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“Cannot say enough good things about Lapa Rios”

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Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Cabo Matapalo
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed February 27, 2009

We stayed at Lapa Rios for four nights as part of our honeymoon in Costa Rica. This was one of the best travel experiences of my life. It was our favorite hotel and favorite experience in Costa Rica.

We had the honeymoon package. I requested a room close to the main lodge because I read the reviews about all the stairs. Our request was granted -- we had bungalow number 1. The bungalow was fantastic. The view is by far the best part. We loved the balcony, which was probably the biggest I've seen at a hotel. The critter factor was not too bad in our bungalow -- the only intruders during our stay were a lizard, a grasshopper, and some cockroaches. We kept the lights off at night (only reading by flashlight) which I think helped.

But you don't come to Lapa Rios for the rooms anyway. You come for the nature and the tours. We did the Wild Waterfalls Tour, Ridge Walk, Mangrove and Sea Kayaking Trip, and the Night Walk. The best was the Ridge Walk, because we really liked the guide (Edwin) and we saw the most animals -- sloths, howler and spider monkeys, poison dart frogs, and various birds I can't recall. Next best was the Night Walk and Kayaking trip. We got to see some snakes on the Night Walk. We saw dolphins while kayaking; they were about 10 yards away. We also did the self-guided trail on the first day (where we saw the first monkeys) and visited the beach.

The service was always good and friendly. The food was quite tasty. If you like beans, you will love this place (and Costa Rica in general). The guides know their stuff, and they put your safety first (especially on the Night Walk).

Here is what I loved about Lapa Rios, in no particular order: (1) seclusion and isolation (I'll never forget landing in Puerto Jimenez and being told that it would be our last contact with the outside world); (2) nature (I truly feel sorry for people that come all the way to Costa Rica but don't go to the Osa; the wildlife in the other places we visited -- Central Valley, Arenal, and Papagayo gulf -- did not come close to the Osa); (3) going to bed early and getting up early (this is the opposite of what I normally do, and it was refreshing); (4) being active.

If these things appeal to you, you will love Lapa Rios.

  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank heelswin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 25, 2009

My husband and me stayed at the Lapa Rios for our honeymoon in mid-November of 2008. We had gone to Costa Rica for 2 weeks and this was the first of 4 places we visited throughout the country. Boy were we impressed. (We had also stayed in La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Tamarindo. The Capitan Suizo was awesome in Tamarindo as well but I think Lapa Rios was the slight favourite). We didn’t mind the journey there at all as the Nature Air plane ride was probably the most scenic I had ever taken. To see all that bright turquoise water with the rugged coastline was stunning. Our plane had to make a brief stop at Drake airport then we proceeded to the final airport. Puerto Jiminez was closed when we went but a lovely member of the Lapa Rios staff was there to meet us when we got off the plane. We had a LOT of luggage and we never had to carry any of it. We did have to take a ferry and go for a ½ hour boat ride before the 45-minute jeep ride to the resort but it wasn’t too bad. The worse part was the 20-minute wait to get on the boat and it was the same on the way out.

When we got there it was amazing. Elana, the operations manager greeted us with a welcome fresh juice drink that was soooo yummy! I kept ordering it for the rest of my time there. They took our bags and Elana told us to enjoy the observation deck and sit down for some lunch while our luggage was delivered. This was a welcome treat! She also did say that after lunch, a member of staff will give us a talk about the environmental projects and activities that the resort is involved with as well as the sustainability of the resort itself. I looked forward to that as I would have been really interested. This was the first disappointment from Elana as we never did receive any such speech.

After lunch, we checked in at the desk. The guy at reception gave us our key and told us that we are on the honeymoon package and would receive a private meal with a bottle of wine on our last night. This sounded great and made sense to me since we were in fact on our honeymoon and when I booked the trip through a travel agent, we had booked a “honeymoon package.” When we went for our meals on our last day, we asked members of staff at both breakfast and lunch about what time we should come for our private dinner. They both asked what room number we were in and told us to come for 6:30pm. A second BIG disappointment from Elana is that once we went to dinner on our last night, we told a waiter about our private dinner. He went away and came back and said it would be ready shortly and to have a drink at the bar while it was being set up. While having a drink, we were speaking to the other couples at the bar telling them all about our private meal and how much we were looking forward to it Elana then came up to us at the bar and said that we were not booked onto the honeymoon package so we were not entitled to the private dinner. I told her that I had booked the honeymoon package and that a member of staff told us at check-in that we were to receive that. I also told her that we enquired about it twice earlier that day and the waiters both confirmed it. She kept arguing against it that we only booked into a double room and that if we want the private dinner, we would have to pay an extra $100.00! And then she kept sternly asking which members of staff told us this (I guess so she could get them in trouble!) Well, this was shocking customer service. You don’t tell guests that they are entitled to something, confirm it more than once, and then you look forward to it your entire stay, only to be told a minute before it takes place that you don’t get it! Whether it was a mistake at booking, I don’t know, but Lapa Rios is supposed to be a top class resort that you pay top dollar for and for the operations manager to have this approach to customer service was appalling! She grudgingly did give it to us after while but we really didn’t get to enjoy it by this time.

And the third complaint against Elana is that she walks around the restaurant area like a queen dictator. I didn’t see her lift a finger the entire time. All of the staff there are so sweet and polite and work their butts off (only 2 days off every 2 weeks) and work all hours of the morning, day and night. All you see her do is sit at a table with her model-long-haired boyfriend eating meals. (Yes-all 3 meals of the day!) When the waiters serve her, she gives them the third degree about everything! And she doesn’t do anything to actually help them! I felt very sorry for the staff. I even spoke to one of them about how it is to work there and I said that I noticed their manager a bit cruel and only interested in eating, not actually working! Well, this member of staff opened up and told me that once Elana started, something like 40 members of staff quit because she was so awful and did nothing to help. The staff has to walk on tiptoes around her and the moral there is really low. The 3 years prior to Elana, there was only 1 person that left. This just shows how badly she is managing all of those lovely people that are trying to earn some money. Terrible.

So now for the negatives out of the way, the positives: Stunning, stunning place. We stayed in bungalow 15 which I was a bit disappointed with at first because it is mostly surrounded by jungle and you only see the sea in the distance, not like some bungalows that are right in front of the ocean. But ours was I think the most private and built entirely on its own as well. (Halfway down the steps, you turn to the left and ours was the last one way down that way.) We came for the jungle so we really loved it. The other bungalows seem to all actually share a wall, they are so close together. I would think they could space them out a bit more. And with the walls all being just a net, I don’t think I would have liked the ocean front ones not feeling so private.

The tours are all really good. We liked the waterfall one a lot. Beautiful falls! We loved the mosquito net king-size bed, the whole make of the bungalow, the hammocks. Everything. And the food was delicious as well! That view you get from the observation deck right when you walk in is one you will never forget!

I definitely hope to go again sometime if I ever get back to Costa Rica but hopefully they will have replaced their manager with one who is a little more hands on and treats the staff with leadership and respect! I am afraid this place may only go downhill if she stays as you can’t have a successful business with a bunch of unhappy staff.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank jmcummings8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2009

Lapa Rios

situated in the Osa Peninsula on 1,000 acres of a private reserve. The lodge is nestled in the hills over looking the peninsula with spectacular views of the water. The dining and pool area are surrounded by trees and plants giving you a front row seat to plenty of wildlife activities. There is an gorgeous wood spiral staircase leading to an observation platform in the middle of the dining room that gives you an even more incredible view. AMAZING resort!!!

Pros:
Each bungalow is completely private with views of the jungle and the water. Large open rooms with beautiful hardwood floors and a large very comfortable bed with mosquito netting surrounding it. You can take it down if you like because you wont need it but it is very sexy and romantic.
The bed was presented with dozens of colorful fresh flowers spread over it on our arrival.
Large deck area with two chairs with a table, two lounge chairs, and an outdoor shower in a garden.
Rooms have mesh french doors that open out onto the deck. the rest of the room is mesh windows to allow for a view any way you look. You can roll shades down if it starts to rain or gets to windy.
Large shower with a regular shower head on one side and a "rain" shower head on the other side. One whole wall is a mesh wall showing the jungle outside your room. It also gives you the feeling of being in an outdoor shower.
Pool area has plenty of comfortable lounge chairs and a covered area for shade.
Waiters come by asking if you would like anything from the bar.
The bar in the dining area is well stocked with liquor and just a few wine choices from Chili and Argentina.
The food is wonderful. Plenty of choices, beautifully prepared and served by a friendly waitstaff.
The general manager came to introduce himself to us while we were at the bar and knew us by name and was a wealth of information about the lodge, the surrounding area and the theory behind their conservation of the area.

Cons: (Barely cons)
There is a wicked 45 minute ride from the airstrip to the lodge. you are picked up by a driver from the lodge in a fairly uncomfortable range rover. The roads are unpaved with GIANT pot holes from the rains. So it's a very slow bumpy ride and your abdominal muscles actually get a workout from trying to remain upright. On a personal note... Please don't have a hangover on the way to the lodge like I did or I guarantee you it will be the worst ride of your life.
The bungalows are quite the hike form the lodge. There is no possible way to gain weight while at this lodge. We are in bungalow #9 which is 172 very long steps to the lodge. There are a couple observation platforms on the trails to the rooms. we saw some people who where weren't in the best of shape using the platforms as rest areas to let their angina pass. Please don't forget anything in your room when going to the pool. The look on peoples faces when they realize they have to go back to their rooms is quite comical.
There is a 20 minute hike down to the beach. Once you get there you are rewarded by a beautiful cove with not many people on it. There is little shade and no breeze. (We were here in Dec.) It looked like it was a good swimming beach and told to wear water shoes because the bottom was rocky.
The bird, insect and monkey noise at night is incredibly loud. If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs. I actually had bad dreams because the howler monkeys make such a scary sound. I still loved the sounds of nature at night though. You get used to it (I think)
No phone lines to call the front desk. so when you have a problem like clogged shower drains, leaking sinks or no hot water (like we did) or when you want ice. You have to go hiking to the front desk.
They would give you ice in a plastic bag instead of a bucket which I thought wasn't very "ECO".
We were told by some avid bird watchers and naturalists to bypass the escorted bird walks. that they weren't worth the money. We did not do them ourselves.
The ride back from the lodge to the air strip wasn't nearly as bad as going out there. Hence... the hang over.
We did have to pay a $25 overage fee for our luggage at Nature Air. Can't have more than 25 pounds.

Regardless of the cons... I would absolutely recommend this lodge of everyone. It's a must! We spent our days lounging at the pool, looking out at the wonderful views, watching toucans land on branches next to us and loving life.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank martinridge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 28, 2009

I cannot say enough wonderful things about both the location and the staff of this beautiful ecolodge. From the time that I booked this property online to emails after returning, the service was absolutely incredible. First, the booking staff is excellent, friendly and informative. And, the same staff greets you at the Puerto Jiminez airport, instantly making you feel at home. (The fight from San Jose to Puerto Jiminez is breathtaking- have your camera out.) Then, a 4 x 4 brings you to an absolutely gorgeous location- the property. All of it is beautiful, and you will completely relax, and feel at one with nature. Now- the most important: the tours: sign up for as many as you can- they are worth every penny, and are actually inexpensive compared to destinations such as Africa. The guides are all very good; Nito is outstanding. I loved each and every hike. The food and food staff are great, too, So, GO- this is expensive for Costa Rica, but well worth it.

PS I traveled there as a woman alone, and fele completely safe and comfortable.

  • Stayed: December 2008
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3  Thank SusanCWashingtonDC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2009

I echo others who loved this incredible ecolodge with its caring staff, dedication to sustainability, beautiful jungle accommodations with the monkeys and macaws, delicious food. We stayed 5 days and were very impressed. It is expensive but worth it. Be careful to note that the price is per person and includes all meals and transportation from Puerto Jimenez. Ours also included two guided trips. Be sure to ask what is included when you make your reservations.

  • Stayed: January 2009
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1  Thank paprikaj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 19, 2009

Having booked with a tour agency and informed that we would have to somehow hire a water taxi to get across the gulf (due to the airport shutdown in Puerto Jiminez), I was a bit aprehensive about our landing. However, I was pleasantly and extremely surprised to find a Lapa Rios representative waiting for us when we got off the plane. She guided us to a water taxi, paid for it, ensured our luggage was handled, and gave us a little introduction to the area and answered any questions we had. We stopped at the Lapa Rios office in Puerto Jiminez on the other side of the bay, where they offered us drinks and access to phones for phonecalls home. Then the 45 min trip to Lapa Rios in a 4x4 - let's just say the place is remote, and we had to ford a few fast moving brooks and streams to get to the resort. From there on out, we were treated like royalty. The entire staff needs to be commended for outstanding service - they were all extremely helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. I will and have recommended this resort to all of my close friends and family as a top-notch destination

This is not for the cheap or the non-nature oriented. Another reviewer commented that there is not much to do if you don't do the tours. That is true. However, you don't travel such a great distance to such a remote location and then skimp the last half mile. Build it into your budget! The tours were incredible, and the guides very knowledgeable. They promote from within, and one of our guides had been the head of housecleaning and had developed a love of birding. It's good to know your money is helping the locals out.

Now to the resort: FABULOUS. We were in the very last room, and it was very private. Yes, it is a long hike up the stairs to the dining room, but at least you earn your meal each night and don't feel as guilty indulging. Plus, bring a flashlight on your walk, and you will see lots of "night life" - we made it an adventure and took our time each night to see what we could find. We saw snakes, owls, and other night critters on our way to dinner each night. In fact, I think the pair of owls just hangs out at the resort, as they were there every night we looked, and perched on fairly low branches too.

You don't need to leave your bungalow for the wildlife. The wildlife comes to you, but in a very natural setting. The first morning we woke up, we had a troupe of squirrel monkeys run through, then pairs of red maccaws, parrots, and toucans perched in the tree outside. A coati made a run at the coconuts in the coconut tree there, and something that sounded like an angry Donald Duck was in the brush (couldn't see it). The last night we were there, a troupe of howler monkeys camped outside our bungalow and did their howling about 3am - very cool. It's all open air, with a view, and comes with a hammock and outdoor shower. Not all the rooms are utterly private - that's why I recommend the last room. Not a lot of traffic, private patio, private shower (which has a floor to ceiling screen - yes, screen - open to the forest). You can look for monkeys and toucans while bathing!!

While we were in the pool getting closer to dusk, a coati mundi crept by. Another day at the pool, a large iguana came regally marching by. And on yet another day, there was a three toed sloth slowly munching on leaves on a fairly low hanging branch right along the path to the dining room! We got great photos!

Bugs were not a big problem. Don't turn on a lot of lights at night - just lay there and chat with your loved one and enjoy the sounds of nature. Read a book with a flashlight. Just keep in mind you are in the jungle, and there will be some bugs and spiders. But they didn't bother us at all, and there are virtually no mosquitoes (didn't have to put a wick of bug repellant on on the hikes, unlike Tortuguero).

We were there for 4 nights, and that was just about the right amount of time. The food was terrific each night. Dinners are varied and scrumptious, lunch is the same menu each day. However, there is a good selection for lunch, and you can have something different for lunch each day. And the other guests were so friendly - we had lots of good chats and met a variety of people, from young to old, honeymooners to retirees, and some families. Plus, go up the spiral stairs above the dining room to get a better view. There are chairs and tables up there - bring a book and enjoy the view. We caught a howler monkey and its buddy sleeping in a tree fairly close just after lunch. I could see it opening and closing its eyes as it tried to fall asleep in the tree. And on our last night back from a tour towards dusk, we saw several spider monkey juveniles, and they decided to perform and show off for us right in front of the entrance to the resort. Amazing!

I hate to go to a destination twice, as there is so much of the world to still see. But I will definitely be back to Lapa Rios.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Sere74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2008

We chose Lapa Rios for our honeymoon because we wanted to experience the Costa Rican rainforest, but still have some of the luxuries you'd want on your honeymoon. And while it rained nonstop for our entire stay, we still greatly enjoyed it!

The Good: The food was outstanding, on par with any five-star resort -- imaginative parings of local Costa Rican fare and international cuisine. The accommodations were lovely -- the bungalos offered luxury, privacy and intimacy with nature. The service was tremendous -- the staff made an effort to know us and make sure we had a great time. They were flawless.

Be Warned: It is a rainforest, so you need to expect rain. It's an adventure just getting there. With the Puerto Jiminez airstrip closed we had to fly into Golfito and take a 30 min boat ride, at which point you get taken on rough roads to Lapa Rios. You need to enjoy hiking. If you have difficulty with stairs you will not enjoy your stay.

Tips: Bring a lightweight poncho and a hiking pack you can clip a water bottle on. Bring ziplock bags to keep cameras, etc dry. The trails can be extremely muddy and cross rivers frequently. We never wore our hiking boots, instead opting to wear the rubber boots the resort provides (though bring long socks).

Must Do: The hikes are all interesting, but the one you absolutely must do is the waterfall hike. Oh, and try the ginger cookies. Yum.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JohnathanGalt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula

Address: Osa Peninsula, Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Cabo Matapalo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Cabo Matapalo
Price Range: $726 - $1,312 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Lapa Rios Ecolodge Osa Peninsula 3*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in a 1000-acre private nature reserve in Central America's last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Ecolodge overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean, a destination matching everyone's idea of paradise. Much more than a luxurious eco lodge, Lapa Rios is a model ecotourism project and a sustainable tourism pioneer. Over the years, we have received many awards for social and environmental excellence. Home to a plethora of incredible wildlife, including monkeys, scarlet macaws, pumas, toucans, tree frogs and thousands of other creatures, a trip to Lapa Rios Eco lodges Ecolodges will be the experience of a lifetime. Lapa Rios is one of only 24 National Geographic Unique Eco Lodges of the World ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Lapa Rios Ecolodge Hotel Playa Matapalo

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