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“Innovative Foods by Pabro Sanchez, Executive Chef” 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   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Geneva, Illinois
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Innovative Foods by Pabro Sanchez, Executive Chef”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2014

Ah, Costa Rica! This past spring my sister and I vacationed in Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. We’d heard so many wonderful things about the landscape, the animals – its natural beauty. It was all of that, and more. The ‘more’ being our luck in meeting the owner of Sapoa Adventures and also Executive Chef at the Hotel Casa Chameleon – Pabro Sanchez. Being ‘foodies’ ourselves, not only loving to cook but also appreciative of a well done dish or meal, we had the good fortune to meet Pabro as our hiking guide. He was amazingly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, plus the animals and birds of Costa Rica. He was quite educated about the history and archeology of the area, as well the history of the people of Costa Rica. While hiking the Cabo Blanco National Park and in the midst of telling us about the dry tropical rain forest, he began to talk about his love of cooking indigenous foods. My sister and I had just done a cooking vacation in Arizona the previous month, and this piqued our interest. Pabro invited us to dine at Hotel Casa Chameleon in Mal Pais, where he is the Executive Chef, and so that very evening we did so. To say we were blown away is an understatement. We thought we had lucked out with such an intelligent and educated tour guide, but could he also be a great chef? We could tell from our hiking discussion just how passionate he was about cooking indigenous foods, but to see him in action preparing them at the Hotel Casa Chameleon’s outdoor restaurant was quite the treat. We were invited to sit near the bar area and were able to watch him cook firsthand. He answered all of our questions as he worked, explaining what he was doing as he prepared his savory dishes. We were presented with the most wonderful artistic gastronomic creations! We started with mussels (something I’d never had) in a fresh coconut soup of sorts, with a layering of fresh ingredients. I’m not sure all that was in it, but it was to die-for-delicious and innovatively presented. Our main dish was sea bass, and I believe a fresh melon risotto with green onion oil drizzled on top. We had something pumpkin for dessert, which was light and delicate. We walked away frankly being very pleasantly surprised at our find. Pabro doesn’t just use the most fresh ingredients (fish caught that day), but the combinations he creates are highly imaginative, with flavors that juxtaposition into the simply delicious. Luckily for my sister and me, we had planned a snorkeling day trip also and Pabro was our guide a second time! In the midst of snorkeling, he asked us if we wanted to fish, and we ended up catching four huge tuna! Who would cook them for us? That night we went back to the Hotel Casa Chameleon, and Pabro turned our tuna into 3 versions of Ceviche (all unique and mouthwatering), and our main entrée was our tuna prepared with crushed coffee beans, chili flakes, and pistachio nuts, topped with caramelized onions, served with fresh pumpkin, and drizzled with green onion oil. I’d go back to Costa Rica just to eat his food – seriously! It is that unique and delicious. I honestly don’t know all the nuance ingredients Pabro used in the delights we ate, but if dishes like pan seared sea bass, shrimp and fresh melon risotto, with green onion oil; wasabi crusted seared tuna, with caramelized basmati topped with spicy mango chutney; or spicy mussels and red snapper soup, in fresh coconut milk and julienne vegetables sound delectable to you too - head to Costa Rica and Hotel Casa Chameleon in Mal Pais. I know Pabro Sanchez would offer up the same personable hospitality, educated knowledge and history of his country, and delicious beyond what you could image, indigenous foods of Costa Rica. If Pabro Sanchez came to the US, and let’s say opened a restaurant in Chicago (my home town) – he’d have a 3 Star restaurant in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 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.
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232 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    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 (30)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2014

Casa Chameleon was the perfect spot for our honeymoon. The staff is wonderful-incredibly attentive and kind. We cannot say enough about the food each morning and night! Both the head chef Pabro and sous chef Will were both incredible. We really enjoyed talking with Pabro about the dishes and local cuisine each night. We hope to be back in the future!

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Ann Arbor
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2014

My Wife and I stayed here for our honeymoon and it was an amazing experience. To be up front, we bought the romance package with comes with two meals a day, a rental car, and a tourist activity. I am not sure how it would have been with a normal booking.

However, our trip was excellent. The manager and assistant manager were incredibly helpful from the moment we arrived and helped us with planning our trip, finding places to eat lunch, and giving us directions to anything we needed.

The room was truly beautiful. I would guess that the closest villa was probably within 50 feet, however, it felt completely private. We stayed in Villa Sol and it had a beautiful view of the sunset over our pool every night. One of the highlights of the trip was the food. We ate breakfast and dinner at the hotel everyday and the meals were delicious. The chef used locally sourced fresh ingredients to create inventive and tasty dishes. He was also incredibly accommodating to both dietary needs and even specific preferences. Besides the hotel the locale is undeniably gorgeous. Mal Pais is an awesome town. Everyone is super friendly, the beaches are breathtaking, and the local restaurants cook great food. The trip there is a bit of a trek, but totally worth it.

I would highly recommend Casa Chameleon to anyone who wants to have a romantic escape with the perfect combination of adventure and luxury.

  • Stayed May 2014, 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.
Calistoga, California
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2014 via mobile

Staying at Casa Chameleon for our honeymoon was the best decision ever! The photos barely do it justice. We rented an ATV and ventured all over the peninsula. We surfed, caught huge Mahi Mahi, zip lined and visited many towns and villages along the way. The staff treated us like royalty and were so very attentive. The daily breakfasts and dinners were completely top notch (being from Napa Valley we're a bit spoiled) and we still wish we were there dining with the awesome chef and staff. The villas were breathtaking and the jungle sounds awakening and exciting. We can't wait to go back!!!

  • Stayed November 2013
    • 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2014

Casa Chameleon is an amazing place…my wife and I just visited for a second time, and it once again did not disappoint! This time around we stayed in Villa Estrella for a couple of nights and Villa Vista for one night. Both villas were fantastic; they are super clean and have a ton of amenities with the highlight being the refreshing plunge pools!

There are a lot of great places to eat in Mal Pais, but I highly recommend eating right at Casa Chameleon. The restaurant itself is beautifully built with fantastic views, but ultimately you must go for the food! Head Chef Pabro is a genius…each time we ate at the restaurant, I had seafood straight out of the ocean from the local fishing port. DELICIOUS!

I would also like to mention that there are a lot of fun activities in the area. Seeing as Mal Pais is a major surfing destination, I had to try it out this time around. Like most activities, the resort will set everything up for you, which is really convenient. I had a great surfing instructor that taught me all the basics and got me up on the board within a few tries!

Casa Chameleon is a beautiful resort with all the amenities you could ever dream of plus a super friendly and accommodating staff. My wife and I will be visiting this gorgeous place for years to come!

  • Stayed March 2014, 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.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2014

If you're looking for privacy, luxury and romance you will find it here! Casa Chameleon delivers on all it's websites's promises! The hotel and grounds were beautiful and well designed. My Fiancé and I loved the "In the forest" feel of the place and were constantly enchanted by the many gorgeous flowers, birds and lazy reptiles we spotted around the property. On top of the grounds being lovely, the Villas were exceptional. We stayed in two of the 6 and both were fantastic. Each of them nestled against a hillside with total privacy and expansive views of the rain forest and stunning blue ocean below. Each Villa came with a private infinity pool which were so very inviting and constantly beckoned us to take a swim. The Villa's also boasted wide open floor plans with high ceilings and full kitchens complete with fridge and microwave. The air conditioning units were also a welcomed addition and the bathrooms...Well somethings should be left a surprise : ) I could go on and on about this hotel, the wonderful hardworking friendly staff there, the GM who made our stay "très incroyable" but I'll let you experience it for yourself. The fact is, this hotel tries very hard to make sure you have a wonderful experience. If you are looking for a place to deepen your relationship, fall in love all over again or just forget about the world together, stay at Casa Chameleon, you'll thank this review later.

Room Tip: If you get the chance, stay in Villa Estrella or Villa Ultra. They will not disappoint!
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  • Stayed April 2014, 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
    • 4 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.
Evesham, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 10, 2014

We could feel ourselves relaxing the moment we stepped into our villa. Spacious and comfortable, it was the balcony with stunning views and private plunge pool/jacuzzi that really made our stay. Breakfast, ordered the day before, was served on our balcony by smiling and courteous staff. Food was excellent, including the black tuna which we caught and the chef prepared for us. We could have stayed much longer than our few days, and hope to return one day!

  • Stayed March 2014, 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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:
Ranked #2 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Casa Chameleon 4*
Number of rooms: 6
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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