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“Amazing renovation!”

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Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel & Villas
Ranked #4 of 24 Hotels in Tamarindo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 5, 2012

They did a spectacular job of renovating this oceanside resort in Playa Langosta, CR. Excellent restaurant with good (albeit generally sluggish) service. Very cool spot, I recommend it highly for weddings, honeymooners, singles and families alike. Great part of town, too, within a short short walk of amazing surf, snorkeling, fishing.

Room Tip: The villas are sweet, private and have their own private swimming pool. I'd go with one of thos...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank sonomaisbushed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 4, 2012

This place is simply fantastic and for me, blends the best of "old" and "new Costa Rica" in the sense that it's still very relaxed and understated, yet has fine touches, subtle-yet-luxurious taste at every turn as well as high level service. For my taste, this is about as good as a small hotel can get in Costa Rica. The Villas are simply enormous, uniquely decorated, well-appointed with all the modern gadgets and best of all...a fantastic value for the money.

I went with my wife but would love to visit again with extended family as the 2BR villa is more like a house than any sort of cabina I've every stayed in before. The private swimming pool is perfect for some quiet time, while the public pool was fun for people watching and a good place to kill time in between short walks to the nearby beach. I really can't think of anything negative to say about the place except that the Langosta Beach is a bit rocky, but you can walk about 200 yards to a more sandy area. You need to be very wary that this is not a place to swim casually due to big waves, rocks and rip tides. You really need to be alert and aware of the tides/rips. That being said, it's so darn picturesque and removed from the throngs on Playa Tamarindo that Langosta should be considered it's own separate destination, not a Tamarindo extension.

I dined at the restaurant for all 3 meals, 2 days in a row and was never disappointed. No, the menu isn't cheap, but given the exotic ingredients and interesting preparations I did not think it was a touristy-ripoff either. I'd highly suggest that visitors check out this place NOW before the reputation gets out and prices shoot up, which almost seems inevitable.

Room Tip: I think the Villas are a steal for what you get.
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  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank VillaBuenaOnda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2012

We just returned from our first visit to Costa Rica and Cala Luna was our second stop. We stayed for 4 nights at this location after staying 3 nights at a mountain resort near Rincon de la Vieja. We did our National Park/Volcano/zipline activities at our previous stop, so this was determined to be our beach/ocean part of the trip.

When we arrived, the reception staff was waiting for us with smiles, damp towels and a fresh fruit beverage-all were lovely. The reception area and every part of the hotel that we saw was breathtakingly gorgeous using low sofas, drift wood, tile, and sea glass as the theme for the decor. We had reserved a villa, but when we checked in they informed us that they upgraded us to a villa suite, which was a nice surprise. The villa suite had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a lounge and dining area, a shaded patio with lounge chairs and tables and a private pool that was cleaned daily as part of the housekeeping service. It seemed like such a waste that we had all that for two of us and we talked about how great it would be to be there with a group.

There was a little corner store a short walk away where we were able to buy some beer and wine for the fridge and some ingredients for guacamole, but we didn't use the kitchen for much more than that. Breakfast was included, so we ate breakfast at the restaurant every day and we really enjoyed everything we tried. On the first morning we were greated with freshly baked croissants, muffins, and some savory toasts along with homemade marmalade which seemed to be included in every breakfast-delicious! In general, the service at the restaurants was very friendly, but we did experience a handful of occasions when the service was quite slow. We were on vacation and in no hurry, so it didn't bother us. We love tapas/small plates, so we were excited to try the "muses" at the lounge. They were ok, but didn't pack the flavor punch we would want from a tapas style offering. We are used to shellfish from the Northern US, so the warm water mussles just were not our thing. The best things we ate from the lunch/dinner menus at the hotel were the raw fish preparations like ceviche, tartar, and carpaccio. Those were delicious.

As others have mentioned, the beach across from the hotel is rocky and not ideal for swimming. We tried going in on the first day but suffered a few scrapes and bruises. For our other beach trips we opted to walk to Tamarindo beach, which is a sandy beach that attracts a surfer crowd. There are several beach vendors walking up and down the beach selling trinkets, surf lessons, and coconuts among other things. This also didn't really bother us because they were not overtly aggressive and they kindly took "no thank you" for an answer. There are several restaurants in Tamarindo, the two we really enjoyed most on this trib were Koi sushi and Nibbana.

Our big activity was a 6 hour fishing trip which was arranged for us by Carlos at the front desk. I must say that without exception, everyone on the reception staff was as friendly as I have ever encountered in all of my travels-Frazer and Carlos went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. My husband loves to fish and he was in heaven. Our guides on the fishing trip were Juan and Brooks-both guys were really nice. We really enjoyed our day with them. If you are going to do this trip, bring along a long sleeved shirt and a hat-otherwise there is nowhere to hide from the sun. I don't typically burn, and I'm never one to hide from the sun, but out on that boat wearing 30 sunblock and reapplying twice, I fried myself like never before, and it was a bummer not to be able to enjoy the beach on the next day. We caught several fish, but the big one was a 45lb dorado (mahi mahi) which we filleted and were able to take back to the villa. Then the restaurant prepared the fish we caught for our dinner. Alex, the restaurant manager was super friendly and accommodating.

Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
3  Thank Melissa M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 31, 2012

This was our first trip to Costa Rica and while I was underwhelmed by Tamarindo I do have to say that Cala Luna was most likely the best place to stay in Tamarindo. The property and the rooms are just like the web site shows. The people are friendly, the property is clean and the pool is beautiful. It is a two minute walk down to the beach, however it is not a swimable beach, it is too rocky. It is a 15 minute walk or $5 cab ride to town. I have a type A personality and I can only layout and swim so much, after 4 days I was bored. If you surf it is the place to be, but if you don't, there is not much else to do...I like high end restaurants and history, and trust me in Tamarindo there isn't either. The town is small and kind of hokey. I have friends that absolutely love Tamarindo, I was disappointed in the town, but not Cala Luna.
I don't want to sound miserable, but I was underwhelmed.
Tours:
The estuary tour was nice, however not much to see in the middle of the day. Our guide woke the howler monkeys up which was pretty funny and we saw a small alligator...it actually looked fake.
Catamaran Boat Ride - Way too long. They take you to an area where you can snorkel or swim, but trust me there were no fish. I have been to many other places where there are tons of tropical fish, we didn't see a thing. The best part of the trip was the sunset, but I didn't need to spend 5 hours on a boat to see a sunset.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank dmacq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 24, 2012

We only stayed here for 2 nights and loved every minute. The room was clean and spacious. Great swimming pool and genrally clean surroundings. The hotel has a lot of amazing vegetation which was fun to walk around and feel like you are in middle of tropical garden and steps away from the beach.

The beach access is pretty - makes for beautiful pictures. Langosta beach itself is very rocky - so head to Tamarindo or our favorite Conchal for some beach fun

Breakfast served at the hotel was delicious - my favorite - fresh fruit juice (tried orange, watermelon... tasty, no sugar added.. pure..)

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank dsureka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 19, 2012

Wow...where to start. This was our first trip to Costa Rica, and my wife and I spent weeks deliberating between Costa Rica and Aruba for our third anniversary. Yet again, Aruba just lost out (see my review for the Omni in Cancun!) as we decided that there was just more to do in Costa Rica. Then the question became - which part of Costa Rica? While we accepted that Costa Rica isn't known for its beaches, we wanted SOME swimming, so logic dictated the Caribbean side - surely that would be sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees and clear blue water?
But after reading numerous reviews, we discovered that the Caribbean side had rough waters and little beach to speak of, so we settled on the Pacific side - specifically 5 nights in Tamarindo in the Guanacaste region.
We also read about the Arenal volcano and the famous blue water, so we decided to spend an additional 5 nights inland, at the Rio Celeste Hideaway. We'll post that review shortly.

After spending days reviewing the hotels in Tamarindo, my wife picked Cala Luna. It was head and shoulders above the rest of the Tamarindo hotels, and we managed to get a good rate.

For the review (to try and be consistent with Tripadvisor), I'll score the hotel out of 5 on the criteria that my wife and I tend to look for in a holiday hotel: appearance, pool area, beach, rooms, food, location, trips/tours, staff.

Short review:
Appearance - 4/5
Pool Area - 4/5
Beach - 3/5
Rooms - 4/5
Food - 4/5
Location - 5/5
Trips/Tours - 3.5/5
Staff - 5/5
OVERALL: 4/5 - EXCEPTIONAL!

For the more detailed review:

Appearance - 4/5:
Cala Luna hotel is great to look at. The lobby is exactly what you'd expect from a beach resort - open air, wood beams, not at all vulgar or pretentious. The grounds are picturesque and well kept. Papayas, bougainvillea, hibiscus (and more than I can name) abound. At night, the staff place lanterns all around the grounds, which is just beautiful.

Pool Area - 4/5:
There is one pool which all the guests share, with a paddling pool for toddlers. There are two great cabanas which are free to use, but you have to get to the pool early as they go quickly! If you stay in the one of the villas (which are very reasonably priced) you get your own private pool. As the hotel wasn't full during our stay, we opted not to stay in a villa and used the regular pool. While there weren't plenty of sun beds, we never seemed to have a problem finding two. The pool itself was well maintained and a lot of fun.

The only problem we found was the lack of shade. The only shade offered is by the two cabanas, or the overhang from the restaurant. We (along with a few other guests) mentioned this to the hotel manager. If Cala Luna can add a few umbrellas, this score would be a 5.

Beach - 3/5:
The beach is a short walk from the hotel via a private path, but make no mistake it's NOT AT ALL swimmable. It's extremely rocky throughout and very rough where the water breaks on the rocks. On the other hand, you do get to watch the amazing Costa Rican sunset and the
hotel offer free cocktails on the beach every evening for their guests. While it doesn't quite make up for the disappointing beach, watching the sunset on the beach while sipping free cocktails comes pretty darn close.

If you do want to go swimming, you can walk about 10 minutes to a stretch closer to town. It's a nice walk (part of it is along the beach) and it gets you out of the hotel. However, let's get one thing straight - don't come to Costa Rica expecting Tahiti or the Caribbean. Tamarindo beach (which is widely regarded as one of the best in Costa Rica) is fine, but it's no paradise. The sand is darker (probably from the volcanic activity), and it gets very rocky in places. The water is not an inviting powder blue, but more of a darker murky green. Having said that, the water IS actually very clean and there are plenty of stretches of sandy, rock-free, beach where you can swim. The best stretch that we found was directly outside the Casa Cook B&B (they aren't lying when they say they have the best beach access).

It's a public beach so there are no sunbeds, hotel staff, etc. but it all felt very safe. We laid our towels out on the beach close to other tourists, and just kept one eye on our stuff while we were in the water. We didn't have any problems.

Rooms - 4/5:
Cala Luna is a boutique hotel, so there are only about 20 rooms and 10 villas. This means that each room is fairly private even if you don't opt for a villa. The decor is consistent throughout, which means that the rooms are luxurious and tastefully decorated in a traditional fashion, keeping the dark wood themes. The only reason that the room scores 4 and not 5 is because of the H-U-G-E bath tub. It was easily the largest tub that we've ever seen - almost a small swimming pool in your room. While this sounds amazing, once you get over the initial excitement, the size of the tub poses 2 problems:

1) given the global water shortages, you feel extremely uncomfortable trying to fill this monolithic tub with water that is just going to be poured out an hour later.
2) the one time that we decided to use it, it required so much water that we actually ran out of hot water trying to fill it. By the time it was full enough for us to get in, the bath was, at best, luke warm.
So, while the tub looks amazing, it's just not practical.

Food - 4/5:
There are two restaurants at Cala Luna:
1. Restaurant Cala Moresca
2. Lounge La Caleta

Cala Moresca serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast was included and alternated between buffet style and à la carte, depending on the number of guests at the hotel. If the number of guests drops below 30, they serve à la carte. Above 30, and they serve a buffet.
We had dinner at the hotel on two occasions, and it was consistently of excellent quality, although we did find the restaurant pricey. We live in Manhattan, and we felt that we were almost paying Manhattan prices.

As a surprise for our anniversary, my wife organised a private dining experience on the beach. This was simply amazing - we had a private waiter for the evening, and (I found out later my wife had organised the menu beforehand with the hotel) we had a superb meal with champagne, right on the beach! We were visited by a racoon mid-way through the meal and he stayed
with us through dessert. At one point, he actually put his paws on the table and the waiter had to shoo him away! The animals in Costa Rica are pretty brave.

Lounge La Caleta is next to the pool, and is a more casual experience serving lunch and drinks (at the pool, if you wish) and snacks until late at night. Again, we found the quality of food to be good, and this was less pricey than the restaurant.

The restaurants in town were cheaper than Cala Moresca at the hotel, but that's only to be expected. We had dinner in Tamarindo town twice, and we tried the following:
- La Palapa: local cuisine and seafood, right on the beach.
- Nibbana: a mix of French, seafood and local cuisines.
Both were excellent, and we recommend them.

Location - 5/5:
Tamarino is just over an hour from Liberia airport, and the hotel can arrange transportation for you. The hotel itself is a short 15 minute walk from the town of Tamarindo. This is great for two reasons:
1) the hotel is peaceful and you aren't disturbed by the noises of the town center
2) it's close enough to walk into town for lunch (much cheaper than the hotel) or to the better stretch of beach

We didn't walk to town at night (although we felt completely safe, the hotel staff didn't advise it) but taxis are easy to find in town and it's a fixed $5 to and from the hotel. At the hotel, they can always call a taxi for you if needed. At night, locals turn their cars into unregistered taxis - we didn't use these, but opted to look for the official yellow taxis. However, a few others at the hotel did use these unofficial cars, and they didn't have any problems.

NOTE: if you plan to travel while in Costa Rica, I absolutely recommend that you rent a car (preferably a 4x4) as it's very easy to get around. It makes it much easier to take trips and see the sights that are off the beaten track.

Trips/Tours - 3.5/5:
We took three trips while in Tamarindo:
1. Snorkeling
2. Ziplining
3. Watching the black sea turtles laying their eggs

Unfortunately, the snorkelling in Costa Rica is not great. There're only a few fish to see, no coral to speak of, the water is not clear, and it can get very rough. The crew did their best (thanks to them we did see a few puffer fish) but we wouldn't do this again and we don't recommend it. Not a great place for snorkeling.

The ziplining was a lot of fun, and is great for beginners. The tour guides were professional, friendly and even help with photos (one of the crew took a video on our camera while he was ziplining). Highly recommend this trip.

Going to watch the black sea turtles was a surreal experience. The tour takes place at night, and in order not to startle the turtles, the tour guides do not use any bright lights. All they have are red pointers, similar to that of a red-eye reductor on a camera. So for the most part you are on a beach at night, pitch black, watching out for the giant turtles, with weird red lights flashing on and off up and down the beach.
We were in two minds about this particular tour. While it was amazing to see these giant turtles laying their eggs, we couldn't help but feel that we were disrupting and intruding on their ritual. Even without torches and camera flashes, it has to be an unsettling experience for these poor turtles to have a crowd of tourists standing around taking pictures.

Staff - 5/5:
We can't say enough good things about the staff at Cala Luna. Without exception, they were all friendly and went that extra mile to help. Laura and Carlos on the front-desk - thanks so much for your hospitality! And what can we say about the star of Cala Luna, Frazer Blanco - a font of local knowledge, always ready to help out, who spent hours helping us plan the next leg of our trip to La Fortuna. Thanks also to Ann, the tour manager who organised our local trips. All the restaurant stafff (and managers) were genuinely friendly and helpful. We really felt well taken care of.

Overall: 4/5:
What can we say about Cala Luna other than EXCEPTIONAL!
Muchas gracias, Cala Luna!

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Omsy77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 15, 2012

We were on our honeymoon and spent Friday 5/11 to Monday 5/14 at Cala Luna. We had just come from a great stay in Arenal and were hoping the pattern would continue in Tamarindo. The greeting upon arrival was excellent. Cool towels for cleansing and a nice refreshing drink were presented. We met Anne, the concierge, who was very friendly but also leaving on vacation, so we didn't see her again. We stayed in a "Deluxe Room," it was clean and nice. There was a bubble bath set up for us in the room, which was a nice touch, but unfortunately neither one of us was in the mood for a bath when we arrived, so it was wasted. The resort was extremely empty and I looked at their website while staying there to see about available rooms and it reflected no available reservations at that time. Therefore, I wonder if things are in a transition there and we got caught in it.
We had lunch at the poolside bar the first day. Food was okay (Chicken chimichanga and Chicken kabob), and the young man working there was pleasant. We were surprised that there was no menu for mixed drinks or cocktails. Also, there were beers unavailable, and not difficult to find beers, but Imperial (They had Imperial light, not a big thing but unusual). We ate at the main Cala Luna restaurant that night, we had nice evening. Breakfast, which is included, the next morning was okay. The french toast appeared to be from the same bread given to us for dinner the night before. That night we ordered wine from the wine list, which was unavailable, so we had to get another. At one point during the evening, both our wine glasses were empty and no waiters were coming by, so I got up to refill our glasses. The waiter gave me a look that he didn't appreciate my efforts as I suppose it made him look like he wasn't doing his job. The next morning we went to the same restaurant for the included breakfast and met a cold reception as the same wait staff was on duty. It took a long time for us to be acknowledged and it was generally an unfriendly reception there. We decided not to spend any more of our money eating at the Cala Luna restaurants. The problem then arises that Cala Luna is a distance from town and therefore we had to plan when to leave for Tamarindo so we could eat both lunch and dinner away from the resort.
In Summary, the grounds are nice, the room was nice. The beach at the location is too rocky to get in the water, but still beautiful. The front desk staff is kind and responsive. Taxi to town takes <10 minutes and is $5 USD. Also, the WIFI internet connection was spotty from our room. At most we would have "one bar" and this would come and go. We saw maybe 5 other couples there and the Cala Luna website suggested no availability, so maybe things are just changing there at this time. We would not return there, we just did not feel comfortable there.

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank John S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CalaLunaManagement, General Manager at Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel & Villas, responded to this reviewResponded June 15, 2012

Thank you for your review. We are sorry the service did not meet your expectations. Since our reopening we are are focusing all of our energy in improving our quality and service and most of the time we meet our clientes needs. Your opinion and feeback is highly important to us and we asure you that we take these situations as a priority for immediate solutions. We hope to see you again and to meet all you expectations on your next visit.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel & Villas

Address: Tamarindo 50309, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Tamarindo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 24 Hotels in Tamarindo
Price Range: $174 - $632 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel & Villas 4*
Number of rooms: 31
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tucked on Costa Rica's pristine Playa Langosta, the most exclusive, relaxing and private area of Tamarindo Beach, just steps from the Pacific Ocean, Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel & Villas is a tropical oasis just two-and-a-half-miles south of Tamarindo Airport. Every inch of this exquisitely lush resort seems to embody the immortal words of author John Steinbeck "We don't take a trip. A trip takes us." With experiences and adventures that tempt, transport and delight, this one-of-a-kind place welcomes those on a quest for the extraordinary. ... more   less 
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