Our family (including children 9 & 10) stayed here at the end of March. Unfortunately, that was Spring Break time AND their local holiday (4 day weekend over Easter) and the areas are packed with people. Our hotel was not 'packed' even though it was full but the staff were very worn out after weeks of having their peak travel period. That didn't stop them from being wonderful but there was one server and one restaurant (on the beach) that took longer than even Costa Rica time :)
This hotel is one of the very few ON THE BEACH. Most of the rooms though are higher up on the cliff. But they have staff on golf carts to take you everywhere - if you need it. While the walks are not long, they can be steep especially depending on your location. This also means that this hotel is not easily accessible to other spots in Manuel Antonio. You would have to walk a very steep incline of a half mile to get to the main road. That keeps many folks inside the resort or relying on other transportation. I was very glad we had our own car! But even then, it is not just a walk to your car! When you check in, you park your car and THEN they take you by golf cart deeper into the resort.
The hotel lobby is open air and has a nice bar. It looks out to one of the pools (pools are small but still great) and to the breakfast restaurant. There is a tiny gift shop which carries things you can get on the main street for twice as much (of course). The hotel has a 'spa' but it really is only a couple of massage rooms. They were lovely and overlooked the ocean and the staff there was awesome - but don't expect a large fancy spa. My kids even got a 'Nemo' massage for $45 each. And yes, they charge you everything in dollars :)
The staff is just amazing. They all get to know your names and will call you by name throughout your stay. They will do anything you need and with a smile. Nothing is a 'burden' because they are there to be at your service.
The hotel is VERY safe. They have guard posts, especially at the beaches to make sure only hotel guests are using the facilities. While they can't prevent anyone from using the beach, they do keep an eye on who is using the beach chairs and hammocks so there were plenty to use. At the main beach that has the beach restaurant near the 2nd pool, they even have an animal expert with a telescope to show you hidden animals and answer questions. The beach restaurant was so good but we did have exceptionally long waits here. I did mention it the 2nd time we went, but it still was slow. Luckily I was there to read my book and enjoy the beach so it wasn't a big deal but to wait 1 1/2 hours for lunch can get long, especially with kids. You are on the beach though so you can swim, sit in the hammock, or look at the animals while you wait. My favorite dish was the Playitas Chicken Salad - no mayo, just a chicken breast on very fresh vegetables including Avocado. The homeade chips, sandwiches and wraps were also a hit with our family. They even managed to make some 'off menu' items for the kids.
The rooms were not as big as I expected for the price. We had an Ocean View Premium suite. I notice now they have the square footage on their site for this room (but not for the others?) - the living area is 215sf with a pull out full sized sofa. Our kids were able to use this but if they were any bigger, it would have been uncomfortable. And once the pull out sofa is out, there is no where to sit but outside (not a bad thing!) They do supply you with a coffee maker and fabulous local coffee along with real milk and a couple local snacks (milk was awesome, snacks were just ok). The bedroom had a king bed with a nightstand and tv and that is all that fit in there. Both rooms opened up to a large deck 330sf that had a comfortable patio couch and some chairs. The 'living' space was outdoors more than indoors. There was also a hot tub on the deck which I was most excited about but it was 100 degrees when we visited so we didn't use it! There are monkeys here but they typically come out in the morning. Beware, they will take things off your patio - and yes, they will visit you if you leave your door open. There are two bathrooms - one had a shower, sink and toilet but the 'master' was very large with a big rain shower, toilet, bidet, large counter, and stool to get ready. I did have some cough syrup that leaked onto a towel and I left the towel on the sink for 10 minutes and I came back to a trail of ants! We were on the 3rd floor and we did tell them but housekeeping pretty much said we were in a jungle - so there. So keep all food and drinks and sticky medicines sealed!! The room was too small for the very large pricetag in my opinion and while I would return to the resort, I would look at different room options.
Breakfast is included and the food is fabulous. Plenty to eat even though the main dishes may look small compared to American restaurants, they were the perfect amount to eat and they supplemented everything with juice, coffee, pastries, and fresh fruit! While the pancakes with ginger-mango-coconut are fabulous, I preferred getting the protein dishes since they served pastries with breakfast. Our favorite was the breakfast burrito but I also really liked the gallo pinto (typical dish).
The hotel offers tours of the area but we opted to explore on our own. We went to the national park and walked along the beach to get there and back. It was about a mile walk and it was HOT but it was very pretty. On the way back to the hotel, we bought some fresh fruit smoothies at a store (coconut banana - yum!) and that was perfect to keep us cool and refreshed. I would not recommend walking if you have very young children or a stroller. Our children were ok but even they were quite worn out!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located within walking distance of Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas Del Mar is an extraordinary beachfront and rainforest resort catering to travelers looking for more than the typical luxury hotel experience. Stunning, luxurious, and sustainable, this hotel has 38 rooms with exclusive beach and nature views as it is nestled in eleven acres of rainforest with private trails and two tree-shaded white sand beaches. Unique among the hotels in Manuel Antonio, our carbon neutral property offers sustainable, luxurious lodging—the first Costa Rican luxury hotel to be awarded the Five Sustainability Leaf Award and a Five Star Award. Arenas Del Mar is the perfect base for exploring on your Manuel Antonio vacation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Arenas Del Mar Beachfront And Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Manuel Antonio National Park