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“Our 5th trip to Arenal Lodge - for another slice of heaven!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Arenal Lodge

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Arenal Lodge
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   200 meters NW from the Arenal Lake dam | Escazú, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 1250, Costa Rica   |  
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Boston, MA USA
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“Our 5th trip to Arenal Lodge - for another slice of heaven!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2009

Hello All!

We are booking our 5th trip to the Arenal Lodge, set for August of 2010. That sums up this review; another chance to visit a slice of heaven!

Our first visit was in 1995 -- before this part of Costa Rica became a popular tourist destination. We planned the typical trip: a day in San Jose, 3 days at the Arenal Lodge, and 3 days on the beach. After our first day at the Arenal Lodge, we cancelled the rest of the trip -- and stayed until our flight home.

It wasn't just the Lodge; "Volcan Arenal" is the star attraction. We hiked around the volcano, and through the triple-canopy jungle. When we returned, happy and tired, the Lodge beckoned -- a friendly and happy place to relax. The restaurant was excellent too; no need to drive into town. In a word, perfect.

In 1995, La Fortuna was a quaint little town. With the tourism boom, dozens of small hotels have popped up. That's one of the nice things about the Arenal Lodge -- it is located a few miles from the bustle of La Fortuna, on a hill in the middle of a large natural preserve. When we relax in the evening, the only thing we hear are the frogs, howler monkeys, birds -- and the occasional roar from Volcan Arenal.

If you like to hike, there are many trails in the area. A few suggestions:

> The National Park trail, at the foot of the volcano. For a small entrance fee, you can hike to one of the lava flows -- which was still steaming when we visited in 1995. The view of the towering volcano is excellent, and the trail is on the active side. (As close as you can approach, due to periodic pyroclastic flows that race down the side.)

> The "Hanging Bridges" path through the jungle, with suspension bridges that carry you through the tree tops. (See: www.hangingbridges.com) The casado at the restaurant is excellent -- a nice break after the hike.

> If you have kids (or feel like one) and arrive between June and October, bring headlamps -- and search for the frogs that create a chorus at night, in the ponds in front of the Lodge. They are amazing.

> The view from the Arenal Observatory Lodge is not to be missed -- as close as you can safely come to this active volcano. We like to drive out to the Observatory, hike some of the trails, then relax with a late lunch and cerveza. (Note: the road to the Observatory is rough; an SUV is recommended.)

> River rafting on the Sarapiqui was lots of fun. You can drive there if you have a rental, or book a tour with the Lodge. See:

www.pozoazul.com/river_rafting_general_info.html

> We also like to kayak through the jungle on the Cano Negro -- a river that runs through a spectacular preserve north of the Lodge, near the border with Nicaragua. The kayaks are simple sit-on-tops, and the river is flat and slow; you don't need any experience. As you float silently through the jungle, you can see wildlife that would never be visible on foot. During our last trip, we saw all three types of monkeys that live in this part of Costa Rica. Sunset Tours runs this adventure, with transportation, kayaks etc. The guides are excellent. You can book it at the Lodge. See:

www.sunsettourcr.com/index.php?page=canoneky#ftop

We also like to kayak on the large lake in front Volcan Arenal. (Kayaks are available for rent.)

> My wife says that the horseback riding available at the Lodge is excellent; the guide is a true 'horse whisperer'.

We typically spend 7+ days at the Lodge -- our 'base camp' for hiking, kayaking and tours across the region.

Four caveats:

> If you hike in the jungle, remember that this is their home -- not yours. On our last hike through the Hanging Bridges, we saw a (beautiful) "eyelash viper" sleeping on a leaf. A "jumping pit viper" was curled up in the sun on another trail. Take is slow, and watch where you walk.

> You might think that this is the place to go in January, but too warm in August. In fact, we prefer August. There is virtually no difference in temperature or rainfall, and the frogs are out. Tourist traffic is also down, airfare is cheaper, and room rates fall.

> The volcano does not appear or perform on schedule, like Disneyland. If weather blows in, Arenal may be shrouded in clouds for a couple of days. She may sleep for a while. That's one of the down-sides of the typical two-day trip. You may miss the show.

> If you are planning your first trip to Costa Rica, you may be wondering whether this is a good destination for kids and families. In a word, yes! Costa Rica is peaceful and the Arenal Lodge is a safe place, full of adventure.

I hope your trip is as magical as ours have been!

Mark Hays

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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463 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (113)
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English first
Los Angeles California
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2009

If your going to stay here look out for the "White Lady". Though I did not see her she is a ghost that has made seveeral apperences on the property.Talk with the personel as they will tell you "The rest of the stories".
As for the Hotel itself.The staff is very helppfull until it is time to go home.You are on your own after that pretty much.They say there is a guard on duty but I went to seek him out but could not locate him and the room phone never answers after 8 P.M.
However the place is beautiful and the pool plus jacuzzi overlook the Arenal volcano,unforgetable view.If you want to get up close ask the groundskeeper to take you there.He will drive you in his car after he gets off work (8:p.m.) for $25.00 per ride round trip.In the day don't pay tour operators and just walk about one mile down the road and there will be the enterence to one of the the Rain Forests National Parks for the hanging bridge walking tour.Self guided or guided as it is up to you and your pocket book.

Thats all folks
John

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Spain
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
42 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2009

After arriving via motorbike after a long day this was the first hotel we spotted and after attacking the long cobble driveway - 3km long fully loaded we arrived and were not disappointed. The rate was great and the views spectacular. The staff mainly the bar and restaurant staff were very friendly and attentive. Shame about the receptionist who didnt know how to smile. Our room was away from the hotel a wee bit but basic, clean and lovely view of the volcano. The wildlife here was just great... Macaws inhouse in the gardens great and stunning photography opportunities with the pool and mountain.

Margaritas to die for and food was great. Would definitely recommend.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Warwick, NY
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2009

The Arenal Lodge offers amazing views of Volcano Arenal and is set on a mountain that gives it privacy. We stayed in one of the chalets at the top of the mountain, which we think was well worth the small upcharge versus staying in one of the rooms attached to the main building. There are very nice hiking trails and a so-so butterfly garden to view. The pool and jacuzzi weren't the cleanest, so we didn't try them out. On a cool, rainy night, we did try the steam room, and it was also not terribly clean, so it wasn't the best experience. The staff was all very friendly and the restaurant had very good food overall. We also had a very nice massage at the facility, which was quite good. Our biggest take away from our stay here is that it must have been quite the place in its prime, but it's now in need of some renovations and updates. If you're looking for nice, comfortable, relatively inexpensive lodging in La Fortuna, this would be a fine choice. If you're looking for something nicer, then you'll be better off somewhere else. Please note that our view of this place is likely somewhat colored by the fact that we weren't crazy about the La Fortuna area in general. The volcano is striking, but it's cloud covered most of the time and in three days in the area, we didn't see anything other than smoke coming out of it.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Houston
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2009

We arrived at the hotel around 6:30 p.m. after several hours of driving. We were tired and hungry so we were happy to get an upgrade to a family suite. Family suite was a one room with a small refrigerator and coffee maker. A floor lamp and one of the lamp above the nightstand was not working. Everything looked shabby and pillows were lumpy.
We went to a hot tub (only one out of two is working) which was just barely warm. I knew from the reviews that restaurant was not very good but we were too tired to drive back to town and bought some food for kids there. Yes it is true about restaurant--mediocre! Next morning pineapples were sour! in Costa Rica!!
Next morning somebody called our room at 5:30 a.m. and hung up.
I went and asked a receptionist for another room. It was another junior suite with a futon, private balcony, swing an d a better view but w/o fridge. So we moved. Next night at 2:00 a.m. a group returned from town and we could hear their "good nights".The walls are paper-thin so you hear everything.
Yes we could see the volcano if not the tip. The bird feeder was in front of our room so we saw beautiful birds,a racoon, a parrot. We did horseback riding from Volcano Springs hotel and hot springs at Baldi (20$ if buy in town). It was fun!
Would go back to CR and Arenal and will stay somewhere else as there are plenty hotels with volcano view in Fortuna!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Connecticut
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2009

We used a travel company and when they recommended that we stay here we were leery. The pictures online were not that great and the reviews on this website were both good and bad. The company said - trust me people love it here. So we trusted them and we are SO happy we did. This place was perfect! You can't see anything but jungle and the volcano. While we were there for 2 nights, we saw snakes, parrots, frogs and heard the howler monkeys in the morning. The pool is unbelievable. The staff is great and the breakfast is delicious! Stay in room 21 - we moved there after not loving the room we were put in. But we honestly fell in love. We couldn't imagine not staying here if we ever came back to La Fortuna. The other 'newer' hotels that we passed down the road had no character. This hotel really encompassed the Costa Rican adventure!

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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New York
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2009

Arenal Lodge has a wonderful view of Volcan Arenal and the hotel employees are friendly and helpful. We were able to take a tour of the butterfly and bird garden and while the tour itself was a little slim on wildlife, the tour guide, Miguel, was delightful. We stayed in one of the junior suites and had a view of the lava flow. The pool was clean as was the room. One of the hotel staff brought a red-eyed leaf frog around for us to see. There is even a bright blue hotel macaw! We had booked for one night but stayed for two because our experience there was so positive. The only thing that could have been a bit better was the restaurant. While the waiters and waitresses were very friendly, the menu is extremely limited.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenal Lodge

Address: 200 meters NW from the Arenal Lake dam | Escazú, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 1250, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#13 Spa Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Arenal Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 46
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Arenal Lodge provides guests with the excitement of staying in an authentic rainforest lodge with breathtaking panoramic views of Costa Rica’s famous Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Guests will enjoy a casual and relaxed rustic lodge setting with the added value of a complimentary breakfast daily. Located on 2000-acres of beautiful tropical rainforest, the lodge is situated near Arenal Volcano National Park. The lodge is surrounded by rainforest - housing hundreds of exotic birds, small animals and the beautiful tropical flowers and trees of Costa Rica. and is it's own local tourist attraction due to its exclusive location with breathtaking panoramic views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. The lodge features a full service restaurant with local and international cuisine, gift shop, three heated outdoor Jacuzzi's, an infinite edge swimming pool, walking trails, a butterfly garden, horseback riding, a game-room and outdoor playground for children, fitness room, sauna, and free wireless high speed internet access.Guest rooms and suites feature cable TV, telephone, coffee maker, clock radio, and all have private baths. Complimentary crib and wheel chair are available on request. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Lodge Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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