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“Great place, wish we could see it during dry season” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
23 Km West From la Fortuna Town, Located on the Base of the Arenal Volcano | Main road to Arenal National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Price
15% special disscount
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Austin, Texas
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Great place, wish we could see it during dry season”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2014

Pros: excellent grounds, many trails to explore, lots to do on property, food and drinks at the restaurant were a huge plus, breakfast buffet was our best breakfast on the trip, wildlife surrounds you, free morning tour was a nice introduction to the grounds, hot tub and pool were very relaxing, no shortage of adventure to be had here, great customer service at front (especially Carla).

Cons: Rain - not their fault but rainy season is as described - driving, consistent rain - it will be raining probably about 75% of the time (this was July 2014). Quite a ways from La Fortuna and road can to Arenal Lodge can be rough.

Bring very good rain jacket and extra shoes and also many changes of clothes. Also bring a flashlight for night walking.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1,259 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2014

make no mistake, the lodge is isolated (we were the only one's who didn't get the rent your own car memo, but during our 3 night stay, we were hardly tempted to leave the enormous property. did the free morning tour with the lodge's guide, and were so happy that we hired him for a 4-7pm walk to the old lava flows to get both geological and biological satisfaction. unbelievable bird watching from everywhere on the property. comfortable, very nice rooms. esteban at the front desk is the master for helping you make the best plans while you're there

Room Tip: Smithsonian rooms
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Godalming, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2014

Great place. We stayed in the Smithsonian rooms which were spacious and very comfortable. The whole place was clean and well organised, the staff friendly and helpful. The restaurant was very good and reasonably priced with great views of the volcano (weather dependent!) and wildlife from the deck. You can be as adventurous as you want as the grounds offer some great walks and the hike to the crater lake in Cerro Chatto is a healthy challenge. The free guided walks can be a bit hit or miss. Our guide was not a staff member and we had about 30 minutes of a sales pitch from him on his other freelance guiding activities that had nothing to do with the observatory. However, if you want to get close to nature whilst staying in a comfortable environment, this is the place.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Methuen, Massachusetts
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

The rooms were spacious and clean. Nothing fancy but the view was awesome! We were fortunate to get in before it rained so we could see the volcano. After that it was not visible. We stayed one night and enjoyed the food and atmosphere. The wildlife that you see from your room and on the deck is amazing. Loved listening to the animals at night. Definitely a place for nature lovers. I would recommend this place and I would stay again.

Room Tip: You want a room that faces the volcano. There are rooms that you need to go out on the balcony to s...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fresno, California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2014

We didn't stay in the lodge, but the entire observatory area was beautiful. We took the trails to the hanging bridges and the waterfall and saw an anteater, monkeys, coatis, a cool walking stick, and plenty of birds. The forestry seen on the trails is unique. On one side of the trail is the rain forest while on the other you are surrounded by pine trees. We had a great day. This is also where half of our group began their hike to Cerro Chato. Unfortunately the volcano was covered in clouds the entire time but still worth it. Entrance fee is $8 per person.

Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boulder, Colorado
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2014

We brought our kids this time and just as good as four years ago. We had continuous rain this time( how about an eight hour thunderstorm all night?)'but still got out and checked off every animal we wanted to see. Spent a lot of time in the hot tub and cold pool, too. Hiked up to Cherro Chato which was great but never saw the lake after a hard climb. Bring headlamps as we had lots of power outages. Food is so-so, but the kids loved it all!

Room Tip: Smithisonian rooms are great - by the pool. A bit of a walk to lodge if that is not your thing.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2014

We stayed with two adults and two kids (8 and 10) in one of the Smithsonian rooms in June, 2014. We could not have been happier with the whole experience. If you're expecting a high-end luxury resort with marble baths, a mini-bar, and a five-star restaurant, you'll be disappointed. However, if you are expecting a well maintained, well-designed ecolodge with comfortable rooms, great views, and great wildlife, then this is your kind of place.

Beds were comfortable, and one entire wall of the room consisted of picture windows which looked out over a beautiful garden and a great view of the volcano. The room was very clean and well cared for, and we didn't have any problem with insects. Actually, we EXPECT insects in a rainforest ecolodge, so I was a bit surprised.

My wife and I are birdwatchers and general wildlife enthusiasts, and this place really delivered. We'd had over 25 bird species just from our patio (including both toucans, 3-4 hummingbirds, tanagers, etc.), and could see White-nosed Coatis and hear Howler Monkeys from there as well. The lodge restaurant has a great inside seating area and a deck, both of which have a panoramic view of the volcano. We saw three different kinds of monkeys, as well as an Ornate Hawk-Eagle, a Great Curassow, Montezuma Oropendolas, many hummers, etc. from the restaurant. The food (especially the breakfast) was good, but not great - but we didn't go there for the food.

The highlight for the kids was a 1.5 hours horseback ride around the property - quite the adventure for them, and the horses were appropriate for inexperience riders. The kids also loved the pool and hot tub, although the former was quite chilly. We'll definitely be back, and will probably try to bring the extended family.

Room Tip: Our room was a 10-15 minute walk through the gardens and a hanging bridge from the main lodge. This...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Address: 23 Km West From la Fortuna Town, Located on the Base of the Arenal Volcano | Main road to Arenal National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 58 Specialty Lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 49
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated only 1.7 Miles from the majestic Arenal Volcano and with a spectacular view of Lake Arenal, the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) offers guests the opportunity to DISCOVER, EXPLORE and RELAX. Located within the Arenal Conservation Area and surrounded by rainforests and nature, AOL sits on a 870 acres property, which consists of 400 acres of reforestation, 270 acres of natural forest and 200 acres of cultivated land. The hotel offers 48 comfortable rooms surrounded by gardens, the majority with a direct view of the volcano and/or the forest. The 7 miles of well-maintained trails for walking, horseback riding or biking running through the property provide good opportunities to observe a variety of flora and fauna. Approximately 400 species of birds live in the area making AOL a preferred destination for bird watchers. Activities at the hotel include hikes to the waterfall or to explore Cerro Chato (an extinct volcano with a small lake in the crater), horseback riding, bicycling through the trails, enjoying a refreshing swim in our pool, or simply relaxing with a massage in our SPA. The hotel is well located to serve as a base for a variety of excursions such as: Cano Negro Nature Refuge, hot springs, Venado Caves, Canopy Tours, Arenal Hanging Bridges, Fishing, White Water Rafting, Canyoning, Biking etc. It also serves as a very interesting stop before heading on to Monteverde Cloud Forest or to the beaches of the Pacific coast. Arenal Observatory Lodge is the perfect place for adventure lovers, families, and honeymooners. With its spectacular location, great service and friendly personnel you won't be disappointed ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Observatory Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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