JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa
What We Love
- The whopping 23,000-square-foot infinity pool mere steps from the golden sand of Playa Mansita
- On-site spa features an open-air, palapa-topped massage room and a Vichy shower
- Spacious balconies offer breathtaking views of the ocean and tropical flora
- Access to a top-notch golf course as well as a beach club at nearby Playa Avellanas
- Shuttles to popular local beaches and other attractions run regularly
- READ MORE: Find your perfect Costa Rica vacation
What To Know
- Located within Hacienda Pinilla, a residential beach and golf community
- WiFi costs $14 extra per day
- Costa Rica’s dry season lasts from December to April; during the rest of the year it can rain for several hours a day
- The hotel is very family-friendly; there’s a playground, a clubhouse and a JW Adventure kids program that runs activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
From the open-air plazas to the chunky stone walls to the red roof tiles, this resort on the edge of the 4,500-acre Hacienda Pinilla exudes the charm of an old hacienda by the sea. Designed by Costa Rica’s most famous architect, Ronald Zurcher, this 310-unit colonial compound was planned to preserve history and celebrate nature. Windswept palms dot the grounds, tropical dry forest surrounds the property, and the open-air design invites a refreshing ocean breeze.
Bed and Bath
The guestrooms measure 592 square feet, and all come with a view (ocean, garden or pool). Down comforters top the beds, marble glistens in the bathrooms, and 37-inch flat-screen TVs are mounted on the soothing, cream-colored walls. The sizable balconies are perfect for curling up with a good book or simply admiring the resort’s expansive back yard.
The twisting system of oceanfront pools and bridges is among the best in the country, and the poolside Azul Grill serves incredible seafood — most notably the ceviche with lime, orange juice, coriander and onion presented in a coconut. Also recommended is the Asian fusion restaurant Tamarine, and the steakhouse, Sabanero, where a juicy tenderloin paired with a full-bodied red will have you ready to ride a horse across Pinilla, hooting like a Guanacaste cowboy.
How to Get There
This was my first visit to Costa Rica and first experience with JW Marriott. After arriving at the airport in Liberia and collecting my bags, I emerged from the terminal and was immediately greeted by Emanuel, my driver for the hour-long trip to the JW Marriott. Emanuel was exceptionally pleasant and accompanied us (my girlfriend and I) to his van parked alongside the terminal building. He assisted us into the vehicle and immediately began setting up the air conditioning, inquiring whether we were comfortable. As we started out, Emanuel mentioned that the drive would be about an hour and offered to stop anywhere along the way should we need or desire anything. As it turned out, about a quarter way into the drive I decided that I could use a cold drink. Without any hesitation, Emanuel pulled off the road into the parking lot of what appeared to be a convenience market. I stepped out of the Van and he joined me on the passenger side. He told me that he'd accompany me inside to ensure that I didn't get overcharged. At that point, Emanuel didn't know that I was fluent is Spanish or that I could understand what he told to the clerk. While I selected my drink from the cooler, I heard Emanuel tell the clerk that I was with him inferring that he wouldn't tolerate any price gouging. Without disclosing that I'd understood what he'd said, I was impressed by his willingness to look out for me even with respect to something as minor as a drink purchase.
As the drive continued, I spoke with him in Spanish watching his face in the rear-view mirror. His facial expression was amusing as he realized that I'd understood what he's said to the clerk on my behalf. From that moment on, until we left him at the hotel, it was like we were old friends. That was my first interaction with an "everyday" Costa Rican and as I would soon discover, while he was exceptional, the others I met, without exception were very pleasant, kind and considerate. Without question, interacting with the local populous was the very best of experiences I had while visiting their country.
About 45 minutes after leaving the convenience market, we reach the JW Marriott. Before describing the arrival experience, I have to mention the condition of the roadways between the highway and the hotel property were badly scored with large potholes. Emanuel explained that the rainy season had just ended and the roads would be repaired soon.
We reached the hotel shortly after sundown and were greet by employees who welcomed and directed us to the check-in area. The check-in area consists of a nicely appointed office where the check-in personnel are seated behind desks. Our check-in was quick and efficient at which time we were picked up by a bellman and escorted to our room. During the walk to our room, the bellman did an excellent job of pointing out the various facilities on the property and describing the restaurants available to us at the hotel. When we reached the room, he accompanied us inside and explained the in-room amenities. Like each of the people we had already encountered, this employee couldn't have been nicer or more informative.
We settled into the room and shortly thereafter paid a visit to one of the restaurants still available at that hour. We were seated and presented with menus. We were attended by three different employees each of whom were excellent. We ordered and in what seemed like just a few minutes we received our orders. The food was artistically presented, at the perfect temperature, and absolutely delicious. The service throughout the meal was excellent as well.
After dinner, we retired to our spacious room and settled in for the night. The room situated on the second floor of the west facing building (overlooking the Ocean) was pristine and very comfortable. The King bed was very comfortable while the air conditioning was efficient, and easily adjusted. The large bathroom suite was appointed with a roomy tiled shower, a double sink vanity, a separately enclosed toilet and an oversize tub. The tub was elevated, conveniently accessible and separated from the sleeping area by fully opening louvered shutters. There were plentiful fresh towels, replaced daily, along with plenty of soap, conditioners and lotions.
After a peaceful and restful night's sleep, we left the room for Breakfast. Presented in the same restaurant in which we enjoyed our dinner the preceding evening, we found ourselves facing a generous buffet offering a wide variety of options. On the center island, in addition to the standard available scrambled eggs there many other selections including bacon, a locally popular mix of black beans and rice, traditionally prepared potatoes and a vast array of fresh ripened fruit including melon, pineapple, and mango among others. In addition, there was a wide selection of cheese, cold cuts, tortillas and yogurt. Surrounding the island, along the walls, there was a pancake and waffle station along with a variety of interesting and tasty toppings. Further, along the wall there was a plentiful offering of a variety of baked goods including sweet rolls of several types, various croissants in addition to various breads and muffins. Immediately beside the baked goods there is an offering of fresh juices, including a device that squeezes fresh Valencia Oranges with the juice draining directly into your glass. A short distance away there was an omelet bar offering a good selection of vegetables and meats. They'll happily make you an omelet of your choice with either egg whites of full eggs. Of course, guests are welcome to return to the buffet as frequently as they wish. As with the service the preceding evening, the staff was exceptionally attentive and pleasant.
Following Breakfast, many of the hotel guests depart the facility for a variety of offsite activities. These include a variety of tours including Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, and Sailing trips. In addition to those, one can opt to purchase a boat tour visiting a nearby river, surrounded by jungle, where one can see a variety of exotic birds, playful monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. Certainly, there are many additional options such as a visit to neighboring Nicaragua, a trip to a nearby volcano or if you prefer a day spent sipping exotic cocktails and lounging around the massive pool.
After a long day of exploring or just plain lounging around the pool, there are two onsite restaurants in addition to the one I already described. While the names escape me at the moment, one is of an Asian flavor while the other is a Steak House. I didn't have occasion to visit the Steak House, but I did dine at the Asian restaurant. I have to say yet again the food was excellent and the service superb. Given my experience, I have no doubt the Steak House is equally good.
If neither of the above options suit your taste, you can purchase a transportation voucher for a Shuttle ride into the nearest town called Tamarindo. This town of approximately 16,000 sits on the Pacific shore with a variety of restaurants and shops available. Naturally, the shops are geared to the Tourist market. The shuttle can accommodate six guests comfortably and departs for the center of town about every two hours or so. The folks that book the shuttle will give you specific times for departure and return. This is so that they will have sufficient space for all those booked to travel at those times. My experience in town was that the restaurants are reasonably priced (at least La Palapa was). I dined at La Palapa twice and enjoyed both the service and food on each occasion. Seating at La Palapa is right on the beach in the sand. While the food and the service were very good you should be aware that you'll likely be inundated with vendors who travel up and down the beach. They can be persistent but will generally leave you alone if you ask them to.
English is widely spoken in Costa Rica and Tamarindo is no exception. They appreciate your speaking in Spanish if you can but will be happy to converse with you in English if you feel more comfortable. Virtually everyone accepts U.S. Currency so if you don't wish to use the local legal tender (Colons) dollars work just fine. If you opt to use U.S. Currency, I would suggest that you ask for U.S Currency as your change.
Getting back to the JW Marriott, as far as the hotel structure is concerned, while not new, it is meticulously maintained. The grounds are neat and well-manicured while the pool is clean and comfortably heated. You'll see employees constantly engaged in cleaning so as to maintain the welcoming, upscale environment. I should mention that in addition to the restaurants I've already mentioned there is both a poolside restaurant and bar. While the bar is open throughout the day, the restaurant is limited to lunch service only.
Finally, the Hotel is situated on the beach. If you're accustomed to wide expanses of white sandy beaches you may find yourself a bit disappointed here. The beach is public and while clean the shoreline near the hotel is rocky and unsuitable for swimming. There is one spot set off by floats where the bottom is largely sandy, but its relatively small. I'm not a real big beach guy, so if that's a priority for you, you may wish to look at different properties.
As for us, the experience at JW Marriot and in Costa Rica as a whole was excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will likely visit again.
The place is beautiful and so clean! We arrived late at night and noticed quickly how clean everything was. The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly. They helped our group book excursions for some great experiences and driver so we could tour the nearby Tamarindo area. If you're looking for blue beaches to lie out on, this is probably not the place for you. Beaches are clean, but not clear blue water bc of rocks and darker sand.
Great service, friendly staff, gorgeous views from both door and balcony sides of the room. The hammocks were amazing. All of the restaurants served great food. We really enjoyed the walking trail with the howler monkeys. Largest pool in Costa Rica has a slide for childrenor those young at heart. There is a volleyball cove with a net and a children's cove with shallow water .Our family had a great time.
We stayed here for our wedding anniversary and enjoyed the tours and country. If you’re wanting to book this resort, do it through Costco. I can’t imagine paying for everything without having food, transfer and tour credits.
- The hotel grounds were well maintained and the pool area was extremely clean
- Prices were reasonable for a resort and if you booked through Costco for the package credits
- Spa treatment was in a private room outside with jungle views
- Incredibly difficult to leave the resort without a car.. they charged us $70 for two people to go down the road to Lola’s
- Food was mediocre. I had a salad and it was just a giant leaf and I had to sit there and cut up my salad.
- Poor service. Service was extremely slow and people were very forgetful. We had lunch by the pool and we kept having to try and get their attention. They’d acknowledge us and then never come back, lol.
WHO: Caravan Tour RX81110
- hacienda architecture
- the BEST views and location (white sand beach)
- luxurious rooms and amenities (bed comfort, linens, bathrooms, on-suite balcony overlooking the pool area that's screened in)
- BEST variety and taste in food
- MOST relaxing spa I've ever been to
- GREAT customer service
WHEN: 11/14/2018 - 11/15/2018