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“Lovely but some significant problems” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

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Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
4.5 of 5 Resort   |   Punta Quepos, Manuel Antonio National Park 311-6350, Costa Rica   |  
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Cedar Crest, New Mexico
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158 reviews 158 reviews
67 hotel reviews
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365 helpful votes 365 helpful votes
“Lovely but some significant problems”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2014

Hard to write negatives about this lovely place but the constant variety of mostly "little frustrations" accumulated over the course of our 5 night stay to a level that we felt was unacceptable at a hotel of this quality. First, some real positives....The location is spectacular and the staff is for the most part exceedingly friendly and helpful. Check in was a breeze. The beach area at the end of the walk/road is fantastic with excellent service and we enjoyed delicious lunches and drinks every day we were there.

Now the problems...The first one was huge, but resolved. Unfortunately, when we entered our ocean view superior room, we immediately smelled what seemed to be sewer gas. This was UNACCEPTABLE. The young man who accompanied us to the room said that he'd get right back to us. 45 minutes later, waiting for a response and getting somewhat frustrated, I walked up to the front desk (concierge) and asked what was being done. The young woman I talked with just looked at me and said there wasn't anything else open. I became upset since this was supposed to be a luxury hotel and said we could not stay in that room, we would pay for an upgrade to get out of the room. Minimal response from the concierge and then the young woman sitting at the next computer took over and was extremely accommodating, finding availability in 2 gorgeous oceanfront suites (2 nights in each). We had to stay that first night in the foul smelling room but we had no choice and kept the bathroom door shut. The second, very helpful woman stated that we would not be billed for the accommodation change. What bothered both of us was that during the conversation with the concierges, we were told there had been this problem with our initial room in the past?!?!? Really?

The following is a partial list of ongoing frustrations we experienced:
-There was no information in any of the 3 units about the hotel and it's services...
-Several times I called the front desk and no one answered, so I'd walk up there and literally no one was at the desk nor could anyone else help me.
-There was DAILY promoting of the restaurant by various staff. Within an hour of arrival we were encouraged to promote the restaurant on Trip Advisor and another person asked us where we were having dinner that first evening and bad-mouthed the place we were going and suggested we should cancel the reservation we'd made and eat at the hotel. This behavior continued throughout our stay.
-Showers were huge, very nice but the placement of the soap and shampoo was on the opposite side of the large circular shower in permanently placed bottles which was exceedingly inconvenient.
-Bath linens were minimal
-Garbage (colorful food wrappers and a bottle) remained on the ground in front of our ocean front balconies the entire time we were there.
-There were no gardens (we'd just come from Nayara in Arenal where the flowers were spectacular). There were obvious patches where it appeared there had been gardens at one time....Now there were weeds and overgrowth. I asked why there were no flowers (except in one large pot by the pool) and the person hesitated and said they didn't know but there used to be flowers.
-One morning, almost an hour after ordering breakfast and asking several times when it would be coming (others were being served) we got up to leave for a tour we had booked, hungry and frustrated putting it mildly. Our server said he'd have our food boxed to go for us immediately and brought us two boxes (neither contained what we ordered) and couldn't find any eating utensils to go....so my husband ate his pancake with his fingers. I had a couple pieces of fruit.
-The final straw was when our toilet wouldn't flush. Looking under the cover of the tank, we could see that the flush handle had been tied internally to the bulb stem with DENTAL FLOSS, which had broken..

It is our opinion that something is seriously wrong with quality control at this hotel and that is definitely a management problem. While we were there, we were told that a representative from Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, SA was there doing a periodic assessment. We stayed at two other resorts run by this company (Lapa Rios and Finca Rosa Blanca) and they were superb in every way. Something is amiss at Arenas del Mar. Would we stay there again? No. Would we recommend it to our friends? I realize other folks did not have our experience but given our 5 nights here...No, we would not recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cayuga S, Manager at Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, responded to this review, March 18, 2014
Dear Anniejet,
thank you for taking the time to write such a complete review about your stay with us. Since we take a lot of pride in what we do, it is very hard for us to read all the things that did not work right during your stay. But instead of making excuses, we see this as an opportunity to improve. Unfortunately, you experienced a series of infrastructure and service failures that are by no means acceptable to us as management of Arenas del Mar nor Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality and should not happen to any guests. We had a management meeting right after reading your review and have taken serious action. The smell in the bathroom, the unavailability of our staff at certain time, the garden cleanliness and plant issues and the inefficencies you experienced during breakfast service are being solved as you read this response. Thank you for writing such a fair review and also pointing our the positives such as our spectacular beachfront and rainforest location, the great lunches and drinks you had and of course the kindness and service orientation by our staff. We hope you will give us a second chance and hopefully be able to write a rave review like many other of our very happy guests. Thanks again for your help to improve the experience for future guests. Greetings from Manuel Antonio.
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1,067 reviews from our community

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  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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English first
Top Contributor
130 reviews 130 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
108 helpful votes 108 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014

After a busy tour of Costa Rica it was wonderful to relax in this Pacific Paradise. We had tried to book an Ocean Breeze room but were given a garden room which was close to the reception area and contained a large, comfy bed, curtained off from a living area with bed settee, kitchenette and table and chairs. The mini bar contained free soft drinks, snacks and a closed jug of fresh water which was topped up daily. A coffee maker and coffee was also provided. Patio doors opened onto a terrace with cane furniture and jacuzzi. We were warned to keep the doors fully locked at night to avoid a raccoon invasion. The bathroom was well equipped with towels, robes and a large walk in closet with safe (and cute, live pet crab that scuttled out to visit me regularly!) Good quality organic shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion are provided and you are asked to use these products to help avoid adding chemicals to the ecosystem.

Breakfasts were absolutely fabulous - fresh tropical fruits, smoothies, coffee and light healthy options such as oatmeal and berries as well as heartier fare such as burritos and pancakes. The restaurant has some tables outside by the pool, overlooking the pacific, where you will be joined by resident iguanas and serenaded by tanagers and grackles. Evening meals could be taken in the Mirador restaurant or, twice during our short stay, on the beach with live music accompaniment. Food is sourced from local organic farmers and fishermen.

Staff were great - friendly and helpful, constantly topping us up with free iced water, keen to point out wild life. I would have missed the delightful mother and baby sloth had it not been for one of the groundsmen beckoning me over.

So, what stopped me awarding 5 stars? Four minor niggles. 1) There were no guides to the hotel available written in English and I had to ask several times for a map of the hotel as, confusingly we had to go uphill then downhill to the main entrance and spot the walk through the forest to the public beach; and downhill the opposite direction to the hotel's "private beach" and pool. There are golf carts and drivers available and these were essential for my partner, but personally I prefer to walk. I eventually found I was able to translate the spanish guide and realised, on our final day, that the hotel had ipads and a Kindle fire available to loan to guests. This would have been extremely useful to have known upon checking in! I learnt on checking out that the hotel had received a delivery of English guides the day after we arrived. It is a shame no one thought to provide us with one. 2) I enjoyed an amazing early morning bird walking tour with the hotel's bird guide, Anya. I had assumed this was a free service, like the dance classes and was surprised to find a charge of $50 dollars added to my bill at check out. This was reduced to $25 when I pointed out that my partner had not accompanied me. It was certainly worth the money - I just would have like to have known about the cost involved. 3) During one of our evening meals taken inside the Mirador restaurant I had to ask for us to be moved as we could not hear ourselves think for the sound of cutlery being clattered by staff into cutlery trays a few feet away. The waiter told us other people had complained about the noise at this table - I wonder why the table, which, being beside the service corridor must be the worst position in the entire restaurant, isn't simply removed? 4) Because of our disappointment at not getting an Ocean Breeze room, we had been advised by our tour company that we would have something special in our room, I mentioned this to our hotel's "experience manager" whom we were introduced to on our first day but never saw again, and she assured us it would be in our room on our final night. It wasn't and we have no idea what it would have been! Kind thought but...

Although a few issues prevented our overall experience from being excellent, I can highly recommend this beautiful place and its stunning location.

Room Tip: We were in block 5 which was close to reception but no sea view and far from both beaches
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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.
North Woodmere, New York
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014

This was our first trip to Costa Rica and to the Arenas del Mar and I know we will be back. From the moment we entered the property we definitely received the 5* treatment. I was a little concerned about our room because we booked late and concerned we would not have a good view of the ocean for we were on the first floor. Not true! We actually loved our room. It was in the building closest to the pool. lobby and restuarant. The view from our veranda was perfect. Although the room is not huge is it certainly large enough for 2 people with a nice veranda and bar. The bathroom is nice with a huge shower. The bed was very, very comfortable with great linens and pillows. The food was excellent. The complimentary breakfast is not buffet but cooked to order and was delicious. Sliced fresh fruit and a different fresh fruit juice every morning. Since we were only there for 3 nights we never even ventured out to eat dinner in the local restaurants. We ate in the hotel restaurant, El Mirador every night and the food was DELICIOUS! Mahi Mahi, filet mignon, a watermelon tomato gazpacho soup, passion fruit cheese cake were just a few of my favorites.
The staff are extremely friendly and can not do enough for you. They transport you around the grounds in golf carts and always pointing out the monkeys, slouths, and lizards. In fact we saw more wildlife in Arenas than in Manuel Antonio National Park!
The private beach is lovely and especially after visiting Manuel Antonio where there are herds of people. The concierge Laura (I believe that was her name) was extremely helpful about tours we were interested in taking. The waiter, Oscar was so kind, professional, friendly and helpful, he definitely represented what staying in the Arenas del Mar is all about. We had just left another hotel in the Arenal Volcano area in which I felt the staff never smiled. At the Arenas del Mar it was just the opposite.
Next trip we will stay more than 3 nights. It was a great experience.

Room Tip: If you want to be close to lobby,pool and restaurant stay in building 7 or 6.
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  • Stayed March 2014, 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2014

We found this place 3 years ago and have made it our destination each year since. We just spent two weeks there and although the food before was excellent they have really kicked it up a notch with their new chef. They have two restaurants and we found the new menus excellent. The property is a great place to see wildlife. Lots of sloths and monkeys! Much better than going to Manuel Antonio park!

Room Tip: It is worth the money to get an ocean front room. The views are really spectacular,
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  • Stayed February 2014, 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2014

My wife and I spent three nights at Arenas del Mar in one of the beachside units in an “Ocean Breeze” room (#102b). It’s a stunningly beautiful property with solid service, an amazing location and decent food.

The room: Our room was on the second floor with a view of the ocean from a small private balcony. I’d say it was on the smallish side for the price ($390), but it was clean and everything was up to date. The bed was great, as were the pillows and linens. There was a nice sitting area on the balcony as well as a counter, sink and small refrigerator.

The property: The jungle rises steeply from the beaches around Manuel Antonio. This property is basically carved into the side of an extremely steep hill that overlooks the ocean. The setting is breathtaking, with views of the Pacific all around. We chose this hotel because we wanted good beach access, and it didn’t disappoint. It was awesome to step out of our room and be on the beach in under a minute, with the lush jungle rising behind us. The walk from the beach (at the bottom of the hill) to reception (at the top of the hill) is probably just under 10 minutes. The hotel has a small fleet of golf carts that will ferry you up and down the steep climb, which can be long or short depending on where you’re coming from and where you’re going. We mostly walked but you can flag down anyone who works at the resort and they will call a cart for you, which generally seemed to arrive in just a couple of minutes. There are several buildings on the property, so where you are on the hill depends on which set of rooms you’re in. We were looking to spend some time on the beach after hiking in Arenal, so being in one of the buildings down by the ocean was great.

The service: The same service theme ran through a number of our experiences on this trip: a lot of little things got fumbled but when it really mattered the staff came through. There were some mix-ups about the tours we booked, though nothing that really made a difference in the end, and a few other things that could have been handled more seamlessly. However, when our car got a flat tire in the parking lot it was fixed before we even knew it was flat, and when my wife left her sweater behind in the closet, the manager had it shipped home to us free of charge.

The food: Breakfast was a la carte, a nice change of pace from the buffet situation you find at most resorts. And it was good. There were a couple of variations on local breakfast dishes (beans and rice, eggs and tortillas) that were definitely the best resort food we ate on the trip. The only dinner we ate at the resort was on our second night when there was special seating on the beach. The setting was great, but the food was just so-so. Dinner in the main restaurant might be better, but we didn’t get a chance to try it.

The location: This is where the property really shines. The grounds are amazing but you also have direct access to two beaches. The first, Playitas, is a wide sandy beach tucked into a small cove at the base of the resort. While technically a public beach, Arenas has more or less absorbed it. They have a bar on the beach, tons of lounge chairs (more than enough for all of the guests), hammocks and drink service. The swimming here was great, though the size of the waves and the potential for strong riptides might not make it the best for small children. This beach is separated from the next one to the south, Playa Espadilla, by a small rocky headland. It’s an easy scramble at low tide, but you can also take a trail down from reception to get to the beach. This is a much larger public beach that extends all the way to the Manuel Antonio national park. So, yes, you can walk to the park from the hotel (it’s about twenty minutes). Espadilla is another gorgeous beach with large rock outcroppings that form tide pools at low tide. There are surfboard rentals, a handful of low-key little restaurants and lounge chairs and umbrellas for rent. It’s a pretty lively scene during the day, but clears out pretty quickly after sunset. There are only a handful of resorts in the area (Tulemar and Parador, most notably) that have both a private resort setting and access to the beach. I didn’t visit the beach at those resorts so I can’t compare – they seem a little more “private” but also don’t’ allow you to walk to the national park or Espadilla. A lot of the nice resorts are further inland, and you’ll need a quick cab ride to get down to the beach. There are also some hotels that are walking distance to Espadilla, but based on my research none of them offer a resort experience. We really wanted to stay somewhere with a “beach resort” feel, and I think Arenas is the best option if you also want good access to Espadilla and Manuel Antonio. Note that the seclusion and proximity to the beach comes at the price of easy access to stuff in Quepos or on the road down to Manuel Antonio. If being within short walking distance lots of restaurants and shops is important to you, this might not be the best option (it’s quite a hike up to the main road and if you really want to go anywhere in town you’ll have to drive or call a cab).

Summary: Stay here if you want a secluded resort experience with direct access to a great beach, a beautiful jungle setting and the ability to walk to other beaches and the Manuel Antonio park. It might seem pricey on paper, but based on our experience you just can’t beat the location.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burlington, VT
2 reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

I am guilty of using Trip Advisor extensively - but not writing reviews. It is impossible for me, in good conscious, not to take the time after this most spectacular trip -Feb 22-Mar 3. Our family of three, including our 9 year old daughter traveled to Arenas for 9 nights. Most people we met travel around Costa Rica, but we wanted to unpack once. We chose the area because of the Rainforest and immediate access to beaches. We chose the hotel because of the reviews on Trip Advisor. Reading the reviews you might think, "it just can't be thaaat marvelous..." But it is. It is Paradise. Having ended up at enough stuffy, pretentious hotels thinking they were "the best," I now have experienced the best - and it wasn't stuffy and pretentious. The hotel has a limited number of rooms - so even fully booked, you almost always feel like you have the place to yourself. Nobody wakes up at 5 am to block loungers that they won't use all day. I was concerned about the beaches being rough for my 9 year old, based on reviews. However, after being taught how and when to "jump or go under waves," I realized how friendly this beach actually is! You go under a wave, and no problem- at least when we were there. The reviews talk about the staff and it truly is impossible to put into words. Each person is more passionate, kind, engaging then the next. EVERYONE. Ersel is an AMAZING nature guide. The spa was great. The tours, kindly arranged for us by the hotel, were perfect. Of special note is the support the hotel does in the community. Having read on the website how they support a local school (see equilibrium dot com,) we inquired. As the stars aligned, the hotel staff were going to visit the school to deliver uniforms, shoes and school books to the children (funds raised by guest donations). Our family was invited to participate. The genuine love and joy of the employees that guests see - it is no act. Can you believe the staff rebuilt bathrooms and built a lunch room for the children? And the children! Beautiful, appreciative children. What an unbelievable gift to share with my 9 year old- thank you Arenas. Costa Rica is the best place on earth our family has ever visited. The absolute best family vacation we have ever had. If you have the opportunity to enjoy Arenas - don't hesitate. (Rooms, bed, views, location, cleanliness, etc - all absolutely terrific.) Special shout out to Stevie- keep that fire in your heart.

  • Stayed February 2014, 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 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cayuga S, Manager at Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, responded to this review, March 11, 2014
Dear SnGnS,
Wow... what a review. We almost got tears in our eyes when we read it. We try to really make vacation time very special for all the guests that come to our resort, but we are really flattered by your review and truly moved by how much this trip meant to you and your family. First of all, thanks for visiting us and believing all the great things that other reviewers have talked about. We loved having you with us and hope you come back real soon. We are very happy that your experience at the resort in terms of the rooms, food, service and amenties exceeded your expectations. But we are especially happy that you had the chance to be part of the sustainability work that we do through the hotel and Equilibrium. Thank you for all of your support. We hope that more and more guests take part in those activities and are able to really connect with the local people and make a difference. All the best and greetings to Vermont from warm and sunny Manuel Antonio. A big hug to all of you.
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Hartford, Connecticut
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2014

My wife and I spent 4 nights at Arenas Del Mar in Manual Antonio March 1-6 2014.
We stayed in a Garden Unit by the Lower Pool area.
I am 60 years old and have done a fair amount of traveling. This hotel is by far one of our best experiences.
Architecturally the hotel was well thought out. It is carved into the jungle to allow the maximum wildlife experience. Manual Antonio National Park is adjacent to the property, but to be honest we saw much more wildlife at the hotel. Monkeys, Sloths, Birds, etc. The Hotel also has several expert guides that will take you anywhere you wish and also provide information on site.
Beaches in Costa Rica are 100 percent public. Arenas del Mar has direct access to 2 spectacular locations that were very private and safe.
I saw several of the other 5 star hotels we had investigated and although I'm sure their quality is comparable, the arena location is by far the best.
The food was excellent. Dinners were gourmet style equal to 4 star Northeast USA Restaurants. I found prices very reasonable based on the quality.
At the end of the day a successful business is based on its people and this is where Arena del Mar was head and shoulders above anywhere I have ever stayed.
Whether it be the wait staff, the guides, the golf cart drivers or front desk personnel. It was clear that there was nothing more important than a guest having a pleasant experience. It was very common for personnel to call you out by name and ask how everything was going. My wife and I had wonderful conversations with several on site employees and quite frankly by the end of our stay it was similar to saying good bye to friends. With any evaluation it is always good to provide feedback for improvement. At the end of my stay I spoke with a manager Gabriel and my only advise to him was on their Website. I felt that the Website did not depict the quality of the Hotel. Had the Frommer's review not have been so positive I may have chosen elsewhere.
Gary & Christine - Connecticut, USA

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Address: Punta Quepos, Manuel Antonio National Park 311-6350, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manuel Antonio National Park
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
#2 Spa Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
#2 Luxury Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica 4.5*
Number of rooms: 38
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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Arenas Del Mar Beachfront And Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Manuel Antonio National Park

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