Costa Rica is a country of dichotomies. On one hand, you have very modest homes, older vehicles, and people living what some might call a very simple life, and on the other you can find luxury hotel resorts up and down the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Today, I’ll review the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, a decidedly luxurious hotel in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.
W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal – Booking
The W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, which was a Category 8 hotel prior to Marriott’s recent move to dynamic pricing, is one of the more expensive hotels where you can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points at in Costa Rica.
With dynamic pricing now in play for Marriott, expect to pay something in the range of 70,000–100,000 points per night, depending on seasonality.
As we visited Costa Rica during the month of March, we were able to secure a room for 70,000 points per night. The cash rate during this stay would have exceeded US$700 per night, so I was happy to use my Bonvoy points above our current valuation of 0.9 cents per point to offset some significant costs.
It should be noted that there is a US$35 per night resort fee associated with all stays at the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal. This resort fee provides access to bike rentals, sporting equipment, yoga classes, and other wellness classes.
In addition to the points redemption, I used three Suite Night Award certificates in hopes of securing a nice suite for our stay. I was lucky enough to be confirmed for the Fantastic Ocean View Suite, complete with a plunge pool, which is an excellent use certificates that can be at times challenging to extract value from.
W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal – Location
Located near Puerto Viejo and Playa Conchal, the W is just over an hour’s drive away from the Liberia Guanacaste Airport (LIR), which is serviced by WestJet from Calgary and Toronto, as well as by Air Canada from Toronto and Montreal.
The hotel is itself is located on a large 2,300-acre biological reserve, where nature and luxurious living are perfectly balanced. It is not uncommon to find many luxurious homes on the reserve.
The W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal also shares its beautiful location with its sister hotel, the Westin Reserva Conchal, a mere 650 metres away if travelling along the beach.
While there are many beaches in Costa Rica, there are few finer than those of the Guanacaste Region – Playa Conchal chief amongst them. Here, you’ll find soft white sand and protected bays with small waves, perfect for families looking for an idyllic location to melt away the stresses of everyday life.
W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal – Check-in
Your first task in checking into the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal is to find it. After turning off from Highway 180, you will be met with a large gate and a security check-in, who will verify that you live in the reserve or that you have a reservation at either the W or the Westin.
We were at the gate for a few minutes while they verified our information, and were then were given a set of complicated instructions on how to reach the hotel.
You will be faced with up to four roundabouts depending on the route you take, but as you can see above, it’s quite a long way from the gate to the entrance of the hotel itself.
During your drive to the hotel, you are met with beautiful, well-kept landscapes, but what you quickly realize about half-way through the drive is: “I guess we’re going to eat a lot of meals at the hotel.”
When we pulled up, we were promptly greeted by bellhops, who quickly unloaded our vehicle and instructed us to head into the main building for check-in. Once the room was assigned, we would be whisked away to our suite.
Other than the long drive to the hotel from the main gate, check-in was a breeze.
Of note is that much of paper that you would expect to get from a hotel (activity information, restaurant information, etc.) was all done through QR codes that were available at the front desk and in your room. It’s unclear if this is a COVID-related measure or if it has been long embraced by Costa Rican hotels in an effort to be sustainable. My guess is that it’s the latter.
Due to the sheer size of the property, there are complementary electric golf carts zipping back and forth to get you between the different facilities of the resort.
We were in Building 3, which was in an ideal location as we had an excellent view of the ocean from our balcony. Furthermore, the employees of the W confirmed to me that Building 3 is the best building to be in due to its excellent vantage point.
W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal – Fantastic Ocean Suite
While the pictures and reviews of the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal are fantastic, nothing quite prepared me for the suite we were about to spend the next three nights in. The Fantastic Ocean Suite was in the top three suites that I have ever stayed in, checking all the boxes for a spectacular stay.
With over 1,400 square feet of bliss, the Fantastic Ocean Suite features a large living room, a foosball table, two large bathrooms, a walk-in closet, and a balcony to die for, which included our own personal plunge pool.
One thing I find about suites is that there is often an embarrassing amount of space that can feel under-utilized. This wasn’t the case with the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, as the suite was tastefully filled with a nice variety of seating and entertainment,
However, I will note that when we ordered room service, there was a lack of a proper dining table and chairs. We ended up eating on the foosball table, so it wasn’t unmanageable by any means.
The bedroom features a comfortable king-sized bed, accented by colourful pillows and flanked by a slotted wooden headboard. Connected to the bedroom is a large walk-in closet.
The Fantastic Ocean Suite comes with two bathrooms. The spacious primary bathroom features two sinks, while the secondary bathroom contains a single sink and a toilet.
In the primary bathroom, the shower features two rain shower heads to accommodate a his-and-her shower, as well as a wand. The water pressure was excellent, with a seemingly endless supply of hot water.
Access to the plunge pool is via a somewhat awkward step through the window. A window shade is available for more modest guests; however, the shade comes from the top of the window, so you are faced with the choice of being an exhibitionist and staring out at the beautiful view, or being conservative and having no view.
For the most part, we opted for the view, as we were mostly facing wilderness and not other buildings.
I should note that the plunge pool is unheated and is much cooler than the water in the main hotel pool, which is perfect on the hot days Costa Rica is known for during the dry season.
We spent a significant amount of time on the balcony due to the views and comfort of lying out on the patio loungers.
The room was excellent in almost every aspect, but the view was spectacular. I often found myself waking up in the morning and excitedly pulling back the curtains so that we could start the day with the breathtaking view of the ocean and the hotel grounds.
We could see numerous birds, monkeys, and other wildlife that we had never seen before, right from our balcony.
Air conditioning was plentiful, and most importantly quiet, leading to blissful sleeps after long days of swimming, eating, and napping – ideal elements for a perfect vacation.
W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal – Breakfast
Elite breakfast at Marriott properties can be somewhat hit-or-miss, especially during and coming out of the pandemic. However, the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal has decided to provide a very upscale and delicious breakfast as part of the elite benefits granted at the Platinum level and above.
The daily buffet breakfast is served at the Cocina de Mercado restaurant, just off the main lobby of the hotel. Upon being seated, you are invited to indulge on a smorgasbord of delicious breakfast delights, ranging from classic Costa Rican cuisine to breakfast foods suited to a western audience.
The buffet breakfast had an embarrassment of choice.
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What’s more is that the pastry items changed on a daily basis and always included an easily-pocketable “to go” sandwich, perfect to satisfy your mid-afternoon snack cravings.
Unfortunately, as the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal did not have a club lounge, there were no refreshments on offer through the day, making the sandwich a welcome and thoughtful option for those that are trying to keep costs to a minimum.
W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal – Other Facilities
The W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal boasts two main pools: the adults-only pool, known as the Wet Deck, and the family friendly pool, known as the Zona Azul Beach Club. Both pools provide food and drink service to your pool lounger, but the Wet Deck is a bit more sophisticated and open in its design.
The Zona Azul Beach Club it quite a distance from all of the hotel buildings and the main lobby, so most guests opt to take a quick golf cart to get to the area.
If you are willing to walk to the club, you will be treated to numerous wildlife sightings along the way, including iguanas, monkeys, exotic birds, and coati, a close relative to the North American racoon.
The walk takes just five minutes from the main lobby, and while beautiful, can be a bit of a trek when it is hot and humid.
One additional feature of the Zona Azul Beach Club is that it is immediately adjacent to Playa Conchal and home to some very enterprising ticos and ticas (Costa Rican men and women), who are very willing to provide you a series of affordable services that are not officially sanctioned by the hotel.
As an example, you can take a one-hour sunset horse ride on the beach for US$50 per person, which is a somewhat reasonable rate, especially in comparison to what a resort hotel might charge.
Additionally, there are three or four women on the beach who are willing to provide massages while you drift away to the idyllic sounds of the ocean waves slowly lapping at your feet – all for the low price of US$30 per hour.
We took advantage of these services, and found that they were both money and time well spent.
The W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal also has a fitness centre onsite, although I never had a chance to check it out amidst our busy schedule at the resort.
Lastly, at the time of our stay, there was a resort fee of US$35 per night. For whatever reason, I didn’t fight it this time and just sucked it up, though I regret not trying to claw some of that money back.
For what it’s worth, the W does a pretty good job of trying to give you activities to do in order to justify the cost. To get a sense of what kind of activities are available, see the below schedule of events that were ongoing during our stay.
We didn’t partake in any activities outside of the bike rentals and the coffee tasting. However, I’d recommend skipping the coffee tasting, as the folks hosting it didn’t have any real knowledge of coffee, so it felt like a waste of a half hour.
When I was searching for hotels in Costa Rica, there were quite a few beautiful properties available. After some exhaustive research, I came to the conclusion that the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal was the best option for our family, even thought the Westin next door offered an all-inclusive option for points redemptions.
Without a doubt, I’m 100% confident that we found the best hotel for our family’s needs. Not only was the hotel gorgeous, but everything about the experience was on-point. The staff were friendly and attentive, the food was exceptional, and the facilities and amenities were amongst the best I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
The W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal easily ranks in the top five hotels that I have had the pleasure of staying at, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is planning a trip to Costa Rica.