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“Perfection!!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of La Paloma Lodge

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La Paloma Lodge
, Drake Bay, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 8 Hotels in Drake Bay
Certificate of Excellence
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2013

The location, the rooms, the staff, the food, the activities and facilities -- all perfect. The most attentive staff I have ever come across. How many places do you go where you hug the manager and the owner upon leaving? This is a very special place to which my family and I will be returning.

Room Tip: Every room has a great view, but spend a little extra for a "rancho"
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  • Stayed April 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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347 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (85)
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English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
97 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2013

We really enjoyed our 4 nights here. Staff, guides, lodge Manager, all interesting, professional and nice people. Lodge is very clean, and the grounds are beautiful.
We stayed in 1 of 3 smaller units. The room is lovely, but the lighting is terrible. This is not due to lack of electricity, but old, inadequate lighting fixtures. The showers are big, open to the outside with a huge windows. Unfortunately, the tile and grout are worn out, which after a day doesn't bother you as you can't see as the lighting is so bad. Dinner is served family style, which I thought was fun, and I actually lost some weight with the smaller portions. A good thing I guess.

Also, all the day trips leave at 6-7am, very early to avoid the heat. We thought the nature viewing was nice, but not spectacular. Also, we booked a day fishing trip with another couple, which turned out to be a disaster, too long a story to add.
We liked the Lodge, but for the $$ we spent and the time spent to get there, I can't say we would go back. I have read a couple recent reviews listing the negatives and i would agree with them. The staff is the main draw here IMO.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
San Francisco, California, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2013

I really, really, really wanted to love La Paloma. Unfortunately, I can't recommend that you stay here. The short version of this review: The setting was wonderful, and if it was a cheap basic lodge that catered to the hostel crowd, I'd love it. At this price, I'm less forgiving. It felt like it was a lodge that was transported directly from the 1980s, with no updates in between. Go to Drakes Bay, have a wonderful time in a tropical paradise, stay somewhere else. They had a management change about a year ago, and I'm wondering if the new organization has gone downhill.

First, the positives:
The grounds are stunning. The rooms are stunning. The location is great. The activities options are great. Given all of those three, I had a wonderful time. Drake's Bay is a great area. Unfortunately, at this price, I expect more than a good location.

The negatives:
There's no where to eat except their dining room, so the food matters much more than it does at places with options. And frankly, the food was terrible. Not only was most everything both bland, underseasoned, and overcooked, but unless I found the one English speaking person in the dining room at any given time, to try to ask if they had any extra food left, I could polish off my plate, every bite they served, at dinner and still be very hungry. Dinner's main course tended to be an overcooked protein (fish, steak, chicken), a basic grain (rice, mashed potatos) and some wilted unseasoned veggies -- and not much of them. Dinner came with a decent soup and what would be a good salad, if it was three or four times as large, not an amuse.

The drinks were very reasonably priced ($6 for a blended cocktail, $4 for a beer), but there was no premium option at all -- for example, there was no 100% agave tequila, just Jose Cuervo. The staff making the drinks tried to be helpful, but they were both understaffed and didn't speak English at all, so anything more complicated than "dos cervezas" or "una pina colada" could be problematic.

The "toys" were beat up and felt like what I'd expect from a nice hostel or a decent inn. The bogeyboards were cracked, falling apart, and the velco straps didn't work. The snorkeling gear was old and cheap. The Kayaks they lend were good, but missing backrests and were also just old. They give you sarongs instead of beach towels, and some of them were filled with holes, stained, or just beat to hell.

The activities were great, but they contract most of the guides for them out from a "pool" of guides all the lodges in the area share, so there's no advantage to using La Paloma versus anywhere else. For example, for my snorkling trip to Cano Island (awesome), they had me and my girlfriend join a couple and staff from Pirate Cove, also in Drake Bay. I had a wonderful time, but if I'm going to have the same wonderful time staying at Pirate Cove, why pay the difference? And the Pirate Cove guests had NICER snorkling gear to use than we did.

The rooms are 100% open to the outside; no screen doors or anything to keep wildlife out. They also have had a rash of thefts, so they make you keep all doors and windows closed when not in the room.

It's only sort of a beach-front property; they have access to a great beach, and you can have a staff member bring you lounge chairs there (awesome), but it's a five+ minute walk to the beach along a steep path. They'll fill a cooler with ice and beer for you to bring down (awesome), but will try to avoid bringing it down for you, and if you want more, you have to hike straight back up the hill to the bar, find a bartender (who won't be around), get him to give you a drink, and hike back down. Again, great for a hostel, not so great for a high-end resort.

I also loved and highly recommend Tracie the Bug Lady's night tour -- totally worth doing. Unfortunately, it's also something you can do from any resort in the area.

Room Tip: Choose a numbered room, not a lettered room.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
piedmont california
Level Contributor
99 reviews
77 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2013 via mobile

As said in many reviews the rooms are great and the views are spectacular but for the price I was very disappointed in the food. There were very little choices and the portions were very small. In addition the flavor and cooking style was quite bland.
In addition I felt for the price the extras were missing or in poor shape. For example the boogie boards were falling apart and the kayaks were in poor shape and the sarongs they give you as towels for the beach were torn.
The tours and guides were mixed. The guide who is on staff is great but the extra contract guides were not as knowledgable. The mangrove tour was very informative and enjoyable but the trip to Corcovado was more limited and needed to be a longer hike with more information

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hartford, ct
Level Contributor
34 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2013

Spectacular place. Our family of 4 spent 2 weeks in CR at several places we liked very well. But if you were to come to only one place this should probably be it. This is an incredible spot with very limited access. Just riding the boats out to the tours is lovely. The staff/service is first-rate in every way. Cabins are basic but nice and feel very private and very much in the middle of the wild, with great views. Very few bug incursions despite being open air, even with lights on. Comfortable at night even though the days were hot.

Food is absolutely great, done with expertise and a modern light touch. I wish I could eat all my meals there. I'm hungry just remembering.

Bug Lady tour is a must -- you can't imagine how interesting this is for all ages. Corcovado tour was a little disappointing -- very nice guide (LP has regular guides for all their tours), but we did not see a lot of wildlife and the volume of tourism there was higher than I expected. We saw much wildlife more just hanging around La Paloma, where it seemed there were far fewer people per acre. Next time I might opt to go to the less accessible ranger station. Cano Island water visibility was too low for snorkeling, so we took the mangrove tour instead and saw a lot -- toucan, 3 types of monkey, caiman, many macaws, ... . Lovely beach (but do ask where the rocks are hidden).

I wish all of CR were as well preserved as Drake Bay is. I hope, probably naively, that it will stay that way. For now it is spectacular, and La Paloma is the perfect way to experience it.

Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
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Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

We just returned from our 10 day trip to Costa Rica. Charlotte K and Jennifer F. said exactly what I was going to stay. We really enjoyed our stay. It was much more basic that typical trips we have taken. Rooms were very well maintained with great beds and furniture. No hair dryers in the villa's, but I am sure they would have provided one upon request. Turns out my hair looks better when I spend less time on it! Trips were early, but beat the heat of the day and any crowds. Our first guide was Walter and he is relatively new to the lodge. He is very enthusiastic and took true joy in guiding us to Corcovada National Park. He was very professional and has a true passion for his job. It was a great trip and we were able to see lots of wildlife. He also took us snorkelling to Cano Island. This 2nd excursion was very successful as we spotted dolphins and were able to observe them at close range. Unfortunately, our children got sea sick from the rocking of the boat while we were stopped. We were able to do some snorkelling, but it became apparent that my daughter was still ill, Walter arranged to drop us off on Cano Island where she was able to recover while the other guests did more snorkelling. I really enjoyed sitting in the shade on Cano Island enjoying the scenery. The snorkelling was not great while we were there and we were told it was due to the high tides this time of year. The lodge did let people know this so that they could decide whether they wanted to go or not. Randall guided us on our Mangrove tour. He has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge. I would have been lost in about 5 minutes if I had been on my own. He guided us around with ease and was able fill us with a wealth of information. We also went on the bug tour with Tracie and Jon. This tour was great. While I tend to run away screaming when I see a bug, they runs towards them. They are very calm, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about bugs. They are also passionate about them. This shows in their tour. In all, a great trip. I was glad to have brought Gravol with me as both my kids needed it. The boat rides were generally smooth, but on occasion it was a bit bumpy. We also found it helpful on the smaller planes we flew on which were a bit bumpy and a few of the less developed roads. Enjoy.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carbondale, Illinois
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

Our experience far exceeded our expectations. The Lodge and surroundings are fabulous. The people warm and helpful. Our guides so knowledgable and fun. The wildlife and scenery stupendous. We heard that the area benind the Lodge maybe developed as condos. That would be tragic, next comes big resorts and a big airport. Also in the works is a huge hydro project that would destroy habitat in the largest mangrove swamp in North America.
Go to Paloma soon because it my be changing very soon.
Wish they would keep the resorts up north and let the Osa Penn stay lovely and wild.

Room Tip: We had fabulous view of the Pacific plus the surf sounds.
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Paloma Lodge

Address: , Drake Bay, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Drake Bay
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Drake Bay
#3 Family Hotel in Drake Bay
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Drake Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We have outstanding views of Drake Bay and the Pacific Ocean from our Lodge. Our standard rooms are large and include a private bath and an ocean view balcony. Our ranchos are one and two-story private cabins that also offer balconies with stunning ocean views. They hold up to 6 people and are very spacious. Some are equipped with a bathroom on both the upper and lower level, and are suitable for families or two couples traveling together. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
La Paloma Hotel Drake Bay
La Paloma Drake Bay
La Paloma Lodge Costa Rica/Drake Bay

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