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“Luxury & beauty in Costa Rica's South Pacific at an affordable price” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Cristal Ballena Resort

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Hotel Cristal Ballena Resort
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Ballena Beach | 7 km (4 miles) al Sur de Uvita, Uvita, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #6 of 11 Hotels in Uvita
Costa Rica
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Luxury & beauty in Costa Rica's South Pacific at an affordable price”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

Hotel Cristal Ballena is an oasis of tropical elegance in the beauty of Uvita in Costa Rica's South Pacific. The hotel is just 10 minutes from the Ballena Marine National Park, and 20 minutes from the surf town of Dominical. With the new highway, it is a quick scenic 3.5 hour drive from San Jose, and only 1 hour south of Manuel Antonio.

Junior Suites and Master Suites are spacious, comfortable and clean, with spectacular views from this hilltop hotel out over lush forest to the coast and sparkling blue sea. Junior Suites have 2 queen beds, a lounge area with chairs and a loveseat, desk, minibar area, closet, security safe, cable TV, a/c, ceiling fan, large bath, and an ample terrace or balcony. Master Suites have all of the above but are even more spacious with the best views of all! Rooms are situated in an elegant 3-story building. The only downside is if you are on the bottom floor and you have "galloping" children above you; luckily children go to sleep early! Try to get a top floor room if you can.

The breakfast buffet is massive and greatly varied! You'll eat like a king here! The restaurant serves up delicious, creative lunches and dinners with nightly specials. Reasonably priced.

We didn't use the pool, but loved its ocean-like expansiveness next to the restaurant. You can spot birds and other wildlife right from the restaurant terrace!

We spent the weekend at Cristal Ballena to take advantage of humpback whale migrating season (August & September). We went on a fantastic whale watching tour with Bahia Ballena Tours at Playa Uvita -- I highly recommend them, especially the guide Marco Monge who is exceedingly knowledgeable about whales, dolphins and natural history of the national park.

Cristal Ballena's owners are hands-on and you can tell the hotel has a personal touch. Owner Waldemar Steiner made the rounds to greet guests at dinner on one of the nights we were there. Such a pleasure to meet our charming host!

I would go back to Cristal Ballena in a heartbeat!

Room Tip: Go for the top floor Master Suite if you can. Spectacular views! And, no galloping children above yo...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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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127 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Nacogdoches, Texas
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2013

The Cristal Ballena is a good launch for the south coast. A fairly quick drive from San Jose by way of San Isidro General. A cool and beautiful drive. It is easy to get to Golfito, Boruco, Dominical, & Quepos from this hotel. The Whale's Tail and Marine Park are a must for at least two days. When the tide is out it is a beautiful beach and the water is clean, clean. The hotel is nice, but I would not say five stars. I don't know why it is so expensive. The pool is really great and there is a nice hiking trail on the grounds. The reason I can't give it a full excellent rating: We found the food to be below par for the cost - we had shrimp the first night there and they were cooked until they reached "rubber bouncy ball" stage and we did not eat there again, the bed was very, very "firm", there were loads of ants outside on the patio (too many for an expensive resort - even in Costa Rica), the staff was fairly indifferent - not rude or anything, but one had to go get a drink at the bar, no one ever came and asked if you wanted anything, even refills finally they said to book a massage treatment they only needed two hours notice - more like 24 hrs...maybe...I didn't get one! Other than that, it was a good place to launch day trips from. It is a very popular place for Europeans and we met some neat people. The owner was also fun to chat with. A better view, but much steeper drive, could be had at Whales and Dolphins. Great restaurants in Uvita proper. Each one we ate at was delicious.

Room Tip: If you want a massage, book it when you get there. I think all the rooms are good!
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

Fantastic Weekend. The price is right as well as everything else.

Arriving here, the hotel looks a little dated and you wonder what you have got yourself into.. However, you will be pleasantly surprised. The rooms are all very modern and updated with King size four poster beds, 30+ inch TV's, mini bars (which are extremely expensive) and great covered decks with recliners.

Views are spectacular across the pacific and the jungle. Breakfast is buffet style and provides everyone a choice of fresh fruit, pancakes to bacon and eggs, all with fresh tea, coffee and juices. There is a full restaurant and wine list too if you want dinner here. Dinner is from a great menu, that would find in any other restaurant in the area. However, food is served on hot plates..... very rare for Costa Rica.

All in all - a great weekend away. We were luckily enough to be there for one of the owners 80th Birthday's. A great evening and a very nice bunch of people too.... Will definitely be back..

The p

Room Tip: Ask for ocean and pool view......
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hermosa Beach, California
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

My husband and I stayed at this hotel after staying at a "Lodge" in the southern part of the country. This hotel was like a palace! Wonderful air conditioning, nicely appointed rooms, and a truly incredible chef at the restaurant. Definitely a gem in an area that seems hardly developed at all.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 4 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.
Santa Ana, Costa Rica
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

The Steiner familiy has done a great job in setting up this hotel a decade ago. The owners live on the premises, which makes for a personalized service. Beautiful views towards the Pacific Ocean, but tucked away on a hilltop near the jungle. Love the jungle trails, beautiful pool and nice food.

Room Tip: The suites (nrs 10 and 16) are located on the corner of the main building and come both with a massi...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
Denver, Colorado
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2013

My wife and I booked 3 nights in early February and liked it enough to ask at the front desk if we could stay longer. Like most other vistiors to Costa Rica we pack our days with all the activities we can and by late afternoon, early evening we're ready to relax. This is the perfect hotel for that.
Huge refreshing pool, large off room, private patio with a gorgeous view, comfortable lounge chairs and fast room service. Every square foot of the common areas, rooms and restaurant are clean and spotless. All staff were polite and responded to any request we had in as professional and friendly a manner as you will find anywhere. It is secluded enough so you hear nothing but birds, waves and everyones favorites, the howler monkeys. Our only dissapointment was the discovery that easy access to one of the nicest small beaches is a poorly marked dirt road directly across the road from the entrance driveway to the hotel. We will not go back to this area of Costa Rica and stay any where else. BTW. The food in the restaurant is excellent, though on the expensive side. Understandable I suppose if you think of what it must take to get all this food transported through the country.

Room Tip: Rooms 10 through 14 have patios that are high above lanscaped grade while the lower numbered rooms h...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 4 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.
Brockville, Canada
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2013

My daughter, son-in-law and I spent 4 days at the hilltop resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean in January. They enjoyed the hike through the rainforest with the owner's dog leading the way! We all walked down the hill to do the fitness trail. On the way back one day, one of the men cut a hole in 3 coconuts and gave us each one to drink the coconut water..very refreshing! We must have looked like we needed a drink!
The breakfast buffet was delicious with good variety. The menu for lunch and supper was varied. We had purchased an all-inclusive type package so only paid for drinks. We did find the alcoholic drinks a bit pricey.
The pool was absolutely perfect. It was crystal clean but didn't reek of chemicals as some pools do. And who wouldn't love swimming in such a beautiful pool as you looked out on the ocean?
The reception staff were friendly and booked our tour of the Mangroves with Oscar and Felix...we would highly recommend that three hour pontoon ride on the Sierpe River viewing all kinds of wildlife. The staff also drove us down to the beach where we spent a couple hours and even saw the Jesus Christ lizard walking across the water of a stream that fed into the ocean. Quite a sight!
Our rooms were large, modern, bright, air conditioned, with a verandah overlooking the ocean. It was from our verandah that I saw my first Toucan. It was my second visit to Costa Rica and my first sighting. I was thrilled.
Waldemar and his wife have made a beautiful garden retreat for their guests. I appreciated the fact they put name plates by the trees and plants to identify them. Who knew ficus grew so big? At home they are just plants but here they are trees.
LOVED the Cristal Ballena!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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Additional Information about Hotel Cristal Ballena Resort

Address: Ballena Beach | 7 km (4 miles) al Sur de Uvita, Uvita, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Uvita
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 11 Hotels in Uvita
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Cristal Ballena Resort 3*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Hotel Resort Cristal Ballena is located in the midst of its own 12-hectare grounds, very close to the unique "Marino Ballena" Marine National Park and mountains covered in rainforest. The hotel features 14 Junior Suites, 3 Master Suites, along with 2 Family suites. Due to its excellent location, our guests can enjoy breathtaking ocean views from the big balcony. Our stylish, spacious Suites are equipped with four-poster bed, AC, ceiling fan, WLan, TV, telephone, minibar, safe, coffee maker and hairdryer. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Cristal Ballena Osa Peninsula
Hotel Cristal Ballena Resort Costa Rica/Uvita

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