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“Heartbreak” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Monte Azul

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Monte Azul
Road to Chirripo National Park | Pérez Zeledón, San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
NYC
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
“Heartbreak”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2013

The heartbreak refers both to the heart-rending beauty of Monte Azul, and the sadness I felt having to leave. I stayed there (casita Amarilla) for 8 nights, and when I booked I was a little nervous that it would be an awkward trip for a solo traveler not on a honeymoon, as so many people who reviewed seem to have traveled for that reason. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone was so welcoming and I really felt like I left with new friends in Costa Rica. It was easy to chill by myself when I wanted to in the casita, or to commune with nature while hiking on their trails, and just as well to hang out with the wonderful folks who work there. Also, because the staff were all from the surrounding communities, I sometimes saw them while I was out and about on neighboring roads. I felt like a quasi-local seeing folks in the streets, who cheerfully greeted me and stopped to chat. I had absolutely no problems with service of any kind. The restaurant service was attentive, accommodating, and friendly (e.g., Maritsa and Paolo) and the food was ridiculous. The chef prepared vegan meals for me after a brief discussion when I arrived (with Carlos to translate) about my likes and dislikes. Every day, and every meal was something new, inventive and delicious. Honestly, after a few days I was having to put breakfast off later and later because I was cumulatively so full of all the wonderful meals! Breakfasts for me started with fruit bowls or fruit shakes and then an entree ranging from Gallo Pinto to chalupas to a sautee of spinach and mushrooms with potatoes. Dinners were 3 or 4 courses (soups of note were black bean, chayote, carrot and squash) and when I could manage to partake of desert, they had me covered there too--anything from tropical fruit sorbets to vegan cakes, made by Randy. For my last dinner Randy made chocolate chip cookies at my request, with a few extra for me to take on the plane home. Amazing. I loved having the kitchenette, which I used for light lunches (e.g., fruit), snacks, and I also cooked one dinner there. It had pots, pans, utensils and other stuff you would need (even a peeler!) but one suggestion might be a small container of olive oil.

The physical beauty of the hotel and the amazing grounds is difficult to describe in words without resorting to pat clichés, so I'll say it was stunning and leave it at that. I asked if it was too late for me to become an artist so I could be invited to work in the studio! It's even more impressive because Carlos and Randy designed everything there, from the furniture to the casitas to the plantings. I loved hiking their trails, which varied in technical challenge, and walking on the surrounding roads (Bring a hat--the sun is no joke up on the mountain roads).

I didn't have a car--I came and went under the expert driving of Alex Hernandez of Alajuela Tours--so I basically stayed at the hotel and vicinity. I could have stayed longer, the time flew. My only excursion was a guided trip to the San Isidro farmer's market, which rocked. The guide (also named Carlos) was super friendly, knowledgeable, and helped me choose stuff to buy for the casita kitchenette. Bird watching with Andres was another highlight. With his expertise (and uncanny bird calls) we spotted about 25 bird species in 4 hours. I also did soap-making with Randy, which was fabulous. Note that as a solo traveler you will pay more than the standard price, which is based on 2 people. Finally, I had the privilege of meeting two of the artists whose work is featured at the gallery (and all around the hotel), which was an unexpected pleasure. Melissa, the gallery director, was wonderful, showing me not only the work they have, but also the processes used to create many of the pieces and just talking about the philosophy underlying the gallery and their residence program.

I didn't swim in the river, it was way too cold! Mesmerizing to look at though. Oh, and the wildlife on site--adorable Capuchin monkeys, too many birds to mention, and the frogs/toads that lulled me to sleep. Monte Azul was an exquisite place to be unplugged (though I did have wifi if I wanted in my casita), relax and rejuvenate, and I hope I am fortunate enough to be able to visit again.

Room Tip: All the casitas are gorgeous. Verde has the biggest private garden by far.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, January 19, 2013
Dear brooklynprof,

I am left speechless. And after spending 10 days here, I am sure you know that doesn’t just happen.

Your credentials on TripAdvisor are impressive, I am sure travelers all over the world appreciate your insightful comments. With that aside, I must say we are humbled by your review. It was a joy to see you here each day and enjoy some conversation and especially your overall cheerful spirit. Seriously, how could our neighbors help themselves from stopping to say hello to you? :-)

Thank you for bringing your joy to Monte Azul, you only added more to what we already consider a magical spot along the Chirripó Pacífico river.

And you´re right, we seem to be a destination both for couples as well as for solo travelers, the vast majority of which are women. Perhaps it’s the privacy and seclusion we offer, away from all the tourism, coupled with the incredible natural setting, and personalized service you mentioned. Whatever it is, we are proud and happy that we keep attracting delightful people like yourself!

Pura vida!

Carlos
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
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English first
Boston
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2013

My wife and I spent two nights at Monte Azul after an amazing, but very rustic visit to the, Lookout Inn in Carate on the Osa Peninsula. The ride up the mountain from Dominical was windy and the quick ascent gaining elevation at an amazing rate. We stopped along the way giving gifts we had brought from home to the children along the way stopped in the village of Rivas (last stop before Monte Azul) and met many of the kids… great gift to us, anyway back to Monte Azul. As we drove over the bridge there was a solid gate on the left with a phone, from there you call and the gate ‘magically’ opens to ‘wonderland’, the beauty on so many levels is immediately felt. Never before have we found ourselves in an environment with such a variety of beauty stimulating all of our senses. The lodging is set close to the river with the constant sounds of the rushing waters and at night mixed with the sounds of the frogs. The flowers… have I talked about the flowers, both volume and variety that I have never seen… colors and textures in every direction. Wildlife… hummingbirds, butterflies, monkeys, oh my!!

Now for the art and the food; there are only 4 Casitas, so full occupancy means 8 people. The thought and consciousness expressed through the writings and descriptions in the binders in the beautifully designed rooms (really good reading) explain the thought, design features and activities available while at Monte Azul. A main and unique feature of Monte Azul is that you are surrounded by gorgeous art; they often have visiting artists and their work (for sale) is displayed everywhere on the property, in the casitas, café Blue and particularly in the art gallery… make sure you visit the art gallery. We hiked to the waterfall on a very steep but pretty trail by the coffee plantation.

Café Blue… if I walked by this Café/Bar in Soho or San Francisco it would capture my attention due to the; colors, lighting and general cool, but come on we are in the middle of the jungle. Randy and Carlos (the proprietors and our hosts) are designers and artists and their creativity and imagination is on display everywhere. Café Blue features a coolly lit blue bar, a circular fire pit area with beautiful colored and textured pillows and a large (given there are only 8 people) dining room. Food was very tasty and artfully arranged on our plates. Sitting at breakfast watching the hummingbirds frolicking on the overhanging flowers surrounding the dining room and the monkeys swinging in the trees, while sipping some dark, black organic coffee from the beans just up the way…

Monte Azul was a feast for our senses creating a full opportunity for relaxation. A honeymooning couple that was there while we were staying received special treatment that will last their lifetime, witnessing the way Carlos set up a very special evening for them created romance for everyone. The one area we wrestled with is the cost of the meals. Everything was very well prepared, our preferences considered and beautifully plated, but we did question the value of the lunch and dinner… after some discussion with my wife and with Carlos it became clear the conundrum that properties like Monte Azul face; their commitment to fresh and local foods, mostly organically grown along with their commitment to pay a fair wage to their help and the issues of supply along with inflated costs in this region for foods preparing for only a few people and supporting the property that is so nurturing, they have had to strike a balance of costs and charge so that they cover those costs. We very much understand their need to charge what they charge, but by ‘everyday’ standards it may seem like; not a great value. I have no negative judgment about the costs of our meals and fully understand why they need to charge what they do. Just want to give our perspective. Enough about that, we had an amazing visit to Monte Azul and feel like overall with the understanding of where it is located and the inherent challenges of running a resort with only four Casitas we have NO complaint at all about the value… the memories and relaxation and have I mentioned the flowers… I am sure if you choose to visit Monte Azul you will have a truly unique and magical time.

Room Tip: Casa Verde was in a prime location
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  • Stayed December 2012, 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.
CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, February 2, 2013
Dear zippidydo,

“…Hummingbirds, butterflies, monkeys, oh my!!” We loved your review! Thanks for the glowing recommendations about the property --yep, it’s pretty spectacular, so thank you Mother Nature! There was nothing we could do to improve on what nature dealt us, so we tried to create a special destination that would complement the setting instead of trying to upstage it.

We loved spending a little time chatting with your during your stay. We always comment on what lovely people Monte Azul tends to attract, it’s just another positive feature about staying here. Your insights on the art and design, the food, which we place an extra emphasis on doing well, were very welcome!

At Monte Azul we offer a very generous breakfast, which is complementary. In fact, we notice many guests are skipping lunch as a result, and by dinner everyone has worked up an appetite. For $34 guests are treated to 4 or 5 courses, depending on the menu, including different baked breads each night. It also includes a fabulous dessert, worthy of the most critical sugar-tooth’s tastes. The efforts you mention are well worth the results, seeing all the happy faces each night on our dining room. Guests can also opt to jsut have a partial menu, if they wish.

In my conversation with you, I came to realize that perhaps lunch was too much and as a result, we now offer a light meal that can also be delivered to your Casita, or set up picnic style on the grounds, by the river or in your private garden. People can also use their own kitchenette (each Casita has one) or venture out in the surrounding areas for local fair.

It was a delight having you here and we thank you for picking Monte Azul!

Pura vida!

Carlos
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Dallas, Texas, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2013

My wife and I spent 5 nights in December at Monte Azul for our honeymoon and couldn't have left more satisfied. After spending the week prior to our wedding on the beach up in the Nicoya Peninsula, we decided to change the scenery for the honeymoon and head into the mountains. There are several aspects of the stay that I want to praise: service, food, scenery, comfort and adventure!
The service was fantastic from everyone. Adrien, the hotel manager, was particularly great. He constantly worked to cater our stay and activities to our own preferences. Even going so far as to provide us with house slippers (at no cost to us) because my wife mentioned wanting to get a pair while we were on our way back from zip lining. Carlos and Randy (the owners) and the restaurant staff were also very friendly and helpful.
We were thankful that we opted for a tour of the Monte Azul property with Adrien as one of our activities. The surrounding rain forest is beautiful and it was interesting getting to hear about the history of the land that the resort is on. Cheese making with a local farmer was another highlight of our trip.
I see that it has been a negative aspect of the last couple of reviews, but the restaurant, the wait staff and the food they served us was all fantastic. In the 5 or 6 days worth of meals, we didn't leave that restaurant unsatisfied once. Both my wife and I are adventurous eaters so getting to try what the chef prepared for us each meal was a pleasure every time. We put in a couple specific requests on certain days and they were always catered to. You can taste the freshness in the food and to me, nothing ever tasted over seasoned. If you are a picky eater then I would let them know in advance and my guess is that they would be able to cater to whatever it is that you are adverse to. For my wife and I, the food was perfect and that was an aspect of the overall trip to Costa Rica that was hard to leave. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...and so I'll leave this review with that and go eat something far less tasty than what Monte Azul would serve me for breakfast.
We hope to return and see our new friends at Monte Azul again soon. Anniversary getaway maybe...

  • Stayed December 2012, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, January 18, 2013
Dear Daniel L,

We appreciate the wonderful review! It was great having you here, such a charming and delightful couple.

Thanks for addressing the food at Monte Azul. After a couple of knocks we had to go and re-evaluate our offering, and even though there is always room for improvement, we could not understand where we could have gone wrong. Our dedication to personal service allows plenty of freedom for guests to guide us in their menu design. In fact, we love a challenge!

Our usual guests are mostly well-traveled and/or tend to know good food and appreciate our amazing local products, the effort and skill required to offer the level of service we do at such a small scale, and the remarkable variety that keeps their interest peaked, even for stays of 10 days or longer.

So, we send an especially warm and heartfelt thanks to you both, from all of us at Monte Azul, and particularly Esteban the Chef, for recommending our little place in the rainforest!

Hope to see you for your anniversary!

Best to you both,

Carlos & Randy
Owners
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Jacó, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2012

We had a wonderful stay at the Monte Azul. The staff was very attentive to all our needs, we cannot say enough about that. We had mentioned that we wanted to fish in the river and they personally supplied us with handmade fishing poles and worms for our fishing. The rooms were very clean and the maid staff attended to them twice a day. We thoroughly enjoyed the Swiss Cheese making workshop and left with 3 delicious wheels of cheese. Randy and Carlos, the owners were wonderful hosts and Adrian, the concierge is great.

Our only disappointment were the meals. Although they were prepared according to our submitted restrictions, we felt we should have been given a few choices to pick from based on preferences. The food was fresh, but highly over seasoned for our tastes. It felt like simple food was being over seasoned to try to give it flavor. In their defense, we were asked when we were dissatisfied, if they could prepare something else for us, but at that point the meal had already been served

We definitely would return to Monte Azul, but would reconsider some of our meal choices. Maybe make sure we knew what was being served and ask for alternatives up front.

The beauty of the property and the accommodations met all our expectations.

Thank you.

Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, January 2, 2013
Dear Charlene C,

Thank you for your kind review. We certainly enjoyed meeting you and having you visit with us.

Glad you liked our service, we all work hard to make sure guests have everything they need to enjoy their stay, even if it means drumming up fishing tackle and bait at a moment's notice! :-)

We try our best to offer meals based on your dietary needs, restrictions and tastes and we make an effort to be thorough in asking you in advance without being too intrusive. Based on that information we plan a menu designed specifically for your tastes and requirements. We will see how we can improve our pre-arrival questionnaire and train our staff to also accommodate a sensitive palate.

Thank you for your constructive criticism!

Kindest regards,

Carlos Rojas
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Malaga, Spain
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012 via mobile

The service quality of this hotel needs a lot of improvement, especially with respect to meals and the way of how guests are approached, in order to justify the high prices for the cabin stay and meals.

We have unfortunately experienced many issues with the quality of the breakfasts and the dinners we had at this hotel (very limited breakfast, lack of taste of ghr prepared meals, carbonized toast, and undercooked meat, and even refreshments in the minibar from which the expiry date was already 6 weeks overdue).

Also be advised that the Internet connection for the cabins is very bad and only accessible in certain areas of the cabin! Actually they would need to improve their router for the guests internet connection, as I found out at the last day when I connected by surprise to their office wifi at the parking lot with full connection speed!

I am very sorry, but I wouldn't recommend this hotel to anyone.

  • Stayed December 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, January 2, 2013
“My mother said there would be days like this…” And now look what we got for Christmas! :-/

Well amigo, we certainly tried to make you happy. The previous 84 Excellent reviews are better testimony than anything I could ever say. Nonetheless, you did follow through on your threat to write a bad review becasue we would not change our breakfast format into a self-serve buffet (weird, we all thought). I guarantee with a certain amount of pride to anyone reading this, that Monte Azul will never reduce our service to that level.

Upon arrival you made it clear that we were your first stop in Costa Rica and the first time across the Atlantic. You insisted that we Americans/Ticos do not understand quality service and food. We weren’t so much offended as we were perplexed, but I must say that we are honored to have 100% local staff from our little village working here. Your noticeable disdain and criticisms were managed with grace, respect and dignity by every single staff member.

So, adios Señor Travel-Frans, we wish you well and hope you can take a moment to reflect upon your own animosity towards people whose job it is to serve you.

People everywhere respond to kindness. A sense of appreciation, humor and joy in the little things go a long way in making oneself a happier person, as well as the world a nicer place for all.

Pura Vida!

Carlos Rojas
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Chicago, Illinois
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2012

Monte Azul is such a unique place. The attention to detail at this place is absolutely incredible. My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon at Monte Azul and were blown away. I do have to say that MA is very isolated. We were the only ones staying at the hotel and it did become very lonely for us. That being said, it was still an amazing place with amazing people. The entire staff was so, so lovely. They gave us tips on what to do and made us feel so welcomed. The food was out of this world! It really was amazing and we looked forward to each meal to see what creative ideas came out of the kitchen.

One of our favorite activities was the cheesemaking "trip" across the river. The experience was so much more than just making cheese. The story behind the cheese was so inspiring and the cheese was delicious. We also hiked around the property which was lots of fun and a bit of a challenge. The soap making class was also fun and it was great to bring back souvenirs! A special thank you to Carlos and Randy who sent us off with a lovely gift of soap!

Monte Azul is truly a special place that we were fortunate enough to enjoy. Although we were probably the youngest people to ever stay there, we definitely appreciated the natural beauty and the incredible attention to detail. Thank you so much to all of the staff for making us feel so special and taking such good care of us!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
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CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, October 6, 2012
Dear Slo721,
We appreciate the kind words! It is an honor that you selected Monte Azul as part of your honeymoon itinerary and we are glad you enjoyed the experience.
In the off season, because we are well off the beaten path, it is not unlikely that couples might be the onlyv guests on certain days. In your case you did indeed have the entire 100 acres to yourselves, which most honeymoon couples appreciate, so I'm gls it worked out.
And yes, Randy and I are not exactly spring chickens, but we do get a good number of young honeymooners and try our best to give them a world class rainforest experience. Glad you were able to appreciate the slower pace of life in the highlands of our lovely area.
Kindest regards,
Pura Vida!
Carlos
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San Diego, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2012

What an absolute treat this place is. Beautiful attention to design and detail. Impeccable taste in the food and wine selection. Peaceful grounds to stroll around or hike through – including access to one of the best swimming holes I’ve jumped in. Carlos and Randy are great hosts. We hung out late into the night chatting and swapping stories. The staff, especially Adrian and Rogert, take excellent care of the guests. One of the best aspects of Monte Azul is its size; there are only 4 (if memory serves me) cottages/bungalows. We were there midweek, in the offseason, and we had the entire place to our selves! Talk about escape! Biggest regret is that we only stayed two nights! Other regret is that we took so long to post this review. We tell everyone going to Costa Rica to take the time to visit this gem. Do yourself a favor and go to the cheese making day trip. Very interesting!

  • Stayed January 2012, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CarlosRojasMonteAzul, Owner at Monte Azul, responded to this review, October 6, 2012
Dear Fongoli,
Thanks for the good words about our little bit of paradise! We really enjoyed having you here and are happy that you liked iit so much.
Being off the beaten track in the off season does mean you may end up with the entire place to yourselves, which most people love, so I'm glad it worked out for you. As a honeymoon destination we do get lots of young couples, even though Randy and I aren't exactly spring chickens,
which is why you might have gotten the opposite impression, LOL...
Again, we appreciate the excellent review and hope to see you again!
Pura Vida!
Carlos
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Additional Information about Monte Azul

Also Known As:
Monte Azul Hotel San Isidro De El General
Monte Azul Hotel
Monte Azul Costa Rica/San Isidro De El General
Address: Road to Chirripo National Park | Pérez Zeledón, San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of San Jose > San Isidro de El General
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 B&Bs / Inns in San Isidro de El General
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
About Monte Azul Boutique Hotel. Monte Azul Boutique Hotel is located on a private reserve in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica near the country’s highest point, Chirripó National Park. Equipped with four luxury riverside "casitas" and amenities and activities tailored to any type of traveler, Monte Azul provides an authentic experience for those looking to explore the nature and culture that Costa Rica is renowned for. In its short time, Monte Azul has achieved recognition from organizations like Condé Nast and TripAdvisor for elevating the standard for sustainability and style. About Monte Azul Center for Art and Design: The Monte Azul Center for Art and Design was established in 2005 with the vision of creating a haven where artists could come and express their creative nature while being inspired by the extraordinary beauty and peace of the Costa Rica highlands. The facility hosts select pieces from early and mid-career artists who produce some of the best work in Costa Rica and abroad. In addition to being a unique destination for art lovers and collectors, Monte Azul also offers travelers the opportunity to learn artistic skills like etching, monotyping and more. ... more   less 
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