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“Gorgeous place”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 26, 2014

If you can imagine paradise on earth then this place is it... staff were very attentive and helpful and food was good. About 30 minutes walk to Puerto Viejo and lovely setting just in from the sea.

Only slight grip was that we had to be moved between two rooms and the garden room downstairs was a bit claustrophobic but otherwise all the rooms were luxurious.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Richard M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 25, 2014

We took supposedly the best room : "red frog tropical suite". It does have a private patio and pool (not really jacuzzi). Nice patio, although the pool was a bit cold. The patio and surroundings are not totally isolated from the view. One morning, we wanted to use the pool but we found a mechanic working at the pool, entered via the backyard door (which we were not aware of).
The room is next to the laundry, and the noise is perceivable although ot loud at all.

The room is large but very dark dark bamboo on the walls) and smells a bit humidity.

The bathroom is nice but no place to put your stuff next to the sink, NO HOT WATER at the tap (it was not a failure, just that it only has cold water) (not easy to shave). More surprising, the bathroom has large OPEN Windows giving on the forest. We were therefore more "outside" than "Inside". Of course, no mosquito screen. Then we had all sorts of bugs Inside the bathroom (and some in the room).
There was NO haire dryer, NO fridge, NO coffee-maker...One day the room service came at 3 pm

Indeed the beach was close (which is pretty rare in the area), but We really overpayed for this hotel, paid for a pool we hardly could use. The rest was at the level of a 2/3 star hotel, not more

On the contrary, the dinner was very good, at a very reasonable price compared with the area.

Not sure we will recommend it, and certainly not the red frog suite.

Room Tip: I think the basic rooms are directly on the restaurant. Make sure the Equipment (pretty scarce) sui...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank AEROSTEPH_PARIS
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 28, 2014

Every person's experience when traveling in places like this are unique. Yours seems to clearly demonstrate this.

We have had some potential guests write us wanting to know what "star rating" we have. I always let them know, that we have no idea as to what category we fit in. We are guided by our guests and not a industry standard that is trying to accommodate the masses. If you are looking for typical first world hotel standards, you might want to rethink our hotel and maybe even the whole area.

We make it really clear, while most guests enjoy their stay here, it is clearly not for everyone.

Normally I would try and use this space to address your concerns, but I don't think it would accomplish much at this point.

However, let me assure you your feedback is "duly noted" and we will strive to do better.

Cheers, Colin.

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Reviewed January 24, 2014

My wife and I stayed here during our stay in Puerto Viejo. The place is a 20-30min walk from town which means it is quite at night and no traffic or barking dogs nearby. We rented bikes one day and rode to Playa Uva which was great. The staff is really great and the owner is very friendly, he had just returned from Thailand and we spoke for a short while near the pool. He seems to be very involved with the community which is nice. We ordered some sandwich wraps at lunch time several days because they were so tasty. The drinks were made strong which was a nice change from the rest of the country. The room was clean and had plenty of space and the bathroom had excellent pressure and heat. Taxi into town is $4 US and it is recommended at night however we walked back from town the first night, I was solicited by a prostitute but that was it. Nothing dangerous. The staff is very friendly and the breakfast was great as well. I would deff stay again.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Christopher1384
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2014

We had mixed feelings about our stay at Banana Azul - some aspects were great and others disappointing. Like a reviewer below we thought it would be most helpful to list the pros and cons.



Pros



Gecko Adventures has a desk at reception and the staff are brilliant. You can book transfers, surf lessons, adventure activities through them and the standard is really high. I have surfed for a few years but never had lessons. I had two surf lessons with Hershel of the Caribbean Surf School and learnt LOADS and had a blast. He and his colleagues are really relaxed and fun to surf with. We also booked our transfer to Tortuguero through Gecko and were rewarded with a wonderful, three-hour, wildlife-spotting, river ride from Le Moin to Tortuguero.



Some of the staff are very helpful - David and Chantelle on reception particularly. Others were a bit indifferent..



The in-house masseuse is absolutely lovely. He had some special touches, like starting and ending the massage with the sound of a rainmaker and giving a bar of chocolate as a gift. He was also very knowledgable and very approachable around the hotel afterwards. I felt very relaxed straight after and then tired the next day as the toxins were clearing out of me but he gave great advice.

The bike hire is great and the taxi trips to and from town quick, easy and a fixed price. 



The garden is beautiful and the location right on the beach perfect, you can jump in the sea as soon as you wake up. 

I liked being able to help myself to coffee from 6.30am and look out on the sea.

The Dolphin Room is a nice place to stay. Thought it's furthest from the beach, it is light and airy. Prepare to wake once the sun's up as there are no ceiling blinds.



The website gives a good representation of what the hotel is like. 



Cons



Other than breakfast the food at the hotel isn't good! We were warned about this by other guests but gave it a try and were rewarded with a ravioli swimming in greasy water.



We moved from the Dolphin Room (8) to Ocean Room (2). The Ocean Room is a good size but the ceiling fan in there is SO noisy - as is the one in the room next door. It sounds like someone drilling in the night. You can also constantly smell food in that room. One night there was a Caribbean bbq by the pool and all the smoke came right up into our room. Another night the hotel's next door neighbours had their TV on so loud at 2am that we could hear it from our bed. They watch the TV on their patio at the back of the house.

Room Tip: The Dolphin Room was pleasant but we wished we'd booked the Howler Room - it has the best views...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Hannah W
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 28, 2014

I am sorry to hear we did not meet your expectations. After reading your review I immediately consulted my front desk staff to find out why these issues were not addressed during your stay. I was saddened to hear that nothing was reported to the desk. We keep a log of customer feedback.

I then went to Dolphin Room with maintenance staff to inspect the fan. I was not able to reproduce the sound you claim. It sounded like a normal wall fan. We would love to have ceiling fans, but given our exposure to salt from the ocean, they do not last.

Yes, Sunday afternoons, for 2-3 hours, smoke from the Caribbean bbq is an issue. We apologize, but no matter where we put the bbq, it will result in some smoke on certain room decks. As for in your room, if you just close the door, that should have taken care of that.

Yes, I agree that the food can always use improvement. But please keep in mind, we are in an area in a developing country that almost all the food we cook is foreign to them. Bringing in educated, qualified staff is not even an option. We have to continually train and groom staff to achieve standards expected by North American tourists. Like the comment about the fan, it is hard to take this too seriously, given that according to our surveys we send out post-stay, our food rates at an acceptable level. But, please be assured your comments will be passed on to our cook. He is a humble guy and receives them well.

I will speak to our neighbor about the TV. If you had said something to our night guard, he would have tried to rectify this. When you have this type of tropical outdoor living, these things can be an issue at times. This is also Latin America and they can be a "noisy" culture. I always threaten to open a place called the Zen Cafe just so I can have a place to go where it is very quiet.

I wish we could have done better. Your comments help guide us in our company mission which states "We Strive for Progress, Not Perfection".

On another note, I am happy to hear that the rest of your stay was good.

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Reviewed January 15, 2014

Very nice hotel. Lovely gardens, swimming pool and right on the beach with beachchairs and a bar. Good athmosphere. Lovely staff. Food is very good. The bathroom is although covered open. The bedroom can be closed from the outdoors and has a good fan above the bed. The outside terras is great and a lovely space to relax. Even though it is right on the rainforrest we didn't have any bugs inside. (this was a bit of a worry for me upfront).
In summary great place. We haven't seen any more beautiful hotel in the area. Very secure - night and day guard, your car is parked behind a gate.

Room Tip: Of the Ocean rooms, the Dolphin room, on a corner, has the largest outeside terras.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Ennis270
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 17, 2014

Thanks for your kind words. I too am always surprised there are not more bugs. But when people ask me about bugs, I never know what to tell them as I have really no idea what constitutes a lot of bugs. We all would have our own definition around that.

I know when I first moved here, I was living further back off the beach and there were more bugs and Mosquitos . However, even then it never seemed intolerable.

I know the ocean breeze gets rids of many and having almost all rooms on second floor seems to deal with many as well. They seem to prefer closer to the ground.

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Reviewed January 15, 2014

The hotel is very beautiful and steps from an equally beautiful beach. The staff is very friendly and responsive to requests. However, there were a few annoying things that kept popping up:

(1) Even if you're one of only a couple people sitting at a table in the restaurant, expect to wait twenty minutes before the server will ask you if you'd like anything. I don't expect the staff to be frantically running around, but it's damn frustrating when they're just talking with one another and you're hungry.

(2) It's nearly impossible to sleep in once the sun hits a certain height due to the sky lights, which you can't blind. Not a big deal but don't expect to get any quality sleep after mid-morning.

(3) Had a hot shower only once during my visit. Again, not a super big deal but sometimes a person just needs one.

If you're cool with (1)-(3) above, expect to have a fantastic time here. It really is quite beautiful. If you're not, you'll still certainly enjoy yourself but just become a little bit frustrated a few times a day.

Stayed: January 2014, traveled solo
Thank Sam G
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 17, 2014

Thanks for your feedback. Great to hear that despite our shortcomings, you still were very positive about your experience.

I checked with desk staff and they wished you had said something during your stay or upon checkout about the hot water. Apparently one other guest complained but, they did not take it too seriously because they were not aware of other issues. Our place is so small, that the hot water works for all or none.

I have started an investigation this morning by checking water temperatures in different parts of the hotel at different times throughout the day. I am also looking into a gas backup system should we have an issue with the electrical one.

As for the light in rooms... Yes, it is an issue. But with all wood rooms, they become to dark and also if we do not have sun coming in and drying out the humidity, we can get musty smells or even worse. Airflow and light for wood rooms is needed as much as possible.

Our restaurant staff lately has been weak. We are aware of this and are working very hard. We just lost 2 key people that had been with us for years. One was swept away by a girl that took him away to Hawaii and the other one is on pregnancy leave. It has taken 3 new staff to cover them off. It's not like North America where it's not really an issue to get trained restaurant staff. Here, it's always an ongoing struggle.

I hope it does not come across that I am discrediting your criticism. It was very constructive. We are taking them into account and try rectify them.

Cheers, Colin.

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Reviewed January 10, 2014 via mobile

Had the best time at this hotel.
Was only able to book in one night as it was high season.
Next time I am in Puerto Viejo I will plan ahead and stay here for the whole trip.
Friendly staff, clean and comfortable rooms, great pool, great location.
Very natural in it's design and makes you feel like you are exactly where you expected.
And everyone at the hotel was amazing.
Thank you.
Enjoy!!!

Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
Thank PeterBruceG
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
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: $59 - $184 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Banana Azul 3.5*
Number of rooms: 18
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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