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“Not our favorite place in Costa Rica”

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Selva Bananito Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Nebo, North Carolina
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Not our favorite place in Costa Rica”
Reviewed March 20, 2014

This place was mixed bag for me. I stayed for two nights with my adult daughter and found this to be a very comfortable eco friendly lodge with friendly staff and good food. It is very remote, no electricity, phone service or internet available (lights & hot water powered by solar panels). I had tried for two days to contact the hotel prior to our arrival and was unable to reach anyone. We drove from Pavona (where we had to deal with a flat tire when we got off the boat from Tortuguero) and were late getting to the hotel which is about 1 1/2 hrs away from Cahuita where our GPS said the Lodge was (the website does provide directions that we used at that point and instructs to download a map but no link is provided). We backtracked and it was getting close to dark when we finally got on very rough unpaved roads and made our way to the lodge with little signage. Driving through rivers & streams on narrow roads in a jungle at night was a little more adventure than I'd bargained for. I had contacted Booking.com & they were also unable to get in touch with the lodge and offered to place us at another property before we left Cahuita. As we had no cell phone service after driving for an hour and were continuing to see small signs to the lodge so we continued and arrived at the lodge in time for dinner.

The room was very clean, comfortable and private and at night was cool enough but was quite warm other times. We slept under mosquito nets which was a first for me and not unpleasant at all. We found we did have hot water for showering the second night when we discovered that the hot/cold faucets were reversed. The meals are served at specific times and were quite good but there are no options, although they did cater to dietary restrictions (one of the other guests was vegetarian). The staff were very friendly and Alan, the lodge manager the week we were there is a knowledgeable guide and did his best to make everyone happy and comfortable. We took a nature hike & short zip-line tour which was enjoyable. There are lots of beautiful birds and amazing flora and we did hear howler monkeys occasionally but less wildlife than we saw in either Arenal or Tortuguero.

I was not pleased when we tried to check out and was told they could not accept credit cards as my booking confirmation clearly stated that they accept Visa & Mastercard.

This is a great eco friendly place to come to be completely 'off the grid' but I would have preferred to have not been so isolated. I had thought we would drive to the beach at Cahuita our last afternoon there but did not have the 3+ hours to do this and be back before dark.

As another reviewer noted, this is primarily an upscale camping site that is a little pricey.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Charlotte M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ozelot, Owner at Selva Bananito Lodge, responded to this review, April 11, 2014
Dear Charlotte M,

Thank you very much for your support of Selva Bananito Lodge & Reserve, located within the La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, Costa Rica. As you well experienced, we are located in one of the most pristine areas of the country. To great extent, our spectacular primary forest provides the drinking water to about 85.000 inhabitants. Through your support we are able to continue financing environmental and community oriented programs. The area we belong to is the La Amistad World Heritage Site, several dozen times bigger than the areas of Tortuguero or Arenal together.The wildlife and the animals you would expect to see in our reserve do have a very large habitat and uninterrupted corridor to roam freely. Actually, it is the second largest biological corridor in Central America. Our wildlife is truly wild and not used to humans and the animals are certainly not fed as to attract them closer to our lodge, as it is often practiced elsewhere.

WE DO THANK YOU for pointing out our apparent shortcomings as you were unable to reach us on the day of your arrival. How unfortunate it must have been to have a flat tire and feel worried about the day light fading and not being able to reach anybody.

However, could it be possible that you dialed a different digit while trying to reach us? We thought of this possibility, as the answering machine in our office in San Jose, 200 km away from the lodge, clearly provides you the correct emergency phone number.

Just to clarify, the maps and directions to the lodge were sent to you early on during your first contact and reservation efforts with our office in November 2013. Could it be possible that you did not print out the maps we provided you with from the beginning?

Sometimes technical issues with the very sensible internet system, (which is designed for an urban setting and not for a wilderness area), through which we can receive credit card payments experiences some problems, as the manager on site let you know. The problem was fixed shortly after your departure. We are sorry for the inconvenience that particular technical issue with the internet caused you; however, it was out of our control. Thank you for your understanding.

In general we understand that even though you had some external technical issues, you actually had a good time at our lodge. Let me summarize in your own words:

“I stayed for two nights with my adult daughter and found this to be a very comfortable eco friendly lodge with friendly staff and good food…The room was very clean, comfortable and private and at night was cool enough but was quite warm other times. We slept under mosquito nets which was a first for me and not unpleasant at all. We found we did have hot water for showering the second night when we discovered that the hot/cold faucets were reversed. The meals are served at specific times and were quite good but there are no options, although they did cater to dietary restrictions (one of the other guests was vegetarian). The staff was very friendly and Alan, the lodge manager the week we were there is a knowledgeable guide and did his best to make everyone happy and comfortable… We took a nature hike & short zip-line tour which was enjoyable. There are lots of beautiful birds and amazing flora …

--Descripción: 4 of 5 stars--Sleep Quality 4-- Descripción: 4 of 5 stars--Rooms 4 --Descripción: 4 of 5 stars--Cleanliness 4 --Descripción: 4 of 5-- starsService 4--

You know Charlotte M, that with the same description that you share you experience with our readers, and despite the technical obstacles you encountered, you describe Selva Bananito Lodge in much better terms than the way you refer to it at the end of your review. We find your final statement quite contradictory!

As you well know, Selva Bananito Lodge is a Certified Eco Lodge. We do have the highest possible level of certification in Costa Rica, namely the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism Level 5, recognized by the United Nations Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

While staying at Selva Bananito your support makes a difference for the environment and the community as it does only in very few other lodges & hotels in our country.

Thank you again for your support!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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170 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Maastricht, the Netherlands
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed March 7, 2014

We visited Selva Bananito lodge 12 years ago and were so impressed that we immediately knew we wanted to go back one day. We finally revisited in February 2014 for 3 nights and we loved it just as much as the first time. This place is special! At SBL you are not only surrounded by nature in its purest form, you will also feel the satisfaction of being part of sustainable tourism. It's impossible to leave here without feeling impressed by the dedication of Jurgen and his team, and with a stronger drive to also reduce your own carbon footprint. You won't find AC, a minibar, internet connection or TV here, but who needs it when you're submerged in the beauty of nature? You will fall asleep and wake up with the sound of wildlife and enjoy breathtaking views from your own terrace. SBL only has 11 cabins so you will always have lots of privacy, but it is nice that meals are shared at the Rancho together with other guests and the guides. The food is simple and fresh, and although they will take your dietary restrictions into account, you just eat whatever is on the menu. But that's not an issue as the food is good and I can give nothing but compliments to the wonderful cook who went out of her way to make everyone happy.. We also enjoyed the horseback riding and the nature hike with our guide Carlos. SBL is owned by Conselvatur, who did an excellent job in planning our 2 weeks trip throughout Costa Rica. We will definitely be back again (but it won’t be 12 years before we return this time)!

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Dutchess12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Netherlands
Level Contributor
123 reviews
114 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2014

The Selva Bananito Lodge is located in a very remote place in a beautiful setting. You can only get there with a 4WD, which is a lot of fun if you have the appropriate car and can cross the rivers yourself. We just stayed one night as we were curious about the place we had read much about in reviews and had already done tours elsewhere before. We didn't have the time to participate in any tours and heard from other guests that they didn't find them anything special and overpriced. The accommodation is pretty expensive for Costa Rican standards but really special and relaxing. Staff was very friendly and helpful and we enjoyed the dinner and breakfast, which is offered at a certain time in a group setting. The lodge seems to cater mostly to German speaking guests as the owner is German.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Bas_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naples, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
Reviewed February 12, 2014

I can go on and on about how wonderful my stay was at the lodge... Being there was an absolute delight!!!! I highly recommend this place. Simple, beautiful, perfect!
I enjoyed very much my walk in the jungle with the super guide Allan, the horse ride, the many siestas in the hammock. Meeting the owners and getting to know their stories was very up lifting.
I will be back, this is a promise!

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Ysabel007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
21 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed February 8, 2014

Our stay at Bananito Lodge could not be better! the drive to get to the lodge is by itself one of the most wonderful experiences we ever had. Driving thru the forest and going across the river made us confirm that Costa Rica is by far one of the most beautiful places in the word nature wise.
Jürgen, the owner, made sure we had all we need but also took the time to explain us about the property and all the conservation efforts they have been doing since long time go in order to preserve the forest. It is amazing to see how much work the have dedicate to their strong believes in terms of conservation.
The infraestructure is very nice, clean and it goes in completely accordance with the entire concept. Of course, appliances like A/C will be an insult to the natural magic of the place, beside there is not need for it.
We highly recommend this place to those who really care, understand and enjoy nature!

Room Tip: Most of the rooms have a great view to the mountains. If you like to enjoy the view, make sure to as...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ana P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Coral Springs, Florida
Level Contributor
63 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

If you want a sophisticated campground for a few hundred bucks a night, this is your place. Concept is great. Ecolodge. Reality. No comforts of home. We had a great fun dinner with drinks.

But then were dreading the heat the next day, as we had tolerated it the day before. Not much to do if you don't want to go on a hike or zip line two stations. Sorry to write this, but if you are thinking remotely about luxury, or if you don't like bugs or if you can't stand 80 degree temps during the day without A/C, or if you don't want to sleep in mosquito netting, this place is not for you.

I was shocked that I had to take off my shoes (everyone did) to walk on the wood floor in both my room and the dining room area. We did not go on the full day hike (we bailed after one day), but this was not my idea of fun (or my wife or son's). I'm 58, she's 52 and loves A/C, he's 14. Food is included. For lunch, figured there'd be a buffet. Nope. Spaghetti bolonese was the one and only choice. That or go hungry.

Internet access was sketchy at best. Interesting concept if you want to rough it, but sorry, wouldn't recommend to anyone. There are many other places you can go to and do a fun hike that won't cost you what this place cost us (for the 3 of us, I think we paid $500 a night). Sorry,if you want to pay big bucks for an Ecolodge, this is for you. It just wasn't for us.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Criticdan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ozelot, Owner at Selva Bananito Lodge, responded to this review, January 31, 2014
Hello Criticdan,

Your review with such negative content took us by surprise, and actually left us quite puzzled, as it not only contradicts your entries in our evaluation forms (!) but it sounds so strikingly negative compared to all the excellent reviews we have received over the years, that it could be interpreted as a review that possibly could be misleading as to the essence and purpose of our hospitality.

We agree that we do not have A/C. Would you have informed yourself, for example by reading our information or if you just would have inquired with us directly or with the travel company you booked through, you could have prevented your personal heat related discomfort from the beginning.

Just to be fair, we need to inform our readers that we do have a privileged micro climate which makes it actually quite cool to sleep at night, just as you experienced firsthand during your stay.
We do not pretend to be a 5 star luxury Lodge. We are, however, a certified 5 Leaves Eco Lodge (Certificate for Sustainable Tourism C.S.T., Level 5, highest possible distinction in sustainability in C.R.)

96 % of our guests are extremely pleased and thankful for their experience in our part of paradise, as you see from our exceptionally good reviews and recommended literature in the most important travel guides.

In addition to informing you that it is our choice not to use A/C for environmental reasons, we would like to share with you the conservation efforts which you have supported, along with many other thousands of guests over the years prior to your visit.

Through your support we protect life supporting systems, which need to be revered with respect as they provide habitat for endangered species, including birds, mammals, insects, biological and botanical diversity and water resources for 85.000 thousand inhabitants in the area you visited. You may now understand, why having generators that are noise polluting and produce CO2 were not a choice in order to provide energy at the lodge. Thus, A/C has always been out of the question, as the next available electricity is 4 miles away. Instead, we do have renewable sources of solar energy that power ventilators in the dining area.

You paid $ 160.00 per person per night in triple occupancy superior room. This is our “all- inclusive” rate. If we deduct the $ 40.00 of the two way transfer in an air conditioned 4 x 4, the
$ 40.00 of the tour included in that price per day and the $ 50.00 for the full board, (remember the delicious three course dinner with sea bass you enjoyed so much and the breakfast buffet serving typical, continental and tropical breakfast options?), we remain with a room costing $30.00 per person per night. For the size of the room (520 square feet) and the spectacular setting it is placed in, it is a bargain . Please remember, all taxes required by our laws were included and that 10 % of the income of the activities goes to support a nonprofit foundation.

We do offer a great variety of activities, some of which are included in the “all-inclusive” rates: natural history hikes,- bird watching,- canopy observation platform tour with 100 feet rappel,- horseback tour through the farm,- adventure horseback tour,- 135 feet jungle tree climbing,- full day white water hiking tour with waterfall rappel, -planting endemic species of trees becoming extinct,- sustainability tours,- presentations on conservation and sustainability and above all the privilege to do all the above in a pure and pristine environment, guided and hosted by, both, knowledgeable and friendly guides and staff.

What really puzzles us Criticdan, is that your comments and written entries at Selva Bananito were positive. Actually, you were very thankful for our help in re-arranging the changes needed in your travel plans, so that you could depart one day early, and thus avoid the 80 degrees heat that everybody else was fine with. So we are confused as to why after all the help you received from us, and the positive feedback, you choose to contradict your written and signed word!
We would like to remind you and share with our readers the entries, from both, you and your wife, in our guest book, as well as the registration forms, the service evaluation and sustainability evaluation.

We quote from the guest book: “Muchas gracias to J. and the wonderful staff for allowing me to experience a totally new and different adventure. May we meet again in the near future. Best Regards (signed by your wife). I quote from the service registration and evaluation form: How did you find Selva Bananito Lodge: “very interesting” ---- General Experience: “GOOD”--- “E. G. provided this information to us. Thanks” (signed by you) --- Sustainability Evaluation Form: “Thanks for the great experience!!” (This entry is again written in your handwriting)

Trying to possibly misinform future guests with information that reveals such discrepancy to the one provided to us, as quoted above, we find to be misleading.

We embraced you and your family with the warmest hospitality and went out of our way to solve your very subjective discomfort, in which your expectations could not be met, as we do not even offer the infrastructure to the comforts you mistakenly expected from us.

Ernest Hemingway once said: “The world is beautiful and it is worth fighting for.”
Ozelot
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 7, 2014

What a beautiful, peaceful place to explore and unplug. You can be as adventurous as you want - or just take in the beauty and nature peacefully. We loved the cabin, the food was great and thoughtful, and the activities were perfect. Definitely bring waterproof boots or shoes if you will be hiking. They will get wet.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank rjmtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Selva Bananito Lodge

Property: Selva Bananito Lodge
Address: San Pedro, Cahuita, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Cahuita
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 43 Specialty Lodging in Cahuita
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Selva Bananito Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Selva Bananito Hotel Cahuita
Selva Bananito Lodge Costa Rica/Cahuita

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