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“budget resort with excellent views but service lacks” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Giardini di Papagayo Hotel

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Giardini di Papagayo Hotel
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Playa Panama | Gulf of Papagayo, Liberia 26-1017, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #15 of 17 Hotels in Liberia
Toronto, ONT
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“budget resort with excellent views but service lacks”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2007

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.

  • Liked — great views, small resort with intimate fell
  • Disliked — staff/management
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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64 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room Tips
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
ottawa ontario
Top Contributor
126 reviews 126 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
115 helpful votes 115 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2007

We stayed that this resort for two weeks end of January and frist of Febuary for a three star hotel it was great , staff always helpful and location was great , beach large and clean you could walk for 30 minutes on the beach and the fish just off the resort on the rocks where great . The food was ok not a five star but well prepared.
The walk up to the rooms is a walk , but the shuttle always seemed to be handy.
We had a problem with our air conditioner in our room they tried to fix it ,but had to wait for a part so they then moved us to a second room and were always asking use if it was ok .
This Hotel was the best value of all the 3-4 stars hotels we have visted in the last 10 years and will go back next year for 2-3 weeks.
As a futher note we used cat tours [at the hotel] and where very pleased with the small groups and good sevice largest group was 10 people and smallest was 4 which made the trips much more personal that those bus trips of 40 to 50 people.
We enjoyed this vacation very much and loved the location , we did our own tour of san jose. We took the local bus from Playa Coco to San Jose [cost 5 dollars us] and we had booked a small hotel and we stayed two nights and enjoyed all the sights of San Jose , dinner at Del Luna up in the hills overlooking San Jose was wonderful.
If you want to rent a car arrange it befoe your trip and they will deliver it to the hotel.

Stayed February 2007
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2007

We just returned from one week at the Giardini di Pagagayo resort in Liberia, Costa Rica. We knew when we went that it was a 3 star resort. However, we hoped that with the money we saved we could splurge on some eco-tours.
First of all ,the good things. The resort is in an excellent location.
The view of the gulf from our room was fabulous! The beach at the hotel is also fantastic. During low tide you can walk out on the rocks or a sand bar. And the water is really warm.
The staff at the resort are extremely helpful and friendly. They go our of their way to get you anything they can within their limits.
The resort is also very small, only 80 rooms so you get to meet all of the guests daily. The rooms are clean and in good condition.
Now for the problems. The room is not exactly as promised in the brochure. So if you are going to this resort be prepared for some surprises.Such as a private plunge pool that is under construction and therefore not available. There is also no kayaking or volleyball( they don't have a ball). There is only 1 bar, not 2 as promised and there is no gift shop on the premises.
The rooms are located on a steep bluff. The walk down to the beach and resort isn't too bad, but the walk up is quite strenous especially in the heat of the day.
They do have a shuttle van which is supposed to run from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. , but often it's not around. However, you can phone the lobby and they will locate it for you.
The food in the restaurant is the same every day and they often ran out of food. However, it is tolerable if you are not too fussy.
We went on several tours which I highly recommend. We booked these right at the resort.
I would recommend this resort for budget travellers who can put up with minor inconveniences.
I would not recommend this for people who are very active as there is little to do except lie on the beach or around the pool.
We were only at the resort for 2 full days as we were out on some adventures.
If you stay at this resort and have any problems ask to speak to the operations manager, the very first day, as she may arrange something to recompense you.
All in all, it wasn't bad and very reasonable, so we splurged on tours to Palo Verde, the Arenal Volcano and Nicaragua.
As usual, it depends on what sort of vacation you are looking for.

Stayed January 2007
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2007


our family had stayed from Jan 8th to the 15th. It was that great i must say, the pool was small, the buffet wasnt great, you had the same menu pretty much everyday ( chicken, rice, lazania, pasta,salade) and the desserts wer'nt that good as well. We we're told that they had alot of fruit, but all they had was pineapple and papaya every day. It wasnt until the last day that they got the watermelon and cantalope in. The food was probably the worst about it.
Unfortunate for us, our room was at the very end, last building. If we missed the shuttle than it was a 25 minute walk for us! but it was good excersise, and scenery.The rooms were OK. Our shower didnt have a curtain and everytime you showered the bathroom would flood. We constantly got alot of bugs in the room. The air conditioner was messed up. One night it wouldn't turn on, and then the next it would go on but it would make the room very cold at night. They only have one bar, which was ok. Its small, and there was usually only one person working at the bar, and often slow at getting people there drinks.
The beach was excellent, very nice. It was very large, and had blackish sand, that was filled with shells and small piecies of coral. The water was nice and warm, and crystal clear! When i was in the water i was able to see little fish swimming right infront of me, and i wasnt that deep in. During low tides there was this sandpathway that led you to these rocks that are great to snorkle around. Beautiful fish, i was able to see some bright blue, pink and yellow fish, some purple boxfish and sting rays!

The wild life was nice, there were howler monkeys that would always be in the tree's beside the restaurant. They had iguanas that would run around the resort and crawl up the trees, and little packs of green parrots. We had alot of tours booked, didnt really have a favorite, all of them were good. Our first tour was the canopy tour which i would recommend. You would start off with horse back riding to the springs, and then took a tractor back to the water slide. From there we walked to where the canopy began.. Our next tour was the arenal volcano, it was a dissappointment b.c we didnt get to see the vocano erupt (a person we met that went on the tour said that they're was only a 5% chance of seeing it erupt b.c its too cloudy most of the time) Part of the tour was to go to hot springs which was nice, and a hike throught the rainforest. It was very short the hike but its b.c they have to be very careful with the poisinous snakes and plants.
If you brought a teenager along with you i would recommend to take them ATVing. My 18 and 16 year old enjoyed that. (That was just about the only thing they enjoyed) And we did deep sea fishing and the crocadile tour. The crocadile tour was very nice, but was also a disappointment b.c we only got to see 1 crocadile out of the whole 2 hours. We got to see white faced monkeys tho, alot of them! We stopped at the side of the river and the tree that all the monkeys were in. Tey climbed on top of the boat and we were allowed to feed them bananas.

So my overall thought: i wouldnt go back, great scenery, its really good for adventure and nature hikes and tours. There nothing to do there for a young teenager or child, nothing at all. They said in the package that they had kayaking and volleyball, but they didnt. The beach, excellent, but during mid day the sand gets really really hot. The rooms are ok, could be better, amd the same with the bar an restaurant.

The staff try really hard to make you happy.
Sorry for the long review!

  • Liked — Beach and scenery including the tours
  • Disliked — food, the rooms, and the pool
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kingstown, St. Vincent
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
56 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
382 helpful votes 382 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2007

We stayed at this resort during the first two weeks of January. Our visit started out on the wrong foot when they allotted us the wrong room; we had booked a suite and we were given a 'superior' room. I complained, and we were moved the next day. Others (and there were many others) weren't as lucky. Apparently this is a recurring problem at this hotel.

The resort has undergone extensive renovations of the common areas, so now the place looks quite different than the pictures in brochures. Too bad they didn't bother renovating the rooms.

The hotel has one buffet restaurant and one bar. The bar opens at 10am and closes at 10:30pm. If you want drinks after that hour, I suggest you stock up on juice, rum, etc from town, that's what we did.

The food was pretty good for a 3 star. I was happy to see local dishes instead of the usual North American junk food (hot dogs, pizza, fries, etc.) served at so many resorts nowadays.

When stock was available (and it often wasn't), the drinks were made out of fresh fruit and juices and were very good. White wine was available about 50% of the time. It was either awful, or decent, a real hit and miss. Coffee was available all day long and was very good (as can be expected of C.R.)

The beach is long, wide and you can walk for about 1/2 hour. It's a lovely beach of dark sand. Wear shoes because the sand gets very hot.

The ocean, a bit cool that time of year, was crystal clear and very calm, great for swimming, snorkelling or just floating. Snorkelling just to the side of the resort where the rocks are was quite good. We saw lots of tropical fish as well as eels, eagle rays and even turtles. During low tide you can walk out on the rocks and go into the water there, that is where the snorkelling is the best.

The hotel has a few lounge chairs set up on a grassy patch by the beach. Lots of trees provide much needed shade. You can sit and watch groups of hummingbirds and parakeets in the trees above you.

The weather during our two weeks was hot, dry and very windy. So windy that glasses were being blown away from the bar and smashed on the floor. We had one of our plastic patio chairs blown into our plunge pool.

The suite we were finally given was very spacious with a full kitchen, a sitting area, a sleeping area and bathroom with leaky shower. We had a large wrap around deck with plunge pool. The pool was cleaned at least twice a day. Maid service was excellent.

We did a couple of trips, one to Arenal and one to Monteverde. Spectacular. We didn't rent a car because the roads are the worst I have ever seen in my 40 years of travel.

This hotel is a good bet for those low maintenance type folks who are looking for peace and quiet. I highly recommend the suites if you need any sort of space. The regular rooms are extremely small and have no balconies. The superior are a bit larger with small balconies.

Management needs to get their act together with regards the chronic booking problems as well as the constant shortages of basic bar items. We also had no running water on two seperate occasions; no showers before supper...yuck.

If you are undecided between this hotel and the sister property, the Nakuti, the Giardini wins out hands down. The Nakuti is a dump.

Costa Rica is an undescribably beautiful country and definitely worth a visit.

If you have questions, feel free to email me at:

  • Liked — Beautiful setting
  • Disliked — Constant shortages of drinks, wine, towels, water
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2007

We stayed at Giardini in Dec 2006 for 2 weeks. We got exactly what we expected, small, nice, tranquil resort. If you pay for suite make sure you tell them when you check in and show some proof, because our voucher did not say anything about the suite. We booked several excursions but quickly realized the best way to see Costa Rica is by car (if your are not afraid of bad roads) The best experience was Arenal, stayed there overnight in a small motel just in front of the volcano watching lava rocks and listening to thunder.
NOW BAD EXPERIENCE: NEVER RENT A CAR FROM PLUS RENT A CAR. the hotel front desk arranged this company for us. They asked for open credit card voucher as security. Originally we paid for 3 days cash, but then extended it by phone for another 2 days. When they picked up the car the salesman said that he did not have our voucher with him but they could use it to charge us for 2 days extension, we agreed. To my surprise they charged us AFTER WE CAME BACK TO CANADA $1000US All calls to company and salesperson lead to "It is just a deposit and we are going to refund it" Last time salesperson confessed that a LOT OF CUSTOMERS HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM AND NO REFUND FOR MONTHS. It has been a month for us, no refund

Stayed December 2006
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2007

We were travelling with 2 small children...so were kind of concerned about what to expect. Costa Rica was amazing...

Hotel is clean, for those neat freaks out there that are concerned about creepy crawly things. Some rooms are very small. If you can afford it, get the Ocean View suite it faces the ocean directly and most have private pools. (more the size of a large hottub..but yours for your stay) From most rooms you can see the ocean, some have way way better views and you don't have to twist your neck so much. To get to your room is a walk up a very very steep hill, they do have a shuttle with some friendly drivers and they pick you up when you need them (call the front desk)

The pool is central and not busy. They are forever cleaning it (because it is surrounded by trees) and for some reason the water level changes regularily. If you live for a vacation by the pool, you won't like this one. It is functional but small. The ocean is a short walk from the pool and was not busy at all. The sand is dark. If you want some privacy walk 2 minutes and you can have the whole beach to yourself. Guardini is at the end so very little traffic.

Internet access - they have one laptop that everyone shares, you just wait in line for it. Wasn't a problem.

Staff are friendly and helpful and courteous, ask and if they have it they will give it or try to help you. We never had a problem. There is lots of work going on in this hotel, I think some units are privately owned and some are the hotel...so not sure who is doing the work. It is not disruptive but if you go expecting perfectly manicured property you won't find it here. (Howler monkeys are around the property and you can hear them first thing in the morning)

Food - all right, tiring same kind of stuff. Buffet style no a la carte.
If you are looking for a party place, this hotel is not it. There are a few people that will drink until the bar closes but it is not a wild and crazy place ...you could always bring your own party ;) Sometimes the bar runs out of some drinks, like beer.

There is nothing around Guardini, no shops. There is a few other hotels but nothing to see outside of the hotel. A taxi ride to Playa de Coco will cost 30$/US round trip (about 20 minutes away). Split the fair, the taxi that will come fits 8-10 people and the same taxi will pick you up at the time you specify.

Costa Rica - what a wonderful place. Talk to the locals (not front desk locals) and you will see places that aren't in the tourist guides and are not "commercial". If you go to Monte Verde bring your coat, it is cold up there at night!. We rented a car and had no issues in getting around, people will go out of there way to help you when you are lost. Renting a car allows you to do the sites at your pace. Make sure it is a 4X4...nothing I can write here can describe the roads to Monte Verde or Ricon do las Viejan. Lots of fun....relax and enjoy the beautiful country.

Stayed January 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Giardini di Papagayo Hotel

Address: Playa Panama | Gulf of Papagayo, Liberia 26-1017, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Liberia
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 17 Hotels in Liberia
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Giardini di Papagayo Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 80
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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

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