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“Perfect Vacation and Wedding”

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Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
Ranked #7 of 13 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence
London, Ontario
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Perfect Vacation and Wedding”
Reviewed January 4, 2008

I stayed at the Grand Papagayo for the week of December 8th to December 15th through Air Canada Vacations. I've just sent this letter to my Wedding Co-ordinator, who is an employee of the resort, which summarizes how amazing my experience was:

"Dear Harold - the Best Wedding Co-ordinator EVER;
I just wanted to drop you a quick e-mail to say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! My wedding day was 100% perfect and I have YOU to thank for it. Even before I got to Costa Rica I found that you were friendly, knowledgeable, flexible and responsive. I did not feel any stress trying to plan wedding details even though I was so far away. When I arrived in Costa Rica it was everything I hoped it would be and more. We were so impressed with how easy everything was and how smooth our vacation was. I almost felt guilty that I should have been busier with wedding details but there was so little to do that I was able to relax and enjoy myself.

We were in a group of approx 25 people (ages 9 to 65 years) and found that the Grand Papagayo was the perfect size and set up for a family/friends vacation. We were all in different buildings which gave us the privacy that we wanted, but we were just minutes from each other. The grounds were so lovely, Costa Rica is truly a stunningly beautiful country, lush with vegetation and wildlife. We felt like the resort was big enough to stroll and explore, but small enough so that we could find each other easily, without effort, and spend quality time together. The restaurants were all wonderful, the buffet had variety and we never felt like we were eating the same foods. We went on great excursions and had most amazing, memorable experiences. The zip-lines tours were my favorite!

My wedding day was a “dream come true”! I met my mom for breakfast, went to the spa for a massage and manicure, then relaxed by the pool for the rest of the morning. I had lunch with my friends and then went jet-skiing in the early afternoon. I couldn’t believe how fun and stress free everything was. I finally went to get ready, the photographer arrived and then we all had some fruit and champagne. Soon after, you arrived to bring us to the ceremony location. There was a beautiful rainbow in the sky and it was almost like it was meant to be. My wedding was flawless! The Officiate was lovely. Every little detail was perfect! My photographer even created a wedding website for us (www.niamhandivan.com) which was an unexpected surprise.

My wedding reception was extraordinary. The décor and set-up were gorgeous and the food was fantastic. We had such a great time and everyone was raving about it! We brought the beautiful wedding cake to the lobby of the hotel (we were so full from our amazing meal) and it was such a friendly atmosphere with all of the hotel guests helping themselves to the wedding cake. I loved it!

Harold, you are such a pleasure and I’d like you to know that I think you’re amazing at your job. I owe my perfect wedding day to you, and I owe my perfect vacation to the management & staff of the Occidental Grand Papagayo. My husband and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon and the entire time we said “we should have stayed at the Grand Papagayo for another week instead”.

We can’t wait to come back and are planning a trip to your resort for our anniversary. Many of our guests have also expressed their interest to return as well. Thank you again for making my wedding that happiest and most memorable experience of my life.

Warmest regards"

Stayed December 2007
14 Thank costarica-bride
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
St. Louis MO
Level 3 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed December 31, 2007

They say this is a 5-star resort, and it may be 5-stars in Central America but by US standards I think it's closer to 3 1/2. That being said, it's a great place to stay. If you want 5-stars the Four Seasons is just across the bay (and starts at $800 a night!). The Occidental Grand is beautiful, well maintained, and clean. I would recommend it to a friend in a heart-beat.

The location is PERFECT--20 minutes from the Liberia airport and Very well situated for taking day trips. We took our day trips with AVISPAS ADVENTURES, be sure to check them out next on Trip Advisor!

The food was very good. We ate all of our dinners at the buffet! They have a different theme every night and we didn't want to miss any of them. This was the fanciest buffet I've EVER seen! When we weren't traveling, we ate our lunches at the snack bar down by the pool. There is a plentiful and tasty selection daily. Kudos to the Occidental Grand on their food.

Our room, (#302), was nice and clean. We had a pretty canopy king size bed that was very comfy (and I'm picky about my sleeping arrangements!). Keep in mind, you don't spend much time IN your room.

The pool is nice as you can see in the pics. We played lots of volleyball with new friends. Like most All Incl resorts there are daily activities in and out of the pool. Be sure to sign up early for the kayaking tour as there are only 4 kayaks to be had.

The beach is pretty and large. Nice and long if you like to take walks. You can snorkel right off the beach or just lounge around. I heard a lot of comments about there not being enough lounge chairs at the pool and beach but we never had any problems.

We had a nice couples massage in the tiki huts down by the beach. We were traveling with friends of ours, it was their 20 year anniversary and our 15 year anniversary. Four forty-somethings had an unbelievable time in C.R. thanks to the Occidental Grand Papagayo and Avispas Adventures.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at all--I'd be glad to chat or offer some insight.

  • Liked — Location and food
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
30 Thank Candi_in_St_Louis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, NC
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed December 19, 2007

We had a relaxing one week stay. The views were beautiful and the excursions made the vacation memorable. We booked the sunset cruise excursion through the resort upon arriving, but were disappointed. We later found Johnny D. on the beach. His excursions were exceptional and more than promised. We had a personal guide for our party of four that stayed with us the entire day on each tour. We chose the rain forest canopy tour and the river boat tour. Each tour was customized to fit our needs. The guides were helpful and courteous and made sure we enjoyed ourselves. We celebrated my dad's 80th birthday and everyone was able to participate because of the helpful hosts on each activity. The lunches provided were authenic and the best meals of our stay. The resort food was good for a few days, but we quickly tired of it. The drinks were exceptional and the staff friendly. We enjoyed the quiet beach and the late afternoon bingo and dance lessons at the pool.

  • Liked — Views, small resort in a natural setting, drinks
  • Disliked — Jacuzzi was not heated
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
13 Thank clttravelers5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thornton, Colorado
Level 6 Contributor
178 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
22 Thank Ellen L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Ontario
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
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!

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.

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
36 Thank Frenzy_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
15 Thank the_prairies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
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
4 Thank BlabbyCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Occidental Papagayo - Adults only

Property: Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
Address: Playa Buena, 485000, Costa Rica (Formerly Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barceló)
Phone Number:
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 Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 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 Papagayo - Adults only 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 Papagayo is only at 25 minutes from the Liberia International Airport. This Resort surrounded by nature, boast lush tropical landscape with scenic views of Bahia Culebra in Papagayo Golf.Ideal for couples, honeymooners and adult guest seeking a relaxing getaway. The Occidental Papagayo offers a highly personalized 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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