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“Great location for hiking”

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
Reviewed February 2, 2013

The bad: The hotel was right at the base of the volcano and therefore in the middle of nowhere and a $30 cab ride (each way) away from La Fortuna, where everything is centered. The tours offered do not include transportation. The food was decent and ok price for a hotel. The rooms
The good: The volcano view room was wonderful. Waking up to views of the volcano through our picture window each morning was incredible. Theres lots of privacy, even where we were located on the ground floor. The grounds are amazing and in reality, if you're there for the volcano, you don't need tours because all the volcano centered trails you need are on the grounds already, such as: old lava trail (marked as difficult but i would say if you go slow you'll be fine) and cerro chato (marked as difficult but I would say extremely difficult and when (if) you get to the top and want to see the lake go right, not left). They feed the birds right outside the restaurant so there's some great views of many Montezuma Opendola and sometimes Kiskadee and others. There's tons of Coati that roam around and sometimes come on the deck looking for scraps.
All in all, rated a 4 because the location is not perfect if you want to do anything off the grounds.

Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Starloverly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 28, 2013

The facilities itself could have used an update, but we were fine with them considering this wasn't the spa type leg of the trip. It has everything you need for hiking trip. Staff was friendly. Location can't be beat!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank chris917
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 27, 2013

Let me start by saying that this was one of the best experiences I've had at any hotel - primarily because of the property - the staff was also excellent. I stayed there after spending a day hiking around the volcano and enjoying the hot springs. My two hour hike brought me and my family to a beautiful view of the volcano. My two minute walk to my room in the Smithsonian wing brought me to a view of the volcano that literally took my breath away. Enjoy the property - suspension bridges, waterfall, amazing views... good food and drinks. OK - the negatives if you can call it that - this is not a base from which to take day trips (hot springs, zip lining, white water rafting) as it is hard to get on and off the property due to unpaved roads. Do that stuff from somewhere along the main strip around La Fortuna. I shouldn't have to say this but here it goes - when i rate this a 5 it does not mean it is a 5 star hotel as in the standard ratings - so don't count the tread count on your sheets. Also I understand that I was lucky to be there when the sky was crystal clear.

Room Tip: I stayed in the Smithsonian wing - spectacular views of he volcano!!!
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Jerry S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 27, 2013

This is an excellent hotel for anyone that wants to see the pristine rainforests up close. The entrance to the rooms faces directly into the wilderness and the patios offer amazing views of both Arenal volcano and lake. There are plenty of hiking trails in the area that are populated with all kinds of tropical birds and other wildlife, such as jungle racoons. Definitely recommended for birdwatchers and other nature enthusiasts, as well as anyone who wants to take a secluded walk in the rainforest. I loved that one of the trails actually leads to the pool/jacuzzi area and requires you to cross a hanging bridge!

The WiFi in the lobby is pretty decent and the breakfast included in the price is delicious. However, a few of the rooms are separate from the main hub and require a bit of an uphill trek to access the facilities. There's really very little negative I can say about the hotel, but if I had to point something out I would say that rooms have a bit of an unusual odor to them and that ants found their way inside, and the jacuzzi was not all that hot. All of these points are pretty minor and did not interfere with my stay, overall I had a wonderful experience and would recommend it to anyone.

Room Tip: Make sure to get the rooms that are by the restaurant and the lobby Rooms located above the lobby c...
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Stanislav S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 22, 2013

A fantastic experience. Beautiful homely lodge and the best way to experience arenal volcano up close and personal. I visited just before the volcano went into resting state. We could hear it rumbling all through the night like thunder and were lucky to see it overflowing with lava on our last day. Amazing view from the hottub area. Food is good and rooms basic but nice. You stay here to experience the volcano and the surrounding area , not for the luxury so you wouldn't be in your room for long. This lodge is the closest to the volcano and nearby sites such as la fortuna waterfalls and the several walking trails nearby and river cruises. La fortuna is a lovely quaint town to visit. tobacan hot springs is defiantly worth a visit too - absolutely stunning. from the lodge be careful to listen out for the howler monkeys during breakfast, not that u can miss them, they echo through the forest! Staff are great and direct you to surrounding sites and trails. This beautiful lodge is a must if going to costa rica. I would return again even with arenal volcano in resting state, one of the most memorable trips of my life.

Room Tip: Most rooms have a view of the forest or volcano
  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Rosh7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2013

We stayed here for two nights in a Smithsonian room with a view of the volcano. Unfortunately we only had peeks of the volcano as the fog was very prevalent, but the gardens and grounds of the hotel were a nice view regardless. The have several trails right on the grounds, one goes to a waterfall which is worth the trip. They also have a couple hanging bridges on the grounds, where we caught monkeys jumping back and forth from vine to vine. They played for quite a bit.

One hike is not for the faint of heart which was up to Cerro Chato. It was muddy, slippery, and the trails were at many times pulling yourself up by roots and not trails at all. It took us four hours total, and again with the fog the views were limited. It is a bit deceiving too as there are only signs saying "Cerro Chato" on the way up, and none with distances... so you really have no idea how far away you are from the peak. Once you get to the peak, there is another 20 minute hike down to get to the lake which is really the destination of the hike. This hike is even harder than the first, and would not be recommended for someone not in good physical condition. The overall hike might be best with a guide, or done earlier in the day... keep in mind the dense trees made this area pretty dark starting around 4 pm. It would be best to be done by 4 or earlier. Bring water, and good hiking shoes you don't mind getting filthy. We did swim in the lake just out 15 feet or so, as it is very deep, cold, and with limited visibility you should be extra cautious.

The pool is nice, but cool. Refreshing for a really hot day, the adjoining hot tub was nice. Because the hotel is a good 15 minute drive to the main road (a rough drive) we did eat at the hotel restaurant twice. Once the first day we were starving and had a decent cheeseburger and fries, and another night. The food overpriced, and nothing special, but convenient to avoid the drive back to town. The view from the restaurant is very pretty, even with the pretty constant fog. The bar is open until about 10, but they were more than willing to sell extra beverages and provide an ice bucket so we could enjoy the evening in our room after close.

The front desk staff was very helpful, and helped us arrange an excursion. This is a nice place to stay with families or with couples, many options for families on site, and lots of adventures in the area nearby.

Room Tip: Smithsonian rooms were worth the price, and even with fog the view of the grounds is pretty.
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank TravelingBrianandKim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2013

We spent 4 nights here and stayed in one of the standard rooms on the second floor of the main lodge with a view of the volcano. An unexpected plus was having wireless internet available- apparently the wireless network in the lounge area downstairs from us was strong enough to cover our room. The property itself was beautiful and there were several well marked trails that roam throughout the area surrounding the lodge buildings. Take advantage of the daily walking tour that covers many of the trails, including one that leads to an impressive waterfall. You may be lucky to spot some monkeys in the upper limbs of the trees but you'll need to look hard to see them. Word of caution: while taking a walk with my wife we had the rather unpleasant surprise of meeting a wild boar who wasn't pleased to see us. Walk calmly, don't run away. If you like horseback riding the lodge offers the chance of exploring the property aboard a nice calm horse with a fantastic guide named Herman. For $10 per hour it can't be beat. The food is pretty good and the free breakfast is decent. Prices for lunch and dinner are not too bad, especially when you consider that it will cost you $60 to go into LaFortuna and back to eat at a local place. If that's not enough to deter you, maybe the long, incredibly bumpy ride will. The only major problem we encountered here was on our last night when a large private party was held in the restaurant that is located next to the main building. The party was extremely loud and ended after the office closed, thus the partiers were able to congregate right outside our window well into the night.

Room Tip: Standard room with volcano view seems to be best value; paying extra for Smithsonian Room doesn'...
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Mike M
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 76 Specialty Lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range: $119 - $172 (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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