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“The resort was fabulous and exceeded our expectations, Eric Garcia & beach vendors not so much”

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The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal - An All-Inclusive Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Playa Conchal
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed October 1, 2012

HOTEL REVIEW IS BELOW MY MINI-RANT ON THE DISHONEST REVIEWS RE: Eric Garcia and beach vendors.

If something/someone sounds too good to be true, they probably are. That was my experience with Eric Garcia and all of the beach vendors outside the Westin. When I read about all the amazing trips and great prices offered by Eric Garcia I was very excited about doing multiple excursions. Then I ventured outside the walls of the beautiful Westin and was bombarded by a slightly pushy salesman with nearly identical prices to the hotel's travel service, Swiss Travel. Basically Eric, the hotel, and every other travel service offer nearly identical excursions. We compared what Eric showed us with the list provided by Swiss Travel and there were only a couple that weren't the same between the two.

The big shocker was the prices though. Reading these reviews would make you think you would save 20-50% booking through Eric, but that wasn't the case with any of the tours. We were interested in the ATV/Canopy tour and one of the whitewater rafting trips. Eric's price for the ATV/Canopy tour was $110/person and the hotel's was $125/person. For the other tour it was $10 cheaper per person. Sorry $10-15 a person is NOT much cheaper, especially when one involves giving a man on a beach a large amount of cash and the other involves a room charge to the hotel where you know the company is legitimate and has insurance, etc.. Eric seemed like a very nice person and I'm sure his tours are just as fun as the ones offered through the hotel, but I feel like most of the reviews about him and his services are not truthful. Just look at how many of them are left by 1 or 2 time reviewers.

BEACH

I have been to many public beaches and this was the first time I wished for a private beach. The beach vendors practically ruin what is otherwise a very picturesque beach, by constantly asking you to book excursions, get a massage, buy this or that, etc. The snorkeling off the beach was pretty good and the water was very clear and blue. We generally don't enjoy the Pacific water that much, but it was really beautiful here, especially compared to Puerto Vallarta & California. It's just a shame it's so overcrowded with beach vendors. We ultimately booked a 2-hour jetski tour through the hotel and thought it was great. We got to jetski by some humpback whales, swim with a sea turtle, and tour up and down the coast to check out some of the nearby beaches and snorkling spots. I would highly recommend it.

HOTEL REVIEW

We were able to find an all-inclusive rate of $245/night and thought this was too good to pass up. I must say that I'm glad we did. I've done the all-inclusive thing in Mexico before and was never that happy with the experience, but the Westin really did a wonderful job and we would definitely return.

FOOD

I went in with really low expectations based on my prior all-inclusives in Mexico, but the Westin kept surprising me with really good food. We had a couple things which we didn't like (do not eat the french toast) but all in all everything was really good and the service was great as well. Our favorites were the pizza & pasta place for lunch and then Cauri & Faisanela for dinner. We ate at all 5 restaurants during our stay and enjoyed them all. In general, we liked the fish dishes a little better than the beef/steak dishes. The meat always had a good flavor, but it was a little tougher than what you would get a really nice steakhouse elsewhere. We usually had multiple desserts and I can't think of a bad one the entire time. As others have said, make your reservations early because even though the resort was only 50% we often couldn't get our preferred time if we waited until the day of to make our booking. The breakfast buffet was moved to the smaller restaurant since it was low season which made it really crowded so we ordered room service breakfast each morning after that. The food was usually pretty good ( a couple times we had overcooked omelettes or eggs) and they would run out of things regularly, but overall we were pretty pleased with it. We really liked the eggs benedict (although they are usually out of english muffins), the waffles, & the American breakfast.

ROYAL BEACH CLUB/POOL

As a starwood platinum guest we were upgraded from a standard junior suite to a Royal Beach Suite which was an amazing 990 sq foot room with a jacuzzi. This was low season so I'm not sure how easy it is to get that upgrade during high season, but from what we could tell every platinum member was given a royal beach suite and every gold member was upgraded to a standard royal beach club room. We really liked the Royal Beach Club and the quiet adults only pool was really nice, but I don't think we would have paid the extra $200/night for it during the low season. The main pool wasn't that crowded, and the premium alcohol is really only a benefit if you like to drink regular mixed drinks or straight alcohol (whiskey/coke, gin/tonic, scotch, etc.). For the tropical drinks, they used the same rum as the regular pool by default and you could ask for Malibu or Bacardi, but they honestly tasted about the same so we just quit caring after the first day. During the high season I would probably recommend the RBC for any couples because our waiter told us that during high season it's a lot more families and it can be really hard to even get chairs at the pool. During our stay there were usually only 5 to 6 couples by the RBC pool which was great for a relaxing day aroung the pool. The RBC has drink service around the pool which was nice, but they usually only come by every 30 minutes or so and it was often quicker to just go get the drinks from the bar.

GOLF

I played one round of golf and the course was a lot of fun. It was $125 for the regular rate or $89 after 2pm or for 9 holes. I was a little disappointed that they make you pay for everything during golf since the golf course is part of the resort and it's not like it was cheap to golf, so pack your own drinks if you plan to drink during your round.

TRANSPORTATION

We booked our transportation through the hotel using Servicios Rios for $90 each way and it was a really smooth process and they billed it to our room. One thing I didn't like was that when we arrived, our driver ushered us over to the van, but he had another person carry our bags (we only had 2 so we didn't need help anyway) and that person asked us for a tip when we got on the van. For $90, the driver should have handled all of this and we were going to tip him anyway, but it was just weird that he basically led us over to this guy and gave him our bags like they were working together.

OVERALL

Overall, we had a great time and we would definitely return. I don't think we would come during the peak season and pay $500+ a night, but for $250/night I thought it was an excellent deal and would gladly return. We were a little nervous about the rainy season, but it wasn't too bad. One day it rained almost all day, and another day it was sunny all day, but for the most part it was sunny until 2-3pm and then it would rain until 5 or 6pm. The hotel grounds were very pretty, and the room was very nice. Everything was similar in quality to our other Westin resort experiences in Mexico and Hawaii.

Room Tip: There are only 3 buildings near the water (buildings 1, 2 & 3 I think) so don't worry about...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank spgplat2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 30, 2012

As usual, I agonized over where to stay in a land I've never visited. Research through travel agency travel brochures and on line made most hotels and resorts look very attractive, but we ultimately settled on the Westin Playa Conchal. I'm assuming we got such a great rate because September is considered to be the rainiest month of the year. The resort turned out to be lovely and the staff very friendly and accommodating. All meals ( good food) and drinks (alcohol and all else) included in the price. If I had to guess I'd say the resort was operating at 50% capacity (due to the time of year) and consequently very quiet and serene. Very few young children (yay!). Mostly young married couples, I'm assuming on honeymoon. Anyway, we were extremely lucky as the sun was shining for 80% of our visit to Costa Rica. Only 2 very short-lived tropical down-pours.
We quickly learned that tours/excursions should be booked through Eric Garcia, who can be found just outside the gate entrance to the beach. Fluent in English, smart, very friendly yet low-key, he can arrange all the same excursions the resort offers but at a significant savings. Through Eric, my friend and I had a blast taking ATVs along dirt back roads and on miles of pristine, virtually empty beaches; a spectacular catamaran/snorkeling trip (the Lazy Lizard) complete with drinks and a meal; a casual 'float' down a river in Palo Verde to see crocodiles, huge iguanas, indigenous birds, etc.. up close (missed the white-faced monkeys); an exhilarating zip-line tour through the canopy of the lush rain-forest (where we DID see monkeys).
I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to visit Costa Rica, and will without a doubt stay again at the Westin Playa Conchal.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank AledaLella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WPCManagement, Manager at The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal - An All-Inclusive Resort, responded to this reviewResponded October 2, 2012

Dear Ms. AledaLella

We sincerely appreciate that you took the time to write these comments!

Indeed, choosing the place to stay in a foreign country not visited before is never easy; fortunately this task has been made so much simpler with the advent of internet. On the other hand, the new dilemma is the amount of information available! Going through each potential hotel’s website, travelers’ reviews and other online information might be overwhelming, so thank you for choosing our lovely resort!

Certainly the rainy season is as beautiful as the dry season. And, as you noticed, it typically only rains during the evening, making for cooler nights and adding up to the “lush forest” experience!

Thanks for the great comments on our friendly staff, as well as the quality of our restaurants and bars! We definitely are in the quest of creating a different AI experience!

Sincerely,

Victor Gomez
Hotel Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2012

My wife Nadine and I have stayed here many times and do regular site inspections and have never been disappointed. Truly a five star resort on the beach at Playa Conchal about an hour from Liberia International Airport (LIR) You may upgrade to Royal Service that is excelllent./ Scuab diving, soft & extreme adventure & sport fishing all available in the area and may be pre booked.
The golf course is gorgeous, a Robert Trent Jones design. Enjoy, Bill Beard

Room Tip: All the rooms are fine but if it's in your budget, consider the Royal Service, room or suite.
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  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled on business
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Thank BBeardCostaRica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 28, 2012 via mobile

My husband and I stayed at the Westin the week of 9/17/12. The hotel is beautiful, staff is attentive and really nice and the food was delicious. For an all inclusive I was very impressed. The pool and swim up bar we're so relaxing and the coconut mojitos are quite yummy. I was a little worried about the recent earthquake and damage... The abalone bar, which looked really nice, was closed due to damage but this by no means ruined our trip. Right now is considered rainy season and it did rain everyday but not for long and didn't interfere with our plans. Actually while we ate at the French restaurant overlooking the mountains..there was a lightning storm and the view was incredible. I didn't feel there was much to do at night, the "shows" we're cheesy but we woke up so early and enjoyed everything during day, we'd be asleep by 9pm. We did an excursion and booked through Erich on the beach as per everyone's review..which was great. The souvenirs can be expensive in hotel and in town (tamarindo) so we bought a few things from the beach vendors. We got massages by Erich's wife Gigi on the beach and it was one of best massages I ever got. We also took a ride into Tamarindo( the hotel sets up taxi for you $50 round trip) and went to shops and grab a beer and nachos at a beachside bar... Tasty. The town is nice, you felt safe and no one is really bothering you to buy stuff. We also ate at the Golden Shrimp, which is a beachfront restaurant about 5 minutes from hotel. The restaurant will send a car to pick you up and bring you back at no charge. The place is nothing fancy but you sit right on the beach and food is really good. I suggest going before 5:30 so you can watch sunset and sunset is early in Costa Rica. Overall our trip was wonderful, more than we both expected. I would highly recommend the Westin.

  • Stayed: September 2012
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1  Thank Josie319
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2012

This is an all inclusive Resort in Paradise. My wife and I spent a week there in August this year. The Resort boasts some of the best facilities from Lagoon Pools, Specialized restaurants, bars, attractions and shows, shops and a magnificent beach and Golf Course. We also had an amazing time at the Spa. We were so impressed with Costa Rica that we bought a block of land and are building a house.

Room Tip: Royal Beach Club
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled on business
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2  Thank FrankGardner104
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2012

My girlfriend and I stayed here from September 14th to the 16th. While we were only able to stay for the weekend we thoroughly enjoyed it. The resort was very well kept and maintained, while there was construction going on at a few of the buildings they did their best to keep the dust down and avert your eyes by using screens. The staff were excellent and very attentive and while I admit we did not participate in much of the included activities we had a great time enjoying the beach and grounds. We stayed in one of the two towers near the main restaurant which seemed a bit more modern than the suites. The room was fantastic, with monkeys to greet us as we were enjoying our last night. Enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the restaurant our second night, breakfast the following morning and enjoyed room service our last night, all fantastic food.

We weren't too much of a fan of the locals trying to sell their wares on the beach once you leave the resort but the beaches are all public in Costa Rica and I guess it wasn't that bad as we rented a boat and crew of 2 to take us out around the islands in the bay.

The one thing that I will never get used to is the currency in Costa Rica, at the airport we got $500 changed for 222,002.3 Costa Rican Colones. Similar to Panama, they have their own currency but are very familiar with accepting US dollars and giving change in their currency.

A tip: When flying into San Jose airport it is best to get a flight to Liberia airport if you are going to this resort, we originally planned on getting a rental car and making a day of getting their which was not suggested by the person I spoke with at the resort. While it might be a bit expensive, we got a flight through NatureAir which has small planes but the views flying into and out of this area are by all means awesome. Most of our better pictures were from these flights.

Room Tip: Book the deluxe junior suite or better, you'll be glad you did.
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Brook B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2012 via mobile

I met Aaron and Eric on our stay at Westin Hotel and were very helpful in planning our daily activities outside the resort. They made very useful and worthwhile advice on places and tours to go. The ATV and zi Lino g tour is very commendable and should be tried by everyone. Our stay at the hotel was well worth it because of their unselfish assistance. Leo Alejandro from San Mateo CA

  • Stayed: September 2012
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1  Thank Leo123f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal - An All-Inclusive Resort

Address: Playa Conchal, Bahia Brasilito, Playa Conchal 232-5150, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playa Conchal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Playa Conchal
Price Range: $414 - $1,017 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal - An All-Inclusive Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 326
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal - An All-Inclusive Resort is an eco-friendly resort in Playa Conchal, Cabo Velas, Costa Rica located between the exotic forests and unspoiled beaches of the North Pacific Riviera. Our secluded vacation spot is a perfect balance between unrivaled luxury and local culture, giving our guests an unforgettable vacation experience. An 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. Our retreat 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 And Spa, Playa Conchal
The Westin Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal Hotel Playa Conchal

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