Review: Westin Playa Conchal Hotel and Resort – Deluxe Junior Suite, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Our time at the Westin Playa Conchal was divided between the resort area and the beach area. For our time spent at the hotel and resort area of the Westin Playa Conchal, please follow along here. For our experiences spent at the beach area, please see the Westin Playa Conchal Beach and surrounding area.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Costa Rica. This trip was booked and credited to Air Canada Aeroplan and Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy). For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.
Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Costa Rica via United Airlines
- Fairmont Vancouver International Airport
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver Transborder
- United Airlines: Vancouver – Houston
- United Club: Houston Concourse E
- United Airlines: Houston – Liberia
- Westin Playa Conchal, Playa Conchal, Costa Rica
- Westin Playa Conchal, Beach and Playa Brasilito
- Zip Lining “The Congo Line”
- United Airlines: Liberia – Newark
- Marriott Newark International Airport
- United Club, Newark International Terminal A
- Air Canada: Newark International – Vancouver International
Review: The Westin Reserva Playa Conchal All Inclusive, Deluxe Junior Suite, Playa Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
“One of the few all inclusive Westin Hotel’s in the world.
The resort featured a relaxing vibe with spacious accommodations, better than expected food,
near a beach filled with a million broken smooth shells”
Booking and Getting There:
We booked direct on the Westin Website. The hotel is advertised as “all inclusive”. We booked under a American Automobile Association Rate “AAA Hot Deal” for $330 USD a night for a Deluxe Suite under all inclusive accommodations. The rate included a $50 USD spa credit for massages over 50 minutes. It was an additional charge of $120 USD for food for children between 3 and 12 years of age, bringing the total to $463 USD for the night.
To get from the Liberia airport to the Westin Playa Conchal, I had initially considered renting a car but learned that the van transfer through Servicio Transfer offered by the Westin was only $90 for all parties (3 persons). Instead of trying to navigate the dark Costa Rican’ highways after an 8:30 PM arrival (and after dark), we hopped in to the van.
For those that are considering driving, the hotel is marked with government signage at the decision points (intersections) along the way. However, it is a dark route with lots of hazards (cyclists riding on the road with no reflectors, stray dogs, pedestrians walking along the roadway after dark etc…) There are a few 24 hr gas stations but very view areas to ask for directions if you get lost. The Costa Rican highways are paved but are a bit bumpy and soft- similar to those paved roads over boggy areas back home.
Arriving to the Property:
After a bumpy 1 hr transfer, we arrived at the resort. The Westin Playa Conchal shares its property with some up and coming luxury resort condominiums along the Playa Conchal Golf Course that were marketed by Sotheby’s. The hotel, although marked at the entrance gate, was not visible from the highway.
We had terrific first impression with the resort and a nice giant open air lobby with circular propeller style fans slightly reminiscent of the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The lobby was sleek and contemporary in the usual Westin style was the theme, with gorgeous (but faux) shells behind the counter made for a nice locally themed statement. The Playa Conchal translated means Shell beach, and the resort is named so for the millions of sea shells that make up its orangey sandy beach.
We were offered a welcome mojito from the lobby bar (including a non alcoholic one for my son) while the formalities of the check in process was completed at the SPG Gold counter. We were offered free internet as the SPG Gold amenity under the “open web browser / click accept to pay / deduct charges at check out” method. We later learned that the 250 gold amenity point bonus also credited to our account along with free internet. The check in process took approximately 30 minutes, not super speedy but it probably felt longer since it was about 9 PM at that point and we hadn’t had a proper dinner other than the usual United Abuy on board items.
When we arrived it was on the tick of 9:30 PM. Having flown most of the afternoon and evening, we were hoping for some dinner at the buffet. Thankfully the resort offers 24 hr all inclusive room service, and the menu is almost identical to what you’d see at a paid Westin property in the Americas. The room service was free, with no tray or delivery fee and took about 45 minutes to arrive. I had a club sandwich, my son had spagetti, and my wife a turkey burger.
The Room: A Deluxe Junior Suite with 2 Queens
We were then transferred to a smaller open air cart for the transfer to the room. On check in, the front desk told us that as an SPG Gold, they had put us an SPG preferred building “36”, which was more conveniently located near the pool and most of the restaurants. The building itself was not marked as SPG building but had a really useful glass enclosed balcony, similarly featured to the ones you see near Senior Citizen’s homes near you. Most of the other units did not have the enclosed balcony. This area proved to be a great area to hang out and have a glass of wine after I had put my son to sleep for the night as it was partially air conditioned, bug and (for the most part) insect free save a few ants that passed through, and separated from the main part of the room by a double layered curtain. I saw these units only on building 36 (8 units per building – 4 per floor) so it definitely wasn’t a standard feature. I’d recommend requesting one of these enclosed balconies if they were available if you were traveling with kids in the same room.
Westin was a bit sneaky in their advertising of the Queen Beds. They were pretty tiny – more like Twin’s and my wife and I felt like we were back in our twenties and sleeping together in a single bed.
The washroom areas were large and ample sized; perfect for families.
The enclosed balcony area provided an additional air conditioned area that sleeping or relaxing could occur. The balcony areas were separated from the room only by curtains, which was just enough space and separation. This was great for putting kids to bed while the parents needed extra space.
The room itself was comfortable, had extended cable / Sattelites TV (70+ channels) and a mini bar with cokes, domestic beers and 4 waters restocked daily.
If I was travelling again with family, I’d probably put junior on the fold out couch and myself and the wife in a king. For this trip, we had booked two queens to avoid the pull out couch situation.
We participated in Make a Green choice on 4 nights and took an additional 500 SPG’s a night (or alternately a $5 credit for spa since food and beverages was already included). It turns out I needed to manually follow up several times after the fact to get these points to post.
Around the Playa Conchal Resort:
The resort itself occupies a large beach front area that is anchored by golf courses. This makes for a spacious stay experience, since everything is quite (nicely) spread out.
The main pool was large and well featured. As with many other resorts, there was a kids club, and many activities (aqua fit, basket weaving) planned near the pool throughout the day.
The Westin Property overall was really good, if not excellent. Whomever is managing the resort has done an excellent job training the staff. So much so that we were on a first name basis with many of them by the end of our holiday. With the staff being Spanish, I also found that they, as hosts, were exceptionally accommodating of children in all occasions, making them feel welcomed and listened too – even if my son didn’t speak perfect Spanish.
For those interested in the layout of the resort, the resort is organized like this.
Food and Beverage in an All Inclusive Westin:
The Westin Playa Conchal is an all inclusive resort. I was a little suspicious about an all inclusive Starwood / Marriott property but the resort actually did a good job at the all inclusive part of the experience.
The included food was of much higher quality than I expected. My last all inclusive experience (in my twenties) consisted of mass hysteria at soggy and tired looking buffets, watered down liquor in small cups and stacks of twenty something foreigners behaving badly. I’m happy to say that the Westin did not fit into this stereo type.
During our Playa Conchal visit, there were 6 restaurants, of which the buffet was open only for breakfast and lunch only. Dinner was at themed table service restaurants (Italian, Mediterranian, Asian, French and Latin American).
The restaurants were small and limited in size, making for a more pleasant dining experience with only 12-15 tables per restaurant. While it would have been easy for Westin to cheap out and serve all it’s guests at the buffet for dinner, it kept the atmosphere pleasant by having more exclusivity by serving at the plated dinner tables. We certainly did not expect to be eating Truffle Oil Risotto, Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Mushrooms or Salmon Carpaccio with Lemonette Drizzle with no additional upcharges on our nightly dinners.
The plated meals were more than I initially expected. The quality of food was much better than I had experienced at other all inclusive resorts.
My Thoughts on the Westin Playa Conchal:
The Westin Playa Conchal is an intriguing resort. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and it’s among one of the only all inclusive in the Marriott / Starwood portfolio. The rooms are a good size, although a little bit dated. The property is nice and quiet.
What surprised me the most was the quality of food made available to all inclusive guests. They’ve clearly invested some money here, in addition to training their staff, which I felt were better than average.
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to look at these related posts that explore other aspects of the Westin Playa Conchal by taking a look into these areas:
- The Westin Playa Conchal Beach Area and Playa Brasilito
- Ziplining “The Congo Line” in Guanacaste, Costa Rica