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Occidental Grand Papagayo 3.5

Gulf of Papagayo, Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Big, attractive freeform pool and small hot tub
  • All-inclusive package covers food, drinks, and a range of activities
  • Tidy guest rooms have minibars and coffeemakers
  • Direct access to an uncrowded beach
  • Modern fitness center with a good variety of equipment
  • Large spa with thatched-roof treatment huts and a salon
  • Meeting rooms, including some with lovely ocean views
  • Free Wi-Fi available throughout
  • Free self-parking

Cons

  • Beach is narrow at high tide
  • Food is mediocre 
  • Decor isn’t particularly stylish
  • Few attractions and shops in the surrounding area 

Bottom Line

Occidental Grand Papagayo is an adult-only, three-and-a-half-pearl property located on the Gulf of Papagayo. The resort’s 163 rooms aren’t especially chic, but they’re nonetheless adequate, offering coffeemakers, minibars, and flat-screen TVs. Occidental’s all-inclusive package covers food, drinks, and entertainment. Guests also have access to a solid roster of amenities that includes a picturesque pool, four restaurants and numerous bars, as well as beach access. While this resort lacks wow factor, travelers looking for a fun, all-inclusive vacation are likely to be satisfied. Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica has sleeker facilities and a better beach, but its rates are generally higher.

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Scene

Cookie-cutter all-inclusive with a friendly ambiance and lots of wildlife sightings

The somewhat generic open-air lobby looks out over the garden grounds, providing plenty of wildlife in an otherwise standard all-inclusive setting

From its neutral-toned lobby accented with pillars to its ubiquitous buffet spreads, Occidental Papagayo is the kind of generic, all-inclusive resort, you can find anywhere in the world. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing -- the resort’s facilities are in good condition, the pool offers plenty of space for lounging and swimming, and there are tons of activity options to keep guests busy. If you’re after an affordable, hassle-free all-inclusive experience, the Occidental Papagayo delivers. 

The resort’s hillside location affords some wonderful views over the ocean from some guest rooms and dining areas. With just under 200 guest rooms, the hotel isn’t particularly massive by resort standards; however, the property is quite spread out, so most guests rely on the free shuttle service to get around. The lush property attracts all kinds of animals, with birds, iguanas, and even monkeys often spotted roaming the grounds. It’s an adult-only property and guests are mostly Western couples of all ages. The vibe is easy-going and friendly. While the resort does offer free-flowing liquor and many places to drink it, the atmosphere is geared more toward couples looking to relax rather than those looking to party.

Location

Out-of-the-way location overlooking the Papagayo Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean

Map of Occidental Grand Papagayo

Aside from a few neighboring resorts, the Occidental Papagayo is fairly isolated in its location on the Gulf of Papagayo. The area around the hotel doesn’t offer any dining or nightlife, but most guests choose to do most of their eating and drinking on the property anyway to take advantage of its all-inclusive rates. The location is convenient for those flying from Liberia’s airport, which is just a 30-minute drive away. 

With no major attractions within walking distance, guests will need to rely on a rental car or organized tours to explore the area. It’s a 10-minute drive northeast to shopping and dining in Playa Panama, plus the beach towns of Playa Hermosa and Playa del Coco are both less than 20 minutes away by car to the southwest. 

Rooms

Pleasant rooms offering flat-screen TVs and coffeemakers

The Premium Suite is pleasant if a bit drab, with clunky dark wooden furniture, terra-cotta tiling, and lime green accents

While guest rooms at Occidental Grand Papagayo are clean and well-maintained, deep gold accent walls and clunky dark wooden furniture give them a drab appearance. Floors feature terra-cotta or white tiling and beds are made up with crisp white linens. All rooms include work desks, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Coffeemakers and minibars stocked with beers, soft drinks, and water are also standard. Each room has a small sitting area with a pair of chairs and a  table. Closets hold personal safes and white bathrobes. Most rooms have furnished balconies or terraces with garden or ocean views

Simple bathrooms have large vanities with small, round sinks. All bathrooms offer magnifying mirrors, and wall-mounted hairdryers, as well as Lavarino Cosso bath products presented on frosted glass dishes. Toilets are in separate vestibules, and glass-walled showers feature pump bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. 

Upper-level room categories add various extras like whirlpools and Britt capsule coffee machines, along with service perks like personalized concierge service, private check-in, and free room service. 

Features

An array of activities included in the rates, plus a large pool

Guests have access to a spa with outdoor treatment huts set close to the beach

The focal point of the Occidental Papagayo is its lagoon-shaped pool, which is set at the base of a hill below the hotel, at the end of a dramatic staircase. The green lawn surrounding the pool helps to soften the appearance of its concrete deck. Brown loungers shaded by beach umbrellas line the deck, and there’s also a small, separate hot tub.

The hotel’s beach is broad at low tide, but the waters reach almost all the way up to the tree-line at high tide. It’s quiet and loungers are provided for guests, but this stretch of brownish-gray sands certainly isn’t one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. The resort’s all-inclusive package includes a variety of activities, such as kayaking, water aerobics, and snorkeling, some of which must be booked a day in advance. 

The spa has an appealing outdoor whirlpool surrounded by stonework accents, a wooden deck, and plant-life. It also includes a salon and sauna. Guests can book a variety of massages, facials, and other treatments in an indoor treatment room or in one of the outdoor, thatched-roof treatment huts, which are set amid gardens close to the beach. The hotel has a boxy little fitness center with modern cardio equipment and weights, along with a single wall-mounted TV.

There are also a handful of relatively unremarkable meeting rooms, although some have great ocean views. Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout most of the property, and free parking is available on-site. Airport transfers as well as various tours can be arranged for extra fees.

Food

Several a la carte and buffet dining options

On-site dining options are generally bland, and the food (and décor) in the main buffet is no exception

The hotel’s all-inclusive package covers food and drink at its four restaurants and three bars. 

The hotel’s main buffet has big, sunny windows, but the decor -- much like the food -- is bland overall. There are two a la carte restaurants, The Oriental, an Asian-themed restaurant with teppanyaki tables and private tatami rooms; and The Italian, which looks a bit stuffy with its chandeliers and stone pillars. Guests need to make reservations in advance for these a la carte restaurants, with the all-inclusive package covering one a la carte dinner every three nights. Most guests report the food isn’t much better than the fare served at the buffet. 

There’s also a large Snack Bar just across from the pool, which offers buffet-style snacks throughout the afternoon, such as nachos and hot dogs. It’s a breezy space with wood beamed ceilings and a big bar, along with a pool table and table tennis tucked into one corner.

The beach bar, which is set on the lawn a little ways back from the sand, is a cute thatched-roof hut surrounded by a few bar stools. The Lobby Bar is located in an independent room just off the lobby. It’s large and offers some nice views over the grounds, but elaborate window awnings and mauve sofas give it a dated look. Next door to the Lobby Bar is the resort’s bare-bones Disco, which features a compact dance floor, a pool table, and a lounge-style seating area. 

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Address

Playa Buena, Province of Guanacaste 485000, Costa Rica

Room Types

  • Deluxe Ocean View Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Grand Concierge Deluxe
  • Grand Romance Deluxe
  • Royal Club Junior Suite
  • Royal Club Master Suite
  • Royal Club Room

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