Just got back from this hotel last week. Definitely was an experience.
Firstly, I suppose you have to look at this hotel from the perspective of the area and amenities available in this part of Costa Rica. Montezuma has it's challenges with water and sewage and a few other amenities I, as a United States citizen, take for granted.
I'll break is review into sections for optimal description.
Location - This hotel is smack in the middle of the small town of Montezuma. It is directly beside a small grocery store (very convenient for snacks, drinks, and whatever you forgot to pack) and between multiple restaurants and travel/adventure companies. It is a 5 minute walk to nice beaches, 10 minutes from the trail to a waterfall and swimming hole, and about 12 minutes to it's sister hotel, the Ylang Ylang resort.
Staff - The guys at the front desk were excellent. Check in was no issue. The answered every question we had, or at least tried. We organized a few group trips (my husband and I meet 22 additional friends in Montezuma for a wedding), booking for these excursions was as easy as telling the staff what you wanted to do, when and handing them the cash. The contacted the provider and worked everything out. Vans/Boats picked us up at the allocated time with minimal issue.
Restaurant - Rooms include free breakfast. It was "ok". The French Toast was good as well as the Costa Rican Breakfast, but some other items were lack luster. We stayed a total of 6 nights, 2 of those mornings we opted for a breakfast in neighboring restaurants for some variety (I recommend the Ma Tia place on the corner just to the right, excellent food and real fruit slushies). We also dined in house one night. The restaurant offers a movie viewing every night at 7:30. We arrived early got a great seat and enjoyed an excellent dinner and drinks with our film. The serving staff is the same as the check in staff and they were again great everyday.
Rooms - The rooms were modest. If you live in the United States think Motel 6. Beds were not soft, but I can sleep on almost anything so I worked for me. Only annoying thing was that bottom sheet didn't quite fit the bed and would come loose in the night resulting in you sleeping on a bare mattress. :P The floors are tile, so if you walk in with sand on your feet you will most likely carry it all around with you at night. I wished I had brought some small slippers, but socks worked out ok. Each room has a single AC unit. We stayed in a room with one full/queen bed and a small twin bed. The room faced out to the street. There was no real off the street noise to mention. The AC cooled the room well at a moderate setting. The space was adequate for a couple, but 3 people would have felt crowded. The rooms open into a hallway that is attached the the restaurant by a stair. I mention this because many rooms at hotels in the area open directly outside making them more accessible to theft. Security did not seem to be a concern in our hotel, however there was a guard downstairs at night. When we left during the day I felt my things were secure.
Bathroom/Water - The bathroom had a stand in tile shower of generous size. However, there is only one control for the water on/off. Above the shower is an electric box for controlling the water's heat. Unfortunately this box is terrible. The control does turn on the hot water, however there is no middle ground. No matter how small of a hairline fraction you turn the knob you either get cool/cold straight from the pipes water or scald your skin turbo hot water. After much effort on our second day we involved the staff to see if we were just "doing it wrong", but he could not get any better results. He acknowledged that it was not supposed to work that way and said he would call the plumber to check it; however, two days later he asked if he had come we said we were unsure but that it still did not function correctly. At this point we had gotten used to quick 2 minute cold showers and told the staff not to worry about it as we didn't want to be a bother, but honestly, it was a little frustrating to not get a "good" shower all week. Additionally, the water sometimes cuts off at night. I am not sure if the hotel does it or if it's an issue in town (though we were notified by a restaurant while dining that their water had just stopped), but there was a night that we did not have water for 4-5 hours. Fortunately, most of the time we were sleeping, and it was back on when we arose. The hotel also asks that you do not flush toilet paper due to the water system.
Ylang Ylang - Our friends wedding was at the Ylang Ylang so we went there several times throughout our stay. The walk was fairly short and only mildly unpleasant midday (if you aren't in a swimsuit) because of the heat. Walking in the earlier or later hours of the day was quite nice and a beautiful view. The resort it's self is beautifully landscaped, has a friendly staff and an excellent pool. We swam there several times, if you are staying at El Sano Banano you simply go to reception with your key for towels. There are several hammocks on site, and the restaurant there is nice offering most of the things at El Sano plus a few extra items. They also organized the wedding of our friends and did an excellent job with the ceremony and reception. They also have a 2 for 1 happy hour from 3p-6p everyday.
The area - Montezuma is a small relaxed organic style town. There are several other small hotels and hostels in the area, but from what we could see it appears El Sano Banano/Ylang Ylang is one of, if not the, best. My husband and I ate at at least 7 different local places in town and each one was a good experience. Locals were friendly and most spoke at least some English, we only know minimal Spanish words and phrases. Most menus were in Colones, some in US Dollars. Each place we dined appeared to accept both, tho if the menu was in another currency than the one you had they would convert at their rate, not the current rate, so you might gain or lose a few dollars on the swap. We carried around both currencies and had no issues. Menus were also both Spanish and English. Once while dining we did experience a sewage leakage coming up from the cracks in the sidewalk. We quickly moved to a more ideal seating location. The odor was less than pleasant. The restaurants staff was concerned and we were informed it happened occasionally due to the town's system. However, it must have been a fairly minor issue because it was quickly handled. Additionally, there is an ATM in town, we made a withdrawal without issue, but saw other people have issues. The ATM is also rumored to run out of money frequently, so come prepared.
Outside of town you can expect to see great beaches, tropical forests, monkeys, iguanas, birds and other wildlife. We hiked to the local waterfall and swam, swam in the ocean, rode a boat to Tortuga Island, and zip lined though the jungle. All and all a pleasant trip with a lot of ambiance and fun paired with a few minor inconveniences.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on the main street in the heart of Montezuma, this hotel offers 11 comfortable rooms that are economically priced just a block from the beach. The rooms are above the well-known restaurant and have A.C., hot showers and SkyTV. The rooms are quiet and secure for those who prefer in-town comfort. Breakfast is included and the hotel guests are welcome to use the pool and hammocks at Ylang Ylang Beach Resort, just a 10-12 minute walk on the beach from Montezuma. ... more less
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