If you like volcanos (real, active, huff-and-puff, rock-spewing, glow-in-the-night volcanos) Arenal is THE destination and the Observatory Lodge is THE place to stay!!
First, it is a bit off the beaten path, a 11 km drive past the park entrance - and so much worth it! Fortuna is nice, the hot springs at Tabacon are still close, but for a treat, forgo all the touristy stuff, all the Guide-book and all the tours and hit this place for a few days. The Lodge offers views of the Volcan and the lake that are unbelievable - from the rooms (at least the one we had - #7 - double bed, twin bunks, huge shower with loads of hot water - PLUS clean and bug-free - some other rooms probably had better views than ours) - as well as the restaurant. The pool is spectacular - we thought it might be the usual rectangular hotel-type pool, but no way - well-maintained, clean, not too riddled with chlorine and huge. The hot-tub/spa could seat a dozen comfortably and is equally clean and well-maintained. The grounds are one of the many "best parts" - plants labeled with signs so you know what you're looking at - several well-marked walking and hiking trails, the Smithsonian's instruments to measure volcanic activity and their musuem, tons of hummingbirds and butterflies - all this and so much more.
The staff is so helpful- from the guides to the front desk. We had super experiences in the restaurant for all meals - reasonable prices, a huge variety of great, plentiful, well-prepared food and prompt service. (If you stay here, breakfast is free and delicious! Don't miss the morning walk - filled with more information that one can remember about the area plants, geography and, of course, Arenal). Our waiter spent time entertaining our son with a walking stick he found on the veranda - sharing the attributes of the local flora and fauna with us. and helping us with our CR Spanish!
The best part was Arenal. When you look up active Volcanos in the dictionary, Arenal should pictured! She (I prefer to think of her as a fire-y tempered girl) sounds like a steam locomotive when she lets loose - not at all what all of us thought a volcano would sound like. The sight, sound and the power is unimaginable and impossible to put into words!
This was my daughter's favorite place (I think because of their pool); and my son's because of the howler monkeys and the big girl, Arenal, glowing red and blowing off steam all night. I liked their lending library, good food and views. My husband was just happy to find someplace he could watch CNN, on the tv by the bar and get a decent whiskey!
The Arenal Observatory Lodge is the closest you are going to get to the "real deal". There IS a reason The Smithsonian picked this site - and you'll know it too when you go.
If you want more information, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Enjoy!!
- 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