Review of JW Marriott Guanacaste

Old Apr 12th, 2015, 04:32 PM
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Review of JW Marriott Guanacaste

There are many positive aspects to staying at the JW Marriott Guanacaste but it is unlikely that we would return. We stayed in late March 2015 - two adults and one child in a room with a partial ocean view. The area in summer is like the African Serengeti - dry, not lush, think waiting for giraffes and elephants to meander out. There are large hacienda style ranches for grazing cattle in the immediate surrounding area. Not what we expected as first time Costa Rica visitors. The hotel is a 1.25 hour drive from the Liberia Airport on reasonable roads by Costa Rican standard (i.e., the Costa Rican road infrastructure sports some of the worst roads of any where we've traveled). When we arrived at the hotel, the greeter announced, "Welcome home." It was cute but not my style. Everyone spoke English very well. Staff were uniformly helpful and hospitable. This property wants to be a high-end resort and it charges as such. It is a large property with over 300 rooms. It has an open-air hacienda style ambiance - up and down (4 or 5 floors). There is considerable walking from one end of the property to the other and stair climbing (although there are some well maintained elevators). We felt it does not have good flow. Although it was full while we were there, it never seemed crowded. The other side of that is it had a ghost town quality at times. To me, it's main attraction is the pool which I was told is the largest in Central America. The pool is ~4 feet deep winding throughout the property. There are umbrellas, towel dispensing stand, drink stand and sparse staff around the pool area. It is well maintained.This is not the kind of place where staff swoop in to arrange your lounge chair, get you a drink and be sure your umbrella is properly positioned. Don't look for that here - you will be disappointed. You can get service poolside but need to seek it out. This is a hang out and chill pool. Although they have a schedule of activities, it is not a Club Med style all-inclusive property with a smorgasbord of activities to pick. The Pacific does not offer spectacular beaches in this area. It is rocky and darker sand. If you understand and expect that you will be fine with what you get. It is buggy at night - bring repellent!! They had a nighttime barbeque on the beach with entertainment. The beach, sunset and stars makes the dinner special. The room was a nice size with basic accoutrements. No complaints - comfortable beds and reasonably quiet. Spectacular sunsets every night! They have 5 restaurants (I think). The food was always freshly prepared, including a very good ceviche. Simple Costa Rican fare is the way to go there. We did not make it to the spa area so cannot comment on it. Bottom line - although everything was perfectly enjoyable, it seemed overpriced and an odd combination of spa, family resort and high end all-inclusive.
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Old Apr 13th, 2015, 02:31 PM
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Thanks for all the great details. We've never made it to the Guanacaste area. Several of our guides have said it might not be our kind of place because it's drier and not lush and green. Plus side of that I guess is less rain. Did you see any wildlife while you were there?
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Old Apr 13th, 2015, 05:27 PM
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We visited "dry" tropical forests in the Guanacaste region which are fascinating and filled with birds, insects and some wildlife. Then, we went to Arenal and Monteverde, so we got to compare and contrast the areas. We had an amazing naturalist accompany us for part of the time to the different regions. Having him with us in these different areas truly changed the way has changed the way we view nature and will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Thank you, volcanogirl, for all of your very helpful input and information sharing. It really makes a big difference.
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Old Apr 14th, 2015, 02:31 PM
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Glad I could help, steve. What did you think of Monteverde and the Arenal area?
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Old Apr 14th, 2015, 08:10 PM
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Arenal and Monteverde were good areas for easy access to activities and not too much driving/travel. I was traveling with my wife and daughter. We were able to zipline (which scared me to death), walk on hanging bridges, bathe in volcanic springs, hike an active volcano, travel to the rain and cloud forests, tour a coffee plantation and only drive 3-4 hours at a stretch. Although I would have loved to visit Manuel Antonio or more remote areas like Osa or Nicoya, I was afraid it would involve too much travel and might spook my daughter who used to be (before the trip to CR) freaked out by certain animals. The short answer is that those areas worked best for all of us as a family. From your postings I know you love Manuel Antonio. It wasn't in the cards for us with just one week to spend there. What are some of your other favorite areas?
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 06:40 AM
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Yes, love Manuel Antonio for pretty beaches and easy access to wildlife, also the amazing Osa - best wildlife we've ever seen and kind of wild, Tortuguero for seeing turtles in season, and the Poas area for the volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens where you can hike to the beautiful waterfalls and handfeed hummingbirds. Selva Verde was fun too, a little more rustic, but we saw a lot of wildlife there and at La Selva.
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