This was the 6th all inclusive we have visited. We have stayed at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall in Jamaica and the rest of the AI’s have been in Mexico - LeBlanc in Cancun 3 times, Iberostar Grand 2 times and one visit each to Secrets Silversands and Maroma. LeBlanc, in our opinion, is the gold standard in all inclusive. However, the Westin Playa Conchal holds its own with companies such as Palace resorts and Iberostar that have been doing AIs for a long time.
We upgraded to the Royal Beach Club. Was it worth it? Absolutely! It would have been worth it just for access to the adults-only pool and breakfast/lunch buffet. However, you do get upgraded liquor (try the Centenario 5 anos dark rum) and access to the Royal beach club and their specialty coffee in the afternoon, the 6-9 happy hour in the evening that includes hors d’ oeuvres, plus private check in and check out, and wifi. The butler service that was included is a nice touch as well. I do not know if the rest of the resort is on the towel card system but I can tell you that the RBC is not. You can get as many towels as you need at once without worrying about turning the old ones in. This was a big relief for me as I don’t want to mess with keeping up with a card.
We went to the RBC happy hour every evening. We really enjoyed sitting out on the patio enjoying the nice evening breeze, the great service and the upgraded liquors. The hors d’ oeuvres were very good most evenings and were really appreciated because we like to eat dinner late (8:30 – 9) on vacation so the appetizers were a very nice tide-me-over as we waited for dinner. The waiters are very nice and have really great information about the area. Because of talking with John, our waiter most evenings, we went to one of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve ever seen, Playa Grande. It’s about a 15 minute drive from the resort (we had a rental car). We loved it so much we went 2 days of our 5 night stay. Great waves for boogie boarding and surfing (board rental available on the beach). He also told us about the festival going on in a nearby town. It was a rodeo that moves from town to town. We are really glad we went to that as well. It was nice to see how the locals enjoy their weekends and get to eat some real Costa Rican street food.
We are the type of people that would rather hang out at the beach than a pool. The beach at Playa Conchal is very pretty. They do have loungers out on the beach. They are all by the entrance to the beach where everyone walks by and near the vendors. For any type of serenity you must move the loungers down the beach a bit and put them in the tree line for shade since they don’t have umbrellas on the beach. That’s not really a big deal since shade is plentiful. However, while we were there the tide was such that we had to leave the beach in the early afternoon because the tide would come up so high that you were prevented from moving back any more due to the thick underbrush.
There is no beach service to speak of. To us, this was the biggest negative about this resort. We were served bottles of water while out on the beach be there was no one coming and taking orders. It’s too bad because drinking a cold adult beverage and sitting on a beautiful beach is our favorite thing to do on vacation. We made due by filling our collapsible cooler with ice and putting the beer from the mini bar in it and hauling it to the beach with us. Our mini bar was supplied daily with 4 beers (2 Imperials & 2 Imperial lights), 4 bottles of water and soda. We also supplemented the mini bar beers with a variety of beers we bought at the Super Cindy in Brasalito. Our favorite was Tona from Nicaragua.
In the afternoon we would go to the RBC pool. It was nice and quiet except for the swim-up bar. You are either a swim-up bar type of person, or you are not. We are not. In fact, we will get out of the pool and walk to the back of the swim up to get our drinks to avoid fighting for a spot to order a drink from the pool, no offense to people who love the swim-up, it’s just not our thing. The 3 afternoons we spent at the pool, we found the service spotty. I think they definitely need more servers. They were working hard, they just seemed a bit understaffed at times. The first afternoon we were never approached for a drink order, the 3rd afternoon the service was quiet attentive and we even ordered turkey burgers for lunch which arrived promptly and were really delicious.
There’s a cute little orange tabby cat that hangs out near/under the pool cabanas at the RBC. We always pack cat treats when we vacation out of the country because we always encounter cats or dogs that could use a little snack. This little guy is very friendly. He responds to typical “kitty come here” type sounds and a shake of a treat bag. If you’re an animal lover give this guy a treat, he sure seemed to appreciate ours.
The food may be the biggest advantage of staying at this resort. Like others have said, it really is delicious and incredibly fresh and is overall the best food we’ve experienced at an all inclusive. The Mediterranean was our favorite. I had the daily fish special, a combo of fish and shell fish in a wonderful sauce over mashed potatoes. My husband had the shrimp over pasta. The menu had prices on it. Our entrees were in the $26 range if not on the AI plan. I can tell you that I would have gladly paid that amount, it was that good. It was an open kitchen and you could tell each dish was prepared individually and made to order. Simply wonderful. A close second was the Latin restaurant. We both got the black bean soup. It was served with a hardboiled egg. We’ve never seen this before but we are firm believers that egg makes everything better (if you haven’t tried egg on a pizza or cheese enchiladas you’re missing out!). It was really delicious and a great twist on a basic starter dish. The egg comes whole so if you’re put off by the idea of eating egg with black bean soup, you can eat around it, but we thought it was very good. For an entree I ordered the Costa Rican Chifrojo. It was incredible! It’s a layered dish with rice, beans, freshly diced tomato, and chicharones (fried pork rinds), served with tortilla chips. My husband got the chicken and rice and said it was very good as well. You’ve got to try the tres leches for dessert. It’s one of the best we’ve had and we’re from Texas where this dish is common. We also ate at the French and Italian restaurants. The French was very good. I got the sardines on toast and my husband got the goat cheese for an app. Both were fabulous. We thought the Italian was good, but nothing special. I know that practically everyone raves about it in the reviews. I think it may be the most popular because the food is the most familiar to people from the US/Canada. Or maybe we’re just weird.
We had a great stay at the Westin and we would definitely return. I think that the lack of beach amenities is the biggest drawback of this resort. Who wants to walk to the pool bar to get a drink while on the beach? We don’t, especially we you are willing to pay for upgraded services. It would be great if there was a beach butler that was there to help you move your loungers, set up an umbrella, and take drink orders. This is a beach resort! Another thing that drove me crazy was when you ordered a beer they poured it in a plastic cup. We bring koozies to keep our beer colder longer as they get warm in minutes when sitting out in the sun. When we asked them not to pour the beer in the cup they said they had to. This is an obvious flaw with the management, not the bartenders who were just following orders. Why can’t you serve the beer in the can? This is a country that is trying to be environmentally responsible and it killed me to see every beer poured from a perfectly good can into a plastic cup when that’s not even how we preferred it.
There are so many things right with this resort that the things that are wrong with it seem small in comparison. The people who work there are great. Please tip them. They work very hard. I hear people say that they go to an AI because they don’t want to have to keep up with money, think about money, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, you are keeping up with books, sunscreen, sunglasses, ect. Throwing a few bucks in your beach bag isn’t going to kill you. I’ve worked in the service industry and know how hard it is and how much it’s appreciated to receive a tip for good service.
And one more thing! Aside from the excursions we took on our own we also did a 4 hour private sailing trip with Sailing Flamingo. It was really great. We sailed around the coast while the boat owner, a Canadian ex-pat, showed us points of interest. We snorkeled and saw 2 sting rays, had all the beer we wanted and fresh guacamole and chips for a snack. The serenity of the sail boat away from the crowded catamaran tours was worth every penny. The sunset was beautiful and we learned a lot about the area. I highly recommend this tour.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.