My husband and I stayed at El Silencio recently for 3 days as part of our honeymoon. The hotel is new (just opened in December 07), so we heard about it through our travel agent and booked before opening. Overall, we had a very nice stay at El Silencio, but there were a few glitches that we feel are worth pointing out.
Let's start with what we liked...
The cabinas are well appointed, comfortable and stylish. The bathroom is huge, with beautiful marble flooring. Each cabina has a fireplace as well as a hot tub, which feels great in the cooler evenings in the mountains. The towels and linens are also top notch , and the bed is very comfortable.
The lodge is nestled in an idyllic, lush green valley about an hour and a half north of San Jose. Every cabina has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, and the onsite hiking trails take you to 3 beautiful waterfalls in the area.
Firstly, it's just a great setting - 3 sides of windows surround the seating area, giving guests views of the beautiful scenery surrounding them. The chef introduces himself to each guest personally and explains the philosophy behind the cuisine: fresh, fresh, fresh. They have an organic garden onsite that supplies all of the veggies and herbs, and only chicken and fish are on the menu (no red meat). All other products are procured locally. Philosophy aside, the food was simply outstanding. The waiters were also very accommodating and friendly, and we were well attended to on every occasion.
We had a couple's massage and facial, and it was to die for. The massage was almost an out of body experience it was so fantastic. Extremely professional service with all of the high end touches you can think of. The only thing that was strange is that they were offering all sorts of great specials that you only found out about after arriving at the spa. It seems like posting these in the rooms would be a more effective way to market the spa services.
Now, this all sounds great, but there were a few things that we felt were pretty big drawbacks to El Silencio...
The lodge makes a big deal in their marketing materials about each guest having an eco-concierge who will set up any activities you would like to do in the area. Unfortunately, setting up activities was more work for us than the staff - after checking back 4 times in 24 hours, we only found out things were scheduled when the driver arrived at 9:30 one morning, which was past the recommended time to see a clear view of Poas Volcano. Also, the staff didn't have much in the way of recommendations, knowledge of how long activities take, what times are best to go where, or what the costs of any activities were. In fact, our driver was booked before they even told us what the costs were. No listing of activities was available anywhere. How are people supposed to know what to do? The same runaround happened when we tried to schedule spa services through the front desk. No one could confirm costs or if our appointments had been scheduled or not. For $480 per couple/night, we expected better communication, coordination and service from the front desk staff. It just seemed that they didn't have their act together at all, which was a shame.
The property is called "Silence", and there are hot tubs with the rooms, so you sort of expected a chill, mostly couples, or at least adult, crowd. However, we were surrounded by a couple of families with rowdy kids running around at 7:00 a.m. Don't get me wrong - the kids were nice and just being kids, but it just doesn't seem like an ideal location for young children, and I think El Silencio may want to think about whether they are marketing to the romantic, couples crowd or the family crowd because the two are not so harmonious in this intimate, high end lodge.
Nickeled and Dimed:
Since the lodge charges on an all-inclusive basis, we were surprised to be charged for items like cappuccinos. Beer was free in the mini-bar in your room but not when consumed in the restaurant. It would be better if they simply made beer plus any non-alcoholic beverages included in the rate. Guests are paying a lot already, and it costs very little to provide these items.
So, in conclusion, while we had an overall positive experience, we just didn't feel that the experience represented a very good value for money. $480 per night is a fortune in Costa Rica, so there's really no excuse for some of the lackluster service we received. It is a beautiful property, but it lacks the character and charm that only great service can provide to a property.
That being said, we would still recommend it overall because some of the upsides to the place are so good.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- El Silencio Lodge & Spa is a unique luxury cloud forest hotel set in Costa Rica's pristine Bajos del Toro region. Flanked by two national parks, this all-suite and private villa hotel combines upscale comforts with an intense natural immersion experience. Outstanding features include farm-to-table cuisine, a wellness spa, an adventure park, and authentic cultural experiences. Zip-lining, rappelling, horseback riding, waterfall hiking, oxcart painting, Tico cooking lessons and more can be enjoyed by couples and families (minimum age: 8). ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- El Silencio Hotel Bajos Del Toro
- El Silencio Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/Bajos Del Toro