Let me start by saying that Costa Rica is a beautiful place. It is not, however an easy place to get around. My wife and I travelled to San Jose quite easily from the States.The bus from the resort was there to greet us at the airport. Being a typical impatient American, I was ready to start my Costa Rican adventure. Unfortunately, getting anywhere in Costa Rica requires time and patience. We were immediately swept up and taken to Peace Lodge in La Paz. This took about an hour.
The peace lodge is far within the rain forest. The owners have created a magnificent nature preserve there. We went through the butterfly preserve, which was nice but I found their monkey, panther, puma, sloth, exotic frogs, and toucan exhibit far more interesting. The most fascinating exhibit is the hummingbird grounds. One can actually feed the hummingbirds by hand! To give a perspective, later in the trip we were talking with another couple about their experiences in the country. They said that they were able to take pictures of monkeys and toucans off in the distance with their high powered camera. My wife and I didn't have the heart to tell them that I had fed a wild monkey by hand and held a toucan on my arm at the Peace Lodge. The rooms at the Peace lodge were created to fit in with the landscape. When touring this place, my only thought was that I wish my kids could see this. I was truly sad to get back on the bus and steal away from this beautiful place.
We then travelled to The Springs Resort. The resort is nearest to the town of La Fortuna at the base of the Arenal volcano. The resort is strategically placed on a mountain ridge adjacent to the volcano. The rooms all have eight foot windows to allow full view of the Arenal volcano. We arrived after dark and were sped to our rooms by the staff in a golf cart. I later realized that this was necessary because the resort is built into the side of a mountain. When I awoke in the morning and opened the curtains of our room, I was taken aback at the view. I have seen many beautiful vistas in my life, but wow, there was a real life huge smoking volcano! Of course my first question to the locals was "Is that thing gonna blow?". I was assured that it had not had any activity since 1967.
Now that we had cleared that up, we started our first day. After a hike up to the main pavilion, (which is 5 stories) to the restaraunt. I finally made it to the 4th floor for breakfast. Breakfast is a buffet. Let me qualify my review... I hate buffets. Most are just piles of poorly cooked meat, runny eggs, stale bread, old fruit, and greasy potatoes passed off as hash browns. I was pleasantly surprised. There is an omelet bar (which I didn't trust at first but later found to be quite good) lox and bagels (fresh), full fruit bar, etc, etc,... We were then whisked off by bus to the river. The resort has a pavilion placed at the base of its mountain ridge by the Arenal river. The pavilion also has a rock climbing tower, full bar, access to the artesian springs, horseback riding, toucan reserve, and three toed sloth reserve. Our first morning in the pavilion was spent doing yoga. I am not necessarily a big yoga guy but I must say that I was rather limber after the hour long session. The instructor taught me how to squeeze out my liver (being an MD back home, I was skeptical) nontheless it was quite tranquil.
The next three days were filled with repelling, kayaking, zip lining, horse backed riding, ATVing, tubing, climbing, karaoking, monkey sliding, artesian springing, etc, etc,.... I must say that four days spent at the Spring resort seemed much longer. I truly feel that this was the most relaxing and rejuvinating vacation that I have had in a long time. Let me say that if you wish to experience Costa Rica, it is worth it to spend it at The Springs resort. The food is great, the staff is wonderful (we were on a first name basis the first day), the excursions are fabulous, and the facilities are as nice as I have ever experienced.
From a cynical and jaded world traveler.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A world class luxury resort featuring spectacular Hot Springs, picture perfect views of the Arenal Volcano from every guest room and four restaurants including our famous Ginger Sushi Bar and Las Ventanas fine dining. Enjoy our 18 mineral-laden, artesian hot springs and our 14,000 square foot Spa and Fitness Center. On our exclusive 165 acre rain forest and riverfront property we offer horseback riding, river activities, ATV and hiking tours. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Springs Resort And Spa At Arenal Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
- The Springs Hotel
- The Springs Resort And Spa Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park