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Occidental Papagayo

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Overview

The marvelous, open-air lobby of the Occidental Grand Papagayo transports guests with the exotic trappings of a pure tropical escape. The untamed, natural beauty of Costa Rica's Northern Pacific coastline echoes the sentiment. From spectacular bluffs to warm ocean waters below, the unspoiled eco-diversity this rich land offers simply carved out the perfect spot for the Occidental Grand Papagayo. This exclusive, adults only resort where premium service meets a breathtaking location is just half an hour from Liberia International Airport.

Location: Situated in Guanacaste on the Northern Pacific coast on beautiful Buena Beach, 20 min to Playa del Coco with its restaurants, bars and shops, 30 min from the airport.


tripadvisor Traveler Reviews
  • trendymum50 : Brighton, United Kingdom
Ideal place to stay if you fly into Liberia airport

The hotel is on a cliff side location with beautiful gardens. The rooms and clean and spacious, with good amount of toiletries. The shuttle transport whizzes around all day taking guests from lobby, to pool, to rooms. This is a great facility as the property is on steep ground. The pool with swim-up bar is lovely with warm water, and plenty of sun beds. There are plenty of activities during the day. The food is typical buffet style, which was nice, but not excellent. There are two a la carte restaurants which were better quality, but there are rules to be obeyed if you want to eat in theses - they can only booked on the day at 8am, and have to be booked, and can only be booked once every three days. One annoying thing is that you have to pay for wifi which I object to these days especially as the service was very slow, and dropped out all the time. This is something that could easily be rectified. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this hotel

  • tate355 : Houston, Texas
Stay Somewhere Else

The resort was boring. Same food everyday and appeared to be for senior citizens. The staff was rude and did not want to assist with anything. Not many activities to partake in. I was told by another visitor the free excursions were a waste of time. They had leeches in the water that the tour guide did not tell you about. The beach was crappy. Brown water gross.

  • Richard H : Vancouver, British Columbia
Come for the sun, not the beach

Perhaps the kindest thing you can say about the Occidental Papagayo is that it’s tired. The artwork is tired. The decor is tired. The furnishings are tired. Even a few of the staff seem tired of doing their jobs. Until recently, the property – part of the Barcelo group – was known as the Occidental GRAND Papagayo. The reasons for the demotion are obvious. On the upside, the bones are still solid. Every unit has a generous patio or balcony, but with minimal outdoor furniture. The rooms, while not spacious, are far from cramped. There are no obvious signs of decay, only corporate neglect. The scattered buildings, all in that red-tiled hacienda style common to resort designs of several decades back, were built to last and show it. But it lacks the modern pizzazz and whimsy that contemporary resorts boast. The property was built in 1995, and last refurbished in 2004. It shows. Some random observations: • There are little chips in the paint and ceramic/stone floor tiles, stains on the walls, and scuffs and tears on the furniture that the staff have likely stopped noticing. Sure, you get wear and tear in a busy resort, but they look to have been there awhile. Don’t get me wrong, they keep the place clean. I’ve seen plenty of patching, painting and polishing. But there’s a certain blinkeredness to some obvious spots needing attention. • At first, I thought the water in my room stunk of sulphur. The taps and showerhead also sputtered at me accusingly. But none of the public washrooms acted the same, and none of the other guests seemed to have the same experience. This left me perplexed until I realized that the smell and sputtering were related. It wasn’t the water that stank, it was whatever gas was building up in the pipes between use. Someone should really investigate why there’s natural gas seeping into some of the waterpipes. Let’s just be thankful they don’t allow guests to smoke in the rooms.• The landscape is very steep and hilly, as is much of Costa Rica. Most resorts provide a shuttle service using electric golf carts. But the Occidental has these oversized diesel-spewing transports, which are also noisy. More than once, when one of them has been idling outside my room, it was loud enough that I thought it was pouring rain. They’re also wide, necessitating that you stand to the side, on the grass, when they whiz pass on the common walkways. • In a couple of locations, there are very loud air conditioning units located adjacent to busy walkways. Obviously, this is due to ill-conceived landscape layout decisions coupled with outdated machinery. That, and the noisy transports, take away from what should otherwise be a tranquil setting.• The guest bathrooms suffer from the same discrepancies of even the best resorts: inadequate towel rods to effectively dry anything in what is a very humid climate; lights just dim enough to make shaving (and, one presumes, applying makeup) difficult; a single electrical outlet, which is only accessible if you unplug the hairdryer. And the shampoo, conditioner and bath gel dispensers in the shower have a fragrance reminiscent of public swimming pools or budget motel chains. • While there are different rates and room categories depending on the view, the real differences are outside of the room. Those in a superior category room gain access to the VIP lounge, can enjoy unlimited visits to the a la carte restaurants (everyone else can only go once in three days), free Wi-Fi, and a few other perks. All the rooms are otherwise identical, with the only differences being the colour of the feature wall behind the bed, and a pod coffee maker instead of the traditional mini-drip kind. And maybe toiletries less reminiscent of a Motel 6.• The main swimming pool was under renovation. That’s understandable since it was the off-season and when most upgrades are done. And it means the installation of a handicap access ramp, which is a very good thing. But there was nothing on the website that this was happening, and there is some construction noise throughout the day. It should all be done by the end of September, but still a heads-up would have been appropriate. • Do not go for the beach, a thin strip of what barely passes as sand. None of the beaches in the area are exactly up to Caribbean standards, but compared to what I saw elsewhere nearby, it’s not worth the effort of trudging down the steep staircase (complete with fall warnings). Stick with the pools, and maybe take a daytrip by boat to one of the better beaches around the bay. You might even spot some whales.• The restaurants and other venues all have banal names: The Buffet. The Italian. The Oriental. The Disco. Each punctuated with a big red dot meant to emphasize the point. I expect they once thought this was clever, but honestly there’s more imagination given these days to naming the next McDonalds sandwich. • The food is plentiful and reasonably varied, but uninspired. The snacks promised for The Disco (insert big red dot) never once materialized. And the limes are curiously dry; whether it’s with an iced tea or Cuba Libra, I never managed to squeeze more than a drop or two from a citrus which must surely be locally sourced. And for a country that grows them, I rarely saw a strawberry apart from garnishing a torte. I like fresh strawberries, so their absence as a breakfast item was noticed. • Then there was the jellied beet salad. Personally, I consider beets to be in violation of the Geneva Convention, jellied or otherwise, but that’s beside the point. It’s that the salad was reintroduced, in ever smaller quantities, over the course of three days. There was always more food available than guests could eat, which means items were constantly being reconstituted. Said salad was simply the crimson canary in the coal mine. It would be better to offer the same variety, but in smaller amounts, so as to maintain freshness.• Apart from the lack of midnight snacks in The Disco (red dot), there was also a certain degree of pettiness in not providing munchies in the designated drinking areas. I even asked one noontime if I could take a few taco chips from The Buffet (red dot) to enjoy with my Cuba Libra (and its disappointing lime), only to be told that food could not be removed from the restaurant. Snacks, it seems, are the exclusive domain of those with access to the VIP lounge. After all, class distinction must be maintained and reinforced. • Sure, the off-season can be boring for staff, but at least try to look more engaged. Servers in the restaurants seemed to be the most attentive, especially the women, but still rarely effusive. And there were little things: the woman at the taxi stand touching up her makeup instead of excusing herself to a staff room; the maintenance guy taking a shortcut through the bar with a dripping mop; a trio of bartenders engaged in a heated discussion (argument?) with a couple at the bar, oblivious to the other patrons, three men doing the work of none; and random knots of staff obviously engaged in gossip, feeling secure in the knowledge that I don’t speak Spanish and somehow won’t thereby take notice. Staff would benefit overall from the Disney concept of “on stage” versus “back stage”.• My husband is an audiologist, so I’ve come to notice when loud noises become health and safety concerns. The guys operating the pressure washers lacked hearing protection, not even those inexpensive little spongy ear plugs you find in drug stores. For a country so obviously developing economically, and with plenty of fire extinguishers and earthquake readiness notices, this is a mystery. • The Wi-Fi is decent, but an extra charge if not part of a package. The chit with my password indicated US$40 for 6 days, which thankfully I didn’t have to pay. If you go more than 15 minutes without accessing the Internet, you’re forced to log back in again – and again, and again. Very annoying. • The gym is basic, and lacks dumbbells. Why would you have barbells, but not dumbbells?I don’t want to give the impression that this was a horrible experience. In all, I got what I paid for. But there’s always room for improvement. If Barcelo is intentionally downgrading their Occidental brand, be that as it may. Given the location and setting, however, they would benefit from throwing a couple of hundred million dollars, along with a competent design team, at the property. Or they could maintain the status quo, providing a budget alternative to some of the 5-star resorts located just up the road. Epilogue:After I had written all of the above and was prepared to post it upon my return home, something unexpected happened. The resort suddenly became extremely animated as Costa Ricans descended in great numbers to celebrate the country’s Independence Day. There was additional entertainment, including a high school drum corps band. The previously laconic bartenders went into top gear, competently keeping the revellers lubricated. On my final morning, I was glad to have taken breakfast right when The Buffet (red dot) opened, as it quickly filled to capacity within minutes of my arrival. Still not what you’d call a well-oiled machine, and the food selection didn’t magically become gourmet. But after a very quiet week, it was refreshing to get a brief glimpse of what high season might look like, and that guests were reasonably cared for.

  • blessedashish : Fullerton, CA
Our awesome stay at Occidental Papagayo

Great hotel for couples, awesome views, activities, staff, bars, restaurants. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. They make you feel like a returning friend rather than just a customer. Worth every dollar & minute.

  • marilumach : Wichita, Kansas
It could be great but..

The hotel is beautiful. ..but the swimming pool was under construction and the jacuzzi and hotel didn't inform about that. There was no hot water in shower...i report this problem 2 times and they never fixied it. When we arrived the receptiones was rude and she explains everything too fast that we don't understand anything. We arrived at 9 am and got the room until 2pm even though they were ready. The staff was great

Vacations packages include round-trip flights, accommodations, round-trip transfers (unless outlined below) to and from the hotel, and tourist cards (if required, unless outlined below).

If selecting an all-inclusive resort option, the package will also include the all-inclusive features as outlined by each resort.

Items not included:

  • Travel insurance (mandatory if traveling to Cuba)
  • Tourist cards ($10USD)if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing Airlines
  • Departure taxes ($20USD) if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing or Signarture Vacations
  • Hotel transfers for packages with WestJet to USA (with exception to Honolulu)
  • Hotel transfers for packages to Europe
  • Items of a personal nature

  • Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
  • Snacks
  • A la carte dining w/reservations
  • Domestic & International brand drinks from 10am-10pm
  • Non-motorized water sports
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Introductory scuba diving lesson in pool
  • Day & night tennis
  • Yoga
  • Fitness centre
  • Spanish lessons
  • Dance lessons 
  • Daily activities & entertainment
  • Big Costa Rican theme day
  • 169 rooms & suites in several low-rise buildings
  • 1 buffet restaurant
  • 4 restaurants, including 2 a la carte restaurants: Italian and Asian, dress code & reservations required
  • Snack bar
  • 3 Bars
  • Disco
  • 2 pools
  • Tennis court
  • Fitness centre 
  • Spa & beauty parlor
  • Car rental
  • Scuba diving on-site (fee)
  • A range of watersports available
  • Internet access (fee)

Deluxe Rooms include:

  • Located in bungalows
  • 1 king or 2 double beds
  • Air-conditioning
  • Cable TV
  • Bathroom w/shower
  • Hairdryer
  • Safety deposit box
  • Mini fridge
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Balcony or terrace w/garden or bay view
  • Max occupancy 2 adults 

Note: Not suitable for the physically challenged due to a large number of stairways.

Honeymooners - Receive a room upgrade (if available at time of check-in), special check-in, flower arrangement upon arrival, 1 breakfast in bed (1 per stay), 10% discount on massage services. Request at time of booking. Requires proof of marriage certificate.

Early Booking Bonus - This hotel may offer early booking bonuses at certain times of the year. If early booking bonuses apply to your vacation, prices shown online have already been adjusted accordingly. Please inquire for complete details.

Resort Location Map


  • Occidental Papagayo
    Liberia,Costa Rica

  • Hotel Contacts
  • Extra Info
  • Disclaimer
Occidental Grand Papagayo by Barcelo
Playa Buena, 485000 Costa Rica

Some restaurants may be open for certain meals only and limited visits may apply. Reservations required and dress code in effect for a la carte restaurants. Time restrictions may apply for water sports.

Child pricing may only be available with select tour operators and valid for select dates and durations. Child pricing rules are subject to change without notice. Please contact one of our vacation specialists if you require assistance with child pricing.

Photo identification and/or credit card or cash deposit may be required at check-in for incidental charges.

Extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on hotel policy. Rollaway beds and cribs (infant beds) may be available and should be requested at the time of booking; fees may apply.

Special requests are subject to availability upon check-in. Special requests cannot be guaranteed and may incur additional charges upon check-in to fulfil.

Hotels do not condone unruly behavior, parties in rooms, excessive noise or any other actions that violate the hotels terms of use. Guests may be removed from the property at their own expense in the event of any disturbance or complaint from other guests or hotel staff. Escapes.ca cannot be held responsible for any guests who may be removed from the hotel due to a violation of rules.

Escapes.ca makes every effort to ensure that the information on this page is accurate, however, all information on this page is subject to change without notice. Escapes.ca is not responsible for any changes, errors or omissions that may occur.