El Mangroove
Liberia International Airport is the closest international airport to El Mangroove — about 14 miles (23 kilometers) away — and is served by all major U.S. carriers as well as numerous international airlines.
JetBlue TrueBlue point redemptions are dependent on the cost of the ticket, so the cheaper the ticket, the fewer points you’ll need. We value JetBlue points at 1.5 cents each.
Delta Air Lines and United have ditched their award charts and use dynamic pricing. It’s hard to know how many miles you’ll need to save before a trip unless you know the dates of travel and the cash cost of the ticket. American Airlines is moving in a similar direction, but its AAdvantage award map tool makes it easy to plan your travel based on the number of miles you have in your account.
If you want to redeem points for a stay at El Mangroove, Marriott’s award calendar can help you choose the best dates. Of the options we checked for summer travel, the cheapest rates were 40,000 points per night, which is a great deal.
(Top photo courtesy of Marriott)
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