More about Occidental Grand Papagayo All-Inclusive
Xmas in Papagayo, Guanacaste (near Liberia)
Arrival - The immigration at Liberia is the fastest ever! We were out of the airport with our bags within 30 minutes of the aircraft touching down. However, Liberia is a very basic airport so don't plan on spending too much time there when it is time to leave!
The Beach - I am a keen snorkeller and found this aspect a little disappointing. At low tide, the beach is super, but there is very little of it at high tide! We did have some fun taking kayaks and paddling over to the next bay where there is a lovely beach bar.
The Trips - I will say this once, but it is the most important point I want to make in this whole review: You MUST make the effort to see as much of this beautiful country as you can; therefore organising some trips is absolutely essential!
1. The Buena Vista Mega Combo. Despite the hype-ridden title, it certainly lives up to the description. If you only have time for the one tour, it should be this one! I won't go into a description of these as they can be seen on the above site, but needless to say it fulfils (and probably exceeds) any expectation you may have- and mine were pretty high to begin with!
2. The Beach-hopping tour. We combined this with a Quad-Bike tour and some of the group opted for horseback-riding. We followed this with surfing lessons for the 'younger generation', which was one of the highlights of the vacation for them!
3. The Palo Verde River Tour. Monkeys, Crocs, Birds and a real flavour of the wildlife generally.
4. The Sunset Sail. What a way to end the vacation! Not only viewing the most spectacular sunset ever, but also having schools (shoals?) of dolphins swimming by our boat and then the actual sunset framing the silhouette of 3 whales jumping and diving into the Pacific! Unbelievable.
The motto of Costa Rica is 'Pura Vida' and that pretty much sums up the culture, attitude, beauty and people of this wonderful place. Can't wait to go back!!! First impressions of the resort were mixed. It was a lot smaller than we were used to, but this actually became an advantage. It had a more intimate feel as a result.
The Rooms - Pretty good. 'The parents' had paid a little extra for an Ocean View, which was a spectacular thing to wake up to every morning.
Clean, spacious and comfortable. Let's face it, this is not the sort of place you are going to spend much time in your room, apart from sleeping, showering, dressing, etc!
The Food - overall it was very good. The buffet always combined a fine choice with good quality. The Italian restaurant, as many here have noted, was excellent and the Oriental was 'good'. However, it is the dining system that created our biggest complaint and problem. The reservation process is ridiculous, particularly if you are trying to accommodate a large party.
The first week we stayed there (pre-Christmas) it wasn't particularly busy but, despite repeated requests, we were unable to persuade them to move a couple of the tables together so we could enjoy an occasional 'group' dinner.
However, the puzzling thing is that in the second week - their busiest of the year - they seemed to be happy to assist with two groups of a similar size to our own!
The Staff - Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Genuinely warm, friendly people who are rightly proud of their country and we were privileged to have been shown around by a couple of them on their night off! We found that if you treat the staff with appropriate respect, then it is reciprocated. Combine this with decent tipping and you have the ideal formula for an enhanced experience! Unfortunately, there seemed to be a number of people who believed giving a tip entitled them to treat the staff like lackeys. This does not go down too well, believe me!
My husband and I just spent a week at the Grand Papagayo by Occidental and we had a great time. The staff was very friendly and always had a smile. Food was top notch and our room was the best. The specialty restaurants were 5 star plus. We did a few excursions but kept them to half days so we could enjoy the resort. I was a little worried about going because of the negative reviews I had read. I had knee surgery and was worried about the stairs but there were options such as a back route from our room or a shutttle bus. The only thing I would not rate as 5 star would be the pool (it is small). They do not have evening entertainment except for the disco but with the heat during the day we were happy to go to our room around 10pm, sit on our balcony and just enjoy the warm air. I would go back but only if I could stay for 10 days or 2 weeks!!!! A beautiful resort. We are glad we did not listen to the winers who negatively rated this resort. We would have missed out on a wonderful vacation.
My boyfriend and I went to Costa Rica to stand up for our best friends who were getting married at the Fiesta Premier on April 19th. We left our booking a little too late and found that the Fiesta Premier was completely sold out. So we booked at the Grand Papagayo by Occidental.
I'm left with mixed feelings about the resort. In some areas, it was completely superb, while it lacked in other areas in a big way. I'll try to break it down for you. Please keep in mind that we had a wonderful holiday regardless.
STAFF - Absolutely NO complaints here. The staff were courteous and friendly and always went out of their way to help. If we needed anything at all, they were there to please. The waiters in the Italian restaurant were especially professional and pleasant.
ENTERTAINMENT - There wasn't any. None at all. Not a band, not a show, no dancers....nothing. After dinner, a few people stuck around and had a few drinks, but other than that, the resort goes completely dead by 11pm. It was weird.
BARS - There is a pool bar that's open during the day, serving everything from soft drinks to Bahama Mammas. It was great, but it shut down most evenings and nobody really hung around there. As mentioned in previous reviews, there is no bar on the beach, and the beach is quite a hike to the pool. They do, however, have cold bottled water available as soon as you reach the beach. There is a lovely bar just off of the lobby that has a beautiful balcony with two tables on it. If you're lucky, you can snag one of these tables after dinner, but we only managed to get it once. This bar shuts down at 11pm. We rarely saw ANYBODY at the Disco.
ROOMS - Fantastic. Clean, spacious and pretty. We didn't see a bug the entire stay. Our fridge worked fine - although there were only two beers in the fridge and they were only replenished every other day. The safe worked perfectly as well. The only thing we didn't like about the room was the location...we were FAAAAAR, baby!! The hike to the restaurants was almost ridiculous. We tried to suck it up and walk for the first few days and then we threw in the towel and called the shuttle service, which was quick to arrive.
FOOD - It was fine. The buffet was really, really small compared to every other resort we've been to. They had about three different vegetables to choose from, two kinds of meat, about four different types of salads and one type of soup. It all tasted great, though. The a la carte restaurants were wonderful! Romantic, tasty and comfortable. When you're booking the Oriental restaurant, be sure to tell them that you want the cook-at-the-table-table!! We had no problem booking them at all. During the day, they had a buffet lunch by the pool that was fine as well - Hot Dogs, Nachos, some cold cuts, fruit, fish. It's just too bad that these snacks weren't available all the time.
BEACH - the beach was nice. We took out the Kayaks one day and some snorkeling stuff another day. The sand was dark, but we were expecting that, so it wasn't a surprise.
HOTEL ACTIVITIES - They had a spanish lesson, a sunset walk, and a volleyball game. It was all very disappointing.
EXCURSIONS - we went through Michael Mills on the Canopy Tour/hot springs/mud baths Tour. It was tons of fun and worth the price.
To sum it up, our stay at the Grand Papagayo was NICE. It was great to go on vacation, and it was great to see some of the wildlife. But we found that the resort was far too quiet for our liking. If you're looking for a QUIET, peaceful vacation spot where there's not much to do, The Grand Papagayo is the place for you! It's beatiful but boring.
Now on the other hand, the best part of our vacation was the two days that we spent at the FIESTA PREMIER HOTEL. Our friends who were getting married purchased a few day passes for us and it was incredible!! The whole vibe was different. They had a pool bar, a pool-side grille that was open really late. They had a whole TEAM of Activity Personelle that were constantly trying to get the guests involved. It was FUN. And exciting to be there. THey had mariachi bands and incredible entertainment at night. EVERY NIGHT. The beach was even more exciting with jet skis and a scuba hut. The buffet restaurant was to die for...it was HUGE. And the a la cart restaurant was completely gourmet.
Our friends got married on the beach at the Fiesta Premeir and it was first class all the way. It was beautiful and the staff was so wonderful.
I'd definitely go back to Costa Rica, but I'd make sure to stay at the Fiesta Premier as opposed to the Grand Papagayo.
Feel free to email me with any questions regarding either resort.
Bon Voyage!! xxoo
My Compliments to this Resort
My wife and I recently visited this country and after searching through the net, we decided that we would end our vacation at the Grand Papagayo in Gunacste, after driving through this beautiful central america country. We had read many comments, good and bad, but I believe that every Hotel will always have its pros & cons, depending on the perception of each individual. Well, to say the least, we had a great experience at the Grand Papagayo. We know that most "All inclusive" properties will lack certain standard services you may find at other Hotels, but the basic, they were supplied properly to our satisfaction. The main lobby area, it is small but nicely decorated and what a view one gets upon arrival from the bay of papagayo. It is breathtaking . The rooms, nice and clean, and who cares if they are 400 yards away from the main building. My idea of vacationing there was to get away from the heavy traffic back home and to change my lifestyle for a moment. I did not care to walk around, after all, the grounds are nicely kept and there are hundreds of birds flying around, many I had never seen before. If I had taken the shuttle that constantly runs around the Hotel, I would have even missed to see a family of howler monkees that go around and that you can listen since early morning. Back with the rooms, all the necessary amenities were there, coffee maker, iron and board, mini fridge, safety box, which we had trouble opening, but after calling for assistance, a girl came over in less than 10 minutes and helped us. It was a dead battery issue. Problem fixed. Food was excelent, magnifico! The main restaurant does have a little space problem, but you find variety on all meals. Perhaps one is used to big buffet restaurants at All Inclusive, where you might see "volume" but no quality. Here, all is fresh and there is no need for volume.
Going down to the beach, again, we were trying to get away from the crowds, and this was the place to be. A small beach, clean, no bar service but I found out that the local government controls all the beaches, thus they are all public, so no bar service can be provided, but the hotel staff provided us with nice cold water and beach towels. Plenty of chairs to seat and relax.
Certain details had to be remembered such as extra towels, but assistance was provided inmediately.
We are quite sure that this hotel, even though was recently renovated, will be in a near future in the top hot destinations.
My compliments to the management and the staff at the grand Ppagayo.
Coral Gables, Florida
Fun in the sun
My wife and I had the opportunity to stay at this resort for five days in April. Our purpose for the holiday was for her to catch a sail fish, which, in fact, she did.
The Grand Papagayo was an enjoyable resort to stay in. We commend all the staff and support people for their courtesy and responsiveness. From the very beginning to our departure, we had no complaints or problems. We stayed in a deluxe room overlooking the pool and facing east so that we were awakened each morning with the new sun and day entering our room. We had read from other reviewers that the refrigerator in the rooms did not work, but we found that if the door to the cabinet were left open, it worked just fine. I personally found the bath tube - build into a separate room - an interesting idea. But, overall, the accommodations were nice and kept us wonderfully cool during the hot period of the year.
The facilities were clean and pretty well kept up - considering the weather was dry and it was hard to maintain the 'green' grass. The environment shocked us both a little since we though Costa Rica was all green, dripping wet from constant rain, and therefore a big concern was to be dry. Lo and behold, it is a dry climate with as much cactus as trees in the forests - a very surprising finding.
We enjoyed the food, there was plenty of it, and I am sure my calorie burden jumped up pretty high. The specialty restaurants were delightful, especially the Italian. Make sure you visit all of them if you go. The great American stable of hamburger is available next to the pool – very convenient.
Access to drinks – alcoholic, coca cola etc. was wonderful. However, bottle water was a little scarce and it was hard to know why. I would have paid a few extra dollars a day to have unlimited access to cold, iced down bottle water.
If you like dry, hot weather then plan a stay here.
Not 5 star
My wife and I stayed here from April 2nd-9th. The first room we had was great. The room was in building 24(closest to the ocean). We had a spectacular view however after 2 nights we decided to leave because of ant infestation. The rooms are 5 star but much else isn't.
The FOOD is below average. The buffet is the worst. First you MUST arrive early in order to eat or else you put your name on a list like Apple Bees. It takes about 20-40 minutes to eat after your name is on the list. We had the same food every day. The area you eat in is very small. The whole dinning area is the smallest I have ever seen and I kept looking for more food to no avail. Be careful when ordering steaks because they have a habbit of undercooking(RARE) them. The snack bar was exactly the same below average. The wings were very good at the snack bar. The specialty restaurants were good but you can only eat their once. The Italian was our worst experience because our food was not warm. My wife and I had the chicken which was delicious. The grill was good I had the ribeye and swordfish which were excellent. The Oriental rest. was good and I don't like Oriental food. The chocalate moose was good for dessert.
The beach and pool were alright. The pool was always dirty and had sprinklers interfering with relaxation but getting you wet. Snorkeling was alright but it was somewhat cloudy.
Great resort for your money
We stayed at this resort from Mar. 8-15th. We were a group of 11, ages 20 to 55. We had four rooms booked and each of us were in different parts of the resort. All of the rooms were beautiful, clean and had great views. My first room was in the farthest set of rooms away from the pool. I went and asked to be moved closer and was with no hassle.
The only problem we encountered was with the reservation system for the restaurants. This was because of our group size and the fact that there was also two very large groups occupying the resort at the same time as us. The food at the Italian and Oriental were excellent, as was the buffett. I didn't see a lot of American food on the buffett which was a blessing because I didn't go Costa Rica to eat Hamburgers. hot dogs and french fries!
The staff was GREAT! We did tip, as is a rule with us even if it says tipping is included. The staff is making 15$ a day, some less than that. We tip, and I'm sure that does give us better service, but for us it's a win win situation. I'm frankly appalled at the people who frown upon tipping.
We did two trips, One to Nicaragua and a canopy tour/hotspring. I recommend both trips. Nicaragua was excellent, but it is a very long day - well worth it though!
We ate two dinners outside the resort. One was at Ginger's and one in Coco beach, a seafood restaurant. Both will send a taxi for you free of charge. Ginger's was amazing.
Overall the Costa Rican people are some of the friendliest I've met. I cannot say enough good things about them and their country.
completely different from any other place we have stayed
Our first trip to Costa Rica and it is a amzaing country. This resort keeps the integrity of the area but also pampers with all the luxuries. This is a small resort and with the exception of the weekend when the locas come in not too crowded. We were in Building #1 the lowest and closest to everything but there was a mixup in our reservations and we were supposed to be in the Royal Club Area so they moved us to Building #8, way, way, way up the hill. At ths resort it is not worth the extra money to upgrade to the Royal Club and in fact our room in Building #1 was exactly the same. The only extras we got int he Royal Club was room service and a large veranda to sit out.
The buffet was small, not what we have experienced at other resorts but adequate for the size of the hotel. The beach bar also serviced food during the day up until 5:00. At night it became the Grille, a reservations only restaurant but it closed on Monday for the season. We ate at the Oriental and the Italian by reservation. The Italian was so good we ate there later in the week. I am not that familiar with Japenese food but what we had was excellent. Our waiter at the Italian, Alan was great and when we told him we would be back he had a special table for us and after dinner made us Irish Coffee. We had only one bad meal and that was at the buffet on seafood night when we had fish that was not completly cooked. Other than that the food was great.
Everything is set on a large hill. there are 72 steps from the pool to the main lobby and restaurants but they have a shuttle which you have to call for but it is there is minutes and Jose our driver knew our Building after the first trip.
If you are looking for action this is not the place to go. There were no loudspeakers blasting around the pool (which I enjoyed) and no great amount of activity and since there is only one pool that worked very well. They do not have any shows at night but there is a disco. We went in and hated the music so we took our own CD and he played it. They will play what you ask them to. The only drawback is that the last shuttle leaves at 11:00 and we had to walk up three flights of stairs to get to our room but it was no big deal and the steps were well lit.
We took the tour to Cocoa Beach to buy souveniers which is the only reason I could see to go there. We went into Liberia one day and bought our coffee and liquor in the local super market and then we went to Palo Verda for a tour down the river where we saw crocodiles which came right up beside the boat. The highlight of that trip was when we saw the white faced monkeys and they jumped on the roof of the boat and looked down at us and put their paws into the boat for bananas. It was so awesome.
We wanted to take additional tours but we are a couple in our mid 60's and the canopy and nature hikes were not for us so the tour guide at CAT arranged a private tour for us to fly to San Jose for the day where we were picked up by a guide and had a 4 hour tour of the city. We felt we wanted to see more of Costa Rica than just the resort.
The people of Costa Rica, Tico''s are fantastic and we found out that Tico time means that when your safe if not working it may take a day or two days or even three days to get it fixed. They do not have the same work ethics that we do but with temperatures every day at 97 degrees I don't blame them for moving a little slower.
This is a resort that is still in progress and some of the drawbakcs were: no snack bar to get anything to eat after 5:00; no bar at the beach which is a long hike to the nearest bar; no entertainment at night.
The beach is different than those at the other resorts we have gone to in Mexico, Dominican Republic etc. and if you are a beach walker this is not the place to do it. The beach completely disappears at high tide.
I do not think I will go back to Costa Rica but I am glad I had the opportunity to go this time as it is completely different than any other resort area we have been to.
Most Enjoyable Vacation
It's interesting that this hotel receives such a variety of reviews. We had just returned from a ten-day stay at the resort and had been concerned ahead of time at some of the negative reviews that we had read here before departing. I even kept the details of them from my children until we were well settled in and they seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The facility is truly beautiful and set in a breathtaking location. The facilities are good with scuba available at extra charge and kayaking and snorkelling available free from the beach. There is a good children's club too. Some complaints we read about the beach was that that it was dirty all the sand was black, we found that none of that. The sand is a "salt and pepper" mixture, and the beach was always very clean - with security on hand to give out towels and free bottles of water.
Our rooms were cool, comfortable and clean - not that we spent too much time in them. The topography of the resort is quite hilly, but the children enjoyed finding a short cuts around the resort on the same level and you can always call reception and they will send the minibus to come and collect you. It's probably worrthwhile to ask to stay close to the main building.
Much has been said about the need to make reservations a day ahead of time at the restaurants. Much of this is incorrect. The buffet, which we found to be very good if not sumptuous, is open for breakfast and lunch and dinner without reservation. The longest we had to wait for a table was about 10 minutes. The three restaurants, there are an Italian, Oriental and steak house were very good but should be booked ahead of time - though we were able to book tables at each on the day we required them, even though the guest services staff suggest you do so the day before. The main issue, really, is that with the resort being all-inclusive, many guests either make multiple bookings for the restaurants or don't show up. Each time we ate in the restaurants there were always empty tables available.
We found the staff to be extremely friendly, they certainly seem to work very hard - being there late at night and again early in the morning, but always had a smile on their faces for us. (It helps, however, if you treat them with respect. Some fellow guests, mainly Americans, seemed to feel they were to be treated as servants and probably received poorer service for that.)
The tour desk at the hotel was also helpful - but tours not cheap for a family. For five of us to do any of the longer day-trips, to Arenal or to the cloud forest, was a fairly expensive proposition. However, one of the tour desk people put us in touch with a private Guide who was able to pick us up with a 16 seater minibus and driver and he took us on a two-day, comprehensive, tour of all of the rainforest and its attractions. We visited a Jaguar sanctuary, off the beaten track waterfalls, a coffee and pineapple plantation, the hot springs at the Arenal volcano, the zip lines across the rainforest canopy, the tree frog and amphibian sanctuary and saw parts of the country that no other tourist would see. For this service, plus all meals and an overnight at a beautiful motel at Arundel, we were charged only $1,000. If you want the details of the guide, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org,
Our reality was that we had a fantastic vacation at a fabulous resort, that was not terribly expensive, in a beautiful country rich in both its scenery and its people.
Grand Papagayo Resort
Occidental Allegro Papagayo Resort
We are traveling to Guanacaste, CR on June 29 with our 3 sons (2 teenagers and 1 nine year old). We are staying at the Occidental Grand Papagayo and want to do several tours - canopy, volcano, river boat, waterfall, ATV. My husband is a serious fisherman and wants to catch a marlin - he plans to fish 2 days. There seem to be 3 boats in that area (not Tamarindo - 1 hour away). Any suggestions on the resort, tour guides for activites, and especially fishing?