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“Amazing Honeymoon Experience” 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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15% off room rate
Ranked #3 of 10 hotels in Mal Pais
New York City, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Amazing Honeymoon Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2013

My wife and I spent the final 5 days of our Honeymoon at Casa Chameleon, and it was wonderful. The staff was friendly and sweet, our room (Villa Estrella) was a dream, with such a comfortable and romantic setting, and weeks later, we are still mourning that Chef Rob isn't around to make our food. Honestly, that food was superb.
This was the priciest hotel we stayed at on our honeymoon, and we couldn't imagine a better experience, feeling like it was worth every penny (and for the food especially, worth MORE than we paid!). We would love to return, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Room Tip: The privacy and the infinity pool were well worth it. Though the room is quite a hike from the resta...
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  • Stayed January 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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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, January 24, 2013
Dear Jonathan
We are glad that you got spend the last leg of your honeymoon at Casa Chameleon, and that you enjoyed your stay with us. Thanks for the great review!! We will be eagerly awaiting your return, ready to pamper you and your wife!
Pura Vida
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204 people have reviewed this hotel

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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 (22)
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English first
central jersey
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

My husband and I were absolutely thrilled with EVERYTHING at Casa Chameleon. The location is beautiful, the grounds are well-maintained and though heavily landscaped, are done so in a way that it looks completely natural, which is what we like. The staff is warm, friendly, helpful and very accommodating. Chef Rob, for instance, brought yoga mats to our room when we inquired about them. We didn't even know yet that he was the chef, and would not have expected him to run a housekeeping errand like that, but everyone there is so committed to every guest's pleasure, that this kind of service is the norm. Speaking of the chef, the food was awesome. Anyone who says that eating in Casa Chameleon's dining room is too expensive for what you get, or is not anything special, obviously is cheap or pretentious. While the food is not overly fancy, everything we ate was cooked to perfection, and it is clear that the chef and sous chefs know how to prepare fresh fish and local fruits and vegetables in a way that captures their naturally wonderful flavors. The villas themselves are GORGEOUS. PERIOD. You feel like you are in your own private island; it's quiet and picturesque, yet also very chic, with so much attention paid to the detail of not only the villa decor, but the entire hotel grounds. My husband and I plan to return next year at the same time, prior to the Christmas holidays. For what you are getting at this place -- setting, accommodations, food/drink, personal service -- it is certainly a bargain. Anything remotely comparable to the amenities and service stateside would be probably at least quadruple the cost. Bravo Casa Chameleon!

  • 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
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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, January 19, 2013
Dear guest:
Thank you for the wonderful review!! We are glad you and your husband enjoyed your stay with us! At Casa Chameleon we strive to pamper our guest in order to make your stay special, romantic and relaxing. Our chef's work to bring the natural flavors of area to your table by using the freshest available ingredients, which ensures that you get a little taste of Costa Rica at its best; We are happy that you enjoyed it, and that you are planning to return to Casa Chameleon! We'll be waiting for you!!
Pura Vida!
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New York City
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2012

My partner and I stayed for a week at Casa Chameleon (CC) in early November 2012. After a lot of searching in the area, we selected CC and Villa Pochote and it was well worth the extra expense - the infinity pool was so nice to come home to after a day of exploring on our ATV's. We had certain pre-travel concerns about being a gay couple and staying in such a private boutique resort but we were treated like any of the other couples (met some nice couples from Texas...) which was reassuring and left us with no hesitations to recommend this place to our friends or any couple considering it.

Vicky (who is in San Jose) was amazing to deal with and endured several phone calls from me in the weeks leading up to our trip (having to repeat things a few times for me...). She is certainly a solid asset when representing the place and experience to be had. Our package included the breakfast option which i would highly recommend - not only because it's freshly prepared and good, but also because it's a great way to start the day as the views from the dining area are beautiful. We opted out of the dinner package because of the previous reviews ($$$) and because we like to explore some of the local dining options - which may not look great from the outside but are excellent. I would recommend Mary's which boasts a farm to table dining experience. The sushi place at the end of Santa Teresa, while nice, was very expensive and not certain it was entirely worth it (although we're in NYC so spoiled by sushi options here)

We rented ATV's as it's much easier to get around and travel to the other side of the Peninsula or up the coast. I forget the name of the local rental place that CC hooked us up with but the guy was really nice. We had a few mechanical issues ([--] happens) over the few days (once in the middle of nowhere...) and each time he was very friendly and apologetic - he eventually credited us a full bike rental for our inconvenience.

Mal Pais is very beautiful and somewhat "untouched" which was exactly what we were looking for - we were somewhat surprised by the prices of dinners and groceries as they seemed to be almost at par with USA prices which was not what I expected. That said, we would not hesitate to return.

The only "unpleasant" experience (which we brushed off because everything had been so nice) was when we had to wait for drinks in the lounge a couple nights in a row. After over 30 minutes, I went to the dining room and asked Ronald if we could get drinks (the previous nights Oscar saw when we arrived via camera and was very attentive). Ronald said he was busy and mumbled some vague answer but we were still kept waiting (the dining room was empty...). After a 2nd repeat the following night we were tempted to go behind the bar and make out own but he eventually made us drinks. We decided to make our own drinks in our villa the following nights to avoid the awkwardness of having to ask - which was unfortunate because we enjoyed the setting and view from the lounge and was the only place to also enjoy the limited wifi.

Regardless, one experience doesn't overshadow the fact that my partner and I had a wonderful time and felt well cared for by all the staff at CC. There is a lot of effort (I'm sure much of it is behind the scenes) that went in to making our stay exactly what they claim it should be...private, romantic, adventurous and fun. We would come back tomorrow if it were possible...

Thank you.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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
    • 4 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, January 19, 2013
Dear guest:
We are glad that you enjoyed your stay at Casa Chameleon, and that you will recommend us to your friends! Our goal is to make our guests feel papered and special, and we are glad to have succeeded with you and your partner. I will send Vicky your regards and kind words. Our apologies for the delay with your drinks! We will look into the situation to make sure this does not happen again. We're glad this did not take away from your wonderful experience and we hope to see you back at Casa Chameleon soon!
Pura Vida!
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1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 20, 2012 via mobile

The best employees at Casa Chameleon (CC) are probably the lower paid employees on staff. We had two gentlemen who prepared our drinks and poolside snacks during our stay at CC. Oscar and (I forget the second gentlemen's name (maybe Ramone)- but he was definitely top notch guy. He was incredibly hard working, dedicated, a great cook, and better host.). These gentlemen, are the best asset of CC. I cant say good enough words about them.

Also, the staff at CC made it very easy to do activities in the Mal Pais area. Just say what you want and tada, it is done for you. The rooms were wonderful and the views great. The pool was very relaxing.

We talked with other guests there and I believe they were staying in Villa Sol. My impression is, it wasn't perfect. For a few bucks more, Villa Palma and Vista are great. Perhaps management should consider lowering the price on Villa Sol, because from what I can tell from reviews and talking to the other guests Sol and Villas Vista/Palma aren't as close in greatness as CC prices suggest.

When we checked out, there were approximately $75 in overcharges of poolside drinks and snack items to our account. I'm sure most guests don't keep as careful track of what we purchased while there. I hope it was truly a mistake on the charges. But even if so, the sloppy bookkeeping; or worse, dishonesty and intentional overcharges, left somewhat of a bad last taste as we departed. I've read other reviews suggesting similar problems. To the management, this is something that should be addressed. Your hotel goes to such great lengths for guests to have a great stay. The slighetest dishonesty, or appearance of impropriety, will derail all your work in an instance. Always maintain your credibility and be honest and starighforward with your guests. With this said, as soon as we told the manager what we didn't purchases, the bill was corrected.

The food was very good. We had dinner one night and the ambiance and food were very good. Was it worth appx, $150? I think that is hard for any restaurant to do. On other evenings we had great meals at other places in Mal Pais for $40. If budget is a concern, I'd skip the dinner. Breakfast was very pleasant and worth the price. Again, prepared by the assistant cooks (Ramone), who do a great job.

I would stay at Villa Vista/Palma again. Mal Pais is a very neat town and I recommend it to anyone considering a trip to Costa Rica.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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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:
We are very glad that you enjoyed your stay at Casa Chameleon! Thank you for the great feedback, your suggestions are very valuable to us, as we strive to provide the best experience possible for our guests. I am certain that the issue with the bill was an honest mistake, we have recently made certain changes in our administrative staff and this must have been during their learning curb. Nevertheless that does not justify the error, and I apologize on behalf of Casa Chameleon for any inconvenience this caused you. I am happy that our staff resolved the issue promptly. Thank you again for pointing it out to us, we'll be sure supervise this closely to make sure that it does not happen again. I will pass on your compliments to Oscar and Ronald, it will mean a lot to them and we thank you for recognizing their efforts. We hope to see you back at Casa Chameleon soon!
Pura Vida!
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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
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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Calgary
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 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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Additional Information about Casa Chameleon

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:
#2 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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Also Known As:
Casa Chameleon Mal Pais
Casa Chameleon Costa Rica/Mal Pais

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