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“Great first experience...disappointing second” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Moana

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Hotel Moana
Mal Pais, Mal Pais 0000, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #4 of 10 hotels in Mal Pais
Calgary
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Great first experience...disappointing second”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2012

My wife and I have been to the Mal Pais areas for three straight years (February 2010, 2011, and 2012). In two different hotels, we have had an amazing first experience, and confusingly upsetting experience the second time. Moana Lodge was one of the two hotels where we encountered this experience. This review has been a long time coming.

In February 2010, we rented a car in La Fortuna and made the trek to Montezuma. Very nearby was Mal Pais/Santa Teresa. We had no hotel booked, and were lucky to notice the interesting Moana Lodge from the street below. We were also fortunate that they had a junior suite available. The excellent experience at Moana Lodge was a major reason we returned to Mal Pais the following February. The owner, Aiden, was very kind and very helpful. The room was incredibly unique, with a fabulous layout, the smell of the wood, a high end bathroom, and suberb views. Sadly, the equally impressive looking restaurant was closed, as they were between chefs. Nontheless, we were still served a top notch breakfast with great coffee prior to surfing. We spent a lot of time by the pool area; it was private, clean, and high end. An all around near perfect experience.

We had high expectations for our second stay, in February 2011. Immediately, however, something was glaringly different. It was the staff. Aiden was no longer working the front desk; we only saw him once (we think), helping out in the restaurant. We excitedly told the lady at the front desk that it was our second year in a row there. She was cold, flat, and unfriendly, not just when we first arrived (which was confusing enough), but when we mentioned a few of the concerns we encountered this time around. A major disappointment was the pool area. For some reason, the lights were shut off very early, and we were unable to get them turned on. Frustratingly, it was impossible to get a hold of any worker there; we spent far too much time ringing the doorbell and waiting, on several occasions. When we went down to the pool the next day, it was surprisingly unkept, not just in the sense of the leaves floating in it, but the general grossness of the pool floor. Neither my wife nor I felt comfortable entering the water. When we presented this concern, we basically got a blank stare. Nothing. A real disappointment.

The junior suite was again impressive looking, however this year it was showing some wear. The worst part was the bathroom. Not only was there an issue with the faucet (it actually fell right off the wall), but a horrible stench kept coming from the shower or toilet area, so much so that we had to block the terrible smell in by closing the bathroom door (which was doubly off-putting when you actually had to go into the bathroom). Again, no apology, solution, or hint of concern from the girl at the front desk. There was also a long trail of ants from one end of the bathroom to the other. Even leaving was a bad experience; we were in a rush to get to the airport (which they knew ahead of time), and we could not find the girl to checkout. We left in a panic.

Then there was the restaurant. This time it was open. The staff at the restaurant simply did not acknowledge us when we entered, and we stood for quite a while with no pleasantries. Dinner was mediocre at best. The next morning, after my wife told the waitress several times that she was allergic to bananas, she found bananas in her breakfast, and had to then deal with her reaction to them. The waitress was in no ways apologetic.

I only rate the experience as high as average because of our earlier stay. Needless to say, we did not return to Moana in February 2012.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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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
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (43)
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English first
Culver City
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 31, 2012

Fellow travelers, do not be fooled by the website for this place.The owner will advertise all the "great" services offered at this place when in reality there are no spa services, leaves everywhere in the pool where you would think there are alligators in there, and basic necessities are not available either. It was the worst place I have ever stayed in. Was there for my honeymoon and we had to leave after one night. Office closes around 5pm, no food. The "gorgeous" restaurant advertised was closed, and the toilet did not work. Had to literally go outside after sun down with absolutely not even one light outside to use the bathroom in the bushes with all the rain forest animals. This place is wedged right smack in the middle of the rainforest, with no light, no phone, television, and the power cut out as well. Woke up in the middle of the night after a spider crawled across my leg only to gaze at the eery African masks hung up on the wall in the dark. Finally fell asleep for an hour in the miserable room to be awakened by wild animals and howler monkeys outside my room at 5am right around the time where I needed a toilet again. Absolutely no comfort, no sleep and not to mention over priced, with no one around for miles.Please run far away from this lodge and save yourself the discomfort and bug bites.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
moanamanager, Owner at Hotel Moana, responded to this review, September 18, 2012
When a review is written with the sole intent of extracting revenge over a disputed refund with a third party it therefor helps neither the traveller or the hotelier in the quest of gaining an honest and genuine insight of a property. The fundamental point of writing an online review is to give honest feedback on a hotel which aids and improves both of the aforementioned parties in deciding if the property in question is the one for you and thus also helping assist management in how they can improve their property.

When you arrived I noticed that you were quite tense as you took the wrong and longer route to get to us and that you had had a disaster of a trip including a quad accident. Therefore I tried to be as welcoming and helpful as possible to both of you as I wanted your trip to improve, you even commented that we were the first place to have working wifi.

You said that you needed to return your rental car and catch your departing flight at 11am in San Jose the day you were to check out from us.

As San Jose is almost 6 hours away I knew that you would not make that flight. I then set about trying to help you replan your trip. I spent the next half hour helping you figure out how best to get you to San Jose, cancelling your last night with us and not charging you for it which meant me loosing $115 on the loss of sale, but I put you first. While I offered you a refund I wasn't required to, as it was your mistake as you hadn't planned for a 5.5 hour drive to drop a car off and then make the airport before 9am.
I informed you that you'd needed to call Expedia (I then offered you the use of our phone to place the call) for the refund as you booked through them and not through us, this is because they only pay us a month after the client has stayed with us.

As we've only started to work with Expedia in July I asked you some questions as to how you found us, you told me through a partner site of Expedia but you said that you had not seen our website. This contradicts your claim of our website being misleading, if you hadnt seen it how could be misleading? Coupled with the other point you made about us advertising a spa, further proves that you have not seen our website and seriously questions the integrity of your review. We've never had a spa and we've never claimed that we have, we do arrange for massages and thats on our website for all to see.

I then received a call two days after you left from Expedia asking if I wanted to issue a refund for not just one night but for two nights.
I agreed not to collect the sale from Expedia on the last night but as you didn't check out till after 4pm on your second night and as you never informed us that you were checking out there was no possibility of me offering a refund for that night, and I stick by that decision which has cost us an unfair one star review.

Regarding your points that made for such an unpleasant stay.
Unfortunately there was a black out on the entire southern tip of the peninsula due to trees that were brought down during the violent storm that passed through that night. Being a small hotel we unfortunately don't have the budget for a back up generator. That storm also caused the leaves that ended up in the pool that night. While it rained all night and again the following day (the real reason you decided to leave that day) the leaves in the pool were removed first thing that morning.

The monkeys and the spider that you spoke of, are simply beyond our control, but I suggest that if you wish to avoid such creatures perhaps you should really consider as to why you decided to visit a hotel in the Costa Rican jungle. Ive seen spiders in both the hotel and in my home but in seven years of living here never once has one entered my bed and got under the sheets to crawl across my leg, making what happened to you a very unlucky experience.

Your claim of bed bugs is the first time Ive ever heard that made about our hotel. We have all the rooms fumigated annually, not for bed bugs but for ants and termites but the fumigation Ive been told would kill bed bugs if there was any present. Perhaps you'd be good enough to send me some photos of the bugs or the bites you encountered so we could see if those bites were those of bed bugs or of ants.

I do apologise about the toilet but I checked it after I read your review and there seemed to be no problem with it. If you had mentioned it to Vicky the next day she would have sent our maintenance man there straight away. I do however find it hard to imagine that if a toilet didn't work during your entire stay that you'd not report it to us and that you would choose to use the bushes with 'all the animals' as you claimed to relive yourself.

Regarding the restaurant, we made the hard decision to close it for dinner service the last week of the season because we couldn't sustain the effects of the downturn in the economy which has hit Costa Rica hard this year. We did write to inform all of the guests that were staying that last week before we closed the hotel to inform them that the restaurant would be closed and if they wished to cancel their stay that we'd not place any charge on them for doing so.
In our defence I informed you of this the minute you arrived and I also explained that we wrote to Expedia but you told me that they failed to pass that on to you. Im sorry that they didnt relay the message but Ive contacted them again to vent my feelings as we wanted to avoid disappointing any of our guests.

Normally the restaurant is open till 10pm and we do close the front desk at 5pm. Located on the front desk door we have an intercom thats connected to the staff house in the case that a guest needs something. Perhaps you missed that when I showed you, which I apologise for.

Obviously I was quite saddened to receive such a scathing feedback on our hotel.
We work very hard to maintain a high standard for all of our guests so to be told that our hotel is the 'worst place ever' was hard for us to understand after so many positive comments through the years.
When a hotel receives a one star review its very damaging to a hotel that has worked hard to get to where it is.
In this case this one star review comes from a person thats only ever written one review, again I stand by my decision to not to refund your stay for the day you disappeared after 4pm and without saying anything to us. While that might have cost us a bad review I have up stand up for what I believe is correct and fair otherwise my business could go under.

Were a small family run hotel, we run it honestly and as best as we professionally can. As were not part of a large hotel chain that allows us to hear what our guests have to say and that makes me flexible with refunds which larger hotels would not bow to.
Lastly we hope that our guests can come and spend time with us and enjoy the jungle and all the animals that live within it, I believe that thats what makes Mal Pais special.
Thank you,
Aidan
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United States
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2012

Overall experience while staying at this amazing hotel was no less than perfect. Customer service - outstanding. The rooms are very cozy, comfortable and its design is very unique while making a great use of local materials. Everyone at the hotel was very helpful.
The views from the restaurant were breath taking. I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone who asks for a recommendation.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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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moanamanager, Owner at Hotel Moana, responded to this review, August 15, 2012
On behalf of all of our staff and ourselves the owners, we just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you Julian M and all the other reviewers through this season for posting your kind words. Your reviews mean a lot to us and we take great comfort that our hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. We’re delighted that we managed to provide welcoming and pleasurable stays for all of our guests over this season. We hope to see you all again when we reopen in November 2012, Aidan & Vicky
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San Jose, Costa Rica
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2012

My family and I stayed here in April 2012. Enjoy the Hotel and ocean view is wonderfull. The food at moana restaurant is excellent .
Playa hermosa beach is very near and others beaches too.
The pool area is very clean and confortable.

  • Stayed April 2012, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2012

My husband and I stayed here in April. It was a great end to our vacation. The hotel and grounds are beautiful. The pool area is clean and relaxing. And breakfast is included and the breakfast was SO amazing. Not only the food but waking up with some coffee and the view from the restaurant, which is only open to hotel guests for breakfast, started the day off perfectly. The hotel is a bit out of town but that was a good thing. It's an easy trip via ATV or car, maybe 5 minutes. It's certainly walkable too but we enjoyed having an ATV, (which you can rent through the lodge), to visit other areas of the peninsula as well. Vicki was very helpful in suggesting restaurants and things to do around the area. And honestly, the steps to the restaurant are not bad. Some reviews kind of worried me when I was deciding on a place to stay and it was no big deal at all. Great stay!

Room Tip: We stayed in the deluxe rooms but if you can afford it, go for the junior suites!
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  • Stayed April 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.
San Jose, Costa Rica
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2012

Moana is definitely a place to come back again! The staff is really friendly, the owners themselves accompany you throughout your stay and make you feel at home (or way better I would say)! The view from this place is incredible, and the restaurant (on the uppermost part of the property) really adds a lot to the lodge. It's a lounge type of restaurant with simple but great tasting food!
The lodge is located in the heart of Mal Pais and only a 2 minute drive from the center of this "jungle-beach-paradise"!
If you're planning to visit something very different in Costa Rica, Mal Pais and Moana are the places to visit!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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.
waterbury ct
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2012

My wife and I stayed here in July while on our honeymoon. We had just traveled from Arenal and this was our first stop by the ocean. The views from our room were amazing!! We had a great view of the ocean and were lulled to sleep at night by the sound of the waves crashing on shore. The beach there is not swimmable as previous reviews have noted. No problem though if you have a car, just drive a mile down the roadto playa hermosa or santa teresa and hop on in with the surfers. The owners were very friendly and vicki gave us a grat tip on where to eat when we traveled to Montezuma to visit the waterfalls and town. Thanks again Vicki. The food at Moana can't be beat. The dinners and breakfast were excellent and the sunsets were breathtaking. Lastly, we loved our server!! He was so nice to talk with and had a relaxed demeanor which matched the relaxing vibe of CR. He made some killer drinks too! Thanks again Moana!

Room Tip: Might as well pick one up on the hill with a view. It will help to reduce the long long walk up the...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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 Moana

Also Known As:
Moana Hotel
Moana Hotel Mal Pais
Hotel Moana Costa Rica/Mal Pais
Address: Mal Pais, Mal Pais 0000, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Mal Pais
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Mal Pais
#3 Family Hotel in Mal Pais
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel Moana is a small luxurious ocean view hotel nestled amongst a rich backdrop of wildlife and jungle. Inspired by Africa for its choice of décor, the beautiful rooms offer tranquility and comfort to all of our guests. Enjoy being served breakfast while you gaze out over the Pacific Ocean. Later hang out at the wonderful pool area and fall asleep on a suspended day bed while the waves crash in the background, paradise awaits! ... more   less 
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