Which is the best hotel on the stunning Peninsula Papagayo, the Four Seasons Costa Rica or the Andaz? Both are 5-star resorts and offer a dream package of facilities, first class accommodation, and impeccable service but how do you choose between them?
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The location for both hotels is the same so there is nothing to choose between here! They are both located in the beautiful gated community of Peninsula Papagayo. The Peninsula is also home to private residences, a private club, a marina, a host of restaurants both in the resorts themselves and several independent too, the 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, a nature center, an adventure tour company, and many, many idyllic tropical beaches. The Peninsula lies in the northwest province of Guanacaste on the unspoiled Western Coast of Costa Rica.
The Four Seasons oozes relaxed style and luxury, with the usual very high finishes, impressive architecture, huge open lobby, and beautiful restaurants that will have your Instagram groaning. But it’s more than that here. The exotic Costa Rican flair just shines through everywhere. I love how you enjoy both the familiar Four Seasons luxury while also loving all the native touches. The décor calms and relaxes you from your initial welcome at the lobby as you sink into their comfortable sofas and check into paradise. The rooms themselves are a beautiful sea of calming neutral shades with natural materials again reminding you where you are and the public spaces are mainly left wide open to make the very most of the warm Costa Rican air and creating a lovely flow to the resort.
The Andaz is also proudly Costa Rican but with a more playful, trendy vibe that sets it apart from the Four Seasons. You get your first taste of the charm that is the Andaz Resort Costa Rica when you pull up outside the main reception. Your attention is torn between your first glimpse of the ocean and the fabulous bright purple VW Camper Van that proudly welcomes you. The ocean wins but not before you smile at the pure fun of this place. Heading towards the check-in space, tree-lined infinity pools flank your path and you reach an epic curved roof-topped open lobby with panoramic ocean views. The resort is designed by iconic Costa Rican architect Ronald Zürcher, who is currently designing a collection of luxury Residences for the resort as well as a tremendous renovation of one of the restaurants. The guest rooms are equally gorgeous, with natural colors and materials used throughout, but the uplifting burst of color continued with some fabulous wooden lizards on the wall that don’t let you forget that you are in beautiful Costa Rica.
Both hotels truly reflect the style and heart of Costa Rica, and both are beautiful inside and out, the Four Seasons is more luxurious, whereas the Andaz is more funky, the personal choice entirely; I loved them both!
The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica has four buildings that hold 120 guest bedrooms, which are located right in the heart of the resort, steps from the pools, beaches, restaurants, and all the facilities. It’s pretty hard not to get an ocean view here but the ground-floor Terraza Rooms do have more of a tropical forest aspect, though most definitely with an ocean peek! Higher up, you’ll find the Brisa Rooms and then on the top floor are the Cielo Rooms which offer fabulous ocean views. All the rooms are very spacious with equally huge and very private fully furnished terraces. Ours had both a dining table and a large L-shaped sofa, ideal for us all to spread out and lounge about with a pre-dinner drink admiring the Costa Rican sunset. The rooms are of course air-conditioned but one of my favorite things was that even with the doors closed and the air-con going, you can still very clearly hear the ocean! Your bathroom is of course, the full marble bathroom with two sinks, a separate bathtub and a walk-in shower that you expect at a Four Seasons hotel, wonderfully reassuring.
Take the path a little higher, and you come across the Canopy Suites, which seem to float above the dry jungle on their stilts. These benefit from being more private, many have their own plunge pools which of course take full advantage of the stunning ocean views, you are slightly further from the action but for some people, this is a huge plus. I think for a family, the rooms are perfect, for a couple, the suites would really work better as they offer more privacy and a more exclusive feeling.
The Andaz Resort Costa Rica has 153 spacious rooms (including 21 suites) and the resort manages to maintain a charming boutique feel, perhaps partly due to its hillside location, nothing feels too spread out or far apart. All the rooms have large furnished balconies, rainfall showers, and floor-to-ceiling windows. The usual facilities and amenities that you would expect are provided, plus some thoughtful extras too. There are complimentary his and hers hats, and complimentary flip flops in snazzy Andaz colors, and the mini-bar contains complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. The guest rooms are all the same size, but each change in category improves your view. I would absolutely recommend the Bay View rooms, this view is awe-inspiring and you simply need to be able to spend as much time as possible admiring it!
Upgrading to an Andaz Suite gives you the bonus of a stunning deep soaking tub (of course, with a view) or a plunge pool or, even better, both! The Andaz Suites, as well as being larger than the guest rooms, also have larger terraces; make sure you opt for the View option to maximize the wow factor of those panoramic ocean views. The Andaz Large Suite gives you more space still, and you can connect to a room too, so you have a two-bedroom suite, perfect for a traveling family.
The rooms and suites at both the Four Seasons and the Andaz are just stunning. The ocean view at the Andaz was better as you are higher up the hillside, so you can see further. I think the view from the suites at the Four Seasons would rival the Andaz though. The Four Seasons rooms are larger with a much larger terrace and had the edge in terms of luxury.
The swimming pools are one of the biggest differences between the two hotels. Both resorts have four pools, but it’s the style and how they fit into their surroundings that differ the most. The main pools at the Four Seasons are huge freeform pools, they are surrounded on all sides by loungers meaning you always have a front-row seat to the pools. The pools themselves are surrounded by palm trees giving them a tropical feel but with a lot of space, light, and a feeling of openness. The main pools at the Andaz are also freeform but with a totally different vibe. They have a breathtaking infinity view of the ocean and are overhanging with tropical plants, meaning you feel very much in the rainforest. They also have loungers but there are two rows facing the pool so a lot of the time we weren’t sitting right by the pool but it wouldn’t have been hard to get a front-row seat most days.
We loved both pools, the openness of the Four Seasons, and the actual day beds themselves were the utmost in luxury poolside living, however, the tropical vibe and the views at the Andaz are absolutely stunning!
The key difference between the beaches at the Four Seasons Costa Rica and the Andaz Costa Rica is really about location! At the Four Seasons, you have two sandy beaches which enclose the main pool areas. One of the bays is much calmer, and the more sheltered waters mean it’s perfect for water sports. In contrast, the other beach takes in beautiful views across to the Santa Rosa National Park and was our favorite spot to grab a lounger, really relax and soak up those views. The great thing is the beach was literally steps from our room, you could walk along the sand on the way to breakfast.
At the Andaz, there are two beaches near the resort itself. To reach them, you head down a wooden walkway and arrive on the beaches of Culebra Bay. The real treat, however, awaits a short boat ride away. Hop on board, and you are taken 10 minutes across the ocean to the Andaz Beach Club set upon Playa Nacascolo. This delightful space is the home of all those water sports. Under the trees are set many loungers and day beds, and there’s a kid’s playpark along with a huge selection of sand toys. When you’re worn out from all the activity, just recline back on a hammock and catch some rays! The Beach Club has a wonderful chilled vibe and is fully staffed too so you are served food and drink to your lounger from the Beach House restaurant, which is located here.
So amazing Costa Rican’ beaches at both hotels, we loved how close the Four Seasons beaches were and how much a part of our experience the beaches became, but the Andaz Beach Club is an absolute delight too!
5. Restaurants and Bars
The Four Seasons has four main restaurants, as well as a street food restaurant and a private tasting room. The range is impressive, with a lovely choice of different cuisines and atmospheres at the restaurants. Several of the main restaurants and bars are arranged along an attractive little strip perfectly positioned to take advantage of the poolside views. At night the pools are beautifully lit, and it really does make for cool, relaxing views, another excuse for an Instagram upload!
The ocean and those beaches can be found at either end of this strip thanks to the clever positioning of the resort to take advantage of both sides of the peninsula. An amazing breakfast is served at the spacious Bahia restaurant; return here during the day for lunch and in the evenings for a Latin American feast created in their wood-fired open kitchen. Next along is Añejo, a crudos and tapas bar open for all-day dining. We ate here the first night, and it served as the perfect welcome to the resort with some of the best poolside views and a creative menu. The final establishment along this charming little strip is Pesce, an Italian restaurant. This evening-only restaurant boasts a large indoor area and a beautiful patio with those views again, across both the ocean and the pools. We loved both the vibe and the cuisine here so much that we managed to squeeze in a return visit! Further afield, a sophisticated steak restaurant, Nemare can be found located on the golf course, and the Tennis Centre is home to the relaxed Palapita Tap House; the place to go for Costa Rican street food washed down with a local craft beer or two.
There are four excellent dining establishments at the Andaz Costa Rica. The main restaurant where breakfast is served is Latin American restaurant Rio Bhongo. The positioning of this restaurant is genius, you overlook three of the swimming pools and have stunning ocean views too. The breakfast is a very generous hot and cold buffet, the hot station has a great mix of classic and local dishes which changed a little each day so you could always try something new. We returned here for a delicious dinner too where the lights of the pool and the marina below give a relaxed romantic air while you tuck into a Latin American feast. Another evening we headed to the gorgeous Chao Pescao for a great combo of tapas and Latin-inspired cocktails, the place had a buzzing atmosphere, definitely thanks in part to the excellent live music. We couldn’t visit seafood-restaurant Ostra during our stay as this is the restaurant currently undergoing a transformation. Finally, the Beach House is super convenient when you’re at the Beach Club and fancy a locally-inspired taco or burger, you can be served right to your lounger or there’s a spacious open-air restaurant at the top of the Beach Club too.
Both the hotels have an excellent range of restaurants, and all the food was delectable. Four Seasons cuisine does have a reputation and it did live up to this. The addition of the Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons, which was in such stark contrast to all the other food we ate, was really welcomed too. But you absolutely can’t go wrong with either hotel where food is concerned, my dream Costa Rican feast would feature dishes from both hotels! A lovely plus point here is the relationship between the hotels is so positive and so strong that you can take advantage of the complimentary transfers within the Peninsula Papagayo and eat at the restaurants at the other hotel; I’d recommend trying them all!
These are both 5-star resorts, and the service is absolutely exemplary at both hotels. Both hotels offer golf buggies to take you around the resort. With the Andaz being located on the hillside, guests with little or tired legs may need this service more. We found the staff at both hotels to be really passionate and welcoming, honestly there’s nothing between the service levels, you’ll be totally spoilt at either! Our favourite thing, at both hotels, every exchange includes the Costa Rican refrain “Pura Vida” – meaning “Pure Life” and given as a wonderfully positive answer, greeting, parting by everyone you meet – we loved it!
Both hotels have excellent spas, and both incorporate their environment with ocean views, jungle surroundings, and the sounds of nature enveloping you during your treatments and practices.
The Four Seasons Spa has a full wellness program with a range of treatments, classes, and experiences that take place across their 18 lavish treatment rooms. At the Andaz, their Onda Spa is located across a collection of luxury huts set around jungle pathways, and this fully immerses the spa in the environment. It’s also located at the very top of the resort for the very best ocean views. Both spas are just divine, the ultimate in luxury is definitely the Four Seasons, but to really feel the relaxing benefits of your surroundings, the Andaz works perfectly.
While the Four Seasons perhaps does have the edge on luxury with those super convenient beaches, exceptional cuisine, and more luxurious rooms, this must all taken account of in the price. Yes, Four Seasons is gorgeous, but it is also considerably more expensive and Andaz does have the very fun vibe and that stunning beach club and is also an excellent hotel.
Honestly, both hotels are magical, and if you are able to stay at either, you will have a fantastic time. I would return to either in a heartbeat!
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