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...
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.
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).
- 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