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“Wonderful in every way, this is what a resort should be” 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
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Wonderful in every way, this is what a resort should be”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2006

8 of us journeyed to the Grand Papagayo for the memorial day weekend in May. We spent 5 glorious days at this wonderful resort. The service was 5 star, the food was just perfect and the scenery is breathtaking. I commend the resort and their management team for making this resort a wonderful place to stay.

All 8 of us travel often to world class resorts, 5 diamond properties/ 5 star properties, we would be shocked if this resort does not get added to the preferred hotels of the world list or the leading hotels of the world list. It is a wonderful place to stay.

Hola to my friends Harold and Walner, your service was terrific.

Don't hesitate, book your vacation and stay at the GRAND PAPAGAYO.

  • Stayed May 2006, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 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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1,755 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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A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2006

My wife and I (both 50-ish) just spent a glorious 7 days at the Occidental Grand Papagayo and had a wonderful time. I'll try to break this review into things to be careful of, and overall recommendations.

**Things to be careful of**
- Upon arrival into the Liberia airport, once you exit the customs area, you will be mobbed by porters who will quickly grab your bags and haul them to whatever bus is waiting to take you to your hotel. They are not associated with any travel tour / groups you may be with. It'll cost you a few bucks, and it's a short walk. Unless you really can't haul your gear 50 yds to the bus, keep it yourself.
- Don't bring your passport with you to Coco beach, or anywhere for that matter. Bring a copy of it (the hotel will make one for you) and leave your original in your room safe. I didn't feel threatened there, but if it gets crowded it could turn into a pickpocket's lucky day.
- You need to pay an exit tax (~$27 US). You can pay it at the airport. We paid it early at the hotel via the Swiss Travel desk, and that certainly saved in the confusion factor when you were leaving.

- If you are traveling with US dollars, don't bother changing them into local CR Colones unless you want to see the local money to satisfy your curiosity. Most things are priced in dollars and converted back into Colones. Dollars and credit cards are all you'll need.
- Don't plan on sleeping in each morning. The birds (and maybe monkeys) are raucous, and the room's shades don't do a great job of fully blocking the blazing bright sunlight. You want to do things in the AM and early afternoon anyway, as it is likely that there may be rains starting around 3PM for a few hours, at least during the rainy season.
- The restaurants really are as good as the rest of the reviewers rave about. The buffet is better than most full-service restaurants you'll typically visit, and it stays very varied throughout the week. You will miss the fresh fruit when you are gone.
- After checking in, figure out what days you want to eat in the Italian and Oriental restaurants, and book them immediately. They fill up fast - we arrived on Sat, tried to book them on Sun, and the earliest we could get was Wed. Nearly all of your trips (except to the Arenal Volcano) get back by 6PM, most even earlier, so almost any nite should be OK even if you do go sightseeing.
- The flaming blue coffee in the Italian restaurant is a great show unto itself.
- Tipping is not expected (except for those #!&@ airport porters), but it is very welcome by all. Bring alot of ones - we went thru $40-$50 worth during the week, which included bus drivers, tour guides, waiters, bartenders, etc. Depending on how generous you are, you could easily go thru more.
- Take the Sunset eco-walk some evening. It's a good healthy jaunt, but if you go to the top of the mountain with Sam, then it is pretty strong exertion. Make sure you bring some water along with you. The view from the cliff overlooking the Pacific is awesome. Our guide Sam told us that the morning walk is really tough - at some points crawling up hills on your hands & knees. That convinced us we liked sunsets better than sunrises...
- We booked our sightseeing tours thru the Swiss Travel folks onsite at the hotel, and they were fine. I really don't think you're going to go wrong with whichever tour outfit you choose. We did the Palo Verde Park jungle boat tour and the Mega Combo tour. You'll be sore after the MegaCombo - the zip lines, water slide and horses will wear you out. And make sure you keep your elbows in tight on the water slide, maybe even cross them across your chest as you go down it, unless you want them banged and bruised. The zip lines are safe, but if you are afraid of heights, there are sturdy bridges that you can abort onto after you make it thru 5 zip lines.
- If you've got kids, and they want to use the Internet, it's pricey - $3 for 15 min, $10 / hr. Most of the kids that we saw lived in the pool.
- If you go down to the beach, bring an insulated mug to carry your favorite beverage in. It's a bit of a hike back up to the pool bar. And be forewarned that there are not very many beach chairs down there - they're all up by the pool. If you want one that isn't out in the open, you'll need to claim it by 10AM or they'll probably all be claimed by someone else. The pool volleyball is nearly non-stop, but don't worry - none of the participants are going pro anytime soon.
- The best drinks are mixed in the Lobby bar. The hotel has one beer available, a local draft beer called Imperial, and it's pretty good. It's not that great out of the bottle though, so if you buy brews along a journey, get Bavaria. That comes in a pretty good dark beer too.
- If you go into Coco Beach for shopping, 2-3 hrs will be enough. A great place to grab a beer is the bar right at the beach - it's got several huge windows that overlook the bay and the view is wonderful.
- When you get to the airport to leave, there is an air-conditioned area upstairs, along with a small cafe. Once you go thru customs, prepare to sweat - it's a warm terminal during the early afternoon, when most of the flights take off. And expect a thorough hand search of your bags. Not as bad as at Tel Aviv, but much more than most folks are used to.

This is paradise, folks. The grounds are beautiful, the folks super friendly, the water incredibly warm, the food incredible. If you don't have a good time, you had to work hard at it to make it bad on yourself.

  • Stayed May 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2006

The hotel is very nice. The area is beautiful. Very close to a lot of great adventures: zip lines, fishing (the Gulf is a GREAT place to fish), hiking, beaches. The staff is so friendly and very helpful (we gave additional tips a lot, and they deserved it!). The buffet food is good, although we thought the "restaurants" are a little weird. The restaurant rotates each night between Asian and Italian foods. But it is a nice change of pace from the buffet style. Make sure to keep your credit card handy, because you’ll need to use it for the spa. Overall, we had a great time at this hotel for our La Luna De Miel!

  • Stayed May 2006
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2006

My wife and I recently returned from our trip to the Grand Papagayo and had a fantastic time! We took this trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary, and were not disappointed by the resort, or Costa Rica, at all.

We stayed from May 12th through the 20th, which is right at the beginning of the “rainy season”. Although we did receive some moderate rainfall during a couple of late night/early morning periods while we were sleeping, we only actually saw rain during one brief three hour shower one morning after breakfast.

The resort is definitely “hilly”, so be prepared to do a little walking to get around the grounds. The shuttle service is fantastic, especially after spending a hot and sunny day by the pool. The last thing you want to do is trek uphill to get back to your room.

We were originally assigned to building 14, which is literally one of the farthest from the lobby, restaurants, and pool area. After the weekend guests checked out Monday morning we requested to be moved to a closer building. The staff immediately took care of this request moving us to building 2. We were then a short 3-4 minute walk to the restaurants and even shorter to the pool!

Our rooms were very nice. They both had tile floors, and the shower in building two had slate tile walls (a nice touch). Previous reviews mentioned that the glass partition on the shower only covered 1/3 of the length of the tub. This is true, but we found that that is not what created a water problem on the floor. The glass partition did not sit directly on top of the bath tub, there was a ¼ inch gap between them. The water would run down the glass and out onto the floor. We simply placed one towel at that location on the floor and the problem was solved.

The staff of the resort was outstanding! We were greeted at check-in with a glass of champagne. The wait staffs at the restaurants and bars were also wonderful. In particular one bartender, Edwin, made us feel very welcome. My wife and I both tend to order the same drinks throughout an evening and Edwin kept close watch on our glasses. We would barely finish our drinks and he was there with a fresh one.

We had no problem making reservations for both the Oriental and Italian restaurants. We simply ate breakfast at the Buffet, and would stop by the front desk afterward to make a reservation for that evening before heading down to the pool for the day. The food at all of the restaurants was very good. The Buffet had a different theme each night (Mexican, Italian, Oriental, Costa Rican, etc). The Oriental and Italian restaurants were outstanding. Even the Snack Bar by the pool offered a decent selection for lunch and early dinner.

The majority of the guests staying at the resort were couples, most of which were apparently honeymooning or celebrating an anniversary such as ourselves. We did not experience any problems with any rudeness or rowdiness by guests as mentioned in other reviews. In fact we met a few couples that we now consider to be friends.

The “Fun Club” was mostly nonexistent. We did see the water aerobics on most days at the pool, and on occasion would hear them announce that the snorkeling was about to start at the beach. However we never saw any of the other activities listed on their schedule (dance lessons, nature walks, cooking lessons, etc.).

We took two different tours outside of the resort. We used Vargas Tours, and HIGHLY recommend them. Just Google “Vargas Tours” and you should be able to find their website. They take small groups of 6-8 people and avoid the highly trafficked areas of other tour groups. We did the “Extreme Adventure” and “Palo Verde” tours. The Extreme involved a short horseback ride followed by the canopy tour (think zip lines like on the Amazing Race). Afterward we had lunch and were able to take a mud bath and soak in natural hot springs. It was awesome! The Palo Verde was a relaxing boat ride down a river where we were able to see crocodiles, monkeys and a wider variety of tropical birds than I could have ever imagined.

Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen. We’re from the Midwest and used an SPF 30 the entire time, and still got a nice enough tan to show off when arriving back home.

Also be sure to pay your departure taxes at the hotel, instead of the airport. You must do it at least 48 hours in advance of your departure and it only costs you an extra couple of bucks per person. This will save you a LONG wait in line at the airport.

If you know what to expect going into your vacation you will have no problems at all. Overall we LOVED Costa Rica, and the Grand Papagayo and would return in a heartbeat! It truly was PURA VIDA!!!

  • Stayed May 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2006

Because of an accident, our honeymoon was delayed two months so we were eager to take this trip. We flew in on Saturday, May 27th to the Liberia Airport and took a private taxi with air conditioning to the hotel ($ 40 US). Glad we did that because we arrived before everyone else who took a bus or group trip. We checked in without any problems at all. We were greeted by a friendly staff with several glasses of champagne. I sent my husband to Guest Services right away to get our reservations for the two al la carte restaurants, Italian and Oriental. Check in is at 3:00 so the room was not ready for us yet so we headed straight to the Buffet restaurant for lunch. We were floored by how great the food was...not just this one day but every single day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have the option of champagne or a Bloody Mary for breakfast every morning. There was an array of local and international foods. Salads included cheeses, lettuces and pastas. Pastries, breads and cereals of all sorts. Most of our meals were eaten here and we never had the same meal twice. At one point, each bite I took tasted better than the one before it. The service was incredible! The staff was kind and eager to please. Although, things are all inclusive, we chose to leave tips behind most of the time. The staff appreciated it but they acted the same to everyone in the resort. We walked the grounds and toured the pool, the beach and of course - the bars! We saw a Howler Monkey immediately. We hung out in the hammocks until our room was ready. We took a bus up to our room; we were on the 8th level in room 803. There was a bottle of champagne in the room with a variety of fruits. They had created two swans kissing with towels on our bed. The bath tub was full and flowers were floating in it. The view we had was amazing! We watched the sunset while a gentle rain shower dropped down on the landscape. The pool was nice and big. Very clean. Again, great service! We went to the beach and rented jet ski's. It was great because they let us venture way beyond the norm. We drove out to the rock island and saw caves and caverns along the rocky shore. When you do go to the beach, if you turn to the left when you come down the stairs and walk some - no one is there. We had the entire beach to ourselves! No one else was there with us. We actually had our own private romantic beach time. I recommend getting a massage. We did a lot of excursions off the property so our muscles needed it. The girl put me to sleep with a full body massage that lasted a hour. WOW! We ran into the same issues we read about, the water wasn’t working properly one day, the AC unit took some time to make it nice and cold and yes, there were many steps to climb but it was worth it. Some things that weren’t mentioned here were the very hard mattresses and the thin pillows but we were so tired from the activities we did – after the first couple nights, you get used to it. We booked our activities (Mega Combo and River Rafting) with Memo, who has an office on the grounds. He is awesome! We recommend paying a little extra for a private tour if possible. We didn’t have to go on a community bus, which also picks up guests at two other hotels so a 10-12 hour trip only took us 7 hours. We are looking forward to our next trip back to the Grand Papagayo! We can totally relate to the “PURA VIDA” (Pure Life) mentally it taught us!

  • Stayed May 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2006

Loved this place. My fiance and I went there for a quick weekend to get away and the resort could not have been nicer. The rain that arrived the night we got there made things a bit more breezy but it was still hot out. The resort had lush grounds and the scenery is much better in person. The pics on their site did not do it justice. The buffet food was good our first night and both the Italian and Asian restaurants were romantic with great food. I loved the bar that overlooked the whole resort..that was our wine stop before going to dinner. The pool was clean and nice. The beach is different but relaxing and the water was refreshing. If I had a quick recommendation I'd suggest going to the beach in the morning when it is less crowded and then going to the pool in the afternoon when things have cleared out a bit. Wear sunscreen, the sun down there is much stronger than here. Two things I wanted to stress..things have been exaggerated on here. In our opinion getting reservations was a piece of cake. We were up at 8, when the office opened and secured reservations for both nights and restaurants. We just had to get a card from them. As long as you do it early you are fine. Secondly, the steps are everywhere but all in all I have seen alot worse. It wasn't something that was in my head at all during the trip. The service of every person there was incredible..always fun and our room was CLEAN and nice! We stayed in 304. If I had one tiny complaint it was that the pool buffet food was not that great. No problem though, we just ate upstairs. Go there if you have a chance.

Stayed May 2006
Was this review helpful? Yes 19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
1 review
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2006

Our stay at the Grand Papagayo was amazing. We were welomed with champange upon our early arrival. Given maps of the resort and taken to the Buffet for our first dining experience at the resort, while our room was being made up.

The food overall was great. So many choices, beautiful display, and view was awsome. The Oreintal Restraunt could rival any of Seattle's finest resraunts for food quality, sevice, atmostphere, and presentation. I had the chicken with cashew fruit. Portion size was more than enough. Best I've ever had. The night my husband and I had dinner there, they brought out a cake with candles, and sang happy birthday to me. No mention of my birthday was made by myself or my husband. This must have been done via my check in information. Just one example of many more of the staff going the extra mile. The service in all the resraunts was amazing, as if they were watching from a distance, to meet your needs before ever asking. Specialty drinks every night, or they would be happy to make what ever you wish. I always felt like it was thier pleasure to serve me.

The pool was always clear. Staff bringing drinks to you pool side from the snack bar. Activities available throughout the day. Spanish lessons, volley ball, dance lessons, suba diving lessons, cooking lessons and many more. Something for everyone, and the staff of the fun club ere there to play with you as well. Outstanding!

After our long flight there I was experiencing some back pain. I had a massage at the spa located on the resort. Very relaxing. Worth the extra money. The buisness office called around to locate an instant heat pad for my back. Sent a driver to the pharmacy and a bell boy delivered it to our room within 20 minutes. Several staff during the week asked if my back was feeling better. Another example of their above and beyond service.

The beach was beautiful, fish plentiful, snorkling equiptment at my disposal on the beach, kyaks also available. We had a blast. Resort staff on the beach to ensure our needs and wants were met. There were sunset cruises available, fishing tours, too many to list.

I felt pampered all week. Never once did I notice stress among the staff. Complete and total relaxation. We will definately return. "5+ STARS".

  • Stayed May 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 19
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 Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Spa 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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