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“A dream come true for our anniversary trip...” 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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Ranked #3 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
League City, Texas
1 review
“A dream come true for our anniversary trip...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2014 via mobile

We stayed in the Villa Ultra for our 5 day trip to Mal Pais to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. It's true there are many steps up and down a steep hill (134 to be exact) to get to the room but it is well worth it and we didn't want to leave anyway. The view is picturesque and waking up to the birds and monkeys is so relaxing.

Erica and the staff are amazing. They set us up with all our excursions and set up a rental car for us (I will warn you the roads are not managed well but maneuverable). Even though there are no street signs or street names the people in CR are so friendly we never got lost.

It is a bit pricy but anything we wanted Erica and her staff made possible which made our trip so much more relaxing and fun. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
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214 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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 (23)
Date | Rating
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English first
Cypress, Texas
Top Contributor
100 reviews 100 reviews
44 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2014

We thoroughly enjoyed our stayed here except for all the steps to get to our fabulous room. We arrived during the night along with a hard rain. We were met out front by the security guard and one of the restaurant servers. Umbrellas were given to us and we headed down MANY stairs in the poring rain, very little light, and carrying our small bags. The unfortunate security guy had to carry our larger bags. The steps were slippery and I felt very unsafe on them especially without any handrails. It rained a lot of our time there so we had this problem often.

The unsafe, long climb was our ONLY problem, though. The place is beautiful and has fantastic ocean views from up the hillside. Our room was the Estrella and it was one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever stayed in. There is a living room, bedroom, and a large bathroom. The patio has sitting areas and a large infinity plunge pool. Fortunately you can have your breakfast and dinner delivered to your room (for a fee) which we took advantage of when it was raining.

The BEST thing about this hotel is Chef Pabro Sanchez and his staff. He has created many delicious and creative dishes showcasing local cuisine. He cooked our dinners every night and for all the other guests. They only serve guests so it’s very intimate. The server explained each dish and answered any questions we had. When we had our dinner brought to our room, Pabro also came and described each dish which was such a special touch. On our last night we asked to be sat at the bar in the restaurant which looks into the kitchen and the staff gave us the best “show” of everything being cooked along with a lot of history and stories about the food. That ended up being one of my favorite things we did in Costa Rica!

I would like to stay here again but next time I will forgo the “best” room in the hotel to one much closer to the lobby, bar, restaurant.

Room Tip: Closer to the lobby is best unless you don't mind climbing many steps.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2014

My partner and I just returned from a week in Mal Pais and stayed at Casa Chameleon. We wanted a romantic getaway that included a plunge pool and after careful research and debating many locations, we stumbled upon Casa Chameleon. We booked the romance package and now that we have returned, agree that although pricey, was worth it. While the villas, grounds and restaurant were all fantastic, there are still some improvements that Casa Chameleon can make to ensure that their guests continue to come back year over year. We hope that others will take our comments into consideration to enhance your own experience when you visit this property.

Check-in: After arriving at Tambor airport and an hour taxi ride later, we were greeted by Erika (hotel manager) at the front of the property. Instead of welcoming us, she immediately reminded us that we were early and that check-in was not until 2 PM. She was worried that we would get bored and we assured her that we had plenty of ideas of things to do to pass the time (we arrived at 10 AM). Erika takes you to a pavilion on the property where you get a warm towel and a cool drink with aloe in it and quickly goes through the breakdown. As I previously mentioned, we had booked the romance package and had spent months emailing back and forth with the property to confirm details (activities, times for dinner, dinner choices, etc.) so we were surprised that Erika was not more familiar with our details and asked us to reconfirm a lot of the information that we had provided by email over the course of the weeks leading up to our trip. She failed to give us a map of Mal Pais, additional details on our activities (including that we actually needed to drive and that the hotel had not arranged transportation) or any other information about the town that you would expect a manager to know off hand. Yes, we probably should have asked more questions but when you pay thousands of dollars for a vacation, you do expect a certain level of service. Just before 2 PM, Erika found us by the pool and brought us down to our room.

Hotel Managers: Erika and Juan are the hotel managers on-site. Erika works in the morning and Juan works in the afternoon. Perhaps it was an off week for them (as we read previously how amazing the staff was) but we found both of them to be standoffish and not overly friendly. We had booked the zip lining tour for Tuesday at 1 PM. Since this was included in our package, we were under the impression that we would be picked up at the hotel at 1 PM and escorted to Montezuma. At check-in, no directions or maps were provided. Tuesday, we are waiting outside of the hotel when Erika comes out and tells us that were not only supposed to drive ourselves but that we were supposed to arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the zip lining. These are details that should have been provided at check-in. We were obviously frustrated but did not find that Erika took any ownership in the mistake that was made. We had to re-book for the next day and it was at this time that a map and directions were provided. During check out with Juan, after questioning some charges on our bill, he seemed very annoyed and in a rush to get us out of his office. Also, they did not provide an itemized bill so the charges that were on top of what we pre-paid were a bit of a mystery. Water at dinner, for example, is an extra charge and we knew this but we would have liked to see the line items for each of the charges (especially considering they make you sign a receipt at each meal). At the end of the day, we let him run our credit card for the amount on the bill, even though we were not sure if that was the correct amount.

Grounds: As soon as you pull up, it's clear that the grounds are well maintained and taken care of. Lush gardens of trees and flowers await you. The entire property is just beautiful and we saw staff daily landscaping to make the property look its best. We were very pleased with how secluded we were from the main town but how we still felt that we were in a remote setting all on our own.

Villa: We stayed in villa Pochote and it was exactly like the pictures. Big, airy, nice finishes. The doors all open out onto the private patio and plunge pool. The pool was as expected, refreshing and with a beautiful view of the ocean in the distance. The outdoor shower was nice as well but not as secluded as we hoped. We noticed that the villa above us could see down onto the shower and as well as those coming down the path that knew where to look. Overall, besides some ants and a number of bugs that flew into the villa during the day while the doors were open, the villa was everything we were hoping for.

Food: The food selections and staff at the restaurant were probably the highlight of the trip. Andrea, the waitress at most dinners, is extremely kind and attentive. She made us feel special each night and always was on top of our reservations, order and wine preferences. We definitely enjoyed getting to know her during our 5 nights. Pablo, the executive chef, was imaginative and provided amazing dinners. 2 nights he was out sick, and the sous chef Will, jumped in and provided equally delicious meals. Some of our favorites included fresh white fish in a Dashi broth, seared tuna, a traditional Japanese sushi box and amazing jumbo shrimp with a coconut sauce. Breakfast was also amazing each morning and we enjoyed having options to choose from. Our favorite, by far, was the gallo pinto. We have already purchased a bottle of Salsa Lizano to try to make our own at home. Definitely eat at the restaurant as much as possible (especially if you have booked a package that includes your meals).

Activities: We mainly wanted to relax on this trip and to enjoy the beach and our private plunge pool. We did go to Montezuma (about 30 minutes by car) and thought it was a bigger town that Mal Pais with many restaurants and shopping opportunities. The zip lining tour was also close to here so we recommend heading to Montezuma in the morning to explore, shop and eat before the tour. After zip lining, we recommend hiking down (30 minutes) to the Montezuma waterfalls. There are three falls in all but you should hike to the bottom for the best views and swimming in the pools of the falls. We recommend a car or ATV if you want out of Mal Pais as the roads are quite primitive and the town of Mal Pais was a good 30 minute walk from the property. Casa Chameleon can arrange a massage in your room (we also loved this) and I would recommend it for anyone looking to relax. We did not like beach at the bottom of the hill from the property (Playa Carmen) but did enjoy the beaches in Santa Teresa (10 minute trip). Playa de Hermosa was our favorite (clean, big waves, refreshing and nice for swimming).

Tips: We had a package so a car and meals (breakfast and dinner) were included. However, we were on our own for lunch each day. We really liked the local bakery in town. This is ran by a family from Belgium and has sophisticated coffees, pastries and sandwiches. I recommend you try the croissant with spinach, goat cheese and poached eggs. The smoothies too were delicious - a must to help cool off from the humid weather. The main sports bar, is fun and often crowded. We were there during the World Cup and it was often packed during the games (which also made it a ton of fun to be there). Drinks were well priced and they had a full menu. We ate fish tacos and enjoyed them but also saw that they had some classic American fare (i.e. burgers) that others looked to be enjoying. We found having a car was an easy way to explore outside of the property and allowed us more opportunities to see more of the peninsula.

Weather: A lot of people warned us that the weather in June and July would be very wet. We actually only had 1 day of rain and found that most days it was sunny (through the afternoon) but that clouds did roll in around 3 PM every day. It was very warm with high humidity so we were more sweaty than we thought we would be. Since it is the start of the rainy season, the surroundings were green and lush. We definitely didn't mind the one day of rain (it also cooled down that evening) and would return in June/July again in the future.

Overall, we were very pleased with our stay. Compared to other properties in this part of Costa Rica, Casa Chameleon is definitely the best. The food, most of the staff and the well equipped villas made the trip feel special and luxurious. Costa Rica is a beautiful place and I am looking forward to exploring other parts in the future.

Room Tip: We enjoyed villa Pochote for the private pool, outdoor shower and secluded location!
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  • Stayed June 2014, 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
    • 4 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.
Geneva, Illinois
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
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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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
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2014

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.
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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 #3 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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