early Jan, 2007
Location: about 30 minutes from Liberia airport, in the middle of nowhere. Only places within walking distance are other resorts.
Rooms: There are four rooms to a villa, about 20 villas, some of which are pivately owned. The Standard rooms are about 8 ft x 8 ft, space for two 1-person beds and a bedside table, that's it. One window facing the road and greenery. Good only for those always out and about all day. Superior rooms are OK for 2 people, with a balcony and most with ocean and sunrise or sunset views. Some have a walk in closest but some don't have much storage space. Suites are excellent value; twice the size of the Superior room, with kitchen, living room, porch or deck, and private pool (vary in size).
Food: all meals are buffet. Breakfast is mostly the same everyday: fruit, cereal, and 6 chafing dishes: beans and rice, scrambled eggs, sausages and/or bacon, fried plantains or hash browns, french toast or pancakes. And omelet station. Lunch and dinner consists of 4 salads, 1 soup, and 6 hot items: rice, potatoes, veggies (usually broccoli and carrots), pasta, and 2 of chicken/fish/meat. Dessert is two cakes or pudding, and fresh fruit. They do try to vary the method of cooking and in 2 weeks we only saw a handful of the main dishes being repeated. Almost all of the items taste very good, but fish (like tuna and salmon) are always overcooked to the consistency of wood. Also they tend to use a lot of rich sauces; one night there was 3 items with cheese and another with cream sauce. I wish they had more tomato based sauces. Plus there's only so much you can do with potatoes and rice so those got tiring day after day. Staff is quite attentive and whisks away used dishes and notices your drink needs filling. Except for an afternoon snack from 3-5 pm (which consists of ham sandwiches and a sort of cheese pastry, and fruit) there is nothing to eat outside of meal times.
Drinks: limited selection. They are known to run out of items like lime or tonic water. Also the quality seems to vary. I had a pina colada that I had to throw away after 1 sip, other times were good. As there is often only 1 person serving at the bar, you may have to wait a minute or five for your drink. Wines are okay. 1 beer on tap.
Grounds: nice plants all around, grass is suffering in the dry season. One problem is the rooms are situated on a hill. Although I knew about this and regard myself reasonably fit, I can't handle the walk up to the top (we stayed at unit 25) in the midday sun. The shuttle bus (10-seater van) works quite well. Do bring DEET or Citronella; many of us were bitten all over by no-see-ums (sand flies) esp near the bar and the Internet room.
Since this is a small resort, there are no shops (you can walk up to Fiesta Premier and visit their gift shop), no spa/massage (but you can book one at Nakuti), no activities of any kind (except use of 2 small snorkeling sets if you're lucky). The only entertainment is live music on some nights (solo singers mostly).
Beach: a long strip of brown sand beach which stretches all around the bay. Very rocky in front of the resort but that means good snorkeling at high tide - fish, coral, eels, even rays and turtles.
Service: here is where the trouble begins. Problem 1: only 2 or 3 staff speak good English. Most speak broken or little English and don't always understand you (I asked for green tea, which they had at one time, and the waiter had to ask another to come for translation. We asked the cleaning lady for more soap and had to mime to her what we needed.) If you speak Spanish then you're ahead of most. Problem 2: you tell them an issue you have but it's a toss up whether they act on it or not. If you chase after them eventually they may get around to it. Our pool pump didn't work and it still wasn't fixed when we left. Problem 3: booking issues. What kind of room you get seems to be random no matter what you booked. We paid for a suite, our voucher says so, but when we got to our room it was only a Superior. Another party on our flight had the same issue (see review by travellin_lady); they got a suite the next day. We got a suite 3 days later. Luckily we were there for 2 weeks; if only one week then that would have been quite disappointing. The explanation they gave us was there is an issue with their booking office. The Sunwing rep told us this happens every single week, so it's not as if they don't know about it. However going back to problem 2, they haven't done anything about it. And they don't tell you upfront when you check in, I guess they hope you are happy with what you get and don't complain.
If this happens to you don't EVER accept the move to Nakuti, their sister resort. Everyone from our resort (which was recently renovated) who visited there agreed that Nakuti is more run down. Our tour bus passed by and it was a gravel road leading to a bunch of bungalows like a camp ground. Not attractive at all.
Tours: there is a sales person from CAT (catours.net) at the resort, who is also the Sunwing rep. Allan speaks excellent English and has been very helpful. We enjoyed all the tours we book thru him. We went on a tour to see sea turtles laying eggs at Playa Grande, which was not in their brochure - you have to ask for it.
I put a video on youtube.com where you can see the grounds and especially the long road up the hill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sx-cc6vkuPE (just search for Giardini Papagayo)
All in all, we were happy with our trip, just some minor issues. It's a good place to stay if you just want to relax, or use it as a base while you explore the region.
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- Also Known As:
- Giardini Di Papagayo Liberia
- Giardini Di Papagayo Resort
- Hotel Giardini Di Papagayo
- Giardini Di Papagayo Costa Rica
- Giardini Di Papagayo Hotel Costa Rica/Liberia