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“Paradise Found” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rancho Armadillo Estate

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Rancho Armadillo Estate
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Playas del Coco, Playas del Coco 5019, Costa Rica   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 13 Hotels in Playas del Coco
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Dallas, Texas
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Paradise Found”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

We first stayed at Rancho Armadillo Estate in April of 2012 and returned this year from July 20 – 25, 2013. It was just as wonderful our second time around!! This is truly a hidden treasure. It is away from the main drag of Playas del Coco, quiet and serene. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and well kept. But THE most wonderful thing about Rancho is the owner, Rick Vogel. This guy SO obviously loves Costa Rica, his hotel, and people. He is always ready and willing to help you with whatever you need or want. He is friendly and gregarious yet unobtrusive. He’s always there when you need him but isn’t when you don’t. The rooms are basic but spacious, comfortable, and very clean with AC and ceiling fans. We enjoy having the mini fridge and coffee maker. The communal veranda is a wonderful area with hammocks, rocking chairs, a couch, and a computer for guest use. The view from there is amazing, and it’s a wonderful, relaxing place to hang out at any time of day. The pool area also has a great view of the Pacific and is clean and well maintained. As you can see from my pictures, the breakfast is one of my favorite things about Rancho, and it is included in the price of the room. Your first morning there, Rick gives you the instructions and run down for making your own waffles with lots of choices of add-ins (chocolate chips, almonds, walnuts, orange zest, etc.). There is a choice of thick or thin waffles using two different irons. In addition, he makes THE best fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit and mango juice. If that’s not enough, add in the incredible assortment of breads from the local German bakery, three cereal choices, and wonderful fresh fruit including mangoes, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, lychees, and passion fruit. We looked forward to the breakfast each morning. In addition to the food, it was a good opportunity to visit with Rick to learn more about Playas del Coco and Costa Rica. He has owned the hotel since 1999 and has much knowledge and information to share. One of the services I really appreciate is his restaurant directory. He keeps a notebook with menus from many of the local restaurants, and each room has a detailed map of Playas del Coco and the locations of the restaurants. He is also a great resource for recommending his favorites and will give you an honest opinion on them. There are also books on Mammals of Costa Rica and Birds of Costa Rica on hand at the bar for reference use. Although breakfast is the only meal served daily, Rick will make dinners on request. A selection of sodas and beers is always available in the cooler behind the bar on an honor system basis. You simply write down what you take in a notebook and pay for it at the end of your stay. In summary, I can’t say enough about how much we enjoy our stays at Rancho. I highly and unequivocally recommend it.

Room Tip: We love the Cacique Room. It and the room next to it have a nice ocean view, are the highest on the...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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160 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (19)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Bali
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013

Playas del Coco has always been our home base for surfing Witches Rock and Ollie's point. The rooms are very large and have a comfortable homey feel to them. this is not a place to stay for parties, but if you hit Witches and Ollie's on a good day, you'll be too tired to stay out late anyway.

I have recommended this place many times over the years and will continue to stay here. the outdoor lounge and bar overlook the valley and is a great place to hang out and drink a beer after surf. The pool is nice and clean and Jim (I think Jim still owns the place) as a great host. It's more like a bed and breakfast than a hotel.

Jim is also good at hooking you up with a good, affordable boat driver to take you surfing. Sometimes on the way back, we drop our pole in the water and catch some fish. What a great experience! I haven't been diving here, but I hear that many divers stay here for that as well. Other than those three activities, I probably wouldn't go to Playas del Coco. It's a decent town, but not much else to do and the beach is not really ideal for swimmer.

Oh, Jim is also a good contact for directing you to a few good restaurants. Thanks to him, I had the best ceviche in Costa Rica at a place near the water. Ask him about it. There is also a good Mexican restaurant that he'll be happy to direct you to.

Been going to to Indonesia for a lot of my surfing lately, but when I head back to Costa Rica, I'll be staying here again for sure.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bonsall, California
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
160 helpful votes 160 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2013

Enchanted evenings and dazzling days – that’s a vacation at Rancho Armadillo.

This place is a destination in itself, an amazing property that I kind of hope remains undiscovered. We stayed eight nights in November 2012. Everything positive stated in the other reviews is true, and more.

Rick is one of the great innkeepers of the world, and we feel lucky to have found him. Every recommendation Rick made was accurate, and the do-it-yourself breakfasts were amazing.

We arrived at night, and were greeted by an enchanted fairyland with strings of colorful twinkling lights and lanterns everywhere. It was a magical first impression, and the spell continued the duration of our stay. Daylight revealed countless statues, artifacts, and other décor strategically placed to surprise, delight, and charm you. The grounds are lush and spacious, the rooms comfortable and private. From the dining area, you can gaze out onto the shimmering sea over the lush treetops.

This is a meaningful place for a family gathering. There are countless birds, insects, and critters - Rick knows about every single one. Older children will love it here – the dining area with its wall hangings and artifacts and rustic lunch counter lends itself to relaxing conversation and unhurried time. The lazily swinging hammocks upstairs are a fine place to while away a few hours with a good book between swims. This place is rich with its own history: a hat rack filled with ball caps from all over the United States, a bookshelf of weathered books. This is the stuff that memories are made of.

Playas del Coco is not for everyone, and thank goodness for that. Yes, it’s a run-down little beach town. A great place for divers, but not for those who secretly want everything to be just like everywhere else they go. But then, those people won’t be reading this.

Thank you, Rick. Pura Vida!

A note: you do need a car here. We rented from Adobe through Rick and had it delivered – the transaction was seamless.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dieppe, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2013

Our family of 4 stayed here for 4 nights in mid-March. Yes, Rancho has the best view in Coco, a fantastic outdoor pool-dining-lounging area, and very nice rooms, but the one who makes this place extra special is Rick. Friendly, helpful, and respectful, Rick will make your stay in Costa Rica that much more enjoyable by ensuring all your needs are met (from recommending restaurants, treating you to one his delicious seven course meals, organizing day trips, to sharing his vast knowledge on just about any subject). Another part of the charm of Rancho is that we saw more insects, birds and mammals (e.g. bats and howler monkeys) on his property than on many of our day trips. There are also a couple beaches within a 5-10 minute drive, as well as the friendly town of Coco. It's becoming fairly touristy there so it's nice to visit, shop and dine, but be able to retreat to the relaxing comforts of Rancho, nestled on a hill just on the outskirts of Coco.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2013

Our family of 4 stayed at Rancho Armadillo for a week over Spring break. Without having really planned anything in advance, we had an activity-filled yet relaxing and restorative vacation. We have owner/proprietor Rick Vogel to thank for this. Without being intrusive, Rick takes care of everything you might need, including planning trips, recommending places to eat, showing you the local wildlife, and so on. He even gave me a few awesome cooking lessons (I'm hesitant to mention this, since if *everyone* starts asking for cooking lessons...)

The grounds are beautiful, the rooms clean and comfortable. Be sure to mention to Rick if anything is amiss -- he will fix it for you right away (or at least try). For example our air-conditioning was a little weak, and after we mentioned it to him, it was fixed the same day. I could have spent all day in the hammocks. The other guests were interesting and fun to talk to. All around a great vacation.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reno, Nevada
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2013

Rick is a real pro. He has set up his property with his guests comforts in mind. He has thought of everything. He is also a top notch concierge and chef. He made sure that we were able to do everything we wanted to do. His property is beautiful and very comfortable.

  • Stayed March 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
milwaukee, WI
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

Rancho Armadillo is everything wonderful that all the other reviewers have said about it. It's all a result, I believe, of the relationships that Rick has with his guests, his employees, and the Playa del Coco community. Rooms are spotless because he treats those who work with him with great respect. Guests benefit from his knowledge of restaurants and sightseeing spots and his connections with the people who run them. For example, our family, totaling 8 ranging in age from 10 months to over 70, was planning to head to a beach restaurant one day but Rick received an email from the owner saying it was closed for a private party, so we were able to avoid the useless trip there and go the following day. An adventuresome guest traveling by herself ended up chaperoning a school trip at Rick's suggestion, and during it she went zip-lining, which she had previously said she absolutely wouldn't do. One thing to keep in mind is that Rancho Armadillo is not, nor does it claim to be, a beach vacation. There are certainly beaches nearby, but that is not the primary focus, it's not a step-out-your-door-onto-the-sand place. It is, however, a wake-up-to-the calls-of-the-howler-monkeys vacation. The pool is relaxing, the sun is intense, the restaurants are good, the town an interesting mix of bicyclists, pedestrians and dogs all wandering about in the middle of the streets, tourist shops, ex-pats and locals, American-style and Costa-Rican style stores. The only downside was leaving!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rancho Armadillo Estate

Address: Playas del Coco, Playas del Coco 5019, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playas del Coco
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 13 Hotels in Playas del Coco
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rancho Armadillo Estate, a small private mountainside estate overlooking the Gulf of Papagayo. The estate is perfect for couples, families or groups. Our guests feel like they're coming to visit friends who have a really nice place to stay. Our knowledge of Costa Rica ensures our guests experience the best Costa Rica has to offer. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rancho Armadillo Estate Hotel Playas Del Coco
Rancho Armadillo Estate Costa Rica/Playas Del Coco

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