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Rio Magnolia Nature Lodge
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Reviewed January 20, 2014

The Rio Magnolia was our favorite place while in CR for two weeks. Upon arrival we were greeted by staff with refreshing drinks and shown to our room, El Cielo. We were taken back by how beautiful the view was and fell in love with the room. The bed was comfortable, the indoor stone shower was situated just right that I felt like I was outside, and the rocking chairs on the balcony made for the most relaxing moments.

We loved the 4:30 coffee and banana bread served near the pool everyday. The staff was beyond helpful and pleasant every moment. John and Maureen couldn't have been better hosts. They made us feel at home and we really enjoyed all the great conversations we had with them and the other guest. If you choose to have dinner at the Rio Magnolia you will not be disappointed with Maureen's amazing recipes or go hungry. Breakfast is included and starts your day off right. The banana pancakes were my favorite. If you are lucky the toucans will join you for breakfast in the tree to the left of the pool.

At the Rio Magnolia you can soak it all in by simply relaxing or you can spend the whole day exploring the property. There is a working coffee plantation, hiking to waterfalls and a natural water slide, drinks by the pool or traveling to the beach. We left the Rio Magnolia one day to go to Dominical and we headed back within two hours because we missed our little slice of heaven.

If you do not have a 4x4 drive or feel comfortable driving they can set up transportation for you. However the crazy drive to the Magnolia was exciting for us in our mid-sized beat up 4x4.

The day we left I felt like I was saying good-bye to old friends. My husband and I were re-charged after our stay.

Thank you to the staff, Maureen and John, and the 4-legged tour guides for making our stay so enjoyable and memorable.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank NikkJay12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2014

We spent for two nights here and really enjoyed our stay. It feels like you are staying in the middle of the jungle and the views across the valley as the clouds roll in are fantastic. John and Maureen were fantastic hosts, John even took us on a hike to a waterfall that forms a natural slide and it was so interesting to chat about how they generate electricity and produce food.
The one thing that might take a bit of getting used to for some people is how damp everything gets with the cloud forest type climate.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jim c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2014

We spent six lovely days at Rio Magnolia over Christmas 2013 - four adults, two teenagers, one child. Every day, coming back, we would reach the lodge and immediately relax in the wonderful atmosphere of the place.

The road from San Joe to Dominical is very easy once you figure out how to leave San Jose. The Costanera (#34, along the coast) is a beautiful road with wide shoulders, easy to pass. We stopped at the Tarcoles river to look at the crocs (impressive), then had lunch at the Backyard at Playa Hermosa, 10 kms past Jaco - beautiful view of a surfing beach, it truly felt like we had finally reached Costa Rica (it did not feel that way in SJ). On the way, we bought all of our missing supplies (sunscreen, batteries, bug juice) at the Super Mercado right by the road when you enter Jaco. Without stops, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive from the outskirts of SJ to Dominical.

Rio Magnolia is located about one hour inland from Dominical: 1/2 hour for the main road (to San Isidro), and 1/2 hour for the rough but beautiful access road, over three small creeks. The main road from Dominical is excellent, although curvy and steep. Once you arrive at the access road, you need a good four wheel drive. Our small Bego had to be unloaded of all luggage and passengers before it could make it up. But Maureen and John's staff can drive you up and down as you need if you cannot make it up on your own. The kids loved riding in the back of the truck :-)

The lodge is in the middle of the jungle, at the top of a high hill, about 1600 feet high, with incredible views. The property is absolutely lovely, lush with vegetation, and we regret not having had more time just at the lodge, to be able to explore it better. Every day you are awakened by the howler monkeys, then, shortly afterwards, you can see toucans flying around the lodge. The grounds include an artisanal coffee plantation and production center, which makes fabulous coffee, some of which we bought and brought home with us: every time we brew it, it reminds us of Rio Magnolia.

The accommodations are lovely. We had the bungalow, Monocongo, for a few days, then the Vista room. Both were wonderful, and very different. Monocongo is a wooden bungalow, which can be almost opened to the outside, and makes you feel like you are in the jungle. It also has an outdoor shower, which I loved most of the time, except when it recycled to cold before I brought it back to full heat with a turn of the wrist. We loved the bungalow, as did our 9 year old. We also loved La Vista, a very large suite with multiple rooms, another lovely shower, and a great view from the second floor of the lodge. Our friends and children occupied other rooms in the lodge.

The common areas, however, are even nicer, with elegant structural accents and multiple separated areas that gave you a way to isolate yourself even when all the rooms were taken. The mere fact of arriving at the lodge at the end of the day was a wonderful moment of relaxation, and we all looked forward to that moment, despite enjoying all of our daily activities.

The boys enjoyed the pool and the water slide. I felt bad for John who went out there with them during a rainstorm and came back absolutely soaked, with his boots full of water. As for the boys, they dove straight into the pool after coming back from the slides...

All the meals we took at Rio Magnolia were delicious! Breakfasts were splendid, every time with a lovely fruit platter. Dinners were varied and wonderfully tasty.

Our hosts, Maureen and John, were warm and helpful. We asked a lot of questions before coming and Maureen always answered them fast and thoroughly. We needed even more help on location, and our hosts always found a way for us. We got a huge amount of help from David, who was always smiling and friendly, with a great sense of humor. Our stay was truly a wonderful experience, and we hope to come back to visit again.

Some thoughts on what we did right and wrong:
- we scheduled too many activities in general. The lodge and grounds are wonderful and extensive, and we could have spent much more time relaxing right there.
- we had booked RAV4 4x4s, but our rental car company, Alamo, did not deliver them. It would have made a big difference, as you need a solid 4x4 to be able to go up and down the access road.
- we scheduled too many activities in Quepos, which is another 45 minutes away from Dominical, when we could have scheduled some of them in Dominical.
- we were worried about being an hour away from Dominical but it was not an issue after all.
- we got cell phone cards at ICE at Dominical - we should have done that the first day we arrived, very convenient, good coverage.
- lovely little souvenir market at Dominical, smaller one at Dominicalito 4 kms S.
- lunches at Tortilla Flats by the beach at Dominical
- daily surfing at Dominical with Dominical Waverider Surf Camp was a highlight for the boys, who learned in a few days. Andrew and Josue were great instructors (separate review soon)!
- activities we enjoyed beyond surfing: Nauyaca horseback riding to the falls, Manual Antonio guided visit with Johann Chavez (check my separate review, up soon), rafting the Savegre (easy run), Ziplining/ Canyoning.

We cannot recommend Rio Magnolia strongly enough!

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank KasualObserver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2013

We just returned from three fantastic nights at Rio Magnolia. It's hard to convey just how we enjoyed ourselves there. From the wildlife, to the hikes, the pool, the rooms, and the meals, it was a wonderful experience. John and Maureen are superb hosts, who go way beyond the usual B&B norms. They even surprised our son, and another child traveling with us, by getting a pinata to smash open the first night. If you're looking for an amazing jungle get-away in Costa Rica, where you'll be pampered with great food and by kind people, Rio Magnolia is the place to go!

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank GregsTravelWriting
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2013

Maybe it's the road getting there, maybe it's the warmth of the hosts, but when you pull up to Rio Magnolia, you feel like you've arrived at a very special place. We stayed in Mono Congo and we were the only guests in early December, at the end of the rainy season. After an adventurous drive (it takes 1/2 hour to go only 5 kilometers), we spent the rest of the day just relaxing by the pool, content to pet the dogs and watch the birds and butterflys. We had some coffee and a snack, then a short siesta. Then we went to the main house for cocktails, Maureen made some appetizers, and John made drinks. They are very interesting people and they joined us for drinks. Dinner was delicious, then we were happy to join John and Maureen for a nightcap. Breakfast was great, then we went for a walk on the property with John and learned about their coffee production. Very interesting and a cool look into the lives of expats and Costa Ricans.

Next time, I would definitely rent a more powerful 4 wheel drive, the Dihatsu Terios didn't have enough juice to confidently get us up the big hill. The directions they provide are perfect though. When you get to the big hill they describe, you know it!

Room Tip: Mono Congo was very cool, but the rooms in the main house are all very nice as well.
  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank lbacaputo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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