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Arenal Lodge
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Reviewed March 31, 2013

We flew into Liberia and stayed in an upscale resort on the coast for the first three days. Then we drove to Arenal for the rest of the trip. I had read the reviews so I knew to expect a dated lodge but as they say -- you gotta see it to believe it. When we arrived we encountered the twisty turny adventure of the driveway. This was fun however as my husband loves a good driving challenge. The main lodge itself was comfortable and upon arrival my hopes for "better than expected" began to rise. It's a cute place and though the furniture is dated the restaurant is nice and the view is spectacular. True, the game room is a disaster but there is a pool table that is nice in the bar. Staff were friendly. Jessie at the tour table is extremely helpful but also out to make a commission so be careful. If you have a car you can skip some of the "tours" as the van transportation just eats away much of the day.

We were expecting a family suite but were assigned a superior suite instead. The lodge is set up with different types of separate buildings scattered across the property. We drove to our destination and were in awe of the beautiful view. It was spectacular. When we opened our "suite" however, it was dismal. We had two rooms. The king was in the main room (the one you entered) along with a small table and four dining chairs, a small tv cabinet and a tube style tv. The main room had a huge window to capture the view. The bedroom had a queen size bed and one little desk. That is all. No window except the upper slat style vents. There are no dressers, closets, sofas, lounge type chairs, safes. There may be in other rooms but we were told we "had the best" because of the view I suppose. We asked for a roll away bed and they did bring in a twin (not roll away). The beds are very old as are the curtains and bedding but the sheets are clean and our housekeeper seemed attentive. It certainly was as others have said, very sparse and very dated and yes somewhat moldy. The bathroom was kind of sticky and our clothes never dried. But it is a rainforest and there is no AC so that was to be expected. We did not need AC as we had wonderful temperatures-- but there is no sound barrier at all and so you are left VERY aware of the neighbors when the walls are thin and your windows are open. On one particularly cool night we tried to close our window slats and found that we couldn't-- they were jammed open.

At first, I hated our "suite" but we spent little time there and so I got used to it. We were there for four days and we were off the property from AT LEAST 8-5 each day exploring the area around Arenal. If you want down to earth, no frills, running water and a roof over your head, this fits the bill. Anything beyond that and you'll probably need to go elsewhere.

Room Tip: Ask about the details. Make sure you ask number of beds, types of furniture and view. We met some people that had a sofa bed instead of real bed, and others that had no view. Take plastic bags to bring damp things home. Things will not dry.
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Tuxedo2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 11, 2013

Hello! Thank you for visiting Arenal Lodge and for your helpful comments. As of February 1st we are under new management and have big plans to improve our lodge! We plan to put in a large window in the back room of the Superior Suites, because I completely agree with you that they need more than window slats. That should also help some with the humidity, although as you said, in the rainforest humidity is inescapable! We invite you to visit us again and check out our updated rooms coming Fall 2013!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 27, 2013

The grounds and view of volcano was fantastic and loved the breakfast. But that is about the only positive things I can say about this place. No AC so the comforter & sheets felt damp all the time from the humidity. The lighting is dark so i wouldnt read at night. There is no sound barrier between rooms in the lodges so I wouldn't suggest this place for honeymooners. The staff were semi-helpful when they weren't spending time Facebooking on their computers behind reception desk. Scheduled tours weren't on time either. We were suppose to meet in lobby at 12:15 but the van didn't pick us up to take us to our tour destination until nearly 2pm.

Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
Thank Janna A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 11, 2013

Hi Janna, thanks for visiting Arenal Lodge! You'll be happy to hear that we're putting in new bedding in the form of light duvets that are more resistant to the humidity of the rainforest. Better reading lights are next on our to-list of improvements to the Lodge that the brand new administration is tackling. We hope that you'll come back to check out our updates!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2013

Pros -
BEAUTIFUL, natural setting with a few passable, if not maintained, trails.
EDIBLE food provided by happy, not smart, wait staff (breakfast better than other meals).
WIFI in certain areas.
Did not need the promised, but not provided air-conditioning.

Cons -
DILAPIDATED and DIRTY structures, be they the rooms or main building. All furniture was filthy.
STAFF reluctant to provide assistance and frequently provided inaccurate information regarding tours, times of meals and the like.
MOULD, MILDEW & DAMPNESS abound with it's accompanying dank odors. Our bodies and clothing were infused with this smell until we left.
DARK rooms provide barely enough light to read by.
LOCKS provide no security as windows are levered and easily maneuvered.
BUTTERFLY structure - nope. If there are 4 living creatures in the moss-ridden, barely standing structure that is a lot.
FREE TOURs - Nope. Just a guided birding walk in the morning. All other touring is off property.
BAR - Bring your own cocktails unless you are happy with some beer/some wine.
DRIVEWAY - the 10-15 minute trip up the steep, crumbling drive would have been fine if when we finally arrived it was to a place worthwhile. However, after 3 days we couldn't wait to take our last trip down to be rid of the place.
GYM - 2 weight machines and a broken archaic stationary bike machine in small dark room. GAME ROOM - small dark room I would not allow my kids to hang out in.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank jen m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 11, 2013

Hi Jen, I'm sorry to hear about your less-than-satisfactory stay with us! We wanted to let you know, however, that many of the issues on your list are being addressed in a major overhaul the brand-new administration is undertaking beginning this month through this fall. We appreciate your input that will help guide our renovations and improvements in the coming months. We invite you to come back and check out our new and improved Lodge later this year!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2013

What's to love about the Arenal Lodge? It's all about location. We flew into Liberia, rented a car and drove to the hotel. (Check out the Volcano Brewing company on the way: Delicious food, awesome views (our first look at monkeys) and very good beer) The adventure started when we arrive at the gate. The lodge has a long (1.5 miles) driveway that isn't fabulously maintained. I actually think the driveway gives yoou a perfect perspective of what the lodge itself is about: A fun adventure in a not so well maintained place.

The lodge is located in a great place. Close to good ziplining, hiking, and Arenal lake adventures, but still in the middle of no where. There was a lot of wildlife right at the lodge. An injured McCaw and a friendly Coati kept us company a great deal of the day. We were on a hunt for a sloth in the wild and, while we never saw one, several more had been spotted in our area around Arenal lodge than most places around Fortuna. The Balconies on the Junior Suites faces the volcano with FABULOUS views. Arenal was nature at its best.

The not so great part was the room itself. Expect lot of bugs (after all middle of the rainforest). The rooms are really dark. The beds are hard. The pillows were really uncomfortable. My husband and I spend a lot of time in public use cabins in Alaska- and it was MUCH better than a sleeping bag and a mattress pad. It just wasn't really what I expect.

The restaurant's food was delicious. We LOVED the sea bass.

The pool and jacuzzis are in a really cool location- again- they make you feel part of your environment. They keep the Jacuzzis cools (About 70 degrees Farenheit) until you ask them to turn them up, but then they are more than happy to.

I really liked this lodge. I just spent a lot of time while I was there thinking about amazing it could be with some renovaitons. Like everywhere we went in Costa Rica though, the staff is very friendly, the atmosphere is genuinely happy and relaxing, and the view is breathtaking.

Room Tip: The Junior Suite and the Chalets have the best views!
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Liz B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 11, 2013

Hi Liz! Thanks for your candid review! I am 100% with you on how amazing Arenal Lodge will be after we update it. You'll be happy to hear that the brand new administration has big plans for room and Lodge renovations that will begin this month and we expect will be complete by this fall. We would love for you to come back and check them out!

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Reviewed March 16, 2013

We stayed for 3 days. The staff were very friendly and very accommodating. The restaurant food was excellent and when asked they didn't mind substituting e.g. veggies for starch. The rooms need to be updated and not all have fridges and hairdryers. The grounds are beautiful and the complimentary tour is enjoyable. I would recommend the outside lighting be improved so there are no accidents. Due to the remote location the store could possibly stock items such as toothpaste, asprin, ban-aids, suntan lotion, bug repellent etc. We didn't rent a car so 3 days was a long enough stay.

Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
Thank Hazel B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 11, 2013

Hi Hazel! Thank you for your review! You'll be happy to know that we're putting your suggestion regarding stocking up on basic toiletries, etc into action. We appreciate your comment on improving the outdoor lighting, we're adding more walkway lights as you suggested! Thanks for your visit and hope to see you at Arenal Lodge again someday!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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