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Pura Vida, Baby

March 18, 2018

Dave and I just returned from four glorious days at the Hyatt Andaz Costa Rica. The resort is located on the Papagayo Peninsula and is about a 40 minute drive from the Liberia (LIR) airport.

 

We used Southwest points for me and the Companion Pass for David. I kept an eye on the calendar and booked the tickets as soon as Southwest opened the schedule; we were traveling over Spring Break and flights fill up quickly. And boy were they PACKED - zero empty seats on all four legs. Thankfully the longest segment between Houston Hobby and Liberia, Costa Rica is only a little over three hours. Southwest is not my preferred carrier, but for short hops like this one they do a nice job. Flight redemption: 37,696 Southwest points plus $161.24 in taxes and fees. 
 

 Seems a bit pricey now.

 

As I look back at that points redemption it seems high...then I remember: Spring Break - duh. The inbound flight on Saturday was almost THREE TIMES the cost of the outbound on Tuesday. I haven't accumulated a whole lot of Southwest points lately, so I believe these are the last of the 120K points I received as part of the Marriott Nights/Flights package we redeemed back in March 2017. My Southwest balance is down to a paltry 939 points. Ouch. 

 

I arranged a private transfer from LIR to the resort through http://www.liberiacostaricaairport.net. The price was $98 round trip for two people; a significant savings over the hotel's quote of $70 each way. Clearing customs was a simple process of answering a few questions and putting our bags through an x-ray. Outside the arrivals hall our driver Luis met us with a printed sign and cheerfully hustled us to the air-conditioned van. Luis was a personable guy. We enjoyed hearing about his family and the surprise birthday party they were planning for his mother-in-law who was turning 80 that day. Gotta love a good MIL story.

 

The drive to the Andaz is a bit grim during the dry season - be prepared for lots of brown foliage. Very different from my last visit to CR during the rainy season when the tropical lushness was almost overwhelming. Once you arrive on property, however, you'll be surrounded by beautifully maintained grounds and the opportunity to observe an incredible array of wildlife. The views of the peninsula and Papagayo Marina on the drive up to the resort are BREATHTAKING.

 Papagayo Marina
 

A Standard Room (no view) goes for 15k Hyatt points per night, so our total was 60k for this visit. I honestly can't remember how I accumulated the 60K Hyatt...probably through a transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards and some stay promotions. Since I'm a top-tier Globalist we were upgraded to a Bay View King. I could've pushed for an upgrade to a suite, but the hotel was busy and the room we were assigned was perfectly acceptable so I decided to go with it. Don't tell my hacker friends...they might try to take away my street cred.

 Andaz Papagayo Bay View King walk-through...yes, I'll turn the camera next time
 

Our room was spacious and well-designed. All Andaz properties provide a complimentary mini-bar with snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. We took full advantage of the free bottled water and even asked for extra which our housekeeper willingly provided every day.  Food/beverage prices are in line with what you'd expect at a high-end hotel - EXPENSIVE - plan accordingly and bring your own booze! We stopped at the Duty Free during our layover in Houston to purchase liquor. Two caveats about the room - the bathroom floor is composed of this pebble tile stuff that is annoying and almost painful; and you WILL have little creatures in your room. Our last night we had a friendly gecko right above the doorway. But you will also get up close and personal with monkeys, iguanas, all kinds of birds, and obnoxious honeymooners at the pool.
 

 Howler monkeys woke me at 5:30 am...I loved it!

 

 Click on each photo for a description and to scroll through
 

I found the food at the resort to be just ok. Nothing was terrible; but at this price point I expected a bit more. Breakfast was free for us as Globalists so we loaded up on the buffet each morning (and I filled my tumbler with watermelon juice for poolside drinks) and then had a late lunch and maybe a snack later. Our last evening we ate at Ostra, the hotel's fine dining restaurant. Again, just ok, not spectacular. Our best meal was probably at the Beach House - a simple hamburger and skewers. Yummy. The guacamole served throughout the resort was fantastic - I could bathe in that stuff and I normally am not a guac fan. So strange. Thank goodness the resort is VERY hilly with lots of stairs. I needed the opportunity to walk off all that green goodness. And all the alcohol.
 

Service throughout the resort was impeccable. Everyone from Freddie at the adult pool who kept this redheaded vampire shaded and happy, to the cart drivers who remembered our names, and on to the housekeeper who was charming and helpful without being obnoxious. A 10% tip is added to every food and beverage bill in Costa Rica so we did not tip extra in the restaurants. I DID tip Freddie at the end of our stay as well as the drivers who took care of our luggage. Our bill upon checkout was $433. A big chunk of that was the $143 dinner at Ostra which was a splurge. I think if we had been extra frugal we probably could've kept our bill under $300 - but who wants to be all frugal on vacation? 

 

The resort has LOTS to offer that we didn't review in our brief visit. Gary Leff at View From the Wing has a great write-up if you're interested in exploring more: Review: Andaz Costa Rica

 

I'm always happy to answer questions and enjoy your feedback. Probably the best way to reach me is through our Facebook group: Travel Talk by Two Travelin' Teachers.

 

What's next on our travel calendar? A few domestic trips and then almost five weeks in Portugal, Spain, and France.

 

Happy Travelin'!

 

 

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