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After Aruba and Vail, the next stop on my ‘Hyatt Globalist’ tour was to Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo.  This resort has been on my list for years.

I had actually booked our spring break trip here last year but it got COVID cancelled and I rescheduled for 2021 spring break.

So what did I think?  Overall a great stay and a great resort but there were a few shortcomings – read on to find out what I was disappointed in.

Points Required

This used to be one of the very best uses of Hyatt’s free Category 1-4 night certificate that you can earn with the Chase World of Hyatt visaUnfortunately Hyatt increased it from a Category 4 (15,000 points per night) to a Category 5 (20,000 points per night) in March of 2019.

This resort was also set to be increased it yet again in March 2021 to a Category 6 (25,000 points per night) but Hyatt later suspended most hotel category changes due to COVID.

I ended up using 120,000 points for our six night stay.

Standard rooms were running ~$3100 for a 6 night stay in March and April – so a 2.6¢/point value ($3,110/120,000 points) in pretty darn good.

 

 

But I ended up using one of my four confirmed suite upgrades (perk of being a Globalist) to book us into an Andaz Suite which was much larger.

Suites typically are double the cost of a standard room.

 Standard rooms were running ~$6700 for a 6 night stay in March and April – so this increased my redemption value to an amazing 5.6¢/point value ($6,673/120,000 points)!

 

Getting There

We ended up just using a shuttle service from Liberia airport.  It was only a 20-30 minutes ride.

LiberiaAirportShuttle.com was great – $59/each way (cash at trip or you could pay ahead of time with Paypal).  They were happy to make a stop (grocery store, etc) for you at no additional charge.  They were outside waiting for us when we arrived.

The van easily fit us and our luggage, it was clean, and a nice driver.  I highly recommend using them.

Checkin 

After the quick ride to the resort, we pulled up to the gated main entrance.  Our van pulled to the front and our suitcases were quickly unloaded.  We were warmly greeted and showed to the main open air check area.

This resort reminded me of Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand as the resort was built into a hillside that offered amazing water views from the top of an open air reception.

 

The check-in process was fairly standard – hand over passports and credit card, etc.

Our check-in agent then asked us how would we like to stay in the 3200 SF presidential suite the last night of our stay as it was available for only one night?!?!?!

Of course I said that would be great as memories of the amazing grand overwater villa that Hilton generously upgraded us to for two nights at the Conrad Maldives last year filled my head.

But my happiness faded when I realized this was not a complimentary upgrade but he would apparantely get us a ‘great deal’ because we were Globalist members.  The private pool would be nice but not sure what we were supposed to do with the ‘full kitchen and dining area’ that the agent kept highlighting that we could cook our own meal.  Um, there are no grocery stores around!

Later that day, he emailed us with the ‘special rate’ of an additional $825 + tax for the single night.  We declined.

Even if it was complimentary, we would have probably declined as it was just for a single night – less than 24 hours as we were leaving in the morning the next day plus it’s a hastle to pack everything up and move rooms.

One other thing to note on the check-in process is they never mentioned the onsite COVID testing required to return to the US.

 

Resort Map

There are seven buildings for the rooms – the first four are on the upper level – labeled A, B, C, & D and the three on the lower level.  There are paths and stairs from the upper level to the lower level – it really wasn’t that far at all.

Our room was in the A building #1.

 

Andaz Suite

After a quick golf cart ride from reception – we could have really walked it was that close – we stepped into our awesome Andaz Suite which was on the lowest of the three story building.

It was larger than I was expecting and was just under 1200 SF.  As you can see in one of the photos below, you can actually combine room 118 and suite 119 to create a very large suite but would have to keep each entry door closed as it is open to the outside.

The entry way included a separate bathroom with a toilet and sink but no shower.  I had emailed ahead and asked them to setup two rollaway beds for my daughters.  I felt bad they didn’t have a regular bed since most suites don’t have two beds but after we saw how small the standard 560 SF rooms were, it would have been really tight for four of us in standard room.

 

 

The master bedroom was nicely sized with a soft bed and the extra pillows we had requested.  We couldn’t get the fan to turn on, but it was quickly fixed the next day after we brought it up.

There was also a nice patio area with a great water view.  The bathroom was HUGE – one of the largest showers I’ve ever seen.  And I loved the shampoo scent.  

Finally there was a large walk in closet that housed the in room safe, flash light, etc.

 

 

 

There were welcome treats waiting in our room when we arrived.  We also received fedora hats and flips flops (children sized too) that we were free to take home.

Like all Andaz hotels, snacks (chips, nuts, etc) along with non-alcoholic drinks are complimentary and refilled daily.

There were a few hiccups with service that I should mention:

  • some days the mini bar and snack drawer were not refilled
  • some days housekeeping forgot to empty trash
  • the outside patio was never swept
  • the glass windows looked like they weren’t cleaned in an awfully long time
  • the last day of our stay they only left two towels even though there were four of us staying in the suite and they had always previously left four

 

Around the Resort

Our first morning at the resort we wandered around and found a few interesting spots. 

Of course there was a spa which we didn’t end up trying this trip.  There was an extensive indoor exercise room along with an exterior exercise area near the top of a trail.

We also stumbled upon a mediatation area at the very top of a path which had one of the best views of the resort.

 

Globalist Breakfast

There was only one restaurant open for breakfast.  Only once was there a short wait to get a table.

There was a variety of served to you buffet stations throughout including a fruit and smoothie station, coffee bar, hot items, and breads/pastries.

You can also order specific egg dishes (omelet, etc) to be cooked a la carte – I recommend doing this as soon as you sit down as sometimes it took a while.

Breakast was fine.   Although the service could be improved though – there were many times when specialty coffee orders never arrived, long waits on ordered egg dishes, etc.  It wasn’t for a lack of people either – there were A LOT of servers constantly running around (including cutting you off when walking back to your table from the buffet) but they seemed to lack direction if that makes sense.

For some thinking it it may have also been a communication/language issue – that’s not the case either as my wife’s first language is spanish.

A few days the resident monkeys showed up to the restaurant and managed to steal cornbread!

  

Restaurants

There were three main restaurants for dinner.  Rio Bhongo (the breakfast restaurant) was open for lunch along with a poolside menu and a beach house menu when you were at the 15 minute away beach club.  All of the menus can be found at: https://andazpuravida.com/food-beverage/

For dinner, the most casual spot was Rio Bhongo  Rio Bhongo offered a wide selection of entrees along with also offerring a ‘bar menu’ that included wood fired oven pizzas, wings, and other bar type food.

The ‘fanciest’ of the restaurants was Ostra the seafood restaurant (which was our least favorite).

Easily our favorite was Chao Pescao which had some many different tapas, an amazing mixed drinks list, and live music.  We would have eaten here every single night if it wasn’t closed some days – the tapas were great and not the ‘tiny plate tapas’ we usually see at restaurants.

The few nights Chao Pescao was closed, the lawn area was transformed into an outdoor buffet with live music.  We didn’t end up going to this as we weren’t in the mood to overeat at another huge buffet.

 

 

The only service blunder we had was at Ostra the seafood restaurant.  There were 3 areas where service fell short.  First, our server didn’t know the menu very well – my wife asked if one of the dishes she specifically recommended (the Tagliatelle pasta) had any shell fish in it – the server said no – only shrimp and white fish.  She didn’t end up ordering it but I did – and it arrived with mussels and scallops.

The second issue was my daughters steak was very undercooked and wasn’t provided with a steak knife which wasn’t a big deal.  My issue is I flagged down the server, she saw me and acknowledged me with a nod (she had dishes in her hand).  After serving dishes, she went to a newly sat table to take an order and disappears.  I had to flag down a server from another table who was happy to help.  He took the steak to be cooked more and brought it back 5-10 minutes later.  Then after my daughter was just about done eating the steak, our original server comes over and asks what I needed when I flagged her down 15-20 minutes prior.

The last issue was the table next to us had a young child which was watching cartoons on an ipad – which was fine, I know how it is to have young children.  The volume was a little high, but whatever the child was good and they turned it off when dinner arrived.  But then the family decided it would a great idea to factime their grandparents in the middle of the restaurant – how rude.  The facetime call was very very loud with the grandparents talking very loud – this was right next to use – about 3′ away.

Unlike at the Conrad Koh Samui where the servers immediately go over and have people stop facetiming, the servers in the fanciestest restaurant did nothing.  My wife mentioned this to our server as it happened at the end of our meal and we just wanted to get out of there.

Our server did have the manager come over to us and asked us about our experience, I told him it wasn’t good and he was looking for more details but I wasn’t in the mood to go over everything right there.  He did mention that he would be at Rio Bhongo the next morning if I would like to talk to him then.

Pools & Beach

Our main objection for the week just some good old rest and relaxation.  We spent most of our time at the pool and beach.

The pools are amazing – while there is an adults only pool at one end of the resort, the main pool area was divided into three separate pools/seating areas.  All were infinity edge pools.  Even getting to the pools at 9am, there was no trouble getting a great seat.

There were many towel huts which also had complimentary sunscreen if you happen to have forgotten yours.  Every afternoon, the popiscle cart would come around and offer a refreshing frozen treat.

Service at the pool was great – cocktails, food, whatever you needed. 

 

The beach areas were disappointing (and I knew this before our trip).  There were two main beach areas.

First – taking steps down from the main pool brought you to the closest beach area.  Like the pool area, there was a towel station and chairs setup.

This is the area where you could use complimentary masks/fins, paddleboards, and kayaks.  There were also so paid activities with boat trips in the mangroves.

As you can see the beach really wasn’t great 🙁

There was also a larger beach area about 15-20 minutes away on the pennisula.  You could either catch a van that drove you to the nature center then a 5 minute golf cart ride to the beach area or a boat ran back and forth between the two beaches.

The larger beach area had nicer chairs, some couches, food service, and also offered beach massagages (I believe they were quoting $100 for an hour).

After just one beach day, we spent the rest of the our water time at the pools.

 

Activities

For the more active people, the resort offered a bunch of different activities including dance classes, yoga, water sports, hikes, and food classes.  Descriptions of each along with the calendar of activities can be found here:  https://andazpuravida.com/activities/  

We ended up only doing two things.  First we rented electric pedal assist bikes one day.  They are complimentary, you just need to register and pickup key cards which unlock the bikes.  

Even with the pedal assist, some the hills were very steep and difficult to climb.  We only made it to the nature center the first day.  I went by my self a second time and made it around the golf course and the the Four Seasons entrance at the end of the pennisula. 

 

We tried to take the empanda cooking class but it was only offered on the day we arrived and our depature day, but we were able to take the coffee class which was amazing.

We learned so much about coffee and specifically the different brewing methods which give the same exact coffee many different tastes.

Take this class early in trip so you can get all of the fancy brewed coffees complimentary with breakfast each morning.

Luis was great!  The class lasted almost two hours – a lot of fun.  I highly recommend it.

 

COVID Testing

I wish the check-in agent would have told us how and when to schedule our COVID testing instead of trying to upsell us.  So four days before our checkout we figured out how the onsite COVID testing works by scanning a QR code at the lobby area signage.

Unfortunately there were NO appointments available 4 days before our flight, 3 days before our flight, 2 days before our flight, or even 1 day before our flight.  The first available appointment was 3 hours before our flight.  We spoke with the front desk and there were going to arrange with the lab testing to occur the day before our flight home and would send us a message once confirmed.  The message never arrived but we followed up again with someone else and they told us we were all set with an appointment the day before our departure.

COVID testing was done in a converted room right next to the main entrance.  It was quick and easy – just bring your passports and credit card ($85/person – I believe the hotel will pay for two people if your reservation is 7 nights or longer).  Results arrived by email before we awoke the next morning.

When we didn’t think we could get tested at the resort, I was able to find out that you could get tested right at the airport with the results coming in less than an hour.  This was also less expensive ($65 for the Antigen test).  Schedule appointment here:  https://covid.morphotr.com/

American Airlines check-in agent reviewed the results on our phone so there was no need to print out.

Wrap Up

While there were a few service shortcomings (housekeeping issues, COVID testing instructions would have been nice at check-in instead of trying to upsell us to cook our own meal, & the Ostra restaurant issues), overall we really enjoyed our six night stay at the Andaz Costa Rica for rest and relaxation.

There were many activities (including many complimentary ones) to keep you busy but the highlight of our trip was the coffee barista class with Luis.

Would I come again?   This resort would be a steal as a 15,000 point category 4 where you could use also free night certificates but unfortunately it’s currently a category 5 at 20,000 points per night which seems appropriate.

I would have to think hard about returning if it moved up to a 25,000 point category 6 due to the service shortcomings and the not ideal beach.

 

Have you been here?  What did you think?  

 

 

Chase World of Hyatt

Definitely my favorite of the Chase hotel cards.  The Chase World of Hyatt card currently there is a 60,000 point bonus (30,000 points after spending $3000 in the first 3 months of account opening  plus earn 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 Bonus Point, up to $15,000 spent in the first 6 months of account opening).

Hyatt has one the best award charts of all the hotel chains with free night awards starting at just 5,000 points.   

This card also gives you a free night certificate (good at any category 1-4) each year when you renew.

The card's annual fee is only $95.  Learn more and apply here.

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