My husband and I spent three nights in Samara in the middle of our 15 day trip. We had just finished 8 days of adventure excursions and forest hikes. The second half of our trip was for beach relaxation, and we definitely got that at Fenix Hotel. We left with a wonderful impression of Samara and its residents. Stay one full day at Fenix and you'll see its magic. Sitting on the beach at Fenix, with the breeze and the sun on you, is the perfect escape from anything stressful. Ask Phyllis if there are anymore coconuts on the trees (the guests go through them quickly!), and she'll have Francisco (?) cut one open for you. Everyone thanks him with a tip at the end of their stay.
We had corresponded with Bill and Phyllis before we left home, and they gave great, detailed directions and advice about driving on the Nicoya Peninsula. When we pulled into the parking area of Fenix, we met Bill on his porch and he gave us a tour. I was a little apprehensive about the hotel at first, because it was hot and humid, and Bill instructed us not to leave anything in the car, even though he was just going to take us to the room - this scared us a little. (In the end, we never felt unsafe but we were grateful that he was blunt about it.) At first, the ceiling fans weren't enough to cool us down. We admit we are spoiled with the convenience of central a/c at home, and we think we will melt when it's hot and humid outside. We immediately turned on both air-conditioners (available only in the deluxe room), but they seemed to be very weak and the ceiling fan in the bedroom was covered with a thick layer of dust. We asked Bill about the a/c, and he said to "put it on turbo and give it a chance." Then we had to go back to Bill again because the previous guests had locked the safe with their passcode. Bill immediately came to unlock it for us. The other guests at the hotel kept their doors open and they all sat outside their rooms, having dinner, chatting, or reading. You can probably avoid interacting with the other guests, but the design of the outdoor spaces encourages everyone to interact, and it's nice to do so. A Canadian family recommended we walk along the beach to El Lagarto for dinner. This meal was so good that I still cannot stop thinking about it - easily the best meal of our whole trip. The drinks were delicious, strong, and cheap. The food was absolutely perfect. Get the grilled steak and squid. The jumbo shrimp and other seafood were also amazing. The restaurant is right on the beach, so at night you can observe tons of little crabs around you. It's entertaining - not gross or creepy, I promise.
The a/c ended up working great, and we were really grateful to have it. However, the other guests seemed perfectly happy without a/c!! We admired their fortitude! The bed was very comfortable, and the suite was spacious and clean. We had a strong, hot shower. We woke up the next morning to a beautiful, sunny day and a tiny crab in the shower. I thought it was amusing. We have no idea how it got there! We moved it outside ourselves, but if you're squeamish you could probably ask one of the hotel staff to remove it for you. Side note: I would recommend putting aside any squeamish-ness when you go to Costa Rica - it's more fun that way. We got at least one new crab every morning we were there :) Yes, we also saw tiny ants in the kitchen, and a few mosquitoes, but this is really unavoidable in Costa Rica. We stayed at places that cost $55 and others that cost $300 during our two weeks there, and everyone had little insects. I'm a mosquito magnet and of course I got bitten a lot, even with religious applications of DEET bug spray, but I got used to all the little pests. For those who are concerned about this, just remember that having fun in Costa Rica is a much better use of your time than getting upset over a few bugs.
I started to love Fenix and Samara more and more during our first morning there, so I hope everyone who is apprehensive about staying can give it a day to see how great it is. The cushions and hammocks are hung early in the morning, always clean and comfortable. They are removed in the evenings or when it rains. The hotel staff work very hard and are friendly. The bodega with bottled water, beer, boogie boards, and washing machine/dryer was a great convenience and prices were very reasonable. You can do your own laundry or have the maid do it for you, either way it costs $5 per load, washing or drying. There's laundry detergent in the bodega and the machines worked great. The bodega does close in the evenings, so be sure to get your drinks and laundry before it closes.
There's so much to do in Samara - so many hammocks and beach chairs to try, and lots of great restaurants (we really liked Esmerelda too - spaghetti with seafood is excellent). We took surfing lessons and went back the next day for more. There are lots of excursions but we were exhausted from the previous week of adventures, so we were mostly interested in relaxing and eating tasty food :)
When we had to leave, my husband forgot his iPhone in the room but didn't realize this until we were already 30-45 minutes away. So we turned around and headed back to Fenix. The maid found it and brought it to Bill and Phyllis, who returned it to my very relieved husband. I missed Samara and Fenix immediately. It's another great town in Costa Rica that hasn't been overrun with tourists, so the authenticity is still there. We were there during the last week of July 2013, and it rained for about 45 minutes each day in the late afternoon. Otherwise, the sky was sunny and the water was turquoise and warm. I hope more people take the opportunity to sit in a hammock at Fenix Hotel and experience the magic of Samara beach.
Air conditioning is a great amenity if you care about the heat and humidity. This is only available...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.