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“Great people, great food, quiet, lots of stairs, exercise to get a drink”

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Occidental Papagayo - Adults only
Ranked #7 of 13 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 April 2010

The work staff was exceptional, polite, and spoke pretty good english. (We were a party of 6 Approx 33yo.'s and all felt that way). If you are going to party it is not the place for you. It was very low key. Great for relaxing. The disco never rocked past 9:30. It was also great for us beacause not many people were in the pool which allowed us lots of room for daily volleyball games that we really enjoyed. Only a few things negative to report - There is no swim up bar, the closest bar is 100 ft from pool and closes at 5:00. Then you have to walk up all those stairs in the pictures and put a shirt and shoes on to get drinks from the lobby bar because its the only one left open. If you don't like lots and lots of stairs this is not the place for you. They don't show it but there is a long path to the beach(probably 200yrds from the pool) then lots of stairs down to the beach where you also won't find a bar. You have to walk up all the stairs then half way up the path to the beach bar which isn't real handy if you plan to stay on the beach. The cleaning staff didn't refill our bar fridge that is advertised to be restocked every second day even after numerous phone calls. We were left with no face cloths ever and one day only got left one towel. Everything in our room worked fine though and they semi-cleaned it.(One day the sink and counters didn't get cleaned.) Food was great. My first time in south america where I didn't get sick or anybody else in my group. The ala carte restaurants were ok but I had to hit the buffet after to top up. You can drink the water and ice cubes. If you get sick it isn't from the food. There also were very few kids around and never saw one under 6. We had a great time met some great people and will probably try something new next time but wouldn't be scared to go back.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Long31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 April 2010

Before I begin I must start by saying how scared I was to keep my reservation with the Occidental Grand after reading some of the terrible reviews posted by travelers. I came very close to cancelling and can't believe that I almost let people ruin my trip over such petty little complaints. I don't think people realize how much effect their comments can have on others. Let me start by saying that almost every complaint that I read about the hotel had very little merit once I arrived. Our room was absolutely beautiful and we never experience any problems with one single thing. Our room was cleaned every day and the mini fridge was stocked every other like they explain to you upon check-in. Reservations can be made every day between 8-11am. I am not sure why people say you can only make that at exactly 8am. We never once had a problem with this process. Now let's move on to the pool. Never once were there lack of towels or pool chairs. Some days we used two or three towels and never had an issue getting a new one. The cushions on the pool chairs were brand new. I'm sure they were worn a bit and were replaced just like anything should be after some time. The stairs can seem steep if you are older or have an injury, but a simple call to the front desk will get you a ride to your room, the lobby or where ever you need to go within the resort. I have no idea why people would complain about this when you have the option to not use them. There were activities offered every day and night. They may not have been the most exciting activities, but if you want excitement then a simple cab ride to Coco Beach will give you what you are looking for. To be honest if you are in Costa Rica for the right reasons which would be exploring everything it has to offer then most nights you are barely able to stay awake past dinner. The beach does get small when the tide comes in, but there are areas on the beach you can simply move to in order to avoid this. Yes, the sand is dark (not black), but if you do your research you will know that this part of CR has volcanic ash in the sand. The resort also offers Kayaks and snorkeling equipment for everyone to use. The food was pretty good. It was not excellent, but this is also not a 5 star resort and the food tends to be different then what you may be used to at home. Breakfast is always great and there is so much food to choose from. Lunch at the snack bar is great for afternoon snacks or even a big lunch. Dinner at the buffet is fine and they do have a different theme every night (if you are staying for over a week, then you would see repetition). The Italian restaurant was very good, but the Oriental was not so great in my opinion, but then again my boyfriend loved it so it all depends on your preferences. The hot tubs by the pool were not in use, but when it’s a 100 degrees outside you have to wonder who would want to use a hot tub. If you really do need this amenity, there is a great big outdoor Jacuzzi at the spa. The staff was absolutely wonderful. Never once did I see them treat anyone with disrespect and they always had a smile on their face and were ready to assist their guests with anything they needed. I cannot imagine how people can say anything negative about them. It’s sad that people complain about such minor things about a towel or their mini fridge not being restocked when some of these people live without a front door or adequate roof over their head. Sometimes you really have to put things into perspective and think about what is really important. Thank you Occidental Grand for a wonderful stay that I will never forget!!!!!

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank amvm99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2010

I give this 3.5 stars out of 5. This is going to be positive review, so read past the first section.
If all the rooms were 100% correct when we got there, I would rate this as 4.5 / 5. First thing to clarify is the reviews about the rooms. They have no process to deal with deficiencies in rooms so items do not get fixed before the next guest arrives. We had 16 people attend our wedding at this resort for 1 week (April 3-10). There were some issues with a few rooms (3-4) but we got everyone moved to better rooms within 1-2 days. They need to fix some rooms before making them available to guests as this is the only complaint that I heard from the group, other than a couple bath towels going missing. Try to avoid the lower level of buildings 1 and 2 as this seems to be where most of the sub-par rooms are located.Our room was excellent as we were in building 23 overlooking the ocean 12 feet from the steep bank/cliff to the beach.

Now for the positive news.

The Location is Excellent. 30 mins to Liberia. Off resort activities involve tours or renting a car/SUV. A nice activity in the evening is walk down the main road from the resort to a recently closed resort and watch the sunset from the top of the cliffs while looking at Playa Hermosa and over the Gulfo de Papagayo.

Beach is clean and quiet with no resorts on either side of the beach. All Costa Rica beaches are public but there wouldn't have been more than 10 "locals" on the beach on a busy weekend. Good shade at the beach under the trees if you want a break from the 33 degree sunnny skies that we had 13 out of 14 days.

Resort was very clean and property was beautiful. It was very green which is a change from the surrounding landscape in April (6 months since last rainfall). Yes there are some small hills but if you are moderate shape you won't have much of a problem. There are carts to move you around if you wish. Staff were all very very freindlly and cheerful as just about everyone we met in Costa Rica is.

Food was very good with good variety. By the end of our second week we were looking for a change but i like variety in my diet even at home. The fresh fruit was great!!!

Our wedding was 100% exactly like we had planned and Harold the wedding planer came thru in the end with all the details perfect. At the start we were a little nervous as the wedding process did not seem to be very well organised (repeat questions etc) in the end it was exactly as we wanted and were very very pleased!!!

As for the tours on the resort, our first was with Swiss Travel and they were great 5/5!! We dealt with Andrea at the resort. We did the Nicaraguan tour with CRT tours and it was great. We went to Arenal and Monteverde/Santa Ellena (main town) and stayed at the Tabacon Spa and Resort. 5 star!! The staff are a little too formal/stiff compared to elsewhere, but maybe that is the 5 star treatment. Beautfiful!!! Everything! (another review on this)

Do not believe the stuff they tell you about only going with tours from the hotel. Find Marvin down on the beach and he will give you a real personalized tour of wherever you want to go. We did the Palo Verde Boat tour with him and it was great!! He is a fantastic guy with great character. We also got him to go with us fishing (on his day off). We didn't catch anything that time, but it was very enjoyable. Definitely find him when you get there.

Fishing...Hit or miss like most fishing, but there are some great fish to catch. If you are familiar with fishing reels and rods, you may be surprised to find the guides taking the rod from you when you get a bite as if you don't know anything. This was our first experience. The fishing guides don't seem to interested in service, but are interested in catching fish. If you want to actually catch the fish yourself, get some tips from the guide how to set the hook. I found out that when using circle hooks, you don't set the hook at all compared to using standard hooks. Just drop the rod and wait for the wait of the fish to come on the rod and slowly pull the rod up. Another topic and this is getting too long.

If you are active and looking for a place to relax on a isolated resort (compared to punta cana, etc) this is the place. We had a great wedding, a great time with 18 people, and would all go back!! If they the issues with some of the rooms it would be 4.5 / 5 for sure!!!

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled with family
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2  Thank EasternCanadian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2010

We went there for a wedding. We paid for dinner and open bar on the poolside. The cost was charged to two different rooms. On check out time, the organizer was on his day off. We kept the bus waiting on the way to the airport while trying to sort things out. Finally we
left leaving our phone number and email in order to clarify things when Harold (the organizer) was gonna be back the following day.
The wedding organization was excellent. But again ask for receipts if you pay in cash because on check out they will charge you for everything even if it was paid in advance.

We were suppose to have a room with ocean view. We got it three days after arriving.

The fridge in the room is filled up only every two days and all you get is two juice, two bottles of water and two beers.
We had problems with the towels, facecloths..as mentioned in other reviews.Someday you get one facecloth, two towels no carpets...other days you get two facecloths, one towel no carpet...and it has nothing to do with the tips. I tipped everyday and the service was never the same.
The resort looks very nice but it needs renovations...it wouldn't take much to upgrade it to four stars standards. For instance, change the chairs in the lobby...when you sit, you sink in as if you were on the floor.
The resort is far from everything.
You do not have access to an ATM machine on the site. The only store available is the hotel souvenir boutique. It's A PAIN to get change.

The expeditions organized by the hotel are expensive and you have a feeling of being robbed. They go through as fast as they can, to get rid of the job and get back to the hotel. I recommend Marvin on the beach. He has a great personality and he can bring you anywhere you want and at a cost cheaper than the one proposed by the hotel. This guy doesn't care about the group size, he's there to make you discover his beautiful country at a fair price.

The beach is nice but when it's the new moon, there is not more beach in the afternoon.

The food is repetitive in the buffet restaurant and I wouldn't recommend waisting time for reservations for the Italian or oriental restaurant because you get the same things at the buffet.
The drinks are low quality....been to a different hotel (tabacon) and the same drinks were a lot more tasty.
Bottom line, I don't know why Air Canada books trips to that resort and rates it as a four star hotel...?????

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled with family
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Thank papagayohearst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2010

Let me first start by saying that I read every single review on this hotel after I booked it, and was having nightmares prior to our vacation because I was so worried!!!! I just got back from a week at this hotel, and although some of the reviews have some validity, most of them have been grossly over exagerated!!! My husband and I arrived and were very suprised at how much we loved this hotel, and how awful and wrong alot of these reviews are!
If you are looking for a grand, 5 star resort that is perfect and will wait on you hand and foot, then this hotel...and guanacaste in general, is not for you. Please understand that Guanacaste is far from an americanized city where there are modern amentities- it is definitley a 3rd world country. A gorgeous, beautiful 3rd world country, but 3rd world still. This being said, make sure your expectations are in line with where you are going. Not everything is going to be perfect, but the staff is stellar- they are friendly, they remember your names and what you like, and are the nicest people I have ever met (the whole town is very friendly!!!) For my husband and I, the beauty of the resort and the staff far outweighed the few negatives.
Many reviews talked about room cleanliness, food, etc. Although these were indeed issues that we had, allow me to ellaborate. We never had an issue with our room. Was it perfect? No. It wasnt the most modern, updated room, but it was on the ocean and in the middle of a gorgeous resort. How much time are you going to spend in your room anyway? If you are going to Guanacaste, spend your time doing activities, visiting the little beach towns, and laying out in the sun! We always had a clean room, they came everyday and changed sheets, gave us clean towels, etc. On a side note, spend the extra money and upgrade to a beach front room-- trust me, you will be happy you did. As for food, this again ties into the fact that it isnt going to be perfect--- remember where you are. (The people in this town do not even have regular mail service, and grow their own food). It is not going to taste the same as it would in America. My husband and I have no complaints about the food- we enjoyed all of it. There are 2 restraunts that do require reservations (and you have to make the reservations between 8-11 am in the morning) and they also have a buffet and a snack bar. We enjoyed all of it. I will say that the only NEGATIVE when it comes to food is it is not 24 hours a day. THe restarants are only open until 9:30, and if you want food after that, you are out of luck. No room service (unless you upgrade to Royal Club) and no 24 hour food. Also, because Guanacaste is so un-modern as a town, there is no store, and definitly not any drive throughs you can go to to get food. THe only food you have it what is at your hotel. We did not like this. Honestly, this is the only complaint we had. Had the Occidental offered 24 hour food service, it would be perfect.
The last tip I will offer is in regards to the tours and activities you will have the option to do. DO NOT USE THE HOTEL! You will be on a big bus that will totally take away from the experience. Google Avispa's Adventures, a local, small tour company that takes you off the beaten path. You will be in small groups, and Amy (the owner) is American and will strive to make your experience an awesome one!!!! I am telling you, book your tours through her! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!! My husband and I did 4 tours with her, and was the experience of a lifetime. She brought us to local restraunts you wouldnt find on your own, and definitly not on the big tour bus. We did zip lines, horseback to Miravalles Volcanoe, went down the Palo Verde River, and ATV'd on the beaches. Go to her website and email her directly!!!
All in all, as long as you have correct expectations, you will love this hotel and your experience in Guanacaste!! Feel free to email me if you have questions! :) Puda Vida!

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank beccaandlee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2010

We arrived at our hotel and the room had no running water no towels no safe no mini bar, i pointed this out to the guy at reception and was moved and upgraded without a fuss to a lovely ocean view room... no more problems other than a leak from the air con which was fixed straight away... beautiful grounds surround the hotel and the beach... yes there are rocks but they are round from the main beach and there was a problem of small shells and coral which hurt under foot but seemed to change with the tide so some days very little .. the rocks were interesting and i would walk most mornings along the beach looking in the rock pools.. my son and i also walked round the headland to 2 further very secluded beaches... i found the oriental food to be lovely and we ate there twice with a family we made friends with who equally enjoyed the food.. the food in the buffet was fine they had different food most nights if you want burger and chips stay at home...!! we ate perfectly well though we are not fussy eaters
You will be woken in the mornings by howler monkeys or the parakeets thats what makes the holiday more interesting.. and you will also see the coatis and raccoons this is again something you need to get used to.. i enjoyed seeing the wild life.
Lastly we met larry on the beach who we booked all of our tours with ,not only was he cheaper than booking through the hotel.. his knowledge and enthusiasm makes the trips worth while. he will go the extra mile to make sure you get the best out of your trip!!

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank adventurous01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2010

The first room we had was substandard. Air conditioning not working properly and no hot water. Threre were Insufficient washclothes (1 ) for two people. Air conditioner was temporarily fixed, but the next day it was not working again. We were moved to a room that is more in keeping with a standard Occidental Resort rooms. However, the handle of the faucet would come loose. Beverages were not stocked in mini bars daily. The restaurant did not open for breakfast until 7:00am with many tours starting at 7:30am. Dinner was not until 6:30pm. The food was unimaginative, except for Mexican night, which was very good. There were times between lunch and dinner where no restaurants or snack bars were open, However, there was room service, but there were no menus in the rooom or what number to call. There were no guest service books in the rooms. Last but not least, there was a business center at the hotel, but it was $15.00 an hour to utilize. You could not print from the center, for example boarding passes, unless you emailed them to yourself and then emailed to the hotel.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank travelhjog2010
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

Address: Playa Hermosa, 485000, Costa Rica (Formerly Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barceló)
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre 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
#6 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#6 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range: £132 - £268 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 Papagayo is only at 25 minutes from the Liberia International Airport. This Resort surrounded by nature, boast lush tropical landscape with scenic views of Bahia Culebra in Papagayo Golf.Ideal for couples, honeymooners and adult guest seeking a relaxing getaway. The Occidental Papagayo offers a highly personalized 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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