Nestled in Playa Panama on the Gulf of Papagayo, the El Mangroove, Autograph Collection is a chic boutique hotel that has one numerous awards for providing luxury in the area.
I have recently returned from a week-long stay with my partner and our seven-year-old as part of our trip to Costa Rica. Below, I have shared an informational review of the amenities, facilities, and things to do.
A Quick Introduction to the El Mangroove Papagayo Autograph Collection Hotel
First of all, there is no denying that this is an impressive property, and if you are looking for a place you can proudly Instagram, then book your room right away. The balance between chic luxury, retro charm, and Costa Rican character was on point, resulting in hotel grounds that feel inviting, idyllic, and immediately like a vacation.
The resort offers a choice of room-only, bed and breakfast, and all-inclusive room rates. Since we were only staying for a week and had our son with us, we decided to spring for the top package and have the food included in the price. It was quite expensive, but I believe a good deal for the convenience of leaving the purse behind and just enjoying ourselves.
It is a good-sized hotel- big enough that you have a choice of places to relax or have fun, but not so big that you need hiking boots to get across the grounds. Everything is designed to look laidback, welcoming, and comfortable, with an undeniably sexy retro vibe that feels like a throw-back to less complicated times. In other words, exactly what you want from a retreat to paradise!
My favorite spot was definitely the outdoor pool area. The long pool stretches out toward the beach, with stunning ocean views as you relax on your lounge chairs and catch some sun. To the sides, you have tropical greenery peeking over the top of the building- reminding you exactly where you are.
Overall, the first impression is ‘wow’, and that impression stays the same throughout the time spent there.
In my review of the Autograph Collection, El Mangroove Hotel, I cover all the main amenities, facilities, and features- along with some information about getting around and what you can do outside the hotel. You may also like to see which other Costa Rica Marriotts I recommend.
El Mangroove offers all-inclusive, bed and breakfast, or room only. The food on site is fresh and delicious, and we found the selection to be more than enough.
There are two restaurants at the El Mangroove Autograph Collection Hotel. The first one we tried was the Makoko. It had some fabulous seafood dishes and pasta- something for everyone. Matiss is the name of the second restaurant. It was a little fancier, and we only ate there once.
We loved the breakfast buffet- our son especially. Whatever you enjoy eating in the morning, you can find it here. There was a choice of hot and cold- complete with fresh juices, coffees, and flavored waters. If you are not all-inclusive, you can book the breakfast for around $20 per day (less if you book the breakfast add-on when you book your room online).
Our lunches were taken in the snack bar- a laid-back semi-outdoor eating space near the pool where you can enjoy a quick, tasty bite without having to get dressed and head inside. It is perfect for those days spent relaxing by the pool
The lounge bar was our favorite place to enjoy a drink in the evening, but it was open throughout the day. Everything was available using local spirits, although there were premium options if you wanted to splurge.
Our go-to spot during the day was the beach bar- right by the sand with comfy chairs, cold drinks, and ocean views. Pure bliss!
Private Poolside Cabanas and Lounge Chairs
The hotel’s outdoor pool is fabulous. It is lined with plenty of comfortable lounge chairs and private cabanas (the cabanas cost a little extra but are well worth it). They also have them available on the beach.
Parking is included free of charge for guests staying at the El Mangroove, Autograph Collection. There is a generous car park, and we were always able to find a space.
There is a fitness suite with a range of workout equipment available. It was very well used and got pretty busy at peak times.
Beside the gym there is a fabulous spa offering a full range of services, including massages, scrubs, peels, aromatherapy, reflexology, manicures, pedicures, and more.
The hotel runs supervised activities for children and even offers babysitting services! They cost extra, but it is worth it if you are traveling with kids and need a little time to yourself.
If you fancy cooking for yourself, there are outdoor barbeque stations available.
We stayed in a junior suite. It had a king bed and a very comfortable sofa bed (mostly for our son, but my husband also spent a night after the little one fell asleep right in the middle of the big bed). Both of them reported having excellent sleep.
Here are the other room features and facilities of note.
Excellent Bathroom Setup
The bathroom was spacious with rainfall showers, a hairdryer, toiletries, and fluffy towels. There was no bath, and I believe that is it case in all the rooms. We loved our shower, so we didn’t feel the lack of a bathtub was an issue at all.
Room service was available, but we didn’t use it since we were making the most of our all-inclusive meals in the restaurants.
Tea and Coffee
My husband doesn’t function without coffee, and I love a cup of tea in bed at night, so the in-room facilities got top points from us! Everything was re-stocked daily with clean cups.
The mini bar had the usual items- pop, water, and a few snacks- but there was also space to store some of our own things.
Although there were ceiling fans installed (which did a great job and were more than enough most of the time), we did use the air conditioning unit at some points. It is climate-controlled, which is a great idea and avoids kids going nuts with the remote.
TV and iPod Deck
There was a large flat-screen TV in the room with some great channels to keep our son occupied while we got ready or needed a breather out on the balcony. If you wanted to play your own music, you could connect to the iPod deck, but we didn’t try it.
What Are My Five Best Bits at the El Mangroove Autograph Collection?
Of all the things to love about this hotel, these were my five highlights.
1: Fabulous Beachfront Location
The El Mangroove is located right on the beach- you can walk down to the ocean in minutes. It was definitely one of our favorite things about the hotel.
As well as being on the beach, the place also has close proximity to the airport and nearby restaurants, shops, and things to do and see.
2: Chic Boutique Decor
I loved the style of this place. It was chic without trying hard, with enough modern elements to feel expensive and elegant, but plenty of retro charm and Costa Rican character. The architecture was also something that caught my attention, so if you are into that type of thing, you will enjoy this place.
There is plenty of greenery and the grounds are well-kept.
3: Excellent Poolside Service
One of my favorite things to find in hotels is service beside the pool. There is just something special about having your cocktails brought to you while you lounge, and in the El Mangroove, it couldn’t be better.
The staff are friendly, smiley, welcoming, and attentive without being in your face. It really did make the whole experience better.
4: Fresh, Organic Food
I like to think of myself as a bit of a foodie- and it is one of the things I can be a little picky about when I go away. Having decided to go all-inclusive, I will admit I was skeptical. To my surprise, the food was fantastic at every meal in every restaurant.
The hotel buys local organic ingredients fresh from suppliers. Fish, fruit, and many local specialties were always on offer, with something to suit everyone. Even my seven-year-old loved every bite, which is a massive victory in my book!
5: Plenty to Do On-Site
There are many activities available in and around the hotel. I couldn’t believe the variety of things on offer and found that one week was probably not enough to try everything.
Some of the highlights for me included beach yoga, the on-site gym, and the fabulous outdoor spa facilities. My husband made the most of the 18-hole golf course adjacent to the hotel, and we all enjoyed snorkeling, fishing, and a boat tour as a family.
There were also some kid’s activities hosted by the hotel for a small fee. We got to enjoy some relaxation in the spa while our son participated, and he loved it as much as we did!
Other Things to Know
- Pets are not allowed, but service animals are welcome at no extra cost.
- There is free Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel, although some spots work better than others.
- Check-in starts at 3 PM and ends at midnight. The check-out time is 11 AM.
- Most of the hotel is well adapted for wheelchair users.
- This is a smoke-free property.
Are There Any Negative Points to Look Out For?
- The gym facilities are a little small for the size of the hotel and have a limited selection of equipment considering the high standard of the El Mangroove.
- There are no rooms with ocean views.
- Wi-Fi connections can be a little spotty in some locations during peak hours.
- Housekeeping does not automatically spray rooms for bug control- you need to buy spray and do it yourself.
Stepping Outside: What Is There to Do Near the El Mangroove Hotel?
Another thing I really loved about this hotel was its proximity to nearby towns, restaurants, and attractions. We had a car, so it was easy for us to explore wherever and whenever we wanted, but the hotel also offered shuttle buses to places like Coco Beach and some of the nature parks.
Here is a list of the nearby places you can visit during your stay at El Mangroove.
- Playas del Coco (Coco Beach): A vibrant beach-side town around a 25-minute drive from the hotel, Playas del Coco is a fabulous spot for eating, drinking, and enjoying the ocean. You can take the shuttle from El Mangroove for around $5 per person.
- Playa Hermosa: If Coco Beach is a little too far for you, Playa Hermosa has a similar vibe but is much closer- less than 10 minutes by car.
- Palo Verde National Park and Rincon de la Vieja National Park: Both around a 90-minute drive from the hotel, these national parks display Costa Rica’s natural beauty at its finest. You can park for free, and there are some buses and tours available.
- Rocio’s Kitchen: One of the well-known local restaurants serving exceptional food, Rocio’s Kitchen is just a seven-minute drive from the hotel.
Other restaurants worth visiting include La Casita del Maricoso (less than 10 minutes away) and Anejo (just under an hour away but well worth the drive!).
Getting to the El Mangroove, Autograph Collection is either very easy or quite tricky, depending on where you are coming from. Having a car is a bonus wherever you are coming from.
From Liberia Airport
I absolutely recommend flying into Liberia Airport if you are staying at the El Mangroove. It is only a 23-minute drive (around seven miles) by car, and the hotel operates a 24/7 shuttle there and back. You can hire a car at the airport for a good price or pay a small fee for the use of the shuttle bus.
From San Jose Airport
Coming from San Jose is a different story. It takes about five hours by car and is not a very direct route. Many of the flights from Europe come to this airport, but it is possible to get a connection to Liberia Airport.
Is the El Mangroove Autograph Collection Hotel Good Value for Money?
Overall, I believe that the El Mangroove Autograph Collection is good value for money. It is not a cheap stay, even if you go for room only room rate, but what you get for your money is spectacular. The on-site service is fantastic, the views are stunning, the rooms are comfortable and spacious, and there is so much to do that you will love every minute and see the value in every dollar.
Some of the food on-site is a little pricey, but the beauty of this location is how easily you can visit nearby local restaurants and eat fabulous food at even better prices.
Pics of El Mangroove Autograph Collection:
Other Nearby Marriotts:
After spending a week here, we didn’t want to leave. There is so much to do for couples and families, and the little slice of heaven that is this stunning and stylish boutique hotel is hard to forget. Whether you are looking for an idyllic escape to connect with yourself, a romantic retreat to spend time with your partner, or a vibrant and active vacation with friends or family, El Mangroove Costa Rica has something for everyone.