- Costa Rica with kids: Using Hyatt points on Andaz and Rio Perdido resorts
- Andaz Costa Rica Resort: the good, the bad and the terrifying (this post)
How do you critique a resort that is almost perfect? Because Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is that kind of a place. So, before I start nitpicking, let me be clear that we loved our time here. In fact, my 12-year old son (who considers himself a Hyatt connoisseur) said it’s now his favorite resort in the world. When I asked for specific reasons, his answer was and I quote: “Mommy, it’s a Hyatt in the jungle. How can you beat that?” Indeed.
I could pretty much end my post there, but you know I won’t. There is so much to love about this Andaz, and here are my top reasons:
1) Manageable size property, built in harmony with nature
So many nice family resorts have hundreds upon hundreds of rooms, and can feel super crowded. Often, the buildings look generic and soulless. In other words, “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” But not this place. The buildings are spread out, yet there is always a golf cart available to take you where you need to go.
This is a boutique place with amazing amenities for families, the best sort of combination in my book.
I was a bit disappointed since I was hoping for at least partial bay view. But when we entered the rooms, I couldn’t be happier. If this is a forest view, I’ll take it!
We also got some complimentary fruit and truffles due to Explorist status. I’m glad we got to utilize it before it expires next February.
Interestingly, Nancy and her family stayed in the exact same rooms during their visit in 2020. In fact, I highly recommend you read her detailed review of the property, since her thoughts pretty much mirror mine.
The beds are queen size, so ignore websites that refer to them as “full”
I paid 34k Hyatt points per night for both rooms, since we stayed during low season. Rollaway was added for free. We definitely had plenty of room for five people, and always had the option of closing the connecting door if we wanted some privacy. A nice bonus: this stay triggered a free night via Hyatt Brand Explorer promo in both mine and my husband’s accounts. We will likely use the certs at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress (see my review).
2) Indoor shower that could be converted into an outdoor one
This may sound silly, but I absolutely loved that feature in the room.
Since our room faced the forest (total privacy), we just left the shade up and opened the door while taking showers. I’m usually quite a prude about this sort of thing, but when in Costa Rica…
3) The infinity pools
They are truly magnificent. The water is the perfect temperature, not too hot and not too cold. At first, I was a bit disappointed that there is no hot tub. But the truth is, it gets very warm in this part of Costa Rica, so I wouldn’t use one anyway. There is zero-entry access for little kids at one of the pools.
What I wouldn’t give for an opportunity to swim there right now… Well, at least there is an above-ground pool at my MIL’s backyard across the street. Cheaper and just as good. I think.
I loved the adult pool near Ostra restaurant, where I enjoyed swimming by myself late in the evening.
4) Wildlife sightings
Let’t face it, that’s one of the most appealing things about going to Costa Rica. If you want to see monkeys, you are in for a treat. That’s where having a forest-view room really paid off.
It was especially cool to see a mama carrying baby on her back.
At one point the baby even started nursing, which was really cute.
We were in Andaz for two nights, but the monkey family only showed up once. If you don’t spot them from your balcony, I recommend going to Rio Bhongo restaurant area early in the morning. They tend to hang out there during breakfast time, for obvious reasons.
I’ve heard howler monkeys, but never actually spotted them in Andaz. However, when taking a shuttle from their beach area, the driver saw one, and stopped so I could take a photo.
It’s not as exciting as spotting monkeys, but seeing deer on Andaz property was neat too.
5) Incredibly friendly and prompt service
I simply have to mention it because all the Andaz workers were outstanding. I can almost see why folks pay $650 per night/per room to stay at this resort. I obviously wouldn’t, that’s what Hyatt points are for. But there is something to be said for planning a vacation knowing that your needs will be taken care of.
Since my MIL has mobility issues, I was so grateful when the shuttle would pull up literally one minute after I contacted the front desk. It may be a small thing to someone else, but for us it was absolutely essential.
Things I didn’t love about our stay
1) Expensive food
This wasn’t a shock as I was fully aware of the prices before coming here. Still, there is something jarring about paying $200 for lunch for five people.
I recommend you utilize room service whenever possible. Yes, it does cost $11 extra, but you will save on soft drinks which can run as much as $7 per person. Andaz includes quite a few complimentary Coke and Sprite cans each day, enough for lunch and dinner.
Plus, your room will be air-conditioned, unlike the restaurants on the property. I also recommend you bring some instant oatmeal and stop by a grocery store to get some milk and breakfast items. Still, accept that you are a captive guest and eating on the property will cost you, there is just no way around it. Make peace with that fact and don’t let it spoil your vacation.
The above cost us $150 including tip
As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to use 35k Hyatt points to offset $500 in dining costs. As I’ve told to one of our readers, I did it at check-out time and the worker had to actually call Hyatt. But our bill was reduced from $567 to $67.
Here is the twist, though. I’ve noticed three days later that the points were still not deducted from my account. So, I reached out to Hyatt, who told me to contact Andaz. I did just that, and the manager emailed me back saying they got paid and to talk to Hyatt. So, I’m letting it go. If my points are still there a month from now, I’m going to use them for a stay. So, perhaps we got ourselves a poor man’s all-inclusive.
Speaking of, if you love all-inclusive resorts, there is one near Andaz: Secrets Papagayo It costs 25k points for two people in low season, which is a pretty good deal, especially since alcohol is included. But it’s adults-only, so it wasn’t an option for us. Also, the pools don’t look nearly as nice as ones at the Andaz. But it depends on what’s important to you, as well as your financial situation.
2) Little privacy in rooms
This is something my husband really didn’t care for. He is a very private guy, and the frosted-glass toilet door that didn’t completely seal the area was not his cup of tea. My MIL didn’t care for it either.
Since there is no fan (oh, and no lock either!), you can hear everything that goes on in the bathroom. And I do mean everything. So you may rethink having beans for lunch if you know what I mean.
3) Scary incident at the beach
This probably won’t be an issue much longer, but I need to make our readers aware of something. Right now you will see this note on Andaz website: “Andaz Beach House restaurant will be closed from July 10, 2023 – December 15, 2023 for a transformational redesign. All beaches will remain available.”
Right now Hyatt has an agreement with the authorities to temporarily use a corner of a public beach. They provide boat and shuttle transfers, as well as some activities on the property. The beach area managed by Hyatt looks nice enough, but nothing like what Nancy described in her post when they visited the actual Beach House Club.
There are some old/cheap lounges that the guests can use, and a few food items for sale. Also, the water was very murky when we went, and there were some debris from construction. To be honest, I really didn’t like the beach a whole lot, though I do recommend taking a complimentary roundtrip boat ride from Andaz, which is quite scenic.
Anyway, while I was helping my MIL exit the boat, my son ran off to pet a random dog. The owners were swimming at the time, and the animal got vicious and started chasing my son trying to bite him. I saw it and started running towards the dog, screaming as loud as I could. That did the trick, and the dog finally backed off.
That incident seriously rattled me, and my son was quiet for 10 minutes straight, which is very unusual for him. The Hyatt workers ran up to us and asked how we were doing, while apologizing profusely. Of course, it wasn’t their fault. It’s my responsibility to keep an eye on my own kid. Even if the dog did bite him, I wouldn’t hold the resort responsible. It’s a reminder not to let your guard down on vacations, especially in public places.
That being said, until they are done remodeling their Beach House, I recommend you be very careful if you choose to visit this beach, especially if you have little kids. Apparently, dogs don’t have to be on a leash at a beach in Costa Rica? Fair enough: their country, their rules. Either way, I didn’t let this incident ruin our trip. All is well that ends well.
The beach situation is the only real weak spot of Andaz. The resort sits on the bay, so don’t expect powdery sand and clear water. You may want to hire a guide with a car to take you to some nice beaches in Papagayo, like Nancy and her family did. We live in Florida, so it wasn’t a priority for us. But it may be for your family.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive review of the resort. Goodness knows, there are plenty of those published by miles and points bloggers, and I really like the one written by Nancy. But I thought it would be useful to share overall impressions and mention a few quirks. It is a very nice place, and easily accessible from the United States. I give it 4.9 stars out of 5, and our readers know that I’m not the one to gush over every hotel I stay at. I think it’s still a good deal via Hyatt points (21k to 29k per night, depending on the season), especially if you can fit your family in one room.
But bring a noise machine for the bathroom, you have been warned.
A reminder: Chase Ink Business Preferred (our affiliate link) still has an increased sign-up bonus of 100k points after spending $8k in three months. That’s an incredible deal that can almost cover five nights at this Andaz property, as well as many other resorts.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.