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TravelGreat beach and even better pools: A review of family-friendly all-inclusive resort...

Great beach and even better pools: A review of family-friendly all-inclusive resort Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular destination for tourists seeking beach relaxation, jungle adventures and prime wildlife viewing opportunities. It also happens to be one of our top destinations of 2024 because of its sustainable travel opportunities and a smattering of new hotel openings.

While Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica isn’t a new property — it opened in 2014 — it’s one that deserves recognition for its stunning pools and family-friendly environment. Not to mention, it has a multitude of on-site activities and entertainment options that appeal to guests of all ages. And since it’s part of the Hyatt family, there are many ways to book a stay using points, too.

Related: The most award-friendly hotel program: Everything you need to know about World of Hyatt

What is Dreams Las Mareas?

Dreams Las Mareas is a large, all-inclusive beachfront resort in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, near the Nicaragua border. It sits on the calm bay of Playa El Jobo and is surrounded by a verdant jungle.

With 447 guest rooms, a spa, three pools, eight restaurants and eight bars and lounges — among other enticing amenities — it’s hard to get bored here. The ample amount of event space also makes it suitable for large corporate events or weddings.


The resort is part of the family-friendly Dreams Resorts & Spas brand, which falls within Hyatt’s Inclusive Collection. All rates here include meals and drinks (including alcoholic beverages) at the eight on-site bars and eight restaurants.

Related: 21 best all-inclusive resorts for families

Booking details

Hyatt loyalists will be happy to know that they can earn and redeem their points with a stay here. For one night in mid-June, the cash rate for a junior king suite is $692 for World of Hyatt members.

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The same room on the same date costs 21,000 World of Hyatt points. According to TPG’s valuations, you would save $336 by using points instead of cash to book.


When booking Dreams Las Mareas, you’ll want to use one of the credit cards that earn the most points for Hyatt stays, and possibly one that offers automatic World of Hyatt elite status for value-added benefits. These include:

  • World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 4 points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and resorts, automatic Discoverist status, and five elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • World of Hyatt Business Credit Card: Earn 4 points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and resorts, automatic Discoverist status, and five elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.

Getting there


Dreams Las Mareas is about 56 miles north of Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, and the drive takes between one and two hours. Toward the end of the drive, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the bay, and you can even catch a glimpse of a volcano in Nicaragua.

You can book an airport transfer through the resort’s partnership with destination management company Amstar, and you’ll find the Amstar counter in the airport right after customs. All I had to do was give the representatives my name, and after offering me a beverage, they walked me to the parking lot to meet my friendly driver.

If you don’t want to go the Amstar route, there are plenty of other airport shuttle companies to book with in advance. Taxis are also readily available at the airport in Liberia, and it will probably cost at least $100 for the 1 1/2-hour drive.

Checking in

Friendly staff members greeted me when my car pulled up, and I had a glass of sparkling wine in hand within seconds of my arrival. I was impressed by the open-air lobby’s soothing water features and colorful accents as the staff guided me through.

Since I was a preferred guest — a status you can receive by booking one of the club-level rooms or suites — the staff showed me to the private check-in area in the preferred lounge located off the lobby. (Preferred guests can use their room keys to enter and take advantage of this lounge anytime during their stay.)

The check-in process was quick, and before I knew it, I was in a golf cart on the way to my room. My personal concierge, Joseph, came along for the ride and gave me his contact information so that I could text him with any questions.


I also downloaded Hyatt’s Inclusive Collection app, which was an important tool throughout my stay. On the app, you can look up restaurant menus and hours, check out the property map, see the daily calendar of events, schedule housekeeping, book spa treatments and order room service.

A spacious room with nice outdoor area

The property houses 447 guest rooms, including standard and suite-style rooms. Some have ocean views, tropical views or pool views, while others have terraces with swim-out access or private hot tubs.


I stayed in a king swim-out junior suite, which was a corner unit featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that offered beautiful views of my private pool. The combination of earth-toned decor, rich wood furnishings and red accents brought a sense of elegance into the space.

Outside, the terrace featured a comfortable couch and coffee table, separated from the neighboring patio by a half-wall.

Inside the room, there were plenty of lighting options, but it felt a bit dark due to its ground-floor location. Still, the bed was comfortable, and the blackout curtains made it easy to sleep. I felt safe on the ground floor thanks to the double locks on the sliding glass door.

The room’s small round table and two chairs could serve as a place to work if necessary. (I even found some goodies waiting on this table when I arrived.)

Below the wall-mounted 42-inch TV was a dresser with three storage drawers and two cabinets. The left cabinet held a well-stocked minifridge with Imperial beer, juice boxes, soda, and bottles of still and sparkling water. In the right cabinet, I found snacks, cups, three small bottles of liquor and a Cuisinart coffee machine.

I chose to store my luggage on the rack next to the dresser, but there was also space in the large wooden wardrobe beside the front door. The wardrobe held hangers, extra blankets, robes, slippers, an umbrella, a safe and a steamer (no iron).

The bathroom and double-sink vanity area could be separated from the main sleeping area by drawing a long curtain, but I chose to leave it open to get more sunlight throughout the suite.

If I had forgotten one of my toiletry items, I would have been in luck since the vanity had an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb and more. A magnifying mirror and hair dryer rounded out the bathroom amenities.

The shower and toilet were each separated from this space with a swinging glass door.

When booking, you’ll have the option to select a regular room or a “Club Level” room. As mentioned above, staying in one of these club-level rooms makes you a preferred guest. Preferred guests can utilize the Preferred Club Lounge throughout their stay, which offers a bar, a buffet with snack-size meals and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. These guests can also access a preferred pool and enjoy a la carte breakfast options in the Portofino restaurant (instead of being restricted to the main buffet at World Cafe).

In my opinion, booking a club-level room is worth it if you’re traveling as a couple or just want an overall relaxing experience. If you’re traveling with kids, who might not appreciate a nicer breakfast, lounge access or the other perks, a club-level room might not be worth the extra cash.

Dining options

There are eight restaurants and eight bars at Dreams Las Mareas, so there was plenty of variety when it came to dining options. I can’t say the food was the highlight of my stay; however, the staff was always friendly, and it was fun to explore all the different venues. I had conversations with some other guests, and it seemed like they all shared a similar sentiment.

During my visit, the resort happened to be hosting a large corporate event, so my concierge, Joseph, helped me make reservations to ensure I could eat where I wanted.


On the first night of my stay, I enjoyed dinner at Himitsu, which serves pan-Asian cuisine and hibachi. (If you want to secure a spot for the hibachi experience, reservations are always a good idea.)


To start, I sampled a traditional Costa Rican guaro sour at the recommendation of my waiter, and I liked it more than I thought I would.

I then ordered a miso soup, a delicious sushi sampler and a seaweed salad (the latter of which I probably wouldn’t have ordered again). My waiter insisted I should try the fried ice cream for dessert, and it was a production, to say the least. He heated up toppings and played with fire before putting the steaming dessert on a plate in front of me — a fun way to end the meal.


This is the place to be in the morning if you’re staying in a club-level room, as the breakfast is exclusively for preferred guests. There are a la carte options available, or you can go next door to get food from the World Cafe buffet and bring it back to eat in Portofino.

I ordered one savory breakfast dish and one sweet breakfast dish, for research purposes, of course. The omelet was pretty tasty, and the pancakes were one of my favorite things I ate at Dreams.

At night, Portofino is open to all adult guests and serves Italian favorites, including soups, salads, risottos, pasta dishes and pizza. The dress code here is “casual elegance,” which is a bit nicer than at some of the other on-site restaurants, and it seems like the food follows suit.

World Cafe

World Cafe offers buffet-style dining for breakfast and lunch.


There were plenty of basic options, such as eggs, fresh fruit and baked goods, alongside omelet stations and rotating specials like chilaquiles. However, I noticed there weren’t many meatless options or really any vegan-friendly dishes aside from salads.

Parents will appreciate the kids buffet area, where their children can independently serve themselves dishes that might appeal more to their palettes.


Seaside Grill

This lunch and dinner option beside the pool has a nice open-air design, so you can still enjoy the pool atmosphere while dining.


The menu offers various seafood dishes, burgers and sandwiches, as well as grilled specialties, all fitting for a light lunch.

I tried the couscous salad, which wasn’t my favorite, but the falafel sandwich on pita made up for it.

El Patio

Although the staff was very friendly at this Mexican restaurant, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for anything other than a margarita (I got the passionfruit one).

I sampled the corn esquites and a vegetarian burrito but wasn’t a huge fan.

Coco Cafe

This is the resort’s gift shop and cafe, where you can get a sandwich, a coffee or a scoop of gelato at any time of day. The gift shop was very well stocked with souvenirs, clothes, sunscreen and any type of toiletry item you might need. I stopped by a few times throughout my stay for a coffee and never found it crowded.

I didn’t get the chance to try the sushi restaurant, Gohan, or the seafood restaurant, Oceana, for dinner, but they both seemed to have a nice ambience. Oceana’s menu has options like clam chowder, ceviche and salmon — and an ocean view on the side.

Pro tip: If you’re celebrating a milestone or event during your trip, you can book a beachfront dining experience to make dinner extra special.

A pool everywhere you look

This resort excels in the pool department — no matter where you are, you’ll never be too far from loungers and turquoise water.


Technically, there are three main pools (not including the ones that border the swim-out guest rooms): the upper pool, lower pool and adults-only pool. But, it feels like there are more.

That might be because one of them is a whopping 44,000 square feet. You can find this massive pool in front of the main building that houses all the restaurants. This location makes it easy to grab a quick bite whenever you want and then return to your lounger.

Directly beside it, there’s a small kiddie pool area with a rock climbing wall and trampoline to add to the fun. There’s also a waterslide at the upper pool, which I could hear many children enjoying while I was walking around. The pool bar in this area also serves pizza — a convenient place to stop when the kids get hungry.

The other main pool is about a two-minute walk away. It snakes around the beachfront area, and with so many different sections, it feels like a bunch of little pools combined.

One of these sections belongs exclusively to preferred guests. I didn’t have to show any documentation proving I was a preferred guest in order to enter, but one of the staff members told me they keep tabs on who is using the preferred pool. The preferred area has its own bar and daybeds to rent.

There’s also a lively pool area with a swim-up bar called Manatees. This area was always pretty packed during the day and offered a party atmosphere, complete with loud pop music.

The entire pool is bordered by chairs and daybeds. I didn’t notice a ton of empty loungers at peak times, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded either.

The Seaside Grill and Oceana restaurants are on one side, and the Barefoot Grill — which serves quick bites and can have pretty long lines — is on the other. So, you’ll never need to walk far to get refreshments during your pool day. You can also see the beach from this area of the pool, and it’s a nice place to be at sunset.

A beautiful beach with plenty of space

Dreams Las Mareas is situated on Playa El Jobo, and this stretch of sand is impressive, size-wise, compared to other hotel beaches I saw in the region.

Since it’s in a large cove, there are calm waves and safe swimming conditions for children.

Should you want to rent water sports equipment, you can do so at the Amstar hut beside the beach.

There are also some independent vendors on the beach who will offer you tours when you hit the sand. Some of the ones I spoke to were selling off-site excursions and Jet Ski rides.

There aren’t a ton of beach chairs, but the beach was also never crowded when I was there. It seemed like most guests enjoyed being at the pools instead.

One section of the beach is reserved for preferred guests and has cushioned loungers and bar service.

The resort offers plenty of activities here to keep guests busy, including beach volleyball games and a beach party. You can easily check the event schedule on the app.

plenty of treatment options at the spacious spa

Guests in search of relaxation can book a treatment at the hotel’s 16,000-square-foot Spa by Pevonia. It offers a full-service salon, 10 private treatment rooms and a snack bar area.


In the salon, there are manicure and pedicure areas, a hairdressing space and even a fish footbath experience. If you’re visiting Dreams for your wedding, the spa also offers a separate bridal suite complete with a dress stand.

In between the changing rooms and the main treatment area, there was a relaxation room with plenty of chairs as well as a snack bar area with tea, fruit, cookies and snacks.

I got the chance to try the hydrotherapy circuit at the back of the spa area. Use of this self-guided circuit is included with spa treatments that last 80 minutes or more. I started the circuit with time in the sauna and steam room, then followed the numbered signs through the rest of the pools; it ended with a hot tub and cold plunge.

It was a relaxing way to spend an hour, and I felt pampered when a staff member brought out a healthy drink to enjoy during the experience.

Around the water feature lined with teardrop-shaped covered sofas, you’ll find private treatment rooms. You can book a massage (from $215), a facial (from $175), a manicure (from $65) or any other relaxation experience you can think of. These treatments are not included in your room rate.

The spa is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and the minimum age is 16.


Lots of entertainment options and activities

Each day of your vacation, you can consult the activity schedule on the app to see what’s happening. During my stay, I saw beach volleyball games, a nighttime dance performance, a live violin show in the Rendezvous bar area and a movie projected on a big screen by the pool.

If you want to leave the resort for an excursion at any point, you can book a tour directly on Amstar’s website. The company offers a variety of guided activities throughout the Guanacaste region, including rainforest hikes, whitewater rafting trips, ATV tours and horseback riding experiences. Keep in mind these tours come at an extra cost.

However, the resort does offer a complimentary excursion for guests: They can choose between the Culture And Adventure Mega Combo tour and the Palo Verde, Liberia City Tour And Llanos Del Cortes package.


Kids can enjoy the Explorers Club, which is geared toward ages 3-12. It offers crafts and video games for entertainment. Parents can drop their kiddos off sometime between 9 a.m. and 9:45 p.m. The Core Zone Teens Club can keep older kids ages 13-17 occupied at night with social events and games. It’s open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The resort also has a fitness center near the spa with ellipticals, treadmills and free weights. However, for a massive resort, I was surprised by the small size of the fitness center.

Reasons Dreams Las Mareas might not be for you

Traveling with a large group with a wide age range? This Dreams property will be a great fit. However, here are some instances when it might not be the ideal choice:

  • If you’re looking for a quiet stay, you may be happier elsewhere. While there are certainly some peaceful areas around the property, the pool bar can get rowdy during the day, and there are plenty of people out and about at all times.
  • As is pretty typical with all-inclusive resorts, the food isn’t the main draw. If you’re a foodie who wants to spend vacation time indulging in fine dining experiences, this probably isn’t the place for you.
  • It takes 1 1/2 hours to get here from the airport, so if you want a spot for a quick overnight, consider one of the all-inclusive options just 30 minutes from LIR.


According to Hyatt, Inclusive Collection properties provide fully equipped accessible rooms upon request. Potential Dreams guests should contact the hotel in advance to request these rooms — which are on the first floor with larger bathrooms and bars for stability, among other features.

However, the Inclusive Collection’s terms also state that it cannot guarantee the availability of accessible rooms or availability of wheelchairs on-site or at the airport. The Dreams staff confirmed this after I called and spoke to several members of the staff.

At this Dreams property, there were golf cart services to transport guests around the property and ramps next to most small sets of stairs. I also noticed elevators in the main building. While the pool areas are wheelchair accessible, I couldn’t locate any pool lifts.

There’s a small ramp to the beach, but I couldn’t get a definitive answer about whether beach wheelchairs are available to guests.

Checking out

Overall, I had a lovely stay at Dreams Las Mareas, and I would be happy to return to experience the pools, beach and off-site excursions that I didn’t get a chance to try.


While there were some large group events occurring during my stay, it never really felt overwhelming or overcrowded. The restaurants and pools are clearly built to accommodate many guests at once. Some of the restaurants are certainly better than others, but thanks to the well-maintained pools and the easy beach access, you probably won’t care too much about the food anyway.


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