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“Quirkiness Not Improving” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barcelo

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Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barcelo
Ranked #7 of 14 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence
Thornton, Colorado
Level Contributor
131 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“Quirkiness Not Improving”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2007

This was our second stay at the Grand Papagayo. We visited in May and thought the hotel was great with the exception of some quirks. Well, we found that the quirks still existed and in some ways have grown worse. First, the good things - the hotel is in an absolutely beautiful location. Most of the service staff is at the top of their game. The food in the buffet is still wonderful. The not so good things - when we checked in at about 8:00PM, we said we were traveling with friends who arrived earlier in the day and that we would like our room close to theirs. Off we go with our luggage to a room in the same building with our friends. The bellman opens the door and all the Christmas decorations for the hotel are stored in that room. While festive, it was not inhabitable. The bellman calls the front desk and off we go again. This time we are taken to an outbuilding far from our friends. The door to the room is opened and there are double beds - we had requested a king. The bellman said to wait in the room and he would go back to the front desk. Given we weren't born yesterday, we insisted on going back with the bellman. Finally we were assigned another room in the building next to our friends. Why check-in needs to be so difficult, I'll never know.
The hotel still uses an archaic system for booking the specialty restaurants. You must book in advance and then re-confirm unless it is a weekend when you must book that same day. Last time we thought the specialty restaurants were quite good, this time we found the Oriental mediocre at best. If we return, we will definitely stick with the buffet which has been consistently excellent. Always save room for desserts, as they are not to be believed. It is worth throwing on a beach cover-up to eat at the buffet at lunch. It is head and shoulders above the fare at the snack bar.

If you are a pet lover, bring dog/cat food. We brought a 5 pound bag of cat food so that we could feed the resident cats without needing to sneak food to them. There are many kind hearted souls who stay at the resort so we know that the animals are being fed on a regular basis.

Last visit, we used the tour companies on site. This time we contracted for some private tours with Erick Escobar of Unforgettable Tours. He was recommended by some people we met during our first visit to the Grand Papagayo. We were pleased with his airport pick up as well as his guide services during our trip to Arenal and Palo Verde. You can check out his website at [--] His prices were a few dollars higher than the on-site companies, but it was nice going and coming when we wanted as well as determining our specific itinerary.

  • Liked — Beautiful Location
  • Disliked — Poor check-in
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
22 Thank Ellen L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (689)
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English first
Toronto, Ontario
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 3, 2007

We stayed at the Grand Papayago from November 24th to December 1st 2007; and what a wonderful time we had. Travelled as a couple, but it quickly turned into a party of ‘8’! Booked a Deluxe Room through Air Canada Vacations, and called prior to departing and upgraded to an Ocean View room, sure glad we did. Upgrade is $10 per day, and is well worth it. We stayed in Building 1 which is strongly recommended. The resort consists of 2 large buildings; 1 and 2 and 24 other smaller bungalows scattered on the hill tops which are scenic but are subject to far walks to and from the main building; restaurants and pool side.

RESORT: The Grand Papayago is situated on a hill top in the Papayago Bay and offers some of the most spectacular views I have ever witnessed. The lobby is well decorated and the hotel offers shuttle service for guests in the bungalows further away from the main building. This resort is strongly NOT recommended for people with disabilities or the elderly with difficulty walking. There is plenty of walking, and stairs to climb, but makes for great viewing and plenty of exercise especially after indulging in the WONDERFUL food at the resort buffet. Wild life can be spotted everywhere through out the resort. Families of moneys to iguanas, birds and walking crabs. The report also offers a small Souvenir shop which is open daily from 6am-9pm and offers a wide selection of products and souvenirs.

ROOMS: Recently renovated and well maintained. Daily maid service with a coffee maker, TV with great channel selection and movies and a mini fridge containing 2 beers, 2 waters and 2 fruit drinks. Re-stocked daily. Towels are X-Large and fluffy. Rooms offer very comfortable king size beds and deep soaker tubs. Ideal to stay in building 1 or 2. Rooms situated on the ground floor (buildings 3-24) or in the smaller bungalows you may encounter problems with running water, electricity and a slight crab infestation.

LOCATION: This resort is not within walking distance of a close town or shops. $30us round trip taxi ride to Coco Beach. Some shops, but nothing too exciting. Santana bar at coco beach offers Latin dancing Sunday evenings and local beer $2 each.
Just down from the hotel driveway you can Rent a car for $50us … but be weary as there are no road maps, road signs, and there also may be a few creeks in which you will have to 4x4 through.

BEACH: The beach although may be small, and not the sandy white beach offered by many Caribbean islands. However it does offer other wonderful perks such as rocky lava formations; scenic caves; and wonderful ocean wild life. When the tide is low it’s worth the walk on the rocks and around the Resorts Mountains and Cliff Sides.

TOURS: The resort also offers many adventure tours. The best tour I must admit was the Gauchpaulin Tour, for $105 pp. Only 1 hour from Papaygao Bay; the tour includes; horseback riding to a river where you go tubing down a marvellous canyon filled with waterfalls and fresh water springs, afterwards zip lining through the rainforest from canyon tops, combined with a Tarzan Swing and rock climbing. Followed by a wonderful delicious lunch buffet, then a spa mud bath and a soothing soak in a natural hot water spring. Booked through Air Canada Representative and CRT tours. This tour only operates 2 days a week, so be sure to check it out quickly. We did not par-take in the Arneal Volcano Tour after many other travellers seemed disappointed. The Arenal tour trip takes 3 hours to the Volcano site, and due to recent weather and cloud cover the Volcano is rarely visible.
Also took a 4 hour snorkelling tour from Louis or Mario at the beach. The tour is safe and at a price of $35pp, well worth it. He takes you to a wonderful reef and dives for the most exotic fish so you can see up close and touch. Then he’ll take you to a private island with white sand and wonderful water where you can snorkel further or enjoy the scenery.
Take advantage of the FREE tours / activities offered at the resort: Sunset walk at 5pm (daily) and Kayaking and Snorkelling (reservations required) (11am & 4pm)

WEATHER: During our week the weather was Fantastic; “Hot and Sunny”. It only rained for a matter of 5 minutes during the entire week even through the weather network reported thunder storms everyday during the week of our vacation. There are many, many mosquitoes, so bring plenty of repellent!!!!

FOOD: The Buffet Restaurant was amazing. The food was very flavourful and offered a different assortment each and every day. Breakfast was also great complete with an omelette station. Breakfast was served daily from 7am until 1030am.
The pool side snack bar was also great with very tasty hamburgers, hot dogs and the best most addicting Nachos ever tasted! Those will be missed.
The Ala-carte Restaurants are booked at the Business Center from 7am-9am, and 1pm-3pm. 4 people or more get earlier sitting times, where parties of 2 can only have reservations after 8pm. The Oriental and Italian Restaurants offer good food, BUT not as great as the Buffet Restaurant!

Positives:
The friendliest staff
The best food and great selection at the Buffet Restaurant & Pool side snack bar
The best Nachos ever tasted at the pool snack bar
Comfortable beds (not to great pillows)
Great rooms, updated and well maintained (Building 1 & 2)
Wonderful scenic grounds with wild life
Internet available at good speed quality ($10us for 60 minutes)
Pool activities and comfortable loungers' at pool side
PLENTY of towels available from 8am until 6pm
Great drinks and PREMIUM alcohol served (drinks are not diluted)
Great DAY entertainment staff, always pool volleyball at pool side
Wonderful massages in the huts by the beach; Great Spa services
Great tours offered both on the resort at the main building and with Charlie Tours at the towel desk
Take advantage of the Sunset walk, 5pm at the pool side
Take advantage of the free snorkelling and kayaking – WARNING… plenty of jelly fish from November to February, so be aware
Good gym facility…, but you’ll get most of your work-out from climbing the resort stairs.

Negatives:
No nightly entertainment. Solo singer and band which plays for an hour in the lobby. Unfortunately there is inadequate seating for all guests at the resort.
No nightly snack bar. No food to eat at all on the resort after 9pm.
Inadequate pool lounger’s at the pool side. To reserve a lounger you must be down by the pool before 9am. Anytime after that, you’ll be out of luck.

Unfortortuanly I could only rate this hotel a 4 star due to the lack of pool loungers, nightly entertainment and lack of after hour snacks; otherwise its excellent, especially for the value spent!

Keep in mind, the resort is small and contains only 169 rooms. The occidental Allegro which has 420 rooms has a larger pool, and nightly entertainment, but some complained it was too rowdy and labelled it as a “party hotel”. The Occidental Grand was relaxing, comforting and the perfect place for a great vacation!

As for a previous posting by an ungrateful traveler… Air Canada Vacations did pick up travellers at the resort 3 hours prior to departure and did make a 20 minute stop at a souvenir shop. This was welcomed by many people of the bus as the Liberia Airport does not offer a duty free shop. Surprisingly those who complained on the bus were the ones who lasted the longest in the store and made the biggest purchases.

A great vacation is only as good as what you make of it! This one was WONDERFUL!!!!

Stayed November 2007
Helpful?
36 Thank Frenzy_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2007

I was a bit concerned regarding my upcoming holiday at the Grand Papagayo given the negative comments I had read online. I worried needlessly.

The hotel is beautifully sited. The staff were good natured and friendly with an amazing memory for names. The food was fresh, varied and delicious. The coffee - well the coffee served with steaming hot milk leaves Starbucks behind.

My daughter and I visited the week of November 10 and stayed in a Royal Club room. The comfortable patio offered wonderful views of sunrises and sunsets while the tastefully done room offered rest from the many activities that Costa Rica and this hotel have to offer.

The beach was uncrowded and we had no problem getting loungers. We enjoyed the snorkeling and the drinks brought to us.

The Grand Papagayo's web site really does not do it justice. It is a lovely place to stay.

Mosquitos - yes they were there - as they are in Canada in the summer.

The dog and the cats (mother, four kittens and occasionally the father) are well fed by everyone. At night the dog sleeps on the lawn just off the open air lobby. All is well in their lives.

Many times when the staff learned it was my first visit to Costa Rica they would say "welcome home".

I certainly would look forward to staying at this hotel again.

  • Liked — I liked that it was a smaller hotel with many buildings vs one building. i liked the way the many buildings where situated on the site. I liked the views from my room and the materials used for finishing the interior of the room.
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
15 Thank the_prairies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2007

Just returned from one week at the Occidental. We had paid for a Royal Club upgrade from Air Canada- totally not worth it. If you go there just book a regular room. We did not have the promised mini bar stocked every day, there was no cd/dvd player or high speed in our room, the ocean view was minimal. We did not have windows that opened or a sliding door to be able to get fresh air in our room, and the air conditioning unit was very loud. The food at the buffet is bland and not varied. There were two specialty restaurants but we had great difficulty trying to book a table so gave up. The pool area
had old wooden deck chairs, the towels are very tired looking, and there weren't enough seats for all the guests. The beach is nothing to speak of and I guarantee you will be disappointed. At night, one lobby bar and a small disco- live entertainment was a singer or a few musicians for an hour in the evening. Nothing much to do. The hotel is far from other activities and the cabs from there are very expensive. The staff are friendly and try to help, but their lack of experience is evident. One other pet peeve with Air Canada vacations is that we were picked up three hours before our flight to return to Canada and did not get lunch at the resort but were taken to a souvenir shop on the way to the airport.

Stayed November 2007
Helpful?
4 Thank BlabbyCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, BC
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2007

Positives:
Great staff, friendly and accommodating
Good food, many choices
Nice grounds, lush, green and well maintained
Lots of activity around pool in late afternoons
Mornings at the pool are quiet and great for relaxing or reading
Good drinks and service around pool is good.
You can drink the water so don't have to worry about the drinks with ice or the washing of the food.
Felt safe in the resort.
Pretty good fitness facility with airconditioning.

Negatives:
Nothing within walking distance
Closest town is not worth visiting
Didn't feel safe outside the resort.
Pool not very clean and too small for size of resort
Not enough lounges around the pool
Beach is VERY small - not good for walking
Jellyfish in water so not good for snorkling, swimming, etc.
Rooms badly in need of upgrading (bathroom fixtures, etc.)
Crabs and worms on floor in room if you are on ground floor

  • Liked — Food and drinks
  • Disliked — Small beach
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
7 Thank PaulaVancouver_BC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2007

We spent the last week of our honeymoon at the Grand Papayago. We had a wonderful time. Our room was so cute upon arrival as the maids had "built" a heart with two swans made out of towels. There were also flowers scattered on the bed and in the bathroom. Our bracelets identified us as honeymooners so it was fun to have people congratulating us all week.

The room was great...our view was amazing. We had an ocean view and every morning we woke up (to the birds and monkeys) and the view of the ocean. So amazing and beautiful.

Each day the maids did some other cute animal made out of towels or some design with our bed covers. It was always fun to return to our room.

The food was quite good. The Oriental restaurant is excellent. THe Italian is ok but not as good. The first night we ate there and weren't impressed so we tried again later in the week and had a better experience but still not great. The buffet is quite good and almost hit or miss. The breakfast was great every day and you always have the option of an omelette. Lunch was also fine although we missed it most days due to day long tours. Dinner was great on a few occasions and mediocre on some days. Sunday night was the worst...I think the resort had cleared out for the most part so it seemed they were serving the leftovers from earlier in the week. I wised at some points that there was a place to buy a meal just to avoid the buffet. The best part of the buffet was the girl who took your name down to get in...she was so friendly and happy.

The snack bar by the pool was great. The bartenders were so friendly and knew what drinks we would order by the second day we were there. The food was also kept warm and quite fresh there.

The beach was nice and quick walk from the pool.

The entire staff was incredibly accomodating and helpful. One day our tour was late and the front desk called to make sure we hadn't been forgotten.

Both bars (Lobby and Disco) was great and we had a lot of fun playing pool in the Disco.

Swiss Travel was great for all our tours. We did the canopy which was a blast and a few tours of rain forest hiking. The white water rafting was the best though. If you're up for it, I definitely suggest it. THe rapids are class 3 and 4 and one of the rapids is a 12 foot drop but it's totally worth it. Especially if you get the cd of pictures...such a blast to relive it.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country. We were surpised at how undisturbed everything is even though they have so many tourists. Many of the tours didn't even appear to be a "tourist" area like we think of in the US. Even white water rafting...you got dropped off to a 4 wheel drive vehicle where you drove 4 miles up and around into the middle of the forest and then hiked down the river.

It was also great to be able to use American money as they take it everywhere. We didn't have any language barriers either as everyone in Costa Rica speaks English.

  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank danzr13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nutley,NJ
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2007

I just got back from a 4 night stay (Nov 23-27th) at the Occidental Grand ... The hotel was very clean and pretty, and the staff were very helpful and accomodating. I read a few negative reviews on here prior to my trip in regards to the staff, food, and stairs....basically here is what I have to say...For myself as a health-conscious person and my boyfriend who is a big eater..we both thought the food was great...there was always a variety to choose from, and for an all inclusive the alcholic drinks were tasty and had plenty of alcohol in them. As far as the amount of stairs at the resort...i didnt mind it at all....but again I'm a very active person and I'm not suffering from any medical conditions..if you are someone who has difficulty climbing stairs and hills, than I suggest you consider other options. The beaches are decent. much more rustic than what some may be used to, but again, Costa Rica is not known for their beaches; its a destination in which is very unique and adventurous.

As far as acitivites..the pool area was always active during the morning and afternoon..unfortunately we never had time to lounge by the pool due to the tours we signed up for. We booked through Swiss Travels, which has an office at the hotel...We did the Arenal Volcano/Cotere Rainforest/Hotsprings tour...it was well worth the $110 a person....but be advised its a long day 730 am -10pm.... We also did horseback riding with Charlies Tours, and the half-day canopy tour....all activities were excellent!!!!

Costa Rica is home to plenty of wildlife which was great to see. Monkeys were easy to spot high up in trees, there were plenty of colorful birds and butterflies around, and lizards too. There are a lot of stray animals in CR and some cats and a dog on the hotel property. Do not be alarmed though...the stray dog is very cute and friendly, but if your an animal lover (like myself) you'll feel bad for her *yes its a girl*!

Other info: Taxi's are everywhere outside of the airport and at the hotel...so we didnt feel the need to rent a car...bring conditioner in 3oz containers when you pack, because the hotel does not give you conditioner in the room, and at the gift shop they only sell the 2 in 1 packets.

My boyfriend and I agreed that this resort was very nice...the only gripe we really had was that after 10:30 pm, there was no chance of getting anything to eat anywhere...and after we spent 13 hours on a tour, and ate at 5pm we were a little hungry...so my advice would be to pack some snacks just in case of situations like that. Oh and yes the mosquito's are awful..but thats how it is in the caribbean too!

  • Liked — service & privacy
  • Disliked — wish they had 24 hr room service
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Kris524
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 by Barcelo

Property: Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barcelo
Address: Playa Buena, 485000, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Amenities:
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:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#5 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barcelo 4*
Number of rooms: 163
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Guanacaste on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica,The Adults Only Occidental Grand Papagayo is only at 25 minutes from the Liberia International Airport. This Resort surrounded by nature, boast lush tropical lanscape with scenic views of Bahía Culebra in Papagayo Golf.Ideal for couples, honeymooners and adult guest seeking a relaxing getaway. The Occidental Grand Papagayo offers a highly persolized five star all- inclusive experience delivered by an attentive and dedicated staff. ... 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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