This past April, 3 of my girl friends and I traveled to Costa Rica for the first time.
Being that none of us had ever been, we researched extensively, and we finally decided on Hotel Celaje. We chose this Hotel for a few reasons. We wanted to stay in a more secluded area, something that felt like we were actually in the Costa Rican jungle and not in a modern luxury resort, or in a conformed touristy area. We wanted more of a bungalow feel than a hotel feel. We wanted to make sure we were in a safe area, being 4 females traveling in an unfamiliar place. Hotel Celaje was all of those things and more.
We had arrived just after sunset and we were greeted by Santino (the afternoon/night manager), Kardoes and Lucky (the hotel dogs - a black & tan jack russell and a Shar Pei - very sweet and friendly). Santino helped us with our bags and took us to our room. He carried our bags up the stairs for us and told us about the restaurant and what time the breakfast buffet (included) was open.
Santino remained to be a huge help our entire trip. We spent many days relaxing at the pool (playing fetch with Kardoes), exploring the beach, walking to the restaurants in Cabuya (maybe 3 restaurants in town and a grocery store - about a 15 minute walk down the dirt road). He made sure we had everything we needed, he answered all of our questions on where to go, how to get there, and had many recommendations that we learned were exceptional. He is extremely friendly and makes you feel at home.
We met Marco (Hotel Owner) the following morning during breakfast. Marco also proved to be extremely helpful. Since we had not rented a car (thank goodness, because the roads were scary), he provided us with rides to and from Montezuma, to and from Santa Teresa, for very affordable prices. While driving us around, he would stop to show us monkeys in trees, cows, all different wild life. He would also give us a little history about the area we were staying in.
Our bungalow was just enough. We weren't planning on spending time in a room except for a shower and for sleep. The over sized ceiling fan in our bungalow kept us cool at night along with the beautiful ocean breeze. Some nights were hotter than others and sometimes more difficult to fall asleep, but it definitely cooled down and we all slept very well to our surprise. The beds were comfortable enough for us to sleep in for seven nights without feeling sore. The shower was a challenge at first, only because we couldn't figure out how to switch on the hot water. After asking Santino, we were able to figure it out and the shower was fine. Everything was clean. I will admit, I was nervous about bugs. Each bed had a mosquito net hanging from the ceiling, which was comforting. With the exception of a spider or two downstairs near the front door (Santino and Marco took care of them for us), we saw no other insects in the bungalow at all. There were NO mosquitos at all, but during the time we stayed it was VERY dry. We were told it hadn't rained since November, and we were there in April. I don't know how the mosquitos would be in the rainy season.
The restaurant had great food. The breakfast buffet was delicious and more than satisfying, with eggs (fried or scrambled), rice & beans, fruit, pancakes (not a traditional american pancake - maybe more like a crepe), fresh fruit, toast, cereal, and delicious coffee. We had dinner and lunch there a few times and all of us thoroughly enjoyed all of our meals.
A few things that kept this rating at "Very Good" instead of "Excellent" - The restaurant/bar area closed relatively early (around 9pm - depending on if people were there or not). There were two nights or so where we didn't have anything to eat or drink in our Bungalow and had to wait until morning, so always make sure you have some snacks and water (and cervezas) on hand in your bungalow. They also turned off all of the lights except for one dim light in the restaurant, so you couldn't even utilize the tables or the chairs surrounding the pool. You could go night swimming, but there was no pool light either. All the bungalows have tables, chairs, and a hammock with good lighting. So we did end up hanging out there for a bit.
Over all, we had an amazing stay, and I would definitely recommend this place. If you aren't a high maintenance, bougie snob about hotels, and you enjoy staying in the simpler hidden places off the beaten path, Hotel Celaje is for you.