Andaz Papagayo Costa Rica

The Andaz brand from Hyatt is meant to be luxury with a playfulness, upscale but fun, well-equipped but laid-back. Their foray into Latin America is a good start, with the new Andaz Papagayo Peninsula Resort in northern Costa Rica getting high marks from our reviewer who was just there.

The Papagayo Peninsula is an upscale housing and resort area that’s close to the Liberia airport. This makes it much easier to get to and leave from than many of the coastal resorts where you have to fly into San Jose first. The rainy season here is not as long or rainy either, so while that means you give up some lushness, you gain more year-round sunshine.

This Andaz resort’s closest competition is the well-established Four Seasons. They compliment rather than compete though, this one going for a younger, more experiental crowd that is more interested in unique design elements and a place to play.

Fit people can get everywhere here by walking too, which is another difference from the spread-out layout of its more famous predecessor. There’s also a nice sense of place in the rooms.

The rooms have a minimalist style, but with natural, hand–crafted touches, such as artfully arranged weathered branches and stones above the headboard (made by a local women’s artist co–op), that keep the sharp–edge, knob–less furniture from looking too stark. Large Lather brand amenities stock the bathroom, and soft drinks and snacks in the minibar are free.

Andaz Costa Rica roomThe suites give you double the space, at more than 1,000 square feet, with large decks, walk-in closets, and large soaking tubs. The large suites add 50% more room on top of that.

The three restaurants here, which focus on different types of Latin American cuisine, are supported by a large bar with cocktails crafted with local ingredients and infusions. The spa uses plenty of local ingredients too and it’s situated at the top level with a view out to the ocean. There’s snorkeling, paddle boarding,, and kayaking from the two beaches and the pool areas are dazzling.

Costa Rica has long been known as a destination with very few chain hotels, most of those catering to conventioneers and golfers. This new Andaz Papagayo one seems like a chain hotel opening specifically designed for Costa Rica rather than a standard blueprint plopped down incongruously. If future upscale chain resort openings are this well-designed, it’ll be good news for the country and its visitors.

See our detailed review of Andaz Peninsula Papagayo resort.