Hotel Review: Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort

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The Andaz VW van at the entrance to the Andaz Papagayo Resort.

Hello! It’s been a busy couple of months, but I finally have a couple minutes to write a new hotel review. I’ve been meaning to write this review for a while now since we went there at the start of May…May 2015! In the meantime, we’ve also gone there on two other occasions, including the start of this month. So it’s high time for a review.

I’ll talk about the area, the hotel itself, and some things you can do when you’re there. Finally, we’ll get into a few ways that you can stay there without breaking the bank. All of the pictures in this post were taken by me, and it was hard to choose my favorites. So you can check out many more here. But let me know if you have any questions about them or would like to use them somewhere else.

So, let’s get into it!

THE AREA

The hotel, as its name indicates, is on the Papagayo peninsula in northwest Costa Rica, in the province of Guanacaste. It’s a very beautiful area and many of the visitors to Costa Rica head for the beaches of Guanacaste. However, the Andaz is still only about 3 years old, so it’s maybe not on as many people’s radars.

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Part of the scenic drive to the Papagayo peninsula, taken between Liberia and the hotel.

The hotel is on a bay so the 2 beaches next to the hotel are very calm. Beaches in Costa Rica are public, but due to the nature of the rocky terrain nearby, the two at the hotel basically just have hotel guests there. They’re also clean and well-kept, with easy access from the hotel (although you do have to walk down a hill, so if you’ve got mobility issues, you may want to stick to the pools).

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Later in this article, I mention that it’s not the most amazing beach I’ve seen in Costa Rica, but that’s probably underselling it too much. Here’s the beach at sunset, when we were the only ones there. Yep, it’s pretty great.

Papagayo peninsula is about a 30 or 40-minute drive from Liberia, which has one of Costa Rica’s two international airports. That’s also an airport that caters mainly to international tourists, so a lot of foreigners arrive there. The other airport is outside of the capital, San Jose, and many people land there, too, of course. The drive from there would be a bit over 4 hours, but there’s a convenient restaurant about halfway between the two called “Las Tres Hermanas.” It’s got BBQ and a gigantic bull in the front of the building, so you can’t miss it.

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One of the buildings with the rooms. It does a good job of integrating into the surrounding nature, or at least as well as you can expect of a hotel.

THE HOTEL

This hotel is amazing. It’s the kind of hotel that I sort of hope I never get used to since it’s a little enchanting every time we visit. I’ve been to some urban hotels in places like China or Brazil that were maybe a bit “nicer” in terms of things like room features (think TVs by the bathtub, for example), but in terms of a “nature resort” hotel, this one is by far the nicest I’ve been to.

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The lobby at night. Super stylish.

There are a series of buildings spread out over a hill overlooking the bay, and every room has at least a partial glimpse of some seriously beautiful views. There are also 3 restaurants, 3 or 4 pools (depending on how you count), a gym area, and other spa amenities if that’s your thing.

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Our standard room. Well, the bathroom area at least.

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Parts of two of the pools, with the Rio Bhongo restaurant on the right. It’s their biggest restaurant, and the food is excellent.

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Enjoying one of the very big pools.

We’ve been in a standard room each time, but that was definitely nice enough for us. I guess there are also suites, some of which even have private plunge pools, if you’re a high roller. Our rooms have been spacious and included a balcony, a great waterfall-style shower and a super cool piece of furniture that incorporates the desk, the TV, and the closet all in one thing. I mention this because they’re cool, but also because they were designed by a student of mine, Nelson.

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He’s also wondering how it’s possible that we’re the only people at this beautiful beach.

WHAT TO DO THERE

If you’re lazy (like we are), then you’ll feel right at home here. As I’ve mentioned, there are plenty of beach and pool options. The pools are spacious and beautiful, and every time we’ve gone there we’ve had no trouble finding a couple chairs. And while the beach isn’t the most spectacular one I’ve seen in Costa Rica, it can hold its own, and there are lots of beach chairs and hammocks.

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They supplied us with a crib for our boy, along with an Andaz stuffed animal, a balloon, and some small candies. It’s a very kid-friendly place, without being alienating to adults.

If you’re a more adventurous go-getter (like we aren’t), there are also plenty of activities for you to choose from, both on and off the resort property. I guess since we live in Costa Rica, we don’t feel like we have to take advantage of things like once-in-a-lifetime chances to ride horses in the ocean (I’m not sure if they actually offer this; I’m just extrapolating). But they do have nature hikes, jogs, runs, and bike outings, as well as different classes.

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A picture I took right before the coffee started flowing in my “barista class.”

When we checked in, we were given a coupon for a free activity. It was part of a reward from my membership in the Hyatt rewards program (Andaz is a brand owned by Hyatt). So I decided to go to a class about coffee, of course. I learned some new things about different coffee preparation styles, and also drank about 6 cups of coffee, so it was a great way to spend an hour or so.

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Another cool touch is that they include two free fedoras.

Finally, this place is great if you have kids. Again, the pools and beaches can provide hours of entertainment, but they even have a whole program for children in a separate building. We were really kicking ourselves because we didn’t look into this until the second day of our third stay! It’s got people who can act as babysitters (for a fee), but you can also take your kids there to play around with some toys, which is what we did a few times. Our boy was incredibly happy to be there, and we’ll have to hit up that place when we go back there.

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At the kids’ area, with Jordan (I think that was her name). Everyone was friendly and the services at the hotel were universally great.

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Another bonus: the property stretches out over a big hill, and that also implies some longer walks. As a result, they have lots of golf carts to help people get around and to move luggage. There are often a few sitting around unattended, providing a perfect opportunity for a boy and his pig to play around a bit.

COSTS AND LOGISTICS

Now, the one drawback of the Andaz is that it’s a bit pricey. We’ve partially gotten around that a few ways. For the first visit, we got two free nights from a Hyatt credit card I have. Those nights were included as part of a sign-up bonus, and we definitely got a great deal, since a night there can start at around as much as $400 for a standard room, depending on the time of year you visit.

The other times we’ve gone back I took advantage of a special rate the hotel offers for Costa Rican citizens. I found out about the rate because the hotel manager replied to some comments I’d made on a survey after the first stay. So I guess that just goes to show you–sometimes it’s worth it to take a few minutes to fill them out!

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Some night art near the gym and spa area.

On this most recent trip, I also contacted them to get the Costa Rican rate, but you can also use Hyatt points. Another cool feature about that Hyatt card I mentioned is that every year you pay the annual fee (which is $75, if I’m not mistaken), you get a free night at a Hyatt category 1-4 hotel, which includes the Andaz. Like I said, you can get that credit card if you’re interested, but you can also transfer points from other Chase cards such as the Sapphire Preferred (and if you’re interested in signing up for that, let me know–I can get a bonus if you do!).

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The lobby during the day.

I think that’s about all that I have to say about this resort, except for that I’d love to go back as soon and as much as possible. But if you have any comments or questions that I can maybe help with, please let me know in the comments.

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Thanks again!

 

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Sitzman

Just One Monkey On One Of Infinite Typewriters at Costa Rica Outsider
Hello, and welcome to Costa Rica Outsider! My name is Ryan Sitzman. and I'm the proverbial "man behind the curtain" for this site. I hope you like it, and I'd love to hear any comments or feedback you may have. I also have a language learning blog at sitzmanabc.com, or you can check out my personal site at sitzblog.com. Thanks for stopping by!

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