I mentioned earlier this week that we’re just back from an eight day Costa Rican vacation. While it was my second visit, it was the first for the rest of our group so we chose to stay at a couple of different hotels so as to experience different areas of the country. Our first stop was the Andaz Papagayo outside of Liberia and as I mentioned, overall we had a nice time.
Our next stop was The Springs Resort just outside of La Fortuna. La Fortuna is located near the Arenal volcano and almost every room of the resort has a volcano view. The resort also has several hot springs as part of their facilities. In fact, it is possible to get a pass to spend several hours at the resort enjoying the springs without actually staying there.
We ended up getting a 3 bedroom villa which allowed us to cut the per room cost to a more reasonable level. In the end, it was about $315 per night, inclusive of taxes per room. That’s still a lot pricier than we’d like, but we offset this three night cost by splitting the bill between my husband and my Arrival cards, making this stay free.
While there we enjoyed the poolside bar and one of the restaurants for dinner. I think there was only one couple there with us for dinner so the low season had definitely started. The food was pretty good albeit more expensive than we’d normally choose. In fact, it ended up being a much better deal for us to get room service so one of the subsequent nights, we ate in the room. We also got breakfast one morning which was quite reasonable by normal room service standards.
In general, the rooms were fantastic. The views were amazing, the service was wonderful, and they were very accommodating bringing us a cot for our daughter allowing us all to sleep in comfort. And the hot water in the shower was great.
In addition to the on site hot springs, there is a whole adventure portion of the hotel (most of it for an additional fee). They have a small reserve for rescued animals which the kids loved (and is free). But we didn’t try any of the other Club Rio activities, despite the great selection to choose from
In general, while The Springs Resort was more than what we’d normally spend on a hotel, it was a great choice for us given the plethora of activities, quality of facilities, and the ability to decrease the cost by reserving a three bedroom villa.
After three great nights at The Springs, we moved onto the Tulemar Bungalows and Villas in Manuel Antonio. Unfortunately, our first impression here wasn’t as great. To set the stage, this hotel is ranked very highly by Trip Advisor and is even ranked 2nd in the world for family hotels. So, our expectations may have been higher than they should have been.
We again stayed at a three bedroom villa which again was perfect for our group. In terms of the villa, we had no complaints. We loved the layout, the kitchen was modern, the hot tub was great, and the showers were heavenly. The only complaint about the villa itself was that there was no power in flushing the toilet. So, we had more than one clog (although we realized that subsequent clogs could be mitigated by holding the flush button down for an extended period).
Unfortunately, that’s where the great first impression ended. Despite indicating otherwise, the personal assistant wasn’t really only for us. He was in charge of several other guests as well. In fact, he asked if we’d like to take 15 minutes to freshen up and then he’d be back to take us to the beach (on-site). So, 20 minutes later and no ride, we called and they said it would be another 5 minutes so we decided to walk. Straight down a mountain. With two young kids. While being passed by two hotel vans who could have picked us up. And by our personal assistant with another couple in the back.
Needless to say, we weren’t impressed. And when you have a bad first experience, it’s hard to shake that. Like I said, the villa was wonderful. But the service did leave a lot to be desired. Another example is that they couldn’t serve us dessert at lunch even though we could get what we wanted for dessert at dinner. It really didn’t make much sense to us…
We were there for two nights and very much enjoyed the rooms and activities in and around Manuel Antonio. We just were not impressed with the service. And before we knew it, we were off to San Jose for one last night.
The airport hotel we chose was the Holiday Inn Express. It had received great reviews and we would have to agree with them all. The hotel was very convenient to the airport, next to a casino and a few restaurants, and most importantly, it was clean. We were there for about 14 hours so other than that, I don’t have much to say, but we’d definitely stay there again.
And the next thing we knew, our wonderful vacation had come to an end. In general, our hotels all were great choices for our extended group. And I cannot wait to go back to Costa Rica. I found something magical about the country and hope that it’s not another 12 years before I get back!
As a recap, we covered our hotel costs as follows:
- Andaz Papagayo (2 nights): 15,000 Hyatt Points per night – 30,000 Points in total
- The Springs Resort (3 nights): $944 total, $472 in Barclay Arrival Points x 2
- Tulemar Bungalows (2 nights): $514.80, $515 in Captial One Venture points
- Holiday Inn Express (1 night): 15,000 IHG Points
In short, our hotel expenses were covered in full. Yippee! Now food and excursion costs were another story… I’ll be writing about those next!