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“Relaxing escape to unwind” 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 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Addison, Illinois
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Relaxing escape to unwind”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2010

I took my boyfriend on a week-long vacation to the Grand Papagayo. We did not want to leave. The room was nice and big, large bed, large shower, large bathroom, mini-fridge always stocked with beer and drinks. We had a first floor room near the back of the the grounds, so very peaceful. Some gregarious and playful Costa Rican coatimundi entertained us at various hours, but never interrupted our sleep.

The pool was a decent size, always a recliner available, and the grounds were fun to wander around. There wasn't a swim up bar, but my drinks were never empty. There are howler monkeys in the trees that were pretty entertaining to us. There are alot of stairs tho to get to the lobby, so if you can't handle steps, call for the golf cart service in advance.

We got a great deal on a flight to San Jose, but realized later that internatinal flights also fly direct into Liberia Airport, which is much closer to the Gulf of Papagayo. We ended up flying into San Jose Int'l airport and then walking next door a bit to hop on Taca Airlines for domestic flights. It was a small 10 seater plane...fun for me...not so fun for my boyfriend. A direct flight to Liberia would be recommended for those that can't handle their stomach dropping.

We took a few additional tours, cuz I love to explore and can't lay in the sun for 7 days straight before I get bored. I highly recommend the sunset cruise. The Grand Papagayo is on the west coast of the east side of the gulf, so you can't see much of the sunset from its beach. But the cruise took you into the gulf and then into the ocean. We happened to see sea turtles (possibly mating if that's their mating season, as they were on top of each other) and dolphins. They had a snack and drinks for us, we turned up the music and danced on the deck to the setting sun. There were maybe 6 couples total, so I would think that even if it were just us 2 that night, they would have brought us out to sea and it would have been our own private cruise boat. It was awesome. Then on the way back, it was dark enough to see the plankton glowing green in the water near the beach.

The beach was also nice. There was no lack of lounge chairs and they had the shaded fake palm tree tables. We went kayaking, but the water is so dark in the pacific ocean as compared to the carribbean that it kind of scared me a little. Found some cool seashells as souveniers.

We also did an ATV / zip-line tour. This was sooooo much fun. The ATV tour seemed to last 2 hours. 1 hour to get to the trees and 1 hour to get back. Going thru rivers and creeks. It was so much fun. And the zip-lines were awesome. We were taking video of it with our camera. They seemed to be never-ending trees to glide to. The instructors were well trained and nice.

For these 2 tours, we used the tour guide that was located near the pool equipment. There are other tour companies in the lobby area, which we used for the volcano tour mentioned below. I don't know if the companies matter much in difference, but apparently you know which one I would recommend.

I would recommend skipping the full day tour to Arenal Volcano. We set up a tour that took us to a rainforest (which was interesting for us since we are into flora) and met an indigineous tribe that makes masks out of the wood found in the rain forest. Then we went to a thermal hot springs location, but I was not impressed. I'm well rehearsed with hot springs and spas in other countries, that this place was not that impressive. First, the tour only gave us maybe 1.5 hours there. But the spa (Baldi) boasted many different spa pools, so I wanted to try them all. And the grounds were so big, we didn't even get to find the ones that didn't just look like a large swimming pool of thermal water. So if this is a destination of yours, try to spend the whole day there, not just 2 hours!! Then when we finally got to the volcano, the cloud cover was too low to see the molten lava flowing down the side as every volcano picture touts to you. It rained in the rainforest and it rained near the volcano. I was ready to go back to my beach blanket and have another cocktail.

The restaurants were delish. Buffet had fresh fuit all the time, the starfruit and papaya were unbeatable. Buffet always had everything from the basics to specialties of whatever theme was going on that night. The wait staff was helpful. If we asked for it, they brought it to our table. As for the reservations for the specialty restaurants, I think we got 3 or 4 for the week. So on the first day we arrived, we looked at all the menus and decided which ones we wanted to try. Then the next day we let our concierge know our preferences for which restaurant. But since we are not stuffy people who put up a fuss, we told our concierge to schedule us as best he can based on those preferences and if we needed to change a date cuz of a tour we booked, he did. He did a great job, and we were always seated for dinner between 7:30 and 8 (our preferred time). He was extremely polite and helpful.

There is a dance club at this resort, but the night air was so nice that we only spent one night at the club and met a few others from the midwest. One of the single ladies was hitting on the bartender really hard, he was getting embarrassed. The music was ok. I think it was a lot of techno, then I remember a Bob Marley song thrown in.

Overall, the week at the Occidental Grand Papagayo was well worth the money and I would definitely go back. I'd also like to try the Occidental Allegro Papagayo, which is on the other side of the gulf, so the sunsets might have better views. My sister went there Feb 2010 and loved it.

  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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1,973 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
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2010

My husband and I stayed here in Jun. of 2007. So it's been a while but I really loved it so I wanted to post something. We started out in a regular room and hated it. It needed TLC. So we then went and got ourselves a villa.......Oh La La !! The villa was a night and day difference. It was absolutely wonderful ! It was like having our own little house ! The view was nice. We had a hot tube and hammock. It was just awesome ! Then once we upgraded we got to use a different bar. It was just great. The staff were so nice and helpful. The food was great for an all-inclusive. The menu was different every night and it wasn't just a bunch of mess like you get a some all inclusives. It's not a super hugh place anyway so more attention is payed to the food. So bottom line. Book here ONLY if your staying in a villa. Trust me it is sooooooo worth it !

  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 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.
New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2010

I stayed at this resort for one week and i have no complaints, just some advices. The rooms really need renovation and a bathtub, cause i had the feeling i was staying at a room for handicapped ...

As i said in the subjet, people are fantastic there, very educated and helpfull, it really make the difference. The beach at the resort is nice ,and quiet when there is no excursions vendors around. As usual, the souvenir shop at the resort is a bit expensive, you can get reallly good deals out side at half price...

a tip about the tours, a must do is palo verde river tour where you can feed monkeys and crocodiles...the rest is up to you....

In general is a very safe place , but take your precautions anyway...the best beaches are located in tamarindo and flamingo area...

In general, i enjoy it, but i would not go back to the same hotel...

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2010

After reading the bad reviews about this place we were expecting to have moments of disappointment however this did not happen at all!
ALL the staff were very friendly and helpful. The rooms were clean and most had wonderful views. The food was incredible with the buffet having different theme nights. We didn't go to the A La Carte restaurants as they were asian and Italian and we enjoyed the Asian and Italian theme nights at the buffet.
We made the mistake of automatically booking tours with the first tour company we came across and ended up by having one of our tours cancelled because it needed a minimum of 6 people to operate. Its better to shop around there are many tour operators to check out on site. We were told not to trust tour operators who were on the beach however many of them were very friendly and helpful and a lot of them were locals who we feel much better about supporting.
The one and only complaint we have was the horrible music (muzak) that was being played over loud speakers by the pool and in the restaurant and lobby. We would have preferred to hear the natural wildlife outside by the pool.
Beautiful resort, beautiful country! Don't believe the bad reviews, I don't understand them at all!

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2010

We stayed there for one week a couple of weeks ago and can't wait to go back. We thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful country. The hotel itself was nice enough, although we were being overcharged by the hotel (we were able to get the hotel to make the correction) overall our stay there was worth the price. The food was good, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We ate at the Italian restauant which was quite nice, however the best thing about our stay were our tours of this beautiful country that Jaimie provided. You can find Jaimie at the beach right at the bottom of the stairs of the resort (his office).
First we took the canopy tour which included horseback riding to the start of the canopy, Then we had the most thrilling zipline rides ever, we relaxed in the spa, a steam room over a volcano pit, followed by a mud bath ending with a lunch at a 5 star restaurant. It was fabulous. Our next tour was on the river to view the crocodiles and monkeys. It was just as great...then Jaimie booked us a 4 hour deep sea fishing trip. We caught 1 rooster 2 jacks and 2 needlenose fish. The restaurant made the fish fillets for our dinner, again fabulous! Can't wait to go back!! Booking with Jaimie is cheaper than what the hotel offers...so meet him at his office at the beach and enjoy!!

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Nashville, Tennessee
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2010

I can imagine that in it's prime his was the place to go. It's a gorgeous property but is showing its age. Food was decent but not more. Service in the restaurants was always excellent. But how they handle the rooms is another story. We were made to wait close to 4 hours for our room upon arrival. Each hour they said, 'It will be just a few more minutes.' We had no bars of soap in our room upon arrival, just a couple of half empty bottles of shampoo that were either hotel provided or left behind by previous guests -- not sure which. The maids never provided soap. I had to beg for it at the front desk. The rooms were kept clean though and the linens were always fresh and smelled nice. Mattresses were ok but the bed pillows were like sleeping on logs. They were supposed to restock our mini fridge every other day -- we stayed 8 days and they didn't restock it once. If we return to costa rica we'll try another location.

The highlight of our stay was the tours. We went on two tours with Marvin and Didgi of Mardigi tours. They were great -- excellent service customized to our desires, just wonderful people. I would highly recommend that you look up Mardigi for tours in the Guanacaste region.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Vancouver, Canada
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2010

We had a great experience at this resort. The staff were great, the food was good and the beach life was fun. We did spend most of the time at the beach but we also took a tour with a local named Jaimie. He is a Costa Rica Patriot. Lots of fun. We read about him before we went and met him on the beach. We went on a one day trip and got 3 days of the hotel trips. On a single day trip we went shopping, horse back riding, zip lining, lunch and mud baths. Jaimie will entertain you and explain the culture, the pros and cons of Costa Rica. You get more bang for the buck vs. the hotel tours.

Nice to know, we had booked a message at the hotel for $80 and Jaimie brought a local masseur for much less; we had the massage on the beach. Wow.

We would not hesitate to come back to this resort. It's not perfect ( towel's, not filling the fridge on time) but small things did not matter. If you want to enhance your trip treat the Costa Rican people well and talk to them. If you do that they will go the extra mile to make you holiday fantastic. The staff gave us wonderful attention. I attached a picture of us with Jaimie but I doubt you could miss him on the beach in the morning.

Pete and Josie
Vancouver BC

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
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:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#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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