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“El Silencio is Golden ...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of El Silencio Lodge & Spa

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El Silencio Lodge & Spa
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Valverde Vega, Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel website
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bajos del Toro
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“El Silencio is Golden ...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2009

From the moment you arrive, you are immediately immersed in the foothills of the rain forest, with its cooler temps and cloud covered mountains, which makes for a very tranquil setting. The uniqueness of El Silencio is that they have their own organic farm from which they prepare three very delicious meals from daily, included in your room rate. Another feature was the private hot tubs on your platform deck, which is the perfect way to end the evening after a delicious, gourmet meal. The fireplaces in the room are also wonderful and much needed on the cooler nights. A nice touch, too, was the inclusive mini'bar, which was fully stocked each day and complimentary.

Our eco guide, Andre, was superb, in taking us on the propertey´s trail, Mistico Mountain, and showing us the water falls on the property, as well as educating us about the flora and fauna. I had an amazing yoga session at the spa, which is adjacent to the creek, with the sound of the water in the background was truly special. I would highly recommend the couples massage in the specially designed conical room, too, which was one of the better massages I have had in a long time. Do take a day trip to Tabacon Springs in the ARenal area, and if you are lucky to get a good driver, like we had, Hernon, we did a side trip around the volcano area and saw our first Toucan, as well as monkies and iguanas. As they say in Costa Rica, "Pura Vida .... Good Life!¨"

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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329 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (94)
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  • English first
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English first
New Yor,k, NY
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2009

My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon at El Silencio. We spent 3 days in their beautiful "villas" tucked in the cloud forest north of San Jose. The service at this resort is unmatched by any place we've ever been. We had daily flower petals spelling out messages, plush bath robes and slippers, a private jacuzzi, hot chocolate and fresh baked cookies every afternoon, amazing walks to waterfalls nearby, and the most relaxing spa experience possible. We ate great food, slept, read, planted a tree, and definitely re-energized after our destination wedding in Nicaragua. We loved this place, and can't wait to return.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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New York, NY
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2009

El Silencio Lodge & Spa is a first class destination in Costa Rica! We've been coming to Costa Rica for 5 years as a Winter break from NYC. We always try to stay in different areas of this lovely country to see and experience different things. We stayed in El Silencio last year (2008) just after it opened. I think we were probably some of the first guests to make reservations. We stayed in it's sister property, Punta Islita, the year prior (2007). We were so impressed with Punta Islita that we knew El Silencio would be top notch. We were not disappointed! In fact...we think it's better than Punta Islita! We returned again this year (2009) and were some of the first returning guests. We were greeted like old friends from the moment our car door was opened by our personal Eco-Concierge. It was immediately like "being home again." All the familiar, friendly faces from our last stay and they remembered us and what we liked.

El Silencio is the perfect place to come for a restorative and relaxing vacation, secluded in nature. There are no TV's in the cabins and internet ues is even discouraged. Don't come here expecting a tan, although we've had perfectly sunny days here. This is the cloud forrest area only 1.5 hours outside of San Jose. The weather is unpredictable, but generally mild, sometimes over cast, and sometimes damp (bring a warm pull-over and a few pair of long pants). But that's part of the charm. It's a "go with the flow" kind of place. No set agenda for each day. You can take it at your own pace, but feel assured it will all happen with excellent service in a casual, but elegant, atmosphere. We find that 3-4 days is perfect here. It's also an easy long weekend get-away because of it's close proximity to San Jose (SJO). As long drives in Costa Rica are always discouraging, this one is only 1.5 hours and very tolerable. Only the last few miles are on a rough road...the rest if fully paved and, on a good day, it has picture perfect views of the central valley area with many coffee and sugar cane plantations along the way.

Items of note @ El Silencio:
Private Deluxe Cabins - only 16 on the property! The most comfortable KING sized bed I've ever slept in with a zillion thread count sheets. Each has a gas fireplace and a private, outdoor jacuzzi filled with local spring water that is returned to the on-site river after you depart. The bathroom is all stone and tile with high-end products. Turn-down service each evening is an event!
3 fantastic and thoughtfully prepared meals a day with lots of healthy and vegetarian choices. We picked our salad from the organic garden and had it for lunch that day. The Trout was caught in a nearby river. Talk about eating local and fresh!
Solitude in Nature - There are safe and well cut trails through the almost 400 acres of property. A guided nature walk it part of your experience with your Eco-Concierge as your guide. Ours took us on a trail by 3 pristine waterfalls and we drank water from a spring coming out of a rock on the side of the trail. Walking sticks provided at the lodge...not essential...but charming!
Casual, but elegant, atmosphere - You can wear whatever you like to the lodge located on the river. It's almost all glass and is breath-taking! We enjoyed every meal and also came down to read a book by the 2 wood-burning fireplaces. They even made a special table for us by the fireplace when the guests were fewer in the restaurant.
Excellent spa facilities - We've been to a lot of spas in our travels in Costa Rica. This is one of the best! All sorts of services rendered by the nicest staff we've ever met.
Yoga studio available for private or class use located in the forrest with a stream running under it! Perfect setting!
Service you won't believe! We feel like we're on a cruise ship the entire time were on the property. We don't leave because of it! The staff is the product here...everything is "Con mucho Gusto!"
Eco-responsibility - They have done everything right! From construction to maintenance, they don't miss a beat. We even had a tree planting ceremony!
Social responsibility - They employ approx. 80% of the local village, Los Bajos. They send them to their sister property, Punta Islita, for intense training. Customer services is job #1 here!

All I can say it , "GO, GO, GO!" It's an experience not to be missed in Costa Rica by the discerning traveller. The price is worth every bit of it! We'll be back again with family and friends...many time!

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2008

Sorry to advise that we did not make it to the property so we cannot tell you about it. We can tell you however, about the way El Silencio treats its customers when there is a "small " problem.

We had a booking to the famous #17 over the Thanksgiving weekend, but we had several "small" surprises.

When we arrived late afternoon from FLL we were met by a driver that was arranged to pick us up to go to El Silencio, about 90 minutes drive from the airport. After we loaded the luggage and sat in the car ready to go the driver told us that there is a "small " problem. The problem is that we cannot go to El Silencio because the road was swept away by floods. However, we can go to an alternative location on the beach. We live in Miami & Cleveland , have plenty of beach no mountains and were looking forward to a mountain vacation.

Since it was getting late and we had no desire to stay in San Jose we decided to go to the beach. Surprise two was that it was almost 6 hour trip ( usually 4.5 hours but the road was full of slow moving trucks). Also, the car was OK for 90 minute drive, it was quite difficult to sit in there for 6 hours sometimes driving on long streches of unpaved road.

Surprise 3 was that now we paid $240 each way for the trip instead of $120. El Silencio refused to cover the difference.

The substitute hotel was great ( Surprise! it is owned by the same company as El Silencio) the staff was most helpful and food was great. The only thing was that we have the beach most of the year and we felt that we should be at least compensated for the difference in travel costs.

The way we were fed the information, the fact that El Silencio management did not contact us prior to our arrival and basically left a driver to take care of this problem will prevent us to try again anytime soon.

We are definitely coming back to this wonderful country, just not to El Silencio while this management is in place.

Stayed November 2008, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this review, December 9, 2008
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you experienced during your recent visit to El Silencio Lodge & Spa. I have read your comments thoroughly because we appreciate any opportunity to improve our services, including how we handle emergency situations.

Your visit coincided with a weather system that brought extreme rain levels and subsequent flooding to many areas in Costa Rica and Panama. Although the region surrounding El Silencio did not bear the brunt of the devastation, we had to endure unprecedented storms. Our main facilities were thankfully spared, but the access road was compromised. The late cancellation of your reservation was due to force majeure.

We sincerely attempted to provide you the best alternative extraordinary circumstances. This included extending the three daily meal ammenity that is offered at El Silencio but not at Hotel Punta Islita, our "big sister" property. I am glad to learn that your stay at the latter was enjoyable, although I understand it was not the mountain environment you originally sought.

Overall, I fully sympathize with the situation and want to clarify that the cancellation was due to an act of nature that frankly caught us off guard.

I thank you for your kind words regarding our staff at Hotel Punta Islita, but especially for the wonderful things you said about Costa Rica!

Warm regards,

Maria Barquero
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
90 helpful votes 90 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2008

Wow... This place was 1st class all the way! The entire staff comes out to meet you when you arrive and see you off when you leave. We stayed in villa #17 by request based on a suggestion by another TA poster. Good suggestion! This villa is on the river on the trail that goes to the spa and is more private and secluded than all the other villas. In our villa spelled out in flowers on the mat was "happy honeymoon". How nice! The villa is just beautiful with everything in natural materials and little touches of real flowers and fern leaves on everything. It has a great porch, the hot tub is spectacular, and a mini-fridge full of complimentary snacks and drinks.

SERVICE: Other included services that we found really special are the guided hike to the waterfalls and the tree planting ceremony. Our Eco-Concierge was really great. He took us on the hike and told us all about the local plants, birds, and other animals. He also did some special little things for us like having a platter of local caramels and candies on the hot tub when we came back from the spa. After our hike in the rain they took our clothes and boots and washed them and dried them for us! How nice! The tree planting ceremony was unique with the Master Gardener blessing the tree and thanking it for producing oxygen to offset the carbon dioxide we produce. Give our Oak tree some love if you stay in villa #17, it is planted by the trail to the spa with the tag Kristi & Troy. All of the staff especially the wait staff were very accommodating and very nice. We always left our server a great tip because they really deserved it. You can also put a sign on your door knob which requests the turn down service which included new flowers on the bed and our fire place being lit.

FOOD: The food was phenomenal! All organic and included with the price of your room. We enjoyed every meal we had there very much. No red meat but you won't miss it, promise. During our hike we were showed the garden and were told the Master Gardener graduated from Earth University and is employed to help fight bugs and worms naturally without poison.

SPA: By far the best spa we had ever been to! You HAVE to request the conical room!!! It sits right on the river and has a pane of glass that goes up the wall and across the roof so you can also hear the rain hitting the glass as well as the river. Amazing! The first day we had the Meditation Duet. Best massage I've ever had! And the sugar scrub was nice and you showered outside to wash off before the massage. We enjoyed ourselves so much that when it rained all day the next day we decided to use the discount we got after our first service to go back and have a hot stone massage. Another wonderful spa experience. The service was top notch.

Overall, we had a great time just relaxing and taking advantage of all there was to do at this beautiful hotel. If we could have stayed more than 2 nights we would have taken some of the day trips. The only downside was that we did not see any wildlife besides hummingbirds. Maybe because it rained on and off most of our stay? That is hardly a complaint though! But I can say this place is great for just relaxing and enjoying the company of your loved one. I would not recommend this place for children of any age. It is very romantic and serene. Great honeymoon location!!! Highly recommended...

  • Liked — Quality, Service, Romance, Spa
  • Disliked — Not much wildlife viewing
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2008

Driving from San Jose airport to the Lodge gave us a wonderful taster of the landscape in which we were about to stay for a week. El Silencio is settled in idyllic surroundings and is a really special place if you're looking for a quiet break in an ecologically sound environment. No detail is spared, from using bits of tree branch to make the faucets for the hot tub to planting mosquito-repellent plants around the suites, and the staff is proud to tell you about how they built, maintain and are expanding the property with every thought for the land. The staff really are exceptional - sweet, thoughtful and worldly with pretty good English.
There are trips available, but we only went out once as we enjoyed the many acres of land, the several waterfalls and the hummingbirds on the property so much. I highly recommend Arenal and the Tabacon Hot Springs.
I also recommend doing yoga in the outdoor studio. It was very reasonably priced and very special.
As vegetarians we could not have been more pleased with the food but non-veggies we spoke to were also very happy.
The Lodge is not pricey when you consider three big healthy meals are included along with drinks and snacks replaced daily in your fridge, and the suite is wonderfully comfortable and well done. We got lucky - suite 12. Oh, and it is all exactly as it looks in their pictures - how refreshing!

  • Liked — comfort and attention to detail
  • Disliked — fridge in the room
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2008

We spent a full week at El Silencio in celebration of our First Wedding Anniversary, and we highly recommend it.

Our suite was cozy. We visited during the "green season" (read: rainy season) but did not mind the frequent sprinkles and occasional downpours (usually in late afternoon). In fact, the rain and accompanying clouds at eye level when viewed from the leather-backed rocking chairs on our suite's porch lent a decidedly ethereal atmosphere to the landscape.

The restaurant was one of the highlights. El Silencio's imaginative chef, Marco, who trained in San Francisco, fuses Asian and Indian influences onto a foundation of typical Costa Rican fare that results in fresh, beautiful dishes nearly always adorned by a spicy, edible nasturtium blossom. Marco proudly and enthusiastically takes every opportunity to educate guests about his fusion cuisine and the organic garden from which he derives about 30% of his ingredients. The restaurant offers expansive dining windows: three hours at breakfast, three at lunch and two for dinner. Don't expect great variety in the meat department, but no matter: the means of preparation are so varied, the ingredients so fresh, the free-range chicken so tender, we never tired of the selection. The wine list is not extensive but offers some interesting Chilean and Argentine selections, which proved to be good values. The wait staff is very friendly and considerate (on our anniversary, they set up a secluded table for two by one of the stone fireplaces) and, regardless of your language skills, we recommend engaging them in conversation. Martin was our favorite; he never seemed to tire of explaining the dishes and offering cultural context to the meals and drinks we selected.

I'm not much for spa treatments, but we were impressed by El Silencio's spa. The building is well-isolated, open and airy, with a quasi-Asian decor. We opted for the tandem Swedish massages combined with hot stone treatments, and later my wife enjoyed the Costa Rican mud massage.

Our one disappointment was the lack of established activities. The eco-concierge program is a work in progress. Ours was very friendly, but when we wanted to visit the famous Arenal Volcano were told that the resort had not yet worked out an arrangement. Likewise the organic cacao plantation at Tirimbina Reserva Biologica but, when pressed, our eco-concierge arranged for a driver to take us to the plantation (which was worth the trip, and cost). Granted, the resort was in operation all of seven months when we visited, but one would think the activities would have been established before the resort opened.

Below are a few recommendations that we offer prospective guests and El Silencio's management based on our experience. We urge readers to base their decision on whether to visit El Silencio on the above, not on the few glitches we highlight below. El Silencio is a unique, special, truly wonderful place to visit, and we have been recommending it to friends ever since.

For guests:

The recommended attire is "cozy casual"--perfectly appropriate and comfortable, but the restaurant is nice enough that we found ourselves wanting to dress up (just a little--chinos rather than jeans for instance) at dinner.

Don't waste valuable luggage space on an umbrella; suites are furnished with golf umbrellas for walking the grounds and ponchos for hiking. But do pack a pair of slippers; the stone bathroom floors were frigid, and while the bathrobes were thick and soft, they do not come with slippers.

All of the suites enjoy privacy, but request one on the periphery for maximum seclusion (ours was Suite #1, high and off to the left side, the one pictured on their website).

El Silencio really is a resort for adults. Take seriously their age restriction (we were surprised toward the end of our stay to see a family arrive with a toddler). Everything about the place spells peaceful relaxation. Even older children—unless they are very serious about nature—could be bored.

Speaking of nature, if you are interested in birds, as are we and so many who visit Costa Rica, buy a copy of Garrigues & Dean’s The Birds of Costa Rica ($20 on Amazon, $40 in-country) and pay close attention to the elevation ranges contained in the descriptions. You will see a discrete set of species that will help you round out your life list with birds that you will not find at Costa Rica’s lower elevations.

If it's mammals you seek, El Silencio has very few. We thought we heard Howler Monkeys, but sightings of Howlers and Spider Monkeys are rare on the resort property.

For El Silencio:

Our one major suggestion: information, information, information. Most upscale resorts assemble a folder or binder of information and place it in each guestroom. Likewise, for the spa and restaurant. The spa menu lacks descriptions of each treatment. The restaurant menu and wine list are great, but a listing of soft drinks and cocktails would be helpful (we didn't discover until halfway through our stay, for example, that the wait staff will happily blend fresh fruit into juice drinks, at no extra charge).

Keep developing new activities and training your eco-concierges. Presumably most El Silencio guests visit mostly to relax and not be as active as they might be were they to visit busier resorts, but during a weeklong stay we certainly expected to engage in some activities besides spa treatments and hiking the resort’s grounds. We didn't know, for instance, that there is a national park (Parque Nacional Del Agua Juan Castro Blanco) nearby until we walked into the village and encountered a very helpful gentleman who told us about it.

Relocate, or lower the ringer volume on, the spa's telephone--a seemingly very minor point, but it is audible and distracts spa patrons from truly relaxing and escaping civilization.

One more, very minor suggestion: vary the restaurant's music a little. The music is fine and perfectly fitting for the setting, but it seemed as if there is only one CD mix playing continuously (we had to laugh when we heard the Latin-inspired acoustic version of "Stairway to Heaven" twice during one dinner when the CD looped around).

  • Liked — Setting, accommodations & food
  • Disliked — Lack of established off-site activities
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Silencio Lodge & Spa

Address: Valverde Vega, Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Bajos del Toro
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bajos del Toro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — El Silencio Lodge & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Silencio Lodge & Spa is a planet-friendly luxury hotel in Costa Rica. Set in the cloud forest mountains of the central volcanic region, it combines upscale comforts with an intense natural immersion experience. Features farm-to-table cuisine, a wellness spa, an adventure park, and many authentic cultural experiences to enjoy the best of luxury Costa Rica. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Silencio Hotel Bajos Del Toro
El Silencio Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/Bajos Del Toro

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