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“Beautiful country, disappointed in the hotel accommodations”

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Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
Ranked #7 of 14 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence
Saint Louis, Missouri
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Beautiful country, disappointed in the hotel accommodations”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2013

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.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Christy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Itze P, Reputation Management at Occidental Papagayo - Adults only, responded to this review, October 28, 2013
Dear Christy B,

On behalf of our entire staff we would like to apologize for your disappointing experience at Occidental Grand Papagayo. We sorry to read that we did not provide you with an amazing vacation; and we assure you that we take your feedback very seriously. We shared your experience with involved departments and necessary measures will be taken immediately.

Please accept our deepest apologies for the inconvenience you experienced during your stay. What you described does not reflect the high standards of service we set for the hotel. We are committed to providing our guests with an enjoyable vacation and it appears that we fell short of this during your stay. Our goal is to always exceed our guests’ expectations and it’s disappointing to read that we failed this time.

We truly hope that you will give us another chance to welcome you in the near future.

Sincerely
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
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    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Rockford, Illinois
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 21, 2013

Where do I begin? We show up to the resort and for an entire first day we did not have water. This means no showers or flushing toilets. The 2nd day they would turn it on for an hour here and there. No one seemed to know the cause. The ones that attempted to give a reason all had different stories. The hotel had so much mold all over the place. Our room smelled like a mixture between mold, mildew and a backed up toilet and this smell just got worse throughout the week. Our fridge in our room never had anything put in it except the 2 bottles of water we started with. The room was dirty, dead bugs in every corner which makes me believe the floor doesn't get cleaned. We were supposed to have our bed sheets changed every day. Ours were not. The reason I know is because I had left mascara on my pillowcase and it was still there. There was no storage for clothes and we were only given 6 hangers. If you called the front desk for something it wouldn't happen unless you call 2 or 3 times. For example, I asked for washcloths. I called twice....never got them. The food was not good. Most meals I ate bread and pineapple. They have a very small selection of liquor and what they do have is the cheapest brands and therefore taste and smell bad. And when you did get a drink you would have to ask for double or triple liquor in order to taste it at all. Trying to get someone to serve you at the pool didn't happen until the last day we were there. All the furniture was in bad condition. All of the cushions and lounge chairs looked and smelled like they had never been washed. The first 2 days we were there we were so terribly harassed by all kinds of people trying to get us to book tours and excursions with them. Roberto, the concierge was so kind to us the first couple of days. Then when we booked our excursions with Swiss Travel he was just flat out rude to us. We were told it was the slow season so they were lightly staffed. Frankly, I don't care what season it is. I'm paying money to go to your resort....you give me the service and quality that you advertise for. We were there from October 11th through October 18th. I was ready to go home on day 1 but for sure by day 3 I had had enough. All of our excursions were great. We did ziplining at the Arenal Volcano with Sky Adventures, jet skiing with Adventure Tours, and scuba diving with BA Scuba Diving. We played water volleyball and beach volleyball at the resort. That was a great time too. Carlos and Jerry were the activity directors and were phenomenal. We had Mercedes as our waitress for breakfast and lunch and she was also amazing. My husband and I usually cruise. We went with 2 other couples and we let them decide where to go. They chose an all inclusive resort. I will now never do that again. And also because of the horrible experience with this resort, I never want to visit Costa Rica again either. We only vacation once a year which I am very grateful for. But now I feel like I have wasted $3000. We were in a tough financial situation this year so we were hesitant to go to begin with. Now we come back from a vacation like this....we should have saved the money and booked a cruise for half the price. So very disappointed.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Andrea T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Itze P, Reputation Management at Occidental Papagayo - Adults only, responded to this review, October 28, 2013
Dear Andrea T,

Thank you for sending us your comments, the satisfaction of our guests is our goal, and we are very sorry to read about your disappointments and your most detailed observations, it appears we didn’t meet our own standards during your stay.

Regarding to your room, please know that housekeeping follows strict standards to ensure guestrooms are ready, clean and the minibar refill throughout their stay. However this is certainly unacceptable and I have addressed your experience with the Rooms Division Director in order to prevent any future occurrence.

Thank you for again for your honesty, we do hope you’ll give us a second chance to provide an incredible stay in Costa Rica.

Sincerely
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 20, 2013

We just returned from a week in paradise at the Occidental Grand Papagayo. The staff is gracious, considerate, thoughtful and genuine. Our interactions with the staff were definitely a highlight of our stay. Guest services staff are very helpful and instructive and they took special care of us as guests. There are lots of fun activities planned everyday which are a must to partake of. The food is phenomenal and gourmet and the selection was broad. The fruit is "to die for". Our room was modern and clean and the refrigerator was re-stocked daily with water, beer, and sodas. Housekeeping was impeccable. The grounds were exquisitely beautiful. The beach is very private and right out of a postcard. The snorkeling was okay because we went during rainy season which slightly impeded the visibility; don't let the rainy season spook you. The mornings are gorgeous and sometimes it rains in the afternoon or evening. The kayaking across the bay was a great sight seeing tour and was quite a fun work out. Nearby Cocoa Beach is fun for shopping & restaurants. There are adventures nearby such as zip-lining, scuba diving, mud baths, horseback riding, and ATV rentals. We were sad to leave when our week ended. We formed special relationships with certain staff members (Victor, Mercedes, Carlos & Roberto) and we can't wait go back again soon! Because of our stay we truly know the meaning of Pura Vida!!!!

Room Tip: Ask for room with ocean view. Otherwise, your view is of the pool and grounds.
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Sandra L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
41 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 16, 2013

The hotel overall offered everything I needed: food, beach, pool, gym, spa, and a place to sleep. I got this all for a great rate. But any extras, they are not included. It was a good getaway with a friend for a week of relaxation, but by the 5th day I was bored and just wanted to be home.

The beach was nice and there were no locals on it. I liked being in the bay because it had calm water. The water is rough with sand, but is clear when calm. I found some of the most beautiful shells with colors not seen anywhere else and plenty of lava rocks. The sand is different, but it is volcanic so this was expected.

The pool was nice because there are plenty of chairs. I got wifi there from the lobby which was nice too. The staff wasn't loud or obnoxious if you just wanted to spend the day doing nothing but relaxing. I brought my own beach towels but you can also get them from towel rental. It was nice to be so close to the outdoor buffet, bar and bathroom. The pool was very clean and never too crowded. Best part, barely any children.

There is no wifi in the rooms so you have to go to the lobby or pool. The rooms are ok, but they are dated. A staff member told me they took over the hotel and renovated it 9 years ago. So the property is old, was renovated, but needs another touch up in the rooms. The outside of the rooms and the property itself are absolutely beautiful though. Housekeeping was fabulous and kept my room so clean. Anytime I needed more water or coffee I just asked and got it.

Food was good. I was there during international week so every night was different and very good. I gained 5 pounds while there, so that says a a lot. And it wasn't from drinking because I am not a big drinker. Nightlife wasn't bad but it was overall low key, which is my preference. I wasn't there trying to get laid, but I will say staff is there to get laid. After a few polite no thank you's they will leave you alone. Some are more persistent then others, but I never felt unsafe. This is good having been two women traveling alone.

Distance to do other things like going to Coco Beach for the day was relatively close, about 20 minutes away. Paid $40 for a round trip cab. Airport cabs charged $60 for the trip to the hotel and the hotel cab charged $40 to go back to the airport. LIB was nice, had good customer service, and was clean.

Customer service at the hotel itself sucks. No way to fluff that. They are all in it to win it at night when it comes to partying and drinking, but don't expect much from most of the staff during the day.

The gift shop had a bunch of trinkets and foods. I was able to get my gifts there for a good price.

Lots of wildlife on the grounds. Some are scary looking but they are all used to people and nice. Even the gigantic iguanas are nice. I did not see a single monkey anywhere during the week on the grounds. I did on the trip to coco beach.

I wouldn't ever stay here again but it met my needs for the trip I made there. I think next time I will stay closer to Arenal and visit the Caribbean coast. I will most definitely return to Costa Rica, beautiful country filed with beautiful people!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank dvldlphn32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
28 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2013 via mobile

The hotel needs some maintenance, seems a little bit old and the rooms aren't as nice as the ones shown on the website pictures. We stayed at a Romance Deluxe, which was supposed to offer lots of amenities over the standard room, the first thing offered was strawberries with chocolate upon arrival, however we got bananas and apples instead, no chocolates at all.

The bathroom shower head didn't work, bad pressure and it was difficult to take a decent shower. What really had me to put a bad review do this hotel is the food, all inclusive is a fiasco, it is more like an all American plan with 3 meals. The snacks bar only offers nachos, hot dogs and burgers, not too much to say, seems an overpriced option in Papagayo, you can get much better for what you pay at other hotels near.

The staff was uncorteous and they even say good morning when you see them. I don't feel like I've wasted my money, but I'm not happy at all either.

Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
3 Thank Wapbravo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monmouth Junction, New Jersey
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 6, 2013

One thing I can say for sure is that the staff at this property were all friendly, helpful, and attentive. The Fun Club crew were very interactive with the guests and especially great at keeping them entertained. I feel that our stay would not have been nearly as enjoyable without this great group of people working very hard to make us smile & laugh. Gerry "with a G" was quite charming and personable and made people feel completely at ease in trying new activities. The Fun Club provided a great balance of relaxation, information, and fun activities. Their efforts allowed for you to interact with other guests quite often and it soon felt like family.

Room Tip: The rooms are just average, but if you get one w/ an ocean view it more than makes up for the lack o...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank LindaMW587
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waterloo, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 6, 2013

We went the end of August/beginning of September. While we loved Costa Rica and the excursions, the resort wasn't very impressive. They definitely treat the people who upgraded to Grand Club better. We had to wait 2 hours after arriving to get checked into our room. We booked an ocean view room - we looked at palm trees and the roof of another building.

The food was terrible. Anything that should have been hot was ALWAYS cold. They give you the impression there are 3 a la carte restaurants, when in fact there is only 1 but serve different menus on different nights. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to make a reservation during "high" season. The last night we were there I had a very unusual ceasar salad (romain leaf rolled and the plate drizzled with dressing) and chicken parmasean - battered chicken stuffed with cheese and spinach. No tomato sauce whatsoever. I threw up twice that night!

There is very limited shelter around the pool. I would think most people during high season would be "frying" from lack of shelter.

The beach is ok however its a fair walk down a very steep hill. There are chairs for lounging but no bar service or food, just people hassling to sell their "wares".

I don't recommend this resort.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank C B
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
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 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 Luxury 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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