Let me first start out by saying that I was a 'day tripper' and stayed at nearby Nayara this trip. We have enjoyed hot springs experiences before in Costa Rica, New Zealand, Iceland, multiple places in the US and Canada, etc. and had seen photos of this beautiful resort and considered staying here on a return trip so wanted to give it a look see. The initial view of the grounds is truly awe inspiring with sweeping vistas of rainforest and Arenal Volcano in the background. The main lodge is 5 stories high and also quite beautiful with multiple dining options.
We asked if we could try the fine dining option but were denied because of the dress code (really??? we had nice shorts and shoes and silk button downs and it was 100 degrees...in Costa Rica..) Meh, no big deal...
Still enjoying the beautiful setting, we stop at the spa to see about booking massages for both of us. No openings until 8 PM the resort is almost empty (on a Tuesday? really?) Meh, no big deal we will just enjoy the hot springs and club Rio for the day and then have dinner at the main dining room which usually features a lavish buffet of local and western dishes.
We get down to the hot springs and read about how there are 20 something separate pools of differing temperatures (from 96-103) from water that is pumped up from some nearby spring that has favorable mineral content and filtered and constantly turning over. We get in and it is lukewarm at best. So I tried to find the warmest pool and still lukewarm. I'm looking around at the pools and spot a 'chip' in the 'rock' and see that it is really fake rock made of some sort of fiberglass covered with some designer cement, so I look around and realize that most of the entire upper bath complex is made of fake rocks!!! Even though the water is lukewarm and we are floating around shallow fiberglass pools we still enjoy the lush tropical landscape and good bar service and decide to go down to Club Rio an area by the nearby river about a half mile downhill.
We had a very enjoyable tour of the Toucan reserve, the monkeys and Large cat areas. Our guide was excellent and seeing and interacting with the animals at that proximity was unique and memorable. We next went for a hike on the river's edge and found the hot springs located next to the river. More authentic but still very lukewarm. Club Rio was a great feature that offered tubing, rafting, horseback riding and many other adventure activities. It even had a bar and restaurant that we enjoyed during lunch.
We then went about halfway back up the resort to the central warm pools where we found the only truly 'hot spring' that was at the advertised 103 degrees, though again all fake rocks with more chips and wear than the upper pools. The bar was very nice and refreshing and we enjoyed cooling down there.
We returned to the main lodge for dinner to find out that the buffet was not available for dinner (because there were too few people staying at the hotel? was the explanation we were given) so we ordered off the menu and had a mediocre meal with mediocre service. You are in Costa Rica on 'tico time' but you are also at an alleged 5 star hotel servicing an upscale clientele. It wasn't horrible, but more' Olive Garden' standard than Ritz Carlton. This was the 'casual dining' option with emphasis on the casual for the service... The bread was not fresh or warm or soft. The salad was completely unremarkable and the entre also edible but not anything I felt compelled to finish or would ever choose to eat again. We did get a lovely wine from their extensive wine list, though so all was not lost.
We spoke to people staying at the resort who reported that their rooms were very nice and spacious and had a great view of the valley and volcano so they are certainly doing some things right. Will we stay here on our next trip to Costa Rica? Not likely, I think we caught them on a bad day service wise but I just didn't enjoy the springs nearly as much as Tabacon Hot Springs.
- 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