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.)
- 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