Hyatt Andaz at Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica
Two years ago our family took our first ever vacation paid for with points and miles and It. Was. The. Best. Our destination? Costa Rica! The country that seems to have it all: good food, good coffee, great people, lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, wildlife and adventure. If you’re looking for suggestions for visiting Costa Rica with your family, you can read more about our first visit to Costa Rica and our 10 day itinerary here, because today’s post is all about our anniversary trip and our stay at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo. We left the kids behind for 3 nights of relaxation, 5 star treatment, and pure vida. Our trip started at the Amor Arenal hotel in La Fortuna, about 2 1/2 hours away and ended at the Hyatt Andaz. Both were excellent but read on to see our full Andaz Costa Rica review, what we loved, and what we would have changed.
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General Information About the Hyatt Costa Rica
The Andaz Costa Rica is located in the northwest part of the country on the Peninsula Papagayo of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. It is about a 30-35 minute drive from the Liberia International Airport and about a 4 hour drive from the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose.
The Andaz Costa Rica is a category 5 hotel in the World of Hyatt brand of hotels and part of Hyatt’s Boundless portfolio. I would call it a luxury boutique hotel with unique decor and 5 star amenities. The hotel has 152 rooms with 21 suites. Parking is available onsite and is included in your stay. You will find 4 pools, 3 beaches, and 4 restaurants onsite (read on for more info about each of them).
The Rooms at Andaz Costa Rica
We booked 3 nights in a standard King Bed Forest View Room, but at check-in we were upgraded to a partial bay view room thanks to our Hyatt Globalist status. As a Globalist it’s possible to receive suite upgrades when available, but unfortunately during our stay all of the suites were booked. But the rooms at the Andaz are all spacious with amazing views so we are certainly not complaining.
Our particular room was number 524 in building 5. It was very close to the adult pool, beach access, and Ostra (the seafood restaurant) but was a little bit of a walk to the lobby and breakfast.
One of our favorite features of the rooms at the Andaz are the open air showers with doors that open to your private balcony. You can’t beat showering with a warm breeze blowing by, views of the bay, and trees so close you feel like you could reach out and touch them. The balcony felt very private in our room and I loved the aesthetic touch of the bamboo framing our view of the bay.
We were pleasantly surprised by the complimentary his and hers hats and flip flops waiting for us in our room at check in. I was afraid that if we wore the hats we would look just like every other guest but there are several styles so my husband wore his every day and didn’t feel super matchy matchy with the other males guests!
Another great feature of the rooms is the complimentary minibar. Snacks, water, sodas, coffee and tea are considered complimentary and were restocked daily in our room. There is also beer and alcohol available but at an additional charge.
Room cost at the Hyatt Costa Rica
Rooms cost anywhere from $300-$1000 a night depending on the season and type of room booked. Room prices do not include a 12% resort fee that will be added onto your total bill at the end of your stay.
Booking with points at the Andaz Costa Rica
If you’re booking with points, it’s best to transfer Chase Ultimate Reward Points to World of Hyatt so that you can book your room for 20,000 Hyatt points. You have the option to book directly through the Chase travel portal but you use almost twice as many points.
One of the perks of booking with points like we did through the World of Hyatt program, is that you will not pay any additional resort fees so your room is actually free.
Our favorite travel credit card for earning points for trips like these is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The standard bonus for signing up for this card is 60,000 points which is enough for 3 FREE nights at the Andaz. There are frequent promotions that could increase that offer so to see the current offer you can visit my referral link featuring our favorite travel credit cards.
Dining Options at the Andaz Papagayo Resort
There are 4 dining options at the Andaz Hyatt Costa Rica. Reservations are not required at any of the restaurants but be sure to ask which restaurants will be open during your stay. I believe now that tourism is picking back up again that they are all open for dinner but ask just to be sure. All restaurant bills will include an 8% service charge and a 13% VAT tax.
Rio Bhongo Restaurant
Breakfast is available daily at the Rio Bhongo and guests have the option of eating from the buffet or ordering off the menu. As Hyatt Globalists we were able to eat breakfast here free of charge each morning. Free breakfast might not sound like a big deal, but at $32 a person plus tax and tip for the breakfast buffet, this was a huge money saver for 2 frugal travelers. Each Globalist room receives free breakfast for up to 4 guests.
There is also an amazing fresh juice bar with Costa Rican style drinks for $6 and all other options for $8 a glass. And if you’re a coffee lover there is no shortage of options at the coffee bar where drinks are prepared by an onsite barista. Coffee, fresh juices, and smoothies were also included for Globalists. Any specialty coffee drinks were an additional charge.
I thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast buffet and thought there were plenty of traditional Costa Rican options and more familiar American style pastries like bagels and croissants. I loved the fresh juice options and ordered several different flavors to try. My husband, who is vegan, felt limited by the buffet options so we disagree on whether or not breakfast was a win at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort. I say if you’re paying for it out of pocket it’s at least worth trying once.
Rio Bhongo is also open for lunch and dinner and offers traditional Costa Rican dishes on it’s menu.
Ostra is only open for dinner and offers a romantic setting with seafood options on the menu. We did not eat here so I can’t speak to the food options, but I did notice that it was the most expensive option on property.
Chao Pescao Small Plates & Bar
Chao Pescao is a tapas style restaurant and cocktail bar and is open for happy hour and dinner. It is the only restaurant we ate in outside of breakfast at the Rio Bhongo. We found the food to be good, but expensive. For the 2 of us to order 4 small plates, 2 cocktails, 1 dessert and coffee, we spent around $150. And after eating at cafes and sodas for around $5-$10 a person, this was a little hard to stomach. The “small plates” are actually bigger than the portions typically served at a tapas restaurants so we probably could have gotten away with only ordering 3 plates.
My husband and I shared an octopus dish, a hummus style dish, red snapper, and a salad. Both of us agreed that we would order the salad and octopus again, but that the other 2 dishes were just okay. All of the drinks coming from the bar looked great and all of them had a special garnish or fun twist to them. We both enjoyed the drinks we ordered at the suggestion of our waitress.
After dinner we made the unfortunate mistake of ordering 2 coffees with our dessert without asking for the price first and were shocked to see that a cup of coffee was about 4300 colones which comes out to about $7 a cup! After tacking on the service fee and taxes we ended up paying about $18 for 2 cups of black coffee. Costa Rican coffee is good but not that good! Anyway, I share that so you learn from our mistake! Our bill would have been much more reasonable minus the coffee and one small plate so I would have been willing to eat here again after learning those lessons!
Andaz Beach House
The Andaz Beach House (the beach accessible by shuttle or water taxi) has a small restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, and drinks. Waiters will even take your order from your lounge chairs if you’d like!
Andaz Hyatt Beaches
The Andaz at Peninsula Papagayo has 3 beaches available to guests. The sand on the beaches is volcanic sand so it is darker in color but still soft to walk on. Two of the beaches are walkable from the resort.
Sombrero Oscuro Beach
The first is called Sombrero Oscuro, and if we had to rank the 3 this would be our last pick. There are vendors on this beach selling jewelry, wood bowls, and massage services which is something we’ve come across often during our travels to other countries, but it is still somewhat of a nuisance when you’re just trying to relax.
Sombrero Claro Beach
The second walkable option is Sombrero Claro Beach. If you walk down the stairs near the adults only pool you will see a sign pointing to the right for Sombrero Claro and to the left for Sombrero Oscuro. I’m SO glad we decided to go right that first day because we stumbled upon a hidden gem at the Andaz Papagayo.
The sand on Sombrero Claro beach is lighter in color (I don’t fully understand why as it is only a few feet away from Sombrero Oscuro), and there was not a soul in sight for hours. My guess is that people choose the other beach because it has chairs, water activities, and food and drink available to order. However, we just dropped our stuff on the sand and waded in the calm shallow water for almost 3 hours with not a care in the world. It was wonderful!
The water is surprisingly clear and we were able to see to the bottom even when we walked out to waist deep water. You can see small curious fish swimming around you, and you might see a monkey or crane walk across the beach while you swim.
Hyatt Andaz Costa Rica Beach House
Your third choice of beaches at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo is the Andaz Beach House. The Beach House is a somewhat new property owned by the Hyatt Andaz that is accessible by a 5-10 minute water taxi ride or a 2 part 10-15 minute golf cart and shuttle ride. It is open from 10 am-5 pm daily. The beach house itself offers a covered area to enjoy food and drinks which is a great place to wait out a passing afternoon shower.
Guests are welcome to borrow snorkel equipment and paddle boards, along with kayaks and water bikes. For an additional fee you can rent motorized equipment like jet skis. You will also find yard games like Jenga and corn hole as well as towels, sunscreen and bug spray.
While we could see this beach being a good place to spend a few hours with your family, we both still agreed that the privacy and tranquility of Sombrero Claro was a much better way to spend the afternoon. Especially since it takes a bit of time to be shuttled to the Beach House. We took the water taxi over which felt quick and convenient, but our ride back involved a 5 minute golf cart ride to the nature center on property and then waiting 10 minutes for an air conditioned shuttle ride that drove us back to the lobby. Both shuttles leave every 30 minutes and start operating at 9:30, but if you have the choice I would take the water taxi.
Andaz Papagayo Pools
While the pools at the Andaz in Costa Rica are not huge, there are 4 of them spread throughout the property and none of them were ever crowded. We had no problem finding a chair at any point during the day. We spent the majority of our time at the adults only pool because it was closest to our room in building 5. Not to mention that we rarely get away without our kids so it only felt right to take advantage of the opportunity!
I was pleased to find sunscreen and bug spray at the pools as well, because if you have ever had to purchase sunscreen at a resort, you know that it can cost a pretty penny. So I appreciated that there were always several bottles available at each pool and beach for guests to use.
If you’re lucky you can spot capuchin monkeys playing in the trees as you wade in any of the hotel pools! We watched a family of 7 or 8 play for almost an hour in the trees along the edge of the adult pool. We were also offered a small fruit kabob and aloe soaked cucumbers for our eyes while we lounged by the pool one day which I thought was a fun little extra.
Our first day at the adults pool was quiet and relaxing, but we found on our second day that it was much more crowded with a large group of people playing their own music. So you might end up finding the main family pool to actually be a quieter option depending on the guests there during your stay.
The main pool at the Andaz has a zero entry access and a wading area that is great for little kids to play in. It also has the cutest VW bus bar serving drinks all day. You can order food pool side which is a great option when you don’t want to get dressed to go sit in a restaurant. For around $15 we split a mahi mahi sandwich with root vegetable chips one day and it was excellent.
Things to do nearby the Andaz Costa Rica Hotel
The location of the Hyatt Costa Rica Resort is beautiful with its facilities nestled into the side of a cliff on the Peninsula Papagayo. However, it is very secluded. So if you are looking to check into a resort and never leave and are not worried about paying resort prices for food the entire time, you should have plenty to do and plenty to eat with no need to ever leave.
But, if you’re like us and you don’t feel like spending an arm and a leg on every meal you’re going to have to travel a bit to find other options. It will take about 30 minutes to get to the closest town. On one of our nights we opted to drive about 40 minutes to the beach town of Playa del Coco which is across the bay from the Andaz. We ate at an excellent seafood restaurant called Restaurante Mar Azul. The prices were extremely reasonable and the food and service were both awesome. I would go back for the ceviche in a heartbeat!
From there we drove into town to watch the sunset (they are known for their sunsets!) and shop for some souvenirs for our kids. There is a plethora of souvenir shops and restaurants along the water with what looked like a pretty active nightlife scene. Then on our way back to the hotel we stopped at the auto mercado (supermarket) to buy coffee and candy and snacks for the kids.
One other stop you should make on your way to the airport is Sun Burst Coffee Roasters. There are several traditional coffee brands you can buy at the grocery store, but it’s worth it to stop and buy coffee beans direct from the roaster!
Amenities at Andaz Hyatt Costa Rica Resort
Andaz Costa Rica Spa
I had full intentions of getting a massage during our stay, but after spending so much on dinner the first night I opted not to. Do I regret it? Kind of! I’ve heard great things so maybe I shouldn’t have been so cheap!
But if you’re interested in booking a spa service here is a full menu of what they have to offer. Menu of services at Andaz Papagayo Spa. Be sure to ask about weekly specials.
Other Things to do at the Hyatt Andaz Costa Rica Resort
- Bike Rentals
- Bird watching
- Salsa dancing
- Barista Class
- Spanish Lessons
- Kids club
Covid Testing at Andaz Papagayo
As of the time of posting this article, on site Covid tests are not included in your stay. All guests can schedule a Covid test on site by arranging it at the front desk. My husband and I paid about $89 each for our tests. They only took about 10 minutes and we didn’t have to leave the property which was nice. Rapid tests were available at the airport but I’m not sure how much they were and we opted to get to get it over with while still at the resort.
For more information about Covid testing at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort you can see the hotels policies here.
Costa Rica Travel Requirements
Travel requirements are changing constantly these days as the pandemic begins to wind down and travel starts to open back up. Currently visitors from the US are not required to test for Covid upon entry, but ARE required to fill out a HEALTH PASS online form here. Guests must also obtain mandatory medical travel insurance that will cover lodging in the event of a mandatory quarantine. For the most up to date Costa Rica travel requirements you can visit this page at visitcostarica.com.
We purchased our travel insurance from a company called Trawick International as it was the best price we found for the minimum coverage required.
Would we recommend the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo? It depends on what you’re looking for. My husband and I agreed that we either want a more traditional cultural experience with easy access to local food or an all-inclusive where we don’t have to worry about what we are spending at each meal. Our recent trip to the all-inclusive Dreams Macao Beach in Punta Cana was not necessarily a cultural experience, but it was REALLY nice to drink and eat what we wanted without stressing about the bill. So maybe we aren’t resort people, but that doesn’t mean the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo is not the perfect choice for you!
You will love the Hyatt Andaz Costa Rica if:
- You don’t mind paying resort prices for all of your meals.
- You are a Hyatt Globalist and have resort fees and the cost of your breakfast waived each day.
- You are traveling with children under 5. Children under 5 eat free at the restaurants on property. This can be a huge money saver especially if it’s coupled with Globalist benefits.
- Your children are between the ages of 4-12 and would be willing to participate in the free Cambi kids club.
- You are just looking to relax. There are plenty of opportunities for this at the pools, beaches, spa, and even your room balcony.
- You like calm water. The beaches at the Andaz Costa Rica are nice and calm with minimal waves. Perfect for your kids or a relaxing swim.
You might want to look elsewhere if:
- You want typical Costa Rica adventure opportunities like zip lining, cloud forest tours, or volcano tours. While all of these are available somewhat nearby and can be arranged with the concierge, they aren’t exactly convenient to the Andaz.
- You have mobility issues. One of the unique aspects of the resort is how it is built into a cliff, but that means lots of stairs and walks on an incline. Golf carts are available to shuttle you around the resort, and shuttles are available to one of the beaches, but this is an important aspect to consider.
- You like to explore local eateries while on vacation. The closest option outside of the resort for meals is the Dive Bar at the Marina. Beyond that you will need to drive at least 30 minutes to the closest restaurant. You can read above about our experience driving 40 minutes to Playa del Coco for dinner one night.
More Costa Rica Tips and Content
For more helpful Costa Rica travel information you can read my previous blog posts about our travel there.
- Zip Lining in Costa Rica: All You Need to Know
- Costa Rica with Kids: A 10 Day Itinerary
- Travel Hacking for Beginners: How to Take Your Family on Vacation for Free
- 5 Reasons Travel with Young Kids is Worth the Headache
- How to Survive Airport Security With Kids