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“March Wedding at the Occidental Grand Papagayo” 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 #9 of 16 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Calgary, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“March Wedding at the Occidental Grand Papagayo”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2011

We had a fantastic time at the Occidental for our wedding as well as the week before and after that we stayed. We got married on March 12th 2011, and were at the Occidental from March 8th- March 22nd. The weather was HOT and beautiful everyday.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive coming up to our arrival date that things would all fall apart, but the minute we arrived at the hotel my anxiety lifted. Harold Rojas, the wedding coordinator, is absolutely amazing. He greeted us immediately upon arrival. We had a short meeting with him to finalize all the details. I originally thought that the flowers and decorations were to be a generic white, but he asked what colors and flowers we were interested in and had a beautiful bouquet and arch made for us. After the ceremony the arch was taken apart and made into decorations for the reception dinner. I had also brought some decorations and favors for the reception dinner, which the staff promptly took with my layout sketch and had everything set up for our dinner. We had 36 guest, so they closed down the pool side bar/restaurant to accommodate our group with a private reception.
We went for the basic wedding package. The only real difference between the two was spa service for the bride and groom, which I wasn't interested in getting. Harold also compted us a few extra items(bottles of champagne, cake charge...) for the extra people we had, so the price I found to be most reasonable for the Basic Package.
We chose the garden area to have our ceremony. I wanted to wear heals so the beach was out, plus the steps down to the beach are not heal friendly, haha. My only wedding day complaint was that the generator went down when we were getting ready, so our room was quite hot. But that was not the hotels fault, and they had it fixed ASAP.
For the dinner we did a buffet. Harold pre-sent out a menu list with pricing for us to choose from. I attached it on to this email for you to check out. We went with the Costa Rican Buffet, I figured when in Rome... haha, though all 3 buffets sounded extremely appetizing. The cake we got to choose between vanilla and chocolate, as well as the color of drizzle they put on it.
I had pre made a couple play lists on my Ipod, and my brother in law was awesome enough to press stop and play for us. At the ceremony they set up a little cd player, so the guests could listen to what I picked out, and we could walk down the aisle to set songs. At the dinner reception they hooked up my ipod to the bar sound system, then when it was time to dance, they just switched the play list over for us. We had the pool bar/restaurant until 10pm, and then they shut it down and most of us went up to the disco. The DJ's at the disco were awesome and played any song we asked for that we didn't have time to listen/dance to at the reception.

I would have to say my favorite part about the entire resort was the staff. The Costa Ricans are beautiful, friendly, hard working, proud people. The staff made all of us feel very welcome and appreciated. We were served by the same people for the whole two weeks, and most of the staff remembered our names, drink orders, and the amount of people we usually had sitting together.

The rooms are simple, but nice and clean. I didn't go there to spend time in our room really, so I was happy with clean sheets and towels. A few of our guests complained that they did not have towels in their rooms, though a quick phone call the the front desk fixed that.

I read some complaints on Tripadvisor about the food at the resort, but I am not sure why. The buffets were always stocked with a copious amount of choices. Each night was a theme night which rotated throughout the week, so we never got bored. And the food was very flavorful!
I also noticed on trip advisor that people complained about the hotel not being a 5star resort, but then read one review that explained the hotel perfectly. The other people were comparing it to Cancun 5stars which you can't do because Costa Rica's all inclusive resorts have not been set up for as long as the ones in Mexico. In my mind everything was clean and beautiful and the service was prompt and friendly which made it worth the money for us.
That being said, my only real complaint was the other guests complaining about miniscule problems(i.e. Having to wait in line to sit for lunch at the lunch rush, and that they didn’t carry Canadian rye in the lounge bar). In my opinion there was nothing to complain about,. The drinks were cold and delicious, the resort was clean, and the staff was extremely friendly.

One thing that did happen was on the day we arrived the hotel had accidentally overbooked themselves for the first night, so a few of the guests were asked to spend the night at one of the other nearby hotels(my cousin’s family included). At first I thought that was kind of unprofessional, but the guests who went for that one night still had full access to the Occidental, a free shuttle ride between the hotels, were upgraded to Royal Club service, ocean view rooms, received a free tour of their choice, and a free massage. So in the end it wasn't a bad deal at all. Plus they were in their Occidental rooms by 3pm the next day.


We are definitely planning on going back to Costa Rica in a few years to travel around, and if I get a chance I will to go back to the Occidental one day for another all inclusive trip.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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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 (377)
Date | Rating
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English first
Reading, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2011 via mobile

We had a great stay there. Food was excellent and the people were great. Carlos served us coffee and drinks at the pool and was a true delight. Maid service is the only minus. They just don't get replacing towels. I think during the high season they just aren't equipped to handle the volume, but we loved I there. Animals all over the property.
More than day trips we went on. Drinks were good and plentiful. Go to Italian and Asian restaurants at least once.

  • Stayed May 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
jessie0418
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2011

My husband and I just returned from an incredible trip to Costa Rica. We stayed at the Grand Papagayo on the tail end of our trip. I read reviews that really made me nervous and when we arrived, I was afraid we made a bad choice here. I think what it boils down to here, if you read the rest of the reviews, I would tend to agree - It's not all that bad, but it seems they are not putting any money into this place... it is very out of date. The bathrooms had some ants, which was not all that bad if you just got rid of them. We weren't in our rooms all that long anyway. I would recommend eating in town - either in Playa Hermosa or Coco Beach, about 10 minutes away.

The beds are hard, but I actually liked that. The views are beautiful from the rooms we were placed in. The property of this hotel is very spread out - It did seem very far to walk everywhere - up and down lots of hills and stairs... but all in all, it was ok. The staff was very good however, we would not stay here again.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2011

We came to stay here to check out Costa Rica's scenery and to relax. Overall we had a great holiday, but mainly due to the fact we spent plenty of time away from the hotel. This was an expensive holiday advertised as 5*. It may have been 5* 15 years ago, but is far from that now:

The Downsides:
The place is fairly shambolic - intermittently working Air Con (regularly poured water out all over the floor)
Bar in room was filled up once (not every 2nd day) despite constant requests to do so.
Rooms either half cleaned or left with no towels
The room had the potential to be beautiful but was shabby - on arrival the bed had a leg missing & the bath was badly chipped.
Queues for resteraunts - in some cases over an hour
Needing to get up at 6am to get a sun lounger - or you were on the floor for the day
The pool area needed a clean - lots of sticky spilled drinks from people drinking by pool at night.

The Up Sides:
Lovely location with plenty of wildlife. If you want to make friends with Coatimundi's, Raccoons & Iguanas this place is for you. Even mamanged to get up close & personal with some Howler Monkeys. plenty of wildlife to keep everyone amused.
The food was pretty good - despite the queues
Good spa facilities available
Lovely views and room, which was very quiet, had potential

Overall:
We had a great holiday (as Costa Rica is an AMAZING place) but I was expecting more from the hotel for the money we paid. The things people were complaining about (constantly) such as lack of clean towels, toilet roll(!!!) and to have the fridge re-stocked, some rooms didn't have water at times, were met with an indeferent 'we will do it later' which never happened. Some of the staff were really helpful, others (some bar staff) I found to be extremely rude.

The social areas such as the terrace and dining areas need to be at least double the size to accomodate the amount of people trying to use them when the hotel is at capacity.

Our rep did all she could to get things done, but still no changes. The hotel seemed to be running on skeleton staff (due to it being Easter weekend and coming towards the end of the season). The little things, if rectified would make this an excellent place to stay. Until this is done, stay at the Riu.

Also, whilst it was no problem for us this resort is very hilly with a lot of steps. Wheel Chair users or people with limited mobility may struggle to get about. There is a golf buggy service to get people abou the resort, but I can't comment on how useful it is as we didn't use it.

The trips we went on which I would highly recommend include:
Monteverde Cloudforest
Paolo Verde River Trip
Pura Vida Sailing

Room Tip: Take US Dollars
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakville, Canada
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2011 via mobile

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
1 review
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.
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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
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Occidental Grand Papagayo 4*
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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