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“Perfect Honeymoon for scenery + adventure” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Occidental Grand Papagayo

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Occidental Grand Papagayo
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Buena, 485000, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #8 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Oakville, Canada
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Perfect Honeymoon for scenery + adventure”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2011

This hotel had a load of poor reviews which were a little bit unnerving prior to going on our honeymoon, but we went with our gut and it was UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! We went during what I guess is known as the wet season, but all that meant was there were beautiful thunderstorms in the afternoon for an hour or two if that and then the sun came out again for dinner. Because it was the wet season, the hotel was so quiet 80/300 rooms booked we were told which meant no line ups anywhere, easy to get reservations, no problems getting chairs by the pool, and cheaper excursions.

We had a royal club room which I would highly recommend. The view from our room was spectacular as well as the service. With royal club I guess you are able to get breakfast to your room every day if you want it. We did quite a bit and sat out on our patio which overlooked the ocean. We were usually joined by many friends including the ridiculously cute coati which my husband reluctantly let me feed.

The resport itself lent to incredible hospitality, activities, and friendly tourists. Turned out there were about 10 other couples on their honeymoons of which we became good friends with a few and went on a few excursions with them. The staff at the resort were fantastic- if you want amazing service by the pool or in the restaurant get to know Antonio... he will also make you laugh, he was great. And Ana-Marie seemed like she did a bit of everything, and she always greeted you and knew your name. Bryan was the royal club liason and was fantastic, he accomodated anything we needed (which wasn't much because everything was already fantastic!). I would go back there in a heartbeat. Sure its a humid country and the bathtubs might have rings around the drain... but what do you expect from a latin/central american country? Its hot and wet pretty much all the time, so if you understand the climate prior to going you can ignore the many reviews that talk about the musty damp rooms.

Room Tip: Fantastic excursion options and amazing staff!
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  • Stayed September 2010, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,888 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (483)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2011

Positive : I've never seen such a beautiful location and hotel settings, it was breath taking. Even without leaving the hotel there was plenty of wildlife to see including monkeys, Racoons Lizards and Coaties to name a few.
Food was superb and there was always plenty.
Room was clean.
Costa Rica was a fantastic country and the excursions offered by our travel agents ticked all the boxes, adventure, culture and wildlife. Speaking of the wildlife the Mount Verde and Palo Verde trips showed just how richly diverse and unique this country's natural habitats/wildlife (Cloud forest/Wetlands) are.
Some of the hotel staff couldn't do enough to help make our stay special I.e the buffet restaurant manager who always was willing to help but this was not the case with most.

Negatives: Rooms were tired and dated especially the bathroom showers. It was hit and miss with towel situation sometimes you'd have face, bath and floor towels and once we had none. When we phoned and asked for towels they were not sure if they had any spare, however they did find some in the end. There were problems with beach towels too this was mainly due to greedy guests sometimes using five towels at a time. We were a group of 8 and the hotel found difficulty offering us an a' la carte restaurant booking together not necessarily on one table. We did ask for two tables of four at the a' la carte's with one staff member telling us we should of booked them from the UK! Eventually after asking the rep we did manage to get in to the a' la carte's. Some of the staff even with tipping seemed reluctant to serve drinks. Towards the end of the holiday over several nights the hotel claimed to run frequently out of drinks including 1 night where there was no Rum, Baileys, Wine, Coke, Cranberry Juice (which should not happen on a all-inclusive holiday). The mini bar was re- stocked every other day in the 1st week however by the 2nd week it was not filled for 5 days. When we complained to the hotel they provided us with a complimentary bottle of wine but we still had no mini bar (including water) or tea or coffee still.

This brings me final point. The hotel does not seem to provide enough facilities/or refreshments for the amount of guests that stay at the hotel. There were problems requiring sun beds, the lobby area was too small to find seats to sit on,and the restaurant was always very full so most of the times you had to wait over an hour.

  • Stayed April 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rustington, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2011

I checked on Trip Advisor before booking and I am sorry to say I didn't take in all the negatives. If you don't mind - tired rooms in need of a refurb (we had 4 rooms in the first 3 days before we settled down - brochure pictures very dissapointing) hardly any beach / pool towels available (we could only get 3 changes in 2 weeks) / no regular mini bar service including water as promised / bars ran out of drinks early evening / poolside buffet restuarant was closed most / some evenings and then you had to queue for the main buffet restaurant. Guests where not stopped from putting towels on sunbeds from 5.30am to reserve them !!!!!!. Overall nothing major, major but if you want a relaxing holiday - "Go Somewhere Else" or you will just spend each day getting frustrated that a hotel cannot do the simple basics right.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
Guildford, United Kingdom
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2011

We stayed for 6 nights, with 2 girls aged 15 and 12. The rooms were clean and modern, the main hotel was nicely decorated, located on a hill so many steps to room and main reception. The entertainment staff were great very professional, and very hard working. All the waiting staff were lovely. Only grips were food not too good, budget per person quite low so very monotinous, breakfast ok. Drink ok bit weak in the day. Main problems shortage of pool towels if you didnt get them by 0730!! and also to get a sun lounger with shade were few are far between!!! Had to get up really early to bag one ie 0530-0630 to be sure of one. Towels in the rooms were also few and far between, one day we only had 1 towel!!! Also it took 3 hours for maintenace to get me in my room when locked out. The dining room also quite small so especially for breakfast most mornings my family of 4 either had to wait or split in 2 and 2. The Dining in the evening was also a problem re waiting, and the bookings for the alacarte restaurants were only at 8am from the monday to book all week and then at the weekend you had to stand in line from 8am to get a booking on the day! Eventually we ate in both the alacarte restaurants and it was worth waiting for, especially the italian. Poor entertainment in the evening, not very many seats to sit in when there was somthing to watch!!
Took a trip to do Zip lining, the water slide, lunch, horse riding, and mud and hot springs well worth the trip very enjoyable for all my family.

Room Tip: newer part better and not so much walking
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woodbridge, Virginia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2011

We had booked the Grand Conceriege room and were expecting one like the picture shown on their site. We didn't get it. It was small and dark looking, there was one towel in the bathroom for the two of us (and this was after waiting three hours before we could check in because they were cleaning it?!). The bed looked lumpy, like it had been beaten up, the bedspread was completely nasty - frayed, threads coming out all over. The bathtub/shower had a tiny little pane of glass that was supposed to be a door. We didn't even unpack instead we requested a different room and were shown two other rooms (standard rooms). These weren't much better. The one we chose at least had two towels, but one coffee cup. The bed looked a little better but the bedspread was the same. My husband refused to sleep with it on the bed because it was so nasty. The inside of the shower/tub was painted black and had the same little pane of glass, so needless to say when you showered, most of the bathroom floor got soaked. The next day we used the pool for a few minutes, but after seeing all the dirt in it we got out. We walked to the beach which was not very clean either. But what really bothered us was when we returned to our room and went to open the safe, it wouldn't open (even though we had opened it before we left); and the sliding doors were unlocked - which my husband had made sure were locked before we left. As for the buffet food, it left a lot to be desired. What we saw at lunch the first day, was served again at dinner with something new added, and then something else added to it for breakfast the next day. The majority of the food we ate lacked flavor, texture and was just not appealing - "delectable" it was not. The alcohol served appeared to be extremely water-downed and/or substituted with an inferior brand. As for the two a la carte resturants, depending on the number of days you were staying at the hotel, that determined the number of times you could dine at the a la carte resturants! We had booked for 5 - 16 April and could only dine three (3) times at those resturants - the rest of the time we would have to eat at the buffet. Additionally, it was extremely difficult to get internet service anywhere at the hotel. After the incident with the room safe, we decided to change hotels and we left the Occidental - we were so disappointed with our entire experience there. We booked at the Hilton, 15 minutes away and had the best time ever!

Room Tip: Pick a different hotel!!
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ipswich, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2011

We had a wonderful 2 weeks staying at this hotel - despite a lot of the negative reviews that we read before our trip.

My husband and I are both birdwatchers and asked for a room in a quiet area. We were in Block 15 which was the furthest distance from Reception but we didn't mind the gentle stroll as it gave us an opportunity to see lots of birds (37 species in hotel grounds and flying overhead) as well as to walk off some calories! Our room was very clean and spacious and our only complaint was that the advertised 'coffee/tea maker' didn't boil the water so we couldn't make a cup of tea. I should have taken our travel kettle! There was always a good variety of food to choose from ...lots of fresh salad and fruits as well. We ate in the Italian restaurant on 2 occasions and would recommend the tuna as the main course. Sometimes there was a wait to be seated for dinner, but we just enoyed a drink in the bar area and they came to get us when the table was ready. We found all the staff very friendly and never had 'watered down' drinks. In fact we were surprised that they even had international brands like Canadian Club and Jack Daniels!

People did used to put out towels on the sunbeds very early in the morning. Because we went out birdwatching from 06:00 - 09:00 every day and then came back for breakfast (which is served right up until 10:00) we didn't go for a swim until later. There were always enough sunbeds and you could just carry them into the shade as there is an area to one side of the pool where there are lots of trees.

We hired a small jeep for 5 days so that we could visit the Heliconias Lodge in the rainforest where we spent 3 nights. We booked the accommodation direct from their website. It was a wonderful experience and we saw Toucans, 2-Toed Sloth, and lots of other birds and mammals (including a rare cat which was like a miniature leopard). There was hardly any traffic on the roads and we had no problems finding our way around using a map we bought on the internet.

We also went on the Palo Verde river trip which we would recommend. We saw a pair of Scarlet Macaws, Jesus Lizards, American Crocodile and lots of other bird species.

Most of the people staying at the hotel were Canadians, and we found them all very friendly. One tip for English people is that you should take your spending money in US Dollars. Fortunately we did take a lot of $1 bills which we used to tip the waiters and our maid on a daily basis. None of the staff expected tips but when you get good service it's nice to acknowledge it.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2011

After a magnificent stay in the Royal Club at the Occidental Grand Cozumel last year, my partner & I decided that we should push the boat out to experience more of the same by booking a Junior Suite within the Royal Club of the Occidental Grand Papagayo for our holiday this year to Costa Rica. I chose to ignore some of the negative reviews on here thinking that the Royal Club service would mean that towels & sunloungers would be taken care of .... how naive I was!!! I always use Tripadvisor to plan my holidays so I have decided it's time that I share my experience to help others do the same.

We love travelling to exotic destinations & like to travel in style so we choose to book our flights, hotels, etc. independently to get the best deals at some of the top hotels. I managed to find a discounted rate through Expedia for this hotel. During our two week stay in Costa Rica we visited Dominical (3 nights at Cuna del Angel), Manuel Antonio (3 nights at Le Mansion Inn), Guanacaste (5 nights at Occidental Papagayo) & Arenal (3 nights at Tabacon Thermal Resort). I will be writing reviews for the other 3 hotels so feel free to look them up as they were all fantastic! We used a private driver, Carlos (sourced through Leo Rodriguez) to travel from place to place. You'll find lots of great reviews for him on Tripadvisor as he's such a lovely man, speaks fluent English & is so much more than a driver ... more of a tour guide in fact & so proud to show you all there is to see in his beloved Costa Rica. We also rented a 4x4 for one journey from Guanacaste to Arenal. Driving is a bit of a challenge with unpaved roads but most main routes are fully paved & with GPS we didn't encounter any problems. We liked experiencing both because Carlos gave us so much information & showed us so many things we would never have known about, while having your own 4x4 is a real adventure as long as you're a confident driver! :o)

OK, so back to our stay at the Occidental Grand Papagayo. To say we were disappointed with the Royal Club is an understatement. Upon arrival, check-in is not in a beautiful Royal Club lounge (like Cozumel). It's in a very small air-conditioned box room next to the main reception. We met our concierge, Orion & he explained he was there to make sure our stay was faultless from start to finish. Our room was available straight away which was great after a long journey from Manuel Antonio for us. (If you are arriving from Liberia airport you will only have a 30 minute transfer so definitely a bonus). We were taken by golf cart to our Junior Suite. If you have any mobility problems this hotel is not for you as there are steps, slopes & steep climbs everywhere! Not a problem for us. The views of the resort & coastline are beautiful from the reception, but our room was set back with a lot of vegetation in front of it so it was very dark inside. The Junior Suite was nowhere near as grand as the one we had in Cozumel, but it was double fronted with a huge superking size bed (very comfortable), large flatscreen TV & DVD player (weirdly no DVD's available at reception though!!!) so really we couldn't complain. We had a fruit plate & champagne waiting for us in our room so all nice touches as expected. However, when we looked for a welcome pack or information folder (something you expect in any standard of hotel) we couldn't find one. Simple information like what time breakfast & dinner are served, where to find things & more importantly information in the event of a fire or emergency was no where to be seen. No brochures on Occidental hotels. No room service menu. We called Orion who seemed shocked at our request for these things! He told us the hotel didn't have an information pack for it's guests! Then came the room service menu ... well they had run out of them! When we asked how we were meant to order our breakfast Orion's response was 'Oh we do all the standard things so you can just call to request what you would like'. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to may be photocopy or print out a menu, but we waited 2 days to be given a menu!! So, when we called to order breakfast for things like eggs benedict (our favourite during our stay in Cozumel) surprise surprise they couldn't give us what we wanted. Room service we discovered consists of the buffet breakfast brought to your room. Yet again, nowhere near the level of Cozumel Royal Club where room service was a completely separate menu & all freshly cooked to order.

Lunch & dinner were a marked improvement thankfully. Room service can be served in the elevated Club lounge with stunning views (but no air conditioning & smoking allowed). There is a choice of Oriental or Italian a la carte restaurants for Royal Club guests which were fantastic. Delicious exciting food & exceptional service so well done to the chef & restaurant staff because it was faultless. The problem came when you want to book one of these restaurants you need to call at 8am in the morning to do so. Our concierge, Orion assured us this was not an issue for us because of our Royal Club status but what fun & games we had booking each day!! One day we were told we had to go to reception in person (not exactly a short walk!), another that we had called the wrong number & we could never book for the time we actually requested. Doesn't make you feel very special when you call at 8am to be told there's only one time slot available! Someone must have been getting priority but it sure wasn't us!

The biggest issue with the resort is the farce every morning to get beach towels. The hotel launders the towels & bedlinen off-site & I believe it is shared with the Occidental Allegro across the bay. This has to be sorted out by management because even as Royal Club members it took us 2 days to get them! After walking down to the pool area at 9am to pick up towels, I was told the truck had broken down & the towels would arrive at around 11am. Called Orion & what a surprise he knew nothing about the situation! He advised that housekeeping would send towels straight away which obviously didn't happen. This wouldn't be such an issue if it wasn't a nightmare to get a sunlounger on the beach each day! Without a beach towel, how do you reserve your lounger?? Orion informed me that a book would do the job until I got a beach towel. We just had to laugh that Royal Club members couldn't even enjoy the beach! The whole reason for choosing an All-Inclusive beach resort is to lay back & relax, but it didn't seem like Orion thought it was much of a problem. The result of inadequate provision of sun loungers is that you have to get up at 7.30am to put your beach towel out or you'll be laying on the sand. The result of no beach towels each day means once you get one no one puts them back to be cleaned because they're like gold dust! It's a vicious cycle that needs to be resolved by the management & Occidental hotels immediately!!!

The beach is grey/white sand, but really soft. However, beware at high tide the beach is practically non-existent. Costa Rica's beaches are public property so there are people selling tours but they are friendly & do not pester you. The water is calm & really clear ... oh & really warm! :o) We snorkelled everyday from the beach (hotel provides free snorkel, mask & fins, as well as kayaks on beach). We were really impressed by the vast array of fish we saw! :o) The hotel's grounds are beautifully maintained and you will see lizards, butterflies, birds & coatamundis (they eat anything and everything!) all over the resort. There is only one swimming pool with a side kid's pool so that was a disappointment for us. Don't expect to see a private Royal Club swimming pool (whereas Cozumel does) because they don't have one & don't expect to get a sun lounger unless you're awake at 7am every morning!

All in all, once you settle into the routine of this all-inclusive the irritations of the hotel management fade as you try to enjoy your holiday. The majority of the staff are so friendly & always want to help you, but the hotel's mis-management is preventing customers being able to fully relax. If you're looking for Royal Club service I would not recommend choosing this hotel as it currently stands.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Occidental Grand Papagayo

Address: Playa Buena, 485000, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Occidental Grand Papagayo 4*
Number of rooms: 169
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
On the unspoiled northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica(home to wild parrots and endagered sea turtles), striking volcanic cliffs dramatically descend to powdery sand beaches and crystalline coves. Elegant and respectfully situaded within this breathtaking haven in the five-star Occidental Grand papagayo. Reverently aligned with its majestic surroundings, the resort offers a new kind of luxury all inclusive vacation. It is nothing short of extraordinary.Couples, families and friends who visit experience premiun service, discover gourmand dining and select from an impressive gamut of activities and sports. The resor´s natural setting and luxury amenities also make it the ideal locale for an incomparable wedding or honeymoon. In short, the Occidental Grand Papagayo is a perfect vacation spot for anyone and any reason. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Occidental Grand Papagayo Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
Occidental Grand Papagayo Gulf Of
Occidental Grand Papagayo Costa Rica
Grande Papagayo Costa Rica
Grand Papagayo Liberia

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