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“If you want to live in natural spendor, this is the place” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Arenal Lodge

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Arenal Lodge
Lawrence, Kansas
Level Contributor
81 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“If you want to live in natural spendor, this is the place”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

I was skeptical about this property because of the reviews and pictures we saw before we went. Our 9-day trip was arranged by Travels By Jen through Travelzoo (great value and itinerary). Arenal Lodge was our first, 3-night destination, and really set the stage for getting into the beauty of the Costa Rican rain forest. We stayed in Junior Suite 112 and it couldn't have been more perfect for us and a tremendous value. Open air, high ceilings of teak? wood with a huge patio with rocking chairs in the middle of a magical jungle and lord of the land volcano coming in and out of view with the clouds and rain. The staff was very friendly but not intrusive. The complimentary breakfast was a feast and the dinner we had was delicious and a good value. The nature paths were breathtaking. The guide for the free horseback riding was ill the day we were not riding the rapids at Rio Balsa (through Desafio company - highly recommended). Ask the staff about the (free) hot springs that the locals go to rather than the touristy ones - this was a highlight of the trip (about 5 km. towards Fortuna).

Room Tip: We loved our junior suite 112. Massive balcony opened up to mother nature and you're right nea...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Steve O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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English first
Fullerton, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

My girlfriend and I stayed in the Junior Suite for 3 nights recently (July 2013) and were very impressed with the everything this venue had to offer. Significantly, we were most pleased with the people here which, in my opinion, is one of most important aspects of any establishment. Miguel (Mike) our hiking/horseback tour guide was simply fantastic. He was so knowledgeable and friendly, making our enjoyment and education his number one priority. We talked to him for hours, bombarding him with questions, and he was happy to oblige.

The front desk staff was eager to engage us and assist us in our travel plans.

We were also very impressed with the restaurant. All of the servers were extremely friendly (and bi-lingual which was helpful after a couple chuckles about my ability...or lack thereof...to speak Spanish) and the food was to die for. Our package included daily breakfast which, to our pleasant surprise, was a full-blown cooked to order breakfast, not some measly continental nothing.

The rooms we stayed in (Junior Suite) were nothing to write home about. The beds were a bit stiff, but not unbearable, and WiFi was only available in the lobby, though that prevented us from just sitting in our room on our iPads all day. All in all, though, that's all I can think to complain about...so that's saying something!

The view was ASTONISHING. The hike was fun and educational and the "town" and lake are just a short drive away.

If you're planning a trip to Arenal and value service, location, actives, and delicious food, make this your place to stay. If you just want to sit in your room on a plush bed watching movies all day...well, don't waste your time and money being in beautiful Costa Rica.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank soarwiththeeagles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2013

Over the years, we have stayed at the Arenal Lodge many times. We've sadly witnessed it deteriorate from simply being outdated to total disrepair. On our recent visit, we were pleasantly surprised to learn the original owners have taken back the management of the facility, and extensive renovations were underway. Victoria is doing a great job overseeing the improvements. Much has already been done and there's more to come. Even the menu is getting a facelift. Yeah!
There really isn't any other place in the Arenal area that can give a guest so much bang for the buck. This 2,000 acre property offers an astounding view of Arenal volcano. It has it's own jungle w/hiking trails, gardens, small gym, horses, open pastures, pool, hot tubs, wildlife galore and Miguel, their resident naturalist guide. Tourists will be hard pressed to find another hotel/inn that offers guests free horse back riding and free hikes w/giude. The on site butterfly house has been repaired and was again full of flying jewels. Delightful.
If it's glitz and glamor you're looking for, this place is not for you. From all appearances, it seems the overall nature of the lodge will be preserved. Somewhat rustic and comfortable.
Yes, the driveway is an adventure, but so are many of Costa Rica's roads. Unlike most auxillary roads / driveways, this driveway is well paved. It's curvy and steep, but that's the trade off for staying away from the Fortuna bustle & noise. The most commotion you'll have here is from the night time frogs and howler monkeys during the day.
If you are visiting C.R. for the nature and adventure this is a great place to consider.
Victoria - Thank you.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank gngc1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GutiMau, General Manager at Arenal Lodge, responded to this review, November 13, 2013
Thank you for your kind words!
We are very glad that you have come again and again to visit our beautiful paradise! yes, you are right, renovations are in process and we will soon have the Arenal Lodge of the Golden years but better, we are improving all the facilities and atractions and activities.
We have much love for this place and it will soon be a paradise in paradise!
Hope to see you next year!!
Your friends
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arlington, Texas, United States
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2013

This hotel sits on a 2000 acre former ranching property on a hillside overlooking Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed by the professional, courteous, and (not always common in Costa Rica) extremely well-organized staff.
We spent three days here, in one of the Chalet-style cottages pictured at the top of this page. The views of the volcano are stunning. The restaurant offers local and "gringo" dishes that never disappointed, and you can see a huge variety of birds right on the terrace. The hotel made everything we wanted to do easy. Right in the lobby is a desk for Jacomar Tours, staffed by Jesse the amazing lady who arranged several tours for us (volcano/hot springs, Hanging Bridges rain forest excursion, white-water rafting). All of these were excellent, on-time, and with very knowledgeable guides. If you want a vacation where everything just works, you can't go wrong here. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Robert v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GutiMau, General Manager at Arenal Lodge, responded to this review, November 23, 2013
Hola amigos, saludos desde Arenal Lodge

We are so grateful for your nice comments!! Thank you very much for stopping by to tell us about your experience while staying at Arenal Lodge. It makes us happy and and more commited to do a good job so that more people like you can come and enjoy the natural wonders that this wonderful area has to offer.
Again, thank you much and hope to see you soon in the near future!!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 29, 2013

A bit dated but an incredible place. The grounds are amazing - such an array of wildlife and plants - things we've never seen and were amazed by. Most incredible was the up-close-and-personal view of the volcano right from our hotel room.

The 2+ hour nature tour was fantastic. The guide was knowledgeable, funny, entertaining, and great with our "little scientist" who stayed close to him and asked him questions for the entire 2 hours. Truly a highlight of our trip. He knew the locale and even had animals respond to his call! He showed us a tarantula's home, and then somehow got the tarantula to come out! A toad also came out when called.

The gorgeous hike included the Lodge's butterfly garden. The hotel provided a helpful map of the grounds and we did additional tours on our own. Great restaurant, neat playground for the kids, great "hang out" spaces. Truly a special place. Just be prepared for the crazy driveway with lots of twists and turns. Not for the meek - especially not at night!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Billy700
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GutiMau, General Manager at Arenal Lodge, responded to this review, December 28, 2013
Thank you dear friends!

It is with great pleasure that we receive your kind comments. We are glad you had a beautiful stay in Arenal Lodge, that is our main goal as a team effort of all the staff working here.
Miguel, our tour guide, definitely is a great guide, very knowledgeable of the local flora and fauna. Thank you for your kind comments, they help us motivate to keep doing our best!!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level Contributor
83 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2013

Felt right at home right away. It might be a bit outdated but didn't bother us at all. You get more than you pay for. Loved the breakfast every morning and the service. Rooms are very spacious. Birdwatching is great from your room's balcony. Lots of frogs to spot all around the property. Horseback riding was included and was a heap of fun. We hope to go back in the future.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank jetkaiser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Asheville, North Carolina
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2013

This was a first for me. I have never booked a vacation of this magnitude away from the beach (I'm a beach girl living in the mountains of NC). I was a little anxious about splitting my precious time with the ocean with the mountains. I AM SO GLAD I DID. All I have to say is, Wow. The website does not even begin to do this lodge justice. Set on thousands of acres of nature and beauty, Arenal Observatory Lodge gave us much more than we had expected. We went in mid-late May and had the time of our lives (don't worry about "rainy season"-it only rained maybe twice and it was for a brief period, then the sun came back out).

As you slowly wind up the well kept, bumpy brick road, you get the feeling that you are going back in time to a simpler place. The jungle and mountains are all around you. Birds flitter back and forth and fill the air with their songs. Upon pulling up to the lobby, you are greeted with smiles and fresh guava juice. It is anything but rustic.

The Chalet room was simple, yet romantic with the view alone being worth the trip. THE VIEWS ARE TRULY BREATHTAKING. Down in the valleys, the horses roam in their pasture. Arenal and the lake materialize as the clouds dissipate. You can see for miles. Birds of every color sing you good morning songs. A clean, roomy shower, kitchenette and sitting area made it feel like a little home. Laundry service and a free safe are at your disposal as well, not to mention the gym, swimming pool, and jacuzzis (yes, plural). There was no air conditioning, but we wouldn't have used it even if there was. The cool, refreshing breeze in constantly blowing.

While the room was enough to make you want to stay in bed and stare out the window all day, there is a wealth of excitement to be had. Guided jungle hikes and horseback rides are HIGHLY recommended. Miguel, our guide, has been with the lodge for 10 years. Accommodating and well educated, you will appreciate every moment you spend with him. Not to mention, you will learn about history, culture, botany, zoology, bush medicine, and much more. At night, head down to the bar for a couple of drinks, game of pool, or good conversation with the staff and guests.

If you get antsy and want to be in civilization, La Fortuna is only about 10 mins away. We went to a couple of the local sodas (diner restaurants) for some of our meals. Arenal Lodge's food is good, but we were looking for more authentic culinary experiences (the lodge caters to the American palate). In town was also a little bit cheaper.

If you are looking for a taste of Pura Vida you must visit the Arenal Observatory Lodge. I cannot begin to praise it enough. We will definitely be back. THANK YOU FOR A VISIT THAT CHANGED MY LIFE!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank MarlouBaldelli
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this review, June 3, 2013
Hi MarlouBardelli! We are so happy that you had an amazing time at Arenal Lodge. It looks like you got some breathtaking pictures of the mystical volcano from the chalet. You'll be happy to hear that we'll be introducing a brand new menu in the next month or so that not only features Costa Rican staples but also includes many "fusion" dishes that incorporate unique local ingredients into our favorite international dishes in delicious and innovative ways, such as filet mignon in a pejibaye cream. I actually just learned that the English word for pejibaye is "palm peach" and comes from the same plant as heart of palm. We have a small plantation of this palm for our guests to see, maybe you saw them if Miguel took you on the horseback riding tour down the path that leaves from the pool area. Thank you for your candid comments and we look forward to this future visit of yours!
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Additional Information about Arenal Lodge

Property: Arenal Lodge
Address: 200 meters NW from the Arenal Lake dam, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 1250, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#13 Spa Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Arenal Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 46
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Arenal Lodge provides guests with the excitement of staying in an authentic rainforest lodge with breathtaking panoramic views of Costa Rica’s famous Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Guests will enjoy a casual and relaxed rustic lodge setting with the added value of a complimentary breakfast daily. Located on 2000-acres of beautiful tropical rainforest, the lodge is situated near Arenal Volcano National Park. The lodge is surrounded by rainforest - housing hundreds of exotic birds, small animals and the beautiful tropical flowers and trees of Costa Rica. and is its own local tourist attraction due to its exclusive location with breathtaking panoramic views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. The lodge features a full service restaurant with local and international cuisine, gift shop, three heated outdoor Jacuzzis, an infinite edge swimming pool, walking trails, a butterfly garden, horseback riding, a game room and outdoor playground for children, fitness room, sauna, and free wireless high speed internet access. Guest rooms and suites feature cable TV, telephone, coffee maker, clock radio, and all have private baths. Complimentary crib and wheel chair are available on request. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Lodge Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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