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“Total rest and relaxation!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica   |  
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Halifax
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Total rest and relaxation!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2013

We just returned from a very enjoyable vacation in Costa Rica. Our first stop was at the Banana Azul. It certainly had everything we needed!

The Banana Azul is a small hotel nestled in the forest along Playa Negra near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I hadn't been to this coast in many, many years. What a difference! Now, where do I start...

We arrived a bit late, due to construction on the highway in Braulio Carillo National Park. We were greeted by Joel at the front desk... he checked us in as quickly as possible and gave us some "coupons" (small stones) for drinks at the bar. He gave us a quick tour of the hotel and explained where it was dangerous to swim... Many beaches in Costa Rica have riptides and undertows. It's helpful to know where it's safe to swim.

We decided to eat at the hotel that night since we were exhausted by our trip. We told our waitresse, Ana Rossy, that we were both gluten intolerant. She went through the menu with us and suggested many dishes that we could eat and others that could be prepared without gluten for us! Not only did she take the time to go through the menu, but she advised the chef and made a special note in our file for future reference. This is going above and beyond and we truly appreciated all her efforts. The food is delicious! We were so satisfied with the service and our meals that we ate here every night. At no time were we dissatisfied with our meals... during pasta night, they even provided us with gluten free pasta. These are all things that are not easily sourced in Costa Rica or in Puerto Viejo. We want to thank Ana Rossy and the entire kitchen staff for such wonderful meals and service! Breakfast is inculded and you will be well satisfied.

We usually get an amaretto colada in the evening before dinner... we asked Franklin, the bartender if he knew how to make it. He wasn't sure but decided to give it a try. Well, he did it! It was exactly like the other one that we have on the Pacific coast...but at 1/4 of the price. Pretty darned good mixologist...

Many rooms at the Banana Azul are different... There is something to suit every taste. The rooms are well appointed and clean. They are basic but you have everything you need while on vacation in Puerto Viejo. I can't remember if they had AC since we didn't need it the whole time we were there... The ocean breeze was absolutely perfect!

Gecko Trail Adventures is located in the hotel and will assist you in booking any tours you may wish to take! You can do anything from white water rafting on the Pacuare to snorkeling in Boca del Toro, Panama... They have everything for every taste (within reason of course). You can also rent bikes from the hotel and go on your own adventure!

The atmosphere is very "Carib-coast". It's easy-going and laid back... It took us about a day to fall into the vibe. Colin, Fred, Joel and all the others try to make your vacation as soothing as possible. Thank you for everything... your attention to detail is something I would expect at a luxury resort.

I'd like to give a special shout out to Rick, the gardener. The grounds are well maintained and the garden is beautiful... anyone who has any interest in gardening must speak to him. There are some beautiful specimens of Costa Rican flora in the garden...even the cook is somewhat of a specialist in local orchids. He gave the local name and the latin name for each orchid he knew... impressive, I must say!

  • Stayed February 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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867 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (234)
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English first
Vällingby, Stockholms Län, Sweden
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2013

Banana Azul is a hotel for those who wants to experience something special during their vacation. Really charming and special style lodging. We loved the rooms with he balconys, the gardens, the closeness to the fantastic beach, the possibility to use chairs on the beach. The people working on this hotel are all fantastic - very laid back match with extremely service minded. You feel at home here and you really enter a stress free zone.....Very highly recommended.

  • Stayed January 2013, 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
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Toronto, Canada
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013

I've put four stars because it really is a beautiful hotel and the owner, Colin, is a very friendly guy. I've been stewing about this for a while, though. I just didn't know how to say it. This hotel is featured on many gay websites as a great place for the gay traveler. I just returned from six days there and my experience was that there were very few gay travelers there at all and the ones that were there were mostly couples. I would also hazard to say that at the Banana Azul, when I was there anyway, the guests were 95% straight couples, honeymooners, and families.

I can't stress enough that everyone was very friendly and that the staff is wonderful. At the same time, I don't think this place should be recommended to the single gay traveler. I knew that there was no 'gay scene' in the area and I was fine with that. I did hope, however, there would be more of a gay presence at the hotel itself, ideally some other single gay travelers just for companionship and conversation. But for a few, there really wasn't.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 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.
colinsito, Owner at Hotel Banana Azul, responded to this review, February 19, 2013
Hey Bob, I agree with your assessment 100%. Banana Azul is not ideal for many solo travellers (gay men included)

9 years ago when Roberto and I bought the property, it was our intention to open a hotel that catered to the gay & lesbian community. We realized right away, that going in this direction would not pay the bills. So, we decided to just open it up to everyone.

A couple years later... We decided to redefine what we were offering and who were our customers. It was clear that couples (gay and straight) resonated with the property best. We decided at that point to gear our facility to couples looking for a affordable, relaxing beach and adventure vacation. We also limit our guests to a minimum age of 16 years as we are also not ideal for families with younger children. Given that we only have 14 rooms, we can not be all things to all people.

About 15% of our clientele is gay and lesbian (mostly couples). We have a page on our website that is for our gay and lesbian customers. On that page, we try and make it very clear about what we offer and what types of people our facility is ideal for.

I appreciate your feedback and am in no way offended. It is an honest assessment and we fully believe that you should get what you are looking for in your vacation. I too, do not stay at Howard Johnsons when my partner and I are travelling.

I have sent you the link to our page that is dedicated to our gay and lesbian customers. If you could give me some feedback on how it might be better written, I am open to hearing what suggestions you have.

On another note, thanks very much for your very respectful review and pointing out where we truly succeeded. If you find a partner one day, I hope you will think about coming back and hopefully you will have a very different experience. Cheers, Colin.
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2013

My wife and I just got back from a week long stay at Banana Azul and we could not have been happier with our stay! It was the best choice we could have made for our stay in Costa Rica.

The moment we arrived we were impressed by the beauty of the place. The grounds and gardens are fantastic and are obviously a labor of love for Rick, whom we met the day we arrived. He has done amazing things with the landscape and has incorporated natural elements such as driftwood into the scenery.

After we checked in, we were shown to our room which was room 9 (one of the garden rooms). We had chosen this room because we were bringing dive gear with us and didn't want to have to haul it up and down stairs. Honestly, I had been a little hesitant to get a garden room as previous reviews had complained that they were very small and noisy. However, we were surprised and delighted to find that they have recently been remodeled and are considerably larger than before and have had soundproofing done. The noise was not entirely eliminated but was never enough to bother us or keep us awake. Plus the Air Conditioning unit in the room provides a good white noise screen.

The room was beautifully decorated and the garden/porch area was perfect for our dive gear. We could rinse it out and then let it air dry on the deck without having to worry about getting the floor in the room wet. We really loved the local plants in the garden. We never did get around to using the gigantic bath tub but the adjacent rain shower was awesome!

In the mornings, we would get up and go to the beach, which is about a 2 minute walk from the room, and go have coffee. It was so nice to sit and listen to the waves and watch the pelicans as the sun came up. A little later, breakfast would start. If we had to leave early we would do the light breakfast which is fruit, cereal and yogurt, or, if we were getting a later start, we would stick around for the hot breakfast which changed daily and consisted of everything from pancakes to breakfast burritos. We usually had lunch at the hotel when we would come back as they have a pretty extensive menu. I highly recommend the chicken salad sandwich on housemade carrot bread. Delicious! Also, the fried Yuca Sticks with garlic dipping sauce make a fantastic afternoon snack! Dinner was always excellent as well. My favorite was the Friday night Caribbean Buffet with several different local selections to try.

The staff at Banana Azul are all very friendly and helpful. Colin, the owner, is a great host! He always came by to say hi or sit for a few minutes and chat and is genuinely concerned that his guests are comfortable and happy. The front desk people were incredibly helpful for everything we needed from arranging cabs to renting boogie boards. The people at the Gecko trails kiosk are great as well. We originally booked 4 days worth of dives through them but, as it turned out, we were only able to do 2 days worth as dive conditions were not great. We were refunded the difference with absolutely no hassle. You would probably not see that happen many other places!

And who could forget the dogs?!? We missed our dog very much and we were able to have some canine companionship during our stay. That meant a lot to us! That being said, I'm not sure I would recommend this hotel (or Puerto Viejo in general for that matter..) to anyone who does not like dogs. There are dogs everywhere and they are very friendly. We would usually have a dog walk with us to town or come and hang out with us at the beach. It was just one more thing that made this trip great!

Overall, I highly recommend Banana Azul. This hotel is a work in progress and will keep getting better and better. It is worth the trip to come and see what they have done!

Pura Vida!

  • Stayed February 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Pas
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

When you book 10 months in advance you end up with extremely high expectations. They were all met. Funny to read people complaining about the balconies and how people could just come into your room. Just one question: Did they? Felt very safe and secure. Food was fantastic. Nice to see Franklin has moved up to owner. Does Colin know? Loved the service and the spectacular grounds. The best vacation in a long, long time. Stayed there from Dec 18th until Jan 3. Could have gone other places, but this was wonderful. Too bad only allowed to give five stars. Banana Azul is a 10+ in my books and can't wait to return. Owner Colin was right. It's not for everyone and thank God for that!

  • Stayed December 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.
The Pas, Manitoba, Canada
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

Colin, Fred,
I am so sorry that I haven't written this review yet. To be clear, in my 35 years of travel, stays in hotels, motels and places, some should never talk about. Hotel Banana Azul was the most amazing hotel I have ever stayed in. The owner, manager, and all their wonderful staff make it an experiance that will keep you talking about this place for years to come. The spacious rooms, to the staff, that take there jobs very seriously, it is a wonder why anyone would ever want to leave. Warm and welcome, to a feeling of security, it has it all. I have read other reviews complaining about bugs and AC, or the light coming into the room to early. To these people I say, you are in the jungle with bugs like anywhere else, sun and darkness are approx. 12 hour each. You are on holidays, take in the sunrises with coffee on the beach, each morning is different than the last, and you may even see a dolphin in the surf. Food, wonderful. Service, amazing. Cocktails, the best in the world, and I've been a bartender my whole life. Smile, laughs, and service that is better than any in the Peurto Viejo area. Thank you one and all for making our dream come true..We are now planning on spring of 2014. When you find the best, forget the rest..

Room Tip: Want AC, try the garden rooms, want space do the Howler or The Dolphin rooms, want quiet, wear ear p...
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  • Stayed December 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ontario, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

This was perfect for my wife and I. We traveled with a group of friends. The grounds were beautiful. The staff was gracious. The food was delicious. We loved everything. Town is a short bike ride away and the distance is just enough to keep your surroundings quiet. In the Garden Bath Suite, we found the floor to be VERY slippery when spraying bug spray and sun block. Of course there's bugs! YOU'RE IN THE RAIN FOREST! Loved everything! Thank you!

Room Tip: Tree House room great for family or group of friends (2 bedroom, 1 bath) Bath outside. Tree House ro...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about Hotel Banana Azul

Address: Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Banana Azul hotel is a small and simple hotel north of town on Playa Negra. The small boutique hotel has been created with care using local products and a philosophy that emphasizes relaxation. We cater to adults, 16 years and over. Blooming gardens adorn the property, as does several freely-hanging hammocks, providing the perfect spot for afternoon napping or leisurely reading. A meandering pond inhabited by fish and turtles flows through portions of the property adding a lighter element to the ongoing natural soundtrack of waves crashing against the shoreline. The hotel consists of fourteen beautiful guest rooms with private baths, fans, and free wireless internet. Most rooms are on the second floor of the main building, and open onto a large veranda with sweeping ocean views and of the garden. Banana Azul offers its guests a quaint restaurant that serves a complimentary filling breakfast, variety of lunch options and refreshing drinks throughout the day and a relaxing three entre dinner option in a romantic atmosphere at night. Gecko Trail Adventures tour company is on site to assist with tours and transportation needs and can assist with a variety of package options including visits to the Arenal Volcano, canopy tours, snorkeling trips, and even rafting excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Banana Azul Hotel
Banana Azul Puerto Viejo
Hotel Banana Azul Costa Rica/Limon

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