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“Incredible Jungle Retreat”
Review of El Arbol

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El Arbol
New York City, New York
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Incredible Jungle Retreat”
Reviewed January 15, 2014

After staying at 7 different hotels / homes in the Puerto Viejo area we finally lucked out to find El Arbol. Wow. I am not sure where to start. My wife and I stayed for 1 month and had the most incredible time. The owners Jan Hein & Marjolein are wonderful. Their home is in perfect proximity to the 2 rental homes on their huge jungle property. These incredibly designed homes provide a safe and secure environment unlike others in the area. We always felt 100% safe.

One of the most beautiful beaches in the word is a 2 minute drive or 5 minute bike ride away. It is such an incredibly serene feeling to be tucked away in the jungle but 5 minutes from the warm blue / green ocean.

During our month we saw sloths, 3 kinds of monkes, snakes, frogs and hundreds of birds. My favorite part came after the sun went down. The huge king sized bed with tight mosquito netting was wonderful. We would fall asleep to the sounds of monkeys and a few of the nights lightbugs flew throughout our room. It was like being in Avatar!

We can't wait to go back to stay at El Arbol. Keeo up the great work
Love, Kevin and Jen (and our dogs)

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank mals34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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71 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (10)
Date | Rating
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  • French first
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English first
Midland, Texas
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2014

We stayed 4 nights at El Arbol and we enjoyed it very much. The owners are very helpful, the location is awesome and waking up with jungle sounds was just what we were looking for.
Our kids loved it, even though there was no tv nor internet in the house itself. There is Wifi at the owners house. We lived outside form the early morning till the late evenings. Cooking appliances are good. The guide for a jungle trek that Marjolein arranged was great!!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank 755TrudyL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pasadena, California
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 4, 2014

We chose El Arbol using TripAdvisor and are back to leave a review of our experience. We stayed 6 nights over Christmas 2013. We have nothing but wonderful things to report. We were looking for an independently owned place, a unique place that would be unforgettable, and somewhere where we could momentarily forget about the outside world. The place was kept clean with amenities just like home: a fridge, coffee pot, stove, toaster oven, utensils to use in the kitchen, drinking water provided... The bed was comfortable, the hammocks were heavenly, and the space felt perfect. We woke to the sounds of Howler Monkeys each morning and the sounds of the jungle lulled us to sleep each night. We rented a Jimny which we felt was an important part of the stay here. There were two long dirt roads taking you into El Arbol, but I thought these roads added to feeling of being inside the jungle, which was exactly what we hoped for. We also were only there one week, and with so much to see and do, the car was essential. The jungle that surrounded us had so much to offer. We saw many different types of animals just hanging out on the porch during the day.

The hosts Marjolein and Jan were friendly, helpful, and always checked in to make sure our stay was meeting our needs. However, they knew exactly how much to contact us without making us feel overwhelmed. They assisted us in locating a guide to take us on a private hike, a highlight of the trip. They were always there to answer our questions, get anything we needed, or point us in the direction to where we could find what we were looking for.

We loved the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. El Arbol allowed us to visit some of the most beautiful beaches such as Manzanillo, Punta Uva, and Playa Blanca (a slight drive away). We kayaked down the river from Punta Uva to see 2 and 3-toed sloths hanging in the trees, more Howler Monkeys, and even a Jesus lizard as it ran across the river. At Playa Blanca we saw Capuchin monkeys, more sloths, an iguana, and more. Staying at El Arbol removed us from being a tourist, but allowed us access to all the places we wanted to see.

If we could, we would have stayed another week just to enjoy the house. It felt remote and secluded with the comforts of being home. There were fans provided, and there was an A/C in the bedroom; however, the weather was exceptionally nice while we were there and it was cool each night. We even had to turn off the fan one of the nights.

In December we found the mosquitos to be just fine. We did use deet, but after a week stay we only went home with a couple of bites. We were glad for the netting while we slept, but we probably didn't need it much. Maybe the mosquitos aren't so bad in December?

If you book this and read the reviews, then it will be exactly what it claims. If you are looking for a luxury hotel, then you are looking for a whole different kind of vacation. With that said, for us this was luxury. This place was magical. We hope that someday our life will allow us to visit Costa Rica again. If we do, a stay at El Arbol would be mandatory.

Thanks to Marjolein and Jan.

Room Tip: There are two houses on their property. We had the privilege to stay in both while we were there. Ea...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Jennee B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Potomac, MD
Level 6 Contributor
116 reviews
52 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
Reviewed December 7, 2013

I cannot correlate our stay with previous TA reviews. What am I missing?? We stayed May 27th, 2013 for two nights and every time I wanted to publish this review I reread previous reviews and have held back. Perhaps, others were not looking for a property with ac.

I am sad to write a negative review for a family operated business, especially after the warm welcome we received from Kelly, our hostess, who managed the property while the owners were on holiday in Europe. However, for people who prefer accommodations similar to our preferences, this is a heads-up. Tolerance of humidity, heat and cleanliness vary with each individual, so El Arbor may very well be a haven for many.

When making our reservation, I shared with the proprietor that air conditioning and cleanliness are important to us. I was told that a cleaning person comes every few days and will come before our stay. He assured me that there is air conditioning and the house was designed in a way that cool air circulates throughout the house. OOPS, I forgot to ask if the air conditioner cools and/or if the cleaning person cleans!

We were placed in the 2nd house as I had requested. The 5350 BTU, DAEWOO, model DWC-058RL air conditioner, the only air conditioner in the 600 sq. ft. house, located in the upstairs bedroom, has specifications of cooling 200 sq. ft. of a closed off room. The bedroom in which it is located cannot be closed off, so it communicates with the entire house (a total of 600 sq. ft. according to El Arbor’s website). The house may have been designed in order for cool air from the bedroom to descend to the lower level, BUT hey, let's get real, this is not happening because there isn't cooled air upstairs! Moreover, except for one bathroom window, the windows & and French doors DO NOT HAVE SCREENS. So despite somewhat cooler air outside, it really isn't a great idea to open windows or doors for ventilation.

It is difficult to determine whether the house was clean because it is built with wood and (unsealed??) concrete...both materials are dark, do not show dirt and have rough finishes that are extremely difficult to clean properly. Judging by smoothly finished materials, the dirty light switch plates and dirt on the AC intake makes the entire house suspect. The sheets were clean, as well as the bathroom sink. We dared not touch the walls of the shower.

Recycling: Kelly, suggested that the area does not have recycling availability, but she just may not have known. She encouraged us to take recycling wastes to our next destination. I hope that the owners are aware that.. "The Recycling Alliance has expanded the types of solid waste that it is collecting on the Caribbean Coast. Nearly everything can now be recycled." Pickup from Manzanillo is on Tuesdays and from Puerto Viejo, on Wednesdays.

If lack of AC, no window screens, very hot, and extraordinarily humid environment are not a deterrent, there were positive aspects to El Arbol:

. Kelly was absolutely delightful. She was nurturing, accommodating and extremely helpful with setting up tours and suggesting restaurants. There are not enough positive adjectives to describe Kelly.

. The 2 houses are located among very lush vegetation. Obviously animal sightings are nature dependent, and we did see many amazing Arthropods! No mammals.

. No bug bites! I did spray insect repellent on the edges of French doors that had gaps communicating with the outdoors and on the bed nets. Perhaps the bugs would have stayed outdoors without spray!?! I am not convinced that spraying repellant is either conducive to good health or the environment, but I wasn't going to take chances.

. The house accommodated our family of four, enabling us to 'bond', although by the second night we realized that bonding isn't all it is cracked up to be and we really needed two separate rooms. The nights spent here were 'memorable' and we will probably talk about them for years. Let's face it, who remembers a night spent at a Hilton or a Marriott?

. A four wheel drive vehicle was not necessary for our trip from San Jose to El Arbor when we went in 'green season' at the end of May 2013. If driving, place Congo Bongo into the GPS and then follow instructions given by El Arbor

When in the area, I highly recommend the Jaguar Rescue Center's private tour. Definitely worth the visit for us, as we had never been in Central America before and did not have previous exposure to the wildlife here. Don't expect to see jaguars. Set the GPS's destination to 'Villas Del Caribe' and look for signs placed only an hour prior to opening.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank treking
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Europe
Level 3 Contributor
24 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed August 1, 2013

My husband and I stayed here for 3 nights, which were the highlight of our 3-week C.R. holiday. This was the best, most unique accommodation I have ever stayed in and the design and attention to detail in the house is excellent.

This is the perfect place to unwind, enjoy nature, and relax. Being awoken by howler monkeys is the best alarm clock! We enjoyed sitting on the porch hammock & swing morning, afternoon, and night watching the passing butterflies, monkeys, birds, moths, geckos, etc. The immediate surroundings are great to explore for frogs, spiders, insects, etc.

Marilyn helped us book a tour via a local guide, which was excellent. There are plenty of activities in the area, but we highly recommend the 5-hour nature tour. This was the best tour we took in C.R. and saw all of the exotic plants and flowers the area has to offer, plus frogs, monkeys, sloths, snakes, butterflies, spiders, crabs, etc. Our personal, knowledgeable tour guide minus the large tourist groups meant a LOT of beautiful nature!

We did not have a car, but this was no problem (Marilyn can suggest transport to/from your location, which was very helpful & easy). The house is within easy walking distance to beach, cafes/restaurants, and a small kiosk where you can shop for groceries (if you come with your own via car, we recommend stopping at the grocery store in Puerto Viejo, as it's bigger). The kitchen was perfect for our needs (fridge, stove, utensils, blender, etc.). Making smoothies with fresh tropical fruit was a real treat. (Not to mention the beautiful bathroom with jacuzzi!)

If you are a nature lover, in need of relaxation, and/or want to try something new, definitely stay here. If (or rather, when) we return to Costa Rica, El Arbol will be the first thing we book.

Thank you Marilyn & Jan for being such helpful, informative & welcoming hosts before & during our stay!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank BR2100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed May 17, 2013

El Arbol consists of two houses set the jungle less than 1 km from Manzinillo.
It is run by a lovely couple (Marilyn & Jon) who looked after us very well.
We were driven here by Wilson from Coati Tours ( reservations@coatitours.com - much recommended) and as we didn't have transport, Marilyn organised golf cart hire for us at US$50 per day. This was a great way to get around.
Nice coffee is provided, but you will need to bring all food and drink.
There are many restaurants/sodas close by, so we didn't really do any cooking on site. Grocery stores are around.
Be prepared to be woken early by howler monkeys! and enjoy the lush greenery around you.
When it was time to leave, Marilyn helped with our transfer several kilometres down the road. She also kindly did a load of washing for us $10 (two adults and two children generate a fair amount of laundry!).
El Arbol is a nice relaxing place to spend a couple of days when exploring the southern Caribbean coast.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Moriarty6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
Reviewed May 7, 2013

We stayed 6 nights and kicked ourselves for not booking for longer! A car is a must for staying here because it is perfectly situated down a couple dirt roads in a pristine section of the jungle but still just minutes to the beach and town. The home is gorgeous, clean and well maintained. Our maid that came every other day was a really nice touch. We came to relax and El Arbol did not disappoint! We woke at 5am every morning to the sounds of the howler monkeys. The jungle sang us to sleep every night. During our daily afternoon naps, the monkeys woke us as they made their way through our trees. They visited at least once a day. Gorgeous blue butterflies made their morning flight each day while we drank our morning coffee. We enjoyed many bottles of wine on the spacious deck and ate almost every meal at home amongst the jungle neighbors. Our hosts suggested a jungle tour and canopy tour and even made the reservations for us!! Super nice people....next time we will plan a night of wine and dinner with them!! We visited several other resorts in town which confirmed to us that we definitely found the best place to stay with El Arbol! Now that we are back in Flagstaff in our beautiful mountain town, we still long for an evening on the deck in the jungle. We WILL be back!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank richiedolan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Arbol

Property: El Arbol
Address: 400 m oeste de RECOPE Manzanillo | opp. Recope, Manzanillo, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca 7304, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Amenities:
Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #24 of 105 Specialty Lodging in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 2
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Vacation house & jungle villa rental.Fascinating jungle experience in the middle of the Caribbean rainforest of Costa Rica! Our distinguished lodge on 16+ acres of private property is situated in the Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge, with the beautiful Caribbean sea less then a mile away. You will stay in one of our luxurious, fully equipped houses on stilts. Experience the jungle like never before. Have the monkeys waiting outside your window as you wake up to the sounds of tropical birds singing (more than 100 species counted on our property). There are sloths, nosebears, other mammals, frogs, and so much more…Let comfort surround you while you are relaxing in the Costa Rican rain forest, drinking a good bottle of wine on your jungle porch. Have a massage, walk our private nature tracks or relax at the creek that runs through the property. Go on one of the many excursions we can arrange for you. Visit the picture perfect & quiet Caribbean beaches just a few minutes away! Venture into Cahuita National park or the Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge. Enjoy a night out in the bustling beach town of Puerto Viejo (9 miles away). But most of all look forward to waking up in a jungle paradise that seems to have been created especially for you… ... more   less 
Also Known As:
El Arbol Costa Rica/Limon

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