Holiday review by R and Y Smith
Name: R and Y Smith
Date of trip: 03/04/2019
Number of people: 2
The animals, sights and sounds at different locations were all good but watching and hearing scarlet macaws flying past our room at Lapa Rios was special, as was being alongside a toucan feeding high up on their observation deck.
The arrangements were great and everything went to plan. Their staff were friendly and helpful and the drivers they used for transfers were good.
Rory's suggestions turned out to be just what we wanted and we thoroughly enjoyed the different locations and activities he suggested and booked for us.
The guides and drivers were all excellent. In particular, Edwin at Lapa Rios was great company, friendly and extremely knowledgeable.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
All hotels and activities provided local employment but the ones with the most committed staff were Lapa Rios and Arenas Del Mar.
The places you stayed
Efficient check in early evening and our superior room was spacious and clean with a large desk and sofa. The bed and pillows were extremely comfortable, the shower and the toiletries provided were fine. The room proved extremely quiet and we slept well. The fresh fruit, cereals and waffles we ate for breakfast were good as were the pancakes and maple syrup. There was a large selection of other food which we did not sample but I think it would cater for all tastes. If you have time the to spare the terrace on the top floor with a swimming pool and large, comfortable seats including easy chairs and loungers was a good place to be. We had a wait for our transport until mid-morning and it was cool and breezy up there.
Manuel Antonio & the south Pacific
Great helpful staff and buggies everywhere to help you get around the steep site. As far as the room goes, on the positive side the air con was good helped by the ceiling fan, the bed was large and comfortable as were the pillows and there were good bedside lights for reading. A couple of negative points were that the wardrobe seemed small for the two people the room accommodated and though the shower room was large it did not have aircon or a magnifying mirror for shaving. In fact, the only mirror in the bedroom was on the back of the shower room door and the lighting in there was not particularly good. However, there was a great balcony overlooking the Pacific with a couple of seats and a table and a fridge containing complementary drinks and snacks - 3 free beers a day, 2 herbal drinks that tasted better than they looked and some packets of locally produced snacks. There was also a coffee machine, kettle coffee and four types of tea. The fridge is inside a locked cupboard to make it monkey proof. During our stay we were visited by white faces capuchins on balcony and woken by howlers at 5.30. In the restaurants the food was good but with no breakfast buffet just individual choices from the menu, if you have an early start, it’s best to pre-order the day before. For lunchtime food down at the beachside there was a good choice and for dinner in the evening there seemed to be less choice but the quality was good. The main restaurant near reception has a wonderful view over the bay at breakfast time but in the evening the plain walls and low ceiling height seem a bit stark. Water and towels are provided at both beaches and there are toilets at smaller one where the lower pool and restaurant are situated. The pool outside the main restaurant and bar has the same great view over the bay. As we were setting off for an early morning visit staff at reception offered us a reusable, filled water bottle to borrow.
You’ll never be bored or hungry though you will be sticky!!
Pleasant welcome at the office just outside the airstrip with a welcome drink and biscuit. The drive to the resort was not as bumpy as I expected and there was a friendly welcome at reception with the offer of lunch straight away or an orientation tour of the facilities and our room. We decided to eat first and then take the tour and be shown our room. which was 2, located on the road in just before you get to the main building with reception and the dining room. It had great views over the top of tree canopy to the Pacific and only a slope to the main area not the steps that others had to contend with. It was a large room with insect screens not windows so it did get sticky without air con but two queen sized beds beneath fans were comfortable as were the pillows. It also had good mosquito nets around the bed in case you felt you needed them. Our room had a large deck with sun loungers, chairs, table and a hammock. The outside shower was wonderful with butterflies and humming birds to watch as you washed - which was frequently in the humid heat. Throughout the resort there was drinkable water from taps provided by their own spring. All the staff we met were friendly, helpful and seem committed to the ethos of the resort. The guides were really knowledgeable and informative and we had enjoyable early morning and evening walks seeing many birds. Also highly recommended is the medicinal plant walk where Edwin, who took us, was good company and his knowledge was fantastic which made for a really interesting walk through the rain forest. We saw three types of monkeys within the first few minutes all within 20 metres of each other and the fourth species later in the walk. When we climbed the spiral steps to the observation tower we were lucky enough to see a toucan eating close by, spider monkeys and scarlet macaws flying from a neighbouring tree. You’ll probably find yourself keeping different hours - early awakening by the howler monkeys so early to bed. The early morning drinks order is left outside your door at 6.00. Great quality food is included in the price and there are long hours for each meal because of various tours. Which tours are free is clearly explained and there’s a list on a board in reception but others can be undertaken for an extra charge, There’s a wifi hut with a couple of tables and some chairs that has a high speed connection but it’s only available there. Lots of animals and birds around the resort. Water freely available around at various locations. A couple of negative comments from guests we met were the number of steps from other rooms up to the pool, bar and dining area and no shower caps so, if you don’t always want to wash your hair in the frequent showers that are necessary, remember to bring one yourself.
As my husband said, you have to re-calibrate your expectations, and accept that standards are going to be different. It maybe the best in the area and has air con in bedrooms but it is not luxury. The staff who greeted us on arrival at the landing strip and hotel landing dock, including the owner Roberto were pleasant, friendly and helpful. The hotel is set out like old colonial rest houses with bungalows in 3 groups of 4 in grounds connected to reception and restaurant by covered walkways. Hexagonal slab paving from walkway to our room was a trip hazard with loose and uneven slabs. The room itself was large with good air con and two queen size beds though it was quite dark because you’re forced to keep the curtains closed most of the time as other people walk right past the windows on their way to and from their bungalows. Voile or net curtains could help matters here. A coffee machine with good coffee was welcome and the fridge in room was stocked with water and beer at a cost that seemed reasonable by hotel minibar standards. The lighting was dim for reading or writing unless you were lying on the bed but the overhead light there was good. No aircon in shower and toilet area makes it very uncomfortable to get ready when it’s hot and the floor tiles were slippery with wet feet. It was odd that they have notices asking you not to waste water but with no plug in wash basin it forces you to keep the tap running when washing your face unless you want to end up with soap in your eyes. There was no hot water in the wash basin and the available light for shaving or putting on any make up was very poor. The outside shower area was very run down and we didn’t bother to use it as it with the enclosed walls, there was no breeze and it was even hotter than indoor one. There is no private outside space, only a seat outside the from door. Some food was good but there was not enough salad or fresh vegetables and what vegetables there were seemed frozen and over cooked. Most people only seem to stay a few nights but the menu could become very repetitive for longer stays. Tap water was provided at meals but if you want a cocktail beforehand, they seemed to taste synthetic, not a patch on Caribbean Island ones and were expensive and not worth it. Service at mealtimes could be slow if more than a few people were there.
Included animal and bird watching tours by boat were good good but would have been better with a much earlier than 8.30 start when the animals are active and the temperature is relatively low. Danilo who drove boat was great at spotting animals and Luis was a good guide. We must say thanks to the other passengers for their sharp eyes too. The visit to Tortuguera village was too long. After a visit to the beach where turtles lay eggs in season, it seemed to be a payoff to village shop owners to drop tourists in their midst for an hour in the hope they’d spend. There was not much worth buying and every member of the group we were with was back at landing stage early. If any of the other nearby lodges or hotels introduce Aircon in the bedrooms you may want to look at those for comparison.