My wife and myself reached the guest house filled with high expectations, stemming from a friend's enthusiastic recommendation as well as fostered by numerous glowing reviews on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately it took me much less than the 1-day booking we made to realise that Canaima wasn't as good as hyped. Not being sold beyond its looks, we ultimately opted not to extend our stay and headed towards greener (= chill-friendlier) pastures.
I should start by disclaiming my reviewing stance: a hotel (i) confidently advertising itself as a "chill house" / "stress-free zone" and (ii) charging USD80 a night for a double room in a very much non-mainstream touristic, rough-around-the-edges location moulded for the non-fussy type definitely calls for expectations. In a nutshell: if a box is presented as a jewel case and it shines, there has to be a gem inside. That's where I was disappointed.
First and foremost, I'd like to sincerely congratulate Canaima's owner for the lodge's truly exquisite and exceptionally stylish room design. Kudos for that: it is indeed a really well crafted jewel case.
The dusty, choppy and steep 500m slope leading to Canaima didn't bother me one bit: it's honestly disclaimed on the hotel's web-site, plus I regarded it as good exercise as well as a mood build-up tune towards sweeter things to come. Like a fresh room. Our room had no A/C, which I'd agree with the owner as being surplus to requirements – although I read of a different endeavour off a TripAdvisor response to a similar comment (from 2 years back)... – *so long as* there's decent ventilation in place. Despite the owner's opinion to the contrary, room ventilation was poor: the weak ceiling fan, purposefully fitted to be restricted to the bed area, was plainly inadequate. I don't enjoy sweating while simply packing / unpacking my suitcase; not in a "chill house" filled with promise. Leaving the door and windows wide open in a tropical jungle setting (= stale + very humid) without a proper mosquito net would do little – those pull-up curtains enable *some* privacy and environment separation, not insulation from pests – unless you're a fan of blood-sucking pests, to say.
The drop-down mosquito net around the bed didn't just work: its loose, if tender to the eyes, 4-section cut couldn't prevent 2 unwanted overnight wake-ups caused by both mosquito bites and the stuffy heat.
The magnificent shower grotto baited me for a really enjoyable showering experience; that I got, until I had to negotiate with the wobbly, part-leaking and frankly basic-quality shower head and hose. What a stark contrast with the surroundings!
While available, wi-fi connection is dispensed through a standard domestic modem (really!?! #1) lying on the reception desk at waste-level, hardly stretching the signal into our room – which was the ground-level 2nd closest one to the reception... – and gets switched off after hours (really!?! #2), which was an unexpected first as my travel experiences go.
Privacy is an unwarranted commodity: leaving the open-plan resort concept (which I don't dislike) aside, I don't need to hear my neighbours up top chatting, if considerately, or making otherwise normal noise; let alone late at night. While I wouldn't expect accommodations to be sound-proof, I would nevertheless associate the concept of a "chill house" with some acoustic insulation.
Available dishware from the kitchen corner could have been cleaned better, like the external hanging bed linen (a few marks left by previous guests) and room porch (2 cigarette butts and an used tissue).
We didn't take a full morning breakfast for granted; it's clearly noted as an optional add-on in Canaima's web-site, which a few (if outdated) comments on TripAdvisor cautioned me against. With that being said, complimentary filter coffee – perhaps self-made from a standard filter coffee machine – would have been a nice touch. Lacking that (it did), the availability of pay-for coffee would have been appreciated. Lacking that (it did)... you're incentivised to leave the guest house ahead of your morning schedule just to get a dirty coffee fix someplace down the village. Unless you're used to carry around your own filter coffee machine while on holiday.
My regret with all the above issues is that they could all be resolved with really little effort and cost-effective remedies (e.g. a couple of routers, modern shower units, larger and more powerful ceiling fans...) from the management's end. This is something I'm afraid I do expect from a resort of Canaima's pretence, also coming sign-posted as a stress-free zone. The following short-comings, however, I can't honestly see as so easily addressed and should be kept in mind.
While boasting a swimming pool, a separate Jacuzzi and a lie-in pillow lounge in the communal areas, their overly small size (fitting 3 guests with a loose personal space perception, 4 without) made me quickly realise that the simultaneous presence of just 2 guests in any is a dead put-off. In an resort of Canaima's size, and with the aforementioned ventilation issues, there will be strong 'competition' without a doubt. While using the Jacuzzi on my own – too tempting an opportunity to let it pass – I had overheard a resort guest regretting that the Jacuzzi was already occupied.
A side, yet crucial note: the swimming pool was dirty (= clouded water completely closing the pool floor's look); period. Sorry, no "we're in the jungle!" argument holds here: *all* other hotels I distributed my Costa Rican holiday around, which were framed into a jungle setting, provided remarkably clean, limpid pools. At the time I was there, maintenance of Canaima's swimming pool had been royally passed over for some time.
An afterward that pointed my final mark onto a 2/5 rather than a 3/5 is finally in order: the correct answer to a resort guest asking a payment receipt / invoice when checking out (which really shouldn't be requested in the first place) is along the lines of "Yes, of course: here it comes", not a reluctant "We don't normally issue receipts over 1 day-long stays (really!?! #3), but I'll issue one anyway".
Pura (y mas disfrutable en otros sitios) vida!
Head for rooms upstairs to enjoy more privacy and quietness.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
August 10, 2013
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Thank you very much for your review.
I really take it very personally and try to learn from all the feedbacks that our guests give us.
I love what I do and try to make every day my hotel better so travelers enjoy their stay. There are some moments where the "gem inside the jewel case" hasn't been perfectly polished and because of the rough environment we have around Playa Santa Teresa, the gem doesn't always shine as it should.
I am really sorry that you didn't find that "gem" inside the box.
There are some things that you commented on your review that we have already put a solution to. We are very sorry that during your stay you didn't find them as they normally are and should always be.
Just say that sometimes a couple of circumstances that don't depend at all of the management of the hotel, occur at the same time, and make things not work or be as some guests expect. Being in the middle of the jungle with an unpaved road and a 6 hours drive to the closest city where you can buy "decent" supplies for your business, sometimes makes things challenging.
We consider that internet is a very important tool for all our guests. We never turn off internet in any moment. However, we are in rainy season, storms occur often, therefore the whole town looses electricity making the internet system not work. I will consider buying an energy backup for our modem and WiFi router.
As I said in other replies to other guests, it's a shame that you didn't expose all your concerns, in the moment I asked you or your wife if you were enjoying your stay, having a "everything is fine, thank you" as a reply, because I'm sure that we could have immediately resolved some of the points you mentioned and made your stay much more enjoyable.
I hope you found a nice place to stay during the rest of your holidays in the beautiful Costa Rica.
PS: You keep referring Canaima Chill House as a resort, it's a very ambitious term but we are not a resort, we are a family business hotel of 8 rooms.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.