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“Best place on earth” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Occidental Papagayo - Adults only

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Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
Ranked #7 of 15 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence
Los Angeles
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Best place on earth”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 23, 2006

My wife and our 11 year old daughter just came back from the beautiful country of Costa Rica and had a fantastic time.

Once we decided on the area (N. Pacific), we then read all the reviews and booked our room at the Grand Papagayo.

The hotel is well kept with very courteous staff. Our room had a heavenly view of the bay and our 7 days were spent discovering the nature, swimming and eating. Just rest & relax in Costa Rica.

We were lucky to have met a very knowledgeable tour guide, Roberto Mora from geckotico tours www.geckotico.com that patiently spent time with us showing the country and as many beautiful places as possible. Roberto has a large mini van, was always on time and was great tour guide.

We highly recommend the location and the hotel.

  • Stayed July 2006, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
13 Thank VTLLC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,011 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (770)
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English first
New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2006

My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon at the Occidental Grand Papagayo, and we would definitely recommend the hotel to others. The people who work there couldn't be nicer. The grounds are very well kept and are beautiful. The food is good and there is a good variety (not a lot of vegetarian entrees, but still plenty to eat, for those of you who are veg). We enjoyed the Italian restaurant more than the Oriental restaurant, but that's just based on dining once at each. If you have a group of 4 or more, you can get a cool private room at the Oriental one. The "snack bar" is really a full lunch buffet by the pool, so you'll never go hungry. The drinks are good and the bar by the lobby is popular, but the disco doesn't attract much of a crowd, so there's not too much to do at night. If you're into gambling, I heard there's a casino nearby, but it only has 4 tables. If you're tired of the resort food, you can also take a short taxi restaurant to a nearby restaurant called Ginger, which has excellent food and a great selection.
We took tours through CAT and they were great. For 2 of the 3 tours we took, we were the only 2 people, so we got plenty of individual attention. The canopy tour was great, as was the kayaking on the Colorado river (it was more like basic white water rafting). Palo Verde was also very cool - lots of crocodiles, monkeys, birds, etc. There are also sailing and jetski tours that are organized by the hotel - apparently they're great but we didn't find out about them until the day we were leaving.
The rooms are nice, well kept, have TVs with English channels, and minibar included in the price. AC worked well, there was a safe, plenty of space, and a balcony outside every room. The bathroom was the only downside of the trip for me - shower doesn't drain that well, water gets on the floor, and sometimes ants appeared in the tub. But that's really my only complaint, and it certainly wouldn't stop me from going again.

Stayed July 2006
Helpful?
5 Thank Christina52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
49 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 10, 2006

My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary at the Grand Papagayo. Could not have had a better time.

FOOD - The quality of the buffets at this hotel are well above average. The Italian restaurant was okay, but the Oriental was fabulous - ate there 3 times.

RESORT - No real entertainment, but evenings at the lobby & lobby bars were great. Met lots of people and had many a great evening chatting over cocktails or playing pool (billiards). The pool area is nice. Sometimes there is music blaring and other times it's quiet. The type of music played is all over the board - everything from ABBA to Bon Jovi & in between. The beach was also very nice, and quiet too. Overall, very clean and pleasant atmosphere.

ROOM - We had a royal club room (805). GREAT view! It was well worth the extra $100cdn pp/wk. Our minibar was stocked daily, we had turndown service at night with flowers and an "inspirational" saying, as well as preferred reservations for restaurants with no restrictions. We also had a preferred check-in and check-out. Royal club also offers a full service menu for in-room dining.

TOURS -We did not use any of the hotel sponsored tour companies. We used Vargas/Papagayo Tours for all of our excursions based on Trip Advisor writer reviews. Cost is comparable to the large companies, but service is second to none. All tours have a max of 8 people. We never had more than 6. The day tour to Arenal with rainforest and hot springs was the best. My husband was very hesitant about the 15 hour duration but the time flew by. The highlight was watching Arenal spew lava rocks down the side of the mountain while dining on a fabulous costa rican dinner. Palo Verde boat cruise was also awesome. Wildlife galore. The zipline at Witches Rock was a gas.

I would definately recommend this hotel. It's close to the airport and the area offers lots to do and see.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
24 Thank warrenandlinda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, NC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 9, 2006

The Grand Papagayo was everything we hoped for and all that it claimed. The rooms were lovely -- OK - so there was no pen/paper or conditioner in the bath! I don't judge a hotel on the little extras in the room. As soon as we learned to put a towel outside the shower to cover the floor - no problem -- you just had to figure out how to adjust to the "no shower closure". The food was good -- not great -- but good. The Oriental restaurant was the best meal we had -- excellent! The Italian was probably one of the worst -- food was very very salty and pasta very al denta! The staff couldn't have been nicer and more accommodating. The info we had read about getting the reservations at the two restaurants turned out to be completely wrong -- we made both reservations the day we checked in for later in the week -- no running to the desk at 8AM in the morning to get a reservation! The tours we took through Swiss Travel were ok -- the volcano tour was a disappointment as it was rainy and lots of clouds so we didn't get to even peak at the volcano -- and then a 4 hours bus ride back on winding roads that were beyond bad! But - the rainforest and springs were nice -- however, not worth a $96 price tag pp! The Tabacon resort for dinner was one of the best dinners we had -- excellent! We did enjoy the river cruise and saw all the animals they promised -- birds, monkeys, iguanas and crocks!
I will admit that I don't think the mixed drinks had much (if any) liquor in them -- I had 3 cosmos one nite at dinner and normally have 1 --what does that tell you. If, however, you drank something on the rocks or were in one of the bars that you sat at the bar and watched he bartender make your drink -- you got the drink you wanted. Not a big deal but I honestly don't think they poured too much liquor in the drinks. Therefore, we NEVER saw anyone drunk or disorderly either at the pool in the daytime or at the bars -- and there was a lot of drinking during the day at the pool!!
All in all - it was a lovely trip. Definitely pay your departure tax at the hotel at the start of the week so you don't have to wait at the airport. OH - the airport -- now there's the negative of the entire trip -- the tour gets you to the airport 3 hours ahead of flight time and the airport is small, not air conditioned, all boarding passes had to be HAND WRITTEN (and then turned out to be incorrect!) and jammed with tourists going home -- not a fun way to end the trip. But -- Costa Rica was great -- PURA VIDA!!

  • Stayed July 2006
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Nyny612
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 8, 2006

We stayed for a week in mid June, and would definitely choose a different hotel next time although there were some positive things about the Grand Papa. You have to decide for yourself how much you are willing to put up with.

The GOOD:
1. Nicely manicured grounds and pool area, everything was kept clean and pretty
2. Nice spacious room with lots of closet space and room for suitcases; well decorated
3. Beautiful sunsets and views from the beach which was never crowded
4. Sunset sail that hotel offers was well worth the money and absolutely stunning
5. Staff was friendly and mostly helpful
6. The food and service at the two restaurants (Italian and Oriental) were very good
7. The fresh fruit (especially the pineapple) and ice cream/frozen yogurt dessert at the buffet restaurant was always good
8. Quick, friendly check-in with welcome drink

The BAD:
1. We had some maintenance issues with our room (broken lamp, slow draining sink that leaked from the pipes underneath and a malfunctioning safe). Everything but the draining sink was fixed, but we had to ask them more than twice to change out the lamp/bulb. These were minor inconveniences but not what you'd expect from a 5 star hotel and not what you want on vacation.

2. Maid service was very poor. Our room didn't get changed until around 4 or 5pm each day, and never got turn-down service. We also never got soap after the first day or more than two clean towels. We had to request soap and more towels every day from the front desk. Also, one of the sleeping pillows disappeared on the 4th day after she cleaned, and it was never replaced. Finally, the comforter and decorative pillows were never put on the bed after the first day. It always looked like the room was done hastily, sloppily and at the very last minute.

3. The beach---while pretty, it was very rocky so you had to swim in this small, square roped-off area to be safe. I ventured out of the "playpen" on the left side and scraped up against huge hip high rocks, and stepped on many smaller sharp rocks. So, stay in the playpen or visit another beach to really swim or play in the water.

4. The pool area got really crowded mid-week and you had to ask for them to set out more chairs since there weren't enough. Some people ended up circling the pool for awhile waiting for others to get up and leave.

5. Reservations for the two restaurants were very difficult to get, because the "rules" kept changing. When we checked in, we tried to make a reservation for dinner the next day, and were told we could only make a reservation on the same day we wanted to eat in the restaurant. So, the next morning, before breakfast we went to make the reservation and were told that it was all booked for both restaurants, and to try again the next day. Later, we found out from other guests that they were able to reserve times for every night of their stay in advance at check-in, and that the restaurants were mostly empty when they went. Sure enough, on our last morning, the woman making the reservation told me there was nothing she could do to get us into either restaurant on our last night and that we "should have done it at check-in instead of waiting until the LAST MINUTE! " The whole process was frustrating and we were constantly told that they were fully booked although both restaurants appeared 75% empty when we finally were able to go.

6. Buffet Food---My husband (who can eat ANYTHING) was sick to his stomach all week, and we ran into a few other people that had the same stomach trouble after eating at the buffet. Later in the week, we noticed that the raw meat and fish were left out to warm for hours before being cooked on the grill. The meat was sitting open on a plate which was placed on a small tray of long-ago melted ice and was warm when I went to touch it.
As the week progressed we ended up liking the buffet less and less. First, there were three entree choices fish, pork or beef that are just covered in a different sauce each day to match that days' "theme" like mexican or carribbean. The salad bar, while offering more variety, had soaking wet lettuce and flavorless pasta salads. The dessert bar also had plenty of variety, but had rubbery pies and custards, and hard overly-sweetened pastries and cakes. To top it all off, during our last meal at the hotel I found a large worm/caterpillar wriggling through the lettuce in my salad as I was eating it. We just put down our forks and left, too disgusted to continue eating and glad to go check out.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
31 Thank YoungDallasCouple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Alberta
Level Contributor
13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 6, 2006

My wife and I had won an all inclusive trip to the Occidental Grand Papagayo through the local radio station. We are both in our 50's and all I can say about this resort is...fantastic.
We had previously taken a Carribbean cruise and thought nothing could top that .....Until we arrived in Costa Rica. From the minute we arrived at the resort we were greeted by the friendliest staff we have ever met in all the years we have travelled.
We found there was not a problem with the language as a matter of fact we learned quite a bit os Spanish while we were there. The food at the restaurants was fantastic and having a different theme every day at the buffet restaurant was awesomre.
The pool was fantastic. It was big with plenty of room to do whatever you choose. It seemed everyone just sat around and soaked up the sun or played a little volleyball so there always seemed to be room in the pool to move around. The swim up bar was the highlight of the pool. We thoroughly enjoyed the day we took the shuttle over to the private beach that the resort runs. Beautiful and the service and staff were fantastic.
The room we had was nice and accommodated us and our luggage quite well. The room was clean and well kept and the air conditioner worked. The view from our room was very nice and we were very impressed with the taxi service that was provided within the complex. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a ride. We were not that far from anything anyway that a little walk would not hurt. The climb up to the lobby was a killer sometimes but nothing that we worried about.
All in all we were very impressed and both of us said that if we had a choice of a cruise or back to Costa Rica we would pick Costa Rica. Our only complaint was that the lobby lounge seemed to close early in the evening. This was unfortunate especially if you get back a little later in the evening from a tour.

  • Stayed April 2006
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank hawkeyman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 3, 2006

My wife and I (mid-30s) selected the Occidental Grand Papagayo based on its location, an easy flight to Liberia from Atlanta, and on our previous stay at the fabulous Occidental Royal Hideaway on the Mayan Riviera.
The good: the food was excellent, fresh with great variety; the staff were lovely, with a few frustrating exceptions (surly spa receptionist, a bellman who left us in a van while he tended to new arriving guests who might bring him a fresh tip)
The bad: don't expect to relax, unless you enjoy hearing an awful mix of the Carpenters, house music, and corny eighties power balads (e.g., the Scorpions and Air Supply) blasted at poolside while half-drunk 20-somethings play water volleyball all day. At high tide, the resort offered no escape from this racket, unless you pay to go on one of the many excursions away from the resort. Even the lopen-air lobby and the restaurants were no escape from the awful music. Turn it off!!!!
Also, the rooms were not up to par for a resort that bills itself as five star. No pen/paper in the room, a locker-room style shampoo (no conditioner) and soap dispenser that was not refilled by the staff, a shower that spills over onto the floors, no movie options in the room for a rainy day, etc.

This resort could step up by building a second "adult" pool without the noise, offering more standard room amenities, and upgrading the spa/gym. Bottom line, don't go here as we did looking for a luxury all-inclusive place to relax for a few days.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
28 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
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
#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 Grand Papagayo is only at 25 minutes from the Liberia International Airport. This Resort surrounded by nature, boast lush tropical lanscape with scenic views of Bahía Culebra in Papagayo Golf.Ideal for couples, honeymooners and adult guest seeking a relaxing getaway. The Occidental Grand Papagayo offers a highly persolized 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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