We booked Tulemar primarily based on prior TA reviews and the lure of the private beach. We were so disappointed we checked out early and moved to another property in MA.
The good: The beach, with its free umbrellas, chairs, kayaks, boogie boards and beach bar were a dream, especially in Manual Antonio, where logistics to get to and from the beach are more involved than in most typical beach towns. The public beach in MA is lively and fun, but you do have to rent chairs/umbrellas, drive there from almost every hotel in the area and pay to park (or take a bus, hotel shuttle or taxi). (Note: If you stay at other hotels, most of the shuttles they advertise run every 2 hours, not very convenient.) The beach inside MA park requires all of the above, plus you have to pay the $7pp entrance fee before hiking thru the park to the beach another 10 minutes. So, the Tulemar/Buena Vista beach alone saves $12-$15/day minimum over other properties and their shuttle service really is on demand, so there's no restrictive schedules that make it difficult to accomodate late afternoon dashes to the beach after tours and other day activities. The hassle reduction factor alone was a huge draw. However, if you're there in rainy season (like us), don't expect a lot of sun. The draw of MA is it's activities, rain forest and bio diversity. Yes, it does have beaches, but most days were overcast, and one evening rainfall was so violent that the power went out in MA for 2 hours. Other pros: the views are stunning from the patios and the restaurant. Iguanas, monkeys, sloths and birds are very prevalent throughout the property.
The bad: this is not run like a hotel. If Tulemar wants to compete with its neighbor (Buena Vista) or any of the other MA properties in this price range, it will likely need to invest in several areas. The check-in "room" is really just a dingy home office, with stained formica cabinets, papers and computer piled on a cluttered desk that you sit in front of like you're negotiating to buy a car at a used car dealer. Since every guest is paying $180 minimum, and most often much more, it is a little shocking that they have such an un-inviting place with which zto solicit assistance, obtain guest services,etc. Other cons: the pool is showing its age (we're not pool people, so this was not an issue for us).
The ugly: Be VERY sure when you book that you can live with the pros and cons of this place, as the cancellation policies are very restrictive. We had the misfortune of staying at the Panorama for Couples. There was a huge ant problem in the room. Our room had a mattress that reminded me of a 3 year old's first mattress, inexpensive and very utilitarian. There was no mattress pad, so because the sheets were of such thin/poor quality, the design of the mattress below was prominent). We checked in late, so when we realized we needed extra blankets and pillows, the front desk had closed so there was no after hours support to obtain assistance.
The ant problem (they were even crawling all over my book as I was reading on the couch), the bed fiasco, and the lack of service were not endurable for a week's stay and absolutely unacceptable at such a high priced property. Had we been forced to stay, it would have ruined our CR holiday. The owner clearly put minimal thought into making the room comfortable. Had it been remotely comfortable, it may have been easier to overlook or ignore the many other unsatisfactory issues. As it is, having a property and/or its owner stand by its product without making it so unpleasant and difficult to leave when customers are unhappy is another red flag to consider when booking.
Trip Advisor should really break out the Buena Vista property from Tulemar. The BV pool is lovely and the rooms are enchanting. They share the property, but it's like being a world apart. They are distinctly owned and managed properties. Note: we didn't stay aat BV after leaving Tulemar only b/c it was booked.
Other Advice: if you want to stock up on food, wine or Lizano (a Costa Rican hot sauce), the SuperMas grocery store in Quepos is great and had great prices. We enjoyed eating at the Gran Escape in Quepos, Barba Roja in MA (overlooking the water), and Plinios in MA (b/c you felt like you were eating in a tree house). The food is genrally ok to good, but the cuisine is not really the draw to CR in any event..
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tulemar is the premier resort development in Manuel Antonio. Gated and secure, the 33 acre jungle resort is perched on the hillside overlooking the Pacific, but continues down all the way to our own beach. It includes the Tulemar Bungalows and our special and unique villas such as Villa Mot Mot, Casa Panorama, Casa de Frutas, Casa Las Nubes, Villa Kiskadee and the new Tulemar Bamboo Villas just for couples. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Tulemar Bungalows And Villas
- Tulemar Bungalows & Villas Hotel Manuel Antonio National Park
- Tulemar Hotel
- Tulemar Bungalows & Villas Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio