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“Good value for day pass”

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
Reviewed July 3, 2013

We did not stay at the hotel, but bought a day pass ($8 for adults). It was a very nice property with several hikes of varying difficulty. It was a good sort of "intro" to hiking in Costa Rica since there were so many amenities on the property. We saw howler monkeys, some amazing birds, played in a crystal clear river, and saw a great waterfall. We also took a dip in the pool (which may or may not have really been included in our pass). Lunch in the restaurant was fine with a great view. Recommended.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Lesley K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 1, 2013

We stayed here for one night. The view of Arenal Volcano was amazing and the closest view compared to any of the other hotels. It is a little bit of a drive off the main road to get to the hotel, but not too bad. There are quite a few hiking trails, and all trails are accessible from the hotel. Two trails we enjoyed were to a waterfall and another trail which is a little difficult hike to a crater lake (Cerro Chato). The hotel is nice and clean but has no air conditioning. Our room smelled musty when we first went in so we had to leave the doors open to air it out. It was also pretty humid and hot when we were there and the fan just didn't cut it at night. The food at the restaurant isn't anything amazing, but it wasn't too bad since we were only there for a night. The breakfast buffet had fruits, eggs, rice, beans, pancakes, and toast. The staff were friendly and helpful. While I wasn't crazy about the hotel or the restaurant I would recommend staying here at least one night just for the scenery surrounding the hotel and the hiking trails.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank dee p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2013

We booked this based on other Tripadvisor reviews only - and we could not be more pleased. It's the most gorgeous place - truly top notch rooms, staff, facilities, and more. Don't miss the fantastic nature tours! Our 3 hour tour included howler monkeys, a Tarzan-like swing, and a waterfall! The guide was fantastic - kept our 9 and 11 year olds engaged, while answering thousands of their questions.

We contacted the Lodge online and staff were responsive and helpful. Yes, it's quite a drive on a dirt road, but that adds to the adventure! Grounds and rooms were immaculate. If you're interested, reserve in advance - the Lodge is popular and for good reason!!! Without question, the most amazing place we've ever stayed at.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Billy700
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2013

We have to rate this place as a 4 out of 5 because of the view of Arenal volcano. When weather conditions are good, the view of the volcano is fantastic.

Some things that might be important to many travelers; first of all, the drive to the hotel from the main highway is pretty long and rough. It does kind of put a damper on going back to Fortuna for meals, which you might want to do. This is because the restaurant isn't (in our opinion) really all that good. Food was only fair, service very slow and less than polite. Breakfast is OK, so we decided the way to go was to have breakfast at the lodge, then bite the bullet and drive that bumpy road back to fortuna for a late lunch or an early dinner.

The rooms are pretty good. We recommend requesting a room with volcano view patio.

One thing that many people don't seem to realize is that you can only see the Volcano part of the time, and it's definitely possible to stay for several days without seeing anything but fog. Just something to be kept in mind, certainly not the fault of the hotel. Actually, when we were last there, the volcano was quiet, no activity. But it's spectacular nevertheless.

We would suggest looking at other possibilities for lodging around the volcano, but if you're interested in the best view, this place may well have it.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank HRG903
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2013

We were so happy and impressed with the Lodge. We had a long drive from our previous location to Arenal but it was sooo worth it!! The property was incredibily beautiful and amazing. Stefan at the front desk was soo helpful and had the best personality. He had the best recommendations for us. So glad that we drove the mountain roads to the Lodge...can not stress how worth it, it was. The view in the room was incredible. A great breakfast buffet was included in our stay. Highly recommend.

Room Tip: Room with a view of volcano
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tara H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2013

Our stay at one of the chalets was grand! The inactive volcano was directly across from our room. A beautiful parrot even landed on our roof and stayed awhile! The grounds were immaculate and beautiful with lovely flowers and shrubs. The complimentary breakfast was quite nice and filling. Miguel took us on a free tour around the property where we saw monkeys, a yellow viper, butterflies, and my personal favorite, a beautiful red eyed tree frog. Everyone was friendly and eager to please. I would love to return to this paradise!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Susan T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 16, 2013

During our trip to Costa Rica, we tried to find off the beaten path places, avoid tourism and definitely avoid the big hotel chains. This is what led me to choose the Observatory Lodge. While this was certainly off the beaten path (a few miles of bumpy dirt road counts right?) the size of the lodging and the amount of tourism killed the experience for me.

I had thought that this place was larger and spread out and did not have a ton of rooms. Wrong. It was basically a motel with a really nice lodge. Even the villas seem to be closer than depicted on the illustrated map.

The property is gorgeous but the view was often ruined by really obnoxious tourists. It was simply crowded. We went on one guided hike and bailed after a failed attempt to take a picture of the nearby waterfall (because an old hairy guy striped down to his undies and jumped in, nobody wants to see that let alone have a picture as a keepsake).

There were a lot of families so forget about spending quiet time at the pool.

The restaurant was cheap but not really good.

The water is not safe to drink - don't you dare believe them when they tell you it is! My friend was sick for a month after staying there.

Rooms were small but clean enough. We had a small private patio but couldn't really enjoy it due to the noise (it overhung a main walkway).


All of that said, it is still better than the big resorts that we visited during our stay. I would recommend this place but with a few tips:
- Do not go on any organized hikes, they have too many people, they move slow, and are really just not enjoyable. Instead, hike around the property on your own. There are marked trails that range from easy to quite difficult.
- The office will help you organize activities off site. I found that these were much smaller groups and a much better experience. We did an ATV ride in La Fortuna and there was only one other couple. We did a horse back ride (fun even in the rain) down to La Fortuna waterfall and that was only us and a small family. And we of course did a spa day, got massages and a hot spring (also was fun even in the rain).
- Do not stay in the main lodge, perhaps the Smithsonian or other villas would have been more of the secluded experience we were looking for?
- Rent a car as everything is a bit of a hike to get in and out of this place. When you leave, pack a lunch and plan to not make the trek back to the hotel until you are done for the day since it is so far out of the way.
- Get up early to bird watch and hike. At 5 AM it is perfectly quiet (other than the monkeys) and doesn't really pick up until after 8. This also let's you get some clear shots of the volcano and more time in before the afternoon rain starts.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank TianaRutledge
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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