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“A great bargain, exceptionally kind staff.” 4 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, Santa Cruz, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #1 of 8 Hotels in Santa Cruz
western US
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
“A great bargain, exceptionally kind staff.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2012

Our family usually stays at Four Seasons resorts for leisure trips about 4 times per year. I was completely surprised at the cleanliness of the rooms, the many restaurants and the overall relaxing feel of the resort. My daughter and I stayed for 10 days and ventured out on many mornings to do zip lining, boat tours and a hike, but found the resort to be the highlight. One word of caution to US travelers- The staff work long days, commute about 1-2 per day & are lucky if they see $200 in tips at the end of the month. If you are on a tour and your tour company said they have tipped them- they DO NOT TIP THE STAFF, be kind!! So, If you really love the service of an employee, put cash in an envelope with their name & yours. That beach waiter you see running all day in the sand, will show up working at a restaurant at night. There were several employees that really made us feel special. We are foodies and have dined at the top 10 restaurants within the past two year..the food portions were absurdly large & quite good. Some better than others, but nothing was bad. My daughter is the pickiest eater & this was the best I have ever seen her eat. America could learn something from their kids menus- grilled fish, veggies, rice, a fruit smoothie for $11 was astonishing.
The rooms were very clean comfortable with great ocean views and patios. Better than The rooms at the Four Season's Lanaii. The beach was very pretty ( yes, the sand is darker) but a blast to play in with great waves at high tide. It was the happiest place I have ever travelled too- everyone was smiling, kind. I did not know what to expect about safety & feel very safe, and well taken care of- everywhere, even on our tours/day trips. It was QUITE relaxing and I cherished that aspect, as many resorts seem to buzz with activity of the annoying sort.
We will be going back, hopefully at Christmas break.
BTW the comment about five star service- yes, they are not as "hyper" about asking you if you want a drink every five minutes because that is THEIR way of life. Slow down & enjoy things. The US travelers, who are less experienced at travel abroad need to expect you are an american, but you are in THEIR country, and sorry, not everyone wants to be just like us. I leave today for Hawaii for 8 days at the Four Seasons in Kona- yes it is five star service, I also am spending 3(975 for an ocean view deluxe room vs. my 320 in CR) as much on the room & a family of 3 can expect each meal to be around $160- without drinks.
Excellent trip, hotel staff, location.

Room Tip: most rooms have a view of the ocean, so it is all pretty wonderful.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 20, 2012
Dear Guest,

Wow! Thank you for wonderful review.

Thanks for been an open and sincere person expressing your thoughts and feelings about our service and staff.

We are glad to know that you had a great time and that you are coming back in Christmas. It will be a pleasure been your host again.


Kind Regards;


Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the 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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1,319 reviews from our community

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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 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (383)
Date | Rating
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English first
Santee, California
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2012

From the moment the transfer service dropped us off we were enveloped in an ocean of attentive, friendly, professional staff. At no point in our 5 day stay did I find myself looking for service. It was always at hand, and always with a smile. Never pressure for a tip. The pool was sparkling clean and I spent quite a bit of time there. I saw very little of Costa Rica and quite a bit of the hotel. But it did the trick! Buckets of iced-down beer, quick service, and lots of smiles, both on the patrons as well as the staff was just what I ordered!
It is expensive, but only relative to the level of what's being produced; a wonderful vacation. The breakfast buffet was top-notch, but I found the charge for a fruit smoothie, $8, silly. All the fruit was available in the buffet, so what's the big deal about tossing it in the blender with a little ice?
If it is in the budget, opt for the suite. Ours was huge and on the corner of pool view and ocean view. The little soak pool was also a nice touch.
While there are plenty of tours, most of them are a full day, mostly due to how isolated this property is from everything. But that was one of the things I enjoyed.
Thank you all at the JW Marriott - Guanacaste. Be very proud of the fine work you do. My wife and I will always remember you, for it is you that made this vacation memorable.

Room Tip: The corner suite was the perfect spot. Every night's sunset was a jewel.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 20, 2012
Dear Guest,


THANK YOU! For this great review, we are here to serve you.

We will share your comments with all our staff.

We hope to be your host again in a near future.


Kind Regards;


Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lima
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2012

Was there in January, just a great place right in front of the beach, a perfect romantic gateway fwith my wife!
We did feel away from the city street at least for 3 days! I recommend going by theses little planes from Sansa from San Jose. Nice overview and much shorter than by road. AIrport is only at 20mns away from the hotel

  • Stayed January 2012, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, August 30, 2012
Dear Guest,

Thank you for your great review about your recent stay at our Hotel.

Is good to get away from the stress of the city sometimes and we are going to be here the next time for you and your wife.

I would like to inform you that Nature Air is another airline who provides local flights to Tamarindo.

Kind regards,

Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, MA
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2012

This is an absolutely beautiful property and I can't say we experienced the problems in service that I see other reviewers did. We went on Marriott points so I suppose if I had paid for it it would have grudgingly gave it 5 stars ;-)
The hotel has a really good golf course that our relatives used. Next door to the hotel is a condo community which contains a bunch of stores, restaurants and a bar with american fare.
We watched a very large wedding with fireworks on the property.
The spa is first rate with tennis courts to watch as you relax.

Eating:
We tested not going all inclusive and figured that we spent the same amount on food as we would have getting the all inclusive package so no savings there.
Hotels restaurants have faster service than any restaurant we went to, whether it was next door at the condo community or in town. So for fast service, eat at the hotel. Otherwise, things just run slower in Costa Rica. Not a bad thing really, just expect it because that's how things are done there. Highly recommend going into town to Tamarindo. Good place to walk the local beach, shop and we found a great restaurant here. Sorry but I don't remember the name, just that it was on the beach. The restaurants next door were understaffed so don't expect fast service there either though the food was certainly good when we eventually got it an hour later. That said, the food at the hotel is top rate.

Sites:
Took a catamaran to Tortuga. The catamaran has a bar on it. It was an incredible trip. The island allows outsiders to rent a portion of the island where the catamaran stops and unloads everything you need for a day of fun on this section of the island. From there we went snorkeling and horse back riding. Funny to see the small shop with internet access run entirely on solar power. Wild board, cats, birds roaming around were neat. Beach was excellent where they set up a huge bar and eating area underneath a giant parachute while a band plays music. Only possible bad thing I can say is that I cut myself while snorkeling and they didn't even have a small first aid kit so I recommend you bring one just in case. Still very worth it.

Manuel Antonio National Park:
This incredible park in the jungle is a must see site. We saw so many rare animals it was amazing. Want to know a trick? When you get to the end of your tour and everyone goes to the beach, keep going! If you go past the first set of beaches that everyone uses, there is another set of beaches that very few know about. Here we swam in private for the first hour or so until a couple of other groups found the area as well. Afterwards we ate in the town here at the Gato Noir (Black Cat). Food was very good. There is also a restaurant with a bomber in it though we didn't eat there. This area is in the mountains with a full town. Places to shop and beautiful places to stay. If we went back, we would stay in this area for a few days.

Fishing:
Resort is right on the beach which is located next to a local marina. If you like fishing, this is the place to be. Mutli-million dollar boats at this marina but not one sail boat. That said, instead of paying through the nose for a fishing boat at the marina, we met a local on the beach and out the two boats he offered us, we made sure to get the two engine boat (safer than one engine and faster) for the three of us for $750 - that's way cheap compared to getting it from the marina. Now this was a standard fishing boat, not the giant ones from the marina but here's the clincher, the locals KNEW where to go for the fishing. Of the 20 or so boats that were out that day, we were the ONLY ones to catch anything, 3 swordfish and a whole school of mahi-mahi. Threw the swordfish back as they are just sports fish after all but split our catch of mahi-mahi with the crew and had the hotel cook the fish on one night and the asian restaurant next door cook them the next. Three full meals of fish, so worth it. So remember, always hire a local.

Room Tip: Try to get ocean side and high up if you can.
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 20, 2012
Dear Guest,

We appreciate your time writing this fantastic review about our Hotel.

I am sure our readers are thankful for the tips about tours, restaurants and shops. About the Restaurant in Tamarindo on the beach maybe was Nibana Restaurant.

Kind Regards;

Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Summerville, South Carolina
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2012

Beautiful hotel and well appointed rooms. This is a 5 star property but do not expect 5 star service. Unfortunately, I have found large 5 star properties often do not have 5 star service. The other hotels I stayed at in Costa Rica were 4 star but had much better service. The JW has a huge staff, over 300 people but for some reason they are all indifferent to their guest's needs. There was not a one big problem just a lot of small issues. For example, towels are suppose to be poolside. I could not find any one evening and asked several pool attendants and no one could locate towels and told me to look in a different area. Finally one employee told me that they were out and would have some in 15 minutes. At a 5 star property the first employee should have said I will get you one. Not one employee offered to do this. There were several small issues when dining. One morning we wanted a refills on coffee and our waiter had ignored us for 20 minutes. I finally got up and found him and asked for refills for our table. He said ok but did not show up for another 5 minutes.

Room Tip: The poolside rooms are excellent. You can use your porch as a cabana. There is a ceiling fan, table...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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
    • 2 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, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 12, 2012
Dear Guest,


Thank you for your review. We appreciate your feedback.

We apologize for the inconveniences suffered during your stay and that even small issue like you has mention there are very important to us.

We hope to be your host again in a near future.


Kind Regards;



Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
connecticut
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2012

My family and I just returned from a week long stay at the JW Marriott. The property is absolutely beautiful. The beach, the ocean, the pool are all spectacular. The hotel includes large open courtyards and gardens all add to the tropical feel of this hotel.
A couple of comments about previous reviews. Yes you do have to drive on a dirt road to get
there but it's Costa Rica - there are a LOT of dirt roads. Not a big deal. Yes the birds are noisy in the morning and may wake you up but it's COSTA RICA. I loved hearing the birds in the morning! Yes not all of the employees speak English but it's COSTA RICA. I was actually more embarrassed by the fact that I couldn't speak Spanish! I wish I did.
The resort however is VERY expensive and almost everything costs extra including shuttle
service to nearby Tamarindo ($7.00 per person each way) and Internet service (unless you are a Marriott Platinum or Elite member). I feel that these types of things should have been complementary considering the cost per night.
A couple of tips. Consider splurging a little for an oceanfront room. The views are amazing and worth the extra money. I wouldn't recommend getting a garden view room unless you request a
room on a higher floor. Many of the garden view rooms have NO privacy because guests are constantly walking past these rooms to get to the pool, the beach, a restaurant or whatever and
you leave the curtains open everyone can see right into these rooms.
Choose the breakfast package. The breakfast buffet is extensive and we found it was easier not
to venture off the property for breakfast.
Do consider renting a car and venturing into nearby Tamarindo. We followed the advice of other
reviewers and drove to a grocery store to stock up on snacks and drinks for the week to save some money. There is a very modern supermarket right on the main road in Tamarindo that has
everything you could possibly need.
I also recommend leaving the property for dinner in Tamarindo at least once. This is a great way
to meet people in Costa Rica and get a more local feel for the area instead of just
experiencing the feel of the resort. We had dinner at Coconuts one night and thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was very good and you can get a appetizer/dinner or a dinner/dessert
combo for a reasonable $25 USD. The owner was very sweet and personally thanked each of
us for coming to her restaurant as we were leaving.
One caveat. We stayed at this hotel during Holy Week which is one of the busiest times of year. The service we received most of the time was excellent but staff did appear to be overwhelmed at times. On busy days chairs on the beach and at the pool filled up quickly so you need to get out there early!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 12, 2012
Dear Guest,


Thank you very much for your wonderful review

We are so glad to hear that you spend a wonderful stay during your time with us.

Thank you for the tips, such information is very helpful to our future guest.


Kind Regards;



Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Silver Spring, MD
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2012

The J. W. Marriott Guancaste Resort shares all the characteristics, good and indifferent, of most Marriott properties. The Guanacaste Resort is a beautiful, well-maintained property. We had a spacious, well-designed, well-equipped room that was very comfortable. Service is a little sketchy, but what it lacked in finesse it more than made up for in good will. Food is perfectly satisfactory but no more than that, no matter which of four restaurants plus room service one opts for.
The property is quite isolated, not only from airports (four hour drive from San Jose, closer to Liberia and the small airport at Tamarindo) but even from from a main road to get into nearby towns. Once you are at the resort, you're there to stay. Many tours are offered, but those to national parks involve more time on a bus than time at the park. The resort offers no evening activities or entertainment, so once you've eaten dinner it's back to the room.
The resort is relaxing and comfortable, reasonably quiet despite its size. The pool is beautiful, the fairly small ocean beach is attractive enough (though the ocean floor is very rocky). Sunset watching is rewarding. We were there for nine nights and had the kind of relaxation we were looking for, but would not go back again.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM_JWGuanacaste, Manager at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica, responded to this review, April 12, 2012
Dear Guest,


Thanks for your positive comments and for the feedback. These always help us to improve and give a better service.

We will like to inform you that our Hotel offer shuttles for $7 each person per way to Tamarindo which is 20 - 30 minutes away from the Hotel. Tamarindo Beach is nice and also you can find fun night life. Hacienda Pinilla has free shuttles to Avellanas beach which is very nice too.

We hope that you can give us an opportunity to demonstrate the high quality of our service and you can let us be your host again in the future.


Regards;


Grace Calvo
Executive Assistant to the 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, Santa Cruz, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Santa Cruz
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 #1 of 8 Hotels in Santa Cruz
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica 4.5*
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; with a choice of 5 beaches, adjacent to an equestrian center, tennis courts, and an 18-hole golf course with a coastal layout. Off-site activities like canopy tours, horseback riding, white water rafting, kayaking, 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 beaches 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 right on the beach at Azul Grill our beach front restaurant or visit Tamarine where you can enjoy Asian fusion cuisine. Indulge yourself with a genuine Guanacastecan style meal at Sabanero Steakhouse or relax and admire a spectacular sunset at Nau Lounge and Bar, while you enjoy hand crafted cocktails and a variety of Sushi. All rooms have balconies with garden, pool or ocean views. 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 fine linens, rich woods, and marble bathtubs. The village of Tamarindo is just 5 miles away, where you will find restaurants, bars, and souvenirs in a "Pura Vida" laid back atmosphere. ... 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

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