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“El Silencio Lodge is Stupendous!”

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El Silencio Lodge & Spa
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bajos del Toro
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed March 16, 2014

My wife and I traveled to the cloud forest at Bajos del Toro Amarillo and the El Silencio Lodge as our second stop on a two-week trip to Costa Rica. We arrived at the El Silencio Lodge on March 1st, and stayed three nights. It was my wife’s first trip to Costa Rica and my fourth. We also stayed at Hotel Manatus, Hotel Punta Islita, and Hotel Grano Del Oro, all of which I have also reviewed.

El Silencio is managed by Grupo Islita and is one of their two sister properties. Grupo Islita is dedicated to giving back to the communities where their hotels are located, and hotel management companies worldwide could and should look at them as an example of how to put Sociology, Ecology, and Profitability into proper perspective. It works absolutely perfectly at El Silencio. The entire experience there was STUPENDOUS! It has become one of our favorite three lifetime vacation destinations, and we are now thinking of building a second home there!

We flew into San Jose from Tortuguero and were then transferred to El Silencio by private car in a trip that lasted approximately 2.5 hours because one of the roads that would have shaved an hour off the trip was being modernized. This didn’t bother us at all because we knew that travel by car in Costa Rica can be daunting at times. (The ride back to San Jose was only 1.5 hours because we left early in the morning to catch a flight to Punta Islita, and we were able to use the new road before it closed to traffic at 6 am.)

Most of the hotel employees are locals from the community, and it was a great pleasure taking the time to speak with each one of them. Our eco concierge, Orlando, was fabulous even though he was relatively new to his position having worked his way up at the hotel. We enjoyed him taking us on the medicinal plants tour, the night melody tour, an early morning bird watching tour, and an extended guided hike to the three beautiful waterfalls found on the property’s miles of hiking trails. I also thoroughly enjoyed learning all about and tasting Costa Rican coffee with Benny. It was great!

The hotel property is completely self-sustaining, with trout/tilapia farming, chicken farming (for the eggs!), and all organic produce grown on site. This contributed greatly to the food being amazing! Also contributing to the experience was the expert wait staff at the restaurant. There was no request that was too difficult, and Martin (the motor cycle bandito!) and Francisco always welcomed us warmly. They anticipated our every need without ever being intrusive. Just wonderful! We also were served by one other individual, but sadly I have forgotten his name, might it have been Carlos? He suggested a final evening dinner next to the fireplace, and he was as knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of Costa Rica as any of the guides I have met in the country. Bravo!

A brief note about the menu and how responsive Groupo Islita is to suggestions. I read many reviews about the prix fixe menu being expensive and “forcing” too much food on you. This was completely corrected during our stay. You could pay $35 for a complete meal, or pay $10 for an appetizer, $20 for a main course, and $5 for a dessert. You could mix and match as you pleased and eat as little or as much as you liked. My wife and I enjoyed ordering multiple appetizers for lunch one day, splitting each one. We found the pricing of the food to be an excellent value considering the quality.

I must mention the hotel manager Arnay, since he is running such a tight ship. I think what makes this possible is his attention to detail and willingness to learn about any problems or hear any suggestions that might make a stay at the property more enjoyable. Without fail, Arnay would ask us if there was anything that could be improved upon. In all honestly, neither my wife nor I could come up with anything to improve. Well, maybe one thing. It is a cloud forest after all, and it does get cool, especially at night. If you are sensitive to cold at all, be sure to pack a fleece or warm sweater. It will help keep you warm when you are strolling around the grounds. The portable heaters, the hot water bottles at night, and lovely hot tub are probably all you will need as far as staying warm in your room. Speaking of the room, it was the perfect size and perfectly maintained. Don’t forget to call down for hot chocolate in the afternoon! It was so lovely to sit on our porch sipping hot chocolate while gazing at the clouds descending the mountain while hummingbirds flitted from flower to flower. Again, just stupendous!

Onto the Spa! Wow! It was great. My wife did a facial and I had a mani, pedi on the first day. Perfecto! So perfect in fact that we both had massages the next day. And the next day. Best Thai massage ever! Thank you also to the young lady who did my manicure. She told me about the pejibaye palm (peach palm) and said it was her favorite food. I made a mental note to try it one day and sure enough, there was pejibaye soup on the menu for lunch the next day. It was so delicious, I had it again in Punta Islita and San Jose. Truly wonderful and indescribable!

What else can I say? A special thank you to Maria of Groupo Islita for suggesting that we stay at El Silencio! We will definitely be back and can’t recommend the property highly enough.

Thank you again to all!

Roberto and Juanita

Room Tip: Rooms are lovely. We stayed in room #1 which was close to everything.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Robert H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 19, 2014

Dear Roberto and Juanita! It is wonderful to see your thoughtful post on this forum. Thank you for your honest and insightful account of your experience at El Silencio Lodge & Spa. I am genuinely delighted that your stay was superlative and full of special moments that capture life's feel-good intensity. I certainly hope you "join the neighborhood" in the near future. Orlando was your Eco-Concierge and he fully enjoyed guiding you through our magical cloud forest. Our warmest regards!

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Reviewed March 3, 2014

This property is why one visits Costa Rica! You will stay in the rain forest and have beautiful hikes to waterfalls. The rooms are VERY spacious and you will enjoy the outdoor hot tub on your private deck. Comfortable accommodations and hot water bottles in your bed at turn down if it's chilly. They grow a lot of their own produce and herbs, which makes for some excellent cuisine. We really enjoyed the menu. They put together an impromptu wine dinner to educate us on South American wines....we really enjoyed that.
Definitely do some of the local visits that are offered. Also note that any day trips by vehicle should be accompanied by motion sickness meds......transit in rural areas / countryside can definitely be bumpy and full of turns.
I did not care for the fluorescent lighting in the room at night, however, I know they are trying to be 'eco friendly'. I just think it kind of takes away from any earthiness. The hotel is very nice, but know that this isn't a luxury resort, it's simple, clean and well above average accommodations in the rain forest. Limit your expectations and you'll be very happy. I definitely recommend it.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SafariSnob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2014

Great to hear from you Shelane! Thank you so much for your wonderful review and for giving us insights to help us improve our guests' experience. I wlll add your suggestion to bring motion sickness pills to our recommendations flyer. Costa Rica's countryside roads feature gorgeous scenery and some hairpin turns. I am thrilled that you had a full chance to enjoy not only our facilities and services but the wonderful adventures and experiences that characterize our surroundings. Gracias!

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Reviewed March 3, 2014

If you seek a place apart from the noise of this world you will find it here. Accessible only by a long, bumpy drive (scary at night with dense fog shrouded mountains) and nestled deep in the Cloud Forest you are welcomed by the most friendly people we found in all of Costa Rica and this says something as we found everyone friendly in Costa Rica. The separate cabins are nicely designed for maximum privacy – even in #16 which is closest to the lodge but still felt completely private with the sound of the rushing river so close by.

We wanted luxury and found some in the luxurious towels, robes and bed linens but found it missing in the quality of the lighting, wood floors, lack of hooks and places to put your stuff. We weren’t well enough prepared for the very cool and damp weather and the in room heaters only took the edge off. Some will be happier with an extra heater. The hot tub was wonderful in that you can make it as hot as you like but designed in a way that you can’t get completely comfortable in there and it takes at least 2 hours to get it up to temperature.

The water is as pure as you’ll find anywhere in the world for drinking and as hot as you need. They put hot water bottles in our bed at night and that was wonderful. No TV in room (which is great) and no Internet in room (which is great). You can download all your junk mail and get a TV fix in the lodge. The food is fresh as they have their own greenhouse (see it) and their own chickens (for eggs only) and their own trout farm. The menu is the same every day. Not great but very good.

Day trips are a little expensive because of the remote locations. But just hike around the area and see the waterfalls and stunning foliage everywhere. The guides are knowledgeable and careful to give you space and private time. Keep in mind what I didn’t, which is that this is the ‘Cloud Forest’ so don’t expect warm, sunny weather although the daily but brief morning sun felt so good. Most of all just breathe in the freshness of this place, the sense of separateness, and you will be left feeling as I do now, which is that El Silencio is very special with warm welcoming people and a truly good heart.

Room Tip: We loved #16 because it was so close to lodge but felt so private. Most of all loved the sound of t...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Jerry H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2014

Warm greetings Jerry! Learning that we succeeded in providing a complete natural immersion and relaxation experience to best enjoy Costa Rica's mesmerizing cloud forest is a wonderful way to start the day. Thank you so much for your visit and your thoughtful review!

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Reviewed February 27, 2014

Thank goodness we only spent one night at this hotel. I will say the setting is just amazingly beautiful; however, the accommodations were an awful experience. We had a suite with a fairly large sitting area/sleeping area and then a large bathroom. The room has no central heating or air and they provide this little portable plug-in heater. Given the size of the room and the very low temperatures, we were freezing. Also, since the temperature is not controlled in the room and it's in the cloud forest, everything was damp - everything....the towels, robes, etc. There was visible mold growing on the blinds. Also, the jacuzzi on the deck was filled in on one half with concrete (I guess to conserve water); however, this made it very uncomfortable to attempt to use. A little too eco-friendly for me.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with family
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1  Thank dana53023
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 1, 2014

Greetings Dana and thank you for taking the time to write a review. We are thankful for constructive feedback in hopes of addressing any shortcomings. I regret that cold weather had such an undue impact on your one-night experience and sincerely apologize for the mold you spotted on your Suite's blinds. I also thank you for highlighting the beauty of our surroundings! Preserving the pristine beauty of this magical cloud forest is what inspires our sustainability policies. If there are any suggestions you would like to make to improve the experience for future guests please feel free to contact me at: outreach@grupoislita.com Best regards and many happy travels!

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Reviewed February 26, 2014

My husband and I visited El Silencio for our honeymoon as part of a larger package we booked through the hotel management (Grupo Islita) and they did not disappoint.

The property is nestled in a valley between 2 national parks. To say that the area and environment around you is absolutely stunning is an understatement. Besides that, the hotel staff is so welcoming and helpful, they will put you at ease from the moment you get there.

We had an amazing time and are looking forward to going back again. I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for an enjoyable, relaxing, and picturesque vacation.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank RNavarrski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded March 1, 2014

Saludos! And heartfelt thanks for your wonderful words about El Silencio Lodge & Spa and your experience in our gorgeous surroundings. Giving our guests a chance to experience the cloud forest and signature examples of Costa Rican hospitality is our driving mantra. Muchas gracias!

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Reviewed February 18, 2014

Beautiful resort nestled in a cloud forest. Attentive staff that goes above and beyond to make sure your stay wonderful. We had an early morning flight and had to leave at 330am; they ensured we had sandwiches delivered to our room since we would be missing breakfast (the sandwiches were delicious). Food was always fresh, as they have their own organic farm and chickens. We went on the "hidden treasure hike", waterfall repelling/ziplining, and attended the spa...all were amazing beyond words. Our guide Emilio was attentive, knowledgable, and always prepared. Rooms were impeccable. Definitely will be back, because two days is a tease with all the amazing sites and relaxation to be had.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Dana P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded February 19, 2014

Thank you so much for your visit, enthusiasm, and comments! As a fellow adrenaline enthusiast, I am especially pleased that you enjoyed our most intense adventures! The Hidden Treasure to find blue-hued waterfalls is indeed an amazing experience and our new Adventure Park offers plenty of thrills! Perfect to follow-up with a relaxing Esencia Spa massage. We hope you have a chance to return soon and in the meantime I hope the memories remain vivid!

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Reviewed February 17, 2014

We (two adults and our 15 year old daughter) visited El Silencio (ES) as part of a package from Grupo Islita that included two activities and a spa credit at each of ES Punta Islita during the last week of January. I made all our arrangements with Aleksandra at Grupo Islita who had helped me a year earlier when we only visited Punta Islita. Aleksandra was very easy to work with extremely responsive to my numerous inquiries.

We arrived by car on Saturday after a little over 90 minute drive from Alajuela. We drove the recommended way from Zarcero and while the road goes over a mountain it is quite doable. Upon arrival we were met by Orlando, our eco-concierge. After a delicious lunch we took a two hour guided hike with Orlando who was terrific. We saw the organic farm/greenhouse and then proceeded into the forest to view the properties three beautiful waterfalls. (The guided hike is included in one's stay) On the way back we were treated to a Pecarary sighting. After the hike I took advantage of the spa credit and had a massage. The spa is tucked back in the woods across a small hanging bridge, very peaceful.

The next morning, I did a bird excursion with Orlando, which was great, and then we all did horseback riding (part of the package) on the property and into the town of Bajo del Toro (pop approx 200). Orlando and Carlos were our guides. On the way back we stopped at Olga's house/pulperia where we learned to make wonderful tacos, as part of the resort's included cultural experience. Since we were full from the tacos, we skipped lunch and headed to a chocolate making experience in Sarapiqui with a great driver named Jimmy. The chocolate tour was in a park, where you traversed one of the longest hanging bridges in CR, over the Sarapiqui river to get to the chocolate making demonstration. We thoroughly enjoyed the activity as well as our time with Jimmy.


After returning from the chocolate tour we enjoyed the hot tub on our deck. Orlando, arranged to have it turned on two hours before our return so it would be ready and thus, avoiding us wasting all that electricity by turning it on earlier in the day.

Our room (#11) was a bit of a climb from the lodge but had great views from the porch. It was quite spacious for the three of us and had nooks to get the luggage out of the way. There is small fridge and coffee/tea maker. The bathroom has a separate room with two sinks, apart from the toilet and shower. We loved the rockers on the porch and the hot water bottles delivered at night. Yes, it is a bit cool in Bajo del Toro but we had just arrived from bitter cold NY, so we found the temperature quite pleasant!. There is no tv or internet in the rooms, but if you need either, there is a room in the lodge where you can watch tv and access the internet. We didn't miss either.

Now about the food, it is simply wonderful. We had dinner there both nights, one lunch and two breakfasts. All of which were delicious. Breakfast was included but we paid separately for the other meals. While others have complained about the set price for three course, we thought it was quite reasonable given the quality of the meals. The trout dishes were absolutely outstanding. A special mention to our waiter Martin, who never failed to remember our names and provided us with excellent service.

We were very glad that we added a two night stay here as it gave us the chance to see a different part of Costa Rica from the beach area and the more touristy Arenal. We hope to return in the future and would highly recommend the place to others.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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Thank CobbHillBrooklyn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MariaJBIslita, Outreach Manager at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded February 19, 2014

Saludos! And a huge thank you for taking the time to write such colorful and heartfelt reviews about El Silencio Lodge & Spa and our sister beach property, Hotel Punta Islita. I am delighted that we succeeded in providing an extraordinary family vacation experience. It is obvious that you are thoughtful travelers who truly relish in immersing in your destinations' culture. It will always be a pleasure to be your hosts!

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Additional Information about El Silencio Lodge & Spa

Address: El Silencio Lodge, Bajos del Toro 21203, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Bajos del Toro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Bajos del Toro
Price Range: $332 - $572 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — El Silencio Lodge & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 16
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

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