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“A Long Drive, Limited Activities, Wrangler could use some lessons in customer service” 3 of 5 stars
Review of La Ensenada Lodge

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La Ensenada Lodge
Gulf of Nicoya, Manzanillo, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Altamont, TN
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“A Long Drive, Limited Activities, Wrangler could use some lessons in customer service”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2012

La Ensenada is a working ranch with one section cordoned off for guests. There are a dozen or so small "duplex" cabins reminiscent of Scout Camp, without the bunk beds. No A/C, but paddle fans in every room and a decent breeze from the Gulf made it tolerable, especially in the hammock on the front porch of each cabin, but it was still hot and dry in Mid-March. There's a large pool for swimming if the heat doesn't bother you, and the dining area is a large open pavilion. Food was pretty basic, and this was the only place during our entire two week trip in Costa Rica where we had any episodes of "Montezuma's revenge" (and we stayed in more than half a dozen different places). But we came here for the riding, and the horses were sturdy Criollos that handles the terrain with aplomb, though the tack was old and rather worn, not very well-maintained. Unfortunately the head wrangler, Albin, spent almost every ride talking on his cell phone the whole time, paying little or no attention to his customers. We had to ask repeatedly to do a variety of paces, but we ended up doing only walking or galloping the last stretch back to the barn, with little in between, which was frustrating for those of us who like to trot and canter. The trails here are few, and in three days, we ended up repeating them all. The two-hour "sunset" ride was 40 minutes riding, 45 minutes of sitting around on a hill waiting for the sun to set, and 20 minutes back to the barn. The last day, however, Albin's horse cut his nose on barb wire, so the lieutenant wranger, Michael, took over, and did a great job. Suddenly he was pointing out more wildlife (besides the monkeys and birds that are everywhere here), and listening and watching and responding to our needs. It was much more enjoyable. So if you come here to ride, try to get Michael as your guide. It was a good experience overall, but it wasn't the best of the places we visited while we were here.

Room Tip: The cabins farthest to the north have the best breeze, but they are also the farthest from the dinin...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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32 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
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English first
Boulder Creek CA
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2012

We were booked at this location by our birding tour company and, overall, we enjoyed it very much. Staff was friendly and the food was very good. Howler monkeys woke us up in the morning. Good birding opportunities on the property. Nice pool area. Rooms are rustic but comfortable. Walls are quite thin so hope for quiet neighbors. Hammocks on every porch for relaxing. Beautiful scenery looking out on the bay.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berne
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2012

We found La Enseñada Lodge pretty much by accident. We were looking for a nice place to spend a night between Alajuela and the Volcan Tenorio area. It is actually a working farm with a small nature reserve next to it. We didn't have enough time to go the reserve but it would have been interesting to see it. We would have had it pretty much to ourselves as there was only a group of about 12 people staying there apart from us. They have individual bungalows which are no-frills but very clean and with hot showers. The howler monkeys walked around the area in the morning and we never got so close to them anymore during our stay in Costa Rica. We also saw some Ctenosaurs and lots of beautiful birds. The lodge has a small swimming pool and a beautiful view over the sea across to the Nicoya peninsula. The food is quite good with rice, fish, meat, salad an afters. I would call it good, solid, homemade cooking, nothing fancy. We could stroll around the property which gave us the impression of a very relaxed and laid-back place. It is possible to go horseback riding and they also offer boat tours in the Nicoya bay. Because we were only there for a night we didn't go on either. If we needed a bed again in that area we would certainly go back there and try to stay a few more nights to fully appreciate the place.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2012

Wonderfully relaxing spot on a working farm. Very laid back with the family owners joining the guests at meal times.
Room was detached and roomy, albeit a smallish, but perfectly adequate bathroom.
There appeared to be only a few detached rooms, others must be half the size as the buildings are similarly sized, so be careful. (Think rooms 2, 3 & 4, only)
There were no real guides, so anything you see, you need to use guidebooks to find out what they are. Having said that there is a surprising amount to see, just wandering around the ranch. Walks are suggested, altho' the map is a little basic!
No real vegetarian (" well leave the meat" kind of attitude) - luckily there was a lot of vegetables. Typical Costa Rican fare.
It's a chill out place, miles from anywhere.
There's a swimming pool set in lovely grounds.
Boat trips offered to the mangroves in the gulf where there's a lot of bird life. Our boatman didn't speak English, but pointed out interesting birds and frogs. (Take photos and identify later!).
Horse riding and tractor rides offered too.

Room Tip: Seemed to be only rooms 2, 3 & 4 which are detached, rest are semi, but are overall the same siz...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2012

Situated with a stunning view of the Gulf of Nicoya. Small, modest rooms. Clean. Typical CR food. Pool. And, amazing outdoor massage room with the breezes gently passing through.

Room Tip: Be sure to have a room that is not near the kitchen and that overlooks the Gulf!
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milton Keynes
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2012

Stayed here for 2 nights on our tour of Costa Rica. This is a very nice and extensive working ranch where one is made to feel very welcome and at ease. Accommodation was basic but spacious, comfortable and clean. Very good food. The highlight was a boat tour of the mangrove swamps of the river delta where we saw lots of magnificent and colourful birds. The horseride round the ranch was also very enjoyable. Spectacular sunsets over the gulf of Nicoya. Howler monkeys just walk right by you and colourful Magpie Jays frequent the restaurant at breakfast.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Lakewood, CO
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2011

On a birding tour offered through Road Scholar/Elderhostel in Feb., we stayed 2 nights at La Ensenada Lodge (ensenada means “cove”), in a lovely cabina looking out on the Gulf of Nicoya with the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula in the distance. La Ensenada is located in a 900-acre wildlife refuge is part of a family-run cattle ranch, with nature trails and a lake.

La Ensenada is located in a lovely setting. We were in the group of cabinas toward the dock; we had a view of the dock and the cove from our porch. Each porch came equipped with a hammock. Although my husband tried it out, I sat contentedly on the porch, taking in the beauty, avoiding the strong hot sun, and marveling at the dry air. Delicious!

The cabina was amply sized with a decent-sized bathroom and firm mattresses. We had ample hot water for showers. No television, so bring a good book! I was a bit worried about the heat. At mid-day, the cabina was 92 degrees F. (Our travel alarm clock has a thermometer in it.) The cabina had no air conditioning—just a ceiling fan. Would that be enough for sleeping comfort? (Since we spent little time in the room during daylight hours, the temperature of the room didn’t bother me then.) By early morning, the room was 72 degrees F. Perfect!

At La Ensenada, your alarm clock is the howler monkeys. Around 4 a.m., the howler wake-up call began. The cabina walls were thin; the windows were open; I’m a very light sleeper. A troop was moving through the trees just behind and beside our cabina. No sleeping through that! (You might consider bringing ear plugs, although I wouldn’t have traded that wake-up call for anything—even another hour of sleep.)

Decent coffee (by my standards, anyway—moderately strong and flavorful) was ready and waiting long before breakfast. The dining area also has a water dispenser that delivers either cold or hot water 24/7—a nice touch for tea drinkers. Overall, the food was delicious—nothing fancy, but fresh and plentiful and served buffet style. You dine in a covered, but open-air dining area. White-throated Magpie-jays are likely to dine with you, looking for unattended food or scraps or leftovers—anything they can steal. When we were there, they perched in the rafters over the tables and swooped around at random intervals (random, at least to the human brain). Watch your plates and your heads!

They have a swimming pool. However, at least when we were there, it didn't have much shade (especially at mid-day). So it was quite hot to just sit out at the pool. Being in the water, though, was just fine. But be sure to use sunblock!

La Ensenada Lodge is a lovely facility in a wonderful location. You will not be disappointed! You can read more about the area in our trip report.

Tina
trip report at http://costarica201102.wordpress.com/

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about La Ensenada Lodge

Address: Gulf of Nicoya, Manzanillo, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manzanillo
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty lodging in Manzanillo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $

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