logo Old Reviews - Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
 

January 2007
My wife and I stayed for nine nights at the Occidental Grand Papagayo from Wednesday, December 13, 2006 to Friday, December 22, 2006. We had an absolutely wonderful time. (NOTE: There is a different resort called Allegro Papagayo by Occidental; make sure you keep them separate when reading reviews.) The weather was beautiful every single day with no rain except one 10 minute sunshower.

We are hard working professionals (psychologist and lawyer) in our fifties who are very particular in selecting our vacation destinations. We are not impressed with showy details (e.g. being served meals on fine china), but instead seek good value and a relaxing place. Our children are grown, so we no longer worry about children’s activities. We enjoy the beach more than sitting at the pool, and like to have a nice gym available for daily workouts.
Location
The resort is an easy thirty minute ride from Liberia International Airport. Our travel agent arranged transportation to the resort. If you rent a car, you may have some difficulty finding the resort due to the lack of signs.
Check In
Check in was painless, though we were the only ones checking in. There is no traditional “front desk”, just 2 office desks. If a large number of people arrive at once, there might be some delay, though we never witnessed this. You will receive a colored rubber band that you have to wear on your wrist the entire stay . It was annoying sometimes, but we got used to it. If you are allergic to latex it would be a problem.
Rooms
The resort is built on a hill, which affords very scenic views from the lobby and various rooms. But there is a fair amount of walking. If you want the room closest to the lobby, the restaurants, the pool, and the beach, then stay on the third floor of Building 1 as we did.

If you don’t mind walking uphill, there are larger (and more expensive) Royal Club rooms that have large open patios and scenic views.

Our room was clean and had a safe, refrigerator, color TV, and desk. Closet space was adequate but not overly spacious. A nice touch was two Turkish robes and matching slippers (I liked the robe so much that I bought one).

If you use electronic gadgets, bring power strips and an extension cords. There were only two outlets in the room and one in the bathroom, which were not enough for our digital camera, ipods, pda, electric tootbrushes, etc.

There was no shower curtain, but our bathroom floor did not get wet, let alone flood, probably due to the low water pressure. The maid came in the late afternoon to make up the room, but once we spoke to her she came in the morning from then on. Our door lock broke, but it was fixed immediately.

The point is that if you are friendly and polite you will find everyone to be very accommodating. Ignore the reviews to the contrary.
Internet
There is an Ethernet port in the room if you bring a laptop. If not, there is a business center open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. with three desktop computers. The internet connection was slow and unreliable, and the keyboards were the Spanish version, which took a little getting used to. Internet cost $10/hr. I was disappointed that there was no Wi-Fi so I could not use my Palm TX to check email.
Gym
The gym was conveniently located right across from our room. It was small but had modern equipment, including three treadmills, two exercise bikes, some weights, and various machines. Air conditioning, color TVs, towels and a water cooler were there. It was more than adequate.
Pool
During the first six days of our stay, the pool was relatively empty and I was able to swim laps. As it got closer to Christmas, it became much more crowded with the inevitable volley ball games, constant music, and other pool activities.
The Beach
We thought the beach was very scenic and relaxing, and spent a great deal of time there. But here are my disclaimers.

If you want a wide open white sand beach that stretches for miles, go somewhere else. We live in New Jersey close to such beaches, so on vacation we don’t mind something different.

The beach has particles of black sand, but the overall appearance is dark tan. The beach is small -- only about half a mile long and 20 – 80 feet wide depending on the tide.

But the beach is also incredibly scenic. The waves come gently lapping in; in front are lush green mountains and other resorts; and on either side are interesting volcanic rock formations. I have attached pictures to my review.

There are no beach umbrellas, but none are needed because the trees provide ample shade all day long. The beach never felt crowded, even when every chair was in use.

The beach is safe because the only access is a single private road. Hotel security was on the beach at 6:15 a.m. (when I went running) to 5:45 p.m. (when it got dark). Not connected with the hotel was one person selling pottery, a woman giving massages (my wife loved it), and a few people trying to promote tours. Bottom line: The beach was very quiet and free of peddlers and people trying to sell time shares even though this resort does have time share rooms.

Be careful when making deals with people on the beach. We had a good experience with the person who rented us a jet ski, but not with someone else who took us on a sunset cruise.

I strongly recommend wearing water sport shoes (I use Keen sandals) if you go into the water outside of the roped off swimming area because there are lots of rocks on the bottom.
Tours
We took a short ziplining tour at a location only about thirty-five minutes away. The ziplining here was for beginners, which suited us fine. In case you don’t know, ziplining involves being strapped into a harness, then hooked to a cable running between platforms in the forest, and “zipping” from one platform to the other. If you want to experience more extreme ziplining, then take one of the tours to the rain forest. There were many other tours, but all required riding in a minibus for hours, often on unpaved roads, so we passed. We enjoyed being at the resort and never felt stir crazy to get out and take a tour.
Sunset Walk
Each day at 4:30 there is a short walk to a cliff overlooking the Pacific where you can see the sun go down into the water. It’s worth seeing. Assemble at the social activities desk by the pool.
Food
We live close to world class restaurants in New York City, and don’t expect such dining at an all inclusive. We do expect food that is good and plentiful. You will find that here.

The Buffet was more upscale than at other all inclusive resorts. Instead of being outdoors in a cafeteria-like setting, the Buffet was indoors in a restaurant with waiter service for beverages. Almost nobody tipped except me. Breakfast had all the usual breakfast items plus a wide variety of fresh fruits. Lunch tended to have more variety than available at the snack bar by the pool. Dinners were okay, nothing special. In each instance the food was good and above average for an all inclusive.

We had no problem making reservations at the Oriental and Italian Restaurants because there were no crowds during our stay. However, I took the precaution of sending an email to the hotel before we arrived to make reservations for one night at each. We ate at each one twice.

The Italian restaurant had excellent service and good food, but the only Italian dish I recall was lasagne. However, the mahi mahi was excellent. If you go fishing, they will cook your fish and serve it to you for dinner.

The Oriental restaurant was more accurately named and had some nice Japanese style dishes. The food was good and the service was excellent.

The Snack Bar is conveniently located by the pool and is open for lunch. It had an okay buffet, but there was more variety in the Buffet Room.

The one thing lacking was a barbecue, which we had at other resorts.
Towels
There was no towel deposit, no signout sheet, and no requirement to return the towels to a particular spot. If you don’t get towels before noon at the Watersports desk by the snack bar, you may be out of luck.

We always bring our own towels, not only to avoid paying the $25 charge at some resorts for a lost towel, but also to make it easier to reserve either a beach chair or a pool chair before the towels are available (here, not until 9:00 a.m.)
Makeup of the Guests
The guests fell into two groups: young couples and newlyweds who had no children, and people like us whose children were grown. There were only a handful of small children and virtually no teenagers or college students. If you want a resort without children running around, you will love this place. But if you are taking a family vacation with your kids, this might not be the place to go. There are no video game machines, no children’s activities, no “lazy river”, etc.
Night Life
There really is none. On some nights local singers or musicians performed, but usually from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. when many people were still eating dinner. This timing made no sense.

There is also a small disco with the usual pool table and flashing lights. Nothing special.
Overall Experience
We had a very positive experience and really enjoyed ourselves. We had none of the problems mentioned in some of the critical reviews. Also, we did not have unrealistic expectations. Based on the price we knew before we came that this could not possibly be the 5 star hotel it claims to be; but it was very good value for the 4 star hotel it really is.

If you want more information, or have any questions, please email me at smcharrr-costarica@yahoo.com. I have aggressive spam filters, but hopefully you will get through
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
John and Mary 
Puslinch, Ontario Canada
September 2006
Resort stayed at was Grand Papagayo by Occidental
From Sept 9, 2006 through to Sept 17, 2006

My husband and I have previously stayed in Puerta Plata – Grand Flamenco, Punta Cana – Occidental Hotel, Cancun, and Jamaica Ocho Rios – Enchanted Gardens. We will not stay at anything less than 4 stars.
This hotel is an all inclusive hotel which we prefer so we don’t have to carry money on us.

We arrived at the Liberia Airport at 12:10pm and made it through immigration by 12:25pm, and on to the shuttle for our arrival time of 1pm at the resort.

Check in was simple and champagne was offered on our arrival as a welcome. You are not able to check-in to your room until 3pm. So we were recommended to go have our lunch at the Snack Bar by the Pool until our room was ready. We would definitely recommend that you have your swimsuit in your carry on so you may enjoy the pool while you wait. We made our way back up to the lobby by 2:15pm and our room was ready. We were in building 24 which looked into the ocean. Our room was very secluded room as this was a one floor unit. Very tastefully decorated, clean, and everything in working order. Our sink backed up on second day and within 5 minutes of calling housekeeping someone was there to fix. Because the resort is situated on a hill there is lots of walking up and down stairs. If you have trouble walking then you are best to book ahead and request Building #1 as it has the least amount of stairs to get where you need to go. Once you are at the pool the restaurant and washrooms are all on the same level.
Food –
3 buffet meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch is available in the main dining area as well as at the snack bar by the pool. Because our visit was during “low” season the main dining room was not open for lunch and all meals were served at the snack bar. They provided the same food they would have served at main buffet. Not just burgers but a full salad bar, grilled vegetables, 3 different meat entrees, dessert, etc. There are also 2 a la carte restaurants at the resort which were Chinese or Italian. You have to make reservations when you first arrive for these restaurants. The Chinese was completely booked and the Italian we were able to get into. No disappointments as they offer a theme night at the buffet every night. Italian and Chinese nights are exactly what are on the menu at the a la carte restaurants. So no real needs to visit those restaurants other than you are served. Wait staff in restaurants all spoke English and were very pleasant and went out of their way to serve you.
Beach –
the beach at the resort isn’t fantastic. We are used to the true beaches of Punta Cana, Puerta Plate, Cancun, and Jamaica. The beach was definitely coarser and not as much area to spread out to sit. Beach lounge chairs are available at the beach but no one seemed to be using them. We id visit the beach but found there was no one else sitting down there. They do have a roped off area where you can swim without rocks.
Activities –
lots of activities just not enough people to participate due to low season and many people on tours. Volleyball happened most afternoons in the pool but does not interfere if you are having a leisurely swim.
Pool –
definitely the spot to sit. Great covered cabanas to sit under. Pool was very clean – cleaned every day. Hot tubs cleaned every morning. No fighting to get a chair in the morning as it was low season as well so many couples were out on tours. Pool towels can have as many as you like and don’t have to sign them out. The lounge chairs at the pool are a little weathered as far as the seat cushions.
Internet
use at the hotel is available at a rate of $5 for 30 minutes.
Tours –
This definitely ended up being one of the best things about our trip more than we had anticipated. I did some investigating prior to our departure to Costa Rica. Our only hesitation about booking prior to going was that we were going during rainy season. We quickly learned rainy season was no issue it all. We had three rainfalls during the day and it resulted of them blowing in and out within one hour. Rain did not put a damper on our vacation at all. The Costa Ricans explained that the rainy season in this part of the country is not an issue.We ended up finding a small tour company (a husband and wife duo) that own and operate their own business. Avispa’s Adventures – they are out of the Guanacaste area and only 5 minutes from the hotel. Amy is originally from the USA and speaks fluent English and Avispa is Costa Rican and speaks/understands English relatively well. The tour prices are the same as the big tours and the major difference is that you get a personal one on one experience. If you go with the big tour company you go with upwards of 15 to 20 people and all different people. With this company you may go by yourselves or they will match you with another couple and you can save approx $20 per person depending on the tour. Avispa’s Adventures offer the same tours as the big guys and will customize a trip if you so choose. They also offer taxi service or pick up to/from the airport. Visa and Amy are truly a hospitable duo. You may visit their website at www.avispasadventures.com to read all of the different tours that are offered. You may email Amy/Visas at info@avispasadventures.com and they usually emailed me back within 24 hours of receiving my email. While at your resort you dial *(star symbol) 372-3094 which is their cell # and you may speak to Amy. When you arrive at the hotel they insist you sit the next morning at 9am for an hour to discuss the hotel and the area. What they are really trying to do is to commit you to tours by the big company. Not necessary to go to that meeting just get a hold of this tour company and you are all set. They are a licensed and insured company.

Since their website offers a myriad of tours I had requested of Amy to tell me which are the best of the best tours to save me time. Amy responded with her #1 choice of “Visa’s Miravalle’s Volcano Adventure” and second the “Visa’s Palo Verde Adventure."

When we arrived in Costa Rica I immediately called Amy and arranged to do the Miravalle’s Volcano Adventure. The trip consists of canopy Tour, horseback/tractor ride to waterfalls, mud baths, hot springs bath, and an authentic Costa Rican lunch and the trip is an 8-9 hour day. Amy informed me the price per person was $145/person but she had another couple going and if we wanted to join them the price would drop to $120/person. We were fine with this as it still was a very small group and avoided the crowds, wait time, and the chance of annoying tourist of the big tour companies. I had previously asked if we could stop at a souvenir shop just to take a look if we had time. Amy said no problem and this little excursion was added at no additional charge. (Again the big tour companies would not do this.)

8am was our pick up time and we asked what time we would be home from our trip. Amy said the whole tour is approx 8 hours but it can be as long or as short as we want it to be. She explained that it is all up to us and we can take things slow if we so choose. Our first stop was the souvenir shop which they allowed us at least 30 minutes to visit. They did not hurry us at all. Costa Rica has absolutely beautiful pottery. We were then on our way to the Canopy Tour destination. Along the way Amy and Avispa stopped at a store and got us some fresh cooked pork rinds for us to eat. They were delicious and again this showed us the point of difference of the big tour operators compared to the little guys. Beer, Water, and other snacks were also supplied to us at no charge on our tour. (Again the big tour operators do not do this)

The Canopy Tour was amazing. And again I can not stress how peaceful and personal this tour was. George was our main guide on the canopy (an assistant also came along) and Amy came along to translate as George only speaks Spanish.

We took our time making the climb up to the first platform while plant life and animals were pointed out to us. What was so nice if you were nervous to do the zip line, your fears were calmed as you weren’t rushed by 20 other tourists to keep moving. Only 1 other couple besides ourselves so we were able to travel at our own speed and leisure.The canopy was amazing and nothing to be fearful of at all. This trip ended after approx 2 to 2.5 hours and we were greeted at the end with an authentic Costa Rican lunch which again was included into our package. We had leisurely lunch and then off we went to see the waterfalls. Avispa and Amy stopped frequently on our trip to point out plant life, sites, and animals. Again it was very relaxing. We all chose to do the horseback ride up to the waterfalls. We were paired up with another guide as this was a private property and exclusive to Avispa’s Adventures. We climbed up the mountain to view the waterfalls, cross a suspended bride, and took many photos of the absolutely breathtaking sites. Then it was back on the horses to meet up with Amy and Visa for the next part of the tour.We traveled now to the Miravalles Volcano area where we indulged in warm mud baths and a hot spring soak. Amazing to see the sulfuric hot springs and to understand the energy is used for power throughout Costa Rica. While we soaked in the hot springs Amy served us wine to finish off this exciting tour. Again this part of the tour is a private location where only a handful of tours are allowed to go. Johnny the Volcano man is your guide on this part of the trip. We headed for home at approx 6pm. As the Costa Rican Independence Day torch Run was taking place this day we were able to see the Torch run and Amy/Avispa stopped so we could watch. We felt the trip was worth far more than the $120 each that we paid.

The other couple on our trip said they were doing the Avispa’s Palo Verde Adventure in a couple of days and said we could join if we wanted to. Since we had so much fun on this tour we decided to do it. The cost is $95 per person but since we had 4 or more on the trip it only cost $75/person. Amy said we could depart at anytime we wanted but recommended we get their early as Animal life feeds early in the morning. We left at 7am and began the journey. Avispa stopped on our way along a river point so we could watch the men getting natural materials out of the river for construction. The interesting point of this was that we got to see how they bring this out of the river. 2 big oxen pull a cart out of the river once their cart is full of these fine materials. It was like out of the movies. Next stop was a local bakery where we got ourselves a treat. The pastries were delicious and inexpensive.We arrived at the Tempisque River and were the first on the river. Again a big boat and only 2 couples, Amy, Avispa, and the tour guide. Birds, crocodiles, and monkeys were all pointed out for us to view. They even let us fish on board. Crocodiles we were able to feed. Saw howler monkeys and listened to them howl. Following this tour we stopped for a Costa Rican lunch which again was delicious. Amy and Avispa then said since we didn’t see the White Face monkey, we are willing to take you to Guantil where you can see a pottery making demonstration. We all decided we would go and this was added on to our trip at no charge. Wow!!! We were back at the resort by 2:30pm. I can’t say enough about happy we were about the tours. Personal attention, superior customer satisfaction and unique adventures for an unforgettable experience is their tagline and believe it!

Overall wonderful experience with the hotel and the tours!!! We will go back to Costa Rica!
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Dmitriy 

July 2006
In general/value:
I was fairly worried after reading some of the negative reviews about the Grand Papagayo. I was thinking about taking my default choice in any destination - the Four Seasons. However, I am very happy to have chosen this option instead. As a traveller who has experienced the very utmost of luxury (places like the Mandarin Oriental, private rented castles, Costes, private villas in Florence, etc) in over 40 different countries, I can say I'm more than just a bit spoiled and expecting the very top of the spectrum. In fact, I was going into this experience with skepticism and ready to criticize. I must say I was not disappointed in the least bit. In fact, I will also venture to say this hotel represents the best value of any place I have ever stayed at, worldwide. I would expect to have paid 2 to 3 times higher in Hawaii or anywhere else for the same accomodations, not even considering the food and service. Some previous travellers were calling this a 4-star hotel. It's clear the hotel has grown up since it first opened, and this is now definitely a 5-star resort. High speed internet in every room.
Food:
You have 5 options. As follows:

The Buffet: this is the default option if you haven't made reservations. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are very good. Dinner is - OK. Great atmosphere, especially at night - candlelight setting in the dining room with live acoustic local musicians. Themed dinners (Mexican, Italian, local, etc). If you can get reservations for dinner at the a la cartes, you should try to do so.

The Italian a la carte:
Having experienced the cream of the crop Italian in various top restaurants in Italy, I was still not disappointed. The food was as good as in many very expensive Italian restaurants back home ($120/couple +). The staff and decor tried very hard to preserve an authentic atmosphere.

The Oriental a la carte:
The Oriental restaurant had a somewhat limited menu (no sushi, but sushi is sometimes available), but we were pleasantly surprised with some very tasty, refined and well-presented food. The decor was obviously not an oversight and there is quite a bit of attention to detail.

The Snack Bar:
This restaurant/buffet is by the pool. Good for - a snack. We ate lunch there as well. The Snack bar will fry hamburgers for you and a few other things. The buffet has a lot of fresh fruit, deserts, and other things.
Room service:
This is free (as is the minibar). Didn't have a chance to try this.
Service:
Impeccable. I wrote an e-mail to the Occidental worldwide management, in regards to the bad reviews, and asked them to make sure our trip didn't have the same problems. Harold (who I assume is a manager) wrote me several e-mails, arranging the dinner reservations for us and in all making sure our stay was perfect. We had a small problem with the DVD player and 2 guys came up in under 10 minutes to fix it. The people in costa Rica take their jobs very seriously and go beyond the extra mile (like mopping up the patio because they had tracked some mud in, coming to fix our dvd player in the rain).

The waitstaff goes out of their way and my glass never even approached empty. I never had to "look for a waiter"/wait like in some overpriced boutique restaurants back home. Part of the effect of a very low price of labor ($800/month is considered a fantastic salary), is that the hotel can afford to put two to three times as many people on the property. This results in an almost 1:1 staff/guest ratio.
Activities:
Beach/pool: very relaxing. The pool is incredibly clean and there is water volleyball and other activities. The beach was much better than expected. A few people said the sand was black and rocky.

The sand was tan and soft, however there is a rocky bottom once you get out into the ocean. Grab some free snorkeling gear (I can't stress enough the fact that *everything* at this hotel is free) and paddle out by the rocks - huge pufferfish, beautiful ultramarine blue and striped exotic fish await. Also available are free sea kayaks, and a full-on watersports company/school including scuba lessons, jetski tours, etc. A variety of other activities leave from the pool area. We went on the beautiful sunset walk to a place with a full horizon and picturesque cliffs.

Spa: a full range of services. We got a couples aromatherapy massage out in huts near the beach. Very relaxing and very courteous staff. Fair pricing ($80/hr for massages, for example).

Jungle Tours: We chose Vargas tours and were incredibly satisfied. It was just me and my wife on the tour - incredibly private. We did the hotsprings spa, horseback riding, water slide and canopy tour.

Towns:
We didn't visit any of the small towns (like Coco Beach), but in driving by there are some quaint stores and interesting local commodities.

None of this felt 'touristy' or 'cheesy' - you really felt like you were experiencing a secluded part of the world (including bumpy road and strange but delicious native foods). I highly recommend going on at least one such tour during your stay.
Deficiencies:
The hot water doesn't get that hot. I think it might just have been our unit. The situation seemed to have fixed itself the second day. The unit floors were a nice terra cotta tile, but some 5-star travellers may be expecting hardwoods or slate/marble/etc. The buffet was OK but not spectacular. There are a lot of stairs (as previously mentioned), especially if you're in one of the higher-up oceanfront villas... however, there is a shuttle, and the exercise is good for you. We're not talking backbreaking effort here, just a flight or two here and there to burn off some of the calories you'll be ingesting. I think the elevation changes (and therefore stairs) are part of what makes this resort have the phenomenal atmosphere and vistas that make it unique. 2 prong outlets in the room only.

We posted some of our photos from the trip here:
http://www.astrocore.com/cr/

and here:
http://www.astrocore.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=75

OK, I'm ready to go, now what?
Getting there:
The airport in Liberia is fairly small. Hustle off the plane or you'll spend a long time in line for immigration. Make sure to call or e-mail the occidental and have them send an official cab, they'll send a guy with an air conditioned van and a sign. $45 each way. Pay your departure tax ($26pp) at the tour desk when you arrive so they have time to process it. You'll get receipts to confirm your payment. Fill out the back of these receipts. This will save you about an hour on departure (so you can get there 1:30 instead of 3:00 before your flight). Trip to/from the airport takes 30-45 minutes.
Food:
Make sure to book reservations for the two a la carte restaurants ahead of time. You can e-mail the hotel and make these arrangements before you come. Otherwise, you need to make the reservations between 8am and 11am every day, the reservations fill up fast.
Tipping:
There is no need to tip. I tipped the bellboys and the cabs, because they're hauling my heavy luggage around, but that's about it.
Internet:
there is internet in every room, don't forget your ethernet cable. The outlets are only 2-prong, so charging your laptop may be a problem. Bring spare batteries.
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Andrew 
Bradford, Ontario, CA
March 2006
Hi there.....wonderful site...

My girlfriend and I went to this resort in May 2005. We are in our early 40's and have done some previous travelling to the Caribbean.

Overall, very good experience...I had a blast pestering a small octopus while snorkelling on the beach, there is a mini coral reef on the left side of the beach area, but it may actually just be rocks. They were covered with dead coral, so anyway..

The beach had virtually no waves, as the hotel is on the side of a large inlet or bay, and you can't see open ocean straight out from the beach. You see the land and a couple hotels a couple miles away, on the other side of the bay, so no romantic sunsets here.

The room was good, we woke up to find a tiny crab in the bathroom one morning, which I (in my pre-coffee stupor) mistook for a big scary bug and proceeded to smash it with a thong...oops, I mean sandal... Yes, I felt shame after inspecting it and realizing it was a teeny crab. I recall something crappy about the shower, I think it may have had very little water pressure, if memory serves....

The food was very good in the buffet and the ala carte restaurants, but you could only book a table at one of the 3 ala carte restaurants once per week, per restaurant.

You had to book almost 2 days in advance to get a table. The service was superb and very friendly. The rooms are sprinkled across a hillside beside the main building, so getting to our room from the pool or beach was a ten minute walk uphill. There are 5 computers set up next to the lobby so you can get online.

They will exchange currency at the front desk, but had limited amounts of colones available usually. Enough to make us happy. The pool was OK and as others have said, this is not the place to go for nightlife...But who goes to Costa Rica for the nightlife anyway? Driving in CR is fun, we had a car rented for the week and drove down to Quepos, where we stayed at a rustic B & B called Finca Amanecer..Elena the proprietor is a wonderful woman from Arizona who will book all your tours for you, and can even run you around in her Trooper...here she is... askelena@racsa.co.cr.

I went back to CR solo 4 months later and stayed in Quepos and Manual Antonio. Check your receipts and charges carefully if you rent a car, I found out after returning home that my credit card was charged for 9 days instead of the seven we had the car..this was National Rent a Car in Liberia, the office right by the airport.

I love Costa Rica and almost moved there. Enjoy !
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Phil & Janet 
Oxford, Massachusetts. USA
February 2006
My wife and I just came back from the Grand.
We send two weeks, from Jane 21 Thu Feb 4 2006.
This place was great, food, pool, and the staff, were all great.
I highly recommend this hotel people of all ages. Breakfast was great, snack bar, and a "la carte dining, and the main buffet at night, was also very good. Drinks were fine. and the room were also very nice.
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Gary 
UK
January 2006
We have just returned from a glorious 14 nights at the Occidental Grand Papagayo and as this site was so useful to me in making my original decision to go there, I thought it only right to make a contribution myself!

The dynamic of our party was quite interesting – 3 families comprising of 6 parents (in our 40’s), one child of 10, 3 teens of 16 and five 17-19 year-olds. 15 of us in all.

We are from the UK and go away together in a group every Christmas. Traditionally, we choose the Caribbean (all-inclusive resorts) but this year we decided to be a little more adventurous – so glad we did! As there is no direct flight to Liberia from the UK, we flew via Miami, which meant a stop-over each night outward and return.
Arrival –
The immigration 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!
Resort-
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 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.

For the first time on my vacation, I spent more time at the pool than the beach. However, contrary to expectation this didn’t seem to bother me at all. The pool volleyball was always great fun to be involved with, and allowed you to make new friends. The only cautionary point I would make is that you need to get down early to ‘reserve’ your prize position (preferably a place with a little shade!)
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!

Every time we saw the Guest Relations desk, they seemed to be fielding complaints about the Reservations system from someone. It’s a shame as this was the only flawed aspect of the entire resort.
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!

I reiterate – the staff are fantastic (with the singular exception mentioned above).

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!

We did a little research beforehand and reserved our tours with Michael and Ricardo at Vargas Tours – so glad we did!

(Michael and Ricardo at Vargas Tours)

Not only were they and their guides phenomenal, the trips gave us several unforgettable experiences that the teenagers in our party will remember for the rest of their lives! I really cannot stress how important it is to do this.

The tours we attended were:
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!
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!
The Palo Verde River Tour. Monkeys, Crocs, Birds and a real flavour of the wildlife generally.
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. One final point to make about the tours is that the Costa Rican roads are not the best (understatement), so be prepared for some bumpy rides!

In summary, I would say that Costa Rica is up there with the best places we have visited (and that includes Hawaii, Maldives, Cuba). The resort itself I would suggest is a four-star rather than the advertised five. However, the minor foibles of the Grand Papagayo are more than offset by the warmth and charm of their staff. Very, very highly recommended.

Oh and one last thing – although it was the dry season and there were very few mosquitoes, we did get bitten many times by those ‘no see-ums’. Very irritating so make sure you take good bug spray and also a decent anti-histamine cream to treat the bites.

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!!!
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Anita 
Canada
May 2005
Greetings Fellow Travellers! We are from Edmonton and in our late 40’s….

We were in Costa Rica April 6-20, 2005 .We split our two week vacation into 2 resorts…The 1st being the Grand Papagayo……absolutely gorgeous resort! The beach we thought was great, everything was luxurious..we stayed in a unit with about 6 rooms overlooking the ocean ..incredible views…beautiful rooms. Large and spotlessly clean..no complaints..very quiet though, so if you are looking for nightlife this is not it! The Gym is finished and good quality. The Oriental restaurant and the Italian were amazing. The quality of drinks was good and even the wine was not bad!

Allegro Papagayo..2nd week ..met 3 other couples from Edmonton …here is the deal, the rooms were not as nice, the drinks including wine not as good quality but the pool area was better and a lot more going on. The beach is black sand so we didn’t like it as much as the Grand beach so this is when we got into tours. We contacted Michael Mills, a Canadian living in Costa Rica and operating tours under Allegro Tours. He set up the tours for us and was great. We went on the Zip Line to Witch’s Rock which was a riot! Not the lush jungle but no matter, the zip lines were safe and great fun and very close to the hotel! Palo Verde River Tour was a wildlife spectacular. We had Roberto as a guide and he went out of his way to show and tell us everything he knew about the plants, wildlife, herbs etc. We got to feed the white faced monkeys bananas from our hands. They were all over our boats and a lot of people on the same tour with different guides did not get to do any of that. Great Experience!

We also went on the sailing/snorkeling tour twice it was so much fun! Ist time on Michael Mill’s Catamaran…great fun..about 5 hours in total…2nd time Michael booked us on a sailboat for the same tour and we ended up paying more to stay on the boat for the whole day coming back with the dolphins playing in our waves after sunset.

All in all we would go back to Costa Rica in a heartbeat! The only thing we thought we wasted our $$ on was a shopping tour to Liberia..go to Coco Beach instead..a lot more fun, better shopping and good prices …..Have a great time……you will love it!
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Tanya 

January 2005
This place is amazing! My fiancé and I were at the Grand Papagayo Jan 22-29. I really wonder why people are writing such negative reviews. I guess people really feel a need to let little things in life bother them. A vacation is really what you make of it. By far this was the best all inclusive resorts we have ever been to. I have to admit that I was a little afraid of what I was going to find considering the poor comments made by people who had traveled here when the resort first opened. Have no fear this place is GREAT!!
Hotel –
When we first pulled up to the resort and got off the bus in the lobby I was mesmerized by the view of the beautiful bay of Papagayo. Right away I knew this was going to be a great vacation. Everything was so new and elegant. We had to go up stairs to the meeting room where we were given champagne. Then we were given our bracelets and room keys and sent on our way. One evening we had a family of howler monkeys right in front of our room. Their so cute! Also almost ev! eryday we saw howlers down by the beach where the locals park there cars. There is a family of approximately 15 with one Alfa male that watches out and makes a really loud noise if he feels threatened. There were also many species of birds flying around the resort. Bring binoculars so you can get a closer look.
Rooms –
We stayed in room 2203 with a beautiful view of the bay. It was quiet and far away from any sort of activity. It was great. We wanted some peace and quiet and we got it with our room. Our room had 1 king size bed a nice big bathroom and a big veranda with 2 chairs and a small table. This was where I spent a few evenings reading a book in the very warm summery air. The rooms were clean and tastefully decorated. There is a stocked mini fridge, a safe, ironing board, T.V with satellite (mostly Spanish channels but who cares), alarm clock and a hairdryer. We only had one minor problem with our safe the first day that we arrived (the battery was dead) but by the next morning they had come and replaced it a! nd we could lock up our valuables. Also the air conditioner was really loud when it would turn on and off which got on my fiancés nerves (I was smart and brought ear plugs).
Restaurants –
High quality of food every meal here is a breakdown of each restaurants.

Buffet- Excellent selection! I really enjoyed that they cooked Costa Rican dishes rather then trying to imitate North American food. It was always super good. Everything was pretty hot and fresh. I was impressed by the fact that they actually used spices to season their food unlike Cuba where you can even find salt and pepper. Every meal had a great assortment of fresh local fruit always super sweet and ripe. They also had very nice deserts and the service was incredible. My drink was never empty! And the waiters always pushed in my chair when I sat down.

Oriental – Also was very good, excellent presentation of food. The service and the décor were top notch.

Italian – Probably one of the best meals I have had at a restaurant in years. I have never experienced such amazing service as I did here. They really work hard to make everything perfect for you. The food was to die for. It was a 5 course meal consisting of an appetizer, soup, pasta, main course and dessert. They even make Martini’s with olives! My fiancé was shocked.
Staff –
Talk about a nice group of people. Everyone was so polite and easy going. Nobody was expected to tip which I found to be a nice change. Our first night there we were tipping and we were always getting strange looks from the workers. So we stopped and our service remained great.
Entertainment –
If you are looking for nightly shows and a lot of night life this may not be the place for you. During the day time there are a number of activities happening around the pool area. In particular at 9am every morning Ruben and Eva take you on a walk to look for birds and howler monkeys. Then there is water aerobics, Spanish lessons, volleyball and archery. Then at 5pm they take you on a sunset walk to Costa Blanca one of the most beautiful area’ s to watch the sunset over 3 rocks. So pretty!!! At night time people mostly sit around the bar area’s and talk about there days. Then they show a movie in the meeting room and then they have a Disco. We were usually in bed by 9 because we had gotten up so early in the morning.
Beach –
Typical Costa Rican beach, soft black sand not very long but great for swimming and snorkeling. The water was warm and calm. The snorkeling was great on the left hand side of the beach where the rocks go out about 300m. We saw many different varieties of colorful fish. We saw quiet a few eels, octopus, puffer fish, and sting rays. I got stung a few times by small jelly fish but they are so small that it really only hurts for a few minutes. I would recommend bring water shoes because of the random rocks and the cloudy visibility. One thing we found really cool were all the hermit crabs that are on the beach at night time. If you go down at night and stand still and look around you will see hundred of moving lumps. It was truly amazing!
Excursions –
We booked our tours through Michael Mills. They were great. We went to Rincon National park and had Manuel take us on a hike through the forest and the hot bubbling mud pits. We saw spider monkeys swinging from the trees as well as toucans. There were also many strange bugs and lizards. Then we made our way through the forest to a waterfall. It was breathtaking. We ended our hike and Manuel had fresh cut up Cantaloupe and pineapple. Then he took us on another 20 minute hike to another waterfall that we could swim. The water was extremely cold and we just had a nice time looking at all of the butterflies and watching this other couple ! swimming in the icy water. Then after we hiked back to the van we were taken to Liberia for lunch. We were given a typical Costa Rican meal of rice, beans, salad and fish. It was great!!! Then we made our way to a souvenir shop then headed back to the hotel.

Our second tour was to Palo Verde. David was our guide. He was also very knowledgeable. When we got to Palo Verde we were paired up with a boat driver they call Hawk Eye because he can spot things a mile away. We were informed that there was a group of white faced monkeys so we set off to find them. When we got there we were greeted by the cutest little faces looking out at us. Right away the monkeys were excited that we were there and started jumping all over the boat, coming with in arms length of us. Talk about a rush. I had never been so close to a monkey in my life. So after a while we set down river to find some birds and we came across herons and a bunch of other birds I can’t remember the names of. Then we headed back the other way and found tones of crocodiles. Apparently th! ere are 200 crocks per mile. The place was crawling with them. Another group of people that were on our boat was feeding them chicken pieces. They were like 3 feet from the boat. Another amazing rush! The cruise a little over 2 hours and then we were taken to this little tiny restaurant where everything is cooked on a wood stove. That’s were we learned of a condiment they call Salsa. Its not they everyday chopped up tomatoes and onions it’s almost like a ketchup but much tastier. Needles to say we came home with some.

We also took a Taxi to Coco beach to do some shopping. Cost $30. I recommend getting your coffee from the grocery store everywhere else charges double. We also picked up some hot sauces “salsa” coffee liquor and rum. We did a little souvenir shopping and picked up a few small items. Really thought 3 hours is the most one can spend in Coco Beach. It’s just way too touristy.

In conclusion I would have to say that we would come back here again, and probably will sometime soon. I have totally fallen in love with Costa Rica and her people. I have never felt so at home in a foreign country. How could you go wrong with sunny skies and 30 degree weather everyday and surrounded by one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world!
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Jill 
Chicago, Illinois
January 2005
We visited the Occidental Grand Papagayo Hotel January 14th-24th, 2005. We had a great time and thought the hotel was very nice. My husband and I were traveling with our two kids (ages 7 and 10). When we arrived at the hotel our room was not ready so we went to lunch and when we were done our room was ready. We requested a room near the pool and got a room in building 1 right next to the pool. The room was nice but somewhat small. We really used it only to shower and sleep so we didn't need any more room. The safe worked perfectly and the hot water in the shower was great. The refrigerator was only slightly cold but stocked.

We liked all of the restaurants. The buffet food was good, although some nights were better than others. In the Italian a'la carte restaurant the food was good and the service was great. In the Oriental a'la carte restaurant the food was very good but the service was only good. We ate lunch at snack bar next to the pool all but once and found they had a good selection and the food was very good. In addition, servers were always walking around the pool to bring you drinks.

The daytime activity staff was good. We played volleyball in the pool, took a sunset hike and shot archery. The evening entertainment was very limited. They are still working on spa/health club and it looks like it has quite a ways to go. They do offer massages near the beach.

Overall we found the hotel staff to be very friendly and accommodating.

We pre-booked three tours with Michael Mills on the internet. He was very helpful with providing us tour information. We went on the Palo Verde River tour with Ricardo Vargas. Ricardo was an excellent tour guide. He provided us with information on the history of Costa Rica, the crops grown, the Costa Rican culture and identified the animals we saw. We also did the mega tour with Vargas Tours and had a great time. We took a sailing and snorkeling trip on the Cool-Runnings sailboat. This was a great half-day excursion where we saw humpback whales, dolphins and stingrays, along with snorkeling a local reef. The crew was excellent.

We had a great time and would recommend this resort, Vargas Tours, and definitely Costa Rica as a vacation destination!
Grand Papagayo by Occidental
Martin & Kathy 
Waterloo, Canada
January 2005
We've benefited tremendously from objective reviews of vacation spots so this is our attempt to help others. So that you can qualify our comments, we're 60, retired and reasonably healthy (the last comment is relevant as there can be a fair bit of steep walking involved at this hotel).

We've just returned (Jan 24) from the Occidental Grand Papagayo (not the Allegro - there seems to be some confusion on this website re the names of these two hotels in Costa Rica) and to summarize - had a great time!
THE HOTEL
The hotel had only been opened about 6 weeks since a major renovation - and the changes were impressive (based on comments from repeat guests and old photos of the property). We were somewhat apprehensive as to what we would encounter based on reading previous reviews (pre-renovation) but after our first few hours were extremely happy.

The major changes are:
-2 a-la-carte restaurants, an Italian and a Japanese. Apparently you are only supposed to book each once during a 7 day stay but that certainly did not appear to be enforced.
- an open air poolside restaurant which was excellent for lunch. Dinner was also served there roughly 3 days a week.
- 2 new buildings (accommodation) overlooking the pool (one was 4 floors and one 2 floors, both with central A/C).

The grounds could be awesome if they worked a bit harder at gardening. There was a spurt during our first week and we felt that improvements were really happening, then the activity died off. As it is the grounds are still attractive.
There are quite a few hills around the property - including 70+ steps from the pool to the lobby & restaurants. One very pleasant surprise was the free high speed internet access (5 computer stations). Not in place but coming soon are a gym/spa and laundry area.
THE FOOD
The food at the buffet restaurant was overall "very good" (for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Breakfast - fresh fruit was excellent, cooked breakfast OK, plus plenty of other items. Lunch - more than enough choice and the cooked meat & fish were good. Dinner - besides high quality cold food as well as lots of hot food, there was a grill that cooked to order generally 2 choices of meat and 1 of fish (without this, we would have rated dinner as "good"). Of the a-la-carte restaurants, we preferred the Italian "very good - excellent". We ate there twice during our two weeks. Only negative comment was that one of our entrees was just OK. The Oriental (Japanese) was "good".
The poolside restaurant served basically the same items as the Buffet restaurant, plus pizza and hot dogs.
THE ROOM
Our first assigned room was on the ground floor of Block #12. As we wanted a top floor room we were able to change before we even entered the first room. The clerk looked extremely apologetic when he gave us our second room ("the only top floor room we have left"). To us it was wonderful - Block #14 - Spanish tile floor, king size bed, with a terrific view up the bay. The clerk must have felt apologetic because it was the furthest block from the lobby and restaurants - it didn't bother us a bit - we were glad of the 6 minute walk - about the only exercise we got! Only negatives - noise from adjoining rooms travels easily so we were very glad to be the end unit on the top floor - the safe did not work (nor did most others it seemed).
THE STAFF
Costa Ricans (Ticos) are the most friendly and cheerful people we have encountered on all our travels. The restaurant staff were incredibly helpful - our wine glasses never got empty. So what if the maids seemed to always miss one item a day when doing our room (bottled water or face cloth or soap etc) - it didn't worry us at all. We had read numerous negative comments about the front desk staff - and although they were less cheerful than the rest of the staff - considering the abuse they had to put up with from some guests we felt they did a good job.
THE ENTERTAINMENT
Evening entertainment was essentially non-existent apart from two evenings a week when we did enjoy very enthusiastic groups of local folk dancers and latin-american dancers. Other than that there were several movies shown. Evenings were very pleasantly warm with no bugs and we enjoyed meeting many of the other guests over plenty of pina coladas! During the day the Fun Club staff organized many pool volleyball and water polo games as well as conducting morning nature walks and evening sunset walks.
THE BEACH
It is a relatively short walk from the pool (2 minutes). We were aware it was a black sand & shell beach, but we found significant stretches were light coloured sand - considerably better than beaches at a number of other resorts. The hotel provides beach chairs, towels and water/soft drinks. The shade from the ficus trees was great. The water was not cold but as reported by many others, the visibility generally was only 2 to 4 feet, however we saw a large number of fish while snorkeling. The beaches are all public and the Ticos really enjoy them, especially on the weekends. Our only negative comment, our most significant of the trip, was that on our last day we finally went kayaking and discovered considerable scum on the water out in the bay which we had not seen from shore. Not sure if this was unusual because of the quiet conditions of the previous days.
THE EXCURSIONS
One of our main reasons for choosing Costa Rica was to experience the vegetation and wildlife in the National Parks. Based on comments from others we booked with Ricardo Vargas. We were not disappointed. The main benefit we found was the small group size (6) and the knowledge of our young guide (David). Took the Palo Verde boat tour and the Rincon Park hike with him. He gave us a Costa Rican perspective on Costa Rica, and the driver got nicknamed "hawk-eye" for his ability to spot roadside wildlife - which we all got out to look at and learn about. Wanted to do the Monte Verde Cloud Forest walk but Ricardo advised us that the unusually high level of rain at Monte Verde made the likelihood of seeing any wildlife very remote (in his words: "I'd rather you be unhappy with me for not taking you than unhappy with me for taking your money and you not seeing anything"). We certainly appreciated his candor. We also heard first hand from two couples who went on their own that they saw virtually no wildlife - although they enjoyed the rain forest. Lupita, his wife, does the booking etc and was a pleasure to talk to on the phone. As a fill-in, we took one of the trips organized by the hotel (Swiss Travel) to a rain forest park ("Skywalk"). Also enjoyed this trip but not the group size (10) and the way we were herded along. Saw no wildlife except ants on the walk but the guide stopped to show us a 3-toed sloth and a couple of native birds on the way home. Interestingly enough we saw many more birds and animals around the hotel grounds and beach area.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would like to go back to Costa Rica. Some constructive comments for the hotel: - get more action on those problems that should be fixed eg the room safes. It didn't bother us but it did bother a large number of others - some who were paranoid about leaving valuables in their room. We know this problem existed for at least 2 weeks. It should have been fixed. It would have made for overall happier guests and reduced the problems for the front desk staff.
- assign a senior manager to be available at ALL times, by phone if necessary, to handle irate guests. We experienced an incredible display by an irate German guest berating the girl at the front desk. Whether his complaint was legitimate or not, there should have been a senior manager to handle this level of problem.
- get an energetic head gardener and give him an appropriate budget for staff etc. The grounds could be truly awesome.
Allegro Grand Papagayo
Joe 
Ontario
July 2004
I stayed at Grand Papagayo (costa smeralda) in March 2004, as it has been said in former reviews, this resort is a 3 star hotel, the rooms are not the greatest, and the activities are decent - pretty what you would expect from a 3 star resort . I now am planning on returning to Grand Papagayo next year, because i had a great time and it is a great spot in costa rica. The staff are wonderfull, many are laid back- but they are also very welcoming and funny as well.

Anyways, when i was there in feburary we were told that the resort was going to be undergoing major renovations. As i have been planning my trip for next year ,i have been notified that the resort is closed right now until november because of the renovations. apparently 66 rooms are being bulit, and more restaurants. well i thought i would give this review just to assure people the new grand papagayo cannot be rated because its renovations are expected to change the entire resort.

What i can tell you is that the staf ( if it is the same staff) are all very good, the beach is very decent compared to many of the beaches around that area at other resorts - like many of the beaches in costa rica, due to the volcanoes the sand is not extremly white.

Also, the area is very quiet, the sunset walk that they have is a great way to see the beautiful sunset from a cliff , and if your lucky, you might even see dolphins- we were told that people saw them one night! I am not going to go on indepth on all the tours, because through other reviews, it is a given that they are all amaziing- my advice is to definitly at least go on one of the tours - we went on 4, and they were all great. The best one to get many of the activities done in one day is to go on the mega combo tour. but all of them are great!

visit the website http://occidental-hotels.vinetglobal.com/hotel_information.aspx?hotel=1082649733715 if you would like to know more information on its re-opening!
Allegro Grand Papagayo
Lee and Mike 
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
June 2004
We visited this 3 star, 110 room resort in December of 2003. It was then called Costa Smeralda (owned by Occidental), but we noticed in the tour books this year that it has been renamed Occidental Grand Papagayo. It is now rated as a 4 star and the prices have gone up substantially (approximately $1000.00 Canadian for a two week period!). My brother has been there several times over the past few years and said that there were ongoing rumours of shutting the resort down and renovating it. Perhaps this is what has happened, however the tour book did not mention "recently renovated".

We had requested a room before going and did not get it. We were given a number of conflicting reasons why it was not available depending on who we talked to. The first room we had was disgusting - mouldy, mildewy, air conditioning that kept turning off, and a plugged drain in the bathtub that meant we were knee high in scuzzy water by the end of our shower. After a week of repairs and continued requests, we were moved to another room that was like the Taj Mahal compared to the first one!!

The food was very good both at the buffet and the a la carte restaurant (service was very slow here). The staff were all courteous but not overly friendly. We found that the front desk staff did not always have a good command of the English language, so simple requests were sometimes complicated (we speak some Spanish and still had trouble). We also found that the staff were not always honest and told conflicting stories. One staff would say that the tour to the free beach club (across the bay) was full and the next person would say it had been cancelled. Often it was cancelled because of the wind and waves, but sometimes we could not find out whether or not it was running until we went down to the beach and waited for the boat which sometimes did and sometimes didn't show up. However, if you do get to the beach club on the other side, it is peaceful and worth the trip (all drinks and yummy snacks, kayaks included).

The pool was very large and always kept clean. There was very loud music and activities around the pool and not much space for quiet. The beach is small but good for swimming and snorkelling depending on the tide.

The grounds are very large and hilly with lots of stairs - when the description says "not for the physically challenged", it definitely means it. The blocks of rooms are really spread out and depending on where you are staying, you could have quite a walk to the dining area and lobby. There is a shuttle that is sometimes available to get you to your room. The pool area is down about 75 steps from the lobby area.

Although we enjoyed this resort , we would want to be assured that there had been some significant upgrades to warrant the new rating and price before returning.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at paws@rivernet.net.