Andaz Peninsula Papagayo and JW Marriott Guanacaste Are Both Fantastic Hotel Redemption Values
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Andaz Peninsula Papagayo and JW Marriott Guanacaste Are Both Fantastic Hotel Redemption Values

I had the pleasure of staying at both the Andaz and the JW Marriott resorts in Guanacaste during my visit last week to Costa Rica. For those seeking a great resort to get away from it all using hotel points, these are both great options.

First, the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo. Hyatt’s main Costa Rica resort sits in the remote area of Papagayo, in a quiet bay formed by a Peninsula. The hotel is contemporary and built to blend in with the surrounding scenery. It sits at some elevation from the bay, although has a path down to the beach. You will certainly see monkeys and iguanas on this path, on the beaches and in the trees at other spots around the hotel.

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There is a large iguana in the tree.

Guests are also treated to a remote beach a little further up the coast, accessible by a 15 minute free hotel operated speedboat ride. At either beach, you’ll have access to free kayaking, snorkelling and standup paddleboarding, although additional activities are extra.

In addition to the fantastic and remote location and neat exterior designs, all of the rooms are very contemporary with great views of the bay and neat showers leading to private balconies.

The food at the restaurants tasted good and is reasonably priced. Hyatt Globalists and their “guests of honor” get free breakfast that I found to be right up there with the best breakfasts that Hyatt offers (the new Hyatt Regency in Lisbon and the Park Hyatt in Paris, however, are still #1 and #2).

At 21,000 World of Hyatt points, the Andaz certainly presents real value.

The Andaz is not perfect though. I was given a room close to the main reception area, and noise emanating from a wedding on Friday night and from a separate event on Saturday afternoon caused the room to vibrate. Hotels, of course, have competing interest and are trying to maximize revenue, but in this case the events were incongruous with the resort setting and the guest experience. I think the noise would have been unpleasant under any circumstance, but was especially so after a 6-hour drive from Monteverde.

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Second, the JW Marriott Guanacaste.Marriott's flagship Costa Rica resort is much larger than the Andaz, further from the Liberia airport, and not contemporary, but rather Hacienda style. On the surface, it has more of the feeling on a large Caribbean resort, seeming less unique than the Andaz, and caters more to middle America patrons. It is a completely different setting, placed against an ocean beach (instead of a peninsula bay) and if the sound of crashing waves against a Pacific sunset is a requirement for your Costa Rica vacay, this is a better location.

It probably isn’t as easy to see monkeys at the JW Marriott as it is at the Andaz, but if you take an early morning bike ride with the free bikes over the barbed wire fence and around the area adjacent to the hotel, you will see them. I also saw large iguanas on premise and a large crab walking through the lobby.

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The JW Marriott also has Tamarindo, a happening town, a few minutes away with all sorts of food options, so unlike the Andaz you really aren’t stuck on campus for your meals. But I found the Asian fusion restaurant in the Marriott to be outstanding.

In addition to mountain biking, the JW Marriott presented more free activities, such as a fun mixology class (we made Guaro Sour), yoga and marshmellow roasting at sunset.

And, the staff at the JW Marriott was outstandingly friendly.

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At 36,000 or 37,000 Marriott points, the JW Marriott Guanacaste also presents real value.

The amount of points required at the Marriott is of course far more than the Hyatt. However, these are two completely different currencies. I still find valuable redemptions all over the Hyatt network, including redemptions at spectacular hotels in major Asian and European cities for 15,000 World of Hyatt points. But, Marriott points are easily to get and when I look at Marriott’s chart, I virtually never find a nice redemption for under 60,000 points. While I did stay at neat hotels in Montreal and Lisbon over the last year for 50,000 Marriott points, I just haven’t found anything that represents the redemption value of the JW Marriott Guanacaste in years.

Bottom line: If you are both Marriott and Hyatt-point heavy and looking for valuable redemptions, consider choosing the JW Marriott Guanacaste over the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo.

(All images ©

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to bank transparency and the climate crisis. Since co-founding BestCashCow in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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