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“Good for the purpose of the trip” 3 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   |  
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Ranked #7 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Good for the purpose of the trip”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

The layout of the resort is nice . If you're looking for peace and quiet and a relaxed atmosphere this is a place for you. If you're looking for 24 hr room service and a constant party atmosphere, this isn't the place for you. The food was questionable but you learned to adapt. For me the resort met my needs with peace and quiet and the beach.

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
3 Thank Joycie2570
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

We just returned from a days/6 night stay at this resort, and all we can say is wow. I was hesitant about staying here after reading the reviews, but I am glad I went. Let me just say this if you are looking for a five star resort with 24 hour inclusive, then you should pay five star prices. However for the price you receive five star service. The staff is extremely professional, accommodating, and pleasant. The buffet food is good and changes everyday. My only complain was they need more vegetarian/vegan options.However one night when I went there they made fish for me when I told the lady I don't eat meat (accommodating). The resort could use renovations, but it is well maintained and the grounds are well kept. My advice to anyone thinking of going is go and try it for yourself, we just came back and are planning to go again and we won't stay anywhere else.

Room Tip: Ask for a room close to the spa/gym (building 1 or 2) it is close to everything!
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
2 Thank Carol J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Marcos, Texas
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

My husband and I visited Costa Rica six years ago and were eager to get back for this vacation. Last time we stayed at the former Paradisus which is now a Westin. This time we were more budget conscious and chose the Occidental Grand Papagayo because it offered a lot for a decent price. We stayed from August 9-17th, 2014.

The grounds, views, rooms, and service are all wonderful (and it seemed like you got even better service if you spoke fluent spanish as opposed to our terribly basic vocabulary). It's a very short ride from the airport which is great if you've been traveling for awhile. We saw a pretty good variety of things snorkeling off the beach - huge dog faced and porcupine puffers, lots of damsels, tangs, triggers, wrasses an eel and even an eagle ray which was a pretty awesome experience! We booked a fishing trip through Diego on the beach. The morning we were to leave he called and said they had issues with the boat pump which he was replacing and would need to reschedule for the next day. The next day when we showed up, Diego was nowhere to be found even though he assured us numerous times that he would personally be on the boat. There was still a boat and couple guys we hadn't met who were expecting us so off we went! We ended up catching three mackerel and one mahi mahi. We saved a filet of both kinds which we took up to the office and filled out the form to request the chef prepare it for our lunch. It was probably the second best fish meal I've ever had! If you go fishing, definitely keep a bit and have the buffet prepare it for you! Diego was waiting on the beach when we got back and said his motorcycle had been stolen the night before and his mom was really upset so that's why he couldn't make it. My husband pointed out the boat's pump wasn't new either like he claimed was the reason for postponing the day before. All in all, he's a really friendly guy but my husband suspected we got a bit "scammed" by being told what we wanted to hear. If you're particular about things going exactly as planned, I might use somebody else for fishing. Or maybe he legitimately had some bad luck and it was just unfortunate timing. Regardless, it was nice to get out on the ocean and haul in a couple fish each!

Now, back to the beginning. When we checked in we were greeted by a friendly staff who made us comfortable until a room could be readied. At this point we were taking aside and given information on the resort activities, spa, a map and some excursion coupons. It was at this point that we were also asked to have breakfast with a representative the next day so they could tell us about the Occidental Vacation Club (what other people refer to as the time share). Our fishing trip got postponed a day and we ended up missing the meeting but from talking to others, it was a good thing. From the sounds of it, for just $20,000 you can be part of their vacation club and get a week with them every year (plus some special restaurant seating and access to an additional bar and rooms I think). We like staying different places and could take one hell of a week's vacation elsewhere if we had $20k to spend so we weren't interested.

I generally think it's bad form to complain about any vacation that isn't a complete and total disaster. We had a lovely time here and a relaxing week which is exactly what we were looking for. However, I will point out some of the cons that we saw.

* The food was not nearly as good as I had come to expect from an all-inclusive resort. You definitely won't die or starve but don't expect an overly enjoyable food experience. We thought the Italian place was the best and the Oriental the worse. At the Oriental place, I suspect my chicken was microwaved (but had decent flavor!) and my broccoli, carrots and zucchini tempura were pretty bland and undercooked for my liking personally. The snack bar is a lot of pre-made/frozen food but you can always make a decent salad at the buffet for lunch.

* There are actually hours where you cannot get food. This was a new one for us as the other places we've stayed (Costa Rica and the Caribbean) had food available all hours of the day and night. At the Occidental you cannot get any food between 10:30am-12pm, 5-6pm or after 10:30pm.

* I really feel like the restaurants are understaffed and many are overworked. Michael was telling us he gets up at 3:45am every day to get on the shuttle which takes an hour and twenty minutes to get there. Not sure what time he got off work but it's definitely very long hard days for them all. Dinner at the buffet was always hectic and the staff was obviously very busy. We rarely got a water refill but they definitely made sure we had alcohol.

However, the bartenders were amazing. Don't be afraid to ask them to pick a drink for you or make it stronger if you want.

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip but we like staying different places so the Occidental definitely didn't wow me enough to return a second time.

Jen - if you're reading this, Kevin and I hope you and Lyle had a safe trip home! ;)

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Thank beauj85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seguin, Texas
Level Contributor
27 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2014

I've had the advantage of trying a lot of different hotels along the Pacific coast in Costa Rica. We found the hotel to be very beautiful, the grounds were well maintained and the room was clean and quiet. Normally this would have given a 5 star instead of a 4 star review.

However, the buffet was just not up to snuff. Breakfast was ok due to omelets prepared fresh and loads of fresh fruit, the bacon was super but the oatmeal was so thin that I checked the label twice as I thought it might be a broth.

Lunch and dinner were the low points of our day. The food on the buffet was nicely labeled and beautifully laid out, however the taste often tended to be awful. The meats were often over cooked and too hard to cut let alone chew. You learned to pick your battles and I often found myself depending on the salad bar and desert bar to avoid going hungry.

The asian night at the buffet was amazingly bad and I've come to the determination that Costa Ricans in general don't know what good Chinese or Japanese foods should taste like. Even the sushi was much too dependent on pickled vegetables rather than on fresh fish or other seafood (one would think living on the ocean they'd have an amazing supply).

We did get to try the Asian specialty restaurant on the second evening and I'll admit I wasn't really thrilled after the asian buffet the night before. Somehow where they failed at the buffet they delivered an incredible meal to us at the restaurant. For this meal alone I'd book at the hotel again with hopes that something might be done about the buffet.

Room Tip: We had asked for a handicapped room and ended up with one that had a steep climb to reach. Ask agai...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
2 Thank sway57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Livermore, California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2014

We went to Costa Rica for diving and relaxation. There were 8 of us (3 non-divers) and everyone had a great time. We upgraded to the romance package and the rooms were in a perfect location with partial ocean views and lots of wild life. The rooms were typical of this type of resort and we thought they were clean and well taken care of. Our air-conditioning worked well; when we drank something out of the fridge, it was replaced the next day.

All of the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. You have to figure out how some things work, but once you do it is easy to navigate how to do things and how to get around.

The food was good. Staff very attentive and friendly. Buffets were nice, but not outstanding, but they were what we expected. The Oriental restaurant was real good, and the Italian was not quite as good, but still nice. Breakfasts were good and we ate at the pool buffet most days. The drinks were NOT watered down contrary to some reviews. You could ask for anything and they would make if for you, and if you wanted more alcohol they will tie it to you. We gave small token tips with each round and I am sure that enhanced our experience with the waiters and bartenders. Yes, its all inclusive, but I think people should be willing to tip, no matter how small.

The beach was actually quite nice, though the first evening we went down there and there was no beach due to the high tide and we were concerned, but those who did not dive loved being at the beach. The massages were actually better at the beach than the hotel. No problems getting drinks at the beach. The lounge chairs were very comfortable with snorkel gear and kayaks to check out of free.

If you don't take the free shuttle there is a lot of walking but we found the exercise to be good for us. Taking the stairs is a lot tougher than the walkways around the buildings.

There isn't a lot of entertainment, but the pool activity folks were great, and there was some type of music each evening whether canned or live. The gym is adequate though could get real hot if you weren't under the air.

We dove with Deep Blue and they pick you up from the beach. It is a great outfit and we had some miscommunications the first day and they more than made up for it. Highly recommend them.

Go into Playa de Cocos and some of the other areas. They are a lot of fun. We rented a car for a day and drove to some other beaches. We booked the mega combo deal and really loved the hot springs, and the water slide, and the zip lining. This was our first zip lining experience and it was a great starter, because when we did it, again, a few days later in Arenal, it made the 600+ foot zip lines there not as scary.

Overall, we thought we got a great value for our money. We read a lot of negative reviews going in to the trip and were nervous, but they were vastly overstated. Things were not perfect, as they never are when you travel. You need to learn to adapt and have fun. BTW--we were NEVER approached about time shares the entire time we were there.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
7 Thank ScubaCALI1960
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2014

This was the first trip to Costa Rica for my husband and I. We chose this resort for our Honeymoon especially for the adults only status of the resort. Overall the staff was great! The servers at the restaurants were always extremely friendly and accommodating, however, depending on the time of day they seemed understaffed (2 servers in the buffet at breakfast and dinner, one bartender for the beach all day). Carlos and Antonio were OUTSTANDING servers in the snack bar and buffet and Edwin, Mauricio, Hermando and Ignacio were amazing bartenders, always smiling and making sure your drink was full!!

All staff speaks English so it was relieving for someone like me, who has limited Spanish knowledge.

The resort was quiet and it was fun seeing the natural wildlife all around the resort. The Coati's are are abundant and cute but not afraid to ask for a snack from the patrons at the snack bar, but the staff prefers that vacationers do not feed them. You will also see a wide variety of birds as well as howler monkeys and iguanas around the resort.

The relaxing nature of this resort is great for the people that want the all-incusive benefits without the party-all-day atmosphere. There is a shuttle that will bring to any part of the resort, however we preferred to walk. We never tried the shuttle so I would not be able to say which is more efficient but there was always something to see when we walked somewhere.

There are travel and tour agencies stationed by the snack bar. Our experience using Swiss travel left something to be desired and they were overpriced in my opinion. I would not recommend the Mega Combo tour for anyone who has experience with zip-lining or horseback riding. We also did the ATV half day and Sunset cruise - both were a disappointment. For these activities talk to the guys on the beach - much better experience from other people we spoke with. For the ATV tour we just went on dirt roads to a beach and a local bar, while those who booked with Larry on the beach got to go on trails and go to a snake and monkey sanctuary where they let you hold the animals. Our sunset cruise was on a 32' catamaran (capacity 12 people) we were with 20 other individuals. We were told a snack and dinner and only got a snack (chips, salsa, oreos, and some watermelon). When we complained to our representative at Swiss travel he blamed the over-booking on the other hotel. Lesson learned for next time!

Overall our experience with the resort was good but the tours seemed to put a damper on our memories for our honeymoon:/

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
1 Thank Kathleen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Helmetta, New Jersey
Level Contributor
47 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2014

I loved Costa Rica, as did my wife. We needed some time away from it all and wanted an easy, no-adventures vacation where we could sit on the beach, drink a few cocktails, eat some decent food and forget we really couldn't afford to be doing it. Not that Occidental Grand Papagayo was expensive, quite the opposite, its affordable. The broke thing is just a personal issue. Lets move on.
I loved Costa Rica because it allowed my wife and I the rest we sought, sitting on a private beach, snorkeling at will (the resort has this available for you) and drinking surprisingly strong drinks. A patron at the buffet was so drunk he vomited and was ushered out of the room, obviously a bit too late to not ruin many a dinners. Make reservations at the restaurants for better food and service and much less vomiting. Lunch by the pool is also better quality.
Rooms were fine, clean and cool in the heat with a fan above the bed. I heard some rooms had non-functional fans but ours worked fine. Getting towels is a freaking hassle. They run out. BRING YOUR OWN!! Wifi was only available in lobby and in restaurant by pool, which was a pain. Nightlife was loud with music and fun but the rooms drowned out most noise if night fun ain't your scene.
The big thing that killed this for me was the timeshare pitch. The moment you get there they sit you down and try to bribe you into scheduling a meeting to listen to a 2 hour presentation. We refused and I think this actually hurt the guys feelings because he gave me nasty looks any time we came across him. A real downer for an otherwise nice getaway. Shuttle to/from airport was included if I remember correctly.

Room Tip: Bring towels. The towel borrowing situation stinks. When you get there and they sit you down with a...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
1 Thank David G
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
Phone Number:
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 Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 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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