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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
- 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