I nearly didn't book at Nayara at all - I sent them an email specifically enquiring if by booking directly with the hotel, they could match the more competitive rates offered on online booking sites - and reservations ("Johnny") merely responded with a curt, standard email reminding me of their standard price and attaching a form to fill in. Strangely, once booked (via ebookers), the hotel switched into helpful mode with thoughtful replies (from "Carlos") to various questions I emailed.
The hotel's own transit from San Jose airport at USD140 is competitive with independent private car transfers and for the 3-4 hour journey is good value. Nice driver in clean, 4WD car.
Two nights was sufficient (with Monteverde to follow). The SkyTram/Sky Trek zip wire is well worth doing. As is the Eco Thermales thermal springs. The hotel-recommended Arenal Volcano Tour that preceded the springs was over-billed - more a walk to a nice view spot. On the way back, everyone in the minibus had to fill out feedback forms in front of the guide who had been repetitive and uninspiring so we had to write nice things even though we were all disappointed.
A few things just to manage expectations:
- You can't walk into town - it's a short drive in if you want other restaurants in the evening.
- The hotel casitas (rooms) are large with balconies directly onto forest. They are mostly delightful. They are quite densely packed together, but the connecting paths are cleverly landscaped and the overall layout is staggered so you can barely see neighbouring balconies - it's not a full 'hideway' resort but this is reflected in the price.
- The casitas are beautifully and simply appointed but would benefit from at least one item of upholstered furniture for comfort. All the seating in the room and balcony is unforgiving bare hardwood.
- The wi-fi in the rooms was broken (at least in the two casitas our party was occupying) - something the hotel management seemed to have a longstanding awareness of, claiming it was difficult to get working properly. Other much more spread out properties have sufficient access points to deliver a wifi signal without the need to go to reception to get a connection so I'm sure this is fixable.
- Unfortunately, the main restaurant is sandwiched between a fairly busy reception pavilion (with slighty manic management) and the main car park (which is visible and audible when eating). This is a shame as it somewhat breaks the calm 'magic spell' of being in the remote foothills of the volcano.
-Food in the main restaurant was mostly good (but not the best hotel food in CR) and predictably pricey for the captive audience. The inclusion of a sushi restaurant seemed an odd novelty. The wine bar (staffed by helpful Jonathan - there are a few Jonathan's there) was more useful, serving a very small range of very large plates of tapas!
So overall, still a lovely place, a recommendation and I would go back. Just be aware of some limitations.
PS the Mystery Of The Third Tap (faucet) - hot, cold and ???? feeding the single outlet shower remains...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens is a five star luxury boutique hotel that is widely recognized for providing premium luxury amenities and ultra-personalized service at surprisingly affordable rates. Located in the outskirts of the amazing Arenal Volcano, Arenal Nayara is an oasis of tranquility, where guests can experience a profound and organic immersion with nature, while living in luxury at the same time. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, each one of our 50 spacious casitas (bungalows) provide an exclusive, ultra-luxurious retreat. Each expansive casita (ranging from 855 to 1905 square feet) includes a secluded garden with an outdoor shower and a beautiful terrace overlooking the volcano with a private, intimate Jacuzzi for two. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Arenal Nayara Hotel And Gardens
- Arenal Nayara Hotel Gardens
- Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park