My wife and I recently visited the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica. It is a lovely new hotel in a beautiful part of the world.
We wanted to find a nice getaway without going too far from home. We were deciding between a few destinations in Mexico, or the Caribbean. I noticed a weekly non-stop flight on United from O’Hare to Liberia, Costa Rica that fit our needs almost perfectly. I upgraded my wife to business class (domestic first class seat on the 737-800, called business since it is an international flight) with a regional upgrade. Fortunately I was able to get a free upgrade thanks to status. We even got our seats assigned together. It was a nice start to our trip.
The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo
The main driver for choosing Costa Rica was the new Andaz Peninsula Papagayo hotel. I’ve always liked Andaz hotels, and I was glad to finally have the opportunity to enjoy one on vacation, and share the experience with my wife. Since this property is now category 4, its a decent value. This seemed like an ideal use of cash and points which is still relatively new to Hyatt’s program. Of course unlike a full point redemption, we could upgrade our room with this stay. So we paid 7500 Gold Passport points plus $100 per night. I confirmed an upgrade soon after booking with a Diamond Suite Upgrade and we were good to go.
View of the family pool and main dining area, Rio Bhongo.
We booked transport through the hotel. I’m sure there are cheaper options, but it was nice and very convenient to just walk outside and find our names on a sign. We were on vacation after all. The driver was very friendly, and was happy that I was asking about the world cup since Costa Rica’s opening match was about to begin, so he put it on the radio. The SUV also had wifi, so it was nice to catch up a bit online on the 40 or so minute drive to the hotel.
Speaking of the World Cup, after arriving at the hotel, we dropped everything in our room, and headed to a meeting room which was set up with a large TV and some snacks and drinks for viewing World Cup matches. We weren’t in an authentic local establishment, but seeing the sheer joy on the faces of the staff and a few local guests while watching Costa Rica’s comeback victory was an experience I won’t forget. ¡Vamos Ticos!
Andaz Suite, Peninsula Papagayo
Once back to our room, we got to see how nice our room was and were very pleased with the upgrade. Our room was an Andaz suite, approximately 1200 square feet, with a large living room, 1 1/2 bathrooms, and a very nice balcony. This was my best use of a Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade to date.
The living room was large with a couch and a large desk and windows running the whole length of the room. The minibar is located next to the couch. At all Andaz hotels, the minibar is free, and in this case apparently since we were staying in a suite, even the alcoholic beverages were gratis.
Andaz Papagayo minibar
In the bedroom, the king sized bed was plush, and the room had electronic shades that blacked out the room. The ceiling fan was much appreciated. The floor was polished concrete and the furniture and was rustic wood which made for a clean, but modern design.
Andaz Suite bedroom
The main bathroom was large with a huge walk in shower and a deep tub. There were double sinks, and the floor was made of a bunch of small river stones and mortar. It looked really nice, but I’m glad I don’t have to clean this bathroom.
Andaz suite bathroom
The balcony was quite large, with a view of the surrounding property, and especially the adult pool which was nearby. This also had a ceiling fan, so it was a nice place to stay cool and out of the hot sun.
Andaz suite balcony
We received occasional gifts in the room throughout the stay, which I think is standard for all guests. Andaz guests receive also a hat. I’m not much of a hat person, especially a blue/purple fedora, but I did wear it to/from pool to keep the sun off. Female guests receive a wide brimmed hat. These hats are free for guests to take. We also received a few food items throughout our stay and other small items in our room.
One interesting item near the entryway of the room and adjacent to the half bathroom was a chair/swing hanging from the ceiling.
swing near entry foyer
Dining on property
As lovely as our room was, we didn’t spend that much of our time there. The property is very nice. The hotel has 3 restaurants. Rio Bhongo serves breakfast and is open all day. There is a coffee bar, and they have a wood fired oven with made to order pizzas a few nights a week. This is near the main pool at the center of the property. Closer to our room and the adult pool is a more high-end restaurant, Ostra. This dinner only option was just reopening after changing the menu around somewhat, and it was only open a few nights of our stay, we didn’t actually try it. There is also a tapas style place at the main bar, called Chao Pescao.
The food is fresh, and very tasty, but not surprisingly, are very much subject ‘resort’ pricing. Plus, each bill had 23% added to it; 13% VAT plus 10% service charge. Thankfully, breakfasts were free due to my Hyatt Diamond status
Breakfast view from Rio Bhongo
The bill for breakfast. $34.44 per person…yikes
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo pools
Around the property, there are 2 pools, a larger one for all guests, and a smaller pool that is adults only.
Andaz Papagayo main pool
The adult pool
There are also beaches within easy walking distance, but we preferred the pools. The property is build into a hill, so its a walk to get to the beach. Once there, there are various items for rental. Various items can be checked out for an hour without charge. This include sea kayaks, snorkel equipment, and stand up paddleboards. I partook in both snorkeling and the SUP. Snorkeling was pretty boring since there wasn’t much to look at. The paddleboard was fun, and it was the first time I’ve ever done it.
The pools were nice and relaxing. The pool staff was great. They brought ice water and offered frequent refills. Usually once a day, they offered a small sample from the bar, such as sangria or some other cocktail creations. We had small snacks here for lunch on occasion. The adult pool was just a few steps from our room, so we spent most of our time there. We were often the only people there, but occasionally there was one other family, and maybe briefly 2 groups there.
Besides the pools and beaches on property, there is also a shuttle service that will take guests to a nearby beach that is a bit larger and nicer, although we did not partake.
There is a lovely spa, at the highest point on the property, with some amazing views. My wife enjoyed her treatments at the spa. The booking calendar seemed to be pretty open, so she got some decent deals on packages. Near the spa, is a small, but decently equipped gym.
Andaz Papagayo fitness center
Costa Rican Flora and Fauna
There is quite a bit of wildlife on property. We saw lots of birds, and there were other creatures as well. A family of howler monkeys were hanging out (literally) near the pool on the morning before our departure.
Costa Rican wildlife
One day we rented a car to go to the Playas del Coco. I went scuba diving in the morning and my wife hung out in the town. Time underwater is always great, but the diving wasn’t that great, so I only went for one day. After I got back, we had lunch in Playas spent a little time driving along the coast, then headed back to the Andaz
This property was lovely, and I’d like to return someday. Its not cheap by any means, but I was happy to be able to get decent value using cash and points, and the upgrade was great. Costa Rica is beautiful, and I hope to explore more if this country on a future trip.
Sadly our trip to Costa Rica had to end. On our last morning we took a shuttle back to the airport. Lines were short, but even before checking in, one must pay a departure tax. This is $29 per person which is oddly not included in the price of airline tickets in Costa Rica. Like many places we went, prices are in US dollars, but Colones are accepted as well at current rates. This was a good way to use up the rest of our local currency.
Note, this tax is now included most in airline tickets.
$29 per person in departure tax.