This review is mainly for young travellers but no matter what age, if you are single and ready to mingle so to speak, I would NOT STAY HERE. My experience comes out of a stay on the nights of April 18th and 19th as part of a G adventures tour group. I had met a girl while on an activity earlier in the day, went to dinner and drinks, and I returned to the hotel with her around 1 a.m. There we would run into the "night watchman." He stood around outside with a flashlight all night, questioning guests who arrived after 10 pm and spoke little to no English. Here was my first concern. The hotel cuts the English-speaking front desk staff at night and puts a person out front to represent them but he is not able to communicate should an issue arise, as it would that night with me. Back to the story. So as I am entering with my friend, he stops me with his hand and I show him my room card, thinking it is a formality. He then points to the girl and says, "name, name", as if he has some list he will check it against. I admit she is not staying there, but is with me tonight so all is well I think. He says 'no, no' and gestures for her to leave. We are both annoyed since in North America and most parts of the world, you are not refused entry by bringing a guest. As long as one person is staying at the hotel, it is nobody else's business really what you do as long as you are responsible in the end for your guest’s actions. So we leave and take the short walk to where she is staying, aware that she gave her key to a friend that went out for the night. We expect to just get a back-up key that her nearby hotel should have so we can get in the room. Apparently not, as the possibility of a lost key never arises there - right... So now we are stuck without a place to go and it is about 2 a.m. Frustrated, we seek the help of a local who is fluent. He appreciates the problem we have and that the girl especially has, with nowhere to go except the outdoor hotel lobby, which may or may not be safe depending on your perception of Costa Rica. The heavy law and order presence for a small town like Arenal/La Fortuna suggests issues but who knows, as much of the country was like this.
The local walks back with us and explains the problem to the "night watchman." I am thinking, ok, now this is a legitimate reason to make an exception to whatever non-existent "policy" they have of no guests at night. To my disbelief, this man does not budge, citing (in Spanish), cameras are all around and how he cannot admit anyone not staying there. At this point, I have had enough of being told what to do as a paying guest and demand to see the "guest list" he has. The reason I do this is to see where my tour leader is staying so I can elevate this, despite it being almost 3 a.m. now. I am that incensed over this that I am ready to wake him up to hopefully fix this. I am surprised when we are informed that he does not have access to any guest list nor can he log on to the computer system etc. WOW, so the story certainly has changed. He was ready to not admit my friend based on his list of who is staying in what room, but now suddenly, there is no list, and hence, he has no basis to deny entry to my friend. For all he knows, we are together. Very interesting. After I approach the desk looking for a sign of my tour leader's room #, he then starts wagging his finger at me and threatens to call POLICIA. I recognize this as an empty threat and go past him into the elevator with him trying to stop the door with his foot. I go up to the 5th floor where I know my tour leader is staying, but not which room. I try calling out and he opens the door. The watchman is not far behind. I explain my predicament and all the facts, but in the end, my tour leader went weakly with the hotel's 'policy', probably afraid to contest it, but afraid of what, I'm not sure.
So their solution is for me to pay another $50 for a room for this girl, even though I am already a guest there. I ask if we can contact the owner or management so we can at least make an exception to this 'policy'. No can do, they say, we wouldn't want to wake them up. Yeah, I guess if it is between waking someone and having a young tourist spend the late hours of the night and morning outside in an unfamiliar area, you better just chalk it up to 'not being your problem'. Why do I keep writing policy in brackets? Because, it was NOWHERE to be found on the guest directory or on anything I signed that I could not bring a guest after a certain time. That is weird that they expect people to go along with this when it is not stated anywhere. Further, I can understand a policy (if it had been documented somewhere) if its goal is to protect the underage locals from engaging in those types of services or something, but this was an American tourist in her mid-20s. Since I did not want to leave her alone in tears, in the end, we went back to her hotel and waited outside in the lobby until about 5 a.m. when someone helped us pick her lock with my room key. Yes that's right, apparently that is still possible. I thought only in movies...I complained to G adventures, and asked for some compensation, but they were unwilling and backed up this magical rule in Central America of not having hotel guests. So I came here to spread the word and save other fun-loving Canadians, Americans, Europeans from making a mistake. In case you are wondering, I am not some out of control party animal. I really just wanted to enjoy my vacation as a single guy, ok, is that too much to ask, Hotel La Fortuna? Can you appreciate that?
So in summary, if you expect to be back in your room every night before 10 pm and don't have to deal with these headaches, by all means stay here. What I ran into was not 'Pura Vida' at all. And if you do decide to stay here, and return to your room after 10 pm, since the "night watchman" seems to have no guest list for which to cross-reference guests against, I recommend ignoring him and going up the stairs to your room. Just remember though, if you meet someone cool and want to add some spice to your hard-earned vacation, why should you have to deal with that aggravation in the first place. What would these hotels do without our tourist dollars?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A uniquely designed building and an excellent location, make our hotel stands out in La Fortuna downtown. We have a central area extending up all five floors, with interior balconies looking down to the lobby, creating a sense of openness and freshness. Our lobby area provides computers with free Internet and wireless. Ample and comfortable seating is perfect to relax while you enjoy our well-stocked English books exchange.Just a couple of blocks away, you can find supermarkets, drugstores, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and everything you need for having a good vacation.And if you are looking for more relaxation or adventure, we offer you a tourist information desk inside the hotel with convenient prices for the guests. Parking lot is free and exclusive for our visitors. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel La Fortuna Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park