Review: Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo & how we stayed here for FREE

Quick recap of our journey to Costa Rica

How we booked 5 FREE tickets to Costa Rica
Interjet Airlines – first impressions
A tale of two LAX Priority Pass Lounges (with FREE dinner up to $112)
Flight with Interjet Airlines,The Grand Elite Lounge Priority Pass Mexico City, and What To Expect in San Jose, Costa Rica Airport
How to get to Chollin Hot Springs in Costa Rica for FREE
6 things you need to know about visiting La Fortuna Waterfalls
13 things to know about Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

I don’t have a bucket list. I go where the deal takes me. I can’t say I’m loyal to hotel programs either. Many of my friends swear by the Hyatt, or Hilton, or Marriott. Me? As long as I have a place to sleep, and shower…consider me well and good.

BUT, there’s always an exception. If there was ever a hotel or a property I wanted to try, it was the Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo.

Image courtesy of @andazpapagayo

When I started this points and miles hobby back in 2014/2015, the Andaz Costa Rica was one of those hotels, a great value hotel that promised the ultimate getaway.

As a World of Hyatt cardholder, in the past, a standard room at this property:

  • could be booked using 15,000 Hyatt points per night
  • considered as a Category 4 hotel, meaning we could use our anniversary free night at this property
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The adults only pool

But, that all changed. The hotel now charges a minimum of 20,000 Hyatt points per night, (through March 21, 2020) and is no longer a Category 4 Hotel, it’s now a Category 5 property.  After March 21, the property will begin charging 25,000 points per night. Ughhhhh….so I missed my chances of using very few points. But, I didn’t cry over spilled milk.

The Costa Rica Itinerary

I booked us a trip to Costa Rica. If there were two places that was suggested for newbies like us, it was visiting La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio areas. To squeeze in Andaz Costa Rica in between La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio meant that we’d be going away or going on another direction. Rats! Whatever. This was my chance. And if there is one thing I learned from Hamilton, “I am not throwing away my shot!”

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Finding solutions to our challenges

Five guests will need two standard rooms

There were 5 of us in my family who flew to Costa Rica. The standard room, worth 20,000 points per night, only allowed a maximum of 4 guests. We couldn’t request a rollaway bed in the standard room. We were advised that we would need to get 2 standard rooms at 20,000 each per night x 2 nights = 80,000 points. I didn’t really want to spend that much.

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Standard Room – Two Double Beds Forest View

Get a suite, use points + cash

The alternate suggestion – get the Andaz Suite, and use 20,000 points per night PLUS, the additional cost for this room is $205 USD + taxes and fees per night. The suite has 1 main bedroom with 1 king size bed + a living room separate by a door. In the living room,  we could get 2 rollaway for the kids. While it sounded promising, that was still going to cost me the same amount of points PLUS nearly $500 in cash out of pocket.

The Andaz Costa Rica said that the suite was not available in using all points during the nights I needed, and that I could check directly with the World of Hyatt customer service for other available options. Before I checked with the WOH, I asked the Andaz if I could get the suite using points (all points, no cash out of pocket), will they honor/allow all 5 of us to stay in one suite? I was told…yes.

Finding one suite using ALL points, no cash out of pocket

I called the WOH, and at first, we struggled finding the right dates that would work with our visit. We finally found the right dates and the right room rates using points, all points.

Finding one suite, instead of 2 standard rooms was better for our family. We were all in one room, and in the end, we used lesser points.

Getting to the Andaz from La Fortuna

It took us over 2.5 hours to get from La Fortuna to Andaz Costa Rica. The drive down took lots of turns, zig zag roads. Once we made it down from the mountains, for the first time in days, we drove on a wide freeway (two wide lanes, no traffic congestion). We passed through Liberia Airport (the other airport that’s near to the Andaz). From that airport, it was another 30 minutes to get to the resort.

The anticipation kept building as we began making our approach to what looked like a master-planned community. There was a roundabout that directed us to the Four Seasons, the Marina, and the Andaz Papagayo. We had to go through two gates. The 2nd gate was specifically for Andaz guests. We were led to the front of the Andaz. It wasn’t a palatial entry…a purple VW van or Kombi was off to the right, and the Andaz valet guys greeted us and took care of our luggage.

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We walked down the reception area. Again, it was a very simplistic design approach. The area reminded me of the Hollywood Bowl with it’s dome-shaped appearance.

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There were 2-3 stations where you could check in, a station for coquitos or coconut cookies to the left. and water.  Plus a welcome lemonade drink was given to us.

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Stephanie assisted me during our check in. It was around 1pm when we made it to the Andaz. Our suite was not yet ready. I wasn’t sure what upgrade I was given, if any. Remember the booking I made was for an Andaz Suite, and if I’m not mistaken, I knew of 4 different suite options – the Andaz Suite, the Andaz Bayview Suite, the Andaz Large Suite, and the Andaz Presidential Suite.

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We were advised to hang out by the pool, or go to Rio Bhongo (the restaurant near the infinity pool). Justin, one of the Andaz valets, drove us to the pool area via a golf cart. It was a short ride, but he drove us there anyway.

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We had no problem killing time at the infinity pools that was a signature image ever since I began wanting to visit this property.

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The kids found a few poolside lounge chairs right away. Nancy decided to venture around while I swam with the kids at the pool. Aaahhhhh, life was good.

By 3pm, we were told that our suite was finally ready. Justin came to pick us up via golf cart again. Why a golf cart? The property is quite vast, and getting from one location to another could take time by walking – it’s doable but could very well take some time. And if it was your first time visiting, it’s good to get a golf cart ride so you could decide for yourself later if you will just walk or if you will need more golf cart rides.

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The Suite Upgrade

There were 4 buildings in the higher level. Buildings 1 & 2  were closest to the front desk, Rio Bhongo, and family infinity pools. Buildings 3 & 4 were closest to the spa, the gym, the adult pool, and Onda, their exclusive restaurant.

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Justin led us to our room. And wow! That was the time I realized, this was not the standard Andaz Suite. Instead, the Andaz upgraded us to the Andaz Suite with Bay Views. It was beautiful, and everything gorgeous, and roomy. If we paid in cash, this room usually goes for over $1,000 per night. However, for our stay, we used 32,000 points per night, and no other cash out of pocket.

Here’s the description from the World of Hyatt website.

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Here’s my YouTube video tour:

 

Dining at the Andaz Costa Rica and nearby

The Andaz Costa Rica also offered me a $50 resort credit. It may not seem like a lot, but that was able to get us up to 4 kid’s meals that we had by the pool. We knew going in that we didn’t want the breakfast buffet option which was around $32 per person.

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Kids Pizza for $9

We did go to the Dive Bar, an offsite restaurant outside of the Andaz Costa Rica. It was at the marina. There was a free shuttle that drove us to the marina within 10 minutes.

There is also a mini-market nearby. Many of the guests at the Andaz and the Four Seasons would go down to this restaurant.

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Making our way down to the beach and to the marina

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On our second night, we decided not to ride the shuttle to the Dive Bar. Instead, we walked from the Andaz pool to the marina. It took us about 30 minutes to walk which was just perfect enough for us to build our appetite.

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The trail to the marina, a 25 to 30 min walk

What do you need NOT to bring

  • Bottled water
  • Sunblock
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Insect Repellent
  • Umbrellas
  • Kayak
  • Sandals
  • Flashlight
  • Hats/sombreros
  • Stand up paddle board
  • Snorkeling mask and fix
  • Football, soccer, volleyball
  • Beach Towels (no need to bring towels from your room)
  • Mini-bar access (except alcohol – for us in the Andaz Bay View Suite)

These were some of the adventures available during our visit. Got kids? There’s the kids lounge, Cambi – with activities for the kids. Certain activities could a little extra, but it’s a great option to have. The kids also have their infinity pool (but I saw adults using it, too).

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A secluded getaway

When planning a vacation here at the Andaz Costa Rica, I’ve heard many naysayers who said, “once you’re there, you’re stuck, it’s so remote, you’re far away from everything that’s Costa Rica.” I knew exactly what they meant. I did my research and for this visit, we sandwiched out stay in between to busy visits at La Fortuna and Jaco/Manuel Antonio. 

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The plunge pool near the gym and spa

Visiting this resort gave us that balance, that chance to just wind down. We did not see our car or had a need to drive our car for 3 days. While we had access to getting a ride from the golf carts, we took advantage of walking to the different amenities ourselves. Yes, it took some time, but we had the time.

The Andaz Beach House

Yes, it was totally secluded. But we had no problem with it. It was quiet, you could hear the nature, the voices of nature.

We spent the next morning by going to the Andaz Beach House – a 10-minute boat ride to another private beach owned by the resort.img_9673

We had access to kayaks, stand up paddle board, snorkeling masks and fins. There’s a volleyball court, lots of lounge chairs and lounge beds.

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There was a snack bar with full service wait staff who assisted us. We were able to snorkel and ride the kayak, and just relaxed. There’s free Wi-Fi at the beach house as well.

This is not to say that there are no opportunities for you to go outside and explore other parts of Costa Rica. One of the couples I met played golf, and another one went on a zipling tour, another one went on bird watching walk tour.

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So there are different options for you to still enjoy and go out on an expedition. For my family, we channeled our energy and enjoyed our visit onsite (including the Beach House and the marina).

Would I stay here again?

Yes, yes, yes! If ever we get the chance to return to the resort again, there is no doubt that we would like to visit the Andaz Costa Rica. In fact, I’d even consider staying here for at least 3 nights. I would also consider flying in to LIR (Liberia Airport) since we’ve already gone to La Fortuna and Jaco/Manuel Antonio – so there’s no need for us to explore that side of Costa Rica.

Another thing I would consider is booking our last 2 or 3 nights here before flying back to the US. So I will treat our stay here as the actual downtime after exploring other parts of Costa Rica.

All in all, thank you to the World of Hyatt, and to the staff over at Andaz Costa Rica!

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Author: Jason

7 thoughts on “Review: Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo & how we stayed here for FREE

  1. Thanks for putting this review together. I enjoy reading your reviews because they are very honest and you seem to cover the pros and cons so one knows what to expect. I appreciate you snapping a pic of the activities with prices, so one can gauge ahead how much the trip will.cost.

    1. Thank you, sir! You know how we just try and keep it simple and real. One can easily just onsite and not do anything and still enjoy, or partake in many activities. The Andaz gives you that opportunity. Thanks again for following.

  2. Thank for your review. Our family of 3/1 had reserved six nights, in June, on points, but I got cold feet when calculating how much our food/drink and activities bill might end up costing us. Would have liked to stay here, but ended up rebooking a beautiful condo in Reserva Conchal for far fewer points and golf/activities are only a fraction of the cost at the Andez. Maybe one day after I win the lottery.

    1. Yeah, it can get expensive but with a bit of creative dining plans, we ate at the Dive Bar and the pricing was more reasonable and gave us a chance to leave the resort for a couple of hours at night. We will return, that’s for sure. We loved it. BTW, I also have a Facebook travel group page. Facebook.com/groups/daddytravelsnow Feel free to join.

  3. Like you, were booking a trip to Costa Rica in a few months! We are using a great deal to stay at the JW and I’m looking to possibly burn some ultimate reward points to stay our last two nights at the Andaz. Like you, they seem to only have the suite option for 32,000 ppn available. Im trying to decide if it’s worth it as it is just myself, husband and 2 year old son.
    Any thoughts?

  4. Thank you for this wonderful review! We are staying here for 5 nights in July for our 25th anniversary and can’t wait! I really appreciate all that you covered, especially the Beach House footage and tips. Also, your coverage of Dive Bar (that’s something we want to do).

    1. Thank you for reading my blog entry. Costa Rica was our last vacation just before this pandemic. We are fortunate to have gone there. BTW, I invite you to join my little Facebook travel group. Facebook.com/groups/DaddyTravelsNow

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