We stayed at the Westin Playa Conchal for six days over the Christmas holiday. Since we planned so many off-resort activities during the day we opted not to upgrade to the Royal Beach Club. Our room was a junior suite about a five minute walk from the pool, beach, and main restaurant area in bungalow 7. The resort is sprawling but immaculately kept and everything is in reasonable walking distance. There are also shuttles that run continuously throughout the day and evening.
Room: The room was spacious and very clean with neutral decor. The primary negatives were the lack of dressers/adequate shelving and the bathroom set up. For a couple who packs pretty lightly, it was still tough to fit all of our clothes on the three small shelves in the closet. Other reviewers have commented on the bathroom, which is modern and spacious but does not have a door separating it from the bedroom and living room. As a result, running water in the sink, the shower, or a flushing toilet definitely wakes up someone who is sleeping in the next room. I tend to be an early riser while my husband likes to sleep in on vacation, so this was a design drawback for us.
Food: As others have noted, no one comes to Costa Rica for the food. That said, we did anticipate better food at a Westin. The food on the resort ranges from decent (Cauri, Caricola, Italian restaurant) to abysmal (Medaterra). The food is plentiful and there is a lot of variety, but we had a couple of dishes that were almost inedible. A rib eye special from Medaterra had the texture of shoe leather- I counted twelve sawing strokes with the steak knife before I gave up. We don't like to waste food and were embarrassed that we left practically our entire meal untouched. That said, you should have better luck if you stick to seafood, rice and beans, and fresh fruit and vegetables. The pizza restaurant near the pool is also good. Also, the service is very friendly and waitstaff and bartenders go out of their way to be helpful and hospitable. If we return to the resort we will not opt for the all-inclusive option.
Pool and beach: Both are wonderful. The resort was full but we never had a problem getting lounge chairs by the pool. There are far fewer chairs on the beach, so get there on the early side. The landscaping is lush and there are lots of interesting creatures around, from howler monkeys and iguanas to coatis, which look like a cross between a raccoon and a cat. The beach is narrow and long, with lots of palms and other trees providing shade. We enjoyed that it is a public beach- it was fun to be with all of the Ticos on vacation and not feel isolated with other tourists.
Activities: Like many others, we also booked tours through Erik Garcia. He is just outside the gate when you walk out onto the beach- you can't miss him. He is efficient and enterprising, with a number of local guys to help him out and lead the tours. We booked a half day ATV and zipline tour with Omer and had a blast. It takes about an hour to get to the Congo Zip Line and you pass through beautiful beaches, small towns, and back roads. It can get quite dusty, so be sure to use the dust masks they give you. Also, if you wear contacts, I would suggest bringing a small bottle of saline so that you can rinse them out when you get to the canopy. The zip lining was also wonderful- the guides were efficient and friendly and took safety very seriously. The platforms are high in the canopy with amazing views, and one platform was right next to a tree filled with howler monkeys. It was great to see them playing and interacting up close. We had about an hour and a half there, with twelve zip lines. It wasn't crowded at all and felt very peaceful. On a different day we also booked a two hour wave runner tour, which we also highly recommend. Walter was our guide. We saw much of the coastline and lots of beautiful deserted beaches.
My husband also played two rounds of golf and loved it. He said it was a challenging, beautiful course and really enjoyed the privacy- on the first round he didn't encounter another golfer til the ninth hole. The practice facility was also nice and open until dark each day.
I hadn't planned to scuba dive since there were so many other activities, but I decided to go one morning after meeting Mauricio, the dive master from Buzos de Aventura who is at the pool every afternoon giving introductory lessons. There is a two person minimum for the boat to go out and since no one else was signed up to dive the following day, it appeared that I was out of luck. However, I decided to pay the cost for two ($200 including gear) and Mauricio offered to throw in an extra tank. I had the dive boat and two dive masters to myself, and as a result the morning's dives were customized to my skill and experience level. We dove two sites off the Catalina Islands and one nearby called Sombrero. The dives were very challenging as visibility was terrible and the current was very strong due to the high winds that stuck around for several days, but the marine life more than made up for it. The highlight by far was the manta ray who came and checked us out, swimming around us within a couple of feet for several minutes. It was an incredible experience. It was great to see that Mauricio shared my excitement even though he's a veteran dive master with over 6,000 dives. They are majestic creatures and if you dive the Catalinas you have a pretty good chance of seeing them. For those who are interested in diving in Guanacaste, you can't go wrong with Buzos de Aventura and Mauricio and Elena. The equipment is new and the whole experience was more personalized and fun than many of the dives I've done in the Caribbean.
Overall, we had a wonderful vacation and enjoyed both the relaxing and adventurous things that the country has to offer. Costa Rica is a special place and we found everyone to be warm and welcoming. We would definitely go back, but may opt for a self-catering rental or non-AI next time. Safe and enjoyable travels!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Westin Playa Conchal is an All Inclusive eco-friendly retreat, located between the exotic forests and unspoiled beaches of the North Pacific Riviera of Costa Rica. Our secluded vacation spot is a perfect balance between unrivaled luxury and local culture, giving our guests an unforgettable vacation experience. Our All Inclusive experience includes all meals, drinks, use of our fitness center and kids club as well as entertainment options including non motorized water sports, daily activities and nightly events. The resort also offers an adult only all exclusive experience at the Royal Beach Club where guests have access to a private pool with concierge service. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Westin Resort And Spa, Playa Conchal
- The Westin Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal Hotel Playa Conchal