I went into our stay skeptical of some of the bad reviews, having found from previous experiences that travelers are often picky and high-maintenance with unrealistic expectations of hospitality in other countries. Yet, I concede that many of the reviews of this place are on-the-mark.
Allow me to begin by saying we still had a great time during our three days. We were relaxed, enjoyed several great meals in the town, and took advantage of nearby activities. Every member of the staff I encountered was friendly and eager to please. Our ocean-view villa had an amazing view and a great breeze on the patio for shady hammock naps. I enjoyed the service and drinks at the pool-side bar, was sufficiently appeased by the breakfast buffet, and easily found a palapa overlooking the beach each morning. Our room had hot water, decent water pressure, a reasonably comfortable bed, and working AC (in the bedroom). I even appreciated the peace of not having a TV. The place is laid out very nicely and the grounds are pretty well-kept.
Now for the not-so-great. Housekeeping seems understaffed and under-equipped to maintain the rooms as needed. I can live with the fact that sheets were never changed since it matches up with Costa Rica's eco-friendly vibe, but we received washcloths and hand towels only on the first day. And our bath mat, visibly soiled with muddy sand from our feet, was not replaced. While we did receive 2 fresh towels each day, many others we were traveling with did not. The soap, shampoo, and conditioner were also never replaced. The tiny bar had run out after the first day, leaving us with no hand soap for the remainder of our stay. Our room was not swept, either, rendering it quite sandy by the day we left. Additionally, a guest before us had spilled something on one of the tables; the sticky residue was clearly visible and covered with ants, yet it was not cleaned. Finally, we enjoyed having the full kitchen though did not enjoy doing the dishes with one dishcloth (which was also never replaced), no dish towel, and no dish soap. Management should consider adding more housekeeping staff and allotting more funds to providing the little things that make a guest's stay more comfortable.
The absolute worst part of our stay was the bathroom. It had an overwhelming smell that took our breath away despite keeping the windows open and spraying numerous times a day with both air fresheners and essential oils (that I luckily had packed). This seemed to be a plumbing issue. We went in there as little as possible--getting ready in the bedroom instead, which was difficult with no mirror-- and kept the door closed so the smell didn't leak into the bedroom. Having read other reviews, we decided to live with it the three days we were there rather than switching rooms and risking getting one with more severe problems (hot water, AC, etc.), though housekeeping clearly had to smell it each day and did not report it or address it.
The hotel's amenities are quite poor. The store is rarely open and terribly under-stocked. The pool bar opens late and closes early. There is no shuttle service, causing guests to pay $12 round-trip into town--sometimes more than once a day. (The walk is doable but hot and along a dirty section of beach.) Some of the paths are poorly lit, and there is no emergency lighting in case of power outages (which seems fairly common--though brief), so I'd suggest packing a small flashlight.
This all said, this placed seemed like one of the nicer options in the area. The staff on-hand is good--there just aren't enough of them or their time is being poorly dispersed by management. With just minor changes and some better decision-making on the part of management or ownership, this place could be really great.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are a hotel with fully equipped villas and deluxe rooms. We are located in front of the beach very close yo downtown Samara. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Booking.com, Hotels.com, BookIt.com and TripOnline SA so you can book your Hotel Villas Playa Samara reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.