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“Absolutely delightful! Genuine Costa Rica.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel La Garza

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Hotel La Garza
St. Paul, MN
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Absolutely delightful! Genuine Costa Rica.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2008

This place is gorgeous! It is a place that is out of the way and out of the tourist-trap atmosphere of La Fortuna. If you want a genuine Costa Rican experience, stay here! We were there in Nov. 08, and the only other guests were Costa Ricans. This is a place they go on vacation. The staff speak little English, but they try very hard. They treat you like family and will go way out of their way to please you.

Our favorite person there was the chef, Miguel. During the green season, he waits your table and cooks your meals; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. His food is amazing! I had the best pork chop I've ever had in my life and that is in no way an exaggeration. Same with his vanilla ice cream. It is a farm, so most of the food is made fresh right there. It is absolutely delicious. Miguel spoke very little English, and I speak very little Spanish, but we managed to have a few conversations. He is delightful.

The grounds are beautiful and isolated, with lots and lots of birds. The nights are quiet, with only the sounds of nature to lull you to sleep.

The rooms are nice but simple. People have complained about the pool and the showers in previous reviews, but they must have fixed those problems before we came because the pool was beautiful and clean and I had a hot shower every morning. The shower head is electric, and heats the water just before being released, so it helps not to have the water on full blast, so it heats up more before coming out. It gets hot if you let it. Another bonus is that with that system, you cannot run out of hot water; in fact the second person probably gets a hotter shower than the first because the shower head has heated up more.

One thing you should know, however, is that although they mention hiking trails on their internet site, we were not able to find any. You can walk around the grounds, which are beautiful, but there are no trails through the forest that we could find, and the staff did not know what we were talking about when we asked about trails.

The horseback ride that they offer is through their sugar cane fields on the rock roads they use to maintain the fields, not on trails, and you go along the jungle only for a short time, but not into it, except for the time where you get off the horse and walk through the forest to see the 600 year old strangler fig tree, which is massive and pretty cool. You are off the horse for about a half-hour, and then you turn around and ride back through the fields. The ride was kind of boring but the river crossing, which you have to do twice, was terrifying. We went at the end of the green season, so the river was high and fast. You cross on what might be a bridge during the dry season, but at that time it had water rushing over it at a very fast speed and about 1.5 feet deep. A person could not possibly have crossed and not been swept over into the rocks. The horses were having trouble crossing, because of the current, and because this bridge was made of concrete, which is slippery when wet. This "bridge" was sort of acting like a dam, because the water was lower on the downstream side of it, and there were boulders there, too, so if your horse lost its footing, I don't see how you would survive, because you would be swept over the edge into the rocks about 5 feet below by the horrendous current and be killed for sure. This thing had no side rails and was only about 8 feet wide. While crossing, you cannot see the upstream side of the bridge under the water rushing over, so you are just hoping and praying that your horse doesn't step off that edge either, because if it did, you would be dragged under the bridge by the current and be beat against the rocks on the other side of it until you were dead.

All in all, I loved the place and would not hesitate to go back, but I won't do that horseback ride again.

  • Liked — Scenery, atmosphere, quiet, food
  • Disliked — Horseback ride
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank NickHahn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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17 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Maine USA
Level Contributor
32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2008

Beautiful grounds, great breakfast, pleasant dairy farm, and very friendly staff but...
too far from town, beds hard as rock, a/c issues, TONS OF BUGS!!!
Pleasant but...

  • Stayed February 2007, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank alyssag
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2008

This hotel is a bit out of the way of the typical La Fortuna circuit, which didn't bother us at all--the grounds are gorgeous. We were almost the only people staying there at the time (we think there might have been one other couple), which made it very private, and given the enormous, lush property, that made for some very enjoyable times communing with the toucans, other assorted birds, and the very loud cicada-like insects at nighttime (really amazing--you must experience!). The bungalows are located very close to the riverbank (with a deck with a hammock), and you cross a hanging bridge over the river to get to the restaurant and other hotel facilities. We loved all that.

We liked the restaurant--we had two dinners there and one breakfast. The breakfast was the best we had in Costa Rica; the dinners were a bit hit and miss--but mostly a hit. The atmosphere in the cavernous, open-air restaurant was a bit creepy--in a good way. Bats flew in and out of the eaves while we dined. We also loved that (some might not).

We stayed in room #1 (three of us, in two double beds). It was a nice room, with air-conditioning we much appreciated, and a beautiful view of the river off the deck. Only down sides of the room were really bad pillows and one of those notorious Costa Rican "suicide" electrical showers. We had no problem with the latter, but be aware that the water is barely lukewarm. This wasn't a problem for us due to the heat. And the bathroom was huge! There was a phone but no TV or fridge.

The one big downside was that the pool and jacuzzi were completely unusable--both were littered with debris and clearly hadn't been cleaned in some time, and the jacuzzi wasn't operating. This was a bit disappointing since these things were featured so prominently on the hotel's Web site. Luckily for us, it wasn't all that crucial to us during the first two days of our trip, since we knew we would have plenty of time to lounge in pools later. If the pool is important to you, you might want to inquire. Otherwise, I think this place is a good value if you want to experience a tranquil, wildlife-filled environment, especially as a stopover between San Jose and the Arenal area. It was definitely the most serene place we stayed during our trip.

One last thing: I don't recommend this for anyone who has any limitations on their mobility. I sprained my ankle during our stay there (not at the hotel), and after that I had to remain in the hotel room while my friends fetched food from the restaurant, since I couldn't walk that far or cross the hanging bridge. Not a concern unless you have elderly or disabled people among your party. The staff was very accommodating.

  • Liked — The surroundings
  • Disliked — The pool
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LittleNosh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
69 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2008

Hotel is nice and grounds are pretty. Food is very good and staff very friendly and accomodating. Rooms are clean, but spartan, with no TV or telephone. Dial up Internet is available at the office.

  • Stayed February 2008
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank jclaman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2008

La Garza is a beautiful hotel located about 25 min outside of La Fortuna. The staff are great and the property is well maintained. There are many animals to be seen on the property, you just have to look. The rooms are basic, but clean. Breakfast is wonderful, typical Costa Rican, although they also have pancakes. Everyone in our group had a great experience and did not want to leave. The rooms were a bit pricey though (85/night plus tax). I guess that along with the distance to La Fortuna, would be the only downside. However if the hotel was closer to La Fortuna, it may not be as beautiful and tranquil.

  • Liked — property
  • Disliked — Price and distance from town
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank uclagrl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Johnsbury Vermont
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2006

Our stay at La Garza was far exceeded our expectations. This place is a working horse ranch complete with it's own dairy. The staff provided excellent service and given our inability to speak Spanish, they were very accommodating in their attempts at communicating with us in English. The rooms are clean and the grounds are very well tended to. The people who work there take a great deal of pride in everything they do, and it shows! This is a great place to take in and explore the beauty and culture of Costa Rica. Thanks to everyone at La Garza for creating such a special place!

  • Liked — The room was very open and light.
  • Disliked — The shower
  • Tips/Secrets — Take the time to really look at the amazing array of plants and animals that surround you here.
  • Stayed July 2006, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Libbety
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2006

We will second the positives being said on this place. The setting is beautiful, with gorgeous birds, butterflies, and flowers abounding. The service is great and the ambience relaxing.

The working ranch gives it a "real life" feel. The horseback ride is a highlight.

The food was basic, but it was served with care at very reasonable prices, so we were quite happy with it.

It is out of the bustle of the town of La Fortuna, which has a "tourist trap" feel. That was a bonus to us. That means it can be a bit of a drive to Arenal and hot springs, but it is well worth it.

  • Stayed March 2006
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel La Garza

Property: Hotel La Garza
Address: Platanar, Florencia, San Carlos, Alajuela, Costa Rica | 100mts Al Norte Plaza de Deportes, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
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 Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #49 of 62 Hotels in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Also Known As:
La Garza Hotel
Hotel La Garza Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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