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“40th anniversary in paradise”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 13, 2013

Although we are not youngsters, we like a little adventure with our relaxation and the Banana Azul was the perfect home base for our vacation. Everyone there is so friendly and helpful. You can book all your excursions right in the lobby, which is very convenient. We did white-water rafting, zip-lining, Jaguar rescue center, and the Chocolate House. You should be in good shape to do the rafting, but the others are pretty laid back. Colin and the crew are there to answer any questions you may have about the area, restaurants etc. We were there in Sept. and the weather was humid, which is to be expected in the rain forest, but very pleasant for sleeping. Most of the rooms have no air, but do have fans which cool the room down by evening.
This is by no means The Ritz Carlton, but a comfortable friendly hotel that I would highly recommend to anyone with a sense of adventure.

Room Tip: We stayed in an Ocean View room and slept with the French doors open at night and fell asleep to the...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Carol520
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 9, 2013

We have stayed in the Playa Negra area of Puerto Viejo three times now. Each time we have rented houses on the beach. We always make sure our rental is close too Banana Azul as we love the laid back atmosphere of the restaurant and bar area at the hotel. The food is made fresh daily and is always delicious. The prices are very reasonable for the portions and quality of food. As well we are always happy to sample the many tropical drinks offered by the bar. The new Azul Beach Club is great too. We can sit at the beach with reclining chairs and get the same great food and service offered at the restaurant. Next time we visit we plan on staying at the Hotel now our daughter is a teenager. We were lucky enough to tour some of the rooms this year and were impressed by the simplicity and unique elegance of each individual room. The staff are welcoming and pleasant. It's the perfect place to escape from the day to day stress of our fast paced lives. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank labbott
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2013

"Hotel Banana Azul offers simple accommodations with a Guesthouse/Beach Lodge feeling. Before reserving, please see if this is your type of vacation spot, please read our guest reviews about their experiences here at Banana Azul. See also: FAQ – Food – Banana Azul and Puerto Viejo". This is what Banana Azul posted on their webpage and if you keep this in mind and book, you won't be disappointed. That is exactly what this place is all about. This place neither is a luxury hotel nor a backpacker hideaway nor some kind of Mercure or Holiday Inn. It is somehow special;it is a perfectly appointed, personal and individual mid-range hotel. The owners are lovely, the staff fantastic, the grounds remarkable, the location perfect if you wanna get away from it all. We are both in the industry and this is one of the few places were you can shake-off your professional thoughts and simply indulgence in the true meaning of hospitality. We've stayed a couple of years ago (I think in August 2010) but I always wanted to write a note.
Food is simple but good, drinks are decent, rooms are well appointed (and we stayed in two different ones although I thought that La Rana Roja room was the very best because of its privacy). A million little touches make this place special. I can see that not everyone would understand the special vibe of this place, but there is a reason why it is so highly rated and listed in any decent guide book! It simply doesn't have a hotel feeling to it but it also too sophisticated to be considered a boutique guest house. It is a lovely quiet, relaxed place with fun people around you and a marvelous beach. Tours and transfers that they booked for us were amazing. We would come back to Costa Rica just to stay at Banana Azul!

Room Tip: For privacy and an intimate setting choose the red frog room!
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  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Clemenshh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
colinsito, Owner at Hotel Banana Azul, responded to this reviewResponded January 7, 2013

Thanks very much for trying to capture what we are trying to offer. We try hard on our website to communicate, that while popular, does not mean Banana Azul or Puerto Viejo is for everyone. I know when people write me and ask " what star rating is your hotel?", we have a potential misfit. I have found those star ratings work well for North American type properties, but not well for properties that try and so something different then cookie cutter accomodations.

Personally I don`t like having to try and disclose every detail. What happened to the days when we were just open to be surprised? But, nowadays, people expect pictures and videos - so we do our best to provide them.

We have found the best way is to listen to our customers through these reviews, talking to people and our follow-up surveys that give us the direction we need to keep the majority of our customers satisfied. We now have guests that are on their 4th return visit and they are pleased to see all the improvements in both grounds and room quality. Our goal is that Banana Azul will always be a work in progress, not only to keep us stimulated, but our guests as well.

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Reviewed January 5, 2013

During a 12 day trip to Costa Rica, my husband and I stayed at several hotels. The Banana Azul was our favorite, by far. We basically just relaxed every day, which was exactly what we wanted. We heard there were many things to do in the area, but we had already done a lot of activities in other towns and were ready to do nothing. The location is wonderful, right next to the beach, and the hotel is an oasis. From our simply decorated room to the pool and open restaurant and sitting areas, every part of the hotel was just wonderful. I actually hesitate to call it a hotel because it seemed like so much more.

They offer coffee on the beach at 6am. You're welcome to use a bottle of sun lotion or a beach towel. You can play a board game or rent a bike. For meals in the restaurant, they always have two choices written on a chalk board, sometimes there is a buffet. The hotel is small so you see the same people in the restaurant often so you often meet new people and socialize as much or as little as you'd like.

Above all, the word that comes to mind when I think of Hotel Banana Azul is hospitality. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. It's obvious that the staff and owners make your enjoyment the top priority. We'll get back there someday!

Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
1  Thank jencrego
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2013

My business partner and I live in Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula and own a yoga retreat. I had visited Puerto Viejo 6 years ago and just fell in love with it. While it is a 3 hour drive from San Jose (our return trip was 2 1/2 hours) It is a fascinating place with a lot of character, beautiful people, and an incredible coast line.

I had heard a lot about the Banana Azul from friends and internet reviews and wanted to check it out. Being a hotel owner in the jungle, we were both very impressed with everything. Knowing what it takes to produce this in the middle of "no wehere" the BA team has done a superb job, offer great service and provide attentive care to the guests.

Room Tip: There new rooms are just fabulous and beautiful. If you get a chance, book them.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank blueosa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

Contrary to all that I read before I came to this location I would love to alert those who choose to get all the way to a few facts that were not relayed to me.
One: It rains a lot in the holiday season. Almost all days. This is supposed to be a beach vacation. All I heard when I asked what was the weather when I booked was La Pura Vida.
Two. The beds are not comfortable and the linen old. You can hear people cough in the next room as if they stand next to you.
Three. They messed up our reservation big time. At first the approach was that I am just a grumpy customer who is not happy. It took till last day and a search in computer to see that yes. They messed up and in five days we had three room changes as if we were not paying full price and were shuttled from place to place.
Yes we got a free meal. I would rather have my rooms the way I requested them way in advance.
The two points that I am giving this place is for the staff. They are lovely people who are very interested in helping the guests.
As for the owner. When I complained at reception after first day about room issue they told me he'll come to speak with me. I had to look for him. Not Cool.
I imagine that on sunny days when you can stay on the beach for hours this is not important but when it rains you do need a room and a tiny bit of comfort.
I wish someone would have alerted me.

Room Tip: Maybe the ocean front room. Bed might not be good there either.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank eeyorita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
colinsito, Owner at Hotel Banana Azul, responded to this reviewResponded January 2, 2013

First of all, I would like to apologize again for the problems with your reservation. We accept full responsibility as the explicit notes you had regarding the accommodations of your four children and you and your husband were quite specific. The desk clerk who accepted your special requests as to location of the rooms, should not have done so.

We only have 14 rooms and with 100% occupancy over Christmas, we realized right before you arrived, we were not able to meet the exact rooms your demanded. We contacted you right prior to arrival to alert you of this problem and you made it clear, we had no choice but to solve the issue. We did our best... And we could not.

Our linens are medium hotel quality and are not old. We replace them regularly. Because of humidity here, you can not have 100% cotton with high thread count. They just soak up and retain moisture. Our pillow-top mattresses are all brand new (within last 3 months) and are highest quality hotel mattress for mid-range hotels.

In regards to the weather, yes, I can see how that was really a challenge for you and your four adult teen-age children. However, if one had just read our FAQ page, it clearly shows that December is the month with the highest rainfall. It has a graph that shows rain fall from 2002-2011. I am not sure how we could have communicated that to you more clearly. As for the desk staff not being more engaged with you in regards to your requests for daily forecasts... We have all lived here far too long to rely on what weather forecasts say. The only thing we have learned for sure, is if the sky is dark over the ocean, get ready for a rain shower.

I am glad you acknowledged the efforts of our staff. They try very hard and I am happy to hear that it seems they did what they could to accomodate you and your family. I apologize for not being able to spend more time dealing with your situation, but there was really nothing I could do and I had a full house of Christmas travellers that also needed my attention. If it had not been Christmas, I would have tried to help find you and your family more suitable accommodations - but I knew with high season, that would not be an option and given you had not suggested that option, I would have felt it would have been insulting to even suggest it.

We do our best to be as up-front as possible on our website about what to expect when booking with us. We are very clear, that the area and our accommodations are clearly not for everyone.

In a last effort to try and make sure people know what to expect when reserving with us, right above the "agree to terms" check box on our reservations page, it reads the following; "Hotel Banana Azul offers simple accommodations with a Guesthouse/Beach Lodge feeling. Before reserving, please see if this is your type of vacation spot, please read our guest reviews about their experiences here at Banana Azul. See also: FAQ – Food – Banana Azul and Puerto Viejo.

I wish we could have done better. Regards, Colin Brownlee & Frederick Sphar

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Reviewed December 30, 2012

We spent a week here over Christmas, staying in one of the 'Garden' rooms. The room itself had been recently re-decorated and has some lovely little touches such as a good size drench-shower and two-person bath. Unfortunately the room space is completely contained and hence no air gets to it. The room also had high levels of humidity to the point that our swimming clothes would not dry! We spoke to Banana Azul about this and they are aware of the issue (which is common to the whole area, not just their hotel) and are considering what can be don't about it. The room is located immediately next to reception and as such was noisy quite often.

There were so many positives about the hotel though....right on the beach, great breakfast and evening meals served. You do need to get a taxi into town but if you don't fancy the trip then their kitchen is always open and reasonably priced.

The service provided by all the staff was second to none and often we found them going out of their way to helo, sometimes throwing in complementary extras such as chilled fresh coconut water and on Christmas Day a complementary lunch.

I would recommend the hotel to anyone who would like a relaxed and friendly hotel but isn't too fussed about being close to town.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank JoJo29London
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 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: $63 - $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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