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“Even Better the Second Time Around!”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 9, 2012

Like a good movie you have seen a second time, you sometimes notice things that you missed the first time you saw it. My wife and I had a very similar experience the second time we visited Banana Azul this August for another two week stay. Although my review from last year was reasonably detailed (Paradise but don't tell anybody), there were some omissions that we picked up during our second stay. First of all, nothing much has changed. The general manager, Fred, makes sure Banana Azul maintains the service levels that you would expect at a five star hotel without the attitude or price. All the staff members seem to know when you want something and when you want to be left alone. Whether it's David at the front desk, Roberto, Eduardo, or Franklin in the bar / dining area or Jamileth who arrives at 5:30 am in the morning to prepare a delightful breakfast buffet (fresh local juices, fruit, cereal, costa rican coffee to die for, and made to order eggs all included), there is a warmth and service orientation that is hard to describe.
After meeting the owner, Colin, it started to make sense to us. Colin is a Canadian ex pat whose earlier life was spent in advertising. When you talk with him, you sense the creativity that made him a successful ad exec has translated well into his Banana Azul vision. As a true entrepreneur, he understands who his customers are and are not. He did not create Banana Azul to be a high energy, buffed beach body all inclusive hotel with lots of amenities. In contrast, he designed Banana Azul for discriminating guests looking for a small, beautifully appointed hotel that resides in a unique, unspoiled, tropical beach like setting. This is what makes this hotel a one of a kind experience The hotel grounds make you feel like you are staying in a native, tropical pardise that has been untouched. After you meet Rick, the landscape architect who planned and maintains this beautiful Banana Azul setting you understand why. Creating environments like Banana Azul is his passion. (he did this in Dallas,but now does it in CR).
Part of the charm of Banana Azul is the eclectic group of guests it attracts. You will meet young and old guests from Europe and North America, as well as San Jose natives getting away for a few days. Some have families, some are couples, and some are interesting singles. It is a great jumping off point for day tours (surfing, scuba, fishing, snorkeling, jungle treks, ziplining,trips to Panama et al) or a place where you can totally unwind and relax.
We did the day trip thing last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Gecko tour company has a desk at the hotel and they do a superb job. We planned to do more day trips this year, but became hypnotized by the relaxing atmosphere of Banana Azul. Since last year, they have added a beach service. The beach was beautiful last year, but you had to walk 25 yds to refresh your drink. Now with their beach service, the beach staff sets you up for the day with comfortable, cushioned chairs and towels, adjusts your beach umbrella, and takes your drink or food orders whenever you feel like it. The beach has free wifi and out of this world massages as well. Each day my wife and I planned to do a day trip, but once we sat out on the beach the urge to leave Banana Azul disappeared. We achieved a state of relaxation that we found mesmerizing and hard to interrupt.
When we returned to Banana Azul this year we were not expecting to enjoy the hotel as much as our first time stay. To our surprise, the whole Banana Azul experience turned out to be even better the second time around!

Room Tip: We have only stayed in the rooms on the second floor in the main building and our experiences have b...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank uscdad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 8, 2012

Just a great hotel all around. The staff were great, Colin, Andulay, and Franklin made us feel at home. The food was really good. The well manicured pool area and indoor/outdoor gathering place was really pleasant. Truly, a nice oasis in Puerto Viejo.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Kiersten Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2012

The hotel is beautiful! The beach is gorgeous! All the staff were so cool. We stayed in the dolphin suite it was amazing. I have no words for how epic the beach here is! Thank you for the memories.
We will be back soon!
Pura Vida

Room Tip: all the rooms are awesome. If you stay in the apartment it has a full kitchen
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Christilynn C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2012

We stayed there for 3 nights and it was wonderful! Our rooms were beautiful and the property was landscaped so well. It was right on the beach! I loved waking up and going to the beach where there was coffee set out in the morning. The breakfast was great, it was always made to order. The dinner was fantastic as well! The best fish we have had! The staff was really helpful also in planing excursions. I loved that there were no young children allowed. It made for a more peaceful environment. The price was also very affordable especially if you book within 48 hours of your stay. The only slightly negative thing I would say was that the jacuzzi was not heated, but since it was hot out it was refreshing. This is a must stay place!!

Room Tip: The Ocean room was the best!
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  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Lucy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2012

We just got back from a 10-day stay at Banana Azul. This hotel was nothing short of amazing--from the friendly staff to the incredible food, everything about Banana Azul had me wanting to move in and never leave. I was there with my husband and four friends in late July.

Rooms: Half of the time was in an Ocean Room. The room was clean, the balcony overlooked the pool and beach/ocean, and there was plenty of space. The Ocean Room had a large walkout balcony with a hammock and table (perfect for playing cards.) It was fun because my party had three Ocean Rooms, all side by side, and the balcony connected (it was divided with privacy screening) which made it feel like we were all in a house together, but with separate rooms.

The second half of the time we were in the Apartment. Oh, boy, if you are traveling with a small group--BOOK the Apartment! This bungalow was so neat! There were two rooms, a large living area with a hammock, couch, and table, a big bathroom with separate shower and bathtub, and a kitchen area stocked with dishes and spices.

My friends stayed in the Howler Suite the last night. This room was decked out with a large tub, double sinks, and a wrapping balcony that overlooked the ocean. Gorgeous views! It is tacked onto the end of the Ocean Rooms, so if you have a large party you should do as the owner, Colin, suggests and book the Howler Suite along with the first couple of Ocean Rooms connecting so your whole party can enjoy the wraparound balcony.

I am sure all of the rooms at Banana Azul are incredible and you can't go wrong with any of them! Also, the housekeeping staff made sure our rooms were cleaned each and every day. They did an amazing job.

Food: What can I say--I loved it all! I am a big foodie and I would say that the main thing I look forward to when traveling is the food. Breakfast is included with your stay at Banana Azul, but they also have a large lunch menu with entrees, snacks, and desserts and a dinner menu each night with three options (usually one fish, one meat, and one vegetarian).

The breakfasts always included eggs and toast but they were different each day we were there: eggs benedict, breakfast burrito, egg sandwiches.. but my favorite was the traditional breakfast of fried eggs with gallo pinto (rice and beans)--it was EXCELLENT! I had gallo pinto at a few different restaurants during my stay, but Banana Azul's was the best I had, hands down.

The lunch menu included lots of options--sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, and sides. My favorite picks were the peppered french fries, the guacamole, the grilled cheese (add avocado), and the vegetarian quesadilla. Everything was SO fresh!

The dinners were all fantastic and I loved the option of eating at the hotel on the nights we didn't want to go out to town. Some favorites included the coleslaw (and I typically hate coleslaw--this was vinegar-based and had the most unique flavor!), the stuffed avocado, the falafel, and the famous beef skewers.

I can't forget to mention the amazing, freshly baked brownies! So many brownies were consumed! They were best when heated up and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

I also want to mention we had two vegans in our party and they said they ate better at Banana Azul than they do at home. The kitchen was very accommodating to their dietary needs!

Drinks: The full bar was awesome. The bartenders, Franklin and Eduardo, were both so friendly and fun. My staple drink was the mojito--I am craving one now, at 9 AM. The Pina Guaro Sour (I think?) was also a really tasty cocktail. Of course, you can never go wrong with a Pina Colada.

Beach: The beach is just a few steps from the hotel and is equipped with hammocks, padded lounge chairs, umbrellas for shade, and even a massage hut. The beach is also littered with the cutest dogs you'll ever see--they are all so friendly and fun to play with. The black beach (Playa Negra) has the softest sand my feet have ever felt. The ocean is warm and fun to play in--Banana Azul has boogie boards for rent. We did that the first day and it was a lot of fun. The staff is on top of things and always made sure that everyone at the beach was taken care of. They constantly refilled our drinks, brought us food made to order, and even served us fresh coconut water--coconut and all--on the house.

Location: Banana Azul is conveniently located very close to town. We often walked to Puerto Viejo along the beach, but we also took the road a few times. It was a 20-25 minute walk. However, it's very inexpensive to get a cab to town ($1-2 per person, depending on the cab driver..haha.)

Service/Staff: I already touched on how great the bar and kitchen staff was, but it must be said that they were ALL AMAZING. Everyone was so friendly and accommodating! All of the staff members always had a smile on their face--it's no surprise, living and working in such a beautiful place. The owner, Colin, was there each day and made sure to say hi. It was refreshing to have such a down-to-earth hotel owner, just hanging around with everyone.. laughing, eating, drinking, and enjoying life. Everyone at Banana Azul played a part in making sure our vacation was the most enjoyable, relaxing, fantastic time ever.

A few other great things about Banana Azul that you may like to know: They offer laundry service (so pack light!) They offer bike rentals. There is a Gecko Tours counter right in the lobby and they can book all your excursions for you (I recommend the jungle hike in Manzanillo with tour guide Ricky!) They let you bill everything to your room and pay at the end so you don't have to constantly carry money with you. There is a beautiful pool/jacuzzi in the center of everything that is open 24 hours. There is sun screen, tanning lotion, beach towels, and bug spray for everyone to use (also a big shelf of community books and games.) You can get a massage, manicure, or pedicure right on the beach. There is a lot of common area with hammocks, chairs, and tables so you can hang out with your party and meet other travelers. One last thing: everything is SO affordable. The room rates were very reasonable (I would have easily paid more) and everything offered at Banana Azul was very inexpensive.

I have gone on long enough. Clearly I enjoyed my stay at Banana Azul SO much. I can't wait to go back! Next time, I am buying a one-way ticket...

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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7  Thank Janetha G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2012

I love this place. The owner and staff of Banana Azul are the nicest and most accomodating people you can hope to meet. Costa Rica is an amazing place to spend your time. If you find yourself anywhere close to Puerto Viejo, you must visit the amazing beach and accomodations of the Banana Azul. This property sits on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited.

A small but very friendly and inviting place. Whether it's for a drinks or a massage as you relax on the beach, a visit to the fresh water pool after the beach, to the bar for drinks or for dinner, or a stay on the hotel, you'll find Banana to be a place that is inviting and relaxing. I appreciated the easy use of the fresh water shower after the beach and the easy rental for wifi (seriously cheap). Whether you are staying in the hotel, or just visiting the bar, the staff are helpful and accommodating.

Of all the places I have been so far in the world, I expect that I will one day return to the "Banana."

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Where2GoWhere2go
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 25, 2012

Banana Azul is very beautiful, close to nature and relaxed, like a paradise... :) We will miss specially the dogs and cats, delicious mango smoothies and pina coladas, Micheles banana cake :D ! Thank You David and everybody else! Muchos Gracias!! Hope we can come back some day :) !! Liisa and Juha, from Finland

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank liisahatonen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Banana Azul

Address: Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: $64 - $161 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Banana Azul 3.5*
Number of rooms: 22
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Banana Azul hotel is a small and simple hotel north of town on Playa Negra. The small boutique hotel has been created with care using local products and a philosophy that emphasizes relaxation. We cater to adults, 16 years and over. Blooming gardens adorn the property, as does several freely-hanging hammocks, providing the perfect spot for afternoon napping or leisurely reading. A meandering pond inhabited by fish and turtles flows through portions of the property adding a lighter element to the ongoing natural soundtrack of waves crashing against the shoreline. The hotel consists of 22 beautiful guest rooms with private baths, fans (some with A/C), and free WiFi. Most rooms are on the second floor of the main building, and open onto a large veranda with sweeping ocean views and of the garden. Banana Azul offers its guests a quaint restaurant that serves a complimentary filling breakfast, variety of lunch options and refreshing drinks throughout the day and a relaxing three entre dinner option in a romantic atmosphere at night. Caribe Fun Tours is on site to assist with tours and transportation needs and can assist with a variety of package options including visits to the Arenal Volcano, canopy tours, snorkeling trips, and even rafting excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Banana Azul Hotel
Banana Azul Puerto Viejo
Hotel Banana Azul Costa Rica/Limon

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