My wife and I just returned from a seven night stay at this resort over Christmas week. We are SPG veterans, and have stayed at top SPG properties everywhere except the Far East and Australia (next!). As this is a newly "acquired" resort we had a number of thoughts. This place is already great but could be even better with a few minor tweaks.
Rooms - As SPG Platinum guests, we were invited to stay at the Royal Beach Club portion of the resort, which has a separate pool area for "couples and honeymooners" -- no children (< 15). At the Royal Beach Club there are two buildings of oversized hotel rooms instead of "junior suites," but these are fine for a couple, with a large bathroom and jacuzzi, balcony, and sitting area. Bed was classic Westin. One thing that stood out was the lack of insulation on the doors, which looked new. You could pretty much hear anything happening in the building, which had an open courtyard.
Pool/Royal Beach Club Area - I understand from other reviews that some felt the Royal Beach Club "was not worth the upgrade" but I guess it depends on what you are hoping to get from your vacation. Christmas week there are a lot of young kids and families and the main pool is pretty busy. If you are looking for quiet relaxation, I'm not sure you are going to get what you want at the main pool. I also liked having Bergen and Tri who made it their business to keep track of us all week and make reservations for us at the restaurants (more on this later).
There are a few things the hotel could do to further differentiate the Royal Beach Club from the "main" area of the resort. These are generally things we’ve seen at other, higher-end SPG resorts, such as the Romanos in Costa Navarino, Greece (a resort that the Playa Conchal should try to pattern itself after)
First, the umbrellas could have a "call button" to call a server so that you can order drinks/food. Presently, the servers basically walk in circles all day, and since the pool is quite large, sometimes it takes a while for them to get around to you. Second, it might help if some kind of wireless ordering system was installed. There is WiFi all over the RBC, so this should be pretty easy to do. Third, RBC guests could be treated to a "more" premium drink selection. More on that below.
Food - Pretty good, especially for an "all-inclusive" resort, but this is definitely an area where tweaks could be made. All of the restaurants are now open, which I understand was a prior gripe, and we ate at all of them over the seven nights we were there. Faisenella, the Italian restaurant, was the winner, but Cauri, the French bistro was a close second.
One thing we noticed was that a lot of the restaurants seem to serve the same option of chicken, beef, or sea bass (which is quite tasty, by the way) for a main course prepared vaguely in the style of the theme of the restaurant. Otherwise the choices are pretty limited. More could be done to "theme" up each restaurant and differentiate them from each other. For instance, the mediterreanean restaurant could serve mediterranean tapas, such as grilled kebabs.
Also, what's up with the wine selection? Terrible and borderline undrinkable... Particularly the red wine. I'm not suggesting the resort needs to serve 1st growth Bordeaux, but they need to do better than $4 supermarket jug wine. We were pretty surprised how bad it was compared to the liquor selection, which was pretty decent: Stoli, Bacardi, Dewars, Johnnie Walker Red, Sauza. Its fine if the resort wants to keep costs down, but then they should offer bottled wine list for a smaller upcharge (25... even 50% over cost). Not 400%, which is what I figured the markup to be when I saw a wine list.
We heard from someone who had visited several times when the place was a Paradisus that as a Westin there was much less food and drink variety. That’s disappointing.
Last, reservations. I'm totally fine with the system in place, but more needs to be done on check in to explain the system and avoid misunderstandings that are clearly happening. Guests need to know that reservations are REQUIRED to eat anywhere but the buffet, and that the reason that tables are empty in the restaurants is because they are reserved. Several times we saw people turned away disappointed because they were not adequately informed. On check-in guests could be given a menu book and told to make 2-3 nights of reservations. Problem solved.
Staff - Great. Very eager to please. The "concierges" and front desk staff are all great, especially Bergen, Tri, and John. I will note that in the restaurants, service was somewhat hit and miss. It helps if you speak a little Spanish.
Location - Excellent. Well laid out property with a beautiful golf course, about 45 minutes to an hour from the Liberia airport on a newer road. We hired a private shuttle but I would not hesitate renting a car next time -- the way there included none of the "massage" roads for which Costa Rica is apparently famous. The resort might consider doing what the Four Seasons does, and providing its own shuttle. Otherwise, no complaints.
All in all this was a good experience, and we would definitely consider returning.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Westin Playa Conchal is an All Inclusive eco-friendly retreat, located between the exotic forests and unspoiled beaches of the North Pacific Riviera of Costa Rica. Our secluded vacation spot is a perfect balance between unrivaled luxury and local culture, giving our guests an unforgettable vacation experience. Our All Inclusive experience includes all meals, drinks, use of our fitness center and kids club as well as entertainment options including non motorized water sports, daily activities and nightly events. The resort also offers an adult only all exclusive experience at the Royal Beach Club where guests have access to a private pool with concierge service. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Westin Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal Hotel Playa Conchal
- The Westin Resort And Spa, Playa Conchal