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“Several positives, but rooms & housekeeping need an overhaul”

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Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Ranked #4 of 46 Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed May 12, 2014

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.

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled with family
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6  Thank SquatchGR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 10, 2014

The experience begins with being driven down a very steep drive to the first reception point, a high covered "gazebo", where you will be offered cold towels and water, toilets, and comfortable seats while you wait briefly for a golf cart and friendly driver to take you down and up through the forest, pointing out wild life as you travel, to the main reception.

This is also the lobby, bar, lounge, Mirador restaurant, and upper pool area, with a view down to the beach towards Manuel Antonio Park. The lobby is where entertainment - salsa lessons, wildlife presentation, etc happen. Some rooms are in three floor blocks here, and others in blocks at the lower Playitas Beach area, again accessed by steep drive and golf cart. Playitas has a daytime bar and food area.

Rooms have varying sizes and facilities, but all have good a/c, bathrooms (rather dimly lit) with circular walk in shower +toiletries, large comfortable beds, in room safe, iron and board, free wifi. All have large balconies with ceiling fans, comfortable chairs, fridge with free soft drinks and snacks and milk daily, coffee and machine, and sink. Some balconies have a jacuzzi. The balcony cupboard has a key to guard against the raccoons' potential night visits. All telephone calls, including international, are free.

Food was beautifully presented, a modern Costa Rican cuisine, and delicious. See Mirador Restaurant for more comments. Breakfasts are included and begin with fresh squeezed daily fruit juice and a plate of prepared fruit before a choice of main dish.

All staff were very helpful and friendly, and always knew who you were and what you were doing. We did nature tours with both Hannia and Ersel. We enjoyed their enthusiasm and knowledge. Ersel's talk and presentation about sloths, and later his expert spotting and information at the Manuel Antonio Nature Park, were great.

We had a problem with our room which they worked to resolve and the managers were all very visible and accessible. A very well staffed, run and smooth staff team and where everyone seemed to enjoy their work.

Whilst you could easily spend all your time at the resort, we enjoyed going our locally and seeing some of the local life. The resort will either order you a taxi or send you in one of their a/c vans, and, in the latter case, put the charge on your account. You can walk from the resort along the beach to Manuel Antonio village but a lift back at night is better.

Rip currents are present, so swimming should be carefully considered. On their own Playitas Beach, the resort has a lifeguard.. Both that and the access to the public beach have a full time resort security guard.

Playitas has a lovely pool, with some shade during parts of the day, unlike the pool near the lobby. Both pools have buoyancy aids and buckets and spades for children.

Altogether a lovely "treat" experience, in one of the country's most expensive resorts.

Room Tip: This is a very steep site, though the golf carts help. There are no lifts and most rooms have extern...
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  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank FandRD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2014 via mobile

I have never written a review as I feel like enough other people do, however, I feel it would be a shame not to give this resort the accolades it deserves. From the minute we arrived we were treated with such genuine respect and a great "pura vida" attitude. We were a bit cranky after a 4 hour drive from monte verde, however, one look at the beautiful view from the beautiful property, and our moods were instantly transformed. Everyone is super nice and willing to help. We come from San Francisco, the mecca of restaurants on the west coast, and are very critical and particular about our dining experiences. The dinner we had was truly one of the best we've ever had. It was original, unique, fresh and just incredible. We had planned on going into town for other meals to add some diversity, but had no desire to give up an incredible (and so affordable) culinary experience. A big salute to the owner, management, and most especially to the staff for executing the vision of this wonderful resort.

Stayed: May 2014, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Vimi V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2014

Even though my family and I travel often, I have never written a review on tripadvisor. However, after recently returning from what was probably the best hotel experience I have had, I decided to write a review. My husband and I spent 4 nights at Arenas del Mar, after spending 3 nights at the Guanacaste Marriott and 2 nights at the Tabacon Resort in Arenal. Both of those hotels were beautiful and we had a great time. But we definitely saved the best for last! We arrived in the late evening (after a 6 1/2 hour drive) to the security gate, and were taken by a golf cart to our beautiful room, which had an outdoor hot tub, a mini bar filled with free snacks, and very comfortable beds. We were told to enjoy our dinner before we even officially checked in. The dinner was delicious (try the mushroom risotto and chocolate lava cake, you won't be disappointed). The breakfasts, which are included, were the best. From the plate of fresh fruit, a different fresh squeezed juice every morning, and a full Costa Rican or American breakfast, you won't leave hungry. The property has beautiful foliage. It has it's own private beach and 2 pools. Keep your eyes open, and you might see monkeys, lizards, snakes, birds, sloths, and toucans. We took 2 tours conducted by guides employed by the hotel. We went with Hannia to the national forest and with Ersel on a bird tour on the hotel property. They were excellent guides and extremely knowledgeable (loved Ersel's bird calls). The entire staff at this boutique hotel are so friendly and helpful (including drying our hiking boots that were soaked from getting caught in the rain in the rainforest, helping us speak spanish, and teaching us to make tortillas). We had a problem with the room safe and someone was at our room within 5 minutes of our call. Golf carts were used on the property and always available to drive us up the hill when we didn't want to walk. I can't think of anything this hotel lacks or needs to improve. We will definitely visit Costa Rica again, which is an amazing country, and stay at Arenas del Mar.

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Honey1952
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2014

My wife Jill and I just returned from a 10 day visit to Costa Rica. Our last days were spent at Arenas Del Mar in Manuel Antonio. What can I say. The accommodations are wonderful and we used our private Jacuzzi on our patio every day. The rooms are large and clean and welcoming. Want to make an international call home, go ahead it is free. Need some snacks from the mini bar, worried about the cost, don't worry they are free. As a matter of fact tell them what you like and they will try to get it. Want to find a place with a good breakfast, don't leave the hotel breakfast is included and it is a la carte and delicious. Yes maybe other hotels could do that, but could they provide you hiking trails and your own menagerie of animals playing around you as you walk or eat. Sloths with babies climbing trees, white faced monkeys, toucans, snakes, all kinds of birds, and on and on right on the property. How about your own private beach and your walk to Manuel Antonio State Park. But aside from all of this why is this place so great, 38 rooms and 100 staff, who know you and you know them and they make your vacation the best ever. These are the nicest people you ever want to meet. A shout out to Ersel and Hannia, our guides at the resort, so knowledgeable. A shout out to Georgette, Yahaira, and Luis, who served us great meals and taught us Spanish. A shout out to Pri for the great spa treatment and incredible conversation. A shout out to Bryan, and Juan Pablo and others for making us feel so welcome. A shout out to the people, who unfortunately I never met, who dried and cleaned our hiking boots, after we got caught in the rainforest downpour. And a special thank you to David Callan, the owner of this magnificent resort, for building this place, and creating this culture of great people. We will be back and if you are thinking about going to Costa Rica do yourself a favor and go to Arenas Del Mar for an incredibly great experience.

Hasta Luego
Les

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank bearhead12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2014

Hotel:
This hotel was absolutely amazing! It was definitely our favorite place to stay and we didn't want to leave. The drive in was a little stressful, we bottomed out on the drive way, but once you get there it is paradise. From the moment we arrived the staff members were very attentive and nice. You park at the bottom of the hill, at the hotel entrance. Then a staff member drives you to the lobby in a golf cart. That is where you receive your room key, a delicious welcome drink, and information about the hotel. A staff member then drives you to your room in a golf cart and helps you get acquainted with the property. We saw a sloth and lizards on the the way to our room and the driver was kind enough to stop and point them out. The bedding was heavenly, the room was simple yet very comfortable. The mini-bar had free, local snacks and drinks. We were very impressed!

Food:
We quickly went to the pool for a drink. Compared to other places we stayed, the drinks were priced very reasonably, and were delicious! The details of the straws and garnishes were an added bonus. Don't miss happy hour at the main bar for great drink prices, views, and conversation! We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the hotel and all of the food was very good (the pancakes for breakfast and mahi mahi fish sticks for lunch were our favorites).

Staff:
All of the staff members were very accommodating and extremely nice. Some staff members needing extra highlight include: Jose & Christian (cart drivers who remembered us by name), Sergio & Bryan (excellent at the concierge desk), Angel (bartender/waiter), and Priscilla (masseur). We met one of the owners, Jeremy, during our stay which was an added bonus! He was very informative and clearly passionate about creating the best experience for his guests.

Activities:
We went to Villa Vanilla spice farm (amazing!!- Giselle gave a great tour), visited Manuel Antonio National Park (definitely take a guide to see the animals), and walked the length of Esparilla beach & had lunch at Marlin restaurant. I definitely encourage you to RELAX while you were here. The views are amazing, there are lots of animals on the property, the staff are delightful, and the environment is perfect for decompressing. Enjoy it!

Room Tip: You can't go wrong anywhere on this property!
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Angela R
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 May 5, 2014

Dear Angela R,
Thank you for visiting us at Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio. We appreciate you taking the time to write such a wonderful review. We are happy to hear that the drive down the hill to the beach was compensated by such a great vacation experience for you. We always love to hear about how our staff went out of the way to make your stay really memorable. We also loved the comment about the heavenly bed. Thanks for the great comments on the food. We agree that hanging out at the bar is a great way to mingle with other travelers and exchange Cost Rica stories.
Thanks for sharing some of the recommendations on things to do. Many guests tell us they wished they had stayed more than 4 days at Arenas del Mar to really take advantage of all the great things to do and at the same time relax at the beaches of the resort. Please come back soon if you are in further need of “decompressing”. Greetings from Costa Rica.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2014

My wife and I stayed here for four nights with our two teenage daughters . Its was an amazing place and the fun began with the 3-hour transfer from San Jose. George was a great guide and made the long drive fly by with great stories about Costa Rica and family. I still can't believe how big those crocodiles were! We felt at home at Arenas de Mar the moment we arrived. We stayed in building 5, which was close to the pool and main dining area. Our rooms were very comfortable, especially the beds. We are all nature fanatics and this was a perfect combination of the rainforest and beach. The view from the top pool area was breathtaking. From the pool area, we saw sloths, white-faced and howler monkeys as well as over 30 different species of birds. The restaurant Playitas, on the beach, was our go-to place to relax, each lunch and watch the giant lizards.The staff were exceptionally friendly, the food was good, and the service great. We can't emphasize enough how nice the staff all were, especially Ersel, Angel, George, Kenner, and Ronnie. They were helpful, knowledgeable, and engaging.

We are the type of family that can't sit still so our stay involved many off-site adventures. All were a short distance from the resort and Arenas del Mar made all the arrangements. All we had to do was show up ready to go. We went to the Hanging Bridges, Manual Antonio National Park, and white-water rafting on the Savegre. One excursion a day was perfect for our active family allowing us time to enjoy the resort every afternoon. We definitely recommend the Hanging Bridges even if you are afraid of heights as I am. We saw so much wildlife along the trails at the resort that going to Manual Antonio National Park was not as much of an adventure as we anticipated it would be. It was still interesting, just not many birds and lots of people. Our best adventure at Arenas del Mar was the night hike with Ersel. He was a great tour guide and had us engaged right from the very beginning with his animated introduction to what we might see and experience. Hearing monkeys at night and seeing freaky insects/wildlife was worth every moment. Ersel and I also went birding together one morning. He's an experienced guide and we really enjoyed spending time with him and hearing his stories.

We loved the fact that the resort was so ecologically-friendly. No cars, just cool golf carts that brought us anywhere we wanted to go on property. They were life-savers because of the hilly terrain. The resort trails are well done and make you feel like you are inside a much larger forest. We recommend getting up early to enjoy the sunrise on the beach and this is the best time to see wildlife.

We will definitely return to Costa Rica and Arenas del Mar! Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank Mike T
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 May 5, 2014

Dear Mike T,
Greetings from sunny Manuel Antonio. We were very excited to read your review about your family’s recent stay with us. We love to have active families at Arenas del Mar. There is so much to do that more and more people tell us that 4 nights are just not enough (just like in your case). Thanks for the great recommendations on tours to take and the comments on all the great wildlife viewing that you experienced. We are happy to hear that you enjoyed the newly designed night walk in our private nature reserve with Ersel so much. We look forward to having you back with us real soon for more “Pura Vida”. Saludos,

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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 Green Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#2 Spa Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#3 Luxury Hotel in Manuel Antonio
Price Range: $431 - $1,085 (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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