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“Don't be scared by the reviews!” 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   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #8 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Orlando, Florida
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Don't be scared by the reviews!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2014

I purchased a 3 night stay through Groupon for this hotel. When I bought it, the reviews were mostly positive, so I thought I'd gotten a good deal. Then, right before my boyfriend and I were to come, the reviews got negative, and I got scared! We both decided if it really was that bad, we would just find another place to stay.

We were greeted by very nice people, who also gave us a glass of champagne. After getting checked in, another woman greeted us and sat us at a different table. She started explaining the area around (Playa de Coco, to be specific) and going into detail about taxis and the likes. When we told her we had a rental car and wouldn't need a taxi, she still continued to explain it to us, like a person who had rehearsed lines and had to finish them. After that, she looked at us and asked us if we were 35 or older. Luckily, we weren't, because she must have been getting ready to sell us the time sell pitch that every keeps talking about!

We went to talk to the guest service person because we had purchased a deluxe ocean view room and the building didn't look like it would have an ocean view, since it was in the middle of the resort. When I explained to her what I thought and that the previous woman had sent us here because she said it wasn't an ocean view, the woman simply looked at us and said, "Well she must not know anything, because that is an ocean view room," So off we went. When we got to our room, I was worried because I wasn't sure what to expect. Then we came to our actual room (602) and low and behold, it was an ocean view. The only problem being that there was a giant tree in the middle of it! I was slightly perturbed but decided not to complain about it because, technically, it WAS an ocean view and my boyfriend assured me it would be ok. Luckily for me, though, I happen to be an animal lover (a veterinary technician by profession) because we figured out that that tree is home to a TON of birds! It was probably one of the best accidents to happen. But if you're not a fan of animals, you might be disappointed.

As for the restaurants, they rotate on a schedule and you have to make a reservation if you don't want to eat at the buffet. It seems that whatever restaurant is not "open" that night is the one that gets served at the buffet. We had Mexican the first night, AND IT WAS DELICIOUS. The next night we ordered room service (which is $20 if you are not a royal club member), and received fish sticks instead of chicken fingers. I don't eat fish so I was left to go hungry that night. The last night we had the Oriental at the buffet and it was pretty sub-par. The only thing I liked as the desserts. This could have been our faults, as we went at 8:30 and they close at 9:00, so I am unsure about how fresh the food was. Although, my boyfriend loved it, as he got the sushi (swordfish). The only issue with the buffet is they tell you to come back, but we saw plenty of seats that were wide open because they had given an estimated time to the people before us, who were now just standing around waiting for their "recommended" time. It was awful having to watch as seats sat empty and my stomach kept rumbling. The snack bar, however, had good food, but nothing to write home about.

There were two issues I had. One was with the arrangement of the buildings. Because all buildings face forward, we were often waken at night with loud people, who had a little too much to drink, finding their way back to their rooms. Because the front of the room is all glass windows, there's no way to drown out the noise. The second was the house keeping.

We didn't get to try out any of the activities, but we did do an expedition with Charlie's Adventures (on the left of the snack bar building, keep walking around, past the other charter company). We ended up doing a snorkeling/fishing/bbq day and it was absolutely wonderful. But bet warned that the times they quote are not realistic. We were on the boat by 8:00 and didn't reach the next resort to pick up other people until almost 9:30, although since we were the only two from our resort, it turned out to be a nice, relaxing, romantic boat ride for us.

Which reminds me, the nice woman with the company asked if we had received coupons from the hotel for their company. I said no but we will come back in the morning to book. She told me to go ask guest services for the coupons and bring them in the morning. When we asked the guest service woman (the same from earlier in the post) she said the coupons were reserved for people staying 4 nights or more. When I explained that the woman with Charlie's Adventures told us to get them from her, she simply replied, again, "She doesn't know anything." It was quite annoying that that respond was all we seemed to get from the guest services woman. When I explained this to the charter company woman, however, she made a phone call and was able to get us $10 off per person, even without the coupons. Now THAT'S customer services.

To sum up, I loved the fact it was all inclusive. We paid less that $600 for 3 nights for two people, food and alcohol included. The food is good, the drinks were strong (unlike what other people have posted... maybe they should have tipped?), and it was a great place to relax. And unlike other people, our fridge nor air conditioner never turned off.

Room Tip: Go for the ocean view deluxe.
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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2,018 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
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English first
Richmond hill new york
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2014

My boyfriend and 2 other friends spent 6 days at this resort and overall I thought it was great. The rooms were clean and the staff was very hospitable...but do note, if you plan to eat at the restaurants, men must bring long pants! Anyhow, this trip will forever be memorable to me because the excursions were amazing. I did the atv canopy tour which consisted of zip lining and driving the atv. Everyone was so friendly and made the tour extremely fun. Overall I had a wonderful time but be prepared, it's extremely hot!

  • Stayed August 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Detroit, Michigan
19 reviews 19 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

Just returned form a week long stay celebrating our 17th anniversary at this adults only all inclusive resort. When we arrived at the resort the room was ready and check in was a breeze. We were greeted with champagne, explained he hotel layouts and was driven to our rooms via small shuttle of sorts. We were very displeased with our room in the # 12 building all the way in the back of the resort no view, a dirt hill and trees at our front door. We immediately went back down and the receptionist found another room for us although we had to wait for it a couple of hours. After getting into that room the air didn't work and we were moved yet again. The room was nice had a nice view of the pool and was within walking distance to the buffet and the disco. This resort is very quiet and entertainment was minimal, not much to do after dinner until disco opened at 10:30-1:00. So if you liked to get it turned up not the place for you.

Room Tip: Don't stay in building # 12 or # 15 no view and faraway from everything. Building # 1 is nice an...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

I have stayed at multiple all-inclusive resorts at varying levels of service in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The Occidental falls squarely in the middle as far as all-inclusive resorts go. Since you might not care about everything in this review, I will break it down into areas of interest. Skim as you please and feel free to contact me with questions. (I did the same right before I left for Costa Rica with my boyfriend last week).

Check-in was average. Yes, you get a drink and towel. They are serious about 3 p.m., but you can grab lunch and a cocktail if you arrive early. The resort has different packages so you receive a wrist band. Very "Spring Break 2014" in my opinion. Different colors mean different things, including where you sit at the buffet. It’s all very enigmatic. After making a few friends, we broke the code and realized that we were fancy. But not that fancy. Merely special seat at the buffet fancy.

The check-in process does NOT give you a good overview of the resort or any real idea about when things are open, etc. If a guy/gal looks like a concierge and offers you a coupon for breakfast or discounts at the resort for just “a quick tour the next day” - RUN. LIKE. THE. WIND. The 'tour' is not a tour of the facilities, but a 90 minute time suck for the timeshares. Skip the breakfast, or money, or free sloth, or whatever they offer and use that 90 minutes at the pool before it rains. There is a retired Canadian named Billie hanging around who will hard sell you. Not worth it. Politely decline or chew your arm off getting away.

But everybody else is great and make an effort to remember you. Very sweet staff.

The property has a large, clean pool and lovely beach. When the tide rolls in, the beach disappears. The vendors on the beach are not too invasive and generally take no for an answer. GET A MASSAGE from Elena. I'm convinced she might be a retired dominatrix, but trust me when I say, great massage. $25 for 30 min, but you can con her into 45 if you bring a buddy. Don't be weirded out that it's on the beach. Everybody is napping or kayaking anyway. Nice and breezy.

The rooms are basic, tidy and have a balcony or patio (or so it appears most do). We had a "Concierge Deluxe" (which involved no actual concierge, but a nice ocean view and bottle of wine on arrival-fancy). There are NO TOILETRIES. Odd, right? We found a locker room-esque soap dispenser on the shower wall. Moral of the story: bring your shampoo, lotion etc. Actually, bring bug spray and sunscreen too, unless you want to spend a fortune at Britt's convenience store. The housekeeping was a bit inconsistent. Some days we received towels, some days we received water glasses. However, the room was always neat and tidy.

The Fun Club: There are activities. My personal favorite was shooting a pellet gun after several margaritas. For those more safety-minded, you can participate in archery, volley ball, dance lessons, Spanish lessons and other activities IF the fun club employees show. They seem to appear more frequently in the afternoon than for the 10 a.m. activities. Unfortunately, they leave promptly at 5 p.m., taking the water volleyball with them. This was a sad time for those in the pool who watched helplessly as the ball was snatched from their grasp and locked in a very official, albeit funless, cabinet.

There are many options. I hear the "guys on the beach" are cheaper than Swiss Travel or CRT or whoever is selling tours at the resort. We went with Swiss and had a blast with the "Mega" tour (zip-lining, waterslide, horseback riding and a mud bath) as well as the white water rafting. The trip to Nicaragua is nice, landscape-wise, but 16 hours long. 10 of those hours, at least, are spent in a bus. Only 1.5 hours were actually in Granada, which was very disappointing. Getting through the border is long and boring. The tour ends around 9/10 pm, which means you WILL NOT HAVE DINNER. See the Dining section below. The tours also go all day and begin at 7:30 a.m. or so (5:30 a.m. for Nicaragua). If you are looking to relax, maybe limit yourself to one day of something you cannot get in your home country.

So, before going to the Occidental, I read too many Trip Advisor articles berating the food. Since I consider myself a bit of a foodie, I was quite nervous about meal time. I actually contacted a nice British lady on Trip Advisor who quelled my fears. The food is between good and really good, depending on what you like. Food is NOT available 24 hours. Nothing. After 9:30 p.m. you are on your own. If you have a white wristband (because you own a timeshare), you may get room service. If you are a regular schlep, no room service or perhaps a few items for purchase until maybe 10 or 11. So...until they figure this out from the 3000 reviews here, bring some trail mix or snacks for the 2 a.m. munchies.

***Buffet - The buffet is not huge, but has enough variety and healthy options to provide a nice breakfast, lunch and dinner. GO FRIDAY for "Costa Rican Night." Skip any night with the word "Asian" in it. Fail on the Asian buffet. Again, the hours were a bit wonky, as the buffet would close before the pool snack bar would open. If you sleep late, it is hard to hit the right meal for breakfast/lunch.

***Restaurants - Reservations are required. On the weekend, you have to go to the check-in area and make your reservation for the evening. If you sleep in, or try to sleep in, you will be eating at 5:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. The Italian place is ok (Bolognese isn’t bad). The Asian place is ok (get the sushi, skip the 'pad thai'). The Mexican place was a bit better than ok (get shrimp tacos and ceviche). You pre-order your whole meal, so be ready. You also have to wait a while when you arrive for ANY food. Be ready for that too.

***Snack Bar by the Pool - Fine. I ate my own body weight in nachos and ceviche. They had hot dogs, burgers, chicken fingers, and other bar food. However, they also offered salad, ceviche, guacamole and chips. It is a decent place to relax out of the sun.

****The lobby Bar - The bar right next to the check in area is FANTASTIC. We never figured out when it opened, but it was lovely until it closed at 10 p.m. Both of the bars make decent drinks. The bartenders hustle to bring your drink outside too. (Down by the beach, there is somebody who randomly appears with tropical surprise drinks for you - TIP that guy!)

***The Disco - It's a bar/dance club open after 10:30 p.m. This is the place where people go to relive their college club days. Prepare yourself for lots of Latin music and Top 40 hits. If it's your 50th birthday party (hey Linda!), they drum up 80s music. Small dance floor, some chairs, a pool table. There's something for everybody. If you’re The Situation, there’s someone for everyone. There's also nothing else open. Good luck.

***Entertainment - we saw a live guitar player one night, a Kenny G impersonating sax guy one night, and a TV screen with a Black Eyed Peas MTV video one night. Random. Please don't go the Occidental for a raging night life. The patio is great for hanging out and meeting a ton of people from Toronto (shout out to the Canadians who made the week even more fun!)

You do not need to tip! We gave the bartenders a tip if we went to them frequently or they brought us a drink. It is not the norm and not expected. However, as soon as they saw us coming, they were on top of our drinks. Now I feel a little ashamed.

Manage. Your. Expectations. If you're going to relax, heed my advice and don't overdo it with the tours. Skip Nicaragua. Bring snacks for the late night munchies. Bring shampoo. Meet some Canadians. Lay on the beach. Kayak around the bay. And when a 44 year old guy tries to drag you to the dance floor after a few vodka drinks (no judgment, honey), just go with it and have fun.

Room Tip: Building 1 was close to the action. The other buildings are a couple of city blocks from each other...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 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
3 helpful votes 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.
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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 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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