This is our first trip to Costa Rica. We went with two other couples that we have known for a few years and love vacationing together. We decided to do an all-inclusive resort and chose a 5 star rated hotel so that everything was taken care of at the resort. We stayed October 11th-18th. Please note that this is their wet season and it rained a few hours each day but there was plenty of sunshine so the rain was not bad. We planned most of our outings before 2 in the afternoon and didn’t have an issue with getting rained out. We met some of the nicest hotel staff. Mercedes, Carlos, Victor, Wilmer and Jafet waited on us in the breakfast and lunch area and were always so pleasant and helpful. Mercedes and Carlos went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of, absolutely loved them! Gerardo is a fantastic chef; he makes a wonderful omelet and eggs over easy!!! Activities directors Carlos and Gerry were fantastic as well organizing events like water and sand volleyball, kayaking, karaoke and dancing. Those two directors were very energetic and fun to be with and kept the group entertained.
With all of this said though the resort is not a 5 star and should be rated more as a 3 star probably. I am going to be very honest we were not happy overall. We arrived around 12:30 p.m. and met by a greeter who had a couple drinks “welcoming drinks” on a tray but didn’t have enough for our group. We were told we could get our welcoming drinks if we went to the bar area, so they did not bring it to us. We were told to leave our bags at the front area of the hotel because our rooms would not be ready until 3 which made me nervous. We went to the snack bar area and had a buffet lunch and the rooms were ready by 2. Without asking our room was upgraded and we had a fantastic view of the ocean from room 605. One other couple had their room upgraded without asking and they had a pretty good view of the ocean while the third couple had a view of the top of a red roof from another set of rooms. Since the hotel was very empty due to the off season we asked if there was a room upgrade available for the third couple but told that there wasn’t any available rooms. Upon checking into our rooms we were surprised by the fact that there was not any water at all. We called the front desk multiple times and finally found out that a construction crew had hit a water pipe and caused a leak. They thought the water would be back on around 5:00 p.m. that evening. We were frustrated that upon arrival that we were not informed of the water issue because they knew at that time there was a problem. We were without any running water for showers, toilets, handwashing, etc for the first 18 hours there. The water was turned on around 6:00 a.m. and we were told, because we asked, that the water was going to be shut off again in a few hours. We complained about the lack of announcement to this water shutoff so the next 3 days we received a note under the door around 10 a.m. that said the water would be shut off between 12p.m.-5p.m. which at least let us plan around the water shutoff.
Our room had a smell when we first walked in, it was in the front corner and I am unsure what that was but after a couple days the smell did disappear. Our room was clean, I am unsure if they changed the sheets each day as advertised but I have a feeling that they did not. Housekeeping came each day and made the beds and mopped the floors. We were told that they would provide 2-500 mL water bottles in the refrigerator each day. Upon arriving that is what they left, however then it became inconsistent. One day they didn’t leave any water so I called and asked for 4 bottles of water and they brought 2. The next day I left a note for 4 bottles of water to be left and they left 3 and the following day I didn’t ask and they left 4 bottles of water. From there we had to call for room service to get any water delivered because they didn’t leave any. Please note there is not a place to buy water so you were at the mercy of what housekeeping would do for you. One of our friends had multiple bottles of water, sodas and beer left in their refrigerator every day. Each day they replaced the towels we used but after the first couple days they quit leaving washcloths. One day they left 4 towels (when we started with 2), 4 floor mats (when we started with 1) and no wash clothes. When I called to request washcloths I waited an hour and had to call twice to get them brought to us. From there on we never received washcloths unless I called and asked for them from the night housekeeping staff. Room service ends at 10 p.m. so make sure that you have what you need before 10, this includes ice. The air conditioning in the room was ok but never cooled to the temperature we wanted. The second day the staff turned off the air conditioning while we were out of the room so we hid the remote control in the safe for the unit and they left it alone the rest of the week.
We had emailed with Roberto, the concierge, before arriving to get reservations at the restaurants for night dining. He was nice through email and when we arrived was very nice however once we booked our tours through someone else he was very rude. The first couple of days I felt like bait meat in a shark tank. We came in with Apple vacation which then became Swiss Travel Company once we were there. Swiss Travel Company let us know they were having a meeting the following morning at 9:30 and we needed to be there. When I asked if it was required the response I received was, it was not required but they would help us book our tours. He strongly discouraged against using the “pirates” from the beach area because it was illegal and possibly a scam, which honestly kind of scared me. We were approached all day by different members of the hotel staff pushing us to go to meetings with them about timeshares and discounts if we listened to their 90 minute spiel. I was very confused and frustrated as I wanted to do tours, wanted a great price but was having problems discerning which person was telling me the truth and didn’t want to spend my vacation listening to their presentations. We did not go to the timeshare presentation offered by the hotel and I was glad I didn’t because I witnessed other people, who were suckered into it throughout the week, have to endure the same presentation over and over again. They would meet them for breakfast; walk them around the property, etc, pressuring them to buy into their packages. Overall it seemed like a waste of a perfectly good time to be enjoying Costa Rica and very high pressure to buy into their timeshare package. We did go to Swiss Travel presentation and Alexander gave a nice presentation about the history of the country and good information to follow. Booking 6 people we would go for the price of 5 so we did get a group discount. It did take us about 2 ½ hours to make it through his presentation and decide what trips we wanted to take, it would have been nice to have had the pricing, tour dates, etc the night before so we could have come to the meeting with more of an understanding of what we wanted and wouldn’t have wasted more of the beautiful sunshine. We booked to go on the SkyTram/Arenal Volcano/Ziplining/Hot springs package which is $195/person without the group discount. Fantastic trip, loved the scenery and the tour guide, Rodrigro and the driver Eric (aka Fast and Furious) were so great to be with. We learned a lot about the history of the country and would HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TOUR! We did book a jetski tour with Johnny D whom we met on the beach and that tour was a lot of fun, there were some minor glitches but overall it was fine. We rented a car one day and drove to Tamarindo beach and Coco beach for some surfing and shopping. That was nice was well.
The hotel does not offer any shuttle services to local towns or areas so you have to rent a taxi or car to go anywhere. We noticed other hotels did offer a shuttle service that ran a couple times a day to the local town/grocery store, etc and that would have been very much appreciated especially when we were out of running water or to go souvenir shopping!
Overall the hotel grounds look amazing however the structure itself needs some work. There was mold in many different areas like the main entrance/bar area. The air conditioning didn’t work well in the breakfast area which was also used for the buffet nights so we were pretty miserable. The mixed drinks were made very weak and we had to ask for 2-3 shots of alcohol to be added to be able to taste the alcohol at all. The alcohol they used was poor quality so it tasted bad as well. If you stayed with the local drinks like the water sours it was better. I will say as the week went on the bartenders did finally realize we wanted extra alcohol added and they would ask if we wanted our usual.
The time period we went was their off season so they were understaffed. We did not get any service like drinks or drink refills at the pool until the last day. Many of their bar areas and facilities that were stationed throughout the property was unmanned due to low staff. It was not what was expected from a 5 star hotel at all. I realize that our trip was discounted because we came during their off season but there needs to be a disclaimer that they also reduce their staff during this time and to expect less service.
They state they have Wifi. I will tell you that there is only one place they have any internet connection and that is up by the main lobby. The signal was very weak and intermittent and would not connect at all and if it did, would not stay connected. Mornings were better in that we could get a better signal but after that it was terrible. We would ask the night staff to reset the router and they didn’t understand how to do that and even when we explained the reset didn’t seem to help. While I know we are on vacation and need to disconnect unfortunately with family and some of our work there was a need to occasionally check in and this was frustratingly difficult.
The food provided was ok. The breakfast is buffet style with lots of choices. The fruit is AMAZING! Lunch was buffet style in the snack bar area. There were choices of rice/beans/potatoes/salads and usually some kind of chicken, nachos/cheese, etc. It was good but not spectacular. Evening meals rotated between reservations at the Oriental and Italian restaurant or buffet where there was a theme night. Italian restaurant was really good and the Oriental restaurant was fine as well. Make sure you have reservations because the dining areas are very small and I can only imagine during their peak season it would be difficult to get reservations.
I am a little concerned about the space if you are planning on attending during the peak season. The dance floor is small and so is the recreational (pool table) area. The bar area can seat around 25 people probably before it is standing room only. The pool is nice sized but if there are a lot of guests I can imagine that is would feel very cramped.
Overall, I would go back to Costa Rica, I would not stay at this hotel. The area was beautiful and we met a lot of really nice people on and off the resort. I was just very disappointed in the hotel accommodations for the rating it was given.
- 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