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“Not Worth It. Service sup-par.” 2 of 5 stars
Review of JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica

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JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica
4.5 of 5 Resort   |   Hacienda Pinilla, Playa Avellanas, Tamarindo, Costa Rica   |  
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Special Offer
Guanacaste Experience
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Playa Avellanas
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Not Worth It. Service sup-par.”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2013

This is a three star joint pretending that its a five star joint and charging like its even more than that. The rooms are nice. Our room's ocean view was truly spectacular. The pool was fabulous.
So why only two stars?
The food is not great, is grossly overpriced and the service was truly disappointing. The food is priced as if its high end Manhattan dining but the service quality is road side diner. I like road side diner. I just don't like being gouged.
The hotel staff is trained to be polite but not particularly helpful. Its a bizarre feeling when unfailingly polite people are being so unhelpful.
Here's the cliff note version why our vacation was so much less enjoyable than it should have been. We were traveling with a 7 and a 10 year old and don't feel comfortable having them in a separate room.
We reserved two double beds. When we arrived they only had a king bed for us and they really didn't care. They just kept reiterating that their computer said only 2 adults were coming despite the fact that our printed reservation had 4 names on it. They kept saying that their computer said only 2 adults so they could not do anything. Bizarre.
Then they started telling us that a king size bed and two double's are the same size so all should be good. Then they offered to supply a cot and they did the math and advised that a cot and a king size bed are actually larger than two double beds so we should be really happy. They refused to supply a second cot. After much back and forth and their unwillingness to do anything they very reluctantly agreed to provide free wifi and 20% off food and drink.
I then had to pay off one of the porters to bring us a second cot that management refused to put in the room. It only took 7 requests to receive blankets for the cots.
The room and view were wonderful. Except for the broken towel bar that kept falling to the floor and the broken toilet seat that was aggravating.
After checking in we promptly made restaurant reservations with the concierge at a hotel restaurant for each night that we would be in Costa Rica and planned our activities around those dinner times.
Late the next afternoon we were advised that our reservation was overbooked for that night and that we would need to eat at another time. When I wanted to know why their error should be solved by inconveniencing my family on its vacation all the person could do was repeat that they had overbooked and we needed to move our reservation time. That's one way to solve their overbooking error. Just not the way that should have been chosen.
Then the next morning we received a 6 a.m. wake up call for an activity that was actually scheduled for the subsequent day. Nice way to start the day.
Most of the time when we asked for something we were very politely told that that was someone else's job who was sometimes available and sometimes not. Nothing was easy.
Then our last night at the hotel we received truly horrible restaurant service. We waited an hour for our food. The appetizers arrived without any plates for sharing and then before we even received plates for our appetizers our entrees were dumped on the table. We were not provided steak knives for our steak or lamp chops and hacked at the meat with butter knives. Our water was never refilled. You get the picture. The service was just not good.
I could go on for pages regarding the deficiencies but I'm sure that you get the picture.
Stay someplace else.

Room Tip: Do not stay here unless you like sub par service and overpriced meals.
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 9, 2013
Dear guest;


On behalf of all our staff I would like to apologize for all the inconveniences experienced during your stay with us, I understand that an apology does not excuse the faults you had with our service but please accept mine.

I have taken all your comments and am in a process of extensive training to all our staff to improve our service.

I realize that the reservation system does not guarantee bedding type; due to several cases regarding this we are trying to find a way to minimize this type of problem.

Please accept again my apologies, and I wish you may give is us a second chance to show you the service we are accustomed in giving.

Sincerely;

Jesus Gonzalez
General Manager
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (489)
Date | Rating
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
54 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

OK, but disappointing for the price... We have 'gold status' in the frequent stay plan and have been very successful in all our global stays with Marriott, but this one missed the mark. Even more disappointing because it's a JW, which is their high-end brand.

On the plus side; The grounds and pool area are undeniably gorgeous and well maintained. We were 'upgraded' to a room with a pool view. Room was somewhat larger than a typical studio with a very large bathroom & dressing area, very nice. The hotel's private beach area was spectacular. Bed was very comfortable (would have made for a great night sleep, if not for the noise...)

On the negative side; Many minor complaints, that taken individually would hardly be worth mentioning, but together distracted from the overall stay. These include;

1) No complimentary bottled water. This is after the hotel made a point of telling us not to drink the tap water. The problem I have with this is that as a 'gold member' we are accustomed to having access to the Executive Lounge at almost all the Marriotts we stay at. This being a JW and a resort, they do not have an Ex Lounge, which is fine, BUT then I would expect to at least get complimentary water in the room, without push-back from the front desk, instead of attempting to charge $3 a bottle for 12 ounces of water. It was just a naked cash grab, and not indicative of our usual Marriott experiences.

2) My wife finding a hair in her dinner (OK, it ain't the end of the world, and the restaurant waived the charge for that meal, but it is one of those life experiences you'd rather not have...)

3) A $7 charge, one way, on their hourly timetable, to take their shuttle into the local town of Tamarindo. Didn't impact us because we had a rental car, but I sympathize for those relying on Marriott for transport, as this was another naked cash-grab. Really? Over $400 a night for a room and a $7 eye-gouge...

4) The noise level was completely over the top. Architecturally, the building design has long enclosed hallways and tile floors that contribute to it being one massive echo chamber. There is a small entryway with doors, acting as a foray to block off 2 rooms (you & your neighbor), but the pins at the top and bottom of the doors would not fully retract, meaning the doors could not be closed. Without being able to close the doors, it was like trying to sleep in a bowling alley until things settled down, usually by 1am.

5) At checkout, I verified all charges on the statement, everything was fully accounted for and correct. Then, two days after checkout a mystery charge of $5 hits my credit card, with no explanation. Sure, I rejected it, but I expect them to do better.

Add in some mismatched furniture in the room (one with broken knobs) and it kind of looked like it had been decorated via flea market.

Overall, a somewhat disappointing stay, particularly for the money. I expect more from JWM.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 5, 2013
Dear Guest;

I would like to start saying thank you for your positive comments mentioned.

I will check why there was a charge made after your departure.

We do place in our rooms’ two bottles of water every day free of charge. The shuttle service to Tamarindo is an option that is given to our guests and it is handled by an external company, since a local cab costs around $30 for each way.

Kind regards;


Jesus Gonzalez
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

Enjoyed a week here with our two teenagers. Agree that it is a bit isolated, but we had a car and left the property every day for adventures and food in Tamarindo. EVERYONE at the hotel was very friendly, and contrary to earlier posts we made many requests for extra towels, water, etc... and each one was met very promptly even though the hotel was extremely busy last week. In regards to on-site dining and prior reviews of Mansitas breakfast buffet, we were pleasantly surprised with the pricing on the breakfast menu. There are plenty of very reasonably priced and healthy breakfast options on the menu, the buffet is not the only option. Tip: We caught three very large red snappers last week and upon recommendation from the boat crew, brought some back to the hotel for dinner. Mansitas cooked it to perfection and delivered to our room exactly on time. Best fresh fist I have ever had. Also, it's worh going to the beach club for some relaxation away from the big pool. They have great iced coffees, drinks, and food.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 5, 2013
Dear Guest;

That’s great that you caught three red snappers on your boat tour and I am glad you liked the way they prepared for you, fresh fish is delicious.

I am very happy that your requests were met and that you enjoyed your stay with us. We will be looking forward to your next visit.

Everyone at our hotel will be very happy with your comments. THANK YOU!

Kind regards;


Jesús González
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Danville, California
Level Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

I spent 5 nights here and was upgraded to a suite for my platinum status. It was one of the nicest hotel rooms I've ever stayed in and that includes some Four Seasons resorts I've been to. The suite was luxuriously elegant and huge. It also had a private plunge pool just outside on the patio. Our kids also loved the gigantic resort pool. We spent hours every day swimming from one end of the pool to the other. The resort is very secluded and hard to get to so there isn't much to do around it but this was perfect for our family since we just wanted to get away from it all.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 2, 2013
Dear Guest;

Your family having fun, relaxing having a great day at our Hotel is the scenery that we want to have with all our guests. It is our goal and I am glad that we have it with you.

We truly hope to have the opportunity to serve you again.

Sincerely;


Jesus Gonzalez
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Level Contributor
36 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2013 via mobile

Our first time here my husband swore we were lost. No high end resort would be at end of dirt road. But this is. I love this place. From the cows roaming the road, amazing service and friendly staff. Love it. Far enough from Tamarindo but close enough to drive. Best hotel in area

  • Stayed March 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 1, 2013
Dear Guest;

I like your phrase: “Far enough from Tamarindo but close enough to drive” I just would add far enough to walk to tamarindo jajaja. But you are right is easy driving.

Thank you for your great comments and I am glad your experience was lovely.

Kind regards;


Jesus Gonzalez
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
28 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

We stayed at the JW Marriott Guanacaste for two nights as part of our Costa Rica Caravan tour. The service for checking in was efficient and our bags were delivered promptly. We were immediately impressed with the room - it was of a nice size and the jacuzzi tub and screened in patio were nice unexpected touches. The large pool was very nice to cool off on a hot day. Bar service at the pool was good. I was disappointed with the service at the restaurant - there was not enough seating for the two tour groups that were there are we had to wait for a seat on a couple occasions and the lineup at the egg station was too long for me - I opted for what was already prepared in the buffet.

Room Tip: We stayed in Room 337 - nice garden view off the patio with a view to the Pacific Ocean. The room wa...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 2, 2013
Dear Guest;

I am glad that your stay was enjoyed.

Thank you for let us know about your thoughts regarding service at the Restaurant. We need to improve it and we will.

We hope to welcome you back soon.

Regards;


Jesus Gonzalez
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sausalito, California
Level Contributor
59 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2013

I came here expecting it to be of JW Marriott quality but based on some of the reviews, maybe a little overrated. I was pleasantly surprised! The is located in a gated area that includes another hotel, a golf course, villas and a beach club. It takes about 5 minutes just to find it once you pass the gates.

The hotel and grounds are absolutely beautiful. The resort is very Spanish style and the rooms are great. Very spacious with great linens, towels and toiletries. And a really nice bath tub! We definitely made use of the fridge in the room. Bed was really comfy too. No complaints about the room at all. If you get the Garden View room on the edge of the property, you can encounter a lot of wind that rattles the screen that keeps the bugs out of the patio area (brilliant idea).

We ate at the Azul restaurant for lunch one day and loved everything we got. Pricey compared to restaurant prices in the area but what you would expect at this resort. Another night we got room service because the only reservation available at the steakhouse was 8:30 and we wanted to go into town to see the rodeo!

I absolutely loved the Beach Club. Awesome beach that is great for surfing or just laying and watching. We drove around and explored the area and found the most beautiful beach that clearly doesn't get a lot of traffic. There were chairs and palapas set up but not 1 single person and it was GORGEOUS! Softest sand of any beach I had been to. I am not telling the name because I want to keep it deserted :-)

Service was great, property was beautiful and food was good. I recommend having a car so you can go out at night. If you want to be up in the action, then stay in Tamarindo. If you want peace and quiet with a lively scene 20 minutes away, then this resort is perfect for you!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, General Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 1, 2013
WOW! This is a great idea to keep the name of the beach just for you. This makes the idea to our readers to explore too.

I am glad to know that you have fun exploring and also relaxing.

I appreciate your comments about our property and service.


Regards;


Jesus Gonzalez
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica

Address: Hacienda Pinilla, Playa Avellanas, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Tamarindo > Playa Avellanas
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Playa Avellanas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica 4.5*
Number of rooms: 310
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Live an authentic Costa Rican experience in a luxury hacienda style resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This resort & spa sits oceanfront on a secluded stretch of coastline minutes from the Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course and Tamarindo village. The JW Marriott Guanacaste is surrounded by the splendors of Costa Rican rich biodiversity. The resort is located right on Mansita beach and guests can choose from 4 other beaches within Hacienda Pinilla. Next to the resort you will find an equestrian center, tennis courts, and an 18-hole golf course with a coastal layout. Off-site activities such as canopy tours, horseback riding, white water rafting, kayaking,bird watching and ATV tours can be arranged on site. You can also arrange tours to nearby locations such as Arenal Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and National Park or Guachipelin thermal hot springs. Enjoy surf beaches with excellent year-round waves and warm water, visit turtle nesting sanctuaries or observe a great variety of wildlife. The property features the largest infinity pool in Central America, outdoor hot tubs, a fully equipped fitness center, biking and jogging trails and a Kids Club with professional care. You can also relax in our spa, ranked one of the top five Spas in Latin America by Spa Magazine. This resort offers 5 restaurants and two bars. Among these options enjoy a romantic dinner at Azul Grill our beach front restaurant or enjoy Asian fusion cuisine at Tamarine. Indulge yourself at Sabanero a genuine Guanacastecan Steakhouse or relax and admire a spectacular sunset at Nau Sushi Lounge Bar, while you enjoy hand crafted cocktails. All our rooms have balconies with garden, pool or ocean view. In-room amenities include LCD TVs, sound proof windows, iPod docks and streaming speed Wi-Fi Internet access, blackout curtains, plush pillow-top mattresses and 300 thread count Egyptian cotton linen sheets, rich woods, and marble bathtubs. The charming surf village of Tamarindo where you will find restaurants, bars, and souvenirs in a "Pura Vida" laid back atmosphere is just 5 miles away. It's easy to discover the essence of Costa Rica at JW Marriott Guanacaste. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Jw Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica Hotel Santa Cruz
Jw Marriott Guanacaste Resort And Spa Costa Rica
Jw Marriott Santa Cruz
Marriott Santa Cruz
JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica Playa Avellanas

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