After a lot of research we picked this retreat for our first family stay in Costa Rica and it worked out beautifully. We spent 3 nights - if you have time you should spend at least 4. After a day of traveling all the way from way Northern US we were in no mood to get back in the car and drive, even just down the dirt road, and while a lot of folks who stay at L&L choose to do the local Arenal trips (Zip line, Hanging Bridges, Hot Springs) we felt we were in a place so different from our own there was really no need to leave it, even for a few hours (especially since we had the most glorious view of the volcano right from the cabin). At the same time, our 4-person family includes a serious birder and a serious horse person, and a lot of energy too. So we went on the ride to the waterfall the first full day (if you research this place you will find it is not your nose-to-tail trail ride, it's a different experience), swam under the waterfall, saw a poison frog, gallopped, saw a 3-toed sloth carrying her baby, etc... then, we wanted more of all that, so we asked Debbie whether she could come up with 1. a day excursion on horse back that 2. involved an experienced birding guide, 3. touched on various habitats including a primal forest, and 4. Preferably included some swimming, 5. all of it without getting into a car. I won't tell you how she did it, but she did come up with the solution after looking at us with her characteristic thoughtful expression for about a minute.
This brings me to the negative reviews. Like many Tripadvisor readers, I always read some very positive and some negative reviews. While the latter are hard to come by for this place, I found one that criticized Debbie for being pushy about trips/excursions. I was actually worried about that because we are not into conventional trip planning, we like to do things at our pace, sometimes last minute, and we don't like being pushed to anything while we are on vacation. So rest assured - Debbie was very hands-off unless directly asked. She is not a pushy person.
(These Costa RIcan horses are something else. They are sweet and they really take care of you. For those of you who know about horses - how many places do you know that accommodate an ever changing cast of guests on their rides yet trust their horses to be ridden - walk, trot, canter, and if reasonable, gallop - with bitless bridles?)
One tip - if you are like us and you don't need an excess of food at dinner time to be happy, you can share meals at dinner. You will be charged a $5 "plate" fee, but you'll still have plenty to go around for 2 people. Then you can enjoy the excellent and not pricey breakfast much more thoroughly.
Another "tipping" tip - don't forget to tip the staff before you leave. I forgot, and now I have to try to do it from back in the US, via paypal or something, because they were all so nice. (And no, no-one pushed me or reminded me, so please watch out for that, they deserve a tip!!!)
Last thing: when you go, pay attention to the details. It is really quite amazing how well this place is maintained, including the cabins and the grounds. And if you want to see amazing birds, once you are done birding from your balcony I would recommend the hummingbird trail. And Donald the bird guide.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This secluded resort is located on 26 acres with spectacular viewing of the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna. Enjoy the panoramic vista of Arenal and Cerro Chato from a hammock on your porch or from your comfortable, orthopedic, queen sized beds with Egyptian cotton sheets. Meals prepared using locally grown ingredients at the Lava Lizard on-site dining facility. Guests are invited to help with daily 'chores' on this working farm. Milk a cow, collect eggs for breakfast or groom a horse. Enjoy private horseback riding, professional guide service, on site spa and 2 km of on site nature trails. The vision at Leaves and Lizards is to create the perfect blend of adventure, discovery and tranquility for each guest. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
- Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park