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“Outstanding Service; Rooms Need a Renovation for the Price”

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Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Ranked #4 of 46 Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed December 18, 2013

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.

Room Tip: The property consists of 7 3-story buildings - the low numbers (100s, 200s, 300s) are at the bottom...
  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank BradleyX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 17, 2013

If John Milton had been with us on this trip, he may have changed the title to his book. Arenas del Mar is truly Paradise Found and what we found here was a dream vacation. Tucked away on a mountainside, surrounded by exotic flora and fauna, this resort surrenders itself to its natural surroundings- which includes a beach that is both placid on some days and exhilarating on others. Sunrise and sunset are both an activity and not just a time of day. The staff are warm and attentive and helpful in every way.- always accommodating. Bird watching, forest excursions and zip lining call for special recognition of Ersel, a Costa Rican naturalist and expert in nature and our relationship to the natural world. And as beautiful as it was, it was hard to leave our sumptuous room! Delicious meals and great drinks were the exclamation point to a great trip we are planning on taking again as soon as possible. Go!

Room Tip: View, view , view!
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Nancy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 15, 2013

My husband and I travelled with another couple and shared one floor of a building near the beach -- two bedrooms and adjoining living room. A bottle of wine and a fresh cheese plate awaited our arrival. Our room had a view of the rainforest and we slept to the sound of crashing waves in an insanely comfortable bed. We had delicious breakfasts around the pool with a view of the Pacific, lunches served on the sandy beach, and dinners in the open air restaurant. Jen Carroll, top Phila chef, cooked that week and did not disappoint. Every morning we walked along the stunning -- and incredibly unpopulated --one mile public beach. Tours of all local spots were easily arranged with the concierge. The hotel staff are THE BEST. We have stayed at top rated Four Seasons, Ritz, etc and the staff of Arenas del Mar were, in comparison, so genuinely hospitable. Their concern for our well-being was above and beyond. The staff ratio is high and they are successful in meeting their goal of learning guests' first names within the first 24 hours. Many of the staff drive the golf carts which are always available to take guests around the hilly property. The drivers are very knowledgable and eager to engage in conversation about things to do on and off the property. They know how to make you feel at home in an exotic setting.

Room Tip: Rooms in the buildings near the lobby are more expensive but have killer views.
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Susan G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cayuga S, Manager at Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, responded to this reviewResponded December 17, 2013

Dear Susan G,
greetings from Manuel Antonio and Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort. Thank you for your raving review about your recent stay with us. We love the fact that you felt "at home" in an exotic setting. We are flattered by your favorable comparison with such established hospitality brands such as Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton. We work hard to provide top service with a 100% local staff and try to be as authentic and local in the delivery as possible. We are excited to hear that you enjoyed the guest chef event with Jennifer and all the other meals at the hotel. We are currently planning the guest chef events for 2014 and hope you can join us again then. Happy holidays and all the best.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2013

My husband and I recently visited the Arenas del Mar for a 5 night stay to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. As I am a travel agent I did a LOT of research before picking the Arenas and a few times I almost changed our reservations to another resort in the area. I am so very glad I went with our first choice and stayed at the Arenas del Mar. We arrived at the resort after and easy flight from Houston and a somewhat bumpy (but very safe) flight from San Jose into Quepos via Sansa Air. When the taxi started down the very steep, rustic driveway to the Arenas we were at once grateful we did not rent a car. Upon our arrival at the transportation center we were taken to reception via golf cart and immediately relaxed as we entered the tranquil beauty of the resorts lush grounds and friendly service. Within a few moments our check-in was complete and were were rejuvenated with a tropical smoothie. While we were taking care of business, our bags were taken to our room and were waiting for us in the suite. We booked an ocean breeze suite (301) and were immediately enchanted by the suite and the view. The suite was spacious and clean with a nice kitchenette and gorgeous bathroom (although the lighting was a bit dark). We enjoyed the spa tub on our balcony that overlooked Playitas beach, but was also completely private thanks to the jungle setting. We spent every morning and evening relaxing on our balcony watching the sunrise and sunset, sometimes with a few white faced monkeys for company. The bed was very comfortable and the amenities were of good quality and well stocked, especially helpful as the weight limit on Sansa was only 30 pounds! Between the A/C and multiple ceiling fans we were very comfortable any time of day. The WiFi in the room was very fast and the TV had a nice selection of channels. We enjoyed the Hanging Bridges and Waterfalls tour in the Rainmaker fires, and Quepo Canyoning adventure, both booked through the hotel. The tour operators were friendly and professional. By the end of our excursions we felt like we could spot a poison dart and sloth from many meters away! Playitas beach was small and very private. Although it is a public beach it is separated from the main beach, Playa Espadilla, by a rocky outcropping that is virtually unpassable exempt at low tide. We enjoyed two wonderful dinners at breakfast every morning at el Mirador as well as a relaxing lunch and romantic private dinner at Playitas beach. The food was well prepared and the chef thoughtful in his pairings and presentation. We did not have a car but found it very easy to get a taxi or use the hotel transportation to get around the area. We walked down Playa Espadilla (accessible from the hotel grounds) to the town of Manuel Antonio for lunch one day at The Marlin (good, satisfying lunch) and again the next morning to get into the park. It is a long walk (20 minutes at a good pace) but safe and a nice work-out. The staff at the Arenas were friendly and very accommodating. We enjoyed the spa at the Arenas del Mar and were very impressed with the quality of our services. The property is very hilly and from where we were in building 3 it was quite a hike to reception. We walked most of the time for the exercise but its very easy to get a golf cart to take you anywhere on property if you need. Overall, we were very impressed with the resorts amenities, and friendliness and professionalism of the staff. It was very obvious to us that the staff at the Arenas del Mar are not only passionate about their beautiful country, but of their resort as well. We found out during our interactions with the staff that many of the employees live on site and it shows in their commitment to their service to their guests and their passion for the country they live in. We would highly recommend the Arenas del Mar, Pura Vida!

Room Tip: We stayed in building 3 which was easily accessible from Playitas beach and restaurant. It was quite...
  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank eriksjen8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2013

Sometimes one romanticizes a vacation and the resort to which one visited...over the course of a year, I had hoped this wouldn't be the case...and indeed, our return trip to Arenas Del Mar,was nothing short of spectacular! The staff welcomed us as though we were family! Our suite was just as I had remembered and loved...facing the Pacific and glorious sunrises! We were treated to the best breakfasts poolside...with a side order of Spanish lessons,compliments of Ricardo! We had amazing dinners prepared by Chip Roman,of Blackfish and Mica,here in the states ...we had informative and fun filled cooking lessons,rum tastings,and coffee tastings from the staff!
My spa experience with Priscilla was just as I had remembered,only better...if that is possible!
This trip, we spent an afternoon on the resort's private beach and were rewarded with a show of dozens of Pelicans...hawks...and a staff member presenting us with freshly harvested coconuts whose milk and fruit was delicious.
At one point in the afternoon,we were approached by the security guard who asked if we would like to see a Boa Constrictor consuming an Iguana....ah,Yes! High up on a cliff near the ocean, there was this awesome sight! That was truly a once in million chance to see something so extraordinary. But, this we have found, is typical at Arenas Del Mar...the staff is always on high alert to show their guests amazing things!
At breakfast by the pool we were alerted to a huge Sloth up in a tree,there were White face monkeys, and a Squirrel monkey....but on the last day,right before we left for the airport, Erzel pointed out an Aracari...quite rare and what a wow!
The bartender,Juan Diego, delighted us with his delicious tropical infusion drinks....pairing herbs with Rum was a particular favorite.
The staff from the front desk to the waitstaff to the naturalists to the wonderful crew who shuttles you back and forth to the reception center...to a person, they are welcoming,friendly, informative,and eager to make your stay memorable.
Arenas Del Mar is truly Pura Vida!

Room Tip: All suites and rooms are excellent...we found that the 3rd level suite afforded the best privacy and...
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank tsharnick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2013

We just returned from a terrific family vacation at this property over the Thanksgiving holiday. This was the perfect compromise location for myself (who tends towards more budget, independent travel), my husband (who would rather stay home on vacation), and my eight year old daughter. The place felt luxurious without being snooty. The staff were incredibly attentive and thoughtful. They were simply amazing with children....all of the children we saw while we were there were welcomed very, very warmly. Overall, their hospitality seemed totally genuine, which I don't think I've ever experienced outside of a homestay setting. Unexpected bonus: We happened to be there on my daughter's and my own birthdays, and each day we were given in tasty birthday cake and greeted with balloon-festooned golf carts.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank 945KellyS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2013

We selected Arenas del Mar based on its oceanfront location and Cayuga property affiliation. We were not disappointed! The property is beautiful and set naturally into the rainforest and along the ocean. The rooms are beautifully done with dark woods and simple furnishings. The bathroooms are not as sleek as what we might have expected, but were very clean and consistent with the property location. The covered balcony had amazing views and was perfect for reading during an afternoon rain, or to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening.

Having said all of that, the staff is extraordinary. They went out of their way to accommodate us and make us feel welcome. It was by far one of the best hotel experiences we've ever had. It would be hard to imagine a better place to stay in the Manuel Antonio area.

Room Tip: Building 3 is halfway between the ocean and the main building, with amazing views. Also, we booked...
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank SummerattheLake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort

Address: Punta Quepos, Manuel Antonio 60601, Costa Rica (Formerly Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica)
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manuel Antonio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#2 Spa Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#2 Green Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#3 Luxury Hotel in Manuel Antonio
Price Range: $274 - $948 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 38
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

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