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Reviewed August 23, 2019

I didn’t want to leave! We stayed in La Casona which has shared bathrooms, and these were kept very clean and were enough for the rooms using them. It’s also next to a small lookout tower perfect for easy birding in the garden and trees nearby.

The hotel staff service was excellent, we had a small hiccup with keys not working and they sorted it right away and gave us an extra key in case needed.

The hot tub is great, as us the pool, and the walking trails are wonderful! We also booked rafting, a volcano walk and birding through the lodge and all were superb. Special shout out to our bird guide Nestor who was an excellent guide showing us 30 species on the property in two hours!

Things to note:

La Casona is a 500m walk up a steep hill to the main lodge. They can pick you up by van if mobility is an issue, a free phone is there to call anytime for a ride! but it’s worth flagging for older or differently abled travellers so they know what to expect. Another option if course is to get a room in the main lodge - these cost more but also have en suite bathrooms :)

Also, the lodge adds about 25min drive time to get other places in La Fortuna area, part of this is via a dirt road. The road is okay for a dirt road and they do maintain it, but in the rainier season proper (sept-Nov) I’d definitely get a four wheel drive. They can organise transfers from airports and to activities but some places charge extra for AOL (same for Springs Resort) so it’s better to rent a car if you can for extra freedom.

None of that was a problem for us bc we LOVED exploring the resort which has some of the best hiking, wildlife watching and birding in the area anyways to be honest, but useful to know if your plans are more centred on Fortuna activities that would add more driving to your days. We went to Fortuna twice in the five days for activities and found that to be enough for us.

Date of stay: August 2019
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Thank etoilestrella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
austina889, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2019

Hola etoilestrella,

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed review regarding your recent stay with us. We are delighted o read that you enjoyed everything about your stay.

We are happy that our staff was able to quickly resolve the issue involving your room key and we hope you remember us should you decide to return to Costa Rica in the future. We would love you have you back.

Best wishes and pura vida!

Austin G.
Public Relations Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2019

We had a fantastic time, the 4 of us staying 3 nights in a (good sized) standard room. We enjoyed exploring the trails and climbing the nest tower, where being at eye level with the spider monkeys was a definite highlight! Great to chat to the friendly guide at the base of the tower for a while. Loved the frog pond too!
The biggest place we stayed at by far, in terms of number of guests staying, but wandering the trails we hardly saw a soul, just plenty of wildlife, which was perfect for us. The pool & jacuzzi were empty when we went too!
Food was fine for us with a big portion size. Yes you paid a premium to eat there but we were ok with that, we wanted to have some travel free days and found plenty of places to explore within the extensive grounds.
Even the volcano came completely out for us - we were lucky indeed!

Date of stay: August 2019
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank JJBTP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2019

This was my second stay at AOL. I arrived to find that my standard room was not in the main area by the dining room, but about a ten minute walk downhill at the Casona Area. To avoid the walk, I was offered the alternative of calling for transportation whenever I wanted to reach the main campus. When I let the check-in clerk, Karla, see my chagrin, she worked hard to find an alternative, and before long she had me in an excellent room (#4) which directly overlooked the bird feeders, volcano, etc. It changed my stay from disaster into delight.
Although not great weather, I enjoyed excellent birding, and the views from the new tower The Nest.
My only negative experience was in the restaurant where my order for a Hearts of Palm Risotto resulted in a dish so inedible that I actually returned it to the chef (a lifetime first for me) One of the dining room staff apologized for it the next day (although he maintained that he had tasted it and felt it was as intended). My advice, if you want to taste the hearts of palm, cheese, and wine this dish was said to contain, have a very high tolerance for the salt that totally dominated any possible flavors.
I also had issues with the breakfast to go I ordered due to my early departure time. I gave in a specific order the night before which the dining room staff person wrote down. However, when I went to pick it up the next morning, the person there did not have the order, although he was quick to put together what I asked for in time for my shuttle departure.
The dining room did produce a good breakfast buffet, but as other reviewers have said, if you have transportation, look for other dining options in the area for your other meals.

Room tip: If you want a standard room, make sure request one in the main building not down the road in Casona.
Date of stay: August 2019
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank CtFreddie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
austina889, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2019

Hello CtFreddie,

Thank you very much for taking the time to review your recent stay with us and for providing us with some constructive comments to help us improve on the services we offer.

We are delighted to read that you enjoyed the vast majority of the aspects of your stay and we are honored by your 4-out-of-5 review. We are happy to read that Karla was able to prevent a near disaster and that you enjoyed your room. With that said, we are sorry that your experience at our restaurant did not exceed your expectations and therefore the expectations we set for ourselves.

A couple of years ago we revamped our menu after not having changed it for nearly ten years. The results have been positive and client feedback regarding our food offerings has greatly improved. With that said, we recognize the importance of continuous improvement and rely on feedback like yours to continue to adjust our menu. For the upcoming year, we hope to add several new dishes to the menu, most of which will focus on using local ingredients to create refreshing plates for healthy lifestyles. We hope you will have the opportunity to return and experience these changes for yourself.

Thanks again for your feedback and for choosing to stay with us.

Austin G.
Public Relations Manager

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Reviewed August 16, 2019 via mobile

We were 5 adults and 6 kids aged 1.5 to 6 years old. We walked down to the waterfall and then took the red trail all around. Except for the walk to the waterfall almost everything was stroller accessible. We saw some great birds, tons of butterflies beautiful rainbow eucalyptus trees and generally had a great day, even though it was raining. Definitely recommend!

Date of stay: August 2019
Trip type: Traveled with family
Thank ADPhello
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 15, 2019 via mobile

We LOVED this! It was a great value for $12 for a day pass. Over 7 km of hiking trails, lookout points, waterfalls, great view of the volcano. It’s a beautifully kept facility. We also enjoyed lunch there!

Date of stay: August 2019
Trip type: Traveled with friends
Thank anneliserd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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