After reading about barking dogs (yep) and stale tortilla chips (!), I had to jump onto TripAdvisor to offer my thoughts on Xandari. I will make them brief but succinct. Xandari is the BEST place I have ever stayed ... when seeking the type of vacation that brought me to Costa Rica. If you're expecting a Ritz-Carlton pampering with super-posh bath products and deluxe accommodations, go to Hawaii or the Westin St. John. That's not why you are here.
The rooms are very unique and artsy. Memory foam mattress are great. Blinds that do not block out the 5am sunrise are somewhat of a drag. No AC? No worries. It's pretty nice at night. The noise? That was an issue on my first two of four nights with random barking dogs from outside the property. Costa Rica has many random roaming dogs ... not strays, I was told. The shower has no curtain but no worries ... it's private. The room we had was close enough to the main building where we got somewhat spotty but adequate WiFi; there is a hard-wired computer in the main building that is superfast and a media room with Sky satellite TV. No TV in the guest rooms ... but did you really come here so you could see Watchmen in Spanish from your bed when you could enjoy wine and fine food at very affordable prices from the Xandari restaurant with a priceless view of monkeys in trees, birds eating papaya from a tableside feeder and the entire Central Valley off in the distance?
The room we had (18) is one of two in a split villa. The wall is a bit thin but a buddy had the adjoining room. If we had loud neighbors that would have been an issue. The patio overlooks the Central Valley and there are plenty of birds and animals at sunrise to hear!
Our room was also across from a nice pool and jacuzzi -- a bonus. I didn't get to the affinity pool near the more private and more distant villas, and did not use the spa but it looks very nice. Why? Because there are about 4km of serious hiking trails on the property that include waterfalls, a garden where I planted a tree in honor of my girlfriend and I, a working chicken coop, a citrus orchard and an art studio.
The staff at the restaurant is not "stiff." They are trained to wine and dine Americans. Once I started speaking to them in colloquial Spanish they loosened up and we got great service.
Do I have "complaints"? Not really. There was a miscommunication regarding our arrival at the airport because of a flight delay out of our control and we had to take our chances with a local livery driver who ripped us off, we later learned. We had prepaid to Xandari our airport ride and I had to haggle a little bit to apply the prepaid fee to an excursion cost.
On one night we used the Xandari driver to take us three into Alajuela, a somewhat sleepy but very clean and friendly town five minutes down the hill from Xandari, for dinner. He charged us $20 USD. The cab ride back from the one bar we could locate (Bulevar) was a whopping $8 USD. The taxis are totally fine and I took one to the airport for $11.50.
Lastly, the excursion packages that Xandari is able to arrange through preffered providers were excellent and we were treated royally. We recommend Colinas del Poas ziplining, and Rios Tropicales for Pacuare River whitewater rafting (spend the $$ on a private van and guide -- they'll buy you breakfast, lunch and prepare a nice surprise at the end of the 18 mile trek and you need not deal with hotel drops in San Jose). Hike at Poas Volcano, and be sure to go to La Paz Waterfall Gardens for in-your-face birds, big cats, monkeys and more waterfall-filled hiking. All can be done from Xandari, making my busy four-day stay truly exceptional.
I will return. I do not care that I had to bring my own Aveda bath products taken from a recent stay at a hotel in the US as the homemade oatmeal soap and crummy shampoo/conditioner they offer is worse than a Ramada Inn. That's not why I was there.
Just get rid of the barking dogs, neighbors of Xandari. That's my only complaint.
Otherwise I can't wait to return to see my tree and enjoy more eco-minded experiences.
If you see privacy ask for a high-numbered villa but prepared for a long and somewhat dark nighttime...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.