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El Silencio Lodge & Spa
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Reviewed November 28, 2008

Wow... This place was 1st class all the way! The entire staff comes out to meet you when you arrive and see you off when you leave. We stayed in villa #17 by request based on a suggestion by another TA poster. Good suggestion! This villa is on the river on the trail that goes to the spa and is more private and secluded than all the other villas. In our villa spelled out in flowers on the mat was "happy honeymoon". How nice! The villa is just beautiful with everything in natural materials and little touches of real flowers and fern leaves on everything. It has a great porch, the hot tub is spectacular, and a mini-fridge full of complimentary snacks and drinks.

SERVICE: Other included services that we found really special are the guided hike to the waterfalls and the tree planting ceremony. Our Eco-Concierge was really great. He took us on the hike and told us all about the local plants, birds, and other animals. He also did some special little things for us like having a platter of local caramels and candies on the hot tub when we came back from the spa. After our hike in the rain they took our clothes and boots and washed them and dried them for us! How nice! The tree planting ceremony was unique with the Master Gardener blessing the tree and thanking it for producing oxygen to offset the carbon dioxide we produce. Give our Oak tree some love if you stay in villa #17, it is planted by the trail to the spa with the tag Kristi & Troy. All of the staff especially the wait staff were very accommodating and very nice. We always left our server a great tip because they really deserved it. You can also put a sign on your door knob which requests the turn down service which included new flowers on the bed and our fire place being lit.

FOOD: The food was phenomenal! All organic and included with the price of your room. We enjoyed every meal we had there very much. No red meat but you won't miss it, promise. During our hike we were showed the garden and were told the Master Gardener graduated from Earth University and is employed to help fight bugs and worms naturally without poison.

SPA: By far the best spa we had ever been to! You HAVE to request the conical room!!! It sits right on the river and has a pane of glass that goes up the wall and across the roof so you can also hear the rain hitting the glass as well as the river. Amazing! The first day we had the Meditation Duet. Best massage I've ever had! And the sugar scrub was nice and you showered outside to wash off before the massage. We enjoyed ourselves so much that when it rained all day the next day we decided to use the discount we got after our first service to go back and have a hot stone massage. Another wonderful spa experience. The service was top notch.

Overall, we had a great time just relaxing and taking advantage of all there was to do at this beautiful hotel. If we could have stayed more than 2 nights we would have taken some of the day trips. The only downside was that we did not see any wildlife besides hummingbirds. Maybe because it rained on and off most of our stay? That is hardly a complaint though! But I can say this place is great for just relaxing and enjoying the company of your loved one. I would not recommend this place for children of any age. It is very romantic and serene. Great honeymoon location!!! Highly recommended...

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank kpcloud9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2008

Driving from San Jose airport to the Lodge gave us a wonderful taster of the landscape in which we were about to stay for a week. El Silencio is settled in idyllic surroundings and is a really special place if you're looking for a quiet break in an ecologically sound environment. No detail is spared, from using bits of tree branch to make the faucets for the hot tub to planting mosquito-repellent plants around the suites, and the staff is proud to tell you about how they built, maintain and are expanding the property with every thought for the land. The staff really are exceptional - sweet, thoughtful and worldly with pretty good English.
There are trips available, but we only went out once as we enjoyed the many acres of land, the several waterfalls and the hummingbirds on the property so much. I highly recommend Arenal and the Tabacon Hot Springs.
I also recommend doing yoga in the outdoor studio. It was very reasonably priced and very special.
As vegetarians we could not have been more pleased with the food but non-veggies we spoke to were also very happy.
The Lodge is not pricey when you consider three big healthy meals are included along with drinks and snacks replaced daily in your fridge, and the suite is wonderfully comfortable and well done. We got lucky - suite 12. Oh, and it is all exactly as it looks in their pictures - how refreshing!

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank egnarocatom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2008

We spent a full week at El Silencio in celebration of our First Wedding Anniversary, and we highly recommend it.

Our suite was cozy. We visited during the "green season" (read: rainy season) but did not mind the frequent sprinkles and occasional downpours (usually in late afternoon). In fact, the rain and accompanying clouds at eye level when viewed from the leather-backed rocking chairs on our suite's porch lent a decidedly ethereal atmosphere to the landscape.

The restaurant was one of the highlights. El Silencio's imaginative chef, Marco, who trained in San Francisco, fuses Asian and Indian influences onto a foundation of typical Costa Rican fare that results in fresh, beautiful dishes nearly always adorned by a spicy, edible nasturtium blossom. Marco proudly and enthusiastically takes every opportunity to educate guests about his fusion cuisine and the organic garden from which he derives about 30% of his ingredients. The restaurant offers expansive dining windows: three hours at breakfast, three at lunch and two for dinner. Don't expect great variety in the meat department, but no matter: the means of preparation are so varied, the ingredients so fresh, the free-range chicken so tender, we never tired of the selection. The wine list is not extensive but offers some interesting Chilean and Argentine selections, which proved to be good values. The wait staff is very friendly and considerate (on our anniversary, they set up a secluded table for two by one of the stone fireplaces) and, regardless of your language skills, we recommend engaging them in conversation. Martin was our favorite; he never seemed to tire of explaining the dishes and offering cultural context to the meals and drinks we selected.

I'm not much for spa treatments, but we were impressed by El Silencio's spa. The building is well-isolated, open and airy, with a quasi-Asian decor. We opted for the tandem Swedish massages combined with hot stone treatments, and later my wife enjoyed the Costa Rican mud massage.

Our one disappointment was the lack of established activities. The eco-concierge program is a work in progress. Ours was very friendly, but when we wanted to visit the famous Arenal Volcano were told that the resort had not yet worked out an arrangement. Likewise the organic cacao plantation at Tirimbina Reserva Biologica but, when pressed, our eco-concierge arranged for a driver to take us to the plantation (which was worth the trip, and cost). Granted, the resort was in operation all of seven months when we visited, but one would think the activities would have been established before the resort opened.

Below are a few recommendations that we offer prospective guests and El Silencio's management based on our experience. We urge readers to base their decision on whether to visit El Silencio on the above, not on the few glitches we highlight below. El Silencio is a unique, special, truly wonderful place to visit, and we have been recommending it to friends ever since.

For guests:

The recommended attire is "cozy casual"--perfectly appropriate and comfortable, but the restaurant is nice enough that we found ourselves wanting to dress up (just a little--chinos rather than jeans for instance) at dinner.

Don't waste valuable luggage space on an umbrella; suites are furnished with golf umbrellas for walking the grounds and ponchos for hiking. But do pack a pair of slippers; the stone bathroom floors were frigid, and while the bathrobes were thick and soft, they do not come with slippers.

All of the suites enjoy privacy, but request one on the periphery for maximum seclusion (ours was Suite #1, high and off to the left side, the one pictured on their website).

El Silencio really is a resort for adults. Take seriously their age restriction (we were surprised toward the end of our stay to see a family arrive with a toddler). Everything about the place spells peaceful relaxation. Even older children—unless they are very serious about nature—could be bored.

Speaking of nature, if you are interested in birds, as are we and so many who visit Costa Rica, buy a copy of Garrigues & Dean’s The Birds of Costa Rica ($20 on Amazon, $40 in-country) and pay close attention to the elevation ranges contained in the descriptions. You will see a discrete set of species that will help you round out your life list with birds that you will not find at Costa Rica’s lower elevations.

If it's mammals you seek, El Silencio has very few. We thought we heard Howler Monkeys, but sightings of Howlers and Spider Monkeys are rare on the resort property.

For El Silencio:

Our one major suggestion: information, information, information. Most upscale resorts assemble a folder or binder of information and place it in each guestroom. Likewise, for the spa and restaurant. The spa menu lacks descriptions of each treatment. The restaurant menu and wine list are great, but a listing of soft drinks and cocktails would be helpful (we didn't discover until halfway through our stay, for example, that the wait staff will happily blend fresh fruit into juice drinks, at no extra charge).

Keep developing new activities and training your eco-concierges. Presumably most El Silencio guests visit mostly to relax and not be as active as they might be were they to visit busier resorts, but during a weeklong stay we certainly expected to engage in some activities besides spa treatments and hiking the resort’s grounds. We didn't know, for instance, that there is a national park (Parque Nacional Del Agua Juan Castro Blanco) nearby until we walked into the village and encountered a very helpful gentleman who told us about it.

Relocate, or lower the ringer volume on, the spa's telephone--a seemingly very minor point, but it is audible and distracts spa patrons from truly relaxing and escaping civilization.

One more, very minor suggestion: vary the restaurant's music a little. The music is fine and perfectly fitting for the setting, but it seemed as if there is only one CD mix playing continuously (we had to laugh when we heard the Latin-inspired acoustic version of "Stairway to Heaven" twice during one dinner when the CD looped around).

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Waynopsu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 13, 2008

We went to El Silencio for an overnight getaway, and to see the new resort, which is only 6 months old. It is located in an isolated spot up in the cloud forest up from Sarchi, and the drive up there was breathtaking. (It's best to go up in the morning before the fog moves in.) The food is creative, organic, and gourmet, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables. No red meat is served, although they say they will recommend a local place to go if you need red meat. That would be an experience, as there is nothing nearby. The restaurant is beautiful, located next to a river with indoor and outdoor seating. There is a nice bar and a fireplace next to it, with a private table for two in front of the fireplace if you want to eat there. The night we were there they had a guitar player for dinner. The rooms are plush and beautiful, with high end linens and soaps. The free minibar contained some soft drinks and only 2 Imperials, so I would bring a bottle of wine next time, as the drinks at the hotel were expensive. The spa is really nice, with a yoga platform looking out into the rain forest. I had a wonderful massage there. All the staff were friendly and eager to please. My only complaint was that the rooms are too close together, with not enough planted between them for privacy. The manager explained that this is because they don't want to bring in outside nursery plants, but just keep with what naturally grows in the area. I think they are being a little too "purist" about that, because in the morning, you can look around at everybody sitting on their balconies in their hotel robes. If I went back, I would ask for rooms 16 or 17, which were the only rooms located on the river. At $420 a night for a room in the green season, this is a very expensive hotel, but we enjoyed our stay.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Shooie123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 31, 2008

My husband and I are temporary residents in Costa Rica and we love to take advantage of the variety of landscapes CR has to offer - beaches, mountains, cloud forest, volcanoes. So often when we go away though, we find ourselves disappointed in the food and the comfort of the bed/pillows. We are glad to come home. Not the case at El Silencio - superb food - healthy choices with fresh salads and vegetables but still with a taste of extravagance. Portions are so sensible that you can truly enjoy 3 course lunches and you dont feel fatigued all afternoon. Room had a great King size bed with high quality linens, mattress and pillows facing a view of the forrested hills around the hotel. Add to this a jacuzzi on your private terrace and a mini bar that came stocked with free beer (yes honestly). And amenities include a well maintained trail to 3 waterfalls, a spa centre, gardens, rushing river creating wonderful music and a sense of tranquility to sooth the soul. This was a fantastic getaway - romance, fresh mountain air, fabulous food and a sink into bed. This was truly what we understand by treating yourselves to a retreat.

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Karen R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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