After some extensive research via the internet, we chose Casa Chameleon to experience Costa Rica for our first time. Perhaps we are biased, but we typically favor small, boutique resorts as opposed to crowded mega resorts that try to be everything to everybody. With only six villas, Casa Chameleon is able to offer more customized service and just the right amount of personal touches that is somehow seamlessly woven into an environment of romantic seclusion. In our experience, this is a very difficult to achieve, but the experts at Casa Chameleon definitely strike the right balance. For this, I must give the manager, Alonso Alvarado, quite a bit of credit. He has clearly assembled a staff of top notch talent that is dedicated to creating a veritable oasis (keeping in mind we stayed in early April, which was the end of the dry season and the surrounding tropical jungle was a bit parched) and providing distinguished VIP service for all. While the entire Casa Chameleon team was extremely courteous and polite, at least in our experience, a few people stood out and deserve special mention here.
For starters, Chef Pabro Sanchez. The food at Casa Chameleon was very good and more than a few of the dishes during our short stay were excellent. Pabro and his entire team (including Will, Naomi, etc..) will bend over backwards to please your palate. While Pabro’s primary responsibility is chef, it turns out he is quite the local historian and naturalist. Being active birders, we took advantage of the opportunity to go birding one morning with Pabro. In short, this was one of the highlights of our trip as his expertise extends way beyond the kitchen. He has his finger on the pulse of Mal Pais and in general, is just a good/fun guy to know. What he has packed into his life to this point is nothing short of amazing and we genuinely commend him on multiple fronts. Keep blazing that trial, Pabro!
Lilly Nunez is native to Mal Pais and wears a couple of different hats for Casa Chameleon; mixing some seriously amazing drinks (you want it sweet, she’ll make it sweet; you want it sour or spicy, she’ll take care of that too) in the bar area and also pitches in to help during meal time service. We found Lilly extremely engaging, friendly and very informative. Belly up to the bar for a few pre-dinner drinks, discuss some of your likes and dislikes with Lilly and tap into her lifetime of Mal Pais experience. We don’t want to spill any of her ‘secrets’, but trust me, they are definitely worthwhile. Wishing nothing but the best for Lilly and her family!
While the vast majority of this review is dedicated primarily to the people, please do not be confused. We had very high expectations of our stay at Casa Chameleon and are happy to report they not only met, but exceeded every one of them. The facility is quite special and we were quite happy with the ‘finishing’ of Villa Estrella (including heavy curtains in the bedroom) and spent most of our time on the veranda (in the hammock, comfortable deck chairs or floating in the plunge pool). Regarding ants or other insects, yes we had a few of them too, but it was hardly an infestation and completely understandable given the surroundings. While I appreciate other reviewer’s perspective, it was not really an issue for us. However, to be fair though and as other reviews have pointed out, there is a price to pay for staying in the paradise I call Villa Estrella….the dreaded stairs/walkways. Depending on the time of day/temperature and your fitness level (not so fit for me!), it can prove to be much more than simply challenging.
On our final night/morning, we actually felt like we were parting as friends. While we know the staff is doing their job, it honestly felt a little different here and we hope they felt the same way. Regardless, we have been touched by Costa Rica and the friendly folks at Casa Chameleon. They helped us create memories that will last a lifetime: smiling people and a contagious beach vibe, four-wheeling/ATVing the roads of Mal Pais/Santa Theresa, amazing birds, showering with a green and black striped iguana, the best fruit ever, local breakfasts, cantaloupe smoothies, cashew apples, great food, Salsa Lizano (our first order is already placed, Lilly!), Chili Viola, Guanacaste tree seeds, zip-lining in the canopy, horseback riding at sunset, waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and cicadas/locusts, and falling to sleep with the chirping of geckos. Pura Vida!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chosen as one of the "Best 101 Hotels in the World" by Conde Nast Publications' Tatler Travel Guide for 2006, Casa Chameleon is a favourite with honeymooners and celebrities to relax and unwind in an enchanted environment. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Casa Chameleon Mal Pais
- Casa Chameleon Costa Rica/Mal Pais