You will read some amazing reviews about this place and they are all accurate. I saw one person that gave it a poor review; didn't stay there! I'm telling you, STAY HERE. It is beyond compare...where to begin?
We started our vacation in Arenal in the central rain forest and were being taken by van to the Villa Buena Onda (VBO from now on). Being driven up we turned onto a dirt road and up a pretty steep incline with some holes; my wife gave me the "where did you book us?!" face and then we get to the gates of the VBO and I breath a sigh of relief. It's beautiful! As we exit the van the manager Shelly (you WILL get to know almost everyone's name, they treat you like family, no joke) greets my wife, BY NAME and welcomes her while I move to get the bags out. The barman/waiter/bellhop/generally amazingly nice guy Christian is right there with delicious drinks (pinapple & mint, tasty!) waiting for us. Stepping into the open, breezy foyer the dining/pool area frames the breathtaking view of the pacific beyond (see all the pictures) as Shelly takes us on our own tour of the VBO. Everything is immaculate. We are shown the pool, honor bar, grounds and taken upstairs to our huge, beautiful room with massive windows and balcony overlooking the forest and ocean.
Rooms: As I said, huge and beautiful. The view is exquisite, the beds are soft and the pillows/linens are perfect. Bathroom is tiled with a large shower and provided, local organic Costa Rican shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Each room has its own tv, thermostat, you can pipe in the hotel muzak if you wish and lots of closet space. WiFi throughout the hotel. What we didn't discover until our second-to-last day was the nifty subdued lighting scheme you can have for a more romantic, dim feel. Nice touch, but make sure Shelly or Isa shows it to you when you check in, you might miss it!
Food: Included and AMAZING! (I keep using that word). Most places with included meals are kinda "eh". Not at the VBO. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in particular are all first rate, prepared with CARE and look beautiful. Coffee/tea/soft drinks are included and available generally even outside the designated meal times. The staff was so nice that even if you got back from the beach or a day trip a little after those times, they would still feed you. They really do want you to be happy. Alcohol is of course extra, but reasonably priced and 5-6pm is happy hour at the pool bar! Either Javier or Christian will happily mix you a tasty drink while you sit in the pool or lounge in a recliner. If I had to be critical of the food, I'd say perhaps the breakfast or lunch portion can be a bit light for the bigger appetite, but dinner is beyond filling. Dining outside by the pool everyday was a dream.
Other guests: So i'm rating my fellow guests? Yes because in such a small place we got to know them all in talks over dinner, by the pool or on a van trip down to the beach for a sunset drink (hotel organized!) Everyone was so nice and friendships with such a small roster were easy to make. Always laughter and stories and at least once while i was there go down to Coco to hit some bars. With only 8 rooms, this matters and we got along great with everyone. This is a perfect hotel for couples (no kids under 12 allowed) but we did have 1 family (mom, dad, 3 adult children), 3 single ladies and 1 single man there while we stayed.
Location: Ok, so here it gets almost dicey. The VBO is on a hill overlooking the town. That makes the view amazing and hotel peaceful. The downside? You need to take a cab or van to get to the beaches or town. The hotel has free twice-daily vans to the three closest beaches but you are sorta tied to their schedule and have to tell the front desk the day prior you will be wanting a ride, otherwise you pay for a cab (not that pricey). Also, as I mentioned earlier, the dirt road up the hill needs serious work and has some <ahem> exciting potholes. I can't imagine vans have it easy if it rains and the road turns to mud. Still, you aren't far from town and you do have a choice of three beaches.
But the grounds are so well kept, there are birds of all kinds and virtually no bugs! Lots of cute geckos though; but they won't bother you. Pool area is fantastic and everything looks picture-perfect all the time!
Staff: The best for last. FANTASTIC. They really are the nicest, most warm people and make the VBO stand head-and-shoulders over any other hotel i've ever stayed at. They make every effort to treat you like family, smile, joke and are just a joy to be around. Casual, not stuffy, and fun. I can't say enough. Often times we'd find ourselves in long conversations with Shelly or Isa at the front desk for 20 or more minutes just talking and 'shooting the breeze'. They, more than anything, make you want to go back. The staff is small (maybe 10-12 total?) so you really can get to know everyone too. There is a reason I posted a picture of my wife and I and Shelly and Christian!
Other: I booked this hotel through costaricavactions.com as part of our package trip and got an amazing deal so i could actually afford it (essentially 2 free nights). This becomes relevant because we learned that the hotel is apparently owned, (or partially owned) by the people that run the website, which is fine. But I do recommend that you use that and try and book your "excursions" with the website beforehand to save some money because the price at the hotel for the day-trips was quite high (although all the guests we talked to did love the "Hidden Beaches" tour) and the travel agency can probably get you a better deal.
I could go on and on, but I hope i've conveyed how much we loved this hotel, and highly, highly recommend it!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury, boutique hotel overlooking the Pacific ocean. Located just 20 mins from the Liberia International airport. Service includes three a la carte meals served daily. Nearby half a dozen beaches, fishing spots, surf breaks and under an hour from the Rincon de La Vieja (hot springs, mud pits) National Park. Fine decor, two-tier swimming pool with a swim-up bar and stunning ocean views make this a special place to visit. Fantastic food and exceptional service can be expected. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Villa Buena Onda Hotel Playas Del Coco
- Villa Buena Onda Costa Rica/Playas Del Coco