My wife and I spent 3 nights at Arenas Del Mar during December 2013. It was the final stop on a 10-day tour that included stays at two other luxury properties in Costa Rica - Nayara (Arenal) and Florblanca (Santa Teresa/Malpais).
It took me a couple of days to make reservations here for a couple of reasons. There are many classes of rooms, and it's expensive, so I wanted to make sure I got a room that I was happy with. The hotel was offering a 3 nights for the price of 2 promotion that included a free dinner, but the reservation agent never mentioned it during two conversations. I ended up finding it on their website and inquiring about it. This is a level of deception that I don't appreciate. As it is, I ended up spending almost $500 per night (including taxes) AFTER the discount in order to get an ocean view superior room.
We arranged for transportation from Quepos Airport through the hotel. The hotel occupies a hill adjacent to the beach. You can't really walk to restaurants from here (there are two restaurants on the property), but taxis here are inexpensive, unlike other parts of the country. We arrived at a rustic open air reception area at the bottom of the hill and were transported via golf cart up a hill to the main lobby, which features the front desk, gift shop, pool, and restaurant.
From the beginning, service was clearly a strength. The bellman, Ariel, provided helpful information about hiking paths located around the property and worked hard to develop a rapport. Likewise, the front desk clerk, Allan, was extremely nice and helpful. This would be a theme at this property - world class service - not just friendly, but extremely solicitious. They seemed to always anticipate our needs. This is why I can remember their names so well - they clearly wanted to make sure that we were well taken care of.
Our room was a bit of a disappointment, however - a bit shocking to me, given that it was the most expensive room of our stay, even with the 3-for-2 discount. It was small with aging yellow floor tile, dusty taupe curtains, and a bathroom that was well-maintained but simply showing its age. When we turned the fan on full speed, dust flew off of it. The air conditioner promised 17 degrees Celsius but it couldn't deliver it.
But the bed was comfortable and the view of the ocean was spectacular. We had a small deck with two chairs and a mini bar. Arenas Del Mar provides complimentary beverages and snacks in the minibar, which is a really nice touch.
Upon doing a little recon, we noticed that the property is sizeable. We were at the top of the hill in building 6. There are 7 3-story buildings, with a variety of different room types in each. The higher the building number, the closer you are to the lobby and the top of the hill.
Buildings with lower numbers are at the bottom of the hill practically on the beach. You won't have the same kind of views, but you'll get your own beach, pool and restaurant. The hill is steep, but you can call the front desk and they'll send a driver with a golf cart to take you up and down the hill. The beach at the bottom of the hill is small but quite nice, with bar service. There was a pretty serious rip tide which made it difficult to swim - that was disappointing, but we were able to frolic a bit as long as we didn't get too deep.
One of the best features of Arenas Del Mar is that there is wildlife everywhere. There were two sloths in the trees outside of the reception area, and we heard about monkeys visiting the beach the day before we arrived.
The hotel also has an absolutely incredible tour guide named Ersel. We did a basic hike in Manuel Antonio National Park with him and he turned it into an extraordinary experience. His passion for wildlife is infectious, and this very simple little hike turned into the highlight of our trip. Arenas Del Mar offers many different tours throughout the day, including free birdwatching tours at 6 AM and tours of many other area attractions.
We had nice meals at the main restaurant - a very good dinner and nice (free) breakfasts. The food at the beach restaurant wasn't quite as good, but the cocktails were delicious and reasonably priced.
Overall, I think Arenas Del Mar is a very nice property with rooms that need a little TLC. The service here is some of the best that I've experienced in the world and the location is spectactular, and those factors certainly help you forgive some of the issues with the rooms.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located within walking distance of Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas Del Mar is an extraordinary beachfront and rainforest resort catering to travelers looking for more than the typical luxury hotel experience. Stunning, luxurious, and sustainable, our hotel has 38 rooms with exclusive beach and nature views, nestled in eleven acres of rainforest with private trails and two tree-shaded white sand beaches. Unique among the hotels in Manuel Antonio, our carbon-neutral property offers sustainable, luxurious lodging. As well, we are proud to be the first Costa Rican luxury hotel to have been awarded the Five Sustainability Leaf Award and a Five Star Award. With this stunning location and a myriad of personalized services, on-property activities and land and water-based tours catered for honeymooning couples and families alike, Arenas Del Mar is the perfect base for exploring on your Manuel Antonio vacation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio