Let me start the review with Malpais is a dusty gravel road that runs north south along the coast. Now the beach is wide and while a little rough in spots really nice for walking and ther real reason people come here - to surf. The towns, hotels, restaurants, shops are primarily on the gravel road about 200 meters from the Pacific Ocean. So get on your walking shoes, dust shield, and take a walk on the gravel road to get to the market or where ever you are going.
Second there are several really great shops, a bakery, grocery store, and restaurants on or just off the gravel road. The little ice cream shop near the main intersection sells super cevichie and ice cream cones. Ronney's is the grocery store with a great selection of what you might be looking for to cook or as your beach snack. The bakery is over the top, with great breads and cookies, and over the top sandwiches, and all the pizza you can eat one night a week. Restaurants can be amazing. Try the Playa Carmen Restaurant on the beach just down another gravel road on the beach. The Chef is very well trained and helps to teach other Costa Rician Chefs. The crazy part is the brick over pizza is right, the chicken wings are over the top and 50 cents each (US counting method), and the bar snackes are wonderful. But it is the real restaurant food that wins. Do not go here once, go many times many times during the day. And of course for sunset.
Now to Hotel Surf The Place: WOW what a nice place. Yes it is on the dusty gravel road but there is a wall and the back of the buildings protect you from most of the dust. The entire pool, bar, restaurant area are very nice. We were upgraded to a bungalow because of some room painting which really made this part of the stay wonderful. But the room we would have stayed in was still very reasonable for our needs. I checked out the bungalows and they are all very nice. Big, with great seating areas, sleeping areas and nice large bathroom/showers.
The pool is wonderful. Nicely landscaped with the bar right at hand if you need a drink. And there is a common kitchen that really is nice. Never saw anyone use it but all the same it appears to have what you need if you want to cook or you fish and have fresh catch.
The breakfast can be purchased in the rate or ala cart. Great fruit plates, with typical Costa Rican breakfast options. All of the food we tasted was very good.
Overall I would rate Hotel Surf THe Place Excellent. Malpais when the road is treated after we know the rainly season is over, is really not as bad as I may lead you to believe at the beginningof this review. And Restaurant Playa Carmen is also Excellent. We want to visit again.
Now one last point - I by accident left a personal gift in our room safe. The hotel staff took above and beyound steps to get this personal gift back to me...when we were over 6 hours away from Malpais. This last service step really took the service level of the place to the top and more. Thanks for that last attention to service detail.