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“DO NOT STAY at the Luz de Vida”
Review of Hotel Luz De Vida

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Hotel Luz De Vida
Ranked #27 of 27 Hotels in Santa Teresa
Reviewed May 19, 2008

I just returned yesterday from our wonderful trip to Costa Rica but didn’t want to wait another moment to warn all future travelers - Do not stay at this property! I had read some of the negative reviews about this property but the last 4 were all so good I figured the owners/managers must have corrected the problems other guests had encountered during the past. Boy was I wrong!! What a dump! No one cares at all about this property. The whole place smelled like sewage, especially right by the restaurant. And I should mention it did not rain during the time we were at the property so this can not be blamed on the rainy season. The pool was filthy and the water was green and looked like it had not been cleaned in months. The only people I saw use it walked in off the beach and were not guests of the property. In fact I didn’t see any other guests. The only people I saw on the property were the employees, who were all hanging out at the bar and their friends who all come there and hang out as well. This property is run like a hostel but without the inexpensive hostel prices! For $95/night, I would expect my bungalow to at least be clean. Our bungalow was filthy and not maintained – foot prints on the walls, smashed bugs on the windows and walls, hair all over the bathroom, dirty glasses with dried food in them, dirty mini-fridge, etc... I have traveled throughout the world and this experience was by far the worst hotel experience I have ever encountered. We ended up leaving after the first night and went down the street to the Hotel Playa Carmen. We were able to enjoy the rest of our stay (4 more nights) in the area. The staff at the Playa Carmen was GREAT!! The hotel couldn’t have been nicer and was $30 less per night than our bungalow at the Luz de Vida. Mal Pais/ Sta Teresa is a fun place and we enjoyed the beach and surfing and the restaurants and people were great. We would love to go again but NEVER stay and the Luz de Vida. I can not say enough bad things about this property and would recommend all travelers avoid this property!

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank TravelerfromCO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 - 42 of 72 reviews

Reviewed March 18, 2008

We were sick of the beaten path, the backpacker scene, the sterile resort ... we wanted a simple cabina on a surfer beach. We went to Santa Teresa on a whim, with no reservations and no knowledge of any hotels. We walked by about 10 places and stumbled on Luz de Vida. We loved the grounds, the quaint pool, the Mediterranean menu, the hammocks. There were almost too many nature sounds at night, but well, we'd wanted nature, right? We'd never watched the sun set from a lovelier place.

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank sfvisitor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2008

My friends and I wanted an alternative spring break experience - something away from the crowds of Cancun and the Caribbean. We did EXTENSIVE research and finally decided on Luz de Vida mostly because it was RIGHT on the beach. And we were not disappointed. While it's not a "luxury" hotel, it is very nice for the location. The weather (in March) is extremely hot and muggy – and was sunny for almost all of our vacation.

Santa Teresa is a rugged little surf town made up of some locals and a lot of foreigners, and it is quite an experience. The main road is a narrow dusty, dirt road – cars and 4x4s kick up lots of it, and you’re often surrounded by clouds when walking along it (we preferred to walk along the beach, which is parallel to the road).

Luz de Vida is in a great spot closer to the crossroad of Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. There were plenty of sodas, small restaurants, and an ATM within walking distance. We never made it up to Northern Santa Teresa (where there are apparently more restaurants and sodas), but we never felt the need to. The hotel did a great job of booking activities for us – we did the canopy tour and horseback riding through the hotel, and took surf lessons through a surf shop we had found along the road. Our one hitch with hotel booking was with the shuttle that they sent to pick us up from the airport – we were supposed to be booked through Montezuma expeditions, but an unmarked van showed up after we called the main office to pick us up from SJO. As we were four girls traveling alone, we were extremely hesitant to get into the car.

Luz de Vida has a restaurant with great food and a Mediterranean flair. We ate there for dinner one night and lunch another – the food was reasonably priced compared to American hotel restaurants, about $15 per person for a meal and drinks – but as we were trying to stick to a budget, we were able to find much cheaper alternatives along the main road.
Luz de Vida has a very nice pool and surrounding pool area. We were able to rinse off from the ocean and jump right in the pool. The water was very warm and very relaxing. There is a poolside bar, though it’s only open for a few hours during the day. The hotel is directly on the beach – which is definitely a plus, as many hotels weren’t. There were numerous hammocks that fronted the beach, but they were often occupied with sleeping surfers. The beach is absolutely beautiful, and seemingly endless in both directions.

Overall, the hotel is really very nice. We found the crowd at the hotel to be slightly older (at least not college kids), but we thought this might be because our spring break occurred very early this year as compared to other schools. If you are a college kid looking to stay in a place with other people your age, you may want to look more at the hostels or surf camps. If you don’t mind staying at a slightly more “mature” hotel, Luz de Vida is a great option – we met many other college aged kids and older through tours and walking along the beach – and we truly enjoyed our stay.

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled with friends
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1  Thank ek8709
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2007

I stayed at Luz de Vida Nov/Dec 07 and had a really great time. There is a new manageress - Vanessa, who has really turned this place around - service was excellent, the property well maintained (there were guys clearing the paths of leaves 8 hours a day!), the maids were great, cleaning each day - even leaving towels fashioned into animals on the beds decorated with flowers (nice touch), friendly staff who seemed to enjoy working there, any maintenance issues in the rooms were sorted almost immediatley. Vanessa even arranged 2 beach bbq's with bongo players, music and bonfires for our group - so really went out of her way to make us feel special. We were in a surfing group from UK and we had most of the rooms for 11 nights, so got to check out the amenties in the different room types: the suites have the best location, nice verandas with hammocks. The rooms 1-8 are towards the end of the property, so a little walk through the trees (usually with a family of monkeys above) to the pool/beach/reception. The downstairs rooms (1, 3, 5 & 7) have the most floor space and vary between 2 and 3 beds. Good sized bathrooms, fridge and air con. The downstairs rooms also have a digital safety deposit box, which the upstairs rooms (2,4,6 & 8) lack - but you can always put your stuff in the safe at reception. Upstairs rooms are accessible by a narrow staircase at the side of the unit, so bring a torch with you for the evenings. All rooms are lacking in wardrobes/shelves/hooks for clothes, but in Costa Rica people tend to wear beachwear all the time anyway, so its not like you need to hang up a suit!
The pool bar is open from 10am-4pm daily - great swim-up area and you can also order food there to eat at the bar or sitting on the lounger around the pool (£4-£6 approx for salad, pitta & hummous or burgers, pizzas, breaded chicken etc). The restaurant does a great breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is really good, although they only have limited kitchen staff, so if there are any more than 2 eating, you may have to wait a while for the food - just chill and enjoy a beer. The pool area is lovely, with approx 10 sunloungers. The beach access is also great with hammocks and benches just under the palm trees, so great location for watching the locals rip at high tide. The hotel also allows you to charge items (food & drinks) back to your room, which is a great help as you don't need to carry cash around. I travel a lot with work and stay in hotels around the world, and whilst Luz de Vida doesn't have the luxuries of a 5 star hotel, it does offer quaint, safe, clean, cool rooms, fantastic staff, great location and all for a wallet-friendly price. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this hotel - Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: November 2007
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3  Thank sjglos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 13, 2007

We stayed at the Luz De Vida for 7 nights, May 26-June 2, 2007. This was my first trip to Costa Rica, and I read up about it, but I wasn't prepared for how RURAL it was! Seriously, Santa Theresa/Mal Pais is just a tiny area hacked out of the jungle, with hotels and "restaurants" and surf shops along a single, incredibly pot-holed dirt road. Rustic doesn't begin to describe it.

Luz De Vida itself was a pretty nice place to stay. Check-in was a bit strange, we were checked in by 3 young kids (oldest maybe 15?) who didn't speak any English (we know a tiny bit of Spanish).

BE WARNED: Hotel tax is 16%!!! This is not stated on their website, take it into account when figuring out how much you're going to spend. We were shocked.

Our bungalow (#10) was nice enough, it had air conditioning upstairs, but there were NO screens on the windows (just wood shutters), so we had to keep the windows closed all the time due to bugs (which meant it was dark in there all day). The bed is upstairs in the loft (which is structurally unsound- my boyfriend is a structural engineer!). Loft is reached by a steep, sorta scary set of steps. The couch is darned uncomfortable, don't expect to spend much time on it. There's wooden rocking chairs on the porch, though!

The place did have hot water (except once or twice when the property had NO water for about 1/2 day). The toilet had some issues. There's NO counter space in the bathroom whatsoever.

The maids were sweet, and throughout our stay, would put flowers on the mirror, or arrange the shells we'd found into a nice pattern, things like that.

There was a (small) safe to lock valuables in, there was a mini-fridge that worked, but no coffeemaker or anything. We never had any security problems while there- there were security guards patrolling the property at night.

The grounds were very nice, paths through foliage, the pool was very clean. There IS a "swim up bar", but it seemed like it wasn't used anymore (we just brought our own beer cans and sat on the underwater barstools!).

This property is definitely beachfront-- the rooms aren't, but beyond the pool/restaurant area, there's the beach, right there! Very handy. I appreciated not having to cross the dirt (well, MUD) road to get to the beach!

From any of the bungalows, you hear constantly the roar of quad-runners and motorbikes and cars and trucks going up and down the dirt road. Some evenings, it sounded like motorcross speedway! Definitely get a bungalow as close to the pool as you can, and bring earplugs if noise bothers you. Or the sounds of an iguana scrabbling claws on the roof (which is LOUD).

The restaurant was pretty tasty- some Israeli food (try the Shakshuka breakfast, it's fabulous!), odds and ends. But pretty expensive ($6 for breakfast? $10-15 for dinner, at least)... I was actually shocked at how expensive everything was, for a tiny place hacked out of the jungle, reachable only by long crummy dirt roads. Everyone was really nice, though! But hardly anyone spoke English. Better learn some Spanish, or find a more Gringo-ized town to stay!

Luz De Vida is a 10-15 minute walk from the center of "town" (crossroads of Map Pais/Santa Teresa), not that there's really anything THERE besides some surf shops and a pharmacy, and a mostly-empty tiny strip mall.

There's still no ATM in town, you have to get to Cobano (a $12-14 taxi ride, or a $2 bus ride, IF the bus comes!) to the bank. BEWARE- American ATM cards don't appear to work in the ATM. We used a VISA card with a PIN #, and that worked finally. Going into the bank proper is a huge hassle, and you might not be able to get money that way either. I highly recommend bringing enough money/travellers checks so you don't have to go to the bank, and just leaving it in the safe. The grocery stores take credit cards, though you can't get cash back.

Overall, for the area and the price, Luz De Vida was a pretty good place to stay. It really could have been worse!

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank hlscotland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2007

Luz de Vida is in a beautiful beach setting with incredible potential. Unfortunately, the owners are trying to sell the property and often neglect the hotel guests. We stayed in cozy jungle bungalow just up from the pool. There were some ants in the bathroom, but it was a nice setting with a hammock on the porch, iguanas wandering out front, and fresh bananas off the tree. My wife loved it, except the bedding was a little old and itchy. The hotel did accommodate us in extending our stay at the bungalow and I was content with the service until Sunday night. That evening, I wanted to go bed early and dawn patrol with the low tide. At 9:00 p.m., I heard the thump, thump of techno, which I tried to ignore until 10:30 p.m. It wasn't going away, so I walked down to see what was going on. The hotel was dark and closed up for the night, which was unusual because they were always open. There was a small party at the edge of the property on the beach. I spoke with the DJ to ask him to turn the bass down and he said, "sorry, but we've rented this place out and we'll be here past 2:00 a.m. It's only going to get louder." That really irked me as a hotel guest. The owner of a property is supposed to protect its guests and make them comfortable, rather than selling out to another offeror. We moved the next day to the Esancia hotel, which was just as expensive, but much quieter, nicer accommodations, and better surf (not as big and had to walk across the street, but much better shape than Carmen).

  • Stayed: April 2007, traveled as a couple
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Thank oxsurf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2007

What a mistake! I wish I had read all the reviews here. We were there from March 9-11 and we regret every minute at the hotel - even though the area is quite beautiful and great for surfing.

Everything that's been written before happened to us: Horrible service, lousy beds, no closets to hang our clothes, no hot water in the shower. Our "cabana" looked like they just finished building it an hour before we got there. It was extremely overpriced for $85 a night. It's nothing like the web site.

The moment we saw our rooms, I asked to speak to a manager. I was told that one would come to our room, and no one did.

The owners do live next door, and they are Israelis. The owners are surfers, and I'm sure they know they can get enough people here to surf. One of the best surf breaks in Santa Teresa is in front of their hotel, so they really don't care about anyone else.

Also, there's no ATM in Santa Teresa. You must go to Cobano and your card may not work there, so bring your passport and get money inside! If you don't want go to an ATM, bring lots of cash! Everyone takes dollars or colones. The only place that takes credit cards is the super market.

Before we went to Cobano, we asked the hotel what would happen if we could not get money from the ATM in Cobano, and they gave us incorrect information. Because of them, we wasted $28 in cab fare and 2 hours of our time.

We got out of there as fast as possible. Don't waste your time like we did!

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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Thank pzs200
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Luz De Vida

Address: Playa Santa Teresa, Santa Teresa 02254, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Santa Teresa
Amenities:
Beach Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Santa Teresa
#7 Spa Hotel in Santa Teresa
#20 On the Beach Hotel in Santa Teresa
Price Range: $95 - $130 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We have 8 garden view rooms and 5 pool view bungalows, all of them equipped with a/c, phone, safe and hot water. We also have an international cuisine restaurant, a spa and pool. We have a nice kids area, and a volleyball field. We are a beautiful beachfront resort in a nice piece of paradise. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Resort Luz De Vida
Luz De Vida Hotel
Hotel Luz De Vida Costa Rica/Santa Teresa

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