Ok, here it is. Just print this out and it's all you'll need to have a good time at the Bahia Del Sol or in the Potrero or Flamingo area...
First, I'll say that we thought the hotel was awesome. No, it's not the W or the Four Seasons, but it's a really fabulous, intimate hotel, and it was everything we expected it to be. We would definitely stay there again and have already recommended it to our friends and family.
Now, I'll address some of the negative issues about the hotel that I've read here that surely caused some fear in me when I chose to stay here.
Problem #1 - That the staff will overcharge you if you book through them. Well, yeah....duh! They're providing you with a service. If you do your homework though, and don't rely on the hotel staff as your sole source for doing activities then you'll avoid all of this.
Problem #2 - Apparently the restaurant sucks, so we just never ate there, except for the free breakfasts which, admittedly were average. But, let's face it folks...it's free! Apparently it's expensive too. Yet, how would I know? I never spent a dime there.
Other quick things about the hotel:
- The rooms - We were very happy with our room. Big bathroom, safe, cable television, very effective A/C unit, and my girlfiriend was able to watch E! in English (some programs are in english), although I don't think I will be able to ever get the memory of listening to the True E! Hollywood Story of Beckham and Posh in English and Spanish.
- More on the rooms - One of the best things about this hotel is how it's really very small, and unless you stay in a suite your room is on the ground floor facing a huge jungle display out your windows. Honestly, we saw some other hotels around and were happy that ours was so unique, and not like an apartment where you're basically staying on a floor level with a balcony. We see that at home every day, and so we liked the layout.
- Apparently they have wireless throughout the hotel for fee if you bring your laptop
- They also have a computer in the gift shop that you can hop on quickly and they won't charge you for. If you want to stay for longer than 15 minutes or so they will charge you a pretty minimal amount.
- Drinks and cold towels for your face on arrival - it was minor, but a nice touch
- Drinks/Beverages at the hotel - We just had things charged to our room, but others we spoke to had gone to the store and brought their own liquor and beer. Maybe it will save you some money, but it seemed like a hassle to us.
Here are some good things to know:
If you go up the steep road in the town you'll find a bank with an ATM machine. You can use your ATM card here to get US Dollars or Colones.
Also, in Flamingo you'll find a little pharmacy (and it even has air conditioning). We didn't need anything from the pharmacy, but my girlfriend got all excited about the rack of English magazines.
You can walk along the beach from Flamingo to the hotel, but it's about a 20-30 minute walk. We did it once...and that was enough.
They're not easily flagged down from outside the hotel, but you can call them from your hotel room. Try calling a taxi company/driver and agree on a price over the phone. We got the name and card for a local driver and he picked us up from the hotel and took us to Tamarindo (about 30 minutes away) for about $30, which is a fair price. You can ask a driver for their card when you're in a nearby town (Flamingo, Brasilito or Tamarindo). Again, don't rely on the hotel and agree to a price.
There's one just down the road, within walking distance from the hotel. You can get bottled water or whatever you want here.
The hotel has bikes that you can take for free and go check out the nearby towns. The road is a little rough when first leaving the hotel but it gets better on the way to Flamingo. We took a morning ride one morning and went to the white sand beach in Flamingo. It's a pretty average distance and the beach is a nice reward when you get there. Then, on your way back you can catch a bite at Marie's in Flamingo.
We really loved this activity, because it's a good way to see a lot of different beaches, some very secluded, in just a short amount time. This was also our only exposure to monkeys. Plus, it's a pretty cool sensation to be hauling butt on a 4-wheeler on a wide stretch of beach with the waves crashing next to you. I don't get to do that in Dallas very often. We considered horseback riding, but honestly we were so happy we did the ATVs as we flew past our fellow tourists moving at a snail's pace. Just go over the the beach in Flamingo, and my new friend Julio should be sitting in the shade, next to his ATVs, on the main road in front of the yellow-colored Flamingo hotel. He charges $55 per person for a 2 hour tour. He only charged us $50, but he made me swear that I wouldn't tell anyone. Whoops!
Julio will also come pick you up and take you back to the Bahia Del Sol. For instance, we met him during our bike ride to Flamingo and called him that evening so he could pick us up in the morning.
We didn't really care too much about this, but part of the tour involved Julio taking us to Conchal, where there are a bunch of tents set up and locals sell their stuff. We stopped for a little bit and got what we needed. So, if you go on the ATV tour, then you can knock out two Toucans with one stone. Or, if you just want to do some shopping this is a good place to go.
Food (Where To Eat) -
Il Castillo (or The Castle)
This place is right across the street from the entrance of the Bahia Del Sol. It's a good, cheap option for when you want a snack, lunch or even a dinner but don't want to go far from the hotel. We ate here three times, once for dinner, once for lunch, and also just to snack. The place is a weird combination of bar, restaurant and bakery, and I still can't get the Tres Leches cake out of my mind.
In the town of Potrero and, and apparently easily reached by walking down the beach from the hotel. We thought about going but never actually made it. Others we talked to said the food was average, and inexpensive. The place is known for "ladies night" on Wednesdays.
The Golden Shrimp
I'm ambivalent about this place, although it's a great romantic dinner destination located right on the beach. On one hand, they will come to pick you up from the Bahia Del Sol for free and take you back after your dinner. The people there were also extremely nice. When we arrived in our car, for instance, the owner was standing there to shake our hands and take us to our seat. And they pay attention to the details such as giving flowers to the girls for their hair, having a guitar player come by your table to sing you a song (for a tip), there's a flame thrower girl that pops up on the beach (looking for tips), and they bring you a bowl of water after your dinner that you can dip your fingers in. My problem with this place is that I left the restaurant feeling that I sort of got ripped off. My bill wasn't outrageous or anything ($74 for 2 with wine), but we were unclear on how our bill was so much. And it wasn't worth trying to argue in broken Spanish with the waiter. So just make sure that you know how much things cost. Also, this place had a little bit of the Mexico-effect where you felt like everyone was trying to sell you something. There's the guitar guy, then the flame thrower girl, then a guy comes over to sell his paintings. And what are you gonna say? Nothing...you're a compassionate American and it wouldn't be prudent to be honest and tell the fella that you're not interested before he gets a chance to go through his whole speech. So, you sit there...pretending you're interested. Anyway, good place, but you've been warned.
Mar Y Sol
We tried our best to avoid this place in Flamingo, having read about it in almost every review and guidebook. Yet, everyone we talked to said we had to go. So, we went there our last night. As with the other places I've mentioned (notice the common theme here), the restaurant will transport you for free to and from the hotel. The food and service were excellent. And we had a nice conversation with our waiter who had just decided to move to Costa Rica from Arizona just two weeks earlier. As with almost every restaurant in this area, it's a patio area. And, despite being way up on a hilltop, I remember this restaurant being very hot. We ate fast and then checked out the lounge upstairs, which had much more of a breeze. One thing we figured out here, was that we could have just come here and eaten from their tapas menu ($3 per item) instead of going to actual restaurant below. The restaurant was very good, but if we knew we could have had a light snack that night, we would have probably opted for the tapas instead.
My girlfriend wanted to surf so we called a taxi and went over the Tamarindo one day. We didn't call ahead, just showed up and went to one of the various surfing schools looking for someone to give lessons, and found someone who helped us rent a board and gave us lessons for 2 hours ($31 per person).
Whew! Ok, so in summary the Bahia Del Sol = good place to stay, and we would definitely recommend this hotel for anyone considering going to this area of Costa Rica.
Hope this helps fellow travelers.....
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Bahia del Sol is located in Potrero Beach, a beautiful beach of warm tranquil waters on the Pacific Coast of Guanacaste. The Hotel offers the guests the quality of a 4 Star Beach Hotel with all the comforts, including Pool, Jacuzzi, and a Spa, framed in an impressive setting that includes tropical artistic gardens with centennial trees, a Tropical Garden with Native & Exotic plants , and an extensive beach front. The location is perfect for soaking in breathtaking views of the tranquil Potrero Bay, romantic long walks on the golden sands, basking in the rich sun and watching the spectacular sunsets of the Pacific Coast. With miles of uncrowded beaches, stunning coves and undiscovered inlets, Costa Rica's natural environment speaks to your soul. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bahia Del Sol Beach Front Hotel And Suites
- Bahia Del Sol Beach Front Hotel Playa Potrero
- Bahia Del Sol Beach Front Hotel & Suites Costa Rica/Playa Potrero