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“Private paradise” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Casa Chameleon

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Casa Chameleon
4.0 of 5 Boutique Hotel   |   Punta Barrigona, Mal Pais, Costa Rica   |  
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LAST MINUTE GETAWAY?
Ranked #3 of 10 hotels in Mal Pais
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Private paradise”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2012

We stayed in the Ultra Villa in mid-September 2012 and really enjoyed our 3 nights at Casa Chameleon. I was surprised by the review below, and agree with the management response as it must have been a blip in their level of service that since been resolved.

The Accommodation: The location high on the hill was fine for us as we had a car, which was also necessary because many Mal Pais businesses were closed at this time of year forcing us to drive a little to find decent lunch (we recommend the restaurant at the Flor Blanca hotel down the coast). The rooms are all very private and have great views and nice pools. I would agree with comments by some that the Ultra Villa room is starting to look ever so slightly run down with 1 or 2 broken fixtures that should be repaired and polished. If you want brand new perfection I would suggest you grab one of the two new villas (Estrella).

The Food: We paid for the half-board which included breakfast and dinner. There are two sous chefs, Ronald and Oscar, who alternate 2-4 days shifts and both cooked excellent food with fresh local ingredients. We loved Oscar's Caribbean-style Gallo Pinto and have cooked it ourselves several times since. The dinner meals are delicious and not overly flamboyant e.g. chili marinated snapper on garlic mashed potatoes with fresh steamed broccoli. It felt healthier than most restaurant food. Presentation was great with a different crazy-looking local flower atop each meal every night. We typically hate inclusive resort food but we could have kept eating here happily for at least another two nights. A little more variety for the breakfast options would be good.

We hope that the owners continue to invest in this hotel to maintain the rooms, and to ensure they keep their staff happy (Oscar seemed to be having to work very hard at times with no wait staff to help him). We also hope they don't overload the property, currently each villa is very isolated from the others and it needs to stay that way to maintain the charm of the property.

Thanks for a great stay!

  • Stayed September 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.
CasaChameleon, Owner's Rep at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, November 26, 2012
Dear Guest
Thank you for the great review!! We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at Casa Chameleon and that you had a chance to try our wonderful food! We pride ourselves in having one of the best, healthiest (and still very tasty) restaurants in the area. We believe in using natural ingredients and avoid cooking with fats and artificial components. Our chef Rob and our sous chefs Oscar and Ronald prepare every meal from scratch, using the freshest available local ingredients in order to ensure that every meal represents the best that Costa Rica has to offer.
As for our expansion, Casa Chameleon is meant to be a private, romantic getaway for couples wishing to "get away from it all", so we will not saturate our grounds with villas. Our philosophy is that nature provides the best and most luxurious ambiance, and therefore each villa will always have uninterrupted ocean views and will be landscaped, designed and built to be absolutely private and "separate" from the other villas and from the common areas. This is after all what makes our hotel so special! Thanks again for your comments, we hope to see you back at Casa Chameleon sometime soon!!
Pura Vida!
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    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)
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English first
Calgary
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2012

Had I wrote this review in February 2011, I would have rated our stay at Casa Chameleon as excellent. In 2011, we stayed in the Villa Vista, and absolutely loved it. We particularly loved the set-up of the hotel, with its outdoor kitchen area and private pool. The chef, Robb, was one of the highlights of the experience; great guy, great food, open to make anything we desired, and more than happy to bring the food to our room if we so chose. It was one of the top few experiences of our lives, so much so that we barely left the hotel, aside from a little surfing and eating at an incredible little seafood restaurant (Soda Piedra Mar) or Burger Rancho. We could not stop talking about Casa to our friends.

It is always a risk to return to a place after such an incredible experience, however, the next time we visited (this past February, 2012), we upped the ante and stayed in the Ultra Villa, which was about double the cost, but we thought it would be worth it considering it was our honeymoon. Though the room overall is quite beautiful, it is certainly not worth double the price, and I would not recommend it to any traveller. The experience, overall, fell very much short of expectations. As soon as we arrived, the changes were glaring. There was a new manager named Jessica. She told us that there were several guests showing up at the same time, and to wait in the new bar area. This would have been fine, however given the length of the delay and the exorbitant cost of the room, we were surprised and confused that they did not offer us a drink on the house. Jessica was not apologetic, nor was she friendly, especially considering the fact that we were returnees to the hotel and it was our honeymoon.

We next noticed that Casa has expanded; we, unfortunately, were not impressed with any of the changes. The wood and the garden areas were not in the same shape as they were one year ago. The quaint kitchen area has been replaced by a more restaurant looking area, and the pool area no longer feels private. Everyone just seemed less friendly. When we eventually got to our room, it was immediately noticed that the room as not properly cleaned, with sugar and other messes left on the stove and counters from the previous guests. I will not argue that the room was probably once beautiful beyond belief, but it is now dated and somewhat run down. Yes, the setup and the view is in many ways second to none, but this room is simply not worth anymore than the other villas. This room is really all about the massive connecting pool. Unfortunately, the deck by the pool is now somewhat shoddy, the pool was not clean (green slime on bottom), and there was a massive colony of red ants that live in the wall beside the pool, making the pool experience far less relaxing than it should have been. We will post pics of all of this to Tripadvisor users. The worst part of this villa was that, unlike the previous villa we stayed at, we were unable to turn the pool on an off at our own leisure. We had to ask Jessica to turn the pool on for us; this was possibly the most frustrating aspect of our stay. Jessica made us feel put out each time we asked to turn it on; even though this was our honeymoon in a $500 a night villa, Jessica maintained that leaving on the pool from early to late, even though we wanted to stay in our villa most of the day and night, was taxing on the hotel. I think it was the complete lack of customer service friendliness and catering that was the most upsetting part of it all. One other important flaw with this room was the fact that it is located under a tree that was full of nuts. When these nuts fell (almost continuously), it sounded like a baseball landing on an aluminum roof. This was a constant, but even more unnerving when the sun came up and the squirrels were feasting; it was a terrible sleep.

For us, however, perhaps the worst part of the stay was the experience at the new restaurant. For some reason, the amazing chef Robb was not there during our stay. We were told that he both had been in a motorcycle accident and that he had gotten married. Ok. His assistant was now the chef. This guy was a nice man, but for foodies like us, the meal was so offensively priced, we felt completely taken advantage of. The music was blaring for some reason. We seemed duped into having a bottle of wine with the meal that was not a nice bottle at all, yet priced extraordinarily high. The appetizer was pita with hummus. The desert was a brownie. The main was below average to average. When you are able to order a much higher quality meal for one fourth of the price at any restaurant down the road, we were almost speechless.

In the end, I am surprised that I rated this experience as high as Average, as my wife and I both left feeling down and disappointed. My rating is only this high because of the fabulous experience the year before. This quaint place is expanding, largely based on the positive feedback from the past. For us, however, it meant a tarp next to out villa and workers building new villas all throughout the day. We were never warned of this ahead of time. I will walk away from this experience remembering the paradise of one year ago, but, based on the lack of friendliness of Jessica and all of the disappointments this time around, we will not be back. To be honest, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa felt different this time around; with security guards at the gate of every establishment and a shadier appearing crowd, this little beach town does not carry the same charm.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
CasaChameleon, General Manager at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, September 25, 2012
Hi! We are very sorry that Casa Chameleon was not as you remembered it during your visit last Feb.!! Unfortunately your visit was amidst circumstances that are out of the ordinary for us. Jessica is no longer with us, and our new team members are super friendly and work hard to make sure your experience with us is magical and romantic. Unfortunately our wonderful chef Rob was in a motorcycle accident at the time of your stay (which happened right after his wedding) and therefore was unable to work (he's ok now and back in the kitchen!) We now have two amazing sous chefs that work with Rob to make sure that your culinary experience is always magnificent at Casa Chameleon. Our guests always compliment our food, and we are proud to say that our restaurant is one of the best in the area.

If you see the reviews from visitors that came after you, you will see that all has returned to normal at Casa Chameleon. I am also happy to tell you that we have refinished the deck at the Ultra Villa, and refreshed the entire hotel! The construction work is done and the landscaping is back to its beautiful lush tropical state.
We would like to invite you back to Casa Chameleon so that you can see the changes for yourself.
Pura Vida!
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Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2012

The restaurant is one of the best in the area!
We watched the sunset while having a few drinks by the pool and we had a delicious dinner, the chef (Rob) came to our table and explained the dishes to us one by one. The attention was really personalized, the menu was healthy and tasty. We had a great salad, fresh fish and a carrot cake for dessert. Everything was just perfect.
I highly recommend this hotel! Its the perfect romantic getaway.

Room Tip: Every Villa is great! The views are amazing.
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  • Stayed August 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CasaChameleon, General Manager at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, September 25, 2012
We are glad that you enjoyed your dinner at Casa Chameleon! Our culinary team works hard to create amazing and tasty dishes from the freshest available ingredients! Thanks for your review from our entire staff!
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Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2012 via mobile

This is a four room hotel where everything is, basically, perfect. The rooms have great architecture, amenities and views. The staff is super super helpful. We are from San Francisco where the food is amazing, but the food here was maybe the best I've ever had. We had a great time going out and about. It is very original, but to give you an idea you really need an atv, not a car. We have been all over the world and this was maybe our best vacation ever.

  • Stayed July 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
CasaChameleon, General Manager at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, September 25, 2012
Hi! We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at Casa Chameleon! Our goal is to make your stay a memorable, one-of-a-kind, wonderful experience :) We pride ourselves on attention to detail, customer service and great, healthy food that's food for the body and soul.
Thanks for you wonderful review! We hope to see you back at Casa Chameleon in the near future!!
Pura vida!
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Glen Ellyn, Illinois, United States
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2012

We loved everything we did in this area and it's hard of course to beat the scenery, but in many ways Casa was really the highlight of our trip. We were in Vista Villa and felt spoiled the whole time. It's easy to be a little anxious when spending this much money for a place to stay (which we were not used to), but we really felt it was worth all of it. This is a very well run place, with incredible and friendly staff and service. With it being low season, there weren't more than 4 of us staying on the grounds at a time, but the staff is there and ready for any of your needs whether it was just one person around or whether the place had been completely booked. We had excellent communication prior to our arrival and all throughout our stay.
We spent one of our days mostly on the grounds of Casa and had no regrets about not getting out that day as it is such a relaxing and wonderful place to be.

We stayed four nights and ate two dinners. The dinners were phenomenal and include a bottle of wine (your choice of red or white). Rob, with the help of Oscar and Ronald did a fantastic of job, great presentation and the dishes were killer - great flavor, fish was 3 hours from fisherman to table, all beef was from a grass-fed farmer whom the owner is friends with, local flavors and a great way to linger into the evening after an adventurous day. Breakfasts were good, but we did think them a bit overpriced and would have thought they would be included for the cost of our stay. We payed $115/night down the street and had included breakfasts that were just as good and fresh, made to order etc. Otherwise, no complaints whatsoever.

Just be sure to remember tips. They give you envelopes at the end and let you decide to whom and how much you want to give. I appreciated this, but it also made it more difficult as we wanted to take into account housekeeping, maintenance etc - those you see and have personal interaction with, and those you don't.

Prices were the same to book activities through them as anywhere else. We stayed somewhere down the street from Casa previous to our stay and prices matched to the dollar for the same activities.

Enjoy!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
CasaChameleon, General Manager at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, September 25, 2012
Hi! We are happy that you had a great time at Casa Chameleon! Our staff works hard to provide one-of-a-kind personalized service, and we are happy that you appreciated it! :) Thanks for sharing your good experience with other travelers through this review!! We hope to see you again at Casa Chameleon!!

Pura Vida :)
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New York City, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 19, 2012

Overall, my husband and I had a wonderful stay at Casa Chameleon in early June 2012 for our honeymoon, however there are a few items that travelers potentially looking to book here should be aware of.

The Good:
-The food here is excellent! Rob, Oscar and Roland were very nice and really amazing chefs! Dinner every night included a scrumptious appetizer, entree (often catch of the day and another non-fish option) and dessert.
-The location is really nice if you don't mind driving to the beach. The hotel is situated atop a big hill overlooking the ocean and you can even hear the ocean
-We had a few misunderstandings with the receptionist, Jessica, upon our arrival and were not told in advance about the construction next door to our villa (more on that below), but Alonzo the manager was very accommodating once we got to talk to him.

The not so good:
-There is ongoing construction on the hotel property, particularly right next to the Villa Vista villa. You can see all of the construction from your balcony and the construction workers can see you (Yikes! especially for a place with no blinds!!). They delayed when they started construction in the mornings after we complained twice about all of the construction noise, but we would strongly advise not booking the Villa Vista until construction is competed and asking if there is any other construction near the other villas before booking.
-We booked the Romance Package and were told it included a full-day trip to Tortuga Island and free in-room dining, however when we arrived Jessica (the receptionist) tried to tell us very matter of fact-ly that the trip was only half a day and we would have to drive 1hr+ to get to the location from which the boat left on very poorly signed roads. Do not accept this if you have been told you would be given a full day trip! We went back and forth and eventually were given the full-day trip with pick up at the hotel as originally promised. Jessica also said there was a charge for in-room dining. We also went back and forth and were eventually also assured there would be no extra charge as originally promised.
-The property is in a beautiful location, but just be aware that you will need to rent an ATV or car to get to the beach. The nearest usable beach is not walking distance and Casa Chameleon is situated atop a very long hill that is so steep cars have to use lower gears on it.

All in all, we had a good time and it is a nice location with good service. Just wish we had known which questions to ask up front! Hopefully this helps other travelers plan their stay.

Room Tip: Noticeable construction is ongoing next door to the Villa Vista location (as of early June 2012), so...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
, General Manager at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, June 24, 2012
We are very sorry about the inconvenience of the construction!! We try to do everything possible to make the construction not interfere with our guests experience, going as far as changing the construction schedule etc., but unfortunately there is only so much that can be done. We have a policy of informing our guests about the construction as well as any other irregularity that may affect theirs stay, so I apologize if for some reason you where not notified prior to arrival. Finally we regret the confusion regarding the romance package (Tortuga island and in-room charges), even though we feel there was a misunderstanding there, as you where able to see for yourself, we immediately corrected the situation to make sure that you were satisfied. Overall we hope you guys had a great honeymoon and that you where able to enjoy beautiful Mal País. We thank you for your feedback and assure you that we have taken it into consideration for future guests. We would love it if you would come back to check out our new villas!
Pura Vida!
Casa Chameleon Management and Staff
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2012

We stayed at Casa Chameleon for five nights for our honeymoon in June. Everything was absolutely wonderful, and we loved our experience there from start to finish! We stayed in the ultra luxury villa and booked the romance package - we highly recommend both. The room is huge and gorgeous. It has a private infinity pool, hammock, plunge tub, rain shower, sitting area, kitchen, and a super comfortable bed. The doors open fully, and you can hear and see the jungle and ocean fully from the room, which is extremely relaxing. Our only minor complaint was that mosquito netting would have been nice, as there were some bugs after rains (I understand some of the other villas have netting). The housekeeping staff really do a great job of making the place beautiful and welcoming; every day, we returned to a new "towel animal".
The food was to die for and the service is great. Rob is truly masterful at creating dishes that are made with local, fresh, and different ingredients - amazing. All the food was great, but I particularly loved the catch of the day dishes, which were literally fresh fish caught that day. Breakfasts were also awesome (and included) and always came with fresh local fruit, which is so much better than similar fruit from the U.S. We loved sous chefs, Oscar and Ron. Their service and breakfast prep were wonderful and we loved Oscar's stories :) They'll bring the food to your villa if you want, but we found that the atmosphere in the private restaurant was better!
Jessica and Alonso in the front office were also very helpful and accommodating. They arranged our travel from start to finish and provided a lot of helpful advice about where to go and how to get there. The grounds of the resort are amazing and private - at most, there are 3 other couples there. It was great to relax by the pool with cocktails and fresh guacamole and literally have no one else around. Overall, we loved our experience at Casa Chameleon and would recommend it to anyone looking for a luxurious, relaxing getaway!

  • Stayed June 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
puravida5, General Manager at Casa Chameleon, responded to this review, June 19, 2012
Hi! Congratulations again on your recent marriage :) We're glad you had an "amazing honeymoon experience" at Casa Chameleon!! Our goal is to ensure that your romantic getaway is memorable and one of a kind! We hope you will come back again, we'll be sure to have new "towel animals" waiting for you in your villa, as well as total pampering from our staff ! Thanks for the wonderful review!!
-Casa Chameleo Staff and Management
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Additional Information about Casa Chameleon

Also Known As:
Casa Chameleon Mal Pais
Casa Chameleon Hotel
Casa Chameleon Costa Rica/Mal Pais
Address: Punta Barrigona, Mal Pais, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Mal Pais
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Mal Pais
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Casa Chameleon 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chosen as one of the "Best 101 Hotels in the World" by Conde Nast Publications' Tatler Travel Guide for 2006, Casa Chameleon is a favourite with honeymooners and celebrities to relax and unwind in an enchanted environment. ... more   less 
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