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“Wowed by natural surroundings”

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Wowed by natural surroundings”
Reviewed July 26, 2012

We stayed only one night at the Arenal Observatory lodge, and I wish we would have stayed longer. The rooms were very basic, but clean. Not much water pressure in the shower but I guess that's to be expected with an eco-friendly hotel. The grounds of the hotel were amazing! In our first 10 minutes we saw a coati, howler monkey, and numerous birds. We walked all around the property out to the waterfall and small hanging bride on the property- it was a beautiful short walk. The volcano towers over the resort, and even though we never got to see the top it was breathtaking. Hot hot tubs & pool were great. Breakfast was included in the price and was delicious and expansive. Downside was the resort was a long way from La Fortuna (about 20 minutes drive) over a very bumpy dirt road.
More details here: http://tobeconsumed.com/tag/arenal/

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank h2ogoddess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Herndon, Virginia
Level Contributor
16 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed July 26, 2012

Yes, as one of the reviewers said, Volcan Arenal has decided to take a break from spewing forth ash and lava for some time. But one cannot blame the Lodge for that, nor fault it for not making that obvious on their website. The circumstances with Arenal can change at a moment's notice. That said, the lack of activity will detract from one's stay at the Lodge. We stayed in a Smithsonian, which was clean, nicely appointed, and appropriately rustic (no phone, no TV, no AC [but temp is normally comfy and there is a ceiling fan). The weather was crappy and fog obscured the volcano for most of our time there. I suggest you set your alarm for 5 am or so to get the most reliable look at Arenal. It is an awesome sight, especially from the Smithsonian rooms. The grounds are well maintained and they offer guided hikes and horse rides (they do; don't let any of the staff try to steer you to their buddies that charge a lot for rides in La Fortuna, insist on doing the local ride). The free breakfast was average. The trail there, 13 KM long, is rough but taking such roads is honestly part of the charm of CR. One key thing to note: if you want to benefit from the great hot springs around Arenal, the Lodge doesn't have any; they will set you up at one of the other resorts, however. Overall a nice place to stay, even if Arenal is not active, with that and other caveats in mind

Room Tip: The slightly higher price for the Smithsonian rooms is worth it!
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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1 Thank gglammi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level Contributor
24 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed July 21, 2012

The Rooms are clean and Basic, The Restaurant is excellent if a little over priced. The views, hiking trails are just fantastic, there is great horse back riding too. If you want to get close to Volcano, this is the closes you can get.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank S0larw0rks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naples, Florida
Level Contributor
25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed July 19, 2012

My husband and I stayed two nights in a Smithsonian room at the Observatory Lodge and loved it. The room was clean, big, and the view was breath taking to say the least. The grounds are beautiful and full of wild life. From our bedroom balcony we had a view of the volcano and we saw monkeys, toucans, and humming birds just to name a few . The restaurant at the lodge has a delicious breakfast buffet that is included with your stay with amazing views of the volcano. We ate dinner at the restaurant the two nights and the food was excellent. The staff at the lodge and at the restaurant were extremely friendly and attentive. You will not be disappointed with your stay.

Room Tip: Pay the extra money and stay in a Smithsonian room....totally worth it.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank angie v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canton, North Carolina
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed July 19, 2012

We were disappointed to find that the volcano is not currently active. That is the entire reason we went to all the trouble of getting up their long road that is in horrible condition and paid more for a room than any other place we stayed in the country. There is nothing on their website in regards to this important information and, it wasn't in the 2012 Fodor's Costa Rica Guidebook. The grounds are lovely and the pool/hot tub area is very well designed and clean.
We were surprised that while laying in the sunshine relaxing in the peace and quiet a staff person cranked up a LOUD smelly power washer to wash the rocks surrounding the pool. We had to ask him to stop, can you imagine thinking that is approprriate when you have a pool full of guests enjoying the quiet? The breakfast was very good but as par for the course in Costa Rica, the rest of the food was overpriced and mediocre. The rooms are very nice and have a safe but be aware that there is no air conditioning. It is a very nice place and the prices would have been acceptable if we could have experienced lava flow as we were expecting. We were told that the volcano has been dormant since 2010.

Room Tip: The Smithsonian Rooms are the best but of course, since the volcano is dormant, you do not need to s...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank KathyEOlsen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matagalpa, Nicaragua
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed July 18, 2012

A couple of friends and I stayed here and split the cost of a 2 queen-bed room, so the price was pretty reasonable per person. Staying here included a free pass to the park (you are already in the park) and a guided tour in the morning. The morning we went the tour was to a nearby waterfall. There is a hike that goes straight towards the volcano called Old Lava or something like that and you can get an even closer view of the volcano and see some spots where lava flowed through the forest. The path is very overgrown but very pretty and green. I believe that the hotel recommends you not do it as it is very overgrown, but if you are an avid hiker, it shouldn't be a problem for you.

The rooms are very nice and very clean. Try to get one on the second floor, as they have a nice patio that overlooks the volcano. There is a large patio outside of the main restaurant area with great views of the volcano and the lake. The pool and jacuzzi are a little farther away and are across a little swinging bridge in a nice relaxing area, again with a view of the volcano. There seem to be rooms strewn across the property, but I can only comment on the ones close to the reception area. The food was good for both breakfast and dinner, didn't have lunch. Observatory lodge is a wonderfully relaxing spot with beautiful views. Definitely worth making it a part of your Costa Rica trip!

Room Tip: Get a room facing the volcano and preferably one one the second floor, as the rooms are much taller.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank OldThrashburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
46 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed July 15, 2012

We spent 3 night here as part of a family adventure trip, and the hotel is located at the base of the Arenal Volcano and is the onlu hotle actually in the national park. The grounds are beautiful with lots of opportunity to see mankeys, etc, especially if you get up early and walk around the property. Our room was adequate and had a full view of the volcano. We also enjoyed all the activities we did there - ziplining, canyoning, horseback riding, visiting the hot springs, hiking. The room included a full breakfast and an adequate dinner.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with an unobstructed view of the volcano in the main lodge area.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Bungymax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Property: Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Address: 23 Km West of La Fortuna City Center, Located at the Base of the Arenal Volcano | Main Road to Arenal National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 68 Specialty Lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa 3*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated only 1.7 Miles from the majestic Arenal Volcano and with a spectacular view of Lake Arenal, the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) offers guests the opportunity to DISCOVER, EXPLORE and RELAX. Located within the Arenal Conservation Area and surrounded by rainforests and nature, AOL sits on an 870 acres property, which consists of 400 acres of reforestation, 270 acres of natural forest and 200 acres of cultivated land. The hotel offers 48 comfortable rooms surrounded by gardens, the majority with a direct view of the volcano and/or the forest. The 7 miles of well-maintained trails for walking, horseback riding or biking running through the property provide good opportunities to observe a variety of flora and fauna. Approximately 500 species of birds live in the area making AOL a preferred destination for bird watchers. Activities at the hotel include hikes to the waterfall or to explore Cerro Chato (an extinct volcano with a small lake in the crater), horseback riding, bicycling through the trails, enjoying a refreshing swim in our pool, or simply relaxing with a massage in our SPA. The hotel is well located to serve as a base for a variety of excursions such as the Cano Negro Nature Refuge, hot springs, Venado Caves, Canopy Tours, Arenal Hanging Bridges, Fishing, White Water Rafting, Canyoning, Biking etc. It also serves as a very interesting stop before heading on to Monteverde Cloud Forest or to the beaches of the Pacific coast. Arenal Observatory Lodge is the perfect place for adventure lovers, families, and honeymooners. With its spectacular location, great service, and friendly personnel you won't be disappointed ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Observatory Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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