This intimate little hotel in the hamlet of Javilla at Playa San Miguel comfortably fits into the neighborhood of modest homes despites its modern stylish design. It doesn't spoil the town that consists of a few houses, a tin-roofed school and a church. You have to drive a few miles to San Francisco to find a store or a gas station. Laguna Mar is not a corporate operation but the venture of a French couple, Jean Luc and Cici who are not only the most charming and caring hosts but also provide employment for a fair number of the locals. We stayed eight days at the hotel and felt we were part of a community that included not only the staff and other guests but various residents of the area: Ticos, American Expats and quite a few French. Soon, we exchanged names and addresses. Everyone had a great time on New Year’s Eve when a large number of people from the surrounding towns came to enjoy a special dinner with live music.
We arrived with a hired driver from Liberia on December 25, during the peak of the Costa Rican holiday and vacation season and unfortunately rental cars had all been sold out. This could have meant being limited to visiting Playa San Miguel which is in walking distance and we might have felt trapped; but Jean Luc and Cici made all the difference. In spite of the heavy load of their holiday business they gave us rides to all the places described in other reviews: various beaches, kayaking, the butterfly farm and the waterfall. Needless to say, they went far beyond what anyone could expect at a hotel. We stayed at the penthouse which provides additional privacy and a balcony overlooking the swimming pool. Noise was not a problem for us.
All the beaches are pristine with miles of white sand and few people in spite of the holidays. For swimming we liked Playa Coyote the best because the waves are restrained with no danger of rip currents. Silently kayaking through the mysterious mangroves with its many birds was a high-point, but it was always the people who made the deepest impression. Michael, for example, the Harvard educated entomologist owner of the “Jungle Butterfly Farm” who decided to escape the rat race in the US and now makes a very modest living tending to butterflies in the wild, harvesting honey of various kinds and trying to figure out best recipes for frying termites. There was also the French couple we visited who are building their house on top of the hill with an incredible 180 degrees panoramic view of the ocean including sunrise and sunset.
Much has been said about the gourmet food at Laguna Mar and we agree. We had almost all of our meals at the hotel. Like the reasonable rates at the hotel, the restaurant prices are a bargain considering the quality of the meals. Our appreciation of the value of what the hotel has to offer was reinforced when we had to pay $61 for two veggie burgers and two cups of coffee before our departure at the Liberia Airport restaurant.
Will we visit again? We are already planning for next Christmas.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Javilla's premiere boutique hotel. Located along the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica, Hotel Laguna Mar offers the best of both worlds — an exotic, tropical environment and the service of a fine four star hotel. Visit the real Costa Rica where the ocean water is warm nature completely surrounds you. Hotel Laguna Mar awaits your visit. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Laguna Mar Costa Rica/Playa San Miguel