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JW Marriott Guanacaste, Costa Rica [Master Thread]

JW Marriott Guanacaste, Costa Rica [Master Thread]

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Old Jun 14, 13, 12:33 pm
  #1  
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JW Marriott Guanacaste, Costa Rica [Master Thread]

I thought it would be helpful to the community to share a brief review of my take on the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort/Spa in Costa Rica as my wife and returned from our honeymoon a few days ago.

I valued the reviews on here as I used it as a basis to book some hotels. We made sure to stay at three different hotels in 3 cities during a 14 day stay. our first stop was the JW Marriott. For the room rate of $330/night, we received a beautiful ocean-view room with a great patio overlooking the ocean. Very happy with the room and the access to the beach -- seems like most people were hanging in the pools vs. hopping in the lovely Pacific. Wife and I laid out on beach club chairs and swam in the ocean just fine. The pools were nice as well and service was attentive.

The property is definitely in a remote part near Tamarindo. The ride from the air strip (saying airport is a laugh if you've flown Nature Air or Sansa into this town) was a hoot --dirt roads, with potholes for a mile or two but you're lucky to hit 20 mph. From the main road, it's a solid 4-5 miles of winding paved roads to the JW Marriott. Great if you like remote, not great if during a 4 day stay you want to move around or take a cab into town for $30 each way.

Pros: Price of room, beach/Pool Acess, Remote (pro and con)

Now the cons...

Cons: Food, price of drinks/food, remote, nothing "Tico" about here.
I'm trying to be as objective as possible here. Now I know it's an American chain hotel, but hanging out with hundreds of other Americans (an HR conference was in town) just took a bit of the "beach resort" luster off. The resort's food was downright boring, bland and obscenely over priced. $10-12 cocktails, $18-20 lunch sandwiches, $29.95 per person for the breakfast buffet...everything here was massively overpriced. I can handle the prices but the food just plain stunk. The poolside beach restaurant and the Sushi/Karaoke bar being the main offenders. However, thanks to TripAdvisor we discovered Lola's, a 30 minute walk on the beach and a great little beach restaurant/bar with fresh local food (great food!) and about 1/2 of what we were paying at the JW. We lunched at lola's 3 of the 4 days there.

Our other two stays were at Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio and Nayara in Arenal. Both of these indy properties blew the pants off of the JW in terms of service, food and amenities.

I'd give this property a 6/10 and an overall "Meh" ...
kdinino is offline  
Old Jun 14, 13, 12:38 pm
  #2  
 
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Sounds like the overall hotel experience was great and the food was disappointing. Is the reason a 6/10 was given was due to food?

Hypothetically, if the food was excellent and reasonably priced, what would you give the hotel? Just trying to separate hotel quality/experience vs food quality.
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Old Jun 14, 13, 6:50 pm
  #3  
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Hotel quality I would peg at 8/10. The rooms are very nice and the ocean view rooms have a nice patio and great views. The problem is the food yes and overall aura (vs some of the smaller more quaint resorts we stayed at), but also the lack of other options for dining as you're sort of captive at the resort. A cab to Tamarindo was $30/each way and we did have a great meal in town but the ride is super bumpy (and 20 mins) and the cost adds up. Our saving grace was the beautiful walk on the beach to Lola's for lunch/drinks each afternoon.
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Old Jun 15, 13, 9:22 am
  #4  
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Thanks for the updated trip report!

Cheers.
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Old Jun 16, 13, 11:09 am
  #5  
 
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It is interesting to read this. I booked two rooms at this hotel last August and thought it was great. Most people don't realize resorts in Costa Rica are as expensive as Hawaii and expect food and transportation to be cheap.

I didn't find the food any more expensive then other Marriott resorts around the world. All of the breakfasts and dinners we had were quite good and the service was outstanding. I wonder if the food has gone downhill since we were last there?

The fact that it is far from Taramindo was a plus for us (I don't like Tamarindo). We found the resort very clean, peaceful with a great beach and pool. The downside is that it is so far from any other restaurants or activities.

Lola's is definitely one of my favorite places in the area.
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Old Aug 21, 13, 6:51 am
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Thought I would share that there is a $159 "facebook friends" rate through December 22, 2013. Garden room only and breakfast not included. Maybe "LNFable" as don't see any rule restrictions?
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Old Aug 27, 13, 10:51 am
  #7  
 
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Just checked in as part of a 5 night stay

As a Gold, was upgraded to an oceanfront room (booked garden view) which is very nice. Low season so the resort is pretty dead -- only one theme restaurant open each evening in addition to the main buffet restaurant.

Booked the Marriott Rewards package which gave us free breakfast for two adults and two kids -- rate was $212++ which is very reasonable even with low season.

Would agree that this hotel is remote so choices are limited. However best option is the hotel La Posada which is a five minute drive (they offer a shuttle to the JW). Food was much better and way cheaper than at the JW. Dinner and drinks for a family of four came to $55 versus an $80 lunch pool side even with the kids eating off the kids menu.

Will check out Lola's this afternoon.
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Old Aug 27, 13, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by ny747 View Post
As a Gold, was upgraded to an oceanfront room (booked garden view) which is very nice. Low season so the resort is pretty dead -- only one theme restaurant open each evening in addition to the main buffet restaurant.

Booked the Marriott Rewards package which gave us free breakfast for two adults and two kids -- rate was $212++ which is very reasonable even with low season.

Would agree that this hotel is remote so choices are limited. However best option is the hotel La Posada which is a five minute drive (they offer a shuttle to the JW). Food was much better and way cheaper than at the JW. Dinner and drinks for a family of four came to $55 versus an $80 lunch pool side even with the kids eating off the kids menu.

Will check out Lola's this afternoon.
Thanks for the update. We will be there a few nights in February before a week at the Westin Playa Conchal for work.
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Old Aug 29, 13, 7:42 am
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Originally Posted by kmwjes View Post
Thought I would share that there is a $159 "facebook friends" rate through December 22, 2013. Garden room only and breakfast not included. Maybe "LNFable" as don't see any rule restrictions?
Where did you see this? What's the code?
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Old Sep 1, 13, 8:59 pm
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Just finished a stay

A continuation of the review from above.

Overall a mixed experience -- resort is nice and staff is friendly but it doesnt seem like they can handle the volume. During our five night stay we went from almost zero occupancy to probably 40%. Breakfast on our last day was a pain as service was non-existant. Checkout was worse as there was only one bellhop.

A good find was the Beach Club for the community -- a short drive or a 15-20 minute walk along the beach from the JWM. Pool was smaller but since crowd was less, it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Food quality was comparable to JWM but prices were probably 20% cheaper at least. You cant charge to your room so bring cash or a CC.

If staying here would suggest getting a car as beaches/restaurants in Playa Conchal or Tamarindo are only 20 minute drive which gives you more options than being stuck at the hotel.
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Old Sep 23, 13, 8:41 am
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I'm going here with my wife in March of 2014.

Looking for tips on any additional restaurants/food options, and transportation from the airport.

Thanks!
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Old Oct 3, 13, 10:28 am
  #12  
 
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Similar to what is above, if anyone who is familiar with this area has any of the following, it would help on my upcoming trip:
  1. Local restaurants, good food, good atmosphere
  2. Transportation from LIR airport to/from hotel
  3. Worthwhile local activities

Thanks!
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Old Oct 3, 13, 3:50 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by BostonFlyer1624 View Post
Similar to what is above, if anyone who is familiar with this area has any of the following, it would help on my upcoming trip:
  1. Local restaurants, good food, good atmosphere
  2. Transportation from LIR airport to/from hotel
  3. Worthwhile local activities

Thanks!
We rented an Avis car at the airport.
It was cheap and had no trouble getting a waiver on part of the insurance cost (You have to buy local liability but my credit card covered rest).

Having the car (4 wheel drive) made things great.
Got a great rate and saving on food, drink and freedom were worth the price.

We could go where we wanted and eat where we wanted.
We would try different restaurants in towns and got some great recommendations from the staff.

Never got around to restaurant on site for dinner. Had a great meal at the clubhouse down the beach.

Prices were usual overprices of Marriott resort.
We bought Water, Coke and Liquor in town so no huge fees for drinks or snacks.

The river trip was great.
We also drove to the animal rescue.
Driving into towns (other than tamarindo) and just walking around is great.
Visiting different beaches was fun too.

Of all the Marriott resorts we have been to, this is our number one return to wish, as the entire trip and country made it great.
If you just want to stay at hotel/resort - there are better.
If you want a great stay and a great launching point for day trips, this is #1 to me.

Last edited by rthib; Oct 3, 13 at 3:58 pm
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Old Oct 3, 13, 5:02 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by rthib View Post
We rented an Avis car at the airport.
It was cheap and had no trouble getting a waiver on part of the insurance cost (You have to buy local liability but my credit card covered rest).

Having the car (4 wheel drive) made things great.
Got a great rate and saving on food, drink and freedom were worth the price.

We could go where we wanted and eat where we wanted.
We would try different restaurants in towns and got some great recommendations from the staff.

Never got around to restaurant on site for dinner. Had a great meal at the clubhouse down the beach.

Prices were usual overprices of Marriott resort.
We bought Water, Coke and Liquor in town so no huge fees for drinks or snacks.

The river trip was great.
We also drove to the animal rescue.
Driving into towns (other than tamarindo) and just walking around is great.
Visiting different beaches was fun too.

Of all the Marriott resorts we have been to, this is our number one return to wish, as the entire trip and country made it great.
If you just want to stay at hotel/resort - there are better.
If you want a great stay and a great launching point for day trips, this is #1 to me.
Can you provide the names of activities, beaches, restaurants that are worthwhile?
BostonFlyer1624 is offline  
Old Feb 5, 14, 6:13 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: BOS
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Any updates on this property? Platinum benefits, etc? Nearby restaurants?
BostonFlyer1624 is offline  

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