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Reviewed December 19, 2008

I like many others looked up this resort on trip advisor prior to booking. I mistakenly figured that the "bad" submissions were just picky customers, but no they were right. Please do not waste your vacation or money on this hotel.

We stayed our entire 2 weeks at this "resort". We booked an all inclusive package through Air Canada.

These are some of the "features" of the resort:
-We had cash stolen from our locked safe, we then had to fight with the staff for a week before getting a spa voucher to cover our loss. I spent roughly 2 hours of my vacation tracking down, filing reports and fighting with staff to get a resolution. Additionally the staff told me that the situation was "just gossip". This was not an isolated situation, as a couple we were traveling with had cash taken from their locked safe as well (their room was next to ours).
-The food was a lot of the same every day. The food was not very fresh. We tried to go off the resort as much as possible.
-Grey water freely flows down the hill side to the ocean, providing a overpowering "fragrance".
-The second week of our stay the air conditioning was shut off at about 2am every night.
-BED BUGS, and lots of bites.
-Getting clean towels is hit or miss.
-Our bedding only got changed a couple times per week.
-Its a long walk to the beach, there are no bathrooms near the beach and the bar is a fair walk from the beach .
-They say the water is fine to drink from the tap, though I think they have a back-flow issue. As the water was very foul at times.

The good:
-Anne-Mary at the buffet was great and always remembered our names.
-Oscar at the lobby bar was friendly and outgoing.
-The other guests we met were great.

I would not recommend this resort to anyone!!!!!!! But do go and experience Costa Rica and its people, we had a wonderful time off of the resort.

We often went on tours with Amy and Jose from Avispa tours. I would highly recommend the turtle tour! The tour company will go out of their way to accommodate, stopping whenever we wanted to take pictures or go to shops.

Although I would not recommend the Miravalles tour, as the horses are in bad shape. They have ticks, open soars on their feet and mouths, one animal was blind, they didn't have any water and they were all very, very skinny.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank ErinMcSmyth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2008

The Grand Occidental Papagayo is one of the most attractive and best-run all-inclusive resort hotels my wife and I have ever visited.

No resort can meet everyone's needs. The Papagayo can best be described as a friendly boutique resort, one that is particularly suited for couples or families rather than twenty-somethings looking for a holiday romance or an active nightlife. It is small: There are only about 160 rooms. It is also relatively isolated. There was only one other hotel visible and it was three or four kilometres across the bay. It was not obtrusive during the daytime and its lights were very attractive across the water at night.

The dining rooms were small. I don't think that the buffet dining room held more than a hundred and there were about ten tables in each of the Italian and Oriental restaurants. By the third day the guest services manager and the maitre d' in the a la carte restaurants knew my name and my wife's.

I found it quite easy to get reservations through Guest Services. As in any of these resorts, it is wise to reserve ahead in the morning. We ate in the a la carte restaurants five out of our seven nights. The Italian restaurant was outstanding, from the décor, to the service, and the food. A three-course meal for two with Chilean wine in an atmosphere like that would set anyone back a minimum of $150 in a major city.

For some people a gleaming white beach is the epitome of a resort vacation. They probably shouldn't go the Papagayo. They shouldn't go to Costa Rica at all. Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity and there are tours easily available from the hotel or other independent operators that allow you to sample it.

There have also been some complaints that booze did not flow freely at the resort. It is true that I have been at resorts where liquor was more freely available, but there have also been annoying drunks at those resorts along with a lot of noise from the bars late into the night. Perhaps more important was that the beer, wine and spirits that were amply provided were good quality. The Costa Rica rum that the resort dispensed sold for twenty dollars in the local supermarkets, and the scotches were brands like Johnny Walker Red, even at the beach bar. The wines in the a la carte restaurants were well chosen to pair with the food.

There was one adult with one small children's pool adjacent to the larger pool. At a small resort this allowed for an easy and casual way to meet other guests, as did the small and attractive bars. And if you get involved in the pool volleyball games early in your visit, you will soon make friends with others. In fact, this is the only all-inclusive hotel I have ever visited where some of the departing guests could be seen hugging each other when leaving.

Our room was exactly as pictured in the hotel brochure. We had an ocean view and I would suggest that these rooms are much preferable to the standard rooms, which might be situated at the bottom of the buildings, without views or balconies, and built into the hillsides.

Stayed: December 2008
1  Thank cj1806fox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 16, 2008

The on-line reviews were so varied that I had no idea what to expect. I think some people are so hung up on hotel star ratings and expect to be waited on hand and foot. These types of people will always find something to complain about.
Treat the staff with respect and you get rewarded beyond belief. They are all so friendly and helpful.
I would not hesitate to go back this resort and would recommend it to family and friends.

The pool was smaller than I expected, but it was never crowded. We had absolutely no issues with pool towels, bar service, room cleaning or anything. Some of the pool palapas did not have roofs for shade, but there is so much foliage around that shade was not in short supply, nor was the sunshine.
We stayed in Bldg 1 close to the pool and lobby area so we missed out on seeing monkeys and coatis on the grounds. Every afternoon flocks of green parrots chattered and flew from tree to tree. Very nice.
No air conditioning issues either. In fact the room was often too cold.

Food was great. There was always something to eat. Even on seafood night I could find something since I am allergic to shellfish.
The a la cartes were very good. I enjoyed both the Italian and Oriental restaurants. The italian was my favorite.
For red wine drinkers, the house wines at the resort were awesome (Fonterra and Sunrise from Chile).

For all you fault finders out there....go to the Bahamas and pay three to four times as much.....leave Costa Rica to us "Go with the flow" and easy to please types.

EXCURSIONS:

I HIGHLY recommend Carlos from EcoExplorer. We did three different excursions with him and they were all incredibly fun (Miravalles Canopy Tour, Arenal Volcano and Palo Verde).
I contacted him on line a few weeks before our trip. He was easy going, loaded up the cooler with whatever you wanted to drink and offered great local insight to the area.
It felt like we had the place to ourselves where ever we went. No crowds, no line ups. Just great fun and relaxing times. No time lines or schedules, we just went with the flow.
We had a couple from Ottawa join us on our first two excursions. Unfortunately they departed before our Palo Verde tour, but Carlos still took us on our own even though I am sure it was not as profitable for him to only take two people versus four. It showed us that he was more concerned that we have a good time and enjoy our trip. Which we did immensely.
Thank you Carlos!!
We wouldn't consider another tour operator when we come back. EcoExplorer all the way!!

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank flannytaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 14, 2008

So, after reading many bad reviews, I was worried about this place, BUT after returning from the Grand Papagayo after a weeks stay I had the time of my life! My husband and I are in our early 30's and have travelled to many other countries before at all 5 star resorts. Costa Rica is by far the best place we have ever been too!

Resort: Yes the resort is small and their are stairs, but its not bad at all. We were in building #1. Building 1 & 2 are the closest to the pool and main lobby. If you are in a farther building their are little shuttles that will take you around the resort. We were never in our room anyways because their is so much to do and see in Costa Rica!

Room: Our room was always clean and had tons of towels everyday. The bathroom is older looking, but who cares. I'm not there to spend my days in a bathroom! You get beer and water every second day. We just kept our water bottles and filled them up in the water cooler down the hall. Their is one on every floor. Your room does have a safe and you punch in your own code. No problems with theft at all.

Food: I'm a picky eater. I really enjoyed the Costa Rica food. The buffet is quite small only because the hotel is small so it was alot of the same food throughout the week. Their are 3 A La Carte restaurants. Italian, Oriental, and The Grill. Japanese was a waste of our time. The food wasn't that great and it was very small portions. We heard alot of people complaining, and they serve the exact same thing at the buffet that night. Each night the buffet has different themes. Italian restaurant was good, but it takes a long time to get served and get your food. We were in there for 2 1/2 hours.

Beach: The beach is not like Punta Cana or other places with white sand. It is darker colour with tons of shells on it. Still nice though. Great scenery. Snorkelling was awesome at the resort. Bring your own snorkel gear! We saw eels, sting rays, blow fish, tons of other variety's of fish, snakes...I even got stung by a jelly fish, but it was a small one, no big deal.

Excursions: Wow what can I say. This was the best part of the trip. After reading many reviews I decided to book with Vargas Tours. I emailed the company before I left and picked what days and what excursions I wanted to do. They replied back very fast and even called at the resort to make sure I still wanted to go. You don't have to put a deposit down like other companies make you do. Some companies had taken deposits and cancelled on the tours and you don't get a refund. Also with Vargas Tours they take smaller groups. We did the Witches Rock Canopy Tour. It was only myself and my husband on the ziplines which was great cause you didn't have to wait for 40 other people in front of you! We did the Arenal Volcano Tour which is all day, didn't get to see the volcano due to weather, but it was still a great trip. The last tour was the River Boat Tour also knows as PALO VERDE NATIONAL PARK and this was the best one by far! We saw other boats crammed with people in them. We had 8 people in ours so if your not good with crowds or get car sick definatley pick Vargas. Saw tons of animals on the River boat tour and they stop all the time to show you animals and if you want to take pictures. Thank you so much Ricardo, Manny & John!!! I will definatley book with them the next time I go back to Costa Rica. Their website is [-]

All in all we had a blast. Ididn't want to leave. Don't worry about anything and have a blast. Also their weren't any bugs at night. Never got bit once!

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank MelOntario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2008

My review on this hotel is not very good. It started right from the checkin. We had to walk up a flight of stairs to a room where staff was checking us in. it was rather disorganized, but only a minor annoyance. The biggest problems were with the cleaning staff. Things like the coffee and the mini bar were not replaced without contacting the front desk about it. also my parents safe had no key and it took a couple of days before the safe was replaced. they also ran out of soap. There were no shower curtains. Some guests had trouble getting clean beach towels, there just wasnt any available at times. Some of the food, especially the desserts were not very good, however the italian and japanese specialty restaurants we went to were very good. Service was good, however some things like butter and catsup on occasion you had to ask for. There were only 2 nights of entertainment, so we spent most nights playing cards. When we first arrived the air conditioning wasnt working properly, but after the first night it was corrected. If you have trouble walking up hills or stairs, I wouldnt recomend going here, in fact I wouldnt recommend this hotel at all.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with family
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Thank StevesAjax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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