My husband and I stayed at Andaz for five nights, June 24-29, and have rarely been so impressed with a resort. The setting, the service, the amenities, the unpretentious elegance were all so soothing that we immediately felt cared for and relaxed. Truly, this resort is extraordinary.
The architecture is thoughtfully designed to fit into the landscape in the middle of the tropical dry forest in Guanacaste. Costa Rica has significant restrictions in place to protect wildlife fauna and fauna, and the builders have clearly embraced these restrictions to create an organic setting. The experience begins at the nonexistent "front desk," a beautifully appointed open air lounge whose purpose is only evidenced by the laptops on two kiosks. The Pura Vida atmosphere is imbued in the "lounge" staff (some standouts we encountered included Brenda, Andrea, and Ignacio), who seat you in comfy chairs and serve you the juice of the day (ours was pineapple mint), gathering your luggage and information discreetly and cheerfully. We were taken in one of the ubiquitous and much needed golf carts to our room, probably the second best room we've ever had-- and our room was the least expensive basic Andaz King. Many other reviewers have detailed the beauty, comfort, and amenities in the rooms, so I won't repeat, but will just add to the praise.
The resort is self contained, offering most of the experiences a tropical vacationer would want, including two wonderful pools, one huge one that's family friendly, and another that's adults only, two beaches, one complete with kayaks, snorkel equipment, and SUPs, all included in your room price, and additional services like jet skis available at additional cost. The second beach is a bit more secluded, with no special services, but at both pools and both beaches, staff regularly appear with fresh towels, flavored ice water, and the occasional special juice. All are delivered with that smiling, gracious attitude that exemplifies Costa Rican hospitality.
The gym and spa are unbelievable. Great equipment on the lower level, complete with a fridge stocked with water and apples. On the top floor are spa like gender specific shower rooms and steam rooms with gorgeous tile and thoughtful toiletries. Leave the steam room and luxuriate in the plunge pool, preferably under the stars.
Restaurants are also thoughtfully designed for guests of all ages and persuasions. Rio Bhongo is the all day restaurant, the only one of the three serving breakfast and lunch as well as dinner in a gorgeous but casual setting. The cuisine is fresh but upscale Costa Rican, with lots of fruits available as well as those wonderful juice blends. Our "regular" waitress, Inez, was beautiful in every way, gracious, helpful, and attentive. On her day off, Carolina was a worthy replacement, but on the few nights we had dinner at Rio Bhongo, we were disappointed with both the service and the menu choices. We ate twice at the small plates restaurant Chao Pescao, and were satisfied enough with the quality and size of the meals, though the addition of fresh vegetables and fruits to the menu would be so welcome since do many items are a tad heavy. Our waitress here, Josefina, was outstanding both times we visited. Friday nights there is an amazing Brazilian singer in the bar area, adding to the already cool vibe in the place. At Ostra, the fine dining restaurant, we were thrilled with a starter if ceviche, and very happy with our very well prepared seafood entrees. Daniel, our Swiss server, was excellent at helping us decide on our dishes. The dessert, however, was wildly disappointing -- a "deconstructed" cheesecake with little flavor and an off putting texture.
The restaurants are certainly expensive, though we've eaten in hotels that charged more for a lot less quality. Still, we spent $800 on food over 6 days, and I don't drink alcohol. Be aware.
Another caveat: because it's built into a hillside, Andaz has a LOT of hills to navigate to get to and from just about anywhere on the property. We chose to walk everywhere, but that's not for everyone. Hence, those ubiquitous golf carts, which will instantly whisk you wherever you want to go if you either call from your room or ask your server. Rides are even offered as you're taking a walk, and always cheerfully given. The walking paths are also a bit dark at night, so more lights should be installed.
Believe it or not, I could go on. And on, about this glorious place. Suffice it to say, we arrived frazzled and desperately needing a vacation, and left blissed out and relaxed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Andaz Peninsula Papagayo stands quietly among the trees, overlooking the sapphire blue waters of Culebra Bay. With spectacular design, the first Latin American Andaz, was inspired by the organic forms and shapes of the native flora and fauna, using the shapes of cocoons and shells for the hotel's facilities, stimulating the senses of guests in new and refreshing ways. Each of the 153 rooms balance modern design with touches of character that blend into the natural surroundings, with woven textiles, solid woods and carved artifacts highlighting the rich Costa Rican aesthetic. Guestrooms and suites offer a spacious balcony with breathtaking bay and forest views. Four of the 21 suites feature plunge pools, and the Presidential Suite offer a private, full-sized pool. The unique gastronomic experience of the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo s Cuisine features three themed restaurants. Each one tells a story about our culture. Chao Pescao, a casual dining enclave nestled within the lush Guanacaste landscape offering a small plates menu and the mixologists' specialties, is our neighborhood place. Rio Bhongo, the meeting point, a place for everyone, a culinary "paseo"... Just like a farmer's market. Ostra is our signature restaurant, elegant, discreet and romantic, offering all kind of delicacies from the sea, carefully prepared using the most sophisticated culinary techniques. Totally open kitchens allow a distinctive interaction with chefs, making guests feel like if they were visiting family or the home of a friend. Onda Spa is a respite of energy, touch and evolution. Elevated into the trees of Costa Rica's rich tropical forest, guests at Onda set out on a journey to envigorate both body and soul. Blending Papagayo's culture, senses, smells and touches, treatments are individually tailored for each guest, directly addressing specific needs, goals and desires. Andaz Peninsula Papagayo has a free-flowing environment that means no desks, no processes, no formality and thus, no stress. The home-feel experience allows you to enjoy complimentary a health-minded mini bar, complimentary wi-fi through out the resort and a complimentary kids program. Hotels in this collection reflect the unique cultural scene and spirit of the surrounding neighborhood through their Andaz Salon program and are dedicated to creating natural and vibrant living spaces where travellers can indulge in their own personal sense of comfort and style. Andaz meaning personal style in Hindi, is infused with character and weaves itself into the fabric of its locale. Every detail is an opportunity to explore the uniqueness of the destination and every moment is a chance to discover something new. True to the Andaz brand, Andaz Peninsula Papagayo will reflect Costa Rica's Pura Vida philosophy, creating locally-inspired experiences and engaging guests in the local culture in a comfortable, unique atmosphere for which Andaz is known. ... more less
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