If you've been to one all-inclusive resort, you've been to them all. Short of offering some regional cuisine at the buffet restaurant, most all-inclusives lack the personality and charm of their respective countries. Paradisus Playa Conchal on Costa Rica's Pacific coast is no exception. While the property is spectacular, the rooms luxurious and the service superior, one could just as well believe she's in Florida. That's why my favorite part of Paradisus Playa Conchal was steps outside the gates of the resort on the beach. Using the resort's complimentary snorkel gear, I could get close enough to touch colorful, tropical fish in the azure water. I took advantage of the $35 hour-long massages offered along the shore by one of several local masseurs while my husband scoured the Pacific for shells and sea glass and conversed with local vendors. Camped in a lounge chair, a mile-high stack of magazines and daiquiri in hand, it may not have been my most authentic Costa Rican stop, but one view of the white-sand beach and you'll be convinced it's a stop worth making.


Jennifer Rhodes is a writer and teacher whose big mouth and complete absence of sound judgment make her a liability in most professional and social situations.