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
- 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