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“5-Star "Pura Vida" at Occidental. ¡Adios, Westin!” 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 #8 of 16 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Nashville, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“5-Star "Pura Vida" at Occidental. ¡Adios, Westin!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

This is not a 5-star resort, but we had a 5-star "Pura Vida" experience.

THE DECISION TO BOOK HERE:
On 2-weeks' notice my husband and I decided to flee winter and thaw-out in Costa Rica after Christmas. We first tried to book the Westin Playa Conchal, which we have used several times in the past. We had stayed at the Westin while it was still locally owned and managed by Paradisius, that is, before it became a Westin. Later we stayed there as a Westin. The conversion was NOT an improvement, as it morphed into any American Westin. Nevertheless, we like the resort and tried to book it ~ but it was sold-out.

In fact, the only all-inclusive Guanacaste resort with vacancies was the Occidental Grand Papagayo. So, then we were on the fence: WHY did it have vacancies when all others had none? Based upon decent TA reviews and the resort's position directly across the bay from the Four Seasons, we decided that it was probably "good enough"; so we booked it. What a blessing that turned out to be!

THE ROOM:
We reserved an upgraded room. At the Westin, there had been parts of the property that were available only to people who had bought the upgrade. Since we weren't sure about this resort in the first place, the upgrade was our extra measure of caution. I believe that the "regular" rooms were lower in elevation, and I know that many of them are in the vicinity of noisy spaces, such as the pool.
We had a nice, clean, large, QUIET room (#806) with a fabulous view of the bay and The Most Comfortable Bed.
The entire resort is pretty "vertical" (150 stairs between the pool and our room), but we enjoyed the walks and never called for a ride.
No WiFi in rooms, only in the lobby.

THE STAFF:
The entire staff, even those who speak only Spanish, were sweet and friendly. We asked for extra towels and got extra towels. The housekeeper left 4 bottles of water every day.

THE FOOD:
We eat in swanky restaurants all over the world, and the Buffet was as good as any of them. We especially love fresh fruits and vegetables and local fish, and found a great selection. The only time we had to wait in line for a table, it was peak dinner hour. Otherwise, we were seated immediately. We ate at the Chinese restaurant, which had a vast menu and seats maybe a dozen. I can't speak for the entire menu, but both of our entrees were out of this world.
The Italian restaurant also did not disappoint; but we just enjoyed the vibe and the food of the Buffet and ate most of our meals there. They did a nice job keeping it interesting - eg. one night there was a "Theme" Buffet of seafood.
As far as we could tell, having an upgrade gave us access to two exclusive things: The Club Bar and Room Service. Everyone on the property has access to the Buffet and the "theme" restaurants.

THE BEACH:
To us, the most exceptional aspect of the resort was the beach. First: the paid security guard took his job 100% seriously. He was not shy about shooing non-Occidental people out of the Occidental's lounge chairs, or keeping peddlers away. Ergo, there were ample comfortable lounge chairs. There were massage tables on the beach, and those ladies did steady business. Even on 90° days, the beach was comfortable throughout the day because of the shade trees. (At the Westin, we always left the pool and beach and hid-out in our room from Noon-2PM b/c the sun was just too intense.)
Sometimes there was bar service on the beach; sometimes you had to take a hike to the bar.
The tide was interesting to watch, and it never interfered with our lounging, reading books, or wading in the water.
Although the resort is "All-Adults", all Costa Rican beaches are public ~ so there were always Costa Rican families with kids at the beach. They played beach soccer, swam, etc.
We have never left a Costa Rican resort to zipline, volcano hike, shop, or golf, etc.; so I can't address that. But every single morning at 8AM a minivan was waiting at the lobby to ferry people from the resort to off-property adventures; and every afternoon minivans delivered tired guests back to the lobby.

THE BAR:
The bartender at the Club bar, Davis, was classy and accommodating. Some nights he offered signature, special cocktails. Other nights, it was just mixed drinks, Imperial beer, and wine. Every night they served two hors d'oeuvres. Sometimes there were additional nuts/nibbles.
DO NOT EXPECT TO WATCH USA TV on the property, even in the Club Lounge. When there was TV, it was 100% Costa Rican; even ESPN's coverage of NCAA football had local commentators.

GETTING THERE:
It was wonderful to have only a 15 minute ride from the airport to the resort (vs 1 hour to Westin).
Our first impression of the lobby did not convince us that we had made a good choice. It is open-air, which in itself is not a negative attribute. But there was zero razzle-dazzle.

THE WORST:
At check-in there was an ANNOYING parade of "personal attendants" (NONE of whom we ever saw again after checking-in). The guy with the worst job had to try to persuade us to meet him the next morning to check-out the TimeShare rooms by saying, "How do you know that you want a Lexus when you've only driven a Toyota?" He kept using the phrase, "your precious time". Finally we were practically rude to him and dismissed his pitch so that we could get checked-in and begin our vacation.

CHECKING OUT:
...was a snap. The bill was perfectly correct. A real bonus was the resort's ability to process that $29 per person Departure Tax for us, on a credit card. That made the airport red tape even easier.

CONCLUSION:
24 hours after our arrival, we had settled into the "Pura Vida" vibe, and had put all of our doubts about the resort to rest. If we go missing, you will probably find us here. It was heaven, simply heaven.

Room Tip: WiFi only in lobby.
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  • Stayed January 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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 (449)
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English first
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

I have to first say that I have never been to a resort, so I don't have this type of experience to compare to anything else. I really enjoyed my time at this resort. A big selling point was the adults only element. When we arrived, the check in process was very easy and everyone was very pleasant. We were a bit early to get into the room, but were able to eat lunch right away at the buffet. The buffet had very standard food the entire time. There was a lot of selection, I didn't have anything terrible, but it was basically buffet food - got the job done. We were able to get the room keys right before 3pm. The building we were staying in was pretty far from the lobby area, but there is a shuttle available anytime. We didn't use it much, but the grounds are pretty hilly, something to consider if walking is difficult. The room was clean and spacious. It was a standard room with two double beds. The air conditioning worked great: other reviews I read remarked about not being able to turn it low enough and it not working while not in the room. I didn't have either of those issues. The sliding glass door to get to the patio was EXTREMELY hard to open and shut. I could barely get it and I'm a healthy woman in my 20s. I think it may have been broken/off the track, but it opened and shut and there was a wooden stick to keep it locked. The room was cleaned nicely every day. No issues with that. The grounds are very pretty, views of the water all over the place, as well as a lot of pretty trees and other shrubs. We saw a lot of birds and lizards all over the place. The beach is gorgeous and there are a lot of lounge chairs down there. The pool area is also nice and close to the snack bar, which had more food and a bar. We participated in some of the resort activities like: shooting, archery, volleyball, sunset walk, snorkling, and live music in the evening. All activities were fine and the staff were all very very nice. Our group spent a good deal of time off the resort too. There are options presented at the resort for excursions and transportation. We did some of those to the Blue River, Coco Beach, ATVing, and also ventured out on our own to go to Liberia a couple times. The excursions are pricey, but it was convenient since it was right there, which the resort counts on. I was happy with all things we booked off the resort too. Again, I have never been to a resort, but I had a great experience at the Occidental Grand for the week. The staff was very nice and other guests were friendly. I don't know if I would be jumping up and down to go to any resort again, but that is just my personal travel style.

  • Stayed January 2015, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Connecticut
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

I had a group of 40. Couldn't be happier... The view is unbelievable. The restaurants excellent.. Buffet okay...You can find something to eat and pretty sure you don't cook that good at home. Breakfast 2 places. either way an egg is an egg. The Staff couldn't be nicer !! Top shelf liquor, entertainment is with the guests.... fun time !!
Rooms are basic and clean...Beds are unbelievable... !! I had friends take a picture of the pillow brand. That's all around . Doesn't matter what category room.. The property is big so they shuttle you however a lot of rooms are within walking distance. They're there for you ..Couldn't ask for a nicer staff... Beach is on the small side but fine.. The pool is nice and quaint.. you can mingle with other people that you don't know.. (making friends). drink service for beach and pool...the disco was fun... they have a pool table up top and dancing down below.. Best of both worlds...I don't understand bad reviews here.. I call them the belly achers ... Also.......The reviews about people harrassing you with time shares ??? Never saw or heard from one person... Don't be afraid to book here. It's a great place and if you did have an issue they'll fix it... Thumbs UP!!

Room Tip: upgrade to royal... If not they treat you the same.. You just have different immenities.
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  • Stayed January 2015, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
London, Ontario
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

We spent 7 glorious days at this resort. We found it to be absolute paradise for us!! We've been to many resorts and to be honest, have experienced "higher quality" in many respects. Most importantly - this resort offers things that those others don't. It's smaller. More intimate. As a result of that we felt the different ambiance that only a smaller resort can offer. Adults only and therefore quieter. Many people have commented on the size (or lack of) the beach. We found the beach to be one of our favourite parts. The changes during the day with the tide going in and out offered interesting snorkelling choices (we snorkelled several times right off the beach and saw many colourful and assorted fish. My husband is a scuba diver and due to rough water/wind, he didn't get his scuba fix so was very grateful for the snorkelling (and he's picky!). By 4pm the beach is almost non-existent and again, we loved this. You could sit tucked in under the trees and sit and listen to the waves. Glorious. No sunset if that is important to you - it is to us and yet that did not hamper our experience. The food in the buffet is better than most (we preferred the buffet to the restaurants - not for the quantity but for the quality). The servers were very attentive. Yes, there were times when it was busier and some patience is needed. Overall though - exceptional. Special mention to Patricia and Roberto. AND while Carlos is a gem (server at the pool) special mention also to another young man - Stephen behind the bar!!!

We upgraded to ocean view and were thrilled that our room was just feet from the cliff edge (fenced) and view ocean right there. We had 1706. I have a bad hip and knee and did not have any trouble navigating the walking or steps. Because the resort is small, you are never far from anything. There are shows every night in the small lobby - very intimate and fun. None of those big shows that you get at the bigger resorts. That too was refreshing. The evening views and the moon - it doesn't get any better than here!!!!

My only comment for full disclosure and honesty if you are considering this resort - the pool area could use an uplift. We always found a lounge so the size is not the problem. It is simply older. The cement work around the "spa/bubbler/tub" (cool hot tub!?) needs upgrading. The lounges too are on the older side and show it. So if that visual is important - please be aware of this. I have to admit that my first impression was disappointment but that went away very quickly because everything else about this resort was simply wonderful.

I would go back in a heartbeat. I recognize that this is NOT a five-star resort BUT we had a 5 star experience!!!!!!!!


.

Room Tip: Upgrade to oceanview!
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  • Stayed January 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
Jacksonville, Florida
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

Visited grand papagayo jan 2015 I've always wanted to visit CR: my review. 1st thing pulling up to the resort it looks run down (if you've been to good resorts before I guess you would feel this way). The room was not clean you can tell the tile probably hasn't been mopped in days. The shower handle and AC was broken. We called front desk and they fixed the ac. We're not complainers so we dealt with the shower handle. you couldn't take a peaceful nap because there was raccoons living in roof B/c there was a split in the roof and things were living in there. The toilet ran water the entire time. The mattress was hard and the bathroom door kept making noise because of the wind even tho the door was close. Later while showering I realize the window had a glass missing and the gardeners can see into my shower if they wanted to. All of this we didn't say a thing to anyone. my second day I started to see bumps on my skin I started to make sure I'm out of the sun, wore sunblock, watch what I was eating, drink water because I read about heat rash. By my 4th day it just became unbearable to the point where I couldn't wear my swim suit and I was itchy and now my husband started to see the bumps on this hands, neck and back. We did some research and came up with bed bugs yes you read that right. Please keep in mind I'm a health care professional but this didn't even cross my mind. We approached Jose the manager and he stated that this resort doesn't have bed bugs and that they have never had a complain about bed bugs before. I told him that I know he's lying showed him my skin he said the wind and sun can do that my husband and I now we're annoyed and he offered to switch the room. I told him I bought allergy cream from they shop but It didn't work and I need hydrocortisone and To see some sort of doctor or medic he said it will cost the resort too much and they will not pay for it. So instead i gave him money for hydrocortisone. He said we will not be able to switch room until 3pm so obliviously that was the time he was leaving. At 3 we went back to our room to pack as I was peeing I looked down and saw 2 bed bugs, we decided to look at the room closer we found more bed bugs and sheets had blood/brown stains on them. I took picture of everything and will attach it here of it allows me. We then switched rooms and proceeded to find a manager so we can show them the picture his name is Carlos nice guy but he lied to my face. He was embarrassed I could see it in his face there was so much pictures of the bugs he couldn't believe that one room had so much. I told him that I would like my cloths to be wash he said they will only do some I told him that this is bed bugs not dirt on my cloths and after a constant back and forth he settled to wash all my cloths he told us that they will do one immediately so we can have dinner the. The rest will be ready by 8am Thursday. The next morning thursday our cloths never came until 12pm we contacted Carlos he said we will have to wait I explain we are hungry they send us cold breakfast. That day our catamaran trip fell through bc in the am 4 people died on a catamaran. I told Carlos I would like to have some sort of refund for my stay here, he stated he understands that and doesn't see a problem and will talk with other bosses. Carlos visited out room told us he visited the room and saw what we were talking about and apologize. the next 2 nights they all avoided us when we approached them we were told they are still working on it. We did not receive any compensation and no one has contacted us. All of this was building 23 room 4 (there honeymoon suite). New room building 6 had roaches but bed was more comfortable and it was cleaner. I got home visited my MD the next day and yes I was bit by bed bugs. My friend booked her honeymoon here and cancelled it when we got back. The view is beautiful meet some great friends, food is ok, the club bartender the the besssssstttttt love that guy. You have to snorkel many cool fishes I hope this helps.

Stayed January 2015, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyceville, Wisconsin, United States
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

Had a wonderful time, it was like being in Paradise. Our room was excellent, the bed was excellent, just like sleeping at home. The food was good, tried the Italian Restaurant, it was ok, a little to dark in there and service was slow. Buffet was more than we hoped for. Staff was excellent, very helpful and courteous, if we needed anything they were there to help. Grounds were beautiful, wildlife in the area was outstanding, snorkeling on the beach was great. We met Carlos on the beach with Costa Rice Unique Transfer and Tours, he was very helpful and truthful and helped us set up two very nice private tours. Our guide George was very knowledgeable, and could spotted animals that we would had missed. We also had set up a private tour with Costa Rica Best Trips, Pedro our guide was so wonderful, could not had asked for a better day, he went out of his way to show us our interest and his country. Over all stay, we cannot wait to go back in 2016.

Room Tip: Our group stayed in rooms 2002 and 2003, beautiful Ocean view, not to far from main building.
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  • Stayed January 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Incredible food and service, luxury surroundings and the most wonderful hotel staff in the world. Carlos - the best poolside attendant in existence and the cuties down at Aqua Gym every morning just made our stay all the more enjoyable. Highly recommend booking in for dinner at the Italian restaurant - outstanding food. What a gift shop too...

  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
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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 ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Spa 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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