My husband and I stayed here 1/11 - 1/18/14. We were at the Riu Guanacaste in Dec 2012 (which was great) but wanted a new experience. The Grand is much smaller and probably older than any of AI's we've stayed in previously (Mexico, Dom Rep, Jamaica). About 180 rooms versus the 700 at the Riu, thus many less people to feed and entertain. Smaller in every way: pool (no swim up bar), lobby, buffet, ala carte restaurants, rooms; nightly entertainment (that is in the lobby). It took a day to adjust to this new experience, but we found it to be the right size for the number of guests - we never had to wait for anything, except for a few minutes for a table at the buffet during peak breakfast & lunch times.
Our original room, 101, was very disappointing upon opening the door. I immediately knew we needed to change. Guest services said we could wait a day to get an updated room in that building (or building 2) or offered to show us an ocean view room which was available that day. We took a quick shuttle ride to Building 20, room 2003, and instantly agreed that was 100% better and paid the $40/night upgrade fee. Well worth it, in our opinion. (We never did see what the upgraded standard rooms were like, so have no opinion on those, other than they'd still be the size of a standard US hotel room...no additional space.)
We were on the beach every day and had little/no trouble finding chairs to put in the sun or shade. Snorkeling equipment and kayaks are readily available and you don't need a reservation - they're not that busy. Snorkeling off the beach was pretty good - there is a very rocky section to the left, and a very sandy area to the right. The walk to the beach is a paved, gradual downhill trek, ending with a series of steps on a raised walkway with rails down the steep embankment. (The shuttle goes to the beach too.) The beach bartender is a solo-act. He takes orders, makes drinks at the little beach bar up the stairs and halfway back up to the pool, and serves them to the beach. Not super fast, but he does the job. If you want to walk up to the snack/pool bar you can do that too. (While he's delivering the drinks to the beach, the beach bar is unmanned.)
Iguanas, Coati, green parrots and other birds are prevalent. There were some howler monkeys in a tree on the beach one day. There are 75 steps from the lobby/buffet/restaurant area to the pool, so be prepared for that, or take the shuttles that are always running. The property is well kept - they redid the central lobby floor in 2 days while we were there; they were working on room upgrades daily; they were starting on a new activity court or something in the archery/volleyball area. The Vacation Club rep told us they were going to build a whole new area of rooms next door in the next year or two, so this resort may be very different in the near future.
Room was very comfortable - very comfy king size bed and nice bedding. Only thing we would've liked more of is the mini bar beer restocking. I think we got a total of 6 beers in 8 days (even though we were tipping the maid service daily).
Food was fine, though the later you go to the buffet, the longer things have been out, so take that into consideration when rating the food. The Italian restaurant was very good, though 1.5 hour dinner is longer than we would've liked! The Mexican was good - they set that up in the Snack Bar building each night. The Asian restaurant had great décor and we enjoyed that very much, over about 1 hour 15 minutes. It seemed all tables (about 8-10) were seated at the same time, so it took some time for the various courses to be served.
Nightly entertainment is set up on the lobby patio (or one night was on the pool deck). Not "shows" like you've seen at the big resorts, but over the week we saw a couple different bands/musicians with dancing; karaoke; trivia contest. We missed most of the manager's cocktail party on Thursday as we were on a tour, but they were giving away various gifts if your room # was called: manicures, bottles of liquour...
Overall, we had a very nice time here and in Costa Rica - perfect weather every day!
One last tip: the guys in the lobby wearing "Vacation Club" shirts represent the timeshare option. They will approach you upon arrival, have a clipboard with your name/s on it, will tell you they will be there for anything you need during your visit, so you're not really sure of their purpose (now you know). If you're interested in a timeshare, talk to them, then you'll be taken upstairs to the sales team. If not, just say so.
- Also Known As:
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Hotel
- Grand Papagayo
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Gulf Of
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Costa Rica
- Grande Papagayo Costa Rica
- Grand Papagayo Liberia
- 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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