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
SUMMARY: Just returned from a 4 night stay at the JW Marriott Guancaste. After previously reading prior reviews I knew going in the resort was somewhat remote but after all it seems most things are in Costa Rica. The resort has plenty to do and you could never leave and have a marvelous time celebrating a honeymoon or simply spending time with family. However, if being trapped at a resort is not your definition of fun then you are in luck because the JW is just 25 minutes drive (depending on pothole conditions) to the North to the hopping town of Tamarindo (surfing, fishing, shopping or whatever else) or 10 minutes drive to the South to the rustic beach side eats at Lolas.
TRANSPORTATION: We made several trips to town during our stay and if you intend to venture outside the walls (not really any walls) then I highly recommend you get a rental vehicle. The rates are fairly inexpensive and we rented a Toyota Prado (land cruiser) for 8 nights and it was about $550 plus fuel. Hotel rates are about $20 roundtrip/$12.00 one way to Tamarindo during the shuttle hours and more early morning or late afternoon which requires a taxi.
FOOD. Everything we had at the resort was reasonably priced (actually better than a comparable JW Marriott in Florida) and breakfast was fantastic. Unless you have extremely big appetites and want to gain weight on your trip then I suggest you just order off the menu which we did each morning. Our bill for a family of 5 was around $75 each morning versus $150 for the buffet. We didn't eat dinner at the resort but based upon what I saw and smelled I am sure it would be a equally good experience.
ACTIVITIES. The resort offers a lengthy list of daily activities if you want to do stuff within the resort and also can schedule Water and Land excursions outside the resort. While I reviewed the hotel offerings I booked our activities direct and based upon other reviews which saved us a few dollars from the resorts price list. I highly recommend the sunset cruise on Marlin Del Ray ($85 pp) and Steve with Go Fish Costa Rica for your fishing activities.
TRAVEL TIP. If you are a Marriott rewards member (Silver) you qualify for 10% off everything at the hotel which can add up to some serious savings. In addition, if you get the rewards card you can get 100k points within the first 3 months which is enough to cover at least 2 nights (it was 160k points) for 4 nights. You also get free Wifi as a rewards member and free upgrade.
NEGATIVES. Its a family resort so if you don't want to be around kids then you might opt for an adults only resort. The Beach is nice but not really conducive for swimming. During low tide it was fun to walk about the rocks and find critters swimming in the tidal pools. They have a small area designated for swimming but only saw one person take that challenge. If you want to go out for early morning swims then stay in town or find another resort with a protected cove.
CONCLUSION. Would definitely stay again. If you want to walk to town then this isn't the resort for you but if you don't mind a short ride then you can't go wrong with the JW.
My wife and I visited on our honeymoon and it was incredible! We arrived to a fruit basket in our room along with a bed covered in roses. Our bags were carted to our room along with a great discussion with the employee who told us all about the surrounding area. During our time there, we ended up befriending several of the employees and they were outstanding! The service is world-class. The restaurants were delicious. Truly, we were in paradise!
This hotel is one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at. The rooms were immaculate with Jacuzzi tubs, private toilet separate from the rest of the bathroom. The guest service people were overly polite to the point that after the maid service had serviced our room, another person came with a cart and asked if the maid service had missed anything and was there anything else we might need. My wife and I were on a tour with Caravan Tours so breakfast and dinner buffets were provided and both were excellent. If you want to be treated like royalty, this would be a hotel for you. I would also recommend Caravan Tours, but that should be a separate review.
We loved the availability of services and the kindness of the staff. We used their sitter services, massage area and walked throughout all the beach area. Right in front of the hotel it is difficult to bathe in the ocean (too many rocks) but to the left, after walking for 10 minutes you will find a nice spot. Then again, the pool is rather nice too. We had a rental vehicle so we were able to explore around the Hacienda, and near by beach area.
For the beautiful, friendly check-in to the amazing rooms service to every deliciosos meal in between!! Our expectations for a nice 5 day vacay were superseceded by this wonderful stay. Do yourself a favor and book an evening meal at Tamarine and request Alejandro as your server. Then Head to the bar across the way for a night cap with Olgar. The room service is the best around. We got engaged on our garden view terrace then were greeted with a bottle of chamgne. Day tríps to tamarindo and a beautiful dinner at Pangas. ATVS to flamingo beach. You can not go wrong with a stay on the west sude of beautiful Costa Rica!