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!
- 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