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“A Year Later: After the Bed Bugs at Allegro”
Review of Allegro Papagayo

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Allegro Papagayo
Ranked #9 of 13 Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo
Reviewed 6 December 2008

I am re-posting my review of a year ago (Dec 2007). I am considering a trip to the Caribbean and am remembering my awful experience at Allegro Papagayo. While it is a fact that I was bitten by bed bugs at Allegro, it seems that I was lucky enough not to have brought any back to New York City with me. If I did -- though I NEVER actually saw one here or in Costa Rica -- they must have been eliminated by the draconian methods I took when I got back (washing everything that was washable, dry cleaning everything that was dry cleanable and freezing the rest in plastic bags on a balcony of a neighbor for several weeks). My mattress and pillows are all still encased in plastic and will remain so for at least another six months since bed bugs' eggs can live for 18 months. (Should I go through with my Caribbean plans, I'm thinking of taking a king size plastic mattress cover wtih me for peace of mind while sleeping.)

My main reason for re-posting this review is the unsympathetic reaction I received from Allegro when they were advised of the bed bugs in my room. They denied that the room was infested ("no one else complained") and took a "too bad" attitude about the whole thing. And, it's a pity, because I loved the pool and even liked my room,

Anyway, here is a REPRINT of my December 2007 review:

On Monday, 11/26/07, I arrived at Allegro Papagayo for four days of rest and recreation. Upon arrival, everything seemed to be as promised in all the material I had read about Allegro. The setting was magnificent and the spacious pool was lovely. The young staff was extremely friendly and made every effort to be helpful. I was booked into Room 329, in one of their many hill-side housing units.

Everything was fine until Wednesday morning, 11/28/07. I woke up with what seemed to be an itching rash around my neck and other parts of my body. I phoned the hotel paramedic and went down to see him.

The paramedic examined me and told me that I was having an allergic reaction; probably to the local mosquitoes. While many of the other guests complained about mosquito bites, I had spent most of my time in the pool and had not been bothered by them, as far as I knew. He gave me a shot (Clorotrimetron) to arrest the allergy, some pills of the same thing to take for 5 days and a cream (Betametazona) for the itch. My visit cost US$168.

My treatment and medication did not help: I continued to have itchy welts on my body; mostly on my arms, legs and neck. On Friday, 11/30/07, I checked out of the Allegro. I returned to my New York City Co-op apartment around midnight.

I immediately got on my computer to get more information on allergies from mosquito bites. In time, my research led me to insects, in general, and bed bugs, in particular. After reading about the bed bugs and seeing photos of people who had been bitten by them, I began to consider that such had been my fate. I then removed my luggage from my apartment and stored it a storage area in my building (where I keep my bike). The next day, I saw my personal physician.

After examining me, he confirmed that I had indeed been bitten by bed bugs. I phoned American Express to advise them of my experience at Allegro and encouraged them to phone the hotel so that the room could be inspected and quarantined or treated, as necessary.

I was hoping beyond hope that I had left the bugs in Costa Rica. But I was not so lucky. On Monday morning, I found what looked like small blood stains on my white bed sheets. Since then, my life has been a nightmare.

When I advised my co-op management of my possible problem, they put me in touch with the pest control company that we use. I was told that I had to dry clean and/or wash everything in the apartment. I was told to retrieve my bags from the storage area (which would also have to now be treated because I may have infected the area). I bought over 100 large plastic bags and tape to seal my clothing and my luggage. On Wednesday, 12/5/07, the president of the pest control company came to my apartment and confirmed that the blood stains were indicative of the presence of bed bugs. He advised me to continue bagging my clothing for dry cleaning and washing.

I am nearly done with the bagging. On Monday, 12/10/07, my apartment will be treated (but only if I have finished bagging everything). I will have to vacate the apartment for at least 4 hours after treatment.

I have never seen a bed bug (except on the Internet). I had never thought of a bed bug nor had I ever had any experience with them. Now, I have become a bit of an expert on the subject -- thanks to the Internet and testimony from friends and relatives.

To date, except for an email that I received from the employee of American Express whom I phoned to tell them about my problem (I requested the email), I have not heard anything from American Express or Allegro Papagayo. I plan to consult with an attorney to explore possible litigation for personal injury. But first, I am trying to eliminate any infestation in my home.

I am a 68-year-old seasoned traveler -- including the USA , the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and North Africa. I have never inspected a bed in all of my travels nor have I ever had such a problem before. But apparently, this is becoming a growing problem around the world and travelers are advised to be aware and take whatever precautions deemed appropriate (such as inspecting beds in hotel rooms upon arrival).

This TripAdvisor Member:

Stayed: November 2007
1  Thank Ash-in-NYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 December 2008

We stayed for two weeks in late November/early December and here's my review. I should mention that neither of us have ever done an inclusive vacation before and generally travel with a researched itinerary that I've set up before going. Work has been busy this year so I was keen to try something that required little effort initially to set up.:

Pros:

Service: excellent all around, staff is unfortunately limited in their abilities to help with significant requests but in general are very good and try to do their best.

Value: considering that the best rate on flights we could find was only about $600 cheaper (combined) then going with the hotel package the value is significant. Worked out to about $40 CDN a night, which is a good value for a "home base" with free food/drinks and an average/clean room with AC etc.

Yellow sand beach: you can book a day trip boat ride for free over to a "white" sand beach which is really closer to yellow but a markable improvement over the black sand beach at the hotel. Unfortunately you are stuck there for the whole day (9am-4pm). The day we went the weather was nice but I wouldn't want to be stuck out there if the weather turned. There is a food stand/drink area and washrooms so you're not completely stranded either.

Neutrals:

Room:
Room came with two double beds (we had requested a Queen/King bed before coming but seems they don't have many of those). We requested a switch Queen/King bed for the first two-three days of the trip but gave up and moved in. It became pretty obvious that the front desk staff don't have much control over anything other then to tell you to check back the next day until you leave. That being said the room was ok, a little mildewy and some obvious previous minor water damage. The AC and fan kept the heat outside well under control. We were in building 10 which was close to the pool/food/beach and had wifi acess (somewhat slow but workable). We were thankful to be in building 10 (or 11 is also close to the pool/beach) but the shuttle does run fairly often for those in other buildings. The walk uphill is very steep if you chose to do it often. I would definetely suggest trying to get in building 10 or 11 before arriving because whatever room you get you will likely be stuck with. That being said it seems like the process is fairly random and you just have to be lucky (we were handed our room passes on the bus in from the airport upon arrival, and I had requested previously that we were in building 10 or 11). We heard a honeymoon couple complaining at front desk who had prepaid for a premium room/honeymoon package and they ended up in a room with double beds like ours, and an overflowing toilet and the front desk couldn't do much else other then apologize.

Drinks: Neither of us are big drinkers but there was always accessible booze. Bartenders are friendly but a little heavy handed with the alcohol in the mixed drinks. The booze is discount brand "Disco" and I think the beer on tap is local Pilsen (or Imperial?). Like the food below if your ideal vacation is to drink and eat with a focus on quantity over quality you could certainly do that here.

Locals at the hotel: Not sure what the deal was exactly, but often on the weekends the hotel would be packed with locals. The best we could figure out was that maybe there is a local "weekend pass". It did often make the pool area and buffet area very crowded.

Pool: the pool was average, cleaned daily and pretty big. Some days where it was a bit cold they should have ran the heater in the pool. I'm not a big pool person myself (prefer a nice white sand beach) and I only went in one day to do a free scuba intro lesson.

Cons:

Food: very average to below average depending on the day. Breakfast was the best meal of the day with made to order eggs and omelettes. Lunch and dinner are a wildcard. After a day I learned to stick as much as possible to food fresh off of the grill. I also learned to request "no sal" (no salt) as everything is cooked in lots of oil and salt. Of the restaurants, The Italian specialty place was terrible, but the Mexican specialty was above average. I'd suggest making reservations as often as possible.

Beach: black like mud, not very soft, no exciting fish or coral. We knew this going in from TA.

Resources: the staff does the best they can with what they have but you can only work so much magic with weak ingredients, bargain basement booze, and no real authority to satisfy customer complaints.

Isolation: unless you rent a car or do an excursion, you're stuck at AP. We had three days on each side of the two weeks where we didn't have a car and that was more then enough.

Other Tourists: realize that this is a bargain vacation. I got pretty sick of hearing complaints and rude behaviour from other tourists, mostly to staff that I'm sure would have loved to do something about it if they could but had no power other then to smile and say I'm sorry. This is really not a place where you should have high expectations. You need to be prepared for a below average experience and have a "Plan B" (like renting a car and getting around on your own for a bit).

Suggestions:

We rented a vehicle for a week, from an outside company (AP deal with Alamo exclusively, but we had arranged a Thrifty rental before arriving). We were pretty sure this would be necessary for us because after about 24 hours we were itching to see the "real" Costa Rica and the price of the car rental for the week was almost equivalent to us doing one excursion with the hotel. I'm not sure what the rates were with Alamo but probably a lot more then setting something up beforehand. There are literally about 20 different car rental companies between Liberia and AP on the Panamerican highway once you leave the hotel.

Interestingly the weather is radically different all over the country with some of the best weather occuring at the area around Allegro Papagayo. We went to Arenal Volcano, Poas Volcano, Monteverde and Telerindo Volcano and often times it was nice and sunny at Allegro but rainy at the other sites. Poas was the longest of the trips and not really worth it unless you know you're going to arrive to great weather (was completely foggy when we got there and couldn't see any of the main crater). I was excited to see Arenal but again arrived on a somewhat rainy/cloudy day and the view was obscured somewhat, but could still see the steam coming off of moving/cooled lava and hear the volcano. I was hoping to spend a night in Arenal and see the lava flows at night but it wasn't worth it with the cloud. We day-tripped everywhere (lots of driving) except for Poas, which we did after staying overnight in a cute B&B at Monteverde. Monteverde was the highlight of the trip with a great cloud forest so it didn't matter much if it was raining (although we had pretty good weather while we were there, just overcast). We went to the skybridge walk, and did a cool nightwalk where we saw all sorts of creatures/wildlife.

Also there are lots of nicer beaches fairly close to AP with a car (about an hour and a half drive each way). If you go to Belin and Huacas there is a junction to Tamarindo (surf beach) in one direction and Brassalito/Flamingo/Conchal in the other. Tamarindo is pretty touristy (more white people then locals, and definetely had a younger feel (20s to early 30s). Lots of beach to lay out on at Tamarindo. Flamingo has choppy water but is equally nice and less populated then Tamarindo. Brassalito is kindof a mix of the two but if you drive along the beach for about 2km you get to a proper white, crushed shell beach called Conchal. This beach was the best one we encountered by far. Tamarindo, Flamingo and Brassalito are more "yellow" beaches. Conchal is about 1.5km long and mostly tourists, but somewhat isolated and you have to know how to get to it.

Driving tips: tank up as often as possible (gas stations are few and far between, especially once you leave the pan american highway). 4x4 necessary as lots of the roads are again very rough once you get off the Panamerica highway. Drive aggressively as that is the Costa Rican way and if you're accustomed to using your side indicators be careful because as much as I could figure out many times Costa Ricans used them to indicate "go around" rather then "I'm about to change lanes" or "I'm about to turn". The driving maps are not very detailed regarding side roads so be prepared to ask for directions a lot. Not many roadsigns to indicate if you're on the right track.

Anyways mostly a nice trip, but I wouldn't go back to AP now that I know the layout of Costa Rica better. Then again we both feel that we really saw most of what CR had to offer and won't likely be back anytime soon.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
5  Thank ReviewTips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 December 2008

My husband and I have just returned from the Allegro Papagayo resort in Liberia, Costa Rica. We flew in from Toronto with Skyservice. Overall, wonderful holiday, a few quirks with the hotel but nothing major as you realize you are in a FOREIGN COUNTRY (some people tend to forget this) We paid the extra money to get the Superior Premium Oceanview (building 10/11) and the extra money is worth it. The entire hotel is situated into the side of a hill with the lobby at the top/ pool-beach at the bottom, with shuttle vans running around it approx. every 10 mins. The walk up and down to the lobby is a steep one, we considered it good daily excercise and there were many children/elderly people there making good use of the shuttles. Pool is very nice, bars have great drinks. Beer in Costa Rica is Imperial, very good, light by Canadian standards but easily drinkable. :) We had no problems booking the al a carte restaurants with guest services(Tex-Mex & Italian). We much prefered the Tex-Mex and the service in this restaurant was excellent. Buffet is very good quality food however selection is light. Different theme nights every night but it just seemed like a different sauce on the same chicken(still tasty however) Lunch had snack bar as well with pizza, fried chicken, fries, ice cream (good for kids) Breakfast buffet is awesome.
We booked 2 tours, 1 through the hotel with Signature-ziplining, awesome tour. Guides are great, experience is second to none. Be forewarned, if it is raining the day you go ziplining, do not wear clothes you treasure, the oil from the pulleys gets on everything including your face, legs etc.
2- Coco Beach tour by boat; good guides, good day, there is bank there if you need, just ask the guide. No bartering in Costa Rica. People who get seasick may not like this tour as the boat has to go into the open ocean a bit and can get wavy.
Not necessary for anything to switch money to colones, American money widely accepted.
This resort is really in the middle of nowehere in comparison with the others, not a good choice if you get stir-crazy, or are a major vacation shopper. You will just end up complaining.
Monkeys on the beach 4 out of 6 days, very friendly and photogenic.
There is internet access at the hotel, and quite reasonable in comparison with other resorts we have been to.
Overall, a great place to get away for a great price and do lots or little tours of a wonderful area.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank MT_Travellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 November 2008

This hotel advertise beach front, however the beach is black mud that looks into a bay. There are no waves and at high tide the beach is all but gone. At low tide there are flies everywhere in the black mud beach and the water is dirty.

They advertise having 3 restaurants however only 1 is open each night and if you don't book (in person) you are stuck going to the buffett which is 1 step above eating at Denny's.

The staff are not friendly and don't seem to have much interest in customer service.

The rooms are similar to an american Motel 8 or Best western. They have ants everywhere and are built into the side of a cliff so you are constantly walking up a 50 degree hill to get back and forth to your room.

If you think you are getting a good value before staying, think again, pony up a little more $ and stay somewhere that actually has a beach (that's why you visiting this country to begin with).

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
1  Thank Jerseytraveler67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 November 2008

I stayed at the occ allegro papagayo November 2008. We flew in on Delta Airlines (who were amazing by the way) All the flights were on time and the people were really nice and helpful. When arriving at the Liberia Airport we went through customs which took about 3 minutes and caught a taxi to the hotel. The taxi rate was $55 US. We later found out that the hotel has a van service that is $60 for the roundtrip (much cheaper!) The taxi ride was about 35 minutes. The hotel had amazing views and we were givin an ocean view even though we didn't pay the extra money for it. The weather was GREAT! Warm and sunny the whole time. December is the beginning of dry season so November was a great time to go. The food at the hotel was not very good. We were not able to make reservations at the ala carte restaurants so I can't say how those were. The beach was not very big and too many trees to sunbathe but it was still very beautiful. Around 8am and 3pm the white faced monkeys would come out and hang around the beach (ps. they love the fried bananas!) Little parots would fly around about sunset. Iguanas, lizards, lightning bugs, lots of wildlife. Lot's of hills to climb to get to your room but they do have a van that drives around the property at all times. We went horseback riding with charlies adventures (which is located at the hotel) Well worth the $50. When leaving to fly back to the states, the airport experience was a little confusing. Give yourself at least a couple hours. First you have to wait in one line to pay the immigration tax ($26) then another line to check in with your airline and then another line to go through immigrations and security. All and all a great place to stay. A little bit secluded but very beautiful and friendly. Oh yeah, and don't bother exchanging your US dollars to the costa rican money, we paid the fee to exchange and ended up losing some money. All the places we went took US or credit cards!

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank chevaf8b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Allegro Papagayo

Address: Playa Manzanillo | P.O. Box 48-5000, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Gulf of Papagayo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#7 Luxury Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#8 Spa Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Gulf of Papagayo
Price Range: $264 - $304 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Allegro Papagayo 4*
Number of rooms: 300
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Allegro Papagayo Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
Allegro Papagayo Costa Rica
Allegro Papagayo Gulf Of
Allegro Papagayo Occidental
Costa Rica Occidental
Occidental Papagayo
Allegro Papagayo Resort

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