My wife and I spent 3 nights at Florblanca during December 2013. It was one of three luxury properties that we stayed at Costa Rica, the other two being Nayara (in Arenal) and Arenas Del Mar (at Manuel Antonio).
We arrived after dark, but Florblanca makes a strong first impression - it really feels like a tropical oasis. In addition to providing transportation from Tambor Airport, Florblanca also offered to schedule a chartered plane from Arenal - it was a little out of our price range, but it was a nice offer.
We were given cold towels, a delicious cold beverage and a tour of the property. Florblanca has only 11 units, but it feels incredibly spacious. Each unit seems quite private.
Florblanca doesn't really have a front desk. We were met in the parking area by a concierge who checked us in, but that area is not regularly staffed. The concierge desk close to the restaurant serves as the front desk.
The facilities for an 11-room property are extraordinary - a spa, outstanding restaurant, TV room (the rooms don't have TVs), yoga room, bar - it felt much larger, but there were few people there. Both the restaurant and the yoga studio draw visitors from outside of the property, but it never felt crowded at all.
Our experience in making the reservation was a bit odd. Given that we were traveling at the end of low season, I called the hotel directly to inquire about discounted rates. Indeed, I was offered a good discount, but only for a 2-bedroom suite. I could get a similar discount on a 1-bedroom suite - my preference - but was told that I'd have to change rooms after the second night. Obviously, this wasn't acceptable to me.
I then looked at Expedia and found - voila - availability for a 1-BR suite for all 3 nights. I was a bit conflicted - would they make me change rooms if I booked it through Expedia? I ended up calling the hotel back to ask them about this. The woman who answered indicated that the reservation agent who managed room inventory on Expedia wasn't available but I could call back. I trusted that she would tell the agent about the Expedia issue, as it wasn't in line with what I was told over the phone.
Nevertheless, two days later, the 1-BR was still on Expedia so I booked it. I didn't get a low season discount, but it was significantly less expensive than the 2-BR.
Florblanca managed this by upgrading us to the Honeymoon House when we arrived. Well done, Florblanca! The Honeymoon House is a 2-story structure very close to the beach, which was ideal. Other aspects weren't ideal, however. The bottom floor - living room, kitchen, mini-bar, bathroom - is entirely open air, which wasn't useful for us in the heat. Likewise, the immense bathroom and closet adjacent to the bedroom upstairs were also open-air. So we ended up sequestered in the bedroom most of the time, as it was the only air conditioned room.
The Honeymoon House also features a gorgeous, huge deck with views of the ocean.
That being said, maintenance is becoming an issue there. The gorgeous woods need a good polish, and the humidity is having its way with doors. The sofa downstairs had a huge rip in one of the cushions. The air conditioning unit dripped into our suitcase. If we hadn't just come from the spectacular Nayara Hotel, it might not have been as obvious.
One big plus, however, was that the canopy bed featured a fan in the canopy. We slept comfortably.
There were several other issues for me that turned this potential 5-star property into a 4-star one.
First, the concierge wasn't very helpful with dinner selections. Malpais and Santa Teresa are up and coming destinations, and tour books mentioned that a number of chefs had moved there and opened up restaurants. We were given 2 restaurant recommendations, neither of which was very creative or special. I expect a concierge at a luxury property to have extensive knowledge about the area, based on personally experiencing the establishments they're recommending.
Second, the service was simply a step below that which we experienced at Nayara and Arenas Del Mar. Some staff were extremely friendly and hardworking, but others displayed a rather cold disinterest that was completely atypical of what we experienced elsewhere. One morning, while waiting to be served coffee at the restaurant, I watched the bartender and two servers stare and laugh at a male guest by the pool who was wearing a tight bathing suit. It's the kind of unpleasant experience that sticks with you, made even more so by the fact that they weren't providing very good service to me at the time.
I'd like to recommend something very simple to Florblanca - how about nametags for your staff? It personalizes interactions and helps your guests to remember who is good and who isn't.
Another disappointment has less to do with Florblanca and more to do with the area. My wife and I don't surf - while I understood that the beach in front of Florblanca isn't ideal for swimming, I was advised that I could walk 5 minutes to the left or right and land on a good swimming beach. This isn't entirely true. Those beaches are only good for swimming during low tide, which the water recedes beyond the rocks. We walked for more than a mile to the right to Hermosa Beach and never did find a good place to swim when the tide wasn't at its lowest. This was our failing - this area seems great for surfers, but I ended up with the sense that we would have been much better off staying further north.
I was also frustrated with the shape of the road that lines the beach and carries all of the traffic through Malpais and Santa Teresa. It's in terrible shape, which adds a lot of time and discomfort to your travel to and from the resort. Some people might consider this to be part of the charm of the area, but Santa Teresa and Malpais really can't masquerade as hidden secrets anymore. The area is bringing in huge tax revenues which are not being reinvested into the infrastructure. A local shopkeeper told me that local authorities had pledged to fix the road in February 2014 - after the holiday crowds.
None of these criticisms should take away the positives that Florblanca has to offer - it's very peaceful and private and offers a level of luxury that you won't find elsewhere in this area. The area has a youthful feeling, with a lot of ex-pats from the US, Canada, Argentina, and Europe. If you love to surf - or want to learn - this is a prime destination. Florblanca is the finest property in this area, so you should go and enjoy it and the beautiful water.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Our accommodations offer complete privacy and luxury surrounded by beautiful gardens and views of the Pacific Ocean. All villas are only steps away from the surf, open -air dining, our new Spa Bambu, fitness center, a yoga and Pilates studio, and other amenities. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, Travelocity, Jetsetter, Expedia, Tingo and Venere so you can book your Florblanca Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Florblanca Hotel Santa Teresa
- Florblanca Resort Santa Teresa
- Florblanca Resort Costa Rica/Santa Teresa