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“Can’t stop raving about Shelter from the Storm”

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Shelter from the Storm
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Can’t stop raving about Shelter from the Storm”
Reviewed February 26, 2010

We selected Costa Rica for our honeymoon holiday because we were virtually guaranteed fabulous weather (unlike so many other vacation destinations at that time of year). We wanted ocean and beaches, with accommodations that were more intimate and accommodating than a hotel or all-inclusive. I stumbled onto a blog that introduced me to Shelter from the Storm, a villa complex mid-way between Dominical & Uvita. Their website (http://www.shelter-from-the-storm.net/index.html) revealed it to be exactly what we had been looking for; even better, it was top-rated AND affordable! We made contact via email with Daryl & Donna, the owners & operators of SFTS. Their warmth, humour and professionalism convinced us to book.

Of the four units available to rent, we chose the very private Monkey House studio apartment largely because of the great value and because it was secluded from the other villas (and guests!). It was located on the highest part of the property, nestled against the edge of the forest (featuring genuine monkey trails). There were wooden blinds in the bathroom and in the kitchen facing the rear of the building, but trust me - we could see out of our apartment, but no one could see in. This villa community was built with privacy (and security) in mind!

We loved nothing better than starting and ending each day on our large sheltered balcony, facing the jungle forest. At night, we used fine mesh curtains to divide our living area from the gallery, ensuring we could keep lovely breezes flowing through our apartment while staying bug free. The flora and fauna we did encounter was fascinating, and we did not see a single mosquito the entire ten days there. We left dirty dishes out once and, after learning our lesson with ants, we simply cleaned up after ourselves and had no more episodes. We have ants in Canada during the hottest summer months, so it is no big surprise that they live in the tropics too!

It was wonderful having a fully functional kitchen in our unit. We easily navigated the grocers and markets upon arrival (thanks to tips from Daryl and Donna). When we didn’t feel like cooking, we dined out (all within easy driving range). We made good use of the large (and immaculate) BBQ located in the communal Rancho pool/bar area. We thought the honour bar was a terrific concept and I personally enjoyed having access to a variety of soundtracks via satellite radio and a decent sound system in the al-fresco bar area. We were lucky enough to have the Rancho to ourselves most of the time and in the evenings, we swam under the stars.

When we did meet other guests, it was fun to compare notes of activities, restaurants and beaches to be discovered. We were very fortunate to have vacationed at SFTS among so many other respectful guests (including some very well-behaved children), and it made our community experience a very pleasant one.

We enjoyed the comforts and the advantages of home, including a washer and dryer tucked away discreetly onsite. The entire property was meticulously clean and lovingly maintained, with lush gardens and wildlife passing through with regularity (monkeys, toucans, etc.). We grew so attached to Shelter from the Storm that we were compelled to treat it like it was our very own. Being able to uphold a reduce-reuse-recycle lifestyle in this fabulous country was personally rewarding and we were thankful that Daryl and Donna made it so easy with their common-sense approach to life in Costa Rica (and on the planet, in general).

We were happy to have followed the advice to rent a 4WD vehicle. Some (but not all) of the roads are gnarly; once you adapt, the payoff is that they take you to wonderful places (like SFTS, for example). We explored and swam at spectacular and secluded beaches (our personal favourite was Hermosa). We witnessed whales breaching from the beach near the Whale’s Tail, and had endless amusement courtesy of surf and surfers both. We enjoyed a few inexpensive excursions and recommend the Nauyaca Waterfalls horseback tour, Reptilandia (the reptile zoo) and Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge. We did so much, yet only a fraction; the ten days went by so quickly!

Finally, we could not have asked for better hosts. From our very first contact, Daryl and Donna were caring and accessible, and we valued their vast knowledge of the area. We made extensive use of their directions, reviews and recommendations (many of which we found in the custom-made visitors’ guide they compile for guests). Truthfully, they made the vacation so easy for us to plan and execute, and they saw to it that our every need was met.

We can’t stop raving about Shelter from the Storm. We tell EVERYONE about this wonderful vacation destination and we can't wait to go back next year!

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ikki14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
San Diego, CA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2010

Shelter From The Storm is a unique, well maintained collection of houses on a gorgeous property. I came here for my honeymoon and was overall satisfied with our stay. All the good things, of which there are many, have been mentioned so I'm really not going to reiterate that. It is a great place and easily worth the price. I will say there are a few things that I feel someone considering this place should know so they aren't surprised:

1) You will feel like you are on someone's property. The hosts were nice overall to me and my wife, but while I was there I never felt like the place became my own. There was a list of rules/guidelines that were extensive and nit picky placed in a binder in the room. I would not run A/C all day in a country with limited infrastructure, but if I decide I want to I shouldn't feel bad about it. There were a couple light handed comments made about "keeping windows open and you won't need A/C" during the week which really led me to believe the hosts were sort of checking in while we were away for the day. It was kind of uncomfortable.

2) You need a car here. Period. You will have a lonnng hike to anything if you aren't driving. And don't worry, the roads are not bad at all.

3) There are no curtains in the Monkey House. Most of the windows do not allow easy views of people inside, but it doesn't make walking naked from the shower to the dresser any more comfortable.

4) The hot water in the shower was very hit or miss. Sometimes it was scalding and sometimes freezing, and difficult to get it somewhere in between.

Anyways, I am willing to concede that I am not a world traveler. Some of these things are luxuries and I should take them as such. But, I do think it is important for everyone to be informed before making a decision. I would agree with the fellow who gave the place 3 stars that this is not a place for children. I just don't think the hosts are used to them and that the "rules" don't play out well on behalf of kids. Overall, if there was no rule book in the room and a bit more privacy, I would give this place 5 stars. We really had a great time while we were here.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
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5 Thank surfthewhirled
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 11, 2010

I stayed at SFTS for only four nights with my girlfriend and we had a fantastic time. We were sad to have to leave. This truly is a fantastic property and the villas were actually nicer in person than the pictures led us to believe. The property is so lush and green and beautiful. There is a lot to do and see in Dominical and we wished we had more time. From the get go Donna was super helpful answering questions via email which made the trip planning a lot easier for me and both Donna and Daryl were helpful when we were there. We stayed in the Baja Las Rocas for one night and the Monkey House for 3. We loved both very much. Baja Las Rocas had a bit more privacy than the Monkey House but the Monkey house was such a nice villa....so much character for a rental.

That said, I want to highlight a few things that surprised us (and weren't necessarily negative, but I feel should be shared)

1) You can't really walk anywhere outside of the property...it is perched up on a hill and for this reason the views from the property are stunning....but just know that you have to take the car everywhere...unless you want to hike a few kms, with the first 500 meters down a very steep hill.
2) You kind of get the sense that you're staying in somebodies home a little bit....which is kind of true because Daryl and Donna live on the property. The Monkey House doesn't have any blinds on the window so during the day you kind of worry that people might be looking through the windows....this didn't bother us and we never felt like our privacy was invaded by anyone in particular but it's definitely something to be aware of if you like privacy.

All in all this is a gem of a property. I don't think you could get a place with this much character without actually buying a place in Costa Rica and building it yourself. We would definitely recommend it and would love to return someday.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank wrldtrvlrr2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burnsville, Minnesota
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed January 30, 2010

We stayed at Shelter From the Storm the first week of January. It was our 2nd trip there, and honestly, this time was even better. We travel all over the world, and it's the first time we've ever come back to the same place twice. As you already tell, we consider this place to be special. Because we had been there before, navigating the surrounding area, and finding our way from San Jose to Dominical was so much easier. In addition, because we were familiar with the area, finding restaurants and simply exploring was so much more relaxed. In addition, the government has nearly finished a new road that runs down the coast (only 3 km remain unpaved), and the trip was a breeze when compared with our first visit. We rented both Las Rocas Villas, as we had not only our two daughters who are still at home, but also our married daughter and new son-in-law. They came all the way from London, and got to miss the worst winter weather southern England had experienced in 30 years. We also we lucky enough to avoid a Minnesota cold snap that brought Wind Chills of minus 35 degrees. We all just laughed as we sat lounging around the pool.

This place is really one of a kind. Daryl and Donna have built four of the nicest Villas in the area. They know all of the local attractions, as well as the folks who run them, so they're simply fonts of knowledge regarding things to do, places to see, and wonderful restaurants where you can dine. The Villas are each one of a kind, and I can assure you that you won't be disappointed in anything. The bedding and the towels are as nice as you'll find in any 4-5 star hotel, and the views off the Las Rocas verandas are simply stunning. I stay in hotels 50-60 nights a year on business, so I've seen it all. The staff keeps the exterior areas immaculate and seem to be cleaning continuously. Therefore, I was especially amused by a comment I'd read regarding the staff lurking around the units. Being in the jungle, things are continually falling out of the trees, so its a constant battle. Those poor folks would get done sweeping, and then have to go back where they started, beginning all over again. The steps and walkways to out unit were honestly swept several times a day. It made me tired watching them work.

If you do head down to Dominical, I want ed to point out some things that have changed from what you may have read in either Fodder's or Froemers. The private parking lot at Ventanas Beach (where the sea caves are) has closed, and the road in is not being well maintained. Even with a 4 wheel drive, parts were unpassable. Park as close to the road as possible, and walk in. The beach and sea caves are worth it at low tide. If you are heading to Manuel Antonio Park near Quepos, don't hire a guide. All the books tell you to do so. I hate to sound cheap, but we went into the park without a guide and simply stopped where the other guides were set up with their binoculars. We saw monkeys, bats, gigantic spiders, deer, sloths, and just about anything else you can imagine. It was almost like a petting zoo, as you could get so close to the animals. Not hiring a guide saved us $90, and we saw all the wildlife we could ever imagine. Also be aware that there are jellyfish at the beaches in the Park (at least when we were there). All the kids got stung, and while the stings are initially painful (like a bee sting), the welt does go away in less than an hour. The beaches in the Park are stunning.

We couldn't have enjoyed our second trip to Shelter from the Storm any more than we did. As we sat on the veranda early each morning, watching the sun rise over the coastal mountains, while drinking coffee and watching the monkey troupes climb through the tree canopy, we realized just how lucky we were to able to experience this a second time. We will be back a 3rd visit. at some point, and just hope Donna and Daryl will still be there to welcome us.

Mark Johnson, Burnsville, Minnesota

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank TrueMinnesotan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, South Carolina
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2010

Shelter from the Storm (SFTS) is AMAZING and definitely 5 stars when compared to other places in Costa Rica. If I went back to Dominical, I would stay there in a heartbeat. You can't beat the price, service, accomodations, or views with a stick!! It is awesome. But there were a few things that just wouldn't fly in the US so I am giving this a four based on standards I think other US based travelers are probably used to. I have literally been thinking about whether it deserves 4 or 5 stars for DAYS so please know it was really close. I really really like SFTS and our hosts.

SFTS provided us a dreamy base for our honeymoon. We stayed in the Monkey House and it was absolutely lovely. Everything everyone has said about Daryl and Donna is true (except for the guy who says Daryl yelled at his kids. No one was yelling when we were there, except maybe the howler monkeys) - they are sweet, welcoming, accommodating, and have created a really special place to stay while in the Dominical area. I think that most people have said everything wonderful there is to say about this place so I'm going to mention a few things that ought be mentioned. D&D, don't hold it against me, please! We had SO MUCH FUN with you!

The things that wouldn't fly in the US are lizards and ants in our room. Know that I HATE bugs and I was totally fine and comfortable there. It wasn't overrun with either species, but as almost any other place in Costa Rica, there were some geckos in our room and ants in the kitchen. It wasn't an issue for us, but we had to be extremely mindful of the ants - nearly paranoid - when preparing food, cleaning up, etc.

For the most part there is privacy, but there are no curtains on the windows or the doors in the Monkey House. There is a mosquito net but you can see right through it. Which again, not a big deal for us, but other honeymooners who might want to only wear their birthday suits should keep that in mind... most of the views are straight into the jungle so I doubt anyone can see anything but if someone were to come up and knock on your door they certainly would. It was a little creepy at night, not having any curtains. Also, don't count on being along if you go down to the Rancho. Personally, I really liked talking with the other guests, but there was a time in my life that I would have been really annoyed to have forced conversations in the pool.

A couple of things other things that were fine by us, but may not be fine with someone expecting a 5 star place, was the hot water was very inconsistent as was housekeeping. I'm not sure if we were supposed to ask for either one but it didn't matter enough to us to find out.

The last thing to be aware of is that Donna and Daryl ask that you be very green while staying with them. This is an extension of their house, their land, etc, so I can completely understand that. Just be prepared to review a list of rules about what you should and shouldn't do in relation to leaving fans on, buying plastic, etc.

To sum it up, I would not have picked anywhere else for our honeymoon and would recommend this place to anyone. Just have realistic expectations, especially if you've never been to Costa Rica.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank surfbird0713
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2010

I stayed at Shelter from the Storm for a week with my Wife and her Family, and all I can say is OMG!!!

The place was beautiful, with the some of the best views I've seen.
Shelter from the Storm is set in to the Jungle over looking the ocean and is within a short car ride from everywhere. The best thing about the location is that in the early morning sand early evenings you get to see large groups of Monkeys swinging from the trees. You can near enough set your watch by them.

The people that own the place are Darly and Donna, and you couldn't ask for better hosts. They will bend over backwards to make sure that your stay is perfect. They will answer any questions you have, book anything you need booking, and get you anything you want. They are very friendly and from the first moment you meet them you can just tell that they are so happy to meet you.

If your looking for a nice relaxing holiday where you are trying to get away from the hussle and bussle of the city, then this place is for you. I'm Definitly planning on heading back there in the future.

Please do not let the one negative rating put you off this place. I Find it hard to believe that someone could ever say a bed thing about the loaction, hotel, and defintely can't believe someone would say a bad thing about the peope that own it!!

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank DJKempo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
2 reviews
Reviewed January 24, 2010

Exquisite gardens, immaculately clean and comfortable rooms (we stayed in the Monkey House) with hosts who could not have been kinder, more helpful or more fun.
We met some interesting people at the Rancho, but spent most of our time either reading (there are many books here) sleeping or at Playa Hermosa which is close by.
We will be back.
John

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank CRloverNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shelter from the Storm

Property: Shelter from the Storm
Address: San Martin Sur, Dominical 80000, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Dominical
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 29 Specialty Lodging in Dominical
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Shelter from the Storm is a group of 2 villas perched on a 5 acre mountainside point, 60 meters above the Pacific, high enough to give dramatic views of the coast to the Osa Pennisula, but low enough to hear the waves breaking on the rocks below. Hotel rates for your own private place! Ammenities: Shared pool adjacent Entertainment Rancho with honor bar, BBQ,satelite stereo tv & dvd, washer/dryer, & much more.... ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Shelter From The Storm Hotel Dominical
Shelter From The Storm Costa Rica/Dominical

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