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“Incredible Hot Springs, Worth the Price of a Room” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

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Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort
4.5 of 5 Resort   |   13 Km Northwest la Fortuna de San Carlos | Arenal, Alajuela, Costa Rica, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica   |  
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San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
124 helpful votes 124 helpful votes
“Incredible Hot Springs, Worth the Price of a Room”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2014

If you consider yourself a water-baby: someone who couldn't resist puddles and streams as a kid, someone who loves floating in water, splashing in water, playing in water, soaking in water, then Tabacon Hot Springs is heaven on Earth. Not so good for those who love to swim laps, as the hot springs aren't lanes.

I'd say the hotel is overpriced, if it's mostly about the room and the hotel, but if it's about having morning-to-night access to the springs, especially to avoid the crowds, then the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is the only place to consider staying. Looking at photos of other hot springs, I'd say the ones at Tabacon are better. But about the hotel...

PROS:

Full access to the hot springs comes with the room. The springs are a 6-7 minute down-hill walk to the hot springs, or a 10 minute up-hill walk from hot springs back to the hotel, using well maintained sidewalks. The shuttle bus runs very frequently, and the drivers are very nice about wet passengers sitting in the shuttle seats. I actually found it ecologically embarrassing how many times I was the only person on the shuttle, and opted to do more walking.

Even our ground floor "garden suite" room had privacy from walkers-by because of the attractively landscaped berm. I would have preferred a non-ground floor room, but couldn't have one assigned at our price. However, even on the ground floor, with a berm, we could still see the volcano (which is not all that exciting, but seems to be something people desire).

Bathroom amenities included soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tissues, and a shaving kit containing 2 ear swabs, a disposable razor, emory board, two round pads, a shower cap, and two toothbrushes with tooth paste. Travel slippers included, as well as one medium and one large size robe. The large size barely fit me; I don't know if extra-larges are available.

Tropical drink at check-in is a luxury touch.

Free internet in room.

Free coffee in lobby, (but only in the morning).

Seven minute walk, along highway shoulder, to El Novillo Restaurant, where the food is definitely good enough and costs 1/2 of what food costs at the hotel restaurant.

Very pleasant staff, at every contact, at all levels.





CONS:

Room itself is overpriced.

Musty smell upon entering room, but one quickly stops noticing it.

Garden Suite does not have a door/divider between the bed area and the sofa bed, so don't expect privacy in that way, if sharing room.

Not allowed to check in any earlier than 30 minutes before our due time. We were shown to a semi-storage room next to the gym where we could store our luggage and change into swimwear for the hot springs. The hot springs also have private changing rooms and private showers (at least on the women's side).

I think it's a negative that the bathroom is so huge; too much wasted footage that could have gone towards increasing the living space.

The lighting in the bathroom is dreadfully dim.

No fan in bathroom, so mirrors fog up.

The outside patio door from the bedroom area doesn't have a screen, so I couldn't leave it open for fresh air.

Despite the high cost of the room, no meals included. Restaurant at spa is very overpriced.

No towel warmer in room; it would be so helpful to have as swimsuits /damp clothes/towels go moldy and get smelly overnight.

Millipede found in bathroom (maybe more of a problem on ground floor rooms?).


As much as I thought the hotel is not good value, I would chose it again in a heartbeat because for me it was ALL about the Tabacon hot springs, and having easy access to them in the morning and at night (the hot springs are magical at night). Taking the Tabacon hot springs out of the equation, I would stay someplace because of all the minor room negatives. So in the end, I'll go with a "very good" rating instead of average (compared against other luxury lodgings).

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TabaconGuestService, Manager at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, responded to this review, May 9, 2014
Dear TA133

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your stay at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, we really appreciate your review. At Tabacón, one of The Leading Hotels of the World, we continuously strive to meet your needs and expectations; therefore your feedback is very important to us. We are glad to know you enjoyed our award-winning thermal mineral springs resort that emerges naturally from the volcanic earth forming in-river pools, ponds and cascades that creates a peaceful ambience surrounded by the majestic rainforest. As you mentioned, all our hotel guests receive complimentary access to the thermal area during their stay. Free shuttle is available for hotel guest and there is also a trail that connect the hotel and the thermal springs area. Our check-in time is at 3:00 pm and our check out is at 12:00 noon, we are always happy to provide the opportunity to our guests to extend their relaxing hot spring experience and enjoy the thermal springs prior their check-in, as well as after the check-out. Our guests are able to stay longer at the springs the check- out day. We are extremely sorry to hear that we did not meet your expectations in terms of your room, we offer 7 room categories all of them with different designs, I forwarded your comments to our management team for consideration. We appreciate the time you took to share your comments, and it is our hope that you will give us the opportunity to better serve you in the future.

Sincerely
Yendry Espinoza
Resort Manager
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (274)
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New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2014

Our family (myself, wife, and two kids, 12 and 8) stayed here for 2 nights in April in one of the Tabacon Suites. The suites were constructed about 3 years ago, so they are fairly new and well maintained. The room was beautiful and huge, though it was one big room even though they could easily make it into a suite with a large bedroom and large living area, which I prefer when traveling with children. The bathroom was huge as well and included a glass shower and a jacuzzi tub. Overall, we loved the room even though it had no view other than looking out into a bit of jungle.

The Tabacon Hot Springs are a 5 minute walk away, or the hotel will bring you there and back by shuttle. We never had to wait more than a minute or two for a shuttle ride. We all enjoyed the hot springs, even though it can get crowded when the tour buses pull in. The most peaceful time to go is in the morning or early afternoon - the tour buses tend to arrive in the afternoon and the place is packed with people by 3 or 4 pm. There is one pool at the hotel site, and it is a thermal heated pool. Given the size and extent of the off-site thermal hot springs, I would have preferred that the hotel pool be a lower temperature.

We do quite a bit of traveling and are accustomed to paying high-end resort rates for food and services - but we still found Tabacon to be quite expensive for meals and tours. We ended up booking our own zip line tours with Sky Adventures for about 30% less than Tabacon tried to charge for the same activity. Another detraction was the restaurant - it is a very beautiful, formal place with very high prices. I wouldn't have minded this if Tabacon had a less formal option for meals. One evening we arrived back to the hotel a bit late and wanted a quick, easy meal. Our only option was the restaurant, which took over an hour to serve us any food. The food was very good, but when you have two tired, hungry kids I can do without the amuse bouche and the sorbet between courses. I wish Tabacon had a casual bar/grill where you could order a simple menu.

Room Tip: The suites are fantastic, but expensive.
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TabaconGuestService, Manager at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, responded to this review, May 9, 2014
Dear Rob D

We appreciate your time for sharing with us your comments. Our aim is always to improve and provide our guests a high quality service, we are happy to know that you spent your family vacation at Costa Rica and decided to visit us. Tabacón sits on over 872 acre of lush private rainforest reserve and all our thermal springs emerge naturally from the majestic Arenal Volcano forming cascades and natural pools through the property, since part of our philosophy is to keep nature as an integrated part of Tabacon experience we do offer the natural pools at the resort but as you mention we do have a thermal pool located at the hotel facilities as well. Free shuttle is available for hotel guest and there is also a trail that connect the hotel and the thermal springs area. We are happy to know you enjoyed your Suite. Adventure Tours are offered by Jacamar Naturalist Tours as an external tour operator. In regards to cuisine, we have 2 different restaurants our fine dining Restaurant Los Tucanes located at the Hotel Grounds as well as Ave del Paraiso that is our casual dining Restaurant. For light meals Caña Brava Bar serves snacks until 10 pm located at the hotel lobby and Arenal Bar include a menu with a selection of appetizers, sandwiches and options from our grilled until 9 pm, we also have 24 hours room service available for our guest convenience. We appreciate your opinion in regards to food services and I have share this information with our F&B team. We appreciate the time you took to share your comments, and it is our hope that you will give us the opportunity to serve you again in the future.

Cordially,
Yendry Espinoza
Resort Manager
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Connecticut
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2014

This hotel, repped by Leading Hotels of the World is so lovely. The springs themselves are incredible, although can get crowded with day guests, There are springs that they reserve as adult only and have little bars set up, as well as areas with seating and lounging so you can avoid the families. They are the only hotel that has springs directly from Arenal, not rerouted and/or heated artificially. The rooms were large and comfortable, beautiful granite bathrooms and little patio for two outside your sliding door with great view of Arenal volcano. The food was very good, lots of fresh fruit and juices, but pricey by Costa Rican standards. Would highly recommend.

Room Tip: Go to the springs in the evening when the crowds thin out
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
TabaconGuestService, Manager at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, responded to this review, May 9, 2014
Dear CTMDM

Thank you so much for your appraisal, it is very rewarding to be informed about the pleasant experience you enjoyed during your stay with us. We are glad you had the opportunity to relax in our thermal mineral springs that emerge naturally from the volcanic Earth and goes through the property forming cascades, pools and ponds all of them with different temperatures and a high mineral content. Shangri-La Gardens is a secluded area in the upper part of the property exclusive for hotel guests over 18 years old with a quiet ambience where our guests live the most relaxing experience! We appreciate your preference and hope to serve you again in the near future!

Warm regards
Yendry Espinoza
Resort Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2014

Very mixed feelings about our experience. On the plus side, the springs are absolutely fantastic and a wonderful experience. Heavenly. The springs are well designed, built and maintained and there is something for everyone--from extremely hot and with waterfalls to family-friendly and warm. Service was also good. Front desk staff solicitous and every employee we passed was courteous. We had a car and there is no general parking, you have to leave it with valet every time. This was a small hassle but they always got the car very quickly so it ended up being fine.

The room itself was nothing special. The bedroom was updated looking and very clean. Bathroom was clean but the bath/shower did not look updated, were nothing special, and there was no hot water. Lukewarm at best.

What left me with a bitter taste in my mouth were the nickel and diming upcharges left and right. I do not expect a free lunch and I travel a lot, including to high end hotels and resorts. Still, I felt ripped off at every turn. Restaurants and bars are quite upcharged and I found them acceptable in quality but nothing special. I'd read about breakfast being a complete rip off so we made other arrangements and were glad as speaking to people staying there who did try breakfast, it was just not worth it.

The hotel materials advertised babysitting available for a "nominal charge". This nominal charge is $20/hour, FYI. I don't call that nominal. We hired a sitter to sit in the room after the baby went to sleep at 530pm for the night so we could have an evening out of the room. Worth it but I would not call that nominal and in the end, we were very displeased with the sitter. I don't hold the hotel directly responsible because they aren't a nanny service. Sitter was a hotel employee though. She arrived when the baby was asleep--she did not have to do anything but be present in the room and stay quiet. Boring work but decently paid. Baby did not wake so there was no feeding, no direct care. I specifically told her not to do anything to the baby and when she asked if I thought baby was cold I said no, she's fine. Room temp was 72 which is much warmer than our baby is used to as we live in a cold climate. Returned to hotel room after a few hours to find that she'd turned the HEAT ON, the room temp was 76 and had put a heavy blanket on our sleeping infant, a safety no no.

We asked about an evening frog walk and were quoted something like $75/pp. We booked a fabulous tour on our own at the Arenal Oasis Sanctuary for $30/pp--well-rated on TripAdvisor. Great.

We had our own car so we could go and so what we wanted, eat where we wanted. I would not have wanted to be stuck at the resort for all meals and reliant on them to set up tours and transportation. It's simply not worth the money.

I had an OK experience but would try something else next time.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Merritt Island, Florida
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2014

My husband, my 7 year old daughter and I spent two days at Tabacon. I would not recommend the hotel for families with small children. Although the grounds were lovely, the hot springs were too hot for my daughter so we spent the majority of our time in the pool. The pool was just OK. There was one slide and a swim up bar.
Since the hotel is fairly remote it is not convenient to get breakfast anywhere but in the hotel. The price for an adult breakfast buffet was $30. I felt this was on the high side.
I also found the front that although the front desk employees were friendly they were extremely disorganized. It took us about 20 mins to just check in. We valeted our car. When we went to get it they brought the wrong car and we spent about 1/2 hour attempting to sort the problem out.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TabaconGuestService, Manager at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, responded to this review, May 15, 2014
Dear Kathy M

Thank you for taking the time and share your comments with us, we really appreciate it. It was an honor to receive you as our guests at Tabacon. Our award-winning thermal spring river that flows naturally from Arenal Volcano and goes through the property forming in-river pools, waterfalls and ponds with different temperature and a high mineral content immersed in exotic gardens and the mysticism of the rainforest is perfect for a relaxing experience. We offer a perfect opportunity for a real coexistence with nature. We are sorry to know your daughter considered the pools too hot, as you could notice we have more than 20 different pools, ponds and cascades all of them with different temperatures and a high mineral comment that kids love. We also have available a pool fed with thermal water in case our guest preferred not to be in the natural river ambience. We offer complementary valet parking as an add value to our guest and we have internal controls to take care of all the vehicles, we apologize if you had any inconvenience with that service, if you have any additional comments please feel free to contact me directly at customerservice@tabacon.com , we take really seriously your feedback and hope to have the opportunity to better serve you again in the future.

Kindest regards
Yendry Espinoza
Resort Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jersey City, New Jersey
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2014

The rooms at the resort were average, at best, but we were rarely in our room, except to sleep. The highlight of the resort was the spa and the hot springs. The spa was out of this world. So beautiful! The massage was performed outdoors and you are encircled in a tall wall of shrubbery. And you hear the running water of the springs in the background so it is very relaxing. After the massage, you are given a menu to choose the flavor smoothie that you want, along with fresh fruit.
The hot springs were great. After a long day of sightseeing, it was great to be able to throw on your swimsuit and soak in the springs with a glass of wine. We preferred going at night (springs close at 8pm) since it was less crowded.
The gentlemen that worked at the concierge were very helpful and patient with us in planning our trips to Monteverde and the Fortuna Waterfall and Hanging Bridges Tour. I would definitely visit this resort again.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
TabaconGuestService, Manager at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, responded to this review, May 9, 2014
Dear Traveling_OBG

Thank you for your review, we are extremely happy that you spent your vacation in Costa Rica and decided to visit Tabacon. We are glad to know you find our hot springs and the spa relaxing comparing our property to a paradise on Earth. All our hotel guests receive complimentary access to the thermal mineral springs area during their stay, being able to enjoy our natural unique setting surrounded by the rainforest. What makes Tabacon so unique is nothing man-made, it is nature, that is why the experience is out of this world, we bring all elements of nature to the spa experience. As you mentioned the treatments at The Grand Spa are rendered in open-air bungalows and our guests enjoy natural fruit smoothies, as well as the hot spring water Jacuzzi. We are sincerely grateful for your visit and hope you will come back soon.

Cordially,
Yendry Espinoza
Resort Manager
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Miami, FL
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2014

We stayed here for three days during our recent travels in Costa Rica. I do forewarn many that this hotel is on the pricier side but has excellent amenities such as the thermals on their beautiful landscaped grounds.

We enjoyed our stay here. Although they don't really cater to small children we still had them travel over to the thermals and enjoyed the pool there. I just hope we did not wreck some honeymooners stay with the kids, but they needed an outlet.

Highly recommend this place.

Stayed April 2014
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TabaconGuestService, Manager at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, responded to this review, May 15, 2014
Dear kuma1720

Thank you for your review, we are extremely happy that you spent your family vacation at Costa Rica and decided to visit Tabacon. Our natural thermal spring river is perfect to enjoy total relaxation and a wellness experience, children love to enjoy our water slide or the kid pool fed by thermal water. We are sincerely grateful for your visit and hope you will come back soon.

Cordially,
Yendry Espinoza
Resort Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

Address: 13 Km Northwest la Fortuna de San Carlos | Arenal, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 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 Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#4 Business Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Luxury Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#7 Spa Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#11 Romantic Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#15 Family Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 102
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the heart of the tropical rainforest at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano in the northern Region of Costa Rica. This five-star carbon neutral resort offers a unique blend of nature, adventure and relaxation. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Tabacon provides luxurious accommodations, services and amenities in a picture-perfect natural setting. The resort's unique healing thermal mineral spring river emerge from the volcanic earth, cascading to form waterfalls, streams, tranquil pools and ponds. Explore Shangri-La Gardens an hotel guests and adults-only hideaway, delight your senses with world- class cuisine inspired by local fares or surprise that special person with a gala dinner in the middle of the rainforest. Inside the gardens is the resort's Grand Spa, member of The Leading Spas of the World which combines a beautiful location with a singular spa experience, where treatments are rendered in open air bungalows all of them with private jacuzzi. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Tabacon Grand Hotel Thermal
Tabacon Grand Resort Thermal
Tabacon Resort
Tabacon Hot Springs
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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