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“Disappointing”

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Tulemar Bungalows & Villas
Ranked #1 of 46 Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 6, 2006

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..

  • Stayed: June 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
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13  Thank Tylee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 16, 2006

We visited Manual Antonio recently, arriving by way of a single prop, 12 passenger Cessna from San Jose, and were struck immediately, upon entering our bungalow (#113), how beautiful the views were from the unique architectural layout of the room, which is essentially a suite.

The bungalows were designed so that one could view the natural surroundings of the area virtually without hindrance, opening shades, windows, screens or any combination to suit one's tastes. For 'birders' the view is especially nice since the bungalow is eye level with the tops of many trees.

The bungalow is well equiped, huge, and very comfortable. Maid service was good. Ants and other creepy crawlers, of course, made a few appearances but were not too much of a bother.

The private beach is secluded, serene, easy to get to by foot or hotel-provided shuttle. There is a small covered stand for refreshments.

Breakfast was decent in the Tulemar Cafe. If you are a fan of 70's music, you will enjoy the loud, constant tunes being played over the loudspeakers; if not, beware. The view is great.

Skip the hotel's escorted tour to Manual Antonio National Park at $40 pp and do it yourself.

Hope this helps.

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
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5  Thank HelloThereAgain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Kirkland, WA
18
Reviewed May 15, 2006

I've just returned from my first trip to Costa Rica - it was fantastic! The highlight was staying at Tulemar, villa 308. It was as close to Paradise as I have gotten so far. The villa was tasteful, elegant, comfortable and could accomodate our whole group of friends. The best part was the two decks (one on each level) that appear to be hanging in the tropical canopy, facing the ocean. We saw a variety of birds, butterflies and two different kinds of monkeys visited our deck one day.
The hillside is steep and leads to a private cove beach equipped with boogie boards, see cayaks and a bar. The pools are beautiful, surrounded by trees and very quiet.
Service was excellent, prompt and friendly. Van service is available to take you to the beach or up to the main road running on the top of the hill.
The breakfast served on site is good; I'd reccomend that you buy some supplies in the local grocery and make good use of the fully equipped kitchen for some of the other meals. A great variety of restaurants is available neirby.
These villas can suit families, groups of friends or romantic couples as well. I highly recommend them to anyone. I'll make sure to return soon!

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
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8  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reno, NV
14
Reviewed May 8, 2006

  • Stayed: April 2006
    • Value
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4  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 1, 2006

We spent 5 days in a bungalow here and really enjoyed it. The staff takes great care of you; the pool and beach are great; Manuel Antonio is just down the street, and you don't even have to leave the resort to see monkeys and tree sloths. It's definitely a resort in its structure and vibe, but it's small enough that you don't feel like you're in club med. The food is generally mediocre, but you can find things that are acceptable, and the breakfast is great. My one complaint is that the music at the restaurant tends to be either Latin pop or new age and neither are to my liking. But, given the views from the restaurant, the proximity of the pool, and the monkeys swinging through the trees, it's all good.

  • Stayed: March 2006
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2  Thank chillinlikedylan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2006

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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6  Thank sloth2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2006

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank Missypie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tulemar Bungalows & Villas

Address: Tulemar Gardens, Manuel Antonio 6350, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manuel Antonio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Manuel Antonio
Price Range: $148 - $339 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 34
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

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