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“Banana Azul and Gecko Trail Adventures”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 12, 2013

Banana Azul is a small hotel by the beach and much exceeded our expectations. The food was delightful, a good bar and able to make many different cocktails, clean comfortable rooms with good ventilation and views. Staff were friendly and helpful. We could not have asked for any more of a hotel.
Our package was compiled by Gecko Trail Adventures which arranged the rooms, tours and transfers, a meal in the town and massage. This was very well communicated, documented and went precisely as planned, and they only used reliable operators who make you feel special. When we wanted to change, this was no trouble and they made the changes and made our holiday a dream.
I would highly recommend Gecko Trail Adventures.

Room Tip: Sloth cabina is smaller and comfortable, but pay extra and book an Ocean Room for more space, better...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank michael n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 7, 2013

My husband and I stayed in the Banana Azul Apartment from April 17-21 and didn’t want to leave this truly unique and special place. It is not a luxury hotel by American standards, so if you are seeking a generic, cookie-cutter hotel with all the creature comforts, it might not be for you, but for us, it was a perfect fit.

The Room:
We stayed in the Apartment and it was awesome – spacious, rustic, open, (we actually had a bat living in the kitchen, but he pretty much kept to himself), and a great place to unwind after our daytime adventures. The open bathroom and shower was very cool, the hammock was heavenly, and it was nice having the kitchen there for making snacks, drinks, etc. The mosquito net was a little tricky to negotiate, but we found that if we closed the shutters and turned the fans on at night, we didn’t need it.

The Staff:
The entire staff goes out of their way to make Banana Azul awesome. Joel at reception showed us around and made us feel right at home with a welcome drink after a long day of white water rafting. Our female waitress/bartender (don’t know her name but she was great!) was super sweet and helpful in accommodating our gluten allergies at dinner, and made a mean Mai Tai as well! Jeff served us breakfast each morning and was so gracious and helpful (the gluten-free banana pancakes were the best I’ve ever had btw), and Franklin was friendly and always eager to help. And the owner/manager (thin man with shaved head?) had a nice way of overseeing things like bringing us steak knives when he noticed us struggling with butter knives or helping people find new seats at breakfast when a downpour soaked some of the tables.

The Facilities:
The hotel is right on Playa Negra and the grounds are beautifully landscaped with a rustic and natural vibe. The pool and jacuzzi are surrounded by tiki huts and a koi pond runs the length of the open restaurant/reception. The beachfront is amazing, with black sand, huge waves, and tons of privacy. We loved lounging, sipping fresh coconut water (or Guaro sours!), and splashing around – boogie boards are available to rent for $5. They also have bikes for $6 to ride into town, and Gecko Trail Adventures (who we used to book our entire trip) has a satellite office right at reception. There is also a vast collection of board games, and books for rainy mornings : )

The Restaurant/Bar:
The food at the restaurant was simple, delicious, and fresh, from the included breakfast of tropical fruits, coffee, and choice of hot meal to the $12.95 nightly dinner menu, which always included the salad bar (with the most amazing pesto/basil infused oil? I need the recipe!!!) entrée (always a gluten-free and veg option) and dessert. We ate there on a Friday night and had the Caribbean buffet dinner – definitely check this out if you can - the chicken was uniquely and deliciously seasoned, the coconut flan was out of this world, and everything was gluten free! We did go out to eat in town at the Point and The Lazy Mon (highly recommend both), and bought food from the market to prepare in our kitchen, but it was super convenient to have the restaurant there as well. The (very strong) drinks were equally delicious and made with all fresh ingredients and ranged from around $4-$6.

Recommendations:
We were out on an all day jungle adventure and returned to our room around 3:30 and almost got walked in on while changing into our swimsuits – seems a little late in the day for housekeeping…we ended up not getting any housekeeping or clean towels that day. Also, the Apartment was great but could maybe benefit from a little more privacy at the entrance – anyone could easily just walk up, and after almost being walked in on, I was a little nervous that it would happen again - maybe a “do not disturb” sign at the entrance? Our bathroom had a beautiful soaking tub that unfortunately didn’t drain properly; however, we were so busy doing other stuff that we didn’t get to use it, so no big deal.

Banana Azul is unique, charming, and beautiful, just like the country of Costa Rica. If the owners ever tire of living in Puerto Viejo or operating the hotel, I would drop everything in a heartbeat, sell all my possessions, and move down there to take over for them – seriously, keep me in mind! Many thanks for an unforgettable experience and hope to visit again soon…

Room Tip: The Apartment and Red Frog suite are in a separate, more private building
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank armerida
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

Banana Azul is the best resort we have stayed at in years! Elegant surroundings, including magnificent gardens and the ocean at your doorstep complement the friendly, capable staff, excellent food and well-stocked bar. Room choices are many, both with and without air conditioning (which we prefer) Long-serving staff will great you as if you were coming home after your first visit! We love the place!

Room Tip: Don't be put off by the 4 hour air conditioned van ride to and from San Jose. Gecko Travel will...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank knalibow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

Very beautiful hotel, but it was remote. If you like a nice holiday at the beach than this is the perfect location but if you like to go to town and to walk you will be bored here. It was to dangerous to go at night at the beach and town was to far away to walk to so you had tot take each time a taxi. In town there was not many things to do; ik was just one street and more rasta style. The staff of the hotel is very gay friendly but thats it, the town wasn't very gay friendly.
The drinks and food where a bit expensive.

Room Tip: I think all rooms are very nice
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  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MrSmith74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2013

My boyfriend and I stayed here for three nights and could not have been happier with our stay. Before arriving, the helpful staff booked a taxi for us to take us to Banana Azul, and the excellent customer service continued throughout the stay-everyone was very kind and went out of their way to make us feel at home. We stayed in the red frog suite, which was very beautiful and spacious. The best part was having cocktails on the almost-deserted beach. My only minor complaint is that they need to get some new pillows-they were very flat! Overall, we had a very relaxing stay and hope to come back next time we visit Costa Rica.

  • Stayed: April 2013
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1  Thank ultraviolet614
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2013

My wife and I ended our trip to Costa Rica with three nights at Banana Azul. The property is breathtaking! The gardener Rick has done an outstanding job. The walk around the yard is like a paid ticket to a botanical garden! One of the Owners Colin also was on site everyday and he shared some of the upgrades that are in the planning. His attention to detail was remarkable. The entire building is made of local tropical wood. Our room included open French doors that open to a large wood deck with a hammock and patio table and chairs. The decor is true to the tropical location- rustic beautiful local wood and open air. The beach is amazing. Black sand so wear sandals. Many times we were the only ones on the beach as far as you could see. They have a restaurant on the property so you do not have to leave the property. The food was not fancy but was very reasonably priced and the service was excellent. We were sad to leave. We will be back!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Joe249
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 27, 2013

The owners and staff have decided to make guests at Banana Azul feel like they've been transported into a very special corner of Paradise. And it works. The aesthetics, the friendliness and caring family atmosphere, good food and service all combine to say that their vision is being fulfilled. I was especially taken with the gardens, where daily I would notice something new from a different angle. Rick's mastery and love of the "flora" is breathtaking. Of course, the "fauna", dogs cats, fish and turtles all contribute to a truly relaxing and inspiring vacation, right on the beach. I can hardly wait to return.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled solo
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2  Thank Doug152
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: $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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