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Three weeks ago, when the U.S. had few coronavirus cases and Costa Rica had zero cases, my family of five traveled to Costa Rica. We stayed at the Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo in two rooms for five nights. It was awesome!
We booked our rooms using the sign-up bonus from two Chase World of Hyatt cards when the hotel cost 15,000 points per night (it currently costs 20k per night and will change to 25k per night next year). I booked our flights with BA and AA miles.
We booked a shuttle for airport transportation and did two excursions outside of the resort, which I will cover in a separate post.
Unfortunately, this resort is now temporarily closed until July 2, 2020 due to Covid-19.
Arrival and Check-in
Our flight landed around 2:15 p.m. We stood in the immigration/customs line for over an hour before we finally got outside and found our shuttle driver. After a quick stop at Walmart for some groceries, we started the 35-minute drive to the resort.
Since we were there during the dry season, many of the trees were brown. The road leading to the peninsula was deserted. Then, once we rounded the bend, we saw this:
Looks like paradise!
The Peninsula Papagayo is a gated community with three resorts and several private houses. Our driver had to state our name to the guard when we entered.
When we pulled up to the resort, a staff member greeted us with cold towels and a welcome juice. The open-air lobby is beautiful!
Soon, we jumped on a golf cart and headed to our rooms.
We were assigned to Building 6, rooms 626 and 627, which are connecting rooms. We didn’t request a building in advance, but I’m thankful we were assigned to Building 6 because it is right next to the main restaurant and family pools. Some of you may remember that I corresponded with the concierge to solidify our connecting rooms and arrange an extra $50/day for an upgrade with the breakfast buffet.
As soon as we walked in both rooms, we saw the hats. They are complimentary for guests.
My kids loved them, and they immediately went into vacay mode once the hats were on.
We were thrilled that our rooms had a nice view of the water!
The concierge left us a nice welcome note and fruit basket (my kids had already eaten half the fruit before I could snap this photo):
Each room was quite large. Our room had a king bed, and the connecting room had two queen beds plus a rollaway for the kids. Each kids got their own bed, which cut down on the amount of bickering substantially.
I loved the huge shower that opened up to the balcony (or not, you could pull the shade down for privacy).
We saw monkeys from our balcony most of the days we were there. They are quite entertaining! The staff warned us not to leave our cell phones or anything else out on the balcony, as they will swipe them.
Each room also had a fridge that was stocked with complimentary water and sodas as well as a drawer of chips that was replenished daily. We loved the size and layout of the rooms, and having all of that space definitely helped us to relax more.
Getting Around the Resort
I won’t sugar coat this: the resort is hilly. It’s built on the side of a small mountain. Here is the resort map:
This is the uphill walk to the lobby from Building 6:
You can always call for a golf cart ride to anywhere on the resort. I did that once when I didn’t feel like walking to the kids’ club. One afternoon, when it was exceptionally hot, a staff member was driving around offering rides to anyone who was out and about.
If we go again (and I hope we do), I will request Building 6 again.
Pools at Andaz Papagayo
The resort has three family pools below the main restaurant. All of them have infinity edges.
The biggest one is a zero-entry pool.
Although food and drink service stops at 6 p.m., the pools are open 24 hours. We loved going swimming at night!
There are no bells and whistles about these pools; no water slides, no splash pads. However, my kids loved them. They are actually much longer than they look. They were never crowded, day or night (and the resort was full when we were there).
One afternoon, a staff member came around handing out complimentary frozen lemonades.
Each pool has bug spray, sunscreen, water and flip-flops available.
The resort doesn’t have a hot tub, but we didn’t really miss it.
There is an adults-only pool on the opposite side of the resort, as well as a small pool by the fitness center.
Beaches at Andaz Papagayo
The resort has three beaches. Sombrero Oscuro Beach can be reached via a staircase below the main restaurant and family pools. It has a swing, hammocks, chairs and food service. The dark sand has many shells, crabs and lizards.
Another walkable beach is Sombrero Claro, which is further away below Ostra restaurant and the adults-only pool. You have to walk over a lot of rocks to get to the sand, and there are no chairs or service there.
The resort also has the Andaz Beach House, the 3rd beach, but it’s not exactly on property. We took a boat from Sombrero Oscuro Beach to get there in ~5 minutes.
This beach has white sand, kayaks, paddle boards, beach beds, games (corn hole, giant jenga):
It also has beach-side bar and food service as well as a covered sit-down area to eat.
My son was stung by some small jellyfish in the water. A staff member sprayed him with some vinegar, and he was back to normal in no time. He was the only one there who got stung.
We only went to the Andaz Beach House on one day. When we arrived around 9:30 in the morning, the weather was fine. As the day progressed, the winds picked up significantly. Sand was blowing in our eyes. We ate lunch in the covered seating area.
Since the wind was so strong, the boat ride back was canceled. We took a golf cart and van to get back to the resort, which took 15-20 minutes.
On one of our days, we took an excursion to visit four beaches on the ocean, so we really weren’t hurting for beach time. On our last day, we decided to visit the on-site Sombrero Oscuro Beach again along with the pools due to easy access.
Cambi Kids’ Club
One of the great features of Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo is the free kids’ club, Cambi. It is available for kids 4-12 and is complimentary from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During those hours, there are some optional up-charge activities, like cupcake decorating and pottery-making. Each evening, there is a Parents Night Out activity from 6-10 p.m. for $40 per kid. That includes dinner plus popcorn with a movie.
My daughter didn’t set foot in Cambi until our 4th day at the resort, but she enjoyed it so much she wished she would have gone earlier. The staff was amazing with her, and she had a blast!
Onda Spa and Fitness Center
My husband went to the fitness center every day. Onda Spa and Fitness Center is located at the top of the property, and we had to climb a giant staircase to get there (like 3-5 stories). That in itself was a real workout. He found the fitness center to be adequate and deserted of people. Gym-goers can use the steam rooms and plunge pool.
I booked a spa treatment at Onda one day while the rest of my family went ziplining. A few weeks before our arrival, I received an email with some spa specials. I got a 90-minute massage for the price of a 60-minute massage.
The treatment rooms are like individual treehouses. I enjoyed the steam room and plunge pool before the massage. It was a nice treat for me. I wanted to return to the steam room and plunge pool on another day, but that long staircase persuaded me to stay away.
Resort Activities and Classes
When we checked in, we received a schedule of resort activities and classes. Most of them cost $15-$25 extra. There is a whole range of activities from cooking classes to Spanish lessons to bird watching.
My husband signed up for the Barista class. It’s very popular and fills up every day. The class lasted over 2 hours, and my husband now prepares his coffee at home in a different way.
Golf and tennis are also available to resort guests through the Four Seasons hotel on the peninsula. My son signed up for two tennis lessons. His teacher was from Vancouver, Canada. The Andaz shuttle dropped him at the courts for each lesson.
Restaurants and Food
The resort has three restaurants:
Rio Bhongo is the main restaurant that is open all day. It has the famous breakfast buffet that includes fresh juice smoothies and specialty coffees. We ate there for breakfast every day and once for dinner.
Ostra is the signature restaurant. My husband and I ate there once by ourselves. It was a nice treat.
Chao Pescao has tapas and live music. I stopped by once, but we didn’t eat there.
The pools and 2 of the 3 beaches have food service as well.
Eating on-site at Andaz Papagayo is very expensive. Plus, everything has an extra 23% tacked on for service charge and taxes. Later this week, I will write a post on how we saved some money on dining at Andaz Papagayo.
We loved the feeling we got at the Andaz Papagayo. The resort feels empty, even though it’s not. The resort has 152 rooms and suites. But, according to a staff member I spoke with, about half of the guests leave during the day for excursions. Most of those that leave are gone the whole day because the volcanos and attractions can be a few hours away. The remaining guests are spread out among the several pools and beaches.
The landscaping, layout and views at the resort create a very relaxing atmosphere. The friendliness of the staff and guests add to the pleasant ambiance. The wildlife at the resort (monkeys, iguanas, birds galore) is amazing. For my family, Andaz Papagayo was just the right amount of adventure and relaxation.
All 5 of my family members are unanimous–we want to return ASAP! I’m currently plotting on how we could book it for 2021 before the points price per night increases.
I’m grateful that my family experienced this vacation before the coronavirus started hitting this part of the world. Our memories from this trip will hopefully help us make it through these upcoming weeks of quarantine.
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.