We stayed at Villa Caletas for 1 week during Memorial Day and were very happy. We chose the hotel based on recommendations from 2 friends, but also liked the location on the Pacific Coast and being only 2 hours drive from the airport in San Juan.
It was a great hotel for doing a lot of activities in the region. The Concierge at the hotel arranged it all for us with just a day or 2 notice (we planned it all once we got down there), and did a Tortuga Island catamaran sail, surf lessons in Jaco, a zip line canopy tour, and a guided tour of Manuel Antonio park. More on that in a moment....
The hotel itself is just stunning. Loved that it was a boutique hotel, so it was intimate but not so small that we felt alone. There were many other couples we saw, and a few groups, but it never felt crowded.
It felt luxurious in many ways, but not fancy or stuffy. Just a very nice, upscale hotel and environment.
On our friends suggestions, we chose not to rent a car, since we knew the hotel would be arranging our activities, and in retrospect that was the right choice. We probably could have used a car 2 days out of 7, to explore on our own, but knowing what we'd planned, it was so relaxing to not have to drive from the airport (the hotel arranged for a car to pick us up for $100 each way- very reasonable for a 2 hour trip each way for 2 ppl) and not to worry about driving the windy Costa Rican roads.
We went to the Marriott in Los Suenos (10 minutes away) 2 times: once for dinner, and another time to see friends at the pool, and it was a beautiful property, but SO Amercicanized feeling. Villa Caletas was just as comfortable and stunning, but felt more authentic and much more unique.
The best part of Villa Caletas besides the stunning property is the service. It was great service that felt genuine---- never too pushy, never too "desparate" meaning not over-the-top with "sir" or anything like that and NEVER felt pressured for a tip, everyone we met just seemed very intuitive and we felt they were very kind, hard-working people. We felt very welcomed and taken care of.
We stayed in a villa, room 10, which was just beautiful. Only a stand-up shower which was ok for us, but I did expect a bathtub. The views were just amazing!! I'm never one to make coffee in the room, but I did it here and it was delicious. (Bring some home when you go) I'd read previous reviews that there weren't many toiletries, so we brought plenty of shampoo and lotion and was glad that I did. We also brought granola bars for breakfast and some snacks/crackers, which was perfect because there isn't anywhere in the hotel to buy simple snacks.
We ate at the Ampitheater restaurant probably 7 times total throughout the week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and were always very happy with the food and service. It is open air, and it is very warm, so as long as we dressed accordingly it was very comfortable.
In the spirit of trying to truly "get away" we didn't bring our laptops so logged onto the hotel computer a couple times which was $4/ hour and very easy to use. It worked for us.
We did the hotel beach one afternoon and it is very rocky, but not bad at all with water shoes. It was very serene and we relaxed in the hammocks and in the beach chairs. Nothing exciting though. They could really make it more fun with some music playing.
The only thing that bugged us (literally!) were some insects that made their way into the room. It was only a couple each day, but was usually in the morning that we'd spot a spider or insect on the curtains in the living area, or in the shower. It was such a minor thing overall, and we never have to worry about bugs living in NYC!, but do not go here if that would bother you. Our friends at the Marriott said they had a similar issue, so I know it's not unique to Villa Caletas.
Activities are a MUST if you come to Costa Rica, and we were very happy with ours. Our first full day there we just relaxed by the pool and the hotel beach.
The 2nd day, we did the Tortuga Island catamaran which was EXCELLENT, probably our favorite day. The bus that picks you up also picks up people from the Marriott though, so we were glad we were waiting by the front desk!! We were the last to be picked up. I'd go again to Tortuga in a hearbeat- it was a nicer catamaran boat with 2 pools on deck, which was perfect since the sun was brutally hot. You had to pay out of pocket for alcoholic drinks, which we were told in advance, but it ended up still being a great value for a whole day sail.
The 3rd day the Concierge arranged a 2 hour surf lesson for us in Jaco. Jaco is NOT a pretty beach- the sand is dark, and the scene is a little sad, but it is a perfect surfers beach. It was our first time surfing but the waves were perfect, ocean was warm, and our instructors were VERY good. We were exhausted but happy when the lesson was over! I believe our instructor was Raoul, and the owner/ instructor on land was Gustavo.
The 4th day we did the zip line canopy tour in the morning. It was a blast, athough in retrospect, I've seen more exciting courses on TV. It felt challenging at the time but little kids were doing it, too, so how hard could it have been?! The hotel arranged this for us as well, so while it was enjoyable, if you have a rental car you can probably drive to a more exciting course.
The next day we did a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park. Beautiful!! Do not miss this! We ended up being the only 2 signed up that day, so had the tour guide to ourselves. He was nice, not our favorite guide of all time, but did a great job of pointing out monkeys and other animals along our hike (yes, we saw monkeys!). It was a 1 1/2 hour drive from the hotel, then a 1 hour hike from where we parked to a gorgeous white sandy beach. We were on the sand by 10am, the guide told us we could relax for as long as we'd like, so we stayed and swam/ relaxed until around 1pm, then hiked back. Just a beautiful, picturesque park. I wish we'd actually spent more than 1 day there.
For dinners all week, we ate a couple times at the hotel, once at Pelicano (via 10 minute taxi ride) in Herradura, which was delicious (not too fancy), twice on the Marriott property, and once in Jaco. Everywhere was very casual- ladies, no need to bring heels! Food everywhere was very good. Nothing necessarily 5 star, but great seafood and worked for us.
Overall, I'll probably never come back to Costa Rica because there are so many places in the world we want to go before we go somewhere twice, but I'd recommend Villa Caletas to anyone looking for a wonderful trip to the Pacific Coast of beautiful Costa Rica. Enjoy.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Villa Caletas, a luxury romantic boutique hotel inspired by tropical Victorian architecture with a touch of neo-classical influence shining like a jewel among resorts, prized not only for its location, design and décor, but also for its outstanding facilities and first class service. Villa Caletas expresses a truly unique combination of mountain and seaside resort. Nestled 1150 feet above the Pacific Ocean, this unique hotel overlooks the Nicoya Gulf to the crescent beaches of Jaco, Herradura offering spectacular 360-degree panoramic views. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Villa Caletas Hotel Jaco
- Caletas Hotel Herradura
- Villa Caletas Costa Rica/Jaco