It really kills me to give Arenas del Mar only 3 stars because I really wanted to love this place. It was the resort I was the most excited about staying at and the one I spent the most time researching. (I am very well-traveled, have very reasonable expectations and do a ton of research before I go to a place, which is why I thought I had chosen well.)
Let me preface my review by saying that there are many great aspects of this hotel. First, the staff and service are second to none. The staff is absolutely lovely, kind, accommodating, and prompt. They also went out of their way on several occasions to help point out animals on the property, which we really appreciated. In fact, we saw more wildlife on the property than we did on our 4 hour guided tour through the park!
Also, I'm surprised by how many average reviews there are of the food. I thought the food was outstanding! It was very fresh, well-presented, and tasty. The seafood was especially delicious. We ate their for breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners and were never disappointed. The only negative I'll say with regard to the food is that it's pretty pricey. Lunch for a family of 4 (with my two kids splitting a dish, my husband and I each getting a wrap, and a plate of chips/salsa) was $80! We had a car while there and went out for several lunches and dinners instead of eating in everyday because of the price, not the quality of the food.
The pools are small, but nice temperatures and clean. Yes, it's a hike to get to them or the beach, but we didn't mind the walk or the golf cart ride. Frankly, we usually walked and found it a good way to burn a few calories. :-) It was no big deal for us, but if you have health problems or mobility problems, I can see it being an issue.
I'm not normally one to give poor reviews for small things, nor am I one to complain. But I gave this hotel a 3 star rating because of the poor housekeeping and the maintenance of the rooms. We had a family of 4, so we were in an oceanfront premium suite because it was the only room big enough for all of us. The room was spacious, but in extreme need of maintenance. The paint was peeling off the walls and ceilings, especially in the bathrooms, the tile in the bathrooms were completely molded and covered in mildew, and the rooms weren't clean...at all, which is a deal breaker for me. There were several days when I came in as the housekeeper was leaving and there would be live and dead bugs all over the floor that she supposedly just cleaned. There was also a lizard in our room. We didn't so much mind that because we figured it would eat the bugs that the cleaning people left behind! I understand that this is the jungle and that this is an eco-friendly resort (i.e., no pesticides) and that critters come with the territory to a certain extent and I'm okay with that. However, if things wander in a few hours after the housekeeper has left, that's one thing. If there's still bugs on the floor when the housekeeper left 30 seconds ago, that's quite another thing.
More disturbing that all of that, though, was the fact that we ordered room service one night, as did someone else in the building and the dishes sat outside on the stoop for well over 24 hours! That was unbelievable to me. Doesn't a hotel in a jungle want to deter bugs from coming into the building?! It got to be a running joke each day with my family..."let's take bets on whether the dirty dishes will still be sitting outside when we come back today!"
For the price we paid for our room (well over $400/night for low season), the rooms should be pristine, dishes should be removed within a couple hours from outside the room, and paint/tile shouldn't be molded and peeling. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the resort had only been open for 6.5 years! It looked like it had been open for 20. I understand that humidity can wreak havoc on these materials, but for these prices, it should be cleaned or replaced more regularly.
Overall, the negatives weren't enough to outweigh the positives of the location, the beach, the wildlife on the property, the staff, and the great food. But I was disappointed with the lack of cleanliness and upkeep of the rooms and think it should be better cared for when people are paying those sorts of prices. For comparison, we also stayed at Silencio del Campo in Arenal during our stay and that, for me, was a wonderful little hotel for less than half the price. It was spotlessly clean and well-maintained.
I still would recommend this hotel to others, though, if Arenas del Mar replaces the bathroom/bedroom tile and does a little clean up around the buildings.
- 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