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“Jungle Paradise”
Review of Rancho Margot

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Rancho Margot
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed April 9, 2013

My husband and I stayed January 2013 prior to meeting friends on the coast. We felt like we were part of a family from the moment we walked into the reception area. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. You should know there are no hairdryers on the property but that took me about 5 minutes to get over. Who really needs one in such a natural and beautiful setting? We had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, both volunteers for the property and other travelers. The five-hour horseback ride was incredible and our guide was so anxious to tell us about the ranch and his country. We felt like the only persons on earth in our spacious and clean bungalow tucked high in the jungle with a view of Lake Arenal. The owner, Juan, was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what has been accomplished and his future plans for Rancho Margot. It was a wonderful experience like we have never had before. We raved about the property, the staff and Juan so much, our daughter has chosen to have her wedding there next year.

Room Tip: We loved Bungalow 15 with a partial view of Lake Arenal. it was about midway up the property
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank PamR2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded April 10, 2013

Thank you so much for your kind words. It was a pleasure to have you here with us and we are most excited for your daughter's upcoming nuptials at Rancho Margot! We look forward to seeing you again.

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174 - 180 of 317 reviews

Reviewed April 8, 2013

Such a unique ranch. Couln't have asked for a more relaxing setting in the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. The best food I have ever experienced in my life, especially breakfast! You are in the rainforest so luxury is limited but the ranch did a fantastic job with the resources given. It's such a beautifully sustained, self-serving place that utilizes what is needed...and that is tuly all we really need.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Jessica R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded April 9, 2013

Jessica - We are so happy to read your review and hear of the wonderful time you had at Rancho Margot! We agree with you - breakfast is our most favourite part of the day as well! Come back and share some fresh yogurt and granola with your friends at Rancho Margot sometime :)

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Reviewed April 7, 2013

My boyfriend and I stayed at Rancho Margot at the end of February 2013. It was the first stop in our trip to Costa Rica and it was a fantastic choice. I wish we set aside more time to stay there! We rented a car and drove from Liberia. I was an interesting drive. The final road to get to the ranch is unpaved and a little rough. We arrived late in the evening and we were a little concerned that we had traveled on this road for so long without reaching our destination but it's literally at the end of the road... and well worth the drive! It's secluded, located in a lush valley south of Lake Arenal. The property is well laid out. We stayed in the cabins. They are beautiful and nicely secluded without being too far from the main dining area. They kindly take your bags for you on a cart as well.

The food is buffet style and offered over a 2-3 hour range so you aren't restricted. I loved that the vegetables were fresh and organic. Overall it was great.

The staff is very friendly and very willing to help you decide where to visit and if they don't have the answer they will call and find out. Our first night the owner, Juan, even took the time to speak with us and explain our options for trips and which he would recommend based on our interests. The staff that do the ranch tour are very knowledgeable and take pride in being involved in such a project.

There are several trails leading from the ranch itself. There is a lookout trail to see Arenal that you can take on your own and a few options for guided trails. We took the horse back tour to a waterfall in the Children's Eternal Rainforest. It turned out to be just the two of us so it was a nice private trip. It was quite the adventure, crossing the river several times and riding up and down some steep areas. Even coming across the very poisonous fer-de-lance snake. The waterfall wasn't as big as I thought it would be (probably because of rainfall amounts) but we were actually able to swim under it as a result. They also offer a ranch tour where they explain all the methods they have implemented to make it a self-sustaining eco lodge. It was fascinating.

Nearby we also visited the Butterfly Conservatory. Really commendable to come from another country and take an abandoned farm area and return it to it's former glory while on your retirement! Worth the visit!

As for La Fortuna, if you want to visit a hot spring and don't feel like spending $30-60 US there's a fantastic option that not a lot of people seem to tell you about. Across from Tabacon there is a parking lot and a yellow gate. You can park along the road (since they don't like you parking in their lot) and take the short walk down the road/path beyond the yellow gate and you will find Rio Arenal. It is the same hot spring river that feeds Tabacon hot springs. It's beautiful and FREE! You can follow the river to your right or pass under the tunnel/bridge to your left and find even more great areas to sit back and relax. One of my favorite spots we found! It's also worth it to visit La Fortuna waterfall. If you go earlier in the day you might even beat the other tourists. A great refreshing swim!

It was a fantastic start to our trip! So happy we stumbled upon this hidden gem.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank CdnTravelBug01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded April 9, 2013

We are so delighted to hear of the amazing time you had at Rancho Margot! It was such a pleasure to host you and your boyfriend during your visit with us and we are thrilled that you explored so much of our area while you were here with us. We sincerely hope that the rest of your exploration around Costa Rica was just as glorious as your time here with us, and we so look forward to seeing you both in the future!

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Reviewed March 29, 2013

My friend and I stayed at RM for 3 nights in cabin 10. We were looking for somewhere self-contained, isolated and close to the jungle so we could explore by ourselves. Though there were no extensive jungle trails, RM was completely isolated and really something special. It became the relaxing part of our trip. The owner, Juan, has done incredible things in 10yrs and I think he should be commended. To be more detailed, I've broken down my review into different areas and included one negative:

Facilities:
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RM is a self-sufficient ranch, so quite a big operation by any standards. As such, it has all the facilities the staff and volunteers need to live (not just work) there full-time; all of which are built in an accessible way and available to guests. There's a restaurant, bar, pool, trails, gardens, bike-hire, ponchos, tours, manned reception... even laundry! The only downside is that you can't buy/order/make snacks past a certain time. And due to the isolation from any other towns, if you miss dinner or don't plan ahead you'll be waiting until breakfast for food.

Location:
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RM is located 1hr drive from La Fortuna town at the end of a reaaaally bumpy dirt road, past the small community of El Castillo next to Lake Arenal. The ranch is in a beautiful, peaceful spot, surrounded by rainforest and rivers. This place is about as isolated as you can get (one of the reasons we chose it) with no real services for miles... so don't expect to venture out much. Even most tours charge $40 for pickup/dropoff here. That said, there's usually a free ride to/from town to be had every day and enough to keep you busy for at least 3-4 days on the ranch.

Rooms:
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We stayed in a bungalow which - relative to other places we stayed - was quite large and completely immaculate. It was a fair walk from reception, but that only enhanced the feeling of isolation. Our bungalow had an ensuite bathroom and private balcony/hammock. It could easily sleep a small family with the 2 queen beds, tables, lamps, fan and mosquito nets. We stayed in bungalow 10 (towards the rear) and the view was gorgeous. We could see the hills and hummingbirds, squirrels etc. all-day!

My (tiny) negatives are that A) the garden outside the bungalow was a bit sparse. Bungalows are next to well-used tracks so - personally - it'd be nice if the vegetation was thicker to contain the tranquillity of each bungalow. B) there was no safe. As I've said before, the friendly staff and isolation negated the need... but there's always the thought of losing your passport without one.

Staff/service:
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From what it seemed, most of the staff were volunteers. Regardless of status; every single person we met/talked to was genuinely nice, helpful and courteous. They were all really knowledgeable and into the ideology of RM... it was refreshing to see so many people obviously hoping to make a dent or learn about sustainability. Even if it was just for a couple of weeks.

I have to clarify. Some reviewers have said that - after you're checked in and dropped off - you're forgotten about... and that the staff come first. This is true. HOWEVER this was not a bad thing! We were given a map. We knew where reception was. We knew when and where dinner was served and we were left in peace. This is a working ranch people - the staff have other things to do!

Food:
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Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all Costa Rican staples, self-served buffet-style at set times-of-day. A big deal was made about having an experienced chef flown in to consult with RM kitchen staff... which makes me more critical about the food being a bit bland/basic (and the same every day). Nevertheless it was still tasty, inexpensive, nutritional and safe by any standards. We also did a tour that meant missing dinner. The kitchen were kind enough to make us a small packed lunch to take with us.

This was also one of the few places that served dessert, if you could get some fast enough! Because we stayed in a bungalow, meals were all free - not a bad deal if you ask me!

Tours:
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We didn't do any external tours through RM but there was always someone willing to help in booking them. We got a free lift to/from town with Juan (including an interesting 'briefing' and QA session on RM) and had absolutely no problems at all with connecting transport.

We did attend the free guided tour of the ranch - given by a volunteer, Orellio - who had taken a year out from studying and was obviously enjoying the experience. We discovered he really liked frogs, so the 3 of us went out for a few hours frog-spotting by the lake one night.

Price:
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RM seems very expensive on first glance, but it is definitely worth it. If you stay in a bungalow, you get a LOT inclusive. The bungalows are spacious and beautiful and the ranch is huge. If you're looking for a peaceful, relaxing, tranquil, beautiful portion of holiday this is where to come!

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank PeteLightning
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded April 2, 2013

Many thanks for your thorough and honest review. It was a pleasure to host you at Rancho Margot and we're so thankful for your input. Until next time, Pura Vida!

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Reviewed March 26, 2013

We spent 3 nights at Rancho Margot and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
By far the most interesting activity we did was the ranch tour, which was included in the price of our bungalow (normally $20). Guided by Edgar who was extremely knowledgable we explored the various self-sustainable aspects of the ranch including the biogas collector and manure water heater (doesn't smell!), and we seemed to stop every 10 yards to eat or smell something different from the garden. Good fun.
We also took a 3hr horse ride with Aurelio to a look-out point over Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano (we saw probably 4/5ths of it which apparently is not bad going!). Aurelio made me feel completely comfortable on the well trained horses and was great at pointing out plenty of wildlife along the way (howler and spider monkeys and many birds as well as a dead armadillo).
We were collected from and taken back to La Fortuna and driven to the local Sky Trek canopy tour (at no extra charge) by Fernando the ranch driver who was a lot of fun and very welcoming.
The food at the ranch is fantastic - 90% of it comes from the ranch itself and everyone eats buffet style in the same area - the guests, ranch workers and the volunteers. This can make for a slightly strange dynamic at times, but actually it was fine - everyone was extremely friendly and the dogs including two retriever puppies were great fun. We were very glad to be able to share a beer with Edgar, Aurelio and Fernando on our last night.
We would recommend this highly.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank DaveA83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded April 2, 2013

Thank you for your visit to Rancho Margot! We're so delighted to hear that you enjoyed your stay and to know that you returned home safely. ¡Pura Vida!

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Reviewed March 24, 2013

We recently spent one night at Rancho Margot. Had no reservation – were just following our noses – taken in by the signs we saw – wood fired pizza – organic gardening – sustainable ranch. Had to find out what this was all about. We turned off what we thought was another dirt/stony road and realized when it ended at Rancho Margot that this was the entryway into the ranch. Knowing that we would never make it home by dark we asked if they had rooms and they did: a delightful free standing bungalow up a short but steep hill. We are getting accustomed to that in Costa Rica.

Our entire stay was a delight. We arrived just in time for yoga class – excellent wind down at the end of a long day traveling. The meals were scrumptious and all the food was fresh. Pizza at every meal – well not breakfast. We even had music – guitar and Andean flute – a great touch.

Highly recommend Rancho Margot for a great get away. Great service, welcoming attitude, smiling help, hot and cold pools, a little bit of paradise next to Arenal Volcano.

Room Tip: Take advantage of the golf cart delivery of you and your luggage to your bungalow. Yoga class was fa...
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Joan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded March 26, 2013

Thank you so much for your visit - it was a pleasure having you stay with us!

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Reviewed March 16, 2013

The setting of Rancho Margot is amazing, it's like you are camping in style. My daughter and I stayed in a bungalow and loved it. But, as others have said, know what you are getting - it's not a luxury hotel by any standards. The "green" aspect of the place is what attracted us to it, and it was fun taking the ranch tour and learning all the things they are doing. They heat their own water and generate their own electricity, which means the showers are very comfortable, but not really hot, and the lighting is good, but not super bright. This was great for us, but again, just wanted to let others know. We loved walking around and seeing the farm, and just being close to nature. The staff was very friendly and helpful. All this would make us come back. Except for the food. Our first meal was lunch, and I actually said I could probably be a vegetarian if all meals could be this good. Then that was pretty much the last meal we ate. The food sits out for two hours. If you come at the end everything (hot and cold foods) are at room temperature. This did not seem safe and was not very palatable. Neither of us felt well for several days and the rest of our meals, when we did eat, were mostly rice and bananas.

Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
1  Thank tmc3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Travis D, Manager at Rancho Margot, responded to this reviewResponded March 18, 2013

Thank you for your review and for your visit to Rancho Margot. We are happy to know that you and your daughter enjoyed your time with us.

On the subject of food, we thank you for your feedback which we take very seriously and it gives us means to improve. As all meals are included in room rates at Rancho Margot in a buffet-style offering, we aim to create as many options as possible for guests while using as many ingredients as possible from our chemical-free gardens. We are sincerely sorry to hear that you enjoyed only your first meal, and will certainly make considerable strides to ensure that you go back for seconds when you revisit Rancho Margot.

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Additional Information about Rancho Margot

Address: 3km beyond El Castillo | La Fortuna de San Carlos, El Castillo, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > El Castillo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 Specialty Lodging in El Castillo
Price Range: $162 - $332 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Rancho Margot 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
ALL RESERVATIONS AT RANCHO MARGOT INCLUDE DAILY BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER FROM OUR CHEMICAL-FREE GARDENS. ADDITIONALLY, 2-HOUR GUIDED RANCH TOUR AND TWICE DAILY YOGA CLASSES ARE INCLUDED WITH EVERY OVERNIGHT STAY.On the hills of Rancho Margot, you will find our 17 deluxe bungalows. The Caño Negro river whisper will guide you to the most peaceful rest possible, only to wake up the next day with the loud call of the howler monkeys. Hidden in our botanical gardens are bungalows, equipped to house couples or families of up to 4 people. Each bungalow has its own terrace on which you may enjoy the incredible view while relaxing on your hammock with a great book. Bungalows feature Orthopedic mattresses and are available with two queen beds or one queen bed and two singles. Additional amenities include mosquito netting, rocking chair, table & chairs, and handmade soaps. Each bungalow is equipped with a private bathroom with shower.Our vision is to protect our sustainable rainforest facility but also to make it an educational playground for adults and children alike, where we can inspire a new generation of global citizens to continue ‘closing the circle.’Rancho Margot is a family enterprise where everyone is welcome. We’re living our dream, and we invite you to join us. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Rancho Margot Hotel Arenal Volcano National Park

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