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“Absolutely perfect!!!”

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Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Mal Pais
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 28, 2010

My husband and I recently returned from 6 nights at casa chameleon. It was a trip to celebrate my 40th birthday, but more importantly it was a much needed trip for just the 2 of us...we left our 4 little kids and crazy lives behind.
Casa Chameleon provided everything we were looking for and more!!! It was the perfect enviroment to relax, be pampered and forget all the stresses of our busy lives at home. We LOVED not having access to our cell phones, computers, or T.V's. I thought I might miss all of our modern conveniences after a few days, but it was the opposite, I didn't think about them once.

We cannot say enough about Yua (the manager). He was the most friendly, happy, kind, knowledgeable, helpful, professional guy!!!! He was there for us from the minute we arrived (to get us settled into our GORGEOUS villa palma to helping us (SADLY) load up the car 6 days later to leave. Yua had great reccomendations for restaurants, zip lines, ATVs, beaches, national parks, surfing etc. He took care of everything. Not only did he help us every single day (with our endless questions) but we truly enjoyed his company. We left feeling like we had made some new, wonderful friends. I say, "friends" because Rob (the chef) was just as great. All of our meals were some of the best we have ever had (we have eaten at some of the top restuarants in the U.S, and his meals were as good if not better than the best we've ever had). Everything was SO FRESH...from the mahi mahi to the fruits and vegetables, all his culinary creations were amazing. We would look forward to his dinners all day!! Not only was it fabulous to sit down to one of his delicious creations, but we equally enjoyed his company. We had alot of fun nights chatting with him and Yua, learning about Mal Pais, and them.

I have traveled to many beautiful coastal places all over the world, but casa chameleon is something special. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it is VERY private, quiet, and unique. The grounds are very well kept as are the villas. The entire staff (which is very small and consists of a few cleaning people and a grounds keeper) were all extremely kind and considerate. The main pool overlooks the pacific ocean and is the perfect size for the property. The sound of the little watefall into the pool was very relaxing. We loved the lounge/eating area, very romantic and chic. The 3 villas are spread out with lots of vegetation between them providing the perfect amount of privacy.

We stayed in the villa palma the first 3 nights, and the luxury villa the last 3 nights. All the villas had just been updated and have everything you could need. The palma has a new plunge pool on the balcony, just outside the huge class doors of the beautiful natural stone shower. So while you are showering you can look out at the stunning pacific below. We loved the balcony and view, and especially the incredible bathroom of the palma!!
The luxury villa was spectacular, basically your own house!! The pool is huge with a view that can't help but make you smile. The pool is literally just feet from the end of your bed. There are enormous (ceiling to floor) glass doors that completely open to give you the feeling of an "open, no walls villa" One day we had the joy and pleasure of watching 5-6 white faced monkeys playing in the trees right next to our deck!!! You literally don't need or want to leave your villa!! PARADISE!!!!!

A few things you should be aware of before visiting Mal Pais : the roads are horrible!! Even in a small SUV you're bouncing all over the place, extremely bumpy, DUSTY, dirt roads...you don't want your windows down, or you'll be covered in dust. The few roads that are paved have HUGE pot holes, makes driving very difficult and SLOW. Mal Pais has a very RELAXED, surfer town feeling...if that's not what you're looking for,then Mal Pais is not for you. The beaches are gorgeous, great for jumping waves, but NOT for snorkeling...the water is too rough. Our favorite was Playa Hermosa, in Santa Theresa. HUGE, WIDE, FLAT sandy beach (no shells) with very few people, especially during the week. One day we were the only ones there for most of the day. We did have a scorpion in our room one night, and a tarantula on the outside of our front door another night, so if that sort of thing bothers you, be aware that they come with the territory. A small price to pay for the natural beauty that surrounds you!!!! Although Mal Pais is very rural, every single meal we had in town was fabulous. Our favorites were, Mary's (just down the road from C.C), Ritmo Tropical and El Pulpo (for pizza), and Casa Zen. There is a great restaurant in the courtyard across from the bank, that had really good lunch food. I can't remember the name...maybe artemis?? They have a T.V in the back with a little bar. Yua or Rob can point you in the right direction.

Some activities we would recommend: Cabo Blanco (we saw some really BIG, neat animals), Montezuma Zip line and waterfall, surfing, driving around and checking out all the beautiful beaches!!

We can't say enough about Casa Chameleon. Their attention to detail (fresh flowers left on our bed everyday) and making sure every need and desire was met made us never want to leave. We will definitely be back!!! We miss you, Yua and Rob!!! Wish we were still there :(

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank mollychicago_IL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 31, 2010

We spent 4 nights of our honeymoon at Casa Chameleon and it was one of the most amazing and unique experiences we've ever had. We only splurge every once in a while on luxury accommodations because we often feel like the added "amenities" don't justify the extra cost, EXCEPT at Casa Chameleon.

First, with only 3 villas it is intrinsically private and intimate with personalized attention and service. The landscaping of the grounds was beautiful from the pool with the trickling water feature and shady cabanas to the lounge area where you can just relax on the couch or enjoy any of your meals at the small tables. The outdoor spa area was a nice touch too with yoga mats, weights, balance balls etc.

Our villa (Palma) was fantastic with a newly added plunge pool that you look out onto from the huge sliding glass doors from the large and beautifully re-done shower area. The ocean view could be seen from everywhere within the villa and on the balcony with a hammock, two comfy chairs and a table for eating. The bed was very comfortable and the small kitchenette/mini bar was helpful. The AC unit was quiet and new and worked very well. We loved spending lots of time in our villa.

But what really set our experience apart was the friendly attention and service from Yua, the manager of the property, and Rob, the chef. They were both exceptional in terms of making sure our needs were met, but we also really enjoyed their company and liked spending time with them. Yua was there for us time and again from helping us unload our surfboards in the afternoons, to arranging for a couples massage to speaking with locals and the police when our camera and phone were stolen from our car several miles down the road at the wildlife preserve. He took care of everything! We had two breakfasts and two dinners that Rob prepared for us which couldn't have been better! Before staying there, we had already been to some of the nicer restaurants in the Santa Teresa/Mal Pais area and had some good meals but nothing that special until Casa Chameleon. I'm still fantasizing about those meals!! The amazing thing is that Rob was able to pull off our first dinner without any electricity! It went out a couple hours before dinner (which happens from time-to-time in the area) and didn't come back on until midnight, but Rob was able to pull it off preparing by lantern and candlelight with only his gas range (no oven) and it was still a 5-star meal.

The only thing negative out of the experience was the pain to send the deposit and balance via wire transfers (and I work for a bank). They were very good about communicating during the booking process, but I wish I could have paid with a credit card. Although, on second though, maybe if everyone could pay by credit card it would be even more poplar and it would be impossible to get a reservation. It that case, I can handle the wire transfers.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Riparoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2010

If a perfect hotel is defined by a seamless blend of service and location, opportunity and relaxation, then Casa Chameleon is perfect.

Upon arrival, it is difficult not to be left gawking, wide-mouthed, at the compound’s astonishingly creative plan - it is a layout that shows its thoughtful premeditation, with a stunning result. The grounds for visitors include a kitchen and covered dining area / lounge, a reading lounge, a yoga / fitness studio and three gorgeous villas are all well appointed with beach themed décor. Elevated wooden walkways allow for visitors to move around the grounds – keeping the strikingly clean hotel space comfortably separated from the tropical fauna, which fills the grounds.

The villas are contemporary, smart and luxurious. Built on a steep hillside, they reach out into the canopy of the trees, and provide an expansive balcony with a dip pool and hammock. In the A/C interior, a kitchen and living area lead to a prominent, four-post bed and a bathroom that surpasses even the most hopeful of expectations. It functions perfectly as a balance between the nature outside, and appliances within. The shower, for example, takes up about a third of the room and consists of only rock and bamboo (where the bamboo “tube” is placed centrally overhead and ends with a massive showerhead – when on, it simulates the heavy rains typical of tropical climates. A thoughtful and efficient piece of a brilliantly designed interior (another beautiful moment is found in the bathroom window which, when viewed from the shower, reveals only water. Ah yes, there’s also that issue of the view. Panoramic from every part of the villa, indoor or out. Simply stunning.

The level of service is excellent. Yua, the manager, and Rob, the new chef, make the hotel what it really is – a stress-less gem in the bad lands, or Mal Pais. Yua accommodated our every need with speed and efficiency unseen reminiscent of any top NYC hotel – with a special, and perfectly fitting, Tico touch.

Rob’s creations are part food, part experience – and totally awesome. He checks with for your gastronomical likes and dislikes and creates impressively creative meals per any request. When given freedom to create at his will – he smiles and pumps out spectacular tasting meals – such as lobster, shrimp tacos, macademia crusted shrimp – and awesome, fresh fruit and vegetables (some coming right from Rob’s garden).

Casa Chameleon is an experience. While I would rank this hotel very highly when comparing it to other top hotels in Latin America, the U.S. and Europe, that isn’t fair. It must be compared to a visitor’s other shopping choices. As expected, the results aren’t close. Chameleon is a special place – perched atop a hill, with the powerful waves of Mal Pais crashing perpetually below, it’s magical. It’s these kind of places that make traveling exciting – it’s not just a resting place, but a place where rest is a given and perfection of body and mind (whatever that means to you) is readily available. It is a true treat; a mix of small hotel and private villa, Chameleon finds a way to discover the best virtues of each.

Don’t miss this place – to my girlfriend and me, it’s perfect.

  • Stayed: January 2010
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1  Thank CaliSurferNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2010

I recently stayed at casa Chameleon in dec for 5 nights. It was part of my honeymoon and I had booked it about 8 months earlier. It is the most beautiful hotel that I have ever seen, and I almost cried when I got there, it was lovely! However the hotel has recently changed hands and the owner is different. When we were there there was one guy working there,and only two nights was there a chef. Apparently the regular chef had left and they were having trouble finding a new one. The one meal on the first night that we had was good but in no way was it worth 60 usd per person! I was quite disappointed after all the amazing reviews, I am a diehard foodie so was really looking forward to it! The same chef also cooked us breakfast the next day which for 12 dollars was good. Unfortunately he wasnt around for the rest of the mornings so when we did order breakfast once the manager of the hotel cooked it for us, and it was not really good at all! think cold scrambled eggs without any salt or pepper served with cold crepe filled with banana,jam and nutella. Not so nice. Therefore everytime we wanted something to eat we had to actually leave the hotel and drive into Santa Theresa 10 minutes away, there was really nothing available at the hotel, lunch was not available, nothing. If we wanted something to drink from the bar we had to ask Hua to come down from the main house where he was most of the time and serve us which didnt seem such an easy setup. There was no honour system and I certainly didnt feel like I could go and help myself to anything in the fridge! There was also a problem with the money transfer for the payment of the hotel which despite numerous emails to the booking agent in san jose, asking for confirmation of the payment before we left to get married in guatemala ,saying that we couldnt do anything about any problems after we left, and getting vague answers of "dont worry, it will turn up, we have never had a payment not turn up!, "suprise,suprise, they wanted us to pay again, 660 dollars that had not turned up!!! my husband dealt with it, and of course we didnt pay again,j ust eventually left it up to the hotel to sort out. But, it was a bit annoying and time on the phone to our banks ect,ect...All in all, I was disappointed when we left, based on the feeling that the service hadnt really been good, because there was no one to cook for you or to serve you drinks. We ended up getting beers and wines and juices and storing them in our fridge. It was much more of a self catering holiday then I thought it would be. And you have to have your own transport, the hotel is high on a hill and the closest town about 10 minutes drive away, on foot is simply not possible if you want to be mobile and get into town for food,ect. If Casa Chameleon got in a full time chef and a bar man, I would think it would be alot better. But it is absolutely gorgeous there, just dont expect to be really spoiled there, like I though I was going to be!! Of course this was a month ago, and hopefully things have gotton smoothed out and better!

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled on business
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1  Thank ESavage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2009

This place is amazing...we stayed here on our honeymoon (along with 2 other places) and I have absolutely no complaints. The view from our villa was amazing and I loved waking up with the sunrise and the sounds of nature. The concierge Dave could not have been more helpful and the hotel dog Randall was great company at breakfast. I would love to return sometime in the future...HIGHLY recommended.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank jeeves06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2009

We spent a wonderful 5 nights at Casa Chameleon in June. It is unlike any place we have ever been before. Unbelievable views, great weather, very nice people everywhere you go. The concierge, David, is just the best. Any time we needed anything, he was always right there on the walkie talkie to help us. We enjoyed many dinners from Mario and each one was fantastic. We did not rent a car, but had no problems getting taxis to wherever we wanted to go. It is no problem to walk down the hill from the hotel, but you would not want to walk back up - very steep! Several times, we walked somewhere and then David would schedule a taxi to pick us up at a certain time. It worked out great for us. One tip: keep the doors closed to keep the bugs out of your room, especially at night. This place is not so easy to get to (big plane, small plane, long car ride) but it is SO worth it. As I write this review, I am wishing I was back there right now. Its just a wonderful, unique experience!

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank tennesseeteacher88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 23, 2009

We're frequent travelers with a love for warm weather climates and we can truly say that Casa Chameleon is a spectacular and magical place.

I am a professional travel photographer and have visited many wonderful tropical locations. Casa Chameleon is something extremely special.

Casa Chameleon is pure magic. It’s a gorgeous, romantic property that holds only three guests at a time, in three amazing villas. The property is a tropical paradise in every sense of the word. It's everything you could ever want in a vacation destination. There are three “cabinas” or standalone villas that are privately nestled into the property. We stayed in Villa Palma. Casa Chameleon has done everything to allow guests to experience the wonderful tropical views wherever you are. Villa Palma was extremely spacious, inviting, and comfortable. The terrace is so relaxing -- very large with reading chairs, a table setup, and hammock.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by David and Adam and brought to Villa Palma with breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding dry forest. The ‘dry forest’ is dense with wonderful trees, dozens of birds, and if you’re lucky enough, monkeys. Looking out from your private terrace, you’re greeted with the beautiful ocean and coastline.

The refreshing swimming pool is located centrally near the outdoor kitchen. There are lounge chairs, towels, umbrellas, and hammocks. The pool is romantic, with a waterfall and views straight to the ocean.

The dining area is beautiful. This isn’t a “restaurant” and there is not a set menu -- lunches and dinners are arranged in advance at your convenience and created and cooked to order by a private chef. Prices are perfectly in-line for the incredible meals. The “rancho” also houses the water/wine/beer/soda selection and is done on an honor system. You write down what you’ve taken and pay for it (in cash) at the end. This is also true for the meals (you pay for them in cash upon checkout). While there were two other couples at Casa Chameleon, the design of the property makes you feel like you have the place to yourselves. The other couples were never with us at the pool or any meals, and we only saw them passing through once or twice.

The chef for Casa Chameleon was Mario. He cooks (or shall I say, masterfully creates?) breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Definitely eat on property as much as you can—his meals are beyond spectacular. We live in Manhattan and his meals were as good as or better than any of the restaurants we’ve eaten at in the city. Breakfasts range from eggs, pancakes, bacon, fruit, homemade breads and jams, all done on request. Dinners are a superb experience with everything cooked to order, from fresh fish to steaks. You may eat meals in your room on the balcony or in the dining area. We chose to eat in the dining area because we enjoyed the company of David and Mario. The meal is custom tailored to you. If you prefer pork, beef, fish, pasta, healthy, fried, anything at all -- Mario excels at all of it. And not only is he a master at the meal, but also at the desserts.

There is also a beautiful outdoor yoga studio which overlooks the Ocean. With white flowing drapes, it’s like what you’d see in a movie.

The beach is a two minute car ride down a hill to the shoreline. There are many beaches and all are equally beautiful. Watching the sunsets here is amazing. While it’s possible to walk to the beach in a few minutes or so, the hill is fairly steep and probably a difficult walk up – we’d recommend you drive. There are really interesting rock formations if you just walk left on the beach. You’ll have to walk around some trees and other rock formations, but worth it to watch a sunset from here.

For walking around the property, there is a beautiful teak deck or stone path. Bobbie and Anthony planted all of the trees and flowers just a few years ago when they constructed the property and truly it has grown and become a beautiful tropical escape. Every room is completely private and you never have to leave the property.

During our stay, David was our your host. He can set up any kind of activity, tours, surf lessons, give directions, restaurant recommendations, confirm flights, etc. Truly he is so much more-- a relaxed friend who wants to ensure you love your experience in Mal Pais as much as possible. Adam also works with David in the afternoons and can guide you on the right path. He was fantastic as well and great to chat with.

Bobbie and Anthony are the owners who may also be on property in the main house. We had the good fortune to have them on property for a few days during our stay. Their warmth, hospitality, and friendliness were unparalleled. It was such a pleasure getting to chat with them. It was like catching up with long-lost friends. We're so glad we had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with them.

What you will come to find is that all the people in Costa Rica are tremendously friendly and kind. Bobbie and Anthony too can act as guides, give recommendations, or enthrall you with their stories of the area.

Casa Chameleon is a spectacular, very special property, unlike anywhere we’ve stayed before, and as a professional travel photographer, we’ve been all over the world. Casa Chameleon in Costa Rica compares to places like Bora Bora in its combination of romance, beauty, diversity, and adventure. The idyllic setting, the meals, the people as well as the numerous places to explore in the area will ensure you have a wonderful vacation. We cannot say enough good things about it, and will surely be back.

[For more information on activities and the town, we will post under the Mal Pais forum.]

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank pttraveler3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais

Address: Punta Barrigona | Province of Puntarenas, Mal Pais, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Mal Pais
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Mal Pais
Price Range: $289 - $691 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chosen as one of the "Best 101 Hotels in the World" by Conde Nast Publications' Tatler Travel Guide, Casa Chameleon hotel Mal Pais is a favorite with honeymooners and couples looking to relax and unwind in an enchanted adult only environment. Casa Chameleon is vacation as it should be: a warm welcome, rich privacy, authentic experiences, and endless adventure. Regardless of which Casa Chameleon Hotel you find yourself enjoying, you can count on handcrafted cultural experiences and endless adventure. At each Casa Chameleon property, it is our priority to help you slip seamlessly into the best of local tradition and cuisine-from cooking fresh-caught seafood side by side with our in-house chefs to paddling the coastline to sipping a nightcap in your private pool. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Casa Chameleon Mal Pais
Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais Costa Rica

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