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“Amazing View, Beautiful Hotel and Great Service” 4 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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Hotel amenities
Ranked #8 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Amazing View, Beautiful Hotel and Great Service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

I never write reviews, but I read and rely on them religiously. That is how great my stay was. I stayed 4 nights/5 days in mid May and I wish I never left.

Occidental Grand Papagayo is a gorgeous hotel, and the service was impeccable. The resort is huge, our room was relatively close to the lobby and pool while our friends stayed further away. There are a lot of steps and lots of walking but if you like there is a shuttle that can take you to and from your room.

They have plenty of activities, we went kayaking twice and I recommend doing the sunset walk! The view was beautiful. Also, it was nice to be at a resort that didn't have kids running around.

I recommend making your dinner reservations the first night, we kept forgetting and only made reservations twice. Once at the Mexican restaurant and once at the Oriental. The only issue I had was the food, it was pretty mediocre. The breakfast was always delicious and had plenty of choices. After that the food selection at the snack bar and buffet was disappointing, I spent so much time fighting away persistent flies I could barely eat.

I don't know what they could have really done to prevent the flies, everything was so open. As annoying as they were I didn't let it take away from the trip. I had a great time, and I still would stay here again. It's a great value and a beautiful resort.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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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2,050 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 (545)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

Aug. 2014-The hotel was beautiful and clean and the staff was extremely courteous. It was well spread out and if you wanted to work off the wonderful deserts this was the opportunity. For those who thought the stairs or the incline was too much, there was a shuttle always available. You could call from where ever you where and in 5 min. there it was. I thought the buffet was exceptional and I hope they do not change a thing (especially breakfast) but was not impressed with the Italian restaurant (the food or the service). Overall, definitely a great value and would highly recommend it.

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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
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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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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 8 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
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:
#5 Top resorts 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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