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“A Highlight of our Stay in Costa Rica”

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Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Ranked #1 of 8 Hotels in Tortuguero
Certificate of Excellence
Ventura, CA
1 review
“A Highlight of our Stay in Costa Rica”
Reviewed October 27, 2011

My wife and I brought our three children (8, 10, and 12) to Tortuguero in July. Our three night stay at the Tortuga Lodge was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of our two week trip to Costa Rica. The hotel sits in a beautiful location on the banks of a river at the edge of the rainforest. Wildlife abounds right outside your door - monkeys, sloths, lizards, frogs and birds of all kinds. You are surrounded by the sights and sounds of the jungle.

The rooms were comfortable, very clean and, though modest in size, still plenty large enough to easily fit an additional cot, which management happily provided for us. You won't miss glass windows as the large screens allow the sounds and fragrance of the rainforest to drift in. We had no problems with bugs in our room and never felt the need for air conditioning.

The food and dining atmosphere were outstanding - the best of anywhere we traveled during our two weeks in Costa Rica. The waitstaff were very attentive, going out of their way to learn our names and to make sure we were satisfied at each meal. They happily offered alternative menus to our children when the menu for the evening meal catered more to grownup tastes.

Though everyone in Costa Rica seems to be well-versed in the flora and fauna of their country, the knowledge and experience of our guides was astounding. Most of the wildlife we saw on our tours would have easily gone unnoticed to the untrained eye. Thanks to the guides, we saw an abundance of wildlife in our few days in Tortuguero. Our favorite was the kayak tour, though we also enjoyed the incredible sight of turtles laying eggs on the beach at night.

Another memorable experience organized by the Lodge, was our trip to a local school, where our children got to visit a classroom and play a variety of games (charades, Uno and soccer) with children from a nearby village. This trip was part of the Lodge's effort to give back to the community by helping local children improve their English. It was arranged at no cost to us. We came away with the feeling that the Lodge's management seems to be genuinely committed to sustainable ecotourism, not as a marketing gimmick, but as a responsible way to do business.

It was hard to leave the Tortuga Lodge on the last day of our stay. The comfort and service were excellent and offered in a way that made us feel we were living comfortably within the natural surroundings, not sequestered from them. This has got to be a difficult balance to achieve, but they do it superbly. We would return to the Tortuga Lodge in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank G D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Clarksville, Maryland
1 review
Reviewed October 27, 2011

Tortuga Lodge & Gardens was the first stop in our family of four (celebrate everyone finished college) Costa Rica adventure.We were very pleased with Tortuguero Lodge! It was our favorite stay place on the trip.
The staff was friendly. We loved that someone kept track of where we needed to be to get to our selected activities – more relaxing for us.
The food was good – healthy, Costa Rican and plenty of it. Lots of breakfast options.
The lodge was very relaxing and was in keeping with the Eco experience we had requested.
Screened windows in the room for maximum enjoyment of the beautiful Costa Rican air.
Waking up with the sounds of nature & howler monkeys in the morning – all part of the Eco experience we wanted.
A pool to play in, hammocks to nap in, some really great nature activities to choose from.
We found it to be a peaceful, serene and relaxing experience.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank kate r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 18, 2011

My partner and I stayed 2 nights at Tortuga Lodge in August 2011, which marked the end of our trip to Costa Rica, and was most definitely the highlight for us. We were very fortunate to be able to witness the turtles laying their eggs on the beach one night, directly opposite the lodge. The location is amazing and the lodge was well appointed as has already been described accurately by the vast majority of reviewers. Yes, it's true that the rooms are not air conditioned and have screens rather than glass windows, which means that they are not icy cold inside, but surely the whole purpose is to create the experience of being right in the jungle? I can't understand the recent reviewer's negative comments about this special place. The hotel is kept spotlessly clean (yes, of course you'll see some insects here - you can hardly expect not to...), Julian,the manager,and every member of staff go the extra mile to ensure everything is perfect. The food, in our opinion, was excellent, and the dining room, adjacent to the river, was perfect. True, they provide a set menu, but any allergies or dislikes are carefully noted on arrival and alternatives provided if needed.
We chose not to join one of the organised tours, so visited Tortuga on a completely independent basis, arriving by the public boat service from Pavona. As we prefer not to be part of an organised group, we were initially a little concerned that we may not be welcomed or treated in the same way as other guests. We had no cause for worry - nothing was too much trouble. When we arrived back at the lodge well after the end of breakfast service after our canal tour, Julian immediately arranged for a full cooked breakfast to be served.
We really loved staying here and would come back to Tortuga without hesitation if were lucky enough to revisit Costa Rica in the future.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank blozinge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed October 11, 2011

We went to Tortuguero because it's supposed to be a must-see in Costa Rica. Had a hard time picking a hotel as they all seemed a bit shady. We ultimately opted for Tortuga lodge, hoping to get more quality for a higher price.

We were welcomed by a staff member, who, despite her efforts to look professional, was reciting her speech like a robot and was rolling her eyes every time we dared asking a question that wasn't part of her script. She made us aware of the different time deadlines that we had to follow for day trips, meals etc.. It really felt like we were attending sumer camp and were told where to be at what time etc.. This is the last thing you want when on holiday!

The rooms were gloomy and kind of freaky. Very minimalist, dark and NO GLASS WINDOWS, just a net, which doesn't even prevent mosquitoes from entering. Needless to say that you hear every single noise from outside the room. On top of it, NO AIR CONDITIONING and BUGS throughout. Simply awful for a supposedly "upscale" hotel.

The Wildlife trip was nice, our guide (Norton, I think?) was extremely nice and knowledgeable. This was the highlight of our stay in Tortuguero.

Meals, again, felt like a foodhall from summer camp. They offer set menus, which means you have to be ready to eat what they serve you as they don't show much flexibility. Unacceptable for an upscale hotel, you want to be able to choose the food yo pay for!

All in all, all of the above would have been acceptable if it wasn't so expensive. We had an upscale holiday throughout so were ready to pay the price needed for comfort, but what we had for the money at Tortuga Lodge simply wasn't worth it. We paid over $1000 for 2 nights (including 4 meals, 1 wildlife tour and 1 turtle tour). You over pay for every single thing at this hotel, from transport to food and rooms.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank alibali5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hiketiludrop, Guest Relations Manager at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, October 13, 2011
Dear Alibali5,

WOW, this is extremely worrisome. Especially because ever since I saw your review this morning, we have not been able to figure out who you are.

We send an email asking, How Was Your Stay at Tortuga Lodge, a week after each of our guests leave the lodge, would you mind responding to that email and letting me know who you are so that we can review your stay with us inch by inch? If you did not get that email, you can send me a message either here on Trip Advisor or a private message here as well.


Please let me know who the receptionist was that was "rolling her eyes" at you. Do you remember if it was the Assistant Manager or a receptionist?

You say that you expected Air Conditioning, in our website and all of our promotional material we specifically say that we DO NOT have it. What made you think that we do? If it's published that way anywhere we urgently need to fix that. The nets that we have on the windows are very effective keeping insects and specifically mosquitoes out. Normally when our guests have a problem with mosquitoes in the room it's because the door was left open with a light on inside. Do you recall if this may have happened? The reason we use nets is precisely so that our guests can hear the rain forest that they traveled so far to see. The sound of the frogs chorus at night, Howler monkeys in very early morning and bird song all are highlights for guests seeking to experience the tropical rain forest.

You say that our foodhall was like a summer camp and that there was no flexibility with meal times or menu. As with the air conditioning, what led you to believe that we have an a la carte menu? All of our promotional material explains that we offer a fixed menu. We do it this way because we are located in an extremely remote area of Costa Rica and it's difficult to get supplies to Tortuguero. Over the years we've found that guests enjoy the meal plan and we are extremely flexible and can accommodate most special requests.

We are crushed that you thought our newly remolded river side restaurant felt like a summer camp. Up until now the feedback that we have received is that it is magical. I'd love to have more detail from you as to what made it feel like camp to you. Was it just the fixed menu?

Would you mind sharing who you asked for alternate dishes or for a different meal time? We are very flexible with the menu and meal times, especially this time of year. If we are not listening to our guests it would be extremely helpful if you could let me know how this transpired.

Without knowing exactly who you are it's difficult to comment on your description of costs. Normally our packages include round trip ground transportation from San Jose, this can be either by land and boat or by charter flight or a combination. We also include lodging, 3 meals a day and guided tours into Tortuguero National Park.

I am glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Tortuguero National Park with Norton. He is a talented guide.

I am available to discuss your stay with us in detail and would be delighted to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manhattan Beach, California
Level Contributor
23 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed September 30, 2011

After seeing all the other reviews, I had to add mine. It seems to good to be true, but it's all true. We went in August and it only rained once in 3 days and only for a short time in the early morning. Here are my highlights.
HOTEL
The hotel grounds are beautiful. We saw toads, geckos, howlers, iguanas and a green snake right on the hotel grounds without even looking for them. We stayed in a penthouse room to have more room for our two kids, 5 & 7. And it was like an apartment. Beds separated by curtains and extra space in between with a generous living area and two bathrooms. Super clean, which often doesn't happen in the jungle. Porch balcony front and back doors and 2 private hammocks.
The pool is a nice size and also very clean.
CANAL TOURS
The tours were fantastic with Costa Rica Expeditions, which owns the hotel. We had the same guide the whole time we were there. Norton completely exceeded our expectations. He not only provided great guide service as we expected, he went out of his way to treat our children with respect and kindness and helped them have fun on three canal tours. He was so knowledgable about the animals and the plants, we saw so many new things every time we went out with him. He was very patient as my husband tried to get the right shot with one of three cameras. We would definitely want him as a guide on our next trip.
We had been to Costa Rica once before and did see some adult cayman then and on this trip, but this time we saw the baby cayman "conga line" as my 7 year old daughter called it. During a canal trip with Norton, he spotted 5 baby cayman on a log, some with mouths open, some closed. Something we had never seen. It was like they were posing for us. They were about 10-12 inches long each. We also saw plenty of howlers and spider monkeys, both with babies, sometimes farther back, sometimes hanging off the edge of trees right over the canals. Many, many birds, otters, sloths to name a few more.
THE FOOD
Don't get me started on the food. It was sooo good. 3 and 4 course meals, beautifully presented and delicious. They will substitute food for kids which was nice, but the kids mostly wanted what we were eating. The wait staff is super nice and very accomodating.
GETTING THERE
We have stayed here twice. We flew in and out the first time. This time we had a driver take us to Cano Blanco and then boated in the rest of the way, the hotel arranged this for us. And then we flew out. Would definitely recommend the latter option if you have time. You miss a lot by flying in and out. You miss the banana plantation, the farms, the houses, the fast, refreshing canal ride in. Car ride is partially bumpy but well worth it.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Cynthia M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hiketiludrop, Guest Relations Manager at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, October 5, 2011
Dear Cynthia M,

I am delighted that you and your family had such a wonderful time in Tortuguero. Norton is not only a fantastic guide, he's really a very special man. I hope that you will come back some time soon, we will be sure to reserve Norton as your guide.

We loved having you and your family and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Sincerely,

Natalie Ewing
Chief Marketing & Guest Satisfaction Officer
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ojai, California
Level Contributor
53 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed September 15, 2011

My husband and I spent 2 nights at this lodge in 2010 we wish we could have stayed longer. The company we booked with had us taking a long but amazing boat ride through the jungle, in speed boats that look like the Disneyland Jungle Book ride on steroids. Just getting there was fun.
Once we arrived we were greeted by an amazingly friendly staff, and shown our spectacular room. After checking out the room, we hit the jungle trail directly behind the hotel, (which thankfully provides free rubber boots) we got about 5 minutes into the jungle and had a whole troop of howler monkeys parading above us in the jungle, really a hike to remember. The next two days were on a fixed program, wherein we would take jungle tours with a nature guide, searching for animals. A wonderful experience.
We ate all of our food in the lodge, the b-fest buffet was substantial, and as I recall the food was quite good, though I am by no means a "foodie" and tend to forget any meal that doesn't make me ill. Needless to say, I didn't get ill, so I forgot everything. The pool was outstanding.
The one thing that is important here is that this hotel is all about offering a complete jungle immersion experience that you just can't get everywhere. It doesn't offer flat screen TV's in every room, super reliable wifi, gym or business center.
Special trip: if you are there during the right season, be sure and go out to watch the turtles laying eggs on the beach, it was an experience of a lifetime.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Redmango43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
42 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed September 13, 2011

The service at Tortuga Lodge was exceptional. They arranged for transportation from the far end of the national park, and met us at the boat dock with a frothy, fruity drink before escorting us immediately to a 3-course lunch. The room was spacious and set up perfectly for our family of 4, with two twin beds for the kids. The grounds were beautiful, the pool refreshing, and the food was good.

Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
Helpful?
Thank Lizzie7308
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tortuga Lodge & Gardens

Property: Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Address: Across from the airstrip | 1 mile north of the Town of Tortuguero, Tortuguero 6941, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Tortuguero
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 Hotels in Tortuguero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Tortuga Lodge & Gardens 3.5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
11 River View Downstairs Terrace Rooms. 12 Upstairs River View Balcony Rooms. (A little more expensive, but worth it. See what reviewers have said by clicking on "room tips") 2 River View Downstairs Junior Suites, with connecting door. 1 River View Upstairs Penthouse Suite with 2 baths. 1 of the Downstairs Rooms is Wheelchair Accessible with 2 baths • Beds: 4 Downstairs Rooms and 5 Upstairs Rooms have 1 King Bed. 6 Downstairs Rooms and 3 Upstairs Rooms have 2 Double Beds. 1 Downstairs Room and 2 Upstairs Rooms have 1 Queen and 1 Double Bed. 1 Downstairs Room has 1 King and 1Double Bed. 2 Upstairs Rooms have 1 Queen and 1 Double Bed. The 2 Junior suites have 1 King and 1 Double Bed • All rooms have: In-room safe, hot water, ceiling fans, reading lamps, hair dryer, free wireless internet and large screened windows so you experience the sounds of the rain forest. • All rooms don't have: TV, AC, or mini-bar. • Service Style: Personalized, informal, caring. • Restaurant: Cuisine: What a Costa Rican Grandmother would cook if she was also a creative and contemporary professional chef. Caribbean themed cocktails, and no we don't mean pina coladas, although we'll make you one of those too. •Atmosphere: Quiet, laid back and with an emphasis on the natural surroundings - most buildings are open air. • No background music. • Suggested activities at hotel: Palm and Orchid Gardens. Plan on 1 or 2 hours. Award winning Riverside Pool. Plan on at least 1 hour per morning or afternoon per day. Hammocks everywhere. Plan on losing track of time in one. 2 computers with internet for guest use at no charge. Spend as little time as possible. You're on vacation. • Tortuguero can only be accessed by boat or by domestic or charter plane. • Tortuga Lodge offers complete packages including round trip transportation, lodging, meals and excursions. • Suggested stay: 3-5 nights. • Owned and Operated by Costa Rica Expeditions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Hotel Tortuguero
Tortuga Lodge And Gardens
Tortuga Hotel Tortuguero
Tortuga Hotel Gardens
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Costa Rica/Tortuguero

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