As I start this review I find myself searching for ways to be concise and to the point without making it too long. This is one of those places that my family and I found to be among the elite. We all have different criteria of what makes an 'elite', memorable 5-star stay: The Andaz Papagayo met and exceeded all of our expectations! Up until a week or so before our trip I actually held a reservation here and at the Hilton. I debated back and forth about which would be better for us. I have zero doubt that this was right and actually laugh at myself for even considering the other.
Before I go on, let me summarize by saying this; if the Andaz Papagayo is on your list of potential locations to stay, do it. 5-star service from an extremely hard working and very personable staff, spacious rooms with beautiful custom details, boutique feel with no need left wanting. Incredibly refreshing pools with services and more. Deliberately unstated and elegant at the same time. We arrived as typical tourists with an open mind to new adventures. We left (reluctantly) with new friends and looking for a good time to return.
So now a little more detail;
The resort itself is located 20-30 minutes from the new LIR airport. It's an easy drive if you decide to get a car and even easier if you arrange transportation ahead of time. Some people have mentioned in other reviews that it is 'remote' and 'isolated'. It is a bit remote for sure, and yes, there are limited options for activities and shopping in very close proximity but that was a big plus for us. We booked the stay here with the sole intent of disconnecting and decompressing. The last thing we wanted was non-stop entertainment and craziness trying to squeeze in way to many activities. We did find very reliable and free WiFi on the property to you could get your fix as needed. For the most part, everything we needed was on-site or a short shuttle ride away to the Prieta Beach Club or marina. If shopping till you drop and hitting the nightlife is what you want this may not be your best choice. Stay closer to one of the typically touristy beach towns that offer all the same none]sense and cheap souvenirs you can find in any tourist location. The Andaz brings in a small selection of local artists and craftspeople a couple times a week to get a little higher quality selection. The amazing staff also helped us arrange a one day car rental with everything included. We were able to do our own tour of the local area and also ride horses, white water tubing and canopy (zip line) tour. One day from our 5 days there was sufficient for our needs.
Multiple infinity edge pools integrated into the landscape made the world just slip away. No, there is not a big beach view from the pool but so what. There is a special feel here surrounded by the sound of waves in the background accompanied by singing birds and the occasional Howler Monkey bellow. Need a cold drink or snack, the attentive pool staff was there to meet all your needs. Wrap it up with a visit to the gym as needed or a massage. One note about the beach here. It is not a big sweeping white sand beach you might find at other places. There is limited but very private beach areas. Most accessible during low tide. If you want the big sweeping beach, take the free shuttle to the free Prieta Beach club. Our beach activities were limited due to some windy days and plenty of other things to do.
Food choices are solid but some may feel limited. The best all around location was Rio Bhongo open for all meals starting with a menu driven or top quality breakfast buffet. Don't miss the fresh tamals with Lizano sauce on top! Lizano is my new favorite sauce for many items. Rio also has a good lunch/poolside and dinner menu. There is a mix of some local style influences but many would consider this a more Americanized restaurant. The most affordable and flexible food location and they will adjust any menu item to your liking. Make sure you get some great coffee prepared in many different ways at the coffee bar. Great espresso, but our favorite was the Costa Rica typical method brewed in a chorreador. Course ground coffee placed into a cotton filter direct to your cup. Can you say yumm!
Chao Pescao offers some fantastic and innovative drinks as many have mentioned in other reviews. I don't recall the exact name but the smoke infused basil mojito served with a smoldering cinnamon stick is fantastic! Chao Pescao also offers a great selection of tapas. In hindsight, I wish we had spent more time exploring the many local influenced items. Those that we had were fantastic.
Ostra billed as the high-end fine dining option. One special event offered during the week was a limited capacity ceviche class with a master chef. The ceviche offered in this class and on their menu was some of the best I've ever had. Strike that, it was indeed the best I've ever had. We had it during the class and then again with dinner one night. For dinner, I've got to be honest, I'd skip it. The only saving grace from our evening and too expensive bill was the ceviche. No local inspired dishes and the food was frankly not something we would return for.
A perfect dinner evening for us would be to start with a selection or two of ceviche from Ostra then take a shuttle over to Chao Pescao for fun drinks and a mix of tapas from their kitchen. If still hungry you could end with the baked pineapple desert from Rio Bhongo.
A lot of good has already been said about the rooms, but I will add that they are very comfortable and inviting. Modern touches combined with local woods and details. The open-concept rainshower was also amazing! Great storage and a minibar with a few drinks and snacks.
Before I wrap it up I want to touch on two things; the grounds and the amazing staff.
Have you ever been to Disneyland? You know how they spend a great deal of effort keeping the place clean and tidy? There is always someone seen picking up messes and more. The Andaz Papagayo is just like that. Constant attention to detail is a priority and it shows. The grounds are masterfully maintained. The plants are groomed perfectly. Everyone you pass offers a genuine smile and courteous helpful attitude. Everyone...from the first person we met to the last...was so friendly and accommodating that at first our skeptical selves questioned how genuine it was. It did not take long to accept that is was indeed very real and honest. Everyone seemed to really enjoy working there. Related to this was really the sheer number of staff allocated to every function. The dining options (with the exception of Ostra where it was hard to get service), the grounds, the cart drivers to the housekeeping and front desk were all very well staffed.
Lastly, I've got to say that we truly hated to leave. We were getting to know some of the drivers and front lobby staff and feel like we made many new friends. How many places have you ever stayed where you are taking pictures (good size group pictures) with the people there? We did...hugs and handshakes with a promise to return wrapped up our great journey. I am terrible with names so I will apologize now if I missed you; Special thank to my monkey-hunter partner Pablo! We had a great time finding the troops of white faced and congo monkeys. Maria! You are the best. Thank you for everything from pre-arrival to departure. The special attention you provided was very much appreciated. My son felt like a rock star with what you did for him. Fabio, Helmut, Andrea, Alexa, Jessica in housekeeping, the coffee bar, all the other drivers and so many more I am forgetting now. Thank you very much to my new friends! We appreciate all you do. Be blessed!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Andaz Peninsula Papagayo stands quietly among the trees, overlooking the sapphire blue waters of Culebra Bay. With spectacular design, the first Latin American Andaz, was inspired by the organic forms and shapes of the native flora and fauna, using the shapes of cocoons and shells for the hotel's facilities, stimulating the senses of guests in new and refreshing ways. Each of the 153 rooms balance modern design with touches of character that blend into the natural surroundings, with woven textiles, solid woods and carved artifacts highlighting the rich Costa Rican aesthetic. Guestrooms and suites offer a spacious balcony with breathtaking bay and forest views. Four of the 21 suites feature plunge pools, and the Presidential Suite offer a private, full-sized pool. The unique gastronomic experience of the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo s Cuisine features three themed restaurants. Each one tells a story about our culture. Chao Pescao, a casual dining enclave nestled within the lush Guanacaste landscape offering a small plates menu and the mixologists' specialties, is our neighborhood place. Rio Bhongo, the meeting point, a place for everyone, a culinary "paseo"... Just like a farmer's market. Ostra is our signature restaurant, elegant, discreet and romantic, offering all kind of delicacies from the sea, carefully prepared using the most sophisticated culinary techniques. Totally open kitchens allow a distinctive interaction with chefs, making guests feel like if they were visiting family or the home of a friend. Onda Spa is a respite of energy, touch and evolution. Elevated into the trees of Costa Rica's rich tropical forest, guests at Onda set out on a journey to envigorate both body and soul. Blending Papagayo's culture, senses, smells and touches, treatments are individually tailored for each guest, directly addressing specific needs, goals and desires. Andaz Peninsula Papagayo has a free-flowing environment that means no desks, no processes, no formality and thus, no stress. The home-feel experience allows you to enjoy complimentary a health-minded mini bar, complimentary wi-fi through out the resort and a complimentary kids program. Hotels in this collection reflect the unique cultural scene and spirit of the surrounding neighborhood through their Andaz Salon program and are dedicated to creating natural and vibrant living spaces where travellers can indulge in their own personal sense of comfort and style. Andaz meaning personal style in Hindi, is infused with character and weaves itself into the fabric of its locale. Every detail is an opportunity to explore the uniqueness of the destination and every moment is a chance to discover something new. True to the Andaz brand, Andaz Peninsula Papagayo will reflect Costa Rica's Pura Vida philosophy, creating locally-inspired experiences and engaging guests in the local culture in a comfortable, unique atmosphere for which Andaz is known. ... more less
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