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“Piece of paradise”

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
Reviewed October 12, 2012

After going down and up a bumpy road you arrive at a wonderful place to view the lake and volcano. We were lucky to book the best room in the lodge with views of the volcano in front of us and the lake to the left right next to the observation deck. Incredible views, birds, plants cannot be described. The property has a wonderful hot tub, infinity pool and a waterfall which is a close hike by. We loved the free guided hike in the morning as you hiked down and got a ride back. The front desk and other staff members were also very well informed and helpful. We were only going to stay one night and wound up staying more. The rooms are simple and clean with everything one would need. The only thing I felt needed improvement was the restaurant. They really need a better menu as this place could revamp easily with better ingredients. We didnt want to drive to town so the only option was the restaurant at the lodge. I would definitely go back again and enjoy this beautiful piece of paradise.

Room Tip: Bring some food with you before you check in so you have some staples to eat.
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank GloriaLachica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 3, 2012

There are very few rooms on a large property, so it is a great place to “get away”, as opposed to the many choices in or near town. The drive out takes a while, but it is nice to be on an 800-acre property with its own trails.

The rooms aren’t fancy or very soundproof, but they are clean and the balconies are private, garden view is worth it, as there were always hummingbirds within a few feet. Other sightings included a coati, monkeys, toucans, parrots, oropendolas, and other animals, all from the covered balcony of my room. Room 17 is by the far the best on property; it is the end room in a building off by itself.

You can see a lot by just taking the trails very close to the rooms, but definitely do the free guided tour.

The food in the restaurant was good, and the service was always friendly and attentive.

Room Tip: Room 17 is the best, other rooms in this building are also good choices.
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  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank FLtourista
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2012

This is the one of the few places in CR that I wished we could have stayed longer. It's setting is spectacular and the surrounding gardens and walks even more so. This is a nature lovers paradise with a few luxuries like pool and spa thrown in. The gardens and walks are well laid out and you don't have to go anywhere else in the park to experience the wildlife up close. We saw some amazing things and on the longer walks had the whole place to ourselves.
My only gripe here was the seemingly "snooty" reception staff and a waiter and chef that clearly did not know what a curry is. My best tip is don't order anything with "curry sauce" and don't worry about having a "Volcano View" from your room. Sometimes it's partly obscured by clouds for weeks at a time and when it's not there are great views everywhere.. We stayed in the Smithsonian just because all other rooms were booked out. Nice bed and bathroom but it's only obvious advantage is it's very close to the restaurant. I liked the look of the accommodation closer to the pool better because of the garden setting. Breakfast was above average and dinner, although priced for a captive audience, was decent fare.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Gerhard7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2012

We visited last summer and found the hotel to be very disappointing despite many reviews to the contrary. The desk staff was unconcerned with our comfort or any of our requests. It took over an hour to even get towels for the pool. We were told to come back in 15 minutes several times and we had to walk back up to the desk area each time to check. Even though they told us that they were very sorry that the towels from the previous day had not been laundered, they wouldn't deliver them at the pool. We were also assured that we would be in the main lodge, but found ourselves to be in a small motel arrangement ten minutes walk away which only seemed popular with the ants - of which there were many. We were also told that our rooms had a wonderful view of the volcano. The view was wonderful, just not from our room. We'd heard about beautiful grounds - great for a hike, but no one was interested in helping us with that unless we purchased a walking tour. Breakfast was ok, passable, but uninspired, but a nice view outside the restaurant. Other meals were abysmal, even if they did get the order correct on the second or third tries. But they don't have to be good as you are a captive audience with town at least $30 away. Lots of shortfalls here, but the ultimate was our arrangement with the front desk for a wake-up call the last day and arranging for our ride to be let in. We got up early ourselves, but no ride appeared. We walked up to the hotel, but no one was there. This necessitated a very long walk to the front gate where we found our ride. The attendant told us that he had no word to let the vehicle in. Our ride to get to the boat to Tortuguero from here was very hectic and we arrived late, missing lunch there and just making it on the boat, which luckily was late. The volcano is beautiful and we had a wonderful hike one afternoon, but I would advise that visitors stay elsewhere. It was absolutely horrible.

Room Tip: If you must go, stay in the main lodge or the one by the pool.
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  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank Chelonian1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2012

We spent 2 nights here last summer (2011) and I still dream about it! In fact, I just signed up for Tripadvisor to review this and a couple other of our favorite hot spots in Costa Rica. By far, this is the one place we will return to. So much peace and adventure all in one location. We tend to love when WE can be the ones to pick what we want that day- adventure via a whitewater rafting or a hike along the trails and finding all that nature has to offer there. We will return someday!

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank hopin4atrip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2012

Booked this hotel because the location sounded appealing, and in fact it was. This was the best thing about the hotel. We went hiking on the grounds, and enjoyed some hanging bridges all without leaving the property. The pool was very nice, but unfortunately too cold to use. Service was a little obnoxious and clearly the front desk staff tries to rip off tourists. We stayed at La Casona, which we would not recommend. The room was quite clean, but decorated so disgustingly that we tried to stay out at all times. The mattresses and pillows were camp worthy, but not worthy of $130 a night !!The communal bathroom was not terribly clean, either. We did get a free stay, so customer service is good at this property. We might stay again, but never in La Casona!!

Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
3  Thank yadin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2012

So worth it to stay here just for the views and the hiking trails. We stayed in La Casona. The bed was not the most comfortable, but the room and shared restroom were clean and tidy. Our room had a view of the volcano that was great. Beware that people come down to the area to bird watch very early and they walk right by your windows. There are lots of birds to watch everywhere. I am not a bird enthusiast but staying here made me see how your could be.

The drive in to town in pretty long, mostly because there is a long dirt road back to the main road you have to go slower on. We went into town for dinner every night anyways.

The free guided tour of the grounds is a must do. Guides are very knowledgeable and a lot better than you will be at seeing wildlife.

We booked all excursions through the hotel the day before we or even day of very easily. The concierge guys have certain tour groups and hot springs they want you to go to but just tell them what you really want. For example they seem to have a poor relationship with Tabacon Hot Springs and really push you to book with Baldi instead...but they can book either for you from the hotel.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Jburd16
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

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 77 Specialty Lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range: $129 - $185 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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