The reservation process while seemingly common for Costa Rica was especially painful at Bahari Beach Bungalows. I arranged the dates with Johan rather simply via email. The next step was to fax payment information. This is where the difficulty began. The wrong fax number was provided on the reservation form sent to me. After repeated tries to fax the info, Johan told me the number printed on the form was incorrect, and provided a new number. So off to the fax machine again. Again after repeated attempts, I was told that the new number given me was incorrect. Finally, a third fax number and success. With the reservation, a 50% deposit was supposed to have been charged to my credit card; however, Johan “accidentally” took the full charge. Johan notified me of this and told me that it was difficult to credit a credit card and asked for my bank account info to make the refund. I was not interested in providing my bank account info, and told Johan to not worry about the overcharge – I would later come to regret not asking for my credit card to be refunded no matter how difficult that would be.
Arrived in the Matapalo Beach area around 2:30, so decided to go into Dominical to scope out some restaurants. Saw a few restaurants that we thought we would like to try during our 3 night stay at Bahari Beach Bungalows. Returned to the Bungalows at about 3:30.
We were welcomed by Alex and then Loki, and were shown to our tent. The tent is probably about 10 feet wide by 16 feet long, with 5 foot sidewalls and an 8-9 foot ridge height. The whole tent is on a raised platform and has a nicely tiled floor. There is a fly over the whole tent which provides some shade to the tent as well as allowing for some extra ventilation using roof screens in the tent roof. The bathroom is at the back of the tent in an attached structure. The bathroom is also nicely tiled, and provides a shower, wash basin in a large vanity, and a toilet. There was also a small refrigerator here.
Some things to be aware of: Because of using a septic system for sewage, they ask that you do not flush toilet paper. There is a waste basket by the toilet for soiled TP. Also the “king size” bed in the tent is just two twin beds pushed together with a noticeable break between the mattresses.
We were able to pull our car very near the tent to unload and move in, and “permanent” parking is only 75 feet away. We got settled in by about 4:30 and had put on our swim suits to go take a walk on what appeared to be a very nice beach area; however, it had just started to rain, so we decided to postpone that walk. I lay down to take a nap, while my spouse updated our vacation journal. ….as the rain continued, very hard at times, over the next 3 hours, we noticed that we were experiencing some leaks. In the bathroom we had a leak from the roof; while in the bedroom area, we had water seeping onto the floor of the tent from were the sidewall met the floor.
Hmmm, here we are in the rainforest and our tent has leaks. It is doubtful that this is a one time occurrence – we will probably experience the same thing the next night and the next. We decided this wasn’t a good situation and decided to bug out. We got packed up as quickly as possible and let Alex know that we were leaving due to the fact that our tent was leaking. I will be asking for a refund – we’ll see where we get with that.
Some additional notes:
• The beach did look very nice. I am disappointed that we didn’t get to explore it. For us, the long, relatively uninhabited beach was one of the main attractions to Bahari Beach Bungalows.
• Johan had provided the long/lat coordinates. They are: 9.322532,-83.966897. If you use these with Google maps, you will be able to see the roads needed to arrive at Bahari. There is no sign for Bahari on 34, so you need to know where the turn off is. Watch for signs indicating Matapalo. Johan also provided some written directions. With some “interpretation”, they are technically correct, but if I would have relied on them, as written, I don’t know if I would have found it.
• Though I don’t have details, I was told that the resort is changing hands. It seems that it had a relationship with Rafiki Safari Lodge, but now will be under the same ownership. Supposedly the name will be changing.
• Johan is no longer employed by Bahari.
• While $75 is an inexpensive night’s stay, in retrospect, I think this price is high for Bahari. On my same Costa Rica trip, we stayed at the Marriott Los Suenos (this is also where we retreated to after leaving Bahari) for $145 a night. Here we had A/C, a true king size bed, TV, telephone, access to Internet, on-site restaurants and bars, a huge pool, etc. Just made $75/ night seem overpriced, especially when you see rooms advertised in the Matapalo/Domincal area in the $30 range.
When we returned from our vacation, I contacted Bahari Beach Bungalows asking for a refund due to the unacceptable conditions. I was told that after I left that they checked the tent and that it was “absolutely dry”, but they would credit me for a future stay. Well, after implying that I was lying about the leaking tent, they should feel comfortable that I have no intention of returning.
I am disappointed that I had such a bad experience at Bahari Beach Bungalows, because its location appears to be on a very nice stretch of beach, though I never got to confirm that. While I could never recommend this “hotel”, due to their very questionable business practices, I wouldn’t try to deter someone who was intent on staying there. My advice would be to very cautious in dealing with them and to have a backup plan for other lodging in case of difficulties.
- Also Known As:
- Bahari Beach Bungalows Hotel Province Of Puntarenas
- Bahari Beach Hotel
- Hotel Bahari Beach
- Bahari Beach Bungalows Costa Rica/Playa Matapalo