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“While charming we were mostly disappointed with our experience at Banana Azul.”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 14, 2010

The design is interesting, I liked the tropical/rustic motif with the wood everywhere ambiance. There is a beautiful garden across a long Koi pond/channel with fish and turtles. You can tell the owners pay close attention to manicuring the property.

The food was a little disappointing. Limited nightly dinner menu, with super limitations if you're vegan or vegetarian. But I liked the bar and bar tenders who were cool.

Unfortunately the thematic 'Ocean View' rooms force you to conform to the hotel's design. The rooms have cathedral ceilings with fiberglass skylights that must've been facing east because you wake up to sunlight on your face. The rooms immediately begin to heat up from then on in a greenhouse effect. though. Their website's advice that a fan would suffice assumes a bit about the guests' heat tolerances. The wall mounted fan and floor fan, and opening the balcony doors only puts a dent in it.
In addition they assume you don't mind an open air lattice ceiling high between your toilet and a common area, so no squeeze room for feeling uptight about not wanting to take a dump while people can hear or possibly smell it. There is also no controllable bug barrier between outside and the bathroom cool in that I spotted a bird-sized moth to photograph, not cool in that my fiance was surprised getting out of the shower with a few dozen fat black ants that clustered in the folded towel on the shelf. You can however seal the bedroom from the bathroom.
I like how the balcony looks over the reception/bar area but again the privacy is lacking. The only thing that divides your room's balcony with your neighbor's is a hanging bamboo divider that doesn't extend even to the balcony's edge. This is a cool concept for if you know your neighbor but otherwise no. Our second to last day I woke up to a staff member walking right in off the balcony while we're naked and partially covered in sheets. "Water the plants?" Awkward.
After a few nights we inquired to switch rooms to the ground floor or to a room with AC. No dice, they were booked. My fiance explained that she was having difficulty dealing with the heat in our room and asked if we could leave a night early without incurring charge in order to get relief somewhere with AC. The guy was surprisingly rude about it saying 'um, no', and then in a sassy tone said 'you came to the Caribbean, HONEY it's hot' in a condescending tone. Only after she became visibly irritated and walked away was he willing to actually attempt empathy, or really to save face. So ultimately we were 'set free'. 5 minutes later when we were packing to leave a gang of maids let themselves into our room without knocking, which further reinforced our desire to go.

Overall the place is cool looking and laid back, but with the potential for awkwardness and discomfort that we didn't appreciate.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Jwilliamsjr80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,038 - 1,044 of 1,479 reviews

Reviewed December 13, 2010

I wasn't sure what to expect when I came to Banana Azul, but from the moment we got there until we left a week later, we had absolutely no complaints. The staff (from the managers to the tour company to the cleaning crew to the bartenders to the landscapers to the cooks!) couldn't have been more friendly or helpful. We made great friends with some of the other guests too which was an added bonus!

The hotel itself is right on the beach and has a very "homey" feel to it. We went into town a few nights for dinner and then other nights just decided to hang around the hotel and having drinks at their bar- it was hard not to do that every night!

We stayed both upstairs and downstairs (Garden room and ocean room), and while the garden room is very cool, the ocean room has great views and a nice outdoor patio area.

The tour company in the hotel set up a zipline tour where we took ATV's out and toured around for the day and it was probably one of my favorite days of the trip. For those people who like a little adventure it's a great thing to do!.

We hope to go back again very soon, what an AMAZING vacation!

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Maya2884
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2010

We are familiar visitors to Costa Rica – this would be our 6th trip. We had a different challenge this time, though. My husband would be racing in the staged mountain bike race, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, which starts in Jaco and ends in Limon. Since I would be traveling with him, instead of staying at the designated hotels organized by La Ruta, we wanted to make our own plans to stay at quiet, comfortable inns or B&B’s along the route.

The race ended in Limon, which is not a great destination for a continued stay, so we looked for something else. Somehow we ended an hour further south, which I don’t necessarily recommend. Our initial accommodations at Hotel Buganvillea Resort were a huge disappointment (see my full review separate from this List). We went on TripAdvisor and got on the phone early the next morning to find something else. Our first choice was Hotel Banana Azul, just north of Puerto Viejo. They did not have any rooms available, but did have an arrangement for rental homes, and the Magic Moon Beach House was open for the next two nights. Our stay was a very rainy stay, but enjoyable nonetheless. The house was a few hundred yards away from Hotel Banana Azul on the same road. The main house was on the 2nd floor (we had access to the 1st floor apartment, but really didn’t need it – the house is really meant for a larger group). On the second level there were 2 bedrooms, a modern kitchen, a small living area with a day bed, a small bathroom and a large deck overlooking the road and the ocean beyond. It was a casual house, clean enough for a beach house (and anyone who is familiar with beach houses, they tend to take a beating). We had access to all the facilities at Banana Azul and were able to run a tab there (although we had to pay cash for the house). The meals were delicious, served on a covered patio that extended from the front desk, and had sitting areas followed by dining table all the way to the bar. The first night’s dinner was fajita night, served buffet style, along with a large salad. The second night we had a choice of two entrees – also very good. There is a larger lunch menu. There is a lovely pool adjacent to the patio, and it is a very short walk to the black sand beach. We could rent bikes for $6 per day, so we rode into town and did some tourist shopping. They set out bug spray and sunscreen for guests to use free of charge. We also had access to umbrellas, which came in very handy for our walk to and from the house. We did not see any of the rooms at the Hotel, so I can’t comment on that. The staff was generally very friendly, although could be a little short-tempered at the bar when it got busy.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank connecticuttraveler6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2010

Paradise is not just the scenery and the weather; paradise is the warm family feeling and personalized service that Roberto, Colin and the general manager Fred and his staff offer up. They all have such a great sense of humour! I shall miss Margone, Anna-Rosie and Erika (who knows EVERYTHING). I will return as soon as possible...

Having Gecko Tours right on hand is SO convenient. They knew how to get what I wanted before I knew what I wanted. Thank you Banana Azul.......

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank wishing01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2010

This hotel is very far (because of the lack of adequate roads) but worth the time to get there. We only stayed 4 nights....in the future we would stay longer. The staff members were great and plentiful. The meals were fabulous and inexpensive. You can walk into town via a road or the beach....but a cab is only $5.00. This place is condusive to meeting all of the other guests, which was great. The rooms are very simple but adequate. The hotel has a common fridge for your own beverages, etc.....but the bar beer is not much cheaper and the cocktails are great and all made with fresh ingredients which you can't beat for the price. You are in the rainforest so expect to be bitten regardless of how much insect repellent you use. My husband went ziplining which was fantastic. We went to the animal rescue centre...which is not to be missed and we had a "couples" massage on the beach which was to die for. Shopping in town is the most inexpensive place to buy most things including coffee. Make sure you go to Bread and Chocolate to try one of their deserts---unbelievable. The chocolate logs that they sell at reception are delicious.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank WorkToTravel_1111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2010

I Just got back from a 5 night stay at Banana Azul. This was one of my best vacation I've had. The hotel was beautiful, great service, relaxing and everything else I could ask for. I spent two nights in the Garden Room. This room was great, having the private patio wonderful. Then we moved to an Ocean Room for the remaining three nights. Another perfect room with nothing else to ask for. Have the patio doors that opened up to the ocean breeze was great. Not having a TV in the room was heavenly. I don't want to go on vacation to sit in the room and watch TV, which I didn't even have the option to do.

The property was absolutely stunning. The grounds were very well maintained and was a perfect setting for just sitting there and relaxing. The breakfast each morning which was different was wonderful and was the perfect for starting the day.

Having the black sand beach footsteps from the hotel was also great. If you want to pull up a chair, open a book and relax to the crashing ocean waves and take a swim, this is perfect.

I love that the hotel only has 13 rooms. We met some of the best people staying at the hotel as well. With only 13 rooms, you see the same people on a regular basis and get to know them. We enjoyed talking to other travelers and getting to know them.

Overall, I could not have asked for a better way to spend a week in Costa Rica. Banana Azul far exceeded my expectations and I am already talking about when I can go back. I highly recommend this hotel for travelers that are looking for something a little different from the traditional American hotel/vacation.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank jdorow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2010

This was my first trip to Costa Rica. I really didn't know what to expect, but was absolutely thrilled with our decision. The Banana Azul, was quite possibly the best accomodations I've ever had in my life. The hotel and its grounds alone were breathtaking. SO clean and well kept, the rooms were BEAUTIFUL. We stayed in both a lower level room (which had a gorgeous garden tub and very private sun-room, and because of the lack of cross-breeze that the upper rooms had - an air conditioner for comfort, which was barely used) and an upper level, or Ocean Room (which was amazing with vaulted ceilings, and a balcony to end all balconies, overlooking the beautiful landscape and ocean. Falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves would lull anyone to sleep.)
The hotel offered bicycles that would get you into the quaint little sea-side town of Puerto Viejo. We had rented a car, which I highly recommend, and drove from San Jose', which gave us the option to make a quick 5 minute drive to town. Many other people thoroughly enjoyed riding bikes all around the area. The hotel also offers many different excursions to partake in, which I personally didn't utilize, as I was parked on the beach, or by the pool the vast majority of my stay.
Last, but certainly not least, is the people that made up the very best part of our trip. The people that make up the staff of the Banana Azul were the most amazingly sweet and wonderful people I could have hoped for. Any needs were met with enthusiasm and grace. The food was delicous and the bar was fabulously stocked with anything I could have wanted. We also made some amazing friends that I have no doubt we will remain in contact with for many many years to come.
In regards to the negative post regarding this hotel, I have to add; Yes, there are dogs that roam around that area. These pets, however, are extremely sweet and very well behaved. My advice would be this: If you have any kind of aversion to dogs and cats, I would avoid Costa Rica as a whole, as it is not just this hotel that has dogs, but the entire country has dogs running around, all of which were very friendly and fun.
I literally have not one bad thing to say about my trip. If you have any questions, I would encourage you to email the hotel. Since our initial interest, they have consistently been very prompt about replying to any emails that we had sent them. Every suggestion they had given us was spot-on. I would stay at this hotel again in a heart-beat, and would suggest that anyone who wants a relaxing vacation surrounded by natural and breath-taking beauty with gorgeous secluded beaches, warm caribbean water, amazing food and drinks and AMAZING people surrounding you, to book a trip to Banana Azul as soon as humanly possible!

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank ErickR1980
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
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: $74 - $162 (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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