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“Everything you could hope for and more” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula

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Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Osa Peninsula, Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica   |  
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Green Season Values 2015
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Cabo Matapalo
GreenLeadersGold level
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Everything you could hope for and more”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2013

We loved our stay at Lapa Rios--it was the final place we went to in Costa Rica and the perfect way to end the trip, staying in one place a little longer. The staff is--as we found everywhere we went--extraordinary. I don't know if it's just the good tourist places, but everywhere we went in Costa Rica the people were great at what they do, warm & helpful, and also present in a very personal and human way. No one was a role, everyone was a person.

The place is entirely beautiful--overlooking a huge view of the Gulf from some rooms, from others you look into the trees (which had spider monkeys feasting in them every morning in our case). The food is really amazingly good and there's a good set of choices, with vegetarian, fish, etc always on offer. The JUICES are not to be missed. I wish I'd tried more of them than I did.

The bungalows are not super fancy but are very roomy and peaceful and very nice. (It would probably look a little fancier during the season the mosquito nets are hung--but then, of course, it would be mosquito season...) There's a great reading light over the beds, double sinks with lots of counter, beautiful wooden floors, bamboo (renewable) furniture that's both beautiful and comfortable, very pretty hanging fixtures. When you come back from dinner, you find they've left two candles lit for you and some small surprise on the bedstand, different each night.

There are great touches everywhere--the spigot outside the door for washing off shoes and feet before going into the room is something we used every day, for instance. Also the big white hammock and lounge chairs and outside shower on our private deck. (Note: of the THREE showers, only one has hot water--but it's there, and in the sinks as well, a combination of solar and gas if needed.) Other people told me the rainforest sounds would be so loud we wouldn't sleep the first night, but I (a poor sleeper) actually loved being awakened when the howler monkeys gotreally loud, listening, and falling back to sleep. Same with the crickets, spider monkeys, and frogs. Lapa Rios is as much an auditory treasure place as a visual one.

The bungalows spill down the hill. We were in one of the two highest ones, out in front of the front gate. Upside: no climbing to get to the restaurant or reception area. Downside: any vehicle that arrived went past our room. Some people really want these bungalows, for the convenience, and the GREAT chance to see monkeys. If we go back, we'd opt for one of the lower down ones next time.

This place is for the fit, be aware. Quite a few people in the lower bungalows said their calves were aching just going up and down to their rooms, and you can't reserve a specific bungalow in advance of arrival. Plus, what you'll likely want to do while there is take the guided hikes or do the sports things (a couple spoke highly of the surfing lessons and zip line, but we mostly hiked and bird watched). The pool area though is lovely, and someone drops by at just the right frequency to see if you might want a cool drink, alcoholic or not. The pool is just big enough to swim in some; it's fairly warm, but there's a cooler big shower head right by it. Surprisngly few guests seem to do what we did--every afternoon went all the way down to the beach to swim in the Gulf. That was magical--it is warm and blue and the "safe beach" below the hotel is just that--no riptides, and places where the rocky bottom is relatively rounded. If you want, there's a time the hotel will arrange to give you a lift back up. We always walked though, and it was fun, one of the few chances to run into local people and say Olla!

Concern for being green is major at Lapa Rios. They do presentations on it, and a tour of their sustainable facilities. Off the main property, pigs eat food scraps from both Lapa Rios and other local resorts, and they use the output for cooking methane. The food is local and organic as much as possible. This is a place that tries to change the culture around it for the better--they built the local school, and support both it and others on the Osa Peninsula. They hire locally, and train their staff up. When you take a guided hike, you learn ecology, not only the names of things.

If you're wondering about who the other guests might be, it was a full range--from a man who repairs wheelchairs for a living to retired professionals to a family where the children and spouses were celebrating with their parent's their 40th anniversary. Everyone was warmly friendly, and any place like this is self-selected for basically kindred souls.

The Wild Waterfall hike by the way is huge fun, ending with a swim--it's a good thing one doesn't have to choose only one, but I'd say, don't miss this one. Or birding with Ferdnando at early light or late afternoon. We did both--and saw 42 species. The hotel has a huge supply of rubber Wellies for the few times of year you might need them to go out walking, and a nature bungalow with a good supply of guide books in it. A laminated set of ID photos for animals and birds is in every room. They'll make you a sandwich to go for lunch, and an early breakfast if you have to leave early to make your flight home.

One of the nicest luxuries is the morning coffee or tea service: they will set thermoses outside your door early in the morning if you ask for it, so you can watch things from your deck with coffee and hot milk and sugar in hand, before going to breakfast. We loved that.

Lapa Rios is a refuge not only for animals and birds but for magical time, and a place where you can feel good about what you support by coming. Even the regional Sansa airline had proudly printed on the plane's body: "Carbon-neutral airline."

Support the planet, hear and see things you've never heard or seen, watch sheet lightning under an almost full moon, see a firefly come to the screen of a thatch roofed hut (with recycled plastic under the thatch, so as not to deforest for the leaves), eat great food, meet splendid people both staff and guests... You leave changed, in your ears and eyes and heart and understanding. (And if you've hiked enough, not too much in your waistline.)

Room Tip: Know what you want--but be prepared to take what you're given. If it's really unsuitable for...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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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471 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    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 (172)
Date | Rating
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English first
Montclair, New Jersey
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2013

We just got back from our stay at Lapa Rios and I cannot say enough about EVERYTHING they do there. My husband and I took our 7 year old daughter and we had the most amazing experience. The "hotel" itself is absolutely beautiful with all of the bungalows offering postcard quality views of the rainforest, ocean and wildlife. We were originally in cabin #10 and it was a bit of a hike to the common areas but they quickly moved us once a closer room became available (though even the hike from cabin 10 was enjoyable with many scenic seating areas and fresh water available to stop and rest if necessary). The staff went above and beyond at every opportunity and really seemed to genuinely want you to have the best experience during your time there - they felt more like new friends than staff. They offer a really nice variety of tours through the hotel and were able to connect us with a fabulous tour operator that we did a day long dolphin/scuba/wildlife sanctuary trip with (Chasing Tides - DEFINITELY recommend them as well). Our 2 favorite tours through Lapa Rios were the visit to the school they support (we played a fun game of baseball with the kids!) and the night walk (Edwin, the tour guide is superb!). The memories from our stay at Lapa Rios will last a lifetime. The facility, people, food, pool, views, guides -- the best of everything. I really cannot say enough. Worth every penny!

Room Tip: Rooms 1 and 2 are at the entrance and closer to the road and rooms 10+ are a bit of walk to the comm...
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rye Brook, New York
Level Contributor
25 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Certainly among the most extraordinary places we've been to in over fifty years.

Where to start?

A beautiful natural setting, superb service, and peerless meals relying heavily on local sources set this ecolodge above others. As well Lapa Rios provides excellent guides who explain the jungle ecosystem, its wildlife and plant diversity. They conduct small group walks throughout the day There's plenty to see and do or you can simply rest at the pool, but this is primarily a place to get out and walk about. Above and beyond the quality of this lodge, Lapa Rios is preserving a part of the adjacent jungle in perpetuity. Its guests have the option to visit and support the local grade school which the lodge helped to start. We were sorry to leave after five days. We could easily stayed much longer. Don't miss this place!!

Room Tip: If you're getting on in years, ask for a room closer to the lodge. Lapa Rios is for people who a...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
Ithaca, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

Lapa Rios is truly an extraordinary locale. It is the perfect mix of wilderness, comfort and care. It's an ecolodge in the truest and broadest sense--they work hard to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum, blend in appropriately with their surroundings, hire local staff, and contribute to the local community in numerous ways.

The facilities are beautifully designed. Our bungalow (#5--and most of the others) had a great view of the Pacific and Golfo Dulce. It was well maintained, nicely decorated and secluded, yet everything was within fairly easy reach. We even had a sloth hanging in a tree outside our deck the whole time we were there! There are steps to climb on the way from the bungalows to the lodge. I have problems with my knees so this was a bit of a challenge for me but it was manageable.

The atmosphere at Lapa Rios is warm and relaxing, striking just the right balance--everyone on the staff is professional, friendly and outgoing without being overbearing or pushy.

The lodge has numerous tours that are included for guests. We went on several and enjoyed each one tremendously. All the guides are knowledgeable, engaging, and enthusiastic about their work and also very caring towards their guests and the environment. It was terrific to explore the rainforest with all its wonders and surprises with guides who really knew their stuff.

The restaurant fits the style and environment very well. The food was really good and of high quality. The breakfast and the lunch menus provide enough (US) American fare, yet offer a good variety of Costa Rican dishes. The combination of traditional dishes with a modern twist is nicely balanced. We were able to explore new dishes, such as the tico breakfast and yucca fries. Dinners were also nicely done, with lots of fresh fish and a variety of choices.

Lapa Rios was a splurge for us, but with all meals and many tours included in the price, and given the high quality of our entire experience, we felt it was worth every penny we paid.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

I loved Lapa Rios! We had a beautiful casseeta and the view of the rainforest, birds, monkeys, and Pacific Ocean were exceptional. You could be as busy or relaxed as you want. There were always included activities of which to partake and the guides were excellent. I had come to see Scarlet Macaws in the wild and was not disappointed. I saw many and also toucans and many, many other beautiful birds as well, in addition to howler monkeys and other monkeys and other creatures too.. As soon as we came, the front desk staff told us the next day they would move our casseeta and that they would drive us for drop-off and pick-up until then. We were puzzled, until we found out what a steep walk it was to our caseeta, number 10. We really appreciated their courtesy and they also drove us to the beach when we wanted and picked us up.. We are both 66 and the walks would have been taxing if it weren't for their graciousness. Lapa Rios is really nature at its best combined with true luxury.

Room Tip: Room one was close and had a beautiful view. If you are young and physically fit, you might not min...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Key West, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2013

We visited Lapa Rios for 8 days in December 2012. We've stayed at many places around the world and while this was one of the most expensive it was worth every penny (and then some). We'll definitely return. Here's why:

Accommodations: perfect - comfortable, clean, private, quiet, in excellent condition. With a private garden shower and deck overlooking the Golfo Dulce where we could relax and watch dozens of monkeys and tropical birds eating fruit and nuts out of the trees all around our cabana, it just doesn't get any better than this.

Staff: awesome. At every level, the staff members were friendly and helpful and enhance the overall hospitality experience by sharing their knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm. We felt like we were among friends the entire time and found it difficult to say "goodbye."

Location: amazing - 1,000 acres of protected primary and secondary rainforest where the mountains meet the sea in a remote area with very little development. The variety of animal and plant life, diversity of natural wonders and the constantly changing sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest throughout the day is magical.

Activities: diverse. In fact, there's so much to do that it's just about impossible to do everything in a week - either guided or independently. From a variety of rainforest hikes and bird watching adventures to beach and tide-pool walks, trips to nearby areas and water excursions, spa treatments, interacting with local artisans and merchants, relaxing by the crystal clear (non-chlorinated) pool, learning about the community and sustainability efforts, or just enjoying "being" in the most beautiful place on earth - there's something for everyone.

Food: unbelievably good. The restaurant offers a wide variety of healthy, delicious, colorful local gourmet food options for all meals and snacks. Whatever your tastes - from carnivore to vegan - they have it covered. We had nearly everything on the menu (we didn't have time to try it all) and loved it. The only downside - everything since then seems dull by comparison. For drinks - a variety of natural fruit juices and other soft drinks is always available as well as delicious Costa Rican coffee, Imperial (and other) beer and a full bar service.

Hospitality: the best ever. Everything at Lapa Rios is designed to help guests experience and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The integration of the different operational units is seamless and everyone who works there seems to truly love being there and hosting their visitors. Even when we had a minor but urgent medical issue, the staff took care of everything so that we could get the help we needed - even accompanying us for the day to act as a guide and interpreter when necessary. The trip became a fun sight-seeing adventure which even included a boat ride across the Gulf that turned into an impromptu dolphin watching trip!

Eco-friendliness and sustainability: unsurpassed. There is a clear commitment to the ideals of "reduce, reuse, refuse, rethink and recycle." Nothing is wasted and everything is kept as "natural" as possible in the balance of sustainability and affordability. Energy is used sparling, natural product use is encouraged, interaction with the community is facilitated and an appreciation and respect for the planet is fostered. They incorporate conservation and education into everything they do. One reason the cost of staying at Lapa Rios is higher than at other resorts it that they invest heavily in the local community by hiring locally, supporting the local schools, protecting the environment and supporting local merchants and artisans rather than relying on cheaper ways to do business. This place is a model of community-business integration.

The wildlife: simply incredible. We checked off everything on our list that we wanted to see - and much, much more. Monkeys, sloths, coati, dolphins and other mammals, macaws, toucans, curassows, raptors and many dozens of other birds, amphibians, reptiles, amazingly diverse insects (butterflies, ants, leaf bugs, etc.) and other arthropods (terrestrial and aquatic), echinoderms, mollusks - we could produce a small field guide with our photos. Much of the wildlife was seen up-close and personal right from our cabana deck!

The little things: make all the difference. They provide everything you need for your stay. Guests are greeted when arriving and after each excursion with a refreshing fruit beverage. All travel and transfers (arriving and leaving) were effortless - we always had a shady place to wait and never carried a bag. The miles of trails are well-maintained with a "natural" look and feel in harmony with the environment. Even the night security personnel (there for guest comfort - not out of necessity) share in hospitality - one pointed out a kinkajou eating in a tree while we were out walking at night. Everyone seemed genuinely glad we were there and sad to see us leave - that makes for a very memorable vacation!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cayuga S, Manager at Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula, responded to this review, February 13, 2013
Dear Bill and Lisa,
Greetings from the sunny Osa Peninsula and Lapa Rios Eco Lodge. Wow. We wanted to thank you for your most incredible review. You said it all. You left us speechless. I am tempted to take our website offline and just leave your review. It is a perfect interpretation of the Lapa Rios experience. Thanks again. We hope your review inspires many others to visit us this year and we certainly hope to have you back at Lapa Rios or another property of the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges.
Saludos,
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston
Level Contributor
130 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2013

I'd have rated this as excellent but for a few items - our queen bed could have been more comfortable as both my spouse and I woke up with back aches (we shared the bungalow with our two adult children who found their single beds comfortable); the hike options were pretty similar and geared for medium ability hikers (it was a slow pace with plenty of stops but one should consider the temperatures and humidity before attempting much faster pacing); access to the stony beach involves a long walk (there may be better sand beaches further afield but don't expect easy access to beaches similar to the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica). Food was generally good and the staff were generally attentive and willing to please us as guests. The price is all inclusive though there is a request with tip envelopes for personnel not involved with food or bar service. This seemed more like a cruise line request than an eco-lodge philosophy. The "twigs and pigs" tour provided background on how Lapa Rios attempts to adhere to ecologically sound management of the facility. We spent four nights here but three would be satisfactory unless you intend to use the lodge for other activities within short drives to access the Osa peninsula. This was a memorable place but having been there once there is not enough to bring me back until I visit other areas of Costa Rica. (This trip included stays outside of San Jose and in the Manuel Antonio area prior to our arrival at Lapa Rios.). The air flight on from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez was fabulous on Sansa, great vistas including seeing lots of frolicking Dolphins in the Dolce Gulf!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula

Address: Osa Peninsula, Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Cabo Matapalo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Cabo Matapalo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in a 1000-acre private nature reserve in Central America's last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Ecolodge overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean, a destination matching everyone's idea of paradise. Much more than a luxurious eco lodge, Lapa Rios is a model ecotourism project and a sustainable tourism pioneer. Over the years, we have received many awards for social and environmental excellence. Home to a plethora of incredible wildlife, including monkeys, scarlet macaws, pumas, toucans, tree frogs and thousands of other creatures, a trip to Lapa Rios Eco lodges Ecolodges will be the experience of a lifetime. Lapa Rios is one of only 24 National Geographic Unique Eco Lodges of the World ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Lapa Rios Ecolodge Hotel Playa Matapalo

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