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“Open doors”
Review of Hotel Laguna Mar

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Hotel Laguna Mar
Certificate of Excellence
Cleveland, Ohio
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
“Open doors”
Reviewed January 5, 2014

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.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Hans P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LagunaMar4949, Propriétaire at Hotel Laguna Mar, responded to this review, January 7, 2014
Your comment made for us " warmly in the heart ". During your stay you showed a kindness with everybody whom we cannot forget. Thank you for coming at our hotel and of all these moments of sharing. You are exceptional people. Very happy New Year 2014 and see you soon I hope.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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229 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (36)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
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English first
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 5, 2014

After a long and harrowing drive from Tamarindo, we were pleasantly surprised with this hotel. Clean, contemporary rooms with all the amenities you could need. The staff is very friendly and helpful, more than willing to arrange a tour or shuttle service, etc. The biggest surprise was the food - outstanding. We ate all our meals from their kitchen and were routinely blown away, especially for dinner. Highly recommend Laguna Mar if you find yourself in that part of the country.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Zack H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed December 21, 2013

We drove about four hours from San Jose, the last 15 km or so on roads that would be a bit nasty in the rainy season without 4-wheel drive. My comments are basically 'ditto' those of the bulk of reviewers, I cannot say enough how pleasant and helpful the hotel staff and owner, Jean-Luc were. We stayed in the penthouse, which offered top floor privacy with a private patio. I highly recommend this room. Nothing fancy, clean. Overall, we were here on our first anniversary, we were here to chill out; there aren't many things to do in San Miguel, there are kilometers of beach with no one on them. Works for me. The pool and Jacuzzi were nice, the food was excellent. Thank you, chef Pablo, Xiomara, Andreas, and Juan Carlos, for a lovely vacation experience with fine dining. We'll be back.

Room Tip: Penthouse is the ticket. Private patio, nice sunset view, privacy. no neighbors.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank robert g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Brunswick, New Jersey
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed December 14, 2013

5 stars for what it is --- Attractive, modern, comfortable yet economical air-conditioned rooms. Friendly, attentive, caring, informative, multi-lingual service. Delicious European dining with sublime balanced seasoning. 5-minutes from a long, pristine, empty, soothing beach.
Privacy when we wanted it, and company when we didn't.
The hotel's owner of 5 months, Jean-Luc, quickly became an old friend, and referred us to other transplanted Europeans and Americans. Each recommended activity was relaxing and highly satisfying.
We enjoyed dinners and wine with Jean-Luc and chats with superb chef Pablo Rossi.
We liked the local restaurants, but most memorable was buying fresh papayas, mangoes and bananas and savoring them for breakfast.
The local dirt roads are bumpy and potholed, so we didn't pursue zip line or white water, but were perfectly happy with hiking, kayaking, and local visits to Jungle Butterfly Farm, healer Sylvia (we were "Sylvia-fied"), and a waterfall.
No problem with noise while sleeping; didn't hear the usually-loud howler monkeys or roosters.

Room Tip: The "family" room has 2 rooms, one with a bunk bed. Ask for the lone 3rd-floor unit, if a...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Leo G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eugene OR
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed November 23, 2013

I loved Hotel Laguna Mar. The rooms were clean, the staff was very friendly and helpful, the food was great and it was my favorite part of our trip. My husband said he didn't feel like he was in Costa Rica. It is true that this felt like a very modern more European hotel. It kind of looked like it came out of an Ikea catalog. So if you're looking for a lot of local flavor, this is perhaps not the best choice. I loved it though.

The staff were very friendly, I felt like we were friends almost immediately. They set up a hike to a local waterfall for us that we would never have found on our own.

The food in the restaurant was really, really, really good. It was not typical Costa Rican fare, but it was really delicious. My husband's birthday happened while we were there and they brought him dessert with a candle and put "Happy Birthday" on the overhead speaker and made the whole thing a lot of fun.

A few things to be aware of: though it is quite close to the beach, there is no view of the ocean. As in most places in Costa Rica, there are birds and monkeys that will awaken you early so I advise bringing ear plugs. Breakfast is not included and you pay quite a bit for not a lot of food. While both lunch and dinner were delicious there, breakfast was nothing special. I would suggest having dinner there but eating lunch and possibly breakfast elsewhere. Getting there is kind of a pain. You can't get there from Samara or further south on the coast. That means you take at least an hour and a half on dirt road (though reasonably good dirt road) to get there. The upside is that we had the beach almost to ourselves and it felt like a private corner of paradise. The downside is the drive, and few options for other eateries/shopping whatever else you might need. Also, the drive means you should plan on more than one night to justify the hassle with enough enjoyment.

Tip: Ask for how to see sea turtles. There is a group on Playa San Miguel that watches over eggs and we got to see babies making their way to the sea.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Laclionaute
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 18, 2013

Great food! Beautiful room! The owners are very cultured, kind, and accommodated all our needs. The location is just what I was looking for, isolated enough, but close to the beach. I have spent time flitting around Costa Rica before, but this was one stop where I changed my itinerary to stay at longer. The staff is helpful in getting you to the local sights. Just a sitting in the open aired restaurant watching birds and butterflies was enough of a treat, not to mention the pleasure of conversations with the world traveling owners and local patrons who gather to taste the European trained gourmet styled food chef pablo creates with local sourced ingredients.
Overall amazing experience.
I travel for a living and do not usually praise a place so highly.
Definitely will be back.

  • Stayed October 2013
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Helpful?
1 Thank TanyaElisabeth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jean V, Manager at Hotel Laguna Mar, responded to this review, January 5, 2014
Thank you for the time you took to write a review. We wish you a wonderful year and hope to see you soon . Cecile et Jean Luc
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lakeland, Florida, United States
1 review
Reviewed November 3, 2013

I recently booked a trip to Costa Rica with my wife for our 11th anniversary in October, the height of rainy season. It was our first trip to Costa Rica and we wanted to experience all that we could, without all the crowds and tourists. So we rented a car, and most importantly a GPS. (roads are not marked so it was essential) We headed to Hotel Laguna Mar, we planned to take the ferry in Puntarenas, but we missed it. So instead of waiting 5 hours on the next ferry we decided to drive the 4 hours around the Gulf of Nicoya. The drive was beautiful and all went well.

It was starting to get dark when we turned on to the last road out to the hotel. This was approx a 25 mile stretch of dirt road. the road was in pretty rough condition, it was obvious why it was recomended we rent a 4x4 vehicle. As we drove down the road the landscape and scenery was beautiful. Well after dark we arrived at the hotel, it was a sight for soar eyes, absolutly beautiful!
It is an unexpected jewel! After we checked in, Micheal the live in manager, helped us to our room, it was a very modern extremely nice room overlooking the pool area. after settling in we went back down and relaxed in the quaint on site bar while the staff prepaired dinner for us. While we waited we had a conversation with the owner, Jacques and his wife Cici. Wonderful people with a great story. At this point we found out that we were the only guests in the hotel. Soon our dinner was ready, it was delicious and presented as if we were in a high dollar European resturant. Pablo the Chef came out to check on us and our dinner.had a very nice chat with him. and were already looking forward to tomorrows dinner. After dinner Jacques cane back and spoke to us a bit more to see what we had planned. He interoduced us to a young local man named Andre. Jacque told us that if we wanted, Andrea could take us to see monkeys and a local waterfall. so after some discussion we agreed and set up for Andre to return the next morning for the tours and we retired to our beautiful room for the remainder of the evening.

The next morning we awoke to the sounds of the many local birds and howler monkeys. We headed down to breakfast. At this point we met Xiomara, the young lady who helped me decide to choose this hotel. Through the reservation process she was so very helpful and provided me with piles of information about the area and the many different things there are to do in the area. Xiomara was just as pleasent and helpful in person as she was in her emails. Breakfast was once agin delicious. Andre showed up and we went on our tours.

I cant say enough about this hotel and its staff. they were absoluty awesome. I will say that there are activities in the area, but not a lot. There did not appear to be any type of shopping in the area, but that is why I chose this location, no husstle and bustle, and we were not dissapointed.

I would recomend this to anyone who is interested in a nice quiet relaxed beautiful location to enjoy time with your significant other.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
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Helpful?
Thank Jim K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jean V, Owner at Hotel Laguna Mar, responded to this review, January 5, 2014
Thank you to took time to write a review, we are happy that you have a good time.
Best wishes for 2014
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Laguna Mar

Property: Hotel Laguna Mar
Address: Between Coyote and Playa San Miguel | Front of the School Javilla, Playa San Miguel 50906, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playa San Miguel
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Playa San Miguel
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Laguna Mar 3.5*
Number of rooms: 11
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

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