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“over hyped Eco resort” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Rancho Margot

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Rancho Margot
3.0 of 5 Ranch   |   3km beyond El Castillo | La Fortuna de San Carlos, El Castillo, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“over hyped Eco resort”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 8, 2012 via mobile

We are travelling around Costa Rica for 3 weeks. We had researched the Rancho Margot previously to travelling and loved the sound of what the Eco lodge stood for,so we booked 3 nights there with the expectation of being the highlight of the trip.However, we came away with mixed feelings.The positives are : The ranch is set in beautiful surroundings,with spacious wooden bungalows.
As part of the package you are given a tour around the ranch which is really informative. They do yoga twice a day, which we loved. The food was good but was very much the same at lunch and dinner.Now the negatives: our allocated bungalow looked beautiful initially ,however when the Windows and doors were shut there became a overwhelming smell of damp. Neither of us slept on the first night because the smell of damp from the mattress and bedding was so strong. We went to the reception first thing in the morning to move rooms. We were allocated a new bungalow, however found this to be the same.(luckily we had sleeping bags which we ended up sleeping in for the remainder of the stay.) we understand the challenge of the damp rain forest environment, however we did not expect to pay so much for substandard accomodation.The second thing that we both really struggled with was the fact they say they have a animal rescue centre, which being a animal lover I was really interested in. We were told on our first day about a monkey that they looked after, which we were welcome to visit.We were told that the monkey had got out of his enclosure , so was in a temporary cage until it was fixed. When we found the monkey it was in a small cage with no water. On visiting it for 2 days in a row and it still being there I started to raise my concerns with various staff.We were given numerous reasons, from being, it had escaped his main area so this was until it got fixed, to the monkey letting itself into the small cage,because it liked it there (instead of being in the large enclosure?) on numerous occasions we queried why it had no water. We were told that we must have visited when the water was in the process of being changed. At one stage we were told not to visit it. The location is sold as a working eco ranch and being self sustaining and caring for animals. They were due a inspection the day after we left ( star rating). We left with
the impression that despite being paying guests, we were tolerated but our views and
needs, came second priority to the ranch putting on a show for the inspection.

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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183 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (29)
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English first
Victoria, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2012

We spent two nights here and absolutely loved it! We are a family of three (two parents and an 8 year old boy) and there was something here for everyone. We stayed in one of the bungalows which was absolutely beautiful, surrounded by a veranda and lush gardens. It was wonderful to sway in the hamock, read and watch the birds fly by. The tour of the ranch led by Jose was very interesting, informative and even inspiring. We milked the cows and even fished in the pond. The yoga was also a hit, even with our son and the yoga "pavillion" is of course a beautiful location. The food was wonderful too and the shared dining room was great. We really enjoyed meeting the other guests and the very interesting volunteers/staff that work on the ranch. One of the great alluring features of this place is the sense of community that they seem to be fostering between the people who live and work on the ranch and the visitors, we greatly appreciated this friendly atomosphere for the fun and humour that it injected into our stay but we also enjoyed the exchange of ideas and dialogue that occured related to sustainabilty and other global issues. In our view, staying here, although it is a bit more expensive, places is well worth it!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2012

We were really excited about staying at Rancho Margot - having read winning reviews on Trip Advisor and a big write up in our guidebook (Rough Guide to Costa Rica) we were expecting great things.

Firstly the good points - the location is stunning, the bungalows are gorgeous and being able to sit on the veranda to your own lodge and be completely engulfed by wildlife was fantastic (hummingbirds everywhere, many other birds and one morning even a deer wandering through the undergrowth), the food was plentiful, healthy and delicious, the majority of the staff (except the lady on reception) were kind and very helpful, the grounds are gorgeous and you have free reign to wander around at will and the work that they're doing on the ranch was interesting and the ranch tour well worth doing (although we didn't believe it all).

Now on to the not so good aspects - the power repeatedly kept going off - the ranch is run on hydro-electric power which can go down if debris gets washed down stream and clogs it up but it seemed to us that the power was always down for large chunks in the middle of each day which was irritating when you have paid a substantial sum of money to stay there (particularly when we checked in we were told that the power didn't go down very often which turned out to feel like it was a bit of a lie - be sure to take a torch!). One day we went to try and use the hot pool (idyllic pool with gorgeous views out over the forested hillsides) only to find that the power was down and it was freezing cold. Maybe we didn't do enough research but the ranch is a lot more remote than we were expecting - we had looked on a map to see where it was, a short distance from La Fortuna, but what we hadn't realised was that you have to drive the long way around the volcano for a long distance down a dirt road to get to the lodge so without our own transport we were very cut off. The staff were very helpful with providing us with lifts to places but it meant we had to decide how long we wanted to stay somewhere so that we could arrange a time for them to come and pick us up again. If we hadn't been so remote then sorting out taxis so we could come and go as we pleased would have been more of an option. We also felt like we were constantly being pushed to go horse-riding and do their activities (we did the kayaking which was good and the guy that took us was good at pointing out the plentiful wildlife on the banks of the lake but it was overpriced for what we got).

All in all I would sum it up as gorgeous bungalows in a gorgeous setting but that the four days we spent there was two days too long and the price was very high for what we got.

Room Tip: We had a bungalow at the top of the hill which was a bit of a walk but meant that we felt secluded
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2012

I was in search of an eco hotel/ tourism and when I came upon their website. I was impressed but nothing like I was once I arrived on the ranch. I was lucky enough to catch a ride with the owner Juan from town, so I had a briefing before we arrived. The why, how, when ect... Nothing can prepare you for the beauty, serenity & bliss of this property. I am still reveling. The flora, the bungalows, shared areas all are amazing by themselves but what really blew me away was the sustainable food innovation & technologies they are using on the farm. The entire world needs to see & use these methods. RM is the definition of a true sustainable community. The staff is very knowledgeable & friendly. I have never had such amazing food. The yoga, horseback riding, massages, soccer field, Wednesday night salsa dancing.... I extended my stay and cant wait to go back with friends & family. I want the world to know about Rancho Margot.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
133 reviews 133 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
165 helpful votes 165 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2012

The first impression is not positive. In an incredibly poor design decision, the ranch located the horse stable directly beside the registration desk, bar, and restaurant making for immediate and continual odour issues. Also, on booking we were given the impression that it was more of a resort and drinks would be included, which they are not.

However, the room (a private luxurious cabin) and view were the best we have ever experienced. It truly is a great location, although quite isolated from the nearest towns and can get very monotonous unless one is doing day trips to Arenal.

Without being on the meal plan it would not be worth buying the food, which was pretty much the same every day - a buffet with few options. A nice restaurant on location is sorely needed.

The drinks were not only expensive, but from one bartender the worst we have been served in the world. A Pina Colada was served as just pineapple juice, a rum and coke were served as a glass of rum and ice plus a separate bottle of coke, and a margarita was served as tequila with lime, saturated with salt to the point of being noxious. As well, we were double charged for the same order.

Continuing on the service issue, the biggest problem with Rancho Margot is that it always feels like the paying guests are a lower priority than the staff. Much of the service is done by international student volunteers, who really only seem to be involved for their own free room and board, with little interest in providing any form of customer service (although the local staff were more reliable). Hotel stations were often completely unstaffed during operating hours, and hotel resources for guests were often monopolized by off-duty staff. Staff dinner is always before guest dinner, and strangely a staff party was held during the guests dinner hour where guests were made to feel intrusive.

We could recommend people try for one night to get the room and view experience, but no more due to the service. We won't be back.

Room Tip: The bungalos are beautiful. The bunkhouse would be dreadful for more than one night.
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palmer Lake, Colorado
Top Contributor
87 reviews 87 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2012

Quite, beautiful, secluded yet well appointed experience in an out-of-the-way corner of Lake Arenal, Costa Rica. We were camping so didn't get to see the lodges. The dining area was rustic but very comfortable - the food was GREAT! Great, friendly staff. The grounds were very spread out so you didn't get a crowded or rushed feeling. There are lots of paths and secluded amenities available to keep anyone feeling pampered and occupied. I enjoyed the walk through the garden and livestock area - pigs were great. Make sure you have transportation as it is a fair drive to La Fortuna or other off-site activities. They do offer tours but we didn't take any.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
Los Angeles
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2012

Rancho Margot was our most expensive stay while in Costa Rica, and though it's not cheap and it is a rough 30-40 minutes driving to it from La Fortuna (once you're here, you ain't leaving to go elsewhere), it was a pleasant and interesting stay for the hubster and me. Juan (the owner and mastermind) and his girlfriend Liz are nice and great host. They even threw a huge feast and fireworks for guest and staff on NYE's (who does that anymore?), complete with balloons, fireworks at 10 and midnight, and champagne. One thing you learn very quickly about Juan when you're here, he does everything big.

Though it's not inexpensive, keep in mind that it's all-inclusive, so three meals are provided. Fortunately, there was no complaints about the food (it was actually pretty good - loved the brick oven pizza, but just fruit for dessert) and the staff there was friendly and efficient. For the most part, the staff (including the INA students interning there) were great.
The bungalows are nice; basic cabins with a hammock, chairs, and table on the semi wrap around porch, but cute. Inside you'll find just a bed, table, and closet, not much else, but the point isn't to spend too much time in the room. The bunks are tiny and even more basic, but what do you expect when you're backpacking? Loved that the bungalows are remote and surrounded by greenery. Unfortunately, greenery comes with a lot of bugs, and we found those a lot in our room. So if you can't tolerate bugs, you shouldn't probably be staying here. Our bungalow was also about a 10-15 minute walk from everything else, which was a pain at times, especially in the dark.

We did love the farm made soap provided in the bathroom, as well as open air yoga (so tranquil and relaxing, yoga should always be this way - just wear bug repellant!). It felt like an Athleta catalogue. We really enjoyed the grounds, seeing all the flora and trees, and spent some time in the "hot" (more warm) cano negro fed pool. I never saw anyone in the cold pool. We did the ranch tour and hubby even woke up early one morning to milk the cows. We got lost a little one night trying to spy on the nocturnal pacas. Note, only few areas are lit at night, so bring a good flashlight. We never did take advantage of the orchid lounge or library on site (again, not kidding about Juan going big). We went horseback riding up to the mirador (the only day it rained) which was nice still despite the weather. If we stayed longer, might have done some of the other horseback riding excursions.

Overall, a very nice, unique experience. If your plan is to sightsee in La Fortuna, don't go here, it should be taken as an experience in itself (keeping in mind that it is very remote as well).

PS - Wifi at the activity center and parts of the dining area.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rancho Margot

Address: 3km beyond El Castillo | La Fortuna de San Carlos, El Castillo, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > El Castillo
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Specialty Lodging in El Castillo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Rancho Margot 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
ALL RESERVATIONS AT RANCHO MARGOT INCLUDE DAILY BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER FROM OUR CHEMICAL-FREE GARDENS. ADDITIONALLY, 2-HOUR GUIDED RANCH TOUR AND TWICE DAILY YOGA CLASSES ARE INCLUDED WITH EVERY OVERNIGHT STAY.On the hills of Rancho Margot, you will find our 17 deluxe bungalows. The Caño Negro river whisper will guide you to the most peaceful rest possible, only to wake up the next day with the loud call of the howler monkeys. Hidden in our botanical gardens are bungalows, equipped to house couples or families of up to 4 people. Each bungalow has its own terrace on which you may enjoy the incredible view while relaxing on your hammock with a great book. Bungalows feature Orthopedic mattresses and are available with two queen beds or one queen bed and two singles. Additional amenities include mosquito netting, rocking chair, table & chairs, and handmade soaps. Each bungalow is equipped with a private bathroom with shower.Our vision is to protect our sustainable rainforest facility but also to make it an educational playground for adults and children alike, where we can inspire a new generation of global citizens to continue ‘closing the circle.’Rancho Margot is a family enterprise where everyone is welcome. We’re living our dream, and we invite you to join us. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Rancho Margot Hotel Arenal Volcano National Park

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