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“Stunning Resort in Heart of Manuel Antonio”

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Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
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GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Markham, Canada
Level Contributor
250 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 298 helpful votes
“Stunning Resort in Heart of Manuel Antonio”
Reviewed December 30, 2009

We left the Monteverde area and began the long trip to Manuel Antonio and the Arenas Del Mar Hotel. (This was a November Anniversary trip for my wife and I and included stays in San Jose, Tortuguero, La Fortuna (Arenal), Monteverde and Manual Antonio, before returning back to San Jose and our flight back to reality. You can find reviews of all of our stays by clicking on my profile and searching these out.) (what a trip!)

I used a local Tour company for all arrangements (hotels and excursions) in advance and for all transportation throughout Costa Rica. “CostaNica Tours” – We were very pleased with their service and drivers. The entire trip went like clockwork – no surprises or disappointments. Highly recommended.

Our driver transported us and provided much insight along the way – including a stop at the bridge over the Tarcoles where you can view dozens of crocodiles lying along the beach and in the river – pretty creepy. We also stopped in a couple of towns along the way and picked up some groceries too – a great idea considering we had a fridge at the Arenas Del Mar and were able to enjoy our own choices for beer, etc.

We arrived at the Arenas Del Mar in the evening so it was difficult at first to appreciate both the location of the hotel on the hills overlooking the Ocean, or of the grounds themselves. We were immediately impressed with the service and our room however, as we were whisked from the entry point to the top of the resort and a refreshing cold beverage served with a bamboo straw (more on that later) while completing the check-in process.

Our room was stunning – separate air conditioned bedroom, large sitting room with fridge, coffee maker, etc and a gorgeous wraparound balcony including a hot tub that overlooked the property and the crashing waves of the ocean below.

We had a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant that night and breakfast was included in the restaurant each morning. This was the nicest breakfast we had while in Costa Rica – lots of egg/pancake choices off the menu as well as fresh juices, cereals, fresh baked goods, etc. We enjoyed having our breakfast poolside, while watching the sloth in the tree above.

We went on a guided tour of Manuel Antonio Park through Iguana Tours and we would highly recommend it. The guides know their stuff and come equipped with a telescope that they can quickly set up to show you incredible detail of bats, snakes, crabs, monkeys, sloths, etc within seconds. They will even take your handheld digital camera and take some photos through their telescope so you can bring home some pictures you would otherwise have missed of that pit viper that kills in 2 hours, or the face of a sloth, etc., etc.

We used the same tour company for an Ocean Kayak and snorkelling tour that was our one real “miss” of our entire trip. Aside from the longer story of almost having our kayak sink and requiring a mid-ocean change of kayaks with our 2 guides, the bigger issue was simply it was way too much paddling for very little snorkelling return. In hindsight, another morning spend at the hotel and walking the beach would have been a much better use of scarce time.

The hotel itself has direct access to the main Manuel Antonio Beach – you cannot understate the value of this feature. Yes, they also have a lovely private beach that you can take advantage of, but for us, we love walking the beach – and this provided access to a 30-40 min walk into the main beach area/town and back again. It’s one way to walk off the fancy drinks and meals – and enjoy the sun, sand and surf.

Another real redeeming feature of this property is its commitment to sustainability. Given the attraction of the environment in bringing tourists to the country, it was very impressive to learn of the lengths this resort goes to in order to create a sustainable model within this delicate ecosystem. We took the sustainability tour offered by the hotel – at no charge – and saw ‘behind the scenes’ at the hotel. Everything from the use of locally produced meats and produce to partnerships with local schools, the use of farmed bamboo for the straws in their drinks, solar-heated water, recyclable water bottles and cups (will break down), hydroponic gardens, electric golf carts for transport – the list goes on and on. It made us realize how much more we could/should be doing at home.

There is a main pool near the check-in and main restaurant but don’t miss the second pool down near the private beach. There is another bar/restaurant there as well – and it offers beautiful infinity views towards the ocean. The resort is located on the side of some very steep hills – the golf carts are at your beck and call – but we walked the resort to fight off some of the vacation bulge. My wife also took advantage of the on-site spa and thoroughly enjoyed a massage with the attentive staff.

The monkeys and sloths seem to be onsite daily – in fact, I got to watch a Cappuccino monkey show with a group of 6 monkeys right outside our balcony while enjoying a hot tub. They jumped and climbed and ate fruit not 10-15 feet away from me – it was an amazing site. Not everyone may get treated to that show, but my wife and I also saw a family of squirrel monkeys pass overhead while walking back from the beach – again, we took dozens of photos as they played nearby. Apparently the spider monkeys can be quite ‘testy’ at times – purposely throwing their fruit at people below them......We didn’t see that during our visit. You will be greeted at regular intervals by some of the very regal Iguanas on site – the staff have even named some of them.

We did enjoy one dinner off the resort at Agua Azul – this open-air restaurant overlooks the ocean and serves nachos to die for.

If there were to be a criticism of this hotel (my favourite of our entire trip) it would simply be that it is difficult to get off the resort. It means taking a cab to a restaurant that is only mins away because of the difficult walk in and out of the property. During daylight, this walk is fine, but at night, it simply can’t be done – there are no lights of any kind and the road is narrow and turning. The staff declined our request to drive us to the property’s edge in the golf carts – they use them only to get you within the confines of the resort......
But a VERY small complaint to what is otherwise a true 5 star resort. My only wish – we’d stayed there even longer.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank harvman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Toronto
Level Contributor
57 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed December 23, 2009

My wife and I spent 4 nights here after spending the first part of our trip in La Fortuna. The resort exceeded all of our expectations and was the perfect combination of sun, beach and nature. The private beach is a beautiful and very intimate. Our room was spectacular with an enormous balcony complete with 2 separate sitting areas and hot tub. The bed was one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept in.

The staff are extremely friendly and accomodating. The grounds are beautiful, pristinely maintained and very secluded. It is perfectly located relative to the town but you won't likely want to leave the property very much.

The restaurant is very good but there are some fantastic restaurants in town that were highlights of our trip.

The resort is very luxurious and definitely somewhere we would like to return to.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank TorontoRam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed December 20, 2009

Arenas Del Mar was the last place we stayed during our two week trip around Costa Rica and I can safely say that it was by far the best overall. The resort is small and cosy, more of a boutique-style, and even though it was at 90% capacity it had a very private feel to it. The room we had was an Ocean Breeze Superior. It was comfortable with a nice big balcony looking out onto the tree canopy and with a view of the beach. The resort is built on a rocky headland between Espadilla Beach and Playitas Beach. So it is a steep climb to the rooms and the restaurant from the beach, pool and cafe area, but there are golf carts to pick you up if you need them. The beauty of this design is that you get the best of both worlds - a clifftop view of the coast and direct access to the beach. I think this is the only place in Manuel Antonio that offers this. The food in the restaurant and cafe was pretty good, although it was a little overpriced, particularly the wine. We also found the portion sizes in the cafe quite small, more of a snack than a meal (but at meal prices).

We spent a lot of our time on Playitas Beach which is smaller and more private than Espadilla. It has strong waves but it's great for energetic swimming at high tide and there are also bodyboards for guests to use which are great fun. There are two pools but we only used the one at Playitas. It was small but refreshing.

The staff were all very friendly and helpful and we enjoyed chatting with them. They were always very courteous when serving us.

We can also recommend the spa which was great!

As for tours, we were 'all toured out' by the time we reached Manuel Antonio but we did have a guided tour of the national park. It was ok, but compared with other national park tours in Costa Rica it was a let down. And it was also hugely overpriced at $50 each for a group walking tour. It would be better to walk down Espadilla Beach to the park and pay the $10 entry fee from there. The beaches are nice there too - good for swimming. But we actually saw a lot more wildlife at Arenas Del Mar - a troop of capuchin monkeys, tons of iguanas, sloths, Jesus Christ lizards, you name it... and we woke up to the sound of howler monkeys a few times which was magical.

All in all a great place to stay - highly recommended!

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Alex_Hunt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wexford, Ireland
Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed December 14, 2009

There are very few hotels in the world who could not learn at least something from Arenas del Mar. From the welcoming fruit drink at reception on arrival to the round of farewells and handshakes on departure, this beautiful hotel, perched as it is overlooking a pristine part of the Pacific Ocean, has just about everything which the mature leisure traveller could wish for.

Ours was one of the more basic rooms but was nonetheless beautifully appointed and had (as requested) an ocean view. It was cleaned twice daily. The immediate surroundings outside the block where we were situated were exotic and unspoilt while we found the adjoining beaches to be great places to relax and have fun. The food which we enjoyed throughout our stay was top class and from what I could see there was always something on the various menus to suit all tastes. So that's top marks for the accomodation and food. But if it's possible to award more than top marks they would have to go to the staff and the service they provide. Unfailingly pleasant, cheerful, attentive and knowledgeable. Congratulations to them and the management for keeping the standards so high. I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank IEWanderer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Novato, California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed December 8, 2009

I just got back late last week from my week long-trip to Costa Rica with my wife. It's the first time either of us have been to Costa Rica, so we were a bit nervous. Traveling is difficult for us, as my wife has severe food allergies - gluten, corn, soy, peanuts and bananas (and probably more I'm forgetting). I am gluten intolerant as well, so I had some concerns. Let me say first that the staff could not have been more accommodating to our restrictive diets. The chef talked to us personally almost every meal and catered to our every whim. Melissa, the head of the food portion of the hotel also talked to us repeatedly, and even offered to drive into town to get food if we wanted something they did not have.

Neither I nor my wife got even remotely sick on this trip. What's more, the food was excellent: fresh, well-prepared and tasty. We never went hungry at Arenas Del Mar.

The quality of the staff was not limited to the food portion of the hotel. Every single person we interacted with was incredibly nice and gracious to us. They were upbeat, friendly, and on the few occasions they misunderstood us (our spanish is non-existent) they quickly and efficiently rectified the error. On check-in we were greeted warmly with tropical juice and taken to our incredible room, the Ocean Breeze Suite.

When I say 'paradise' I know that it sounds like an exaggeration, but the view from our balcony of the ocean was breathtaking. Having a jacuzzi on the balcony didn't hurt either! [I'm not sure if I can update the review to add pictures once they are ready, but if so I will do so and delete this sentence (LOL).] In short, the suite was spacious, the bed was extremely comfortable and the view was, as I said, lovely.

One of our favorite parts about the hotel was that it is committed to sustainability. Despite being in the heart of the Manuel Antonio area, the hotel was clearly built with minimal impact on the environment. The hotel is maintained with solar and other alternative fuels, and the front desk gave us biodegradable plastic bottles to use for water, which flows clean out of the tap.

All in all, true resort living. I wish we'd never left!

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Cixelsyd23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SWFL
Level Contributor
62 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2009

My wife and I just returned from a 4 day trip to Quepos, CR. Our entire stay was at Arenas Del Mar. This entire trip was booked through their web site/ emails from staff members; the experience was very good. They were able to assist us with rental car, canopy tour set up, arrival and depart transportation.

Service: 5 star. The staff is friendly, helpful and SMILED. Room service was above par from other resorts we have experienced in Central America. Special thanks to Victor, Davey, Andrew and Evelyn and several more than names escape me, at the moment.

Food/Drink: The food quality was average and the hotel resturant menu was limited. If you eat dinner no more than 2 times it will be OK. The first night my wife ordered Sea Bass and it was over cooked (plus I do not think it was Sea Bass) the wait staff noticed this and sent manager to check on us; this was a very nice follow up and after telling her it was over cooked she removed from the bill and brought my wife beef. Several times we experienced items being on the menu; once ordered we found out they were out. Keeping in mind that we eat early and the resturant was never booked. Before arriving I had email the resort and ask if they had a supply of KY bourbon. Evelyn replied that indeed they did have bourbon; this prove to be wrong (thank goodness I had purchased a large bottle at a duty free shop). Basic bar selections are available; but inventory is very limited in many cases.

Rooms: 5 Star - Very clean and up to date. I had read a couple of reviews on Arenas Del Mar that commented on the lack of hot water. We never experienced this problem until our last morning when the water was luke warm, at best. I would place it in the "not an issue" area.

The Bad - If you are looking for a place to get away from your Blackberry, cell, computer, newpapers, radio (cable TV with 90% Spanish speaking stations in our room) this is your place. If you require a wireless connection be aware this is not where you want to stay. The wireless service was completely out for 2 of the days we were there; even the resorts service was down; this included long distance service back to USA. In speaking with staff it was clear this was an ongoing issue for the resort. The staff offered up information on internet cafe's in town (which I had to finally use) this proves to be about a 20 minute trip to town. Not a deal breaker but as a business man when I know something ahead of time I handle it much better......Plan B!

CR people and staff prove to be very good host and countless 4 and 5 star resorts in the United States could learn from them. Thanks guys.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank pan513
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GuestserviceADM, Manager at Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, responded to this review, December 1, 2009
We would like to thank you for your thorough review of Arenas Del Mar. Your feedback is very important to us and we take it very seriously. Thank you for your kind comments on our service and the staff at the hotel. We are proud to work with a local staff that has been trained at Arenas Del Mar during the past two years of its operation.

Please let us address your constructive criticism. We are in the process of upgrading the menu right now and we think you might have been in the in between phase of all of this. The menu selection will be expanded and we will pay extra close attention to sea food as this is typically our strength at the restaurant.

In terms of Internet, I hear you on the need to stay connected for business purposes and this is an issue for us as operators as well. Unfortunately, Costa Rica still has a telecommunications monopoly and that has impacts on service. However, we now have a backup system and service has improved (competition is coming to Costa Rica in 2010). We should be able to better serve your needs for internet connection next year. We would love to have you back at Arenas Del Mar.

Once again, thanks for helping us get better. All the best and happy holidays.

The Management at Arenas del Mar
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rochester NY
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 18, 2009

I am a world traveler and have enjoyed numerous hotels, mostly on business, in my career. I can honestly say the Arenas del Mar is in the top 10. What an incredible property, extremely well managed, with a great staff, and overall great value. Yes it's expensive but in my opinion it is worth the extra investment to get a stay like this.

We stayed 2 nights in early November. I wish it could have been longer! The rooms are very comfortable, the food was the best we had in CR, and the staff could not have been more accomodating. If you're looking for a world class resort in the beauty that is Costa Rica, you can't do any better .

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank dharney
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

Property: Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Address: Punta Quepos, Manuel Antonio National Park 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 National Park
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 National Park
#2 Green Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
#2 Spa Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
#3 Luxury Hotel in Manuel Antonio National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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 National Park

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