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Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
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2,438 - 2,443 of 3,617 reviews
Reviewed March 20, 2009

We had a great trip. The service was exceptional... we couldn't believe how many of the workers remembered our names and greeted us each day. The food was excellent, as the buffet had various theme-nights. When we arrived we had a room near the pool, which we thought might be loud. We asked to be moved to an ocean-view room. They were very accomodating. We went on several tours and all were worth the money.

There were a few things that we didn't expect for an all-inclusive:
-you cannot eat after 9:00 pm as the buffet closes and there is no snack bar.
-they only restock the fridge in your room every two days, even if you ask, you likely won't get more.
-the beach was rather rocky and not the most appealing.
-the showers in the rooms have a tiny piece of glass, instead of a curtain or door, so there was always water all over the floor after a shower.

  • Stayed: February 2009
    • Value
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3  Thank CalgaryBunny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2009

We were on a trip incentive with our company for 1 week, there were over 100 of us there.
My husband and I added a week, and stayed at this resort for two weeks.
We loved it, the people, the food, the drinks, the tourists, all of it! All kinds of
drinks, loved the dirty bananas or dirty monkey?
Just going to mention a few things.

bring U.S dollars in ones, and small denominations. They hoard the U.S
dollars and don't give change back in U.S in most places

the gift shop does give U.S $$ in change back, send your coffee home
we bought 40 packages and the rocking chair.
FED EX has already brought the coffee, it only took a few days

bring sunscreens with different spf 4 15 30 and oils with sunscreen if
you are a sun worshipper.

that zinc stuff for your nose, mine burnt a few times and I tan well

watch or time piece to put on your beach bag

bring a wireless laptop, there is a 3 prong outlet in the lobby
and free wireless connection

DO NOT DO NOT call home from the phone in the rooms.
2 minutes cost us $56 plus connection fee when we checked out!!

internet in business center is super slow


pack less clothes

bring water toys, ie noodle, air mattress, water toys
hat or hankerchief

do not hang any special towels or clothes outdoors at nite!
They walk.

cheapest place to buy liquor is at the airport DUTY free . Tour guide will tell you
there are no shops or duty free at the airport and stop at a place on the
way back to the airport. There IS a shop and a DUTY free at the airport

the 23 block has the best view and nicer rooms

water gets turned off at nite in SOME rooms.
Avoid the 16 block, stinks and the water gets turned off at nite

if you can check out your room location BEFORE you bring your
luggage so if you don't like it they may switch you

  • Stayed: February 2009
    • Value
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7  Thank AnnaDare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2009

Off the top, let me say that we had a great time at the Grand Papagayo. We were not sure what to expect after reading many posted comments, but it is a great place. Sure it has a few quirks, but so has every other place I have ever stayed at. The location is beautiful, the staff and service very good and the food is excellent. It is also one of the few resorts I have been that actually looks exactly like the promotional photos.

We were there for a wedding and I would highly recommend Grand Papagayo for a destination wedding. Don’t fret about the details – meet with Harold the day before and it will all be memorable – they know what to do and how to do it, so relax and enjoy.

One comment frequently posted is about reservations at the specialty restaurants. The system is clearly explained at guest services and it works (book any day for Mon to Fri, day of from 8am for Sat & Sun). And if you can’t get in, the buffet is excellent and in my opinion, not inferior. The lunch snack bar is great, never a problem getting a table and the bbq chicken, steak and hamburgers always tasty and plentiful.

OK, the quirks, most of which have been mentioned here many times. None of them were problems to us. The water was off from late at night to early morning. The number and assortment of towels in the room was totally inconsistent from day to day. Beach towels sometimes run out. Yes, water gets on the bathroom floor – but there is no flood.

On the plus side, the rooms were clean (not covered in mould!), hot water plentiful at all times and the air conditioning worked, and we turned it off at night. Each room has its own AC unit, and most buildings seemed to have multiple individual hot water tanks, so any problems were isolated, not general. We found the staff to be very responsive. There were signs of wear and tear, but nothing was even close to being or looking dilapidated. The paths can be steep but are not rough and after all the food and drink, the exercise was welcome (and once you get used to the layout, there are lots of short cuts).

I have never stayed anywhere that was perfect, and Grand Papagayo, despite its quirks, was superb. Another advantage is its relative proximity to the Liberia airport – less than 30 minutes.

One of the highlights of Costa Rica are the touring opportunities. We used Carlos Jiminez and his company EcoExplorer Costa Rica and HIGHLY RECOMMEND them (www.ecoexplorercr.com). Carlos was terrific, his prices very competitive and the tours informative and very enjoyable. Plus there is flexibility to tailor to your exact desires and to adjust as you go (like finding a macaw in a tree along the road).

We had absolutely no regrets about being at the Grand Papaygayo. I don’t get hung up on how many stars it has – did we get value for our money and the answer is a resounding yes. It was a memorable week.

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled with family
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8  Thank CanuckOz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 24, 2009

Flew Air Canada Vacations. All fine with the flight, no problems. Picked up bags quickly on arrival and AC rep was right there to meet us after passing immigration. Taken to waiting bus and were at hotel in 35 minutes. Airport in Liberia is nothing fancy and small. Were told when we were coming home from Costa Rica, that there is no Duty Free at this airport but there was and there were great deals as well. The AC reps push to stop at a souvenier place on the way back to the airport so that you buy local liquour. Buy at duty free, better prices.

We booked the Royal Club Service from home so this came with many perks. There were 4 couples in our group, ranging from 54 to 79 years old.

One of the perks being priority check in when we arrived at the hotel. We were ushered upstairs to the Royal Club lounge and greeted by Alanso, one of the lounges waiters. We had cool rum punch drinks waiting for us and were checked in quickly. We had asked for 4 deluxe suites to be all in the same building. 3 of us were in building 8 and the other was on the level right below us in bulidin 6, not a problem at all, very close. Views of the bay were gorgeous. Rooms were adequate with lovely verandahs that we could sit on and enjoy the view of the bay. Due to Royal Club service, Champagne and fruit plates were delivered to our rooms along with bathrobes and beach towels within an hour of getting to our rooms. Another perk of Royal Club is that beach towels are delivered to you so that you don't have to hope to get some at the pool shack. The Air Conditioning was fine for all of us except the couple in building 6. Theirs was not cold enough. They called several times throughout our stay to have it fixed and mentioned it a few times at the reception desk but it wasn't until the last day that it was moderately fixed for them. Two of the others lost hot water one day, wasn't back on until later in the day or maybe even the next morning. Not a big deal, just a bit of a nuisance. Never tried the room service. Bathrooms were clean enough but in need of a spruce up. Mold is starting to show in some areas. I know this is hard to control in this type of weather but when you pay what we did for a week it should be a bit better than it was. Many complained of the shower set up. Yes there are only half doors on the shower but if you ankle the shower head properly it helps. Yes some water gets on the floor but put a towel down and leave it. You aren't cleaning it up. Turn down service in the evening was a nice touch.

Food was the biggest disappointment. Definitely not 5 star or at times even 4 star. Buffet for breakfast was just ok. Pancakes and french toast always seemed to be dry. Good variety of fruits, yogurts and breads. Omellete station ok. Lunch at buffet was a bit better, more of a variety. Lunch at the grill/snack bar behind the pool was the best. More variety and grill always going with chicken, pork chops or burgers. Pizza was good as well. Supper at the buffet was the worst. No quality to speak of, no variety. Same meats in different sauces. Italian night was a bit better. We avoided the evening buffet only ate there the first night because the others were booked and one other time, Italian night. the a la carts were better. The Italian was much nicer, staff more professional and food tastier. Not 5 star but better. The peanut crusted ice cream roll is very good, the Tiramisu not so good. The Oriental was a lot of fun for our group of 8 because we were able to reserve the Tatami Table, in it's own room. Table and chairs are built into the floor, Asian style. Food was ok, not plentiful but tasty enough. We have had much better Asian style food in the Dominican. The Grill Bar at night is also good. They have steaks, ribs, chicken and fish. We ate here twice had a few in our group that had the red snapper both times. It is served whole from head to tail but they will filet it for you if you prefer. The problem seems to be that they always overcooked the food, whether it was fish or steak. You had to keep reminding them not to overcook your order. The reservation system for the a la carts at this resort takes some getting used to, it is funny. They have so many rules and regulations that it is hard to keep up. We just laughed and made the best of it. Thank goodness we had the Royal Club Service that gave us priority bookings. On the last evening we arranged a lovely meal from the Italian restaurant to be served to us privately in the Royal Lounge. This was the best. Overall, taking every thing into account our group rated the food a 3, with a 4 at times.

Beach was dark sand, rocky with large lava rocks all over on our daily walks. We knew this going down though and were not expecting more. Pool area is fine. Not a very large pool but than again the resort isn't overly large either. Never a problem to relax or getting chairs, even for our larger group to be together. They definitely need more shade areas though and/ or shade umbrellas of which there are none. You always have to go looking for shade trees. The worst thing of the whole resort is the furniture in the lounge areas and pool areas. All the cushions everywhere are stained and ripped. They all need to be replaced and we made sure our comment cards stated this. Make sure to use your beach towels to put on the cushions before sitting on them. Gross. Not what you should see in a 4 or 5 star rated resort.

There were coatis (like racoons but harmless) around the resort, racoons and we had howler monkeys in the trees one day. A few types of pretty birds as well. We also had some visitors up in the ceiling of our room the first few days.We reported this to he front desk and to the maintenance men we met and they said they were aware of this and were trying to catch whatever was up there. The hole in the ceiling of the overhavg outside of the last unit in our building probably had something to do with whatever was getting up there. They never did fix the hole but after the first few days the noise seemed to be gone. Also not what you should have to put up with in a 4 / 5 star resort. The hole in the ceiling should not be there for all to see to begin with.

The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. Very pretty flowers and trees. There is a lot of walking at this resort which we were aware of. Steps and hills, at times very steep everywhere. The resort is built in the mountains so this can't be avoided. There are shuttles to take you to and from areas if you prefer and they were never a problem to get. They do stop running at 11pm though so at times we had to walk back to our rooms in the dark but not a problem. We always felt safe here. There are "75" steps from the lobby at the top just to get to the pool area. As I said, walking the hills or steps everywhere but how else can you work off the food and drinking, right?

Evening entertainment was enough for our group but not at all like many other resorts we have been to. Not any big shows nightly, only one dance show on the last evening,Friday. Other than that there was a musician every night in the lobby and people sat around outside or danced. It was a piano player, sax , steel drums that rotated nightly. Disco is there but it is very very loud, and we are used to discos but we felt this one was very loud and it smelled very musty. Was usually not very full. All is over at 11pm, musicicians, gift shops, bars and lounges, even the Royal Club lounge, except for the disco no matter what you are doing it'sover at 11pm. It is not a place to go to if you are used to staying up till the wee hours partying.

All in all a nice place but we felt that we over paid for what we got. I wouldn't go back because I would like to try another hotel but the staff was very friendly. They try very hard to understand you and accomodate you. The Royal Club waiters, Alonso and Sergio were awesome. AnnaMary at the buffet is amazing. She remembers everyones name, and I mean everyone. The Grill staff at night is also very good.

Tours. We booked with Vargas Tours, Ricardo and Lupita. I had received info from them from home before leaving and made arrangements for them to meet us at the hotel the day after we got there. We had our own mini van, driver - John and Manny - tour guide. They were the best and went out of their way to show us things that you wouldn't see on a hotel chartered tour through Air Canada or with the guys selling tours on the beach. Watch out for them, they take your deposits and than don't show up to take you on the tour.

Hope this helps you choose. Costa Rica is a beautiful country as are its people. If you love wild life and eco things to see and do than it is a must see desitnation for you

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled with friends
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4  Thank Lucy F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 22, 2009

Let me begin by saying that when I vacation somewhere I am laid back-- I don't expect people to cater to my every need and I also don't expect perfection. Regardless of how much I paid for my trip, the employees at the hotel have little/nothing to do with that. With that said, my review of the Occidental:

We traveled with Apple Vacations so we received an automatic upgrade (the gold bands rather than the red). This meant that we were able to use the private lounge and also had free access to internet-- the benefits we enjoyed the most as travelers in need of email use. Our room was not any different than the rooms individuals with red bands had. Also, when we arrived our room had fruit and champagne-- not such a big deal to us, but a nice touch.

Food:
The buffet was wonderful for breakfast and lunch. We never had dinner there because we enjoyed the other restaurants so much. Made-to-order omelets are available for breakfast and there was always so much food. Also, wonderful fresh fruit that didn't make either of us sick (and I have a sensitive stomach). "The Oriental," a Japanese restaurant, was amazing. We actually ate there 3 times during our 11 day stay. Try the pork pot-stickers-- they are blissful! "The Italian" had some of the best staff at the resort; our first night there we both had the lasagna and would've asked for seconds if it was appropriate. Every meal we had was great. "The Grill" was the least impressive of the bunch; it is an open air facility. Some people were turned off by the serving style of the fish (it is served traditionally, as a whole fish) but honestly-- you are in Costa Rica, cultural differences are to be expected and you're naive if you think otherwise-- a whole fish compared to a filet isn't that big of a deal. They let us try several dishes one evening and were always gracious and helpful. During the day they serve burgers, hot dogs, deli sandwiches, etc. poolside which was nice but if you wanted variety (and air conditioning) just head up to the buffet. We ordered room service several times and were impressed. It was a great alternative if we missed dining hours (which we did several times because of our excursions). Don't leave food on your balcony/porch because Costa Rican wildlife is smart and opportunistic. If you don't mind them, though, they'll be forever appreciative. We left our fruit out every night.

Service:
I was impressed with service at this hotel. Our television broke one evening (around 11:30pm) and we called the front desk. Ten minutes later two men were at our door with a replacement television that worked perfectly. I've never experienced that and was appreciative. Housekeeping was reliable and were friendly. Also, make an effort to tip the pool server early in your stay and you'll be treated well the rest of your stay. She never let our drinks become empty. Some travelers complained about pool service but there was only one server and the bar was literally 40 steps away so even if she was busy we weren't too lazy to get our own drinks. Again, this goes back to being on vacation and not letting small things upset you. Food servers were always kind and helpful-- offering suggestions when we asked them.

Outtings:
We did the full day trip to the hot springs and volcano and had a wonderful time-- one of our most memorable days even though it rained. It actually started raining while we were at the hot springs; the cold rain hitting the hot water created steam-- it was an unexpected treat. We also did the half day canopy tour. ASK to see the monkeys-- for 5 dollars you get a hands on experience with the monkeys they have. So much fun! Finally, we did the Corobici River tour and got to see all sorts of wildlife-- crocs, lizards, snakes, birds, etc. It was paired with lunch and we had fresh fish from the local farm.

Room:
My favorite part of the room was our balcony. It served as a great place to relax at night-- we looked out at the gulf, drank wine, and read-- a perfect way to end an adventurous day in Costa Rica. The bed was soft and comfortable and our sheets were always clean and crisp. The shower is open and may be uncomfortable for some people but didn't pose a problem for us. The water leaks a bit but this is fairly common at Central American hotels.

Atmosphere:
We saw so much wildlife on the hotel campus. If you aren't looking to encounter the REAL Costa Rica you shouldn't stay here. It isn't like Cancun, etc. and I was appreciative of that. Previous reviewers have commented on the "danger" of the animals but honestly I never felt as though I was in a compromising (or even remotely dangerous situation) with the quaties (sp?), birds, lizards, monkeys, etc. I was excited to be in a place where the natural habitat hasn't been destroyed for tourism.

Beach and Pool:
If you are looking for a white sand beach, this isn't the place for you. The beach is rocky and beautiful. If you go during high tide, you will see that there is little/no beach at all. We walked the beach several times and collected interesting shells. When we wanted to swim/be in water, we went to the pool. The pool is great-- entertainment all day, warm water, and a close bar. But, like I said, if you are looking for white sand and clear water you don't want to stay on this coast. We even took a day trip (via cab) to other beaches and had similar experiences. Fortunately, the pool is a great replacement.

Nightlife:
The disco is a bit funny; we stopped in to see what it was like but didn't stay. The lobby entertainment, however, was a lot of fun. Different bands every night and if you are willing to get involved, you will have fun. Otherwise, there are a few bars open. Overall, this is not a late-night hotel. You won't find the themed nightlife like you do in Riviera Maya, etc.

Spa:
We each had a 60 minute massage and it was the perfect end to our trip. Like any resort spa it is a bit pricey, but you get what you order.

I would not recommend this hotel for individuals who have trouble getting around on their own. There are a lot of steps and hills. It is certainly built with able individuals in mind.

We were able to see several other all-inclusive hotels during our stay and they didn't seem nearly as nice as this one. I'd stay here again because of the ideal location, wonderful service, and cultural setting. Our trip to Guanacasta, Costa Rica (like any other vacation) was only as good as we made it, but the Occidental Grand made life, and vacation, a pleasure.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank teresapershing
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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