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“Beautiful hotel, but wouldnt stay there again”

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Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
Ranked #7 of 13 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Beautiful hotel, but wouldnt stay there again”
Reviewed December 31, 2013

We loved the hotel itself. It was beautiful with outstanding views and a ton of amazing wildlife (monkeys, iguanas, caotes, parakeets, etc) you can see right from your balcony. The staff was very nice and for the most part helpful. Food was good. Drinks were very good. The mimosa and bloody mary station during the breakfast buffet was incredible. Seemed pretty safe around the hotel too.

Tips -
1 - Do the sunset walk they offer, about a 15 min walk and well worth it. Check the activity list for time. You can wear sandals, but definitely bring bug spray.
2 - Check out the tide schedule if the beach is your thing. When the tide is high it takes over almost the entire beach so you'll want to get there when it's low.
3 - you can negotiate boat ride prices with the guy on the beach called Johnny, and if you can get him down in price enough it's really worth it. The boat picks you up right on the beach and takes you around the monkey face rock and to a really neat cave and to a couple of great snorkeling spots. We wanted to do a boat ride but not the booze cruise the hotel tried to convince us to do every time we got a towel, so we were really happy to find this one on our own. We did it with 2 other couples and had a blast, and were only gone for 2.5 hours.

Here are my cautions -
1 - If you book excursions with tour companies other than the hotels preferred vendors they wont even be allowed inside the gates to pick you up. We waited for over 30 minutes in the hotel lobby before we finally called our tour company (a $$ international call!) thinking they forgot us and they actually had been outside of the front gate for 40 minutes because they weren't allowed in, and allegedly the hotel guy at the gate said the front desk said nobody was waiting in the lobby even though we had been there for half hour! That was a huge turnoff. One tour company we used described Occdiental's excursion policy as "mafia style".
2 - The marketing of management is pretty much non-stop and seemed to be the most aggressive upon check-in. So just be prepared for that right when you walk in.
3 - The music played in the pool was BAD american music about 50% of the time, and almost always American music in the indoor buffet. I like to feel like i'm in another country when I'm abroad so I was a annoyed when Nickelback and country music came on every afternoon (we did excursions or beach in morning then hit pool in the afternoon). I'm sure some people like this, but my husband I did not and would usually stock up on as many drinks as we could carry and sit on our balcony until the country music stopped (no offense to country music lovers...but that's not what i want to hear when I'm in costa rica).

So it had it's pros and cons, and depending on your style it may or may not be for you.

Room Tip: go with ocean view for stunning views, but be prepared that while balconies are not shared they are...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Chrissy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 2 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed December 30, 2013

My wife and I stayed in mid December 2013. We're

1. Grounds - Landscaping
- fantastic and beautiful. Lots of walking as per the other reviews.
- Moderate amount of construction at the time we were there. It did take away somewhat from the grounds.
- Lots of wildlife including some (not lots) of howler monkeys (they don't come near people), Coatimundi (lots, like monkey/raccoons, who come and steal your food), green parrots, etc.

2. Room.
The first room we were in was a good size and had an OK view near the pool, however it was freshly painted and had a terrible smell. The hotel quickly moved us to another room which was a great size and beautiful. I will say the hotel didn't always refresh amenities quickly. We had to call down 2-3 days in a row for them to replace the used soap/shampoo/conditioner. The missed 1 or 2 days in the week for refilling the mini-fridge. The rooms were always cleaned well.

3. Food/ Beverages
It's an all inclusive, everything included. Very liberal with alcohol!! I will say the drinks weren't always mixed appropriately (mojitos which taste like pure lemon juice, etc) They have several "restaurants" as well as to buffets. All of the food was good, including deserts. Our favorite "restaurant" was the Oriental. Wherever you go in Costa Rica, try the pineapple!

4. Tours
We were offered tours with the hotel, but purchased 3 tours with Larry (Costa Rica Unique) on the beach. He was interesting, informed, honest, reliable, and friendly. Prices were 10-30% better than at the hotel, and negotiable. We did the "adventure day" at Hacienda Guachipelin, which was awesome!! (tubing is moderatley dangerous). We also did the Palo Verde tour (very quiet, but you see lots of animals/plants), and the Las Pumas/ Heliconias tour which was very interesting with Larry, but could be boring without a tour guide.

5. Roads/ Car Rental
This is not so much about the hotel, but as soon as you land in Costa Rica you're bombarded with taxi and car rental offers. We went to the Hertz place because we use them in the US. The did not honor our US Hertz points. Also the prices they offer you in the airport are base prices, plan to pay double or triple that with a security deposit of up to $3,000. Expect ~$75 per day after insurance. They will not honor your credit card's insurance without a letter of coverage, and even then will give you the run-around with other types of coverage. We decided to use that money on tours instead.
- Cab ride from the airport should be ~$40 or less, negotiate them down.
- Roads in Costa Rica are full of pot-holes, often unpaved at tourist sites, and full of crazy drivers who pass at dangerous places. We were overall glad we weren't driving.

6. Beach
All beaches in Costa Rica are public, however the hotel offers free snorkel and kayaking gear. Once we saw wild sting-rays close off the beach. We did both kayaking and snorkeling, and it's kinda fun. We didn't see much snorkeling, as the water is often murky due to the tides. The second time we went it was clearer, but we were stung by invisible jelly fish and had sea urchin stings as we were getting out of the water onto the rocks. Beware.
Also, don't expect to see sunrise or sunset from the beach because of the way the hotel is positioned in the gulf.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Mikhail A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Level 4 Contributor
22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed December 28, 2013

We loved our 7 day stay. The only thing to beware of is the stairs. Lots of up hill walking. The rooms were nice and the views were spectacular. The staff couldn't help you enough. It would have been nice to have more choices on the restaurants. I really wanted to eat more seafood. The food they did have was very good. I loved having Champagne or Bloody Mary's at the breakfast bar. They had entertainment at night which was enjoyable. I would definitely go back!

Room Tip: I think all of the rooms are ocean view.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank wwranch65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed December 28, 2013

Our room was great, air worked, fridge stocked, balcony faced pool, it was clean and comfortable. Pool was great!! Carlos and the fun club team were great. Enjoyed all the activities and day trips. Restaurants were good although we weren't told upon checkin what was open on certain days and where the oriental restaurant was. I would definitely go back next year.

Room Tip: Choose a room in building one, it's the closest and most convenient.
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank indigolori
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ontario
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed December 28, 2013

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!!!!! Rating this hotel for others is difficult and pretty much depends on your vacation’s expectations. My lower than merited rating is influenced by the extensive construction during our stay. These upgrades however should augur well with future clients and a rating of 4+ would be more appropriate. Let me first of all start with the spectacular, but isolated location. If you look at the pictures of the hotel, you cannot help but note that the hotel and views are breathtaking and those pictures that sold us don’t lie. The way the hotel is situated on a hill overlooking the gorgeous pool, bay, and the Papagayo Peninsula across the water together with the immaculate, lush grounds pretty much covers the spectacular part of the location. The isolation part may be a problem for you, unless you want a restful vacation, since there is absolutely nothing adjacent to or within reasonable walking distance of the resort. The closest place with a few stores is Playa Hermosa and for night life and sunsets is Playa Coco. As beautiful as the place is and with an almost private gorgeous beach steps below the property, if we did not have a car, we would have been bored stiff after 2-3 days. The car for us, and likely the booked tours for many of the guests, ensured a memorable vacation on our first trip of Costa Rica. Driving and road conditions, with the exception of the odd pot holes and speed bumps in town, are fine. JUST DON’T TAKE THE MONKEY TRAIL ….. TRUST ME ON THAT ONE!!!

Accustomed to excellent traditional Italian home cooking I won’t rave about the food but I certainly won’t knock it either. Some things were a little too creamy for my liking and being next to the ocean, I would have preferred a few more fish dishes but overall, the food preparation and food variation in the buffet restaurant was pretty good. We liked the oriental restaurant, but for the above stated reasons we were more critical of the Italian one, although it must be said that many liked it. In any case we lean more towards fruits and vegetables and those were good and plentiful, and from what we saw driving around, a lot of the animals are free range and probably organic.

The resort personnel as all the Costa Ricans we met, when treated with due respect, were very friendly and helpful. The few bugs that came into our room were easily controlled by stuffing folded toilet paper under the door. Screen doors in the balcony would have made our stay even more pleasant and would have helped with the stuffy air in the room. The few bug bites in the resort or beach areas were not that bothersome, but we did make a mistake by going to the volcano Rincon de la Vieja without bug spray. We got the odd bite in the water from tiny, almost invisible jelly fish, but they were nothing more than a mosquito bite.

The best white sand beaches within an hour plus drive of the place are Tamarindo (bigger center with lots of bars), Flamingo (my wife’s favourite), Conchal (most natural) and Playa Grande (turtles national park). Across the gated Papagayo Penninsula are several excellent white sand beaches but it requires you to park your car and a free shuttle will take you to different spots in the peninsula. Playa Nagascolo, however is the only easily accessible one unless you are willing to walk down 750 steps (we did) to Playa Blanca which is directly across and visible from the Occidental or head to the stunning Playa Virador with 780 steps. You can walk down to one beach and up the other by crossing the Four Season Resort which spans the two beaches. All you have to do is get past the Four Season’s security, which was not difficult since few brave the steps, and make arrangements with the shuttle. Costa Rica is beautiful but it requires you to get around and see it! COSTA RICA IS “PURA VIDA”!!!!!

Room Tip: Building 1 is closest to pool and amenities, some are quite far and less convenient but a shuttle wi...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank emifra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lone Oak
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed December 27, 2013

My family (group included 42 people) stayed here for a destination wedding, Dec. 4-8. 2013. It was almost like we had the whole resort to ourselves. The food was good, but not great. It's like most inclusives I have been to. The resort is spread out, so some walking was involved, but very doable. I never dreaded the walk, as it is very pretty. There was a tram available for transporation, and I admit I did call if a few times, and they were very prompt everytime. It is my understanding it is now an adults-only property, which was nice. However, there is not a swim-up bar at the pool but hopefully that is being considered in the ongoing renovation. There was some construction going on, but we never heard it and it was not a problem at all. The property does have some hills, so if you have concerns about walking up and down hills, and/or stairs depending upon your path (including going to the beach), this should be considered. Not a whole lot to do at the resort, but I'm not a party animal so this was okay. We did do a zip line excursion and also took a taxi to nearby Coco Beach, which I recommend to get out and see the area. There was a little peddling on the beach, but once I told them I wasn't interested, they left me alone. The beach was in a cove, so the surf was not rough. Good snorkeling right off the beach. Also, the only people at the beach will basically be the people from the resort. I never felt any bugs, but noticed after I got home I did have a few bites, so take bug spray.There was even security on the beach provided by the resort which was nice, but I never felt unsafe anyway. I've been to numerous all-inclusives, and this one rates pretty high on my list. Very clean and staff worked very hard (sometimes too hard...they took my plate while I was eating when I wasn't completely finished eating!). We stayed in building #2; the view faced the pool area and the walk wasn't far to eat or go to the beach. Those in our group that had a nicer view (of the ocean) had a lot more walking to do, so you may ask about this when you check in. You will not be disappointed!!!!

Room Tip: You'll have to do some walking if you want a room with a great view.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank SusanLoneOak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed December 27, 2013

The hotel is decent, beautiful grounds, friendly stuff. A bit too much walking up and down, as it is located on the hill, the shoreline is very short, the taste of the dinner buffet food was sometimes not that great. Overall, price vs quality is good. What really made our stay in Costa Rica to remember and wanting to come back is travel experience with the local tour guide Jaime!
We went on a few trips with him - very knowledgeable, attentive, great personality! We would highly recommend him. Jaime takes time to explain everything, doesn't rush you, can customize tours according to your wishes and abilities (I was travelling with my elderly mom and Jaime carefully customized hiking tour for her). Thank you Jaime for great travel you arranged for us in Costa Rica!
Natasha & Julia

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank NatJulia
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:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 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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