Originally Reviewed July 18, 2013
Revised to delete non-Tulemar Dave unit related items and most of non-Tulemar specific (MA areas) issues
Disclaimer: This is just my opinion and my personal experience as it happened. It may not be same as all of the 5 star reviews. This doesn't mean my review is negative all they way. We had a great time nonetheless.
Also Tulemar Dave asked me to remove my original review since I went through a 3rd party agent, not him to get a bungalow. I agreed and revised my review. I’ll still talk about the Tulemar complex, the workers there, the unit’s location, and amenities since they still apply. Also Manuel Antonio area needs to be in the review, if I may, since the location of the hotel/complex is also important to a lot of people. One other point I would like make is that Tulemar is not a cheap motel or Tico run B&B by any means. $300 or more per night was way out of our budget but I was able to get $175 per night through 3rd party so I guess I can make this statement since it’s a comparison between agents on the same complex. If I wanted to I could've gotten a 2 bed unit for $270 a night while we were there in early July but we opted to stay in a smaller unit and save $100 a night for 4 nights. We were out and about either enjoying the complex amenities or exploring anyway.
TULEMAR COMMUNITY: It is a gated community with guards. We felt very safe and the ground was kept very well. The entire complex is on the hill so just about every unit had great views. Even the pool (infinity) had an excellent view. We had a 4X4 so going down to the beach was not an issue, but I could tell that because our unit was one of the original units near the gate, walking to beach and come back would've been a major ordeal. I'm sure complementary shuttle works fine, but pre-arranging, waiting for the shuttle sounded like a hassle. I saw twice that families with kids were arguing about whether to wait for a shuttle or start walking.
It must've been the green season (early July) with rain, but the ocean was very muddy and cloudy. We couldn't see a thing not just Tulemar beach but in several other beaches Quepos/MA area. Costa Rican beaches are not well known for snorkeling type activities anyway, but they were worse than I expected. They looked good from a distance and in photos that I took, but we solely missed Hawaiian/Caribbean beaches, and even many of Southern California beaches were better to us except the water temperature.
The beach staffs were working hard, but we never asked for anything after we found out that a drink was $9 and up plus tip (small 10 or 12 oz cups). We always had water, and a quick drive to local market would've gotten us overpriced but reasonable sodas or bottle water for $2 to $3.
A poolside café food was ok, but not great. This seems universal opinion among many reviewers. We had a lunch special sushi roll and the taste was good, but very small portion and whopping $15 per plate. I know. I know. CR is not cheap and MA is even more expensive, but still 2 plates of 8 small pieces of rolls cost me near $40 after tax and service fee. Later one of the tour guide told me that San Jose is expensive but MA is 2 to 3 times more expensive in general than San Jose. Many MA folks go to San Jose to get a few week worth of groceries and stuff at lower price. The pool side workers never greeted or asked us if we needed anything even when we used pool pretty much everyday.
When we were checking out at the front desk, there were other guest checking out in front of us. I have to mentioned that those folks were Caucasians and I’m not. The guy at the desk was very courteous and formal to those guests. My turn came. The same guy started with a joke right away. Then he told if I was sure I wanted to leave because I could stay and take over his job. All I gotta do is speak little English and would probably make good money (he didn’t know how much was making at the state obviously and just because my lodging budget is low doesn’t mean I’m poor). The professional, courteous, and formal way was gone. Anyway, I was leaving, I didn’t want to make a fuss or big deal. I decided to think that the guy was trying to have some fun and probably meant nothing bad, even though I really noticed the difference in his treating me versus the other guests.
While waiting for the credit card to process, the same guy went further and said, “you look like you could speak real good Spanish.” He said that with this peculiar yet comical look on his face and wiggling his eye brow, probably referring to my dark (well, darker than the other guests for sure) skin tone and non-euro/Caucasian looking features. At that point, it dawned on me that I got similar looks and demeanor from several workers there, the pool side café waiter, the front gate guard, a security guard with a big German shepherd, and a beach equipment worker never offered to set up chairs or umbrella but was busy doing it for other guests.
May be they are not used see non-white guests, I don’t know. It was not a terrible experience, but it got me thinking that yes, it is a foreign country and a third world country, but ordinary Ticos I met who didn’t speak a word of English and didn’t wear fancy uniform, or working in the nice area like Tulemar were a lot better with smiles, more genuinely kinds, and non-condescending in any way, shape, or form.
THE UNIT: I'm glad that I didn't pay $300 or more a night for Tulemar unit and still enjoyed all the amenities. Our unit, as I mentioned, was one of the original bungalows built many years ago, and probably smallest or least luxurious. I could tell there were many fancier ones with multi-level, private drive way, and open patios. We also didn’t open about a half of curtains in our room because it was right near the walk way. No patio was very disappointing since many other reviewers of Tulemar had great wild life interactions at the patio. We didn't see any animals near our unit except loud frogs at night. We had a scope to see some toucans and other birds, but I'm sure patio would've invited monkeys and other animals. It was a disappointment and my mistake. However, we saw plenty of wild lives when we hiked the beach trail.
I’m going to skip most stuff specific to the unit inside since Tulemar Dave was sensitive about my review on the unit that he doesn’t manage. Good thing was A/C and Wi-Fi. One of several Cons was ant problem. We kept everything any anything food like in the refrigerator and kept the unit clean as possible but we always had these very small light color ants inside and we probably got more ant bites at Tulemar than bug bites in the jungle.
MANUEL ANTONIO: The general area is very expensive and crowded. I didn’t have any problem driving or getting around, but still the roads were narrow and hilly even in Tulemar. I’ll try to post more about MA in MA forum as Tulemar Dave asked, but my impression of MA was not that great. May be I had too high of expectation. Sunset and the views were great in general, but when you think about it, it’s not just MA specific. Any town, hill top or beach on the west coast Pacific has that. Anyway, I wouldn’t come back just to visit MA, not because it was terrible or anything, but there are other places that offer better beaches and local experience.
Tulemar is a place to stay in MA if you choose to come to MA/Quepos in my opinion, but I think, you should spend money to get a unit with patio/balcony and upgraded bathroom and beds to make it a true luxury vacation, which is not my style, but I’m sure many have means and resources to do that.
We are not coming back to MA even if we come back to Costa Rica, especially after we went to Uvita for a day trip. Uvita beach was so much cleaner and clear. Even when tide was coming in, there were a lot of gentle and warm waves. The sand was so much better with great views. No illegal parking thugs (that we had to deal with in MA national park) were there and right at the front gate of the national park, you can park in a small private parking (someone’s front yard) for $4. I don’t work and am not associated with Uvita. I’m not bashing MA so much but there seems to be better options than MA in Costa Rica (lesser known beaches villages or town) for my taste.
- Also Known As:
- Tulemar Bungalows And Villas
- Tulemar Bungalows & Villas Hotel
- Tulemar Bungalows & Villas Hotel Manuel Antonio National Park
- Tulemar Hotel
- Tulemar Bungalows & Villas Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio National Park
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tulemar is the premier resort development in Manuel Antonio. Gated and secure, the 33 acre jungle resort is perched on the hillside overlooking the Pacific, but continues down all the way to our own beach. It includes the Tulemar Bungalows, Buena Vista Villas and privately owned villas such as Villa Mot Mot, Casa Panorama, Casa de Frutas, Casa Las Nubes and Villa Kiskadee. ... more less