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“Not as good as we hoped” 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
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Not as good as we hoped”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2013

We stayed at Moana Lodge on the final leg of our honeymoon. The hotel is situated a 5-10 minute drive along a very bumpy road (like all the roads in the area - 4x4 a must) from the main crossroads in Playa Carmen where there are shops, a pharmacy, ATMs, restaurants etc.

The beach opposite the hotel is nice for watching the sunset, but is not good for a paddle - it's very rocky and the surf will slam the stones into your ankles (as I found out to my cost). There's also a pack of dogs that roam around there, so not good if you're don't like dogs much!

Playa Carmen is sandy and if you're willing to drive a bit further Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa are stunning strips of palm-fringed sand with big surf where we did both bodyboarding and surfing (watch out for the rip currents though - super strong!). Montezuma's beautiful and calm swimming beach is 35-minutes' drive away.

As for the hotel itself, most of the buildings are nestled in the trees, apart from the restaurant and suites, which have amazing views out to sea. Due to the junior suite's cost, we started our stay in a semi-detached double room - we were pleased to see a bottle of Champagne had been put out for us - before moving up to the suite for the last two nights.

In general, the hotel is very nice, but we just felt it lacked a few of the details that make a place great. For instance, the rooms were nice and clean, but we weren't overly impressed with the lack of bin bags in the bathrooms, given that you can't flush toilet paper in Mal Pais, and things like hairdryers and flannels were missing. The indoor shower in the junior suite also didn't work, but luckily there was a nice private outdoor shower which made up for it.

The hanging beds by the pool are really relaxing and the water itself is nice and cool (Mal Pais is scorching hot day and night - you will need your A/C on!), although its a pretty small so no swimming.

The restaurant was nice, but be warned that in the 'green' season there's a good chance it will be closed apart from during breakfast. The breakfast itself is a la carte, which was a bit disappointing as we'd got used to buffet spreads elsewhere. Also one morning it took 35 minutes to get some pancakes, which we think is because they have so few staff in the off season that they all seem to do multiple jobs - chef/waitress one minute, cleaner the next.

But the main disappointment for us was the distinct lack of a warm Tico welcome that we'd experienced everywhere else in Costa Rica. One of the waitresses mumbled so quietly you could barely hear her and the other members of staff including the female owner were polite but not friendly, even when we were both really struggling with a stomach bug - don't expect any small talk.

This could/should have been a five-star review.

Room Tip: The views from the suites are fantastic
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2013

We had a good time here, but some things could have been better. The room was nicely decorated and the hotel is very original and well designed, but the pool was a bit dirty and it was a shame that the restaurant was closed (but that's low season for you) as the location is a bit far from the main town.

This place does have amazing views and we saw lots of wildlife and sunsets, but also completely attacked by mosquitoes, I think mosquito nets on the windows would be good. Also the bathroom door didn't close.

Friendly and helpful staff, but a LOT of steps, this is not a good place to come if you are not very fit or handicapped, as you will not be able to go up for breakfast. I wouldn't go back to this hotel I don't think, but I can see why other people really liked it.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Haarlem, The Netherlands
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2013

Let me start by saying that we are very used to travel and have stayed in many different countries, hotels and b&b's. Since we would arrive a bit later in the day in Mal Pais, we decided to arrange a place to stay in advance through Booking.com for 2 nights. The surroundings and the grounds of the hotel look very good, the pool is amazing and the views from the restaurant are awesome. Now for the bad news: it was a bit disappointing that there were only double beds available. For a place with supposedly this much class, a queen bed would be so much better. We stayed in a building with 4 rooms. Even though our neighbours were not very loud, we could hear everything they were doing and saying. The beds consisted of some kind of plastic matrass cover which makes sure you have a very sweaty night. The restaurant was closed, even though the hotel was fully booked. But the worst part was our arrival. A very cranky guy showed us our room. No personal touch, no information, not even saying where the breakfast was served and at what time. We had never experienced such a welcome in our 2.5 weeks in Costa Rica. All and all, for a hotel that looks as good as it does, it was a disappointing stay...

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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London
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2013

We just spent 3 nights here and it was brilliant. The staff were extremely helpful and attentive. The rooms are great. It would have to be one of the better places in town by far and would highly recommended it. And there's the food which is an added bonus. Awesome restaurant with a great view with amazing tapas at a good price. So good we ate there three nights in a row. Why go anywhere else. Go and enjoy!!!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Seattle
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2013

Adan and Vicki have created an amazing, quiet spot. Great views, great service. The monkey family is wonderful as they entertain in the trees. It sits up high with great views and breeze. Wonderful breakfast is included and the pool is wonderful. Toucan 2 Junior Suite is special, private. Outdoor shower, deck and staff are great. The Papaya restaurant is outstanding with best view in area. The civeche was great as are the salads. They connected us with Ruth for a massage. She is extraordinary!

Room Tip: Extra for the upper rooms is worth it but all are great value.
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  • Stayed April 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.
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

After a long study of all the hotels in Mal Pais and the visit to many of them, I can say that Moana can be considered as one of the best.
Advantages:
1. Perfect location for those with car.
Moana is situated a little bit up, on a hill which gives it a prerogative not to be covered by dust that Mal Pais is famous for. The nearest beach is about 2 km away so it's really important to have a car as the road is again-very dusty and unpleasant to walk.
2. The restaurant is outstanding.
I've visited many good restaurants on the coast like Nectar of Flor Blanca hotel, Brisas del Mar, Habanero etc. but Papaya Lounge from Moana stays the best. It has a fantastic view, delicious cuisine, first class service and relaxing atmosphere.
3. The rooms.
I've stayed at Deluxe room which was nice and simple. Decorated in african style, very comfortable big bad and always clean. No bugs, no spiders, no nothing scary that I was so afraid of to see crowling on my leg at night.
4. The staff.
The owners are very welcoming and helpful. The room service girls are always smiling and whatever problem you have they'll try to help you
5. The atmosphere.
As the hotel in pretty far from the center it's quite and relaxing.

Disadvantages:
A little far from the beach and the center which is nothing if you have a car.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2013

Have just returned from a three week stay in Costa Rica, most of it spent in this lovely hotel. The room was spacious, spotlessly clean and comfortable. It is set back from the very dusty road, on the hillside and although it is a steep climb up to the restaurant it is worth the trip - both for the food and the view. The breakfasts are very good - we found we didn't need to eat lunch very often and we enjoyed the dinners we had too. All the food is well prepared and beautifully presented, prices are reasonable. The owners, Aidan & Vicki are always at hand and they were both very helpful to us as we had a family medical emergency, they couldn't have done more for us and it was much appreciated. We had to leave very early in the morning on our last day and Aidan very thoughtfully left juice boxes and granola bars for our journey as we departed before breakfast. All the staff were pleasant and helpful and keep the hotel and it's luxurious gardens in immaculate condition. Definitely the place to stay in the Mal Pais area.

Room Tip: Older, less mobile guests may prefer a room on the lower levels near the pool, if you don't min...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.

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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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