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“We can't stop talking about it . . . really special!!”
Review of Cristal Azul

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Cristal Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“We can't stop talking about it . . . really special!!”
Reviewed April 21, 2013

We heard about Cristal Azul from another hotel owner and as soon as I went to the website and read TripAdvisor reviews, I knew we had to go . . . we are so glad we did. The first two thirds of our 9 day Costa Rica trip were action packed and I kept hoping that our three nights at Cristal Azul would be our "vacation on our vacation". Zene and Henner are the owners, Zene from Darien Connecticut, and Henner, an old school native Costa Rican. We adored them both!

We brought our two boys, 9 and 7, the 7 year old having his birthday the day we arrived. Zene was sure to get all of our details squared away long before our trip and was great to plan a special birthday dinner and cake for our first meal!

The setting is breathtakingly beautiful. You feel quite the movie star sitting high above the Pacific with incredible views, gorgeous natural landscaping, the awesome infinity pool, the Rancho (where we spent most of our time) . . . . Everything is very well appointed and well maintained. Just know when researching that the real thing is even prettier than the pictures!

Great care was taken to spoil our family. It was heavenly. Breakfasts were gorgeous with fresh juices, the best french toast any of my family has ever had (and that is saying something) . . . thank you to Crislee (sp?) for serving her famous recipe . . . fruit, perfect coffee, watermelon juice, mint water, bacon, etc . . . Fresh flowers on the table, all served in El Rancho with ocean breezes . . . I will never forget it! At breakfast we discussed meal options for dinner and enjoyed fresh clams and coconut shrimp and garlic shrimp and chicken fajitas and all things traditional with many concessions for my very picky eater. I think I managed to put Henner's famous hot sauce on everything I ate!

There is a wonderful game cabinet in El Rancho. Not a dusty, outdated, missing parts kind of game cabinet, but many BRAND new games, researched on Amazon by Zene to come up with the very most enjoyable. My boys loved everything, as did we all as a family. There is an iPod at your disposal with every song you can think of, and Zene shared many old family games that my children got a kick out of as well. We also were quite entertained my the many dogs who are part of the Cristal Azul family.

Somehow Zene and Henner managed to spoil and entertain while still allowing quality family time. That is not an easy trick. They are cool folks with great stories and we loved hanging out and drinking cold beer and fancy rum . . . Oh and there was always a fancy tropical drink at sunset!

The rooms are, again, tasteful and well appointed, the bathroom was the biggest we had the whole time we were in Costa Rica, not counting the huge outdoor shower! Lovely. We stayed in the cabina closest to the Rancho because it is the one with the bunk beds.

An entire monkey family would come hang out at dawn and dusk in the mango tree behind our cabin . . . every day . . . best monkey viewing we had the whole trip right at our room!

This was only our first trip to Costa Rica, so I don't know how Playa San Miguel/Punta Coyote compare to other beaches, but my guess is that this beach, though a little hard to get to, is what everyone THINKS a Costa Rican beach is all about, when in fact, this is one of the last of its kind. We were practically the only ones around. We went to a sandy restaurant at Punta Coyote called Tanga's that was unlike anything I have ever seen . . . super rustic, super views, BEST FISH I HAVE EVER HAD . . . . Listen to all of Zene and Henner's recommendations, they know the place like the backs of their hands and we are so glad that we got to share a little bit in their paradise!!

Can't wait to return!

Room Tip: all 4 cabinas appear to be about the same with the exception of ours that had the bunk beds . .
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Jenmcirv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (33)
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English first
Hermosa Beach, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 9, 2013

I do not write reviews but am now going too! Cristal Azul impressed me so much I became a member of TA to help spread the word about what an amazing place it is and how Zene & Henner have created something very unique & upscale, yet not out of reach to many travelers…yet??!! We were not looking for a five star resort because we find them impersonal and a bit tacky. We prefer “hidden gems” such as this that allow you to immerse yourself in the true character and culture of the area visiting. In this case, we wanted to be in a very tropical setting, small, a bit luxe for those much needed creature comforts and at a resort having minimal impact on the area and again, that feeling of immersion. Henner and Zene have not missed a beat at CA and you cannot go wrong here, worth every penny! Rooms are perfectly appointed and have the most amazing ocean view we have ever seen in many years of travel. There are not many views like that left in the world so we spent most of our mornings and evenings just taking it all in. Queen beds were very comfy, sheets crisp and high thread count but my favorite thing was the super soft, fresh smelling towels. The only ones we had in our entire three weeks in CR. Beach and pool towels provided/huge/and changed daily. (Along with everything you would want to take to the beach…even Badminton…we are planning a Round Robin Tournament when we return with friends!). More than ample space for belongings in the cabinas and bathroom, gorgeous teak furniture that we learned was made locally and the highlight for us was the outdoor shower! I will never look at mine the same again. We also really liked the retractable laundry line that allowed us to leave our wet bathing suits outside to dry and not have them lingering damp inside our bathroom. And the screen doors were genius! We spent a few nights in AC until we realized that with the screens open, we could fall asleep and wake up the sound of the waves below, monkeys and parrots! But…..trust us you will only use your room to sleep and shower because you have the rancho and pool area; your personal heaven on earth and very hard to leave. Overall, photos do not do this place justice…the views literally take your breath away! And if you like to hike or bird, the grounds are loaded with wildlife and you have access to excellent places to hike! Food, best we had on our trip but take advice of your hosts and check out the places they recommend for lunch. Eat dinner in! Every meal was planned for us, with us. Very nice touch. We appreciated greatly the care that went into making sure we tried all the delicacies they had to offer and also the attention to what we could not or chose not to try. The hill up to reach the resort was not as tough as we anticipated and we actually saw lots of wildlife on each drive so...our vote is thumbs up! You can’t get a view like that without working a little! Best part – apart from everything Henner and Zene have created at Cristal Azul was the privacy and the views!!!! Nice note: CA is only hotel in town where you wont have other tourists stopping by to see rooms or locals crowding the bar. This is the real Costa Rica folks and I have to admit, leaving mad me very very sad. That view will be with me always. Bravo & Cheers to you both, we will be back for sure, keep the hot sauce bowl full Henner and guard that family recipe!

Overall about San Miguel:

We spent five days in San Miguel and three weeks in Costa Rica. This is an area of Costa Rica absolutely worth visiting if you want to see what the country probably was like before the world arrived. Having now spent time in SM, and dined at the two other hotel restaurants and seen the options to stay at, we offer this to travelers: If you are an experienced traveler expecting comfort and style, Cristal Azul is the only option. If you are looking to splurge and treat yourself, go for it, it is more than worth every penny we spent! Backpackers will find a hip spot on the beach that while in need of a some handy work, is perfectly suitable for young surfers looking for a good time, and a bargain. Only hotel in town right on the beach. Another hotel oddly located far off the beach had good food and an eager to please owner and staff. New, modern and cement it is perfect if you like the sterile, South Beach experience, not Costa Rican/tropical beach by any means. A third hotel with lovely looking grounds on the main road was closed but appeared very charming from what we could see from the road. Bottom line, as we realized one afternoon chatting in the rancho, Cristal Azul is the only Costa Rican owned hotel in town so if you want the real deal…stay there! Bring plenty of sunblock and a good hat, you won't need bug block surprisingly! Water was perfectly drinkable and delicious. Don't miss Mike's Butterfly Farm tour or lunch at Tanga's!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank MorganR0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maple Ridge, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 7, 2013

Our family was fresh off the  dusty roads and crowds of Santa Teresa when we arrived at Cristal  azul. Its fair to say that although we had already been vacationing in costa rica for two weeks, we had yet to realize what real relaxation was all about. With help from Zene, Henner and the staff at Crystal Azul that was about to change. We found that this resort provided us with something truly unique from our previous traveling experiences. The solitude, outstanding menu, and accommodations; not to mention the breathtaking vistas were unparalleled. Although they have several cabinas, we were fortunate enough to be the only booking for three days, which not only allowed us to have the resort to ourselves, but gave us an opportunity to explore traditional costa rica as virtually untouched by the crowds in other locations. From the infinity pool, family dogs, and various games there was plenty to do for our kids (seven and nine) and  it was a needed break from the constant electronics that they are usually bombarded with.
Whether you want to reconnect with family, friends, your partner or simply just want to contemplate  away from life's  everyday distractions, the seclusion and relaxation that Crystal Azul offers is difficult to match.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
1 Thank mike-krista
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
enez, Owner at Cristal Azul, responded to this review, April 10, 2013
Thank you both so much for your kind words about Cristal Azul, we absolutely enjoyed having your family here and sharing this very special, untouched part of Costa Rica with you! It is a treat for us to watch guests of all ages detach from technology & "screens" and get back to old fashioned fun enjoying each others company be it in the pool, our rancho loaded with games, puzzles & the pool table, or any of the other activities available in the area! We have noticed a few guests comments about "Sleep Quality" and upon inquiry we were told that our orthopedic mattresses were too firm for their liking. We have since purchased Hypo Allergenic Feather Beds to add extra softness and comfort. Unfortunately the cover for the bed in your cabina, ( a matrimonial bed) was held up in customs so it was not in place during your stay. As of now, all beds are firm and extra comfy! I do apologize for this and hope that the morning views and smell of hot coffee from the rancho and anticipation of our two course breakfast eased any discomfort from the night before! Thank you for the compliments to our chefs, we take pride in serving fresh typical dishes and many are family recipes on my husbands side, like that awesome Chilero! We hope to see you again someday in paradise! Pura Vida!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2013

Cristal Azul is an oasis of calm. We started our Costa Rican travels with 3 nights here, and are so glad we did. We arrived pretty late (after dark!) but didn't find that to be much of a problem - even on the kilometers of dirt, hilly roads (a flight to La Islita may be a "wiser" choice, but it couldn't possibly be as interesting... and I bet the views are great during the daytime hours :)). Even though we got there well after dinner hour, Marco cooked us up a wonderful dish and we were able to relax within minutes of arrival. We decided right then that we would "dine in" the next two nights, too, and we were not disappointed. The relaxation didn't end the entire time we were there. It was hard to choose between lounging poolside, lounging in a hammock, or lounging at the beach (just a short drive down the hill). Breakfasts were incredible and the hospitality was wonderful (thanks Henner and Zene!). The views are simply stunning. The only (very minor) critique was with the A/C - it was really hot while we were there (more so than usually, apparently), so while it was nice to have the A/C to cool us off, it ran a bit loudly for my taste. One night we slept with doors open (screens on) and had the crash of the waves as background noise. Perfection. Oh, I also really liked the outdoor shower.

Bottom line: if you want the ziplining craziness of La Fortuna, this might not be the spot you're looking for. If you want to relax and unwind in complete peace, don't miss this spot! Cristal Azul will rank as a favorite among many well-liked places we have stayed!

One tip - that I'm pretty sure Zene gave us before we got there - be sure to have plenty of cash. The closest ATM is about 45 minutes away, and there are lots of good places to eat/things to do that are cash only in the Playa San Miguel/Coyote area. The area seemed very safe, and the cabina has a safe in it, so carrying cash isn't a concern.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sara V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jersey City, New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 21, 2013

Found Cristal Azul on tripadvisor and decided to book for out honeymoon and had a wonderful stay. Zene and Henner went above and beyond to make sure we were having a great time. Highly recommend and will definitely return in the future.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Ryan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 3, 2013

Five stars is not enough stars to rate this stunningly beautiful oasis in Guanacaste!! Owners Henner and Zene are the best hosts you will ever meet: warm, fun, accomodating, and helpful. You immediately feel welcomed and relaxed. If needed both are knowledgeable about local events, tours, restaurants, customs, and directions.

It is an adventure getting up the steep, lengthy dirt road but once you make it you're in absolute paradise. The expansive ocean view is stunning, which you can view from both the pool area, restaurant seating area, and all 6 cabina rooms. The hotel is environmentally conscientious, built with minimal impact on the land and respectful of surrounding wildlife. Almost all food (breakfast, dinner, and much if requested) is local and prepared according to guests' taste and time preferences.

Private massages can be arranged overlooking the beautiful view with a fantastic, very reasonably priced local masseuse.

A special bonus for animal lovers: the 6 family dogs, all perfectly well behaved and each with their special talents including Churri the Dentist (a precocious Jack Russell with a penchant for cleaning the other dogs' teeth) and Susie who dances for treats.

Rooms are tasteful and clean with exceptional views of the valley and Playa San Miguel. You do have to be a particular type of traveler as this is not a chain-style resort atmosphere and you do feel the presence of the jungle: guests will see ants in the room and the occasional lizard. However, as long as this type of "true" experience doesn't bother you, you'll appreciate everything from the Mango and starfruit trees growing outside your door to the delicious local coffee Zene has ready every morning (probably the best we've ever tasted).

In short, Cristal Azul is simply the best. We had the hardest time leaving and are already planning our next trip.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank SLooker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed February 27, 2013

I can't say enough of how relaxing this place is. Henner & Zene are terrific hosts from the minute we met them. First, the place is perched up on top of a huge hill, requiring 4WD to get to, with the most fabulous view of Playa San Miguel. The infinity pool and view from the covered tiki area are to die for. It reminded me of something you would see in Hawaii or in the South Pacific. There are only 4 cabinas so even if it's full, it's really quiet and you feel like you have the place to yourself. I highly recommend you don't go anywhere for dinner because Henner & Zene will get you the freshest catch of the day - we had red snapper and shrimp that was caught that morning. The shrimp tasted like lobster! The rooms are comfortable with a great outdoor shower. Wake up in the morning to relaxing by the pool or reading a book in a hammock before you have a typical Costa Rican breakfast. This place is off the beaten path, about 1 1/2 hours from Samara and totally worth it. Playa San Miguel is fantastic. If you are looking for a very relaxing place to stay, this should be at the top of your list. I highly recommend it....you won't be disappointed!!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank ScubedCharlotte
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cristal Azul

Property: Cristal Azul
Address: Norte Entrada de Residencias San Miguel 1KM, Playa San Miguel 50906, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playa San Miguel
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Playa San Miguel
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Cristal Azul 3*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cristal Azul is the perfect destination for those looking to step off the beaten path and experience what Costa Rica was like before the world arrived. A totally private property with no public access, guests enjoy 180’ panoramic ocean views and the ultimate in barefoot luxury in a rustic setting. Prepare to unplug, unwind, and get lost in paradise! Great times are had here and memories of a lifetime are created! Four cozy "cabinas" guarantee there is never a crowd; each is equipped with AC, ceiling fans, screened doors that let in the ocean breeze and sound of the surf below, hot water, outdoor garden showers, fine linens, Raw Botanicals organic bath products, and the most impressive views in the area. An oversized, open air Rancho provides a luxe “Glamping” experience with an honor bar and billiards table as well as dining and lounge area ample enough for all guests. The vanishing edge pool overlooks six miles of undeveloped beach and provides a front row seat to the most amazing stargazing under the canopy of the Milky Way! A full typical Costa Rican breakfast is served daily and a chef prepares dinner nightly for guests in the Rancho upon demand. The only Costa Rica owned and operated hotel in San Miguel, your hosts also own LocosCocos (#1 Restaurant in area, #1 Beach Bar in Costa Rica; Lonely Planet)which is a guest favorite for sunset dinners on the beach. It is also a great place to spend the day steps from the surf with cold beers and catch of the fresh fish and seafood ready at your beck and call! 4WD and love adventure required too reach this area! Reservations required-gated entrance for guests only. For best rates, book direct! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Cristal Azul Hotel Playa San Miguel
Cristal Azul Costa Rica/Playa San Miguel

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