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“Unique opportunity to visit a Costa Rican cloud forest.”
Review of Ecolodge San Luis

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Ecolodge San Luis
Certificate of Excellence
USA
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Unique opportunity to visit a Costa Rican cloud forest.”
Reviewed December 18, 2009

This is an environmental/cultural lodge for anyone interested in Costa Rica and Central America cloud forests. The facilities couldn't be better for nature lovers. I slept in one the cabanas and ate at the central lodge. The lodge offers great meals and good company. It also has an on site library. The daily price includes three meals and participation in many activities. They have a staff of six naturalists to lead the activities. It sets the standard for ecotourism.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank travelingnewretiree
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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usa
Level Contributor
20 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed September 2, 2009

Getting here - We drove from Liberia airport to Eco Lodge San Luis. In Costa Rica, if you are a tourist, you need to stick to the speed limit. (See tips on driving below). So, it will take you 3.5-4 hours to get here from Liberia. Many have debated about renting a car - I definitely reccomend renting a car. it is very far from most places and cas are expensive. Also, rent a mid-size SUV and you should be fine. However - be warned: the roads till the Sardinal/Lagartos turnoff are pretty decent and paved and takes about 2.5 hours. The remaining 1 hour into the San Luis valley is pretty much unpaved and rocky. So, very bumpy ride. Doable -just don't expect a 4 lane higway!! Also, rent the GPS. It is well worth it and amazingly shows every small detail.

Driving in Costa Rica - Ignore the reviews which say Costa Rica is a dangrous place to drive. We drove all over the beach areas and also drove all the way into the Monte verde mountains. Couple of pointers-
1. DO NOT leave anything in the car at anytime. We carried a small bag and threw everything into it like camera, towel, water, GPS etc.
2. Only drive during the day. So, plan on being back before 6:00 pm. We drove a few nights and had no problem. So, up to the level of risk you want to take.
3. Stick to the speed limit on the main highways. Trust me - cops are looking out for tourists to give out big fat tickets ($200+). When it says 40 kmph, drive 40 kmph. We avoided cops 4 times.... :)
4. Use common sense overall - you are in a foreign country.

Cabins - The Eco Lodge has rooms for the students and the main office facility slightly far from the cabins. The main office area is very nice and homely. But the cabins are about a 10 minute walk - we were really lazy and took our car up there everytime...! The cabins are comfortable but nothing to write home about. They are clean, have 2 beds and there is room service everyday. But if you go there for the rooms, you will be disappointed. They are very basic. The view from the porch outside the room are spectacular but if you have no neighbours, then it is really really quiet. Also, few insects in the room - so, if that freaks you out - you most probably want to stay at a hotel in Monte Verde.

Bad Review so far - why bother? - So, getting here is a beast and the rooms are just OK. So, why bother? The staff and the students at the Eco Lodge are the most gracious and enthusiastic you will ever meet. Also, looking back at our vacation, this was the highlight of our trip becuase of all the local interaction you get through the lodge. There are plenty of hikes, tours etc that you can arrange with the Eco Lodge (free of charge!). Also, you can drive into MV and do the touristy things like the zip lining or the nature walks.

Monte Verde - The drive from the Eco Lodge into Monte Verde is about 45 minutes. Here you have only a few options - Zip Lining and Nature walks are done through Sky Trek/Walk and the Eco Lodge can arrange this for you. Ziplining is about $60 per person and well worth it. Nature walks are about $50 per person and very informative and beatiful. Besides these 2 things, you can do some shopping in MV, eat at the restaurants there and have some coffee. Nothing much else to do. Doable in 1 day.

Food at MV - Reccomend Stella's bakery, coffee shop in the far end of MV street, lunch at Don De Henry or the other one a few doors from it. Forgot the name - so apologies.

Food at the Eco Lodge - delicious home cooked food with lots of fresh fruit, desserts and lemonade. I thought the food was reallly really good but some reviewers have said it was OK. I guess it depends on what you expect. You will get standard Costa Rican fare here - rice, beans, meat, salsa and some veggies. Very fresh food and it never rus out. I think this is great for a family especially with kids.

What do do at the EcoLodge? - So, plan on spending 1 day in MV which would include shopping, eating, ziplining and nature hikes. If you are at the Eco Lodge longer, then there are many many options. I highly reccomend the coffee tour - it sounds boring but Lindsey (head of the ecoLodge) does a phenomenal job with the tour. You get a personalized tour of the nearby coffee estates from the local owner itself (cofee and sugar cane actually). You also get to see the process of making coffee powder and then get o taste the coffee. It is a terrific 2 hour tour and well worth the $4. Probably the cheapest thing you do in Costa Rica!
Unfortuantely, we had to leave early - but we also reccomend the night hikes, the hike to the waterfall and some of the other stuff they have there.

Ideal days to spend here? - I think you can easily spend 3 days here. 1 day for MV and then 1.5 days with the crew in the Eco Lodge before heading back to your next destination. So, drive in before 5:00 pm, chill out, MV the next day, activities at the ecoLodge the next day and then leave the morning or afternoon of the third day. Also, try to find out when students are at the facility - always fun to be there when lots of poeple there - makes it more interesting.

Distance to the coast? - It will take about 3.5-4 hours to the Loberia airport. I would say another 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on where you are staying. We stayed at the JW
Marriott (See our detialed review on JW MArriott in trip advisors) and the total trip from Eco Lode to JW is about 4.5 - 5.0 hours.

Cost? - We paid $90 per night per person and this included lodging, food, activities - which is a really great price.

Directions to Eco Lodge - detailed instructions given on website. But nothing is to scale...! So, take it with a grain of salt.. :)

Internet is available for $5 per hour at the main office building - very fast connection. Laundry service is available for $8 per load.

Hope this helps!!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
5 Thank inconel738
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Athens, GA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed July 21, 2009

As recent alumni of The University of Georgia, my girlfriend and I took advantage of our discounted rates and stayed at the Ecolodge for five days. The trip was wonderful, the staff was very helpful, and we had experiences we'll never forget. It's simply amazing to wake up to the songs of native birds outside your patio and to see white faced capuchins and anteaters behind your room.

I would encourage anyone to make a trip to Monteverde and San Luis, as the people are uncannily nice and respectful, always allowing you privacy. Having said that, I would make some recommendations for your trip. First, consider if the EcoLodge is the best place for you to stay. We received a substantial discount for being alumni, so we paid about $55 per person per night in our cabina (including food). This was a steal, but you may want to consider the rate before booking.

The food is good but you may get tired of it (every meal is tipica with rice/beans, meat, etc). There isn't much variety, but it's all pretty good.

As far as activities, there's enough at the Ecolodge for about three days. The trails are extensive, and I would highly recommend the night hikes with the naturalists. Also, the San Luis waterfall is one of the most beautiful places in the world and well worth the hike. Keep in mind that you'll need a taxi if you want to go to Santa Elena, and that will run you $12-15 each way. My recommendation is to stay in Santa Elena for a day or two to do the activities there (particularly the ziplining).

We had a great time, though. It's not the most luxurious place, but that's not really what you come for. You come for the beauty, the experience, and the culture.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank mattberry05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
USA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed June 2, 2009

The ecolodge is not close to town so you will need to drive or take a taxi to Monteverde and the other activities in the area. There are hikes and other activites at the ecolodge and all the graduate research students and staff are very nice and helpful with ideas about what to do. We stayed in the cabinas which are the nicest rooms and about a ten minute walk down the road to breakfast lunch and dinner. All the food is plenty good and you can get a lunch to go along with you on your activities which is nice if you plan on hiking in one of the rainforests for the day. The price includes all 3 meals.

It is not far from the Monteverde Cloud Forest which I would recommend going to and getting a guide. A guide is worth the extra money especially if you want to get a good view of a Quetzal.

We went on a night hike at the ecolodge and saw a sloth eating and moving around. We also sleeping birds which was suprisingly cool. Most of the hikes and pretty much any other activities going on are included in the price. We saw other animals around the property too and lots of birds.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank blacktip40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, KY, USA
Level Contributor
37 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed December 5, 2008

Hello Everybody,
Just got back yesterday from a week long tour to CR. Wanted to specifically mention about our experience staying at Ecolodge San Luis (now simply called University of Georgia - Costa Rica -"www.uga.edu/costarica"). Before making my reservations there, I read mixed response about others' experience staying at this lodge used mainly by student community & researchers but also by tourists.
We are a family of five, including twin daughters (8), and a son (3), and had reserved a bungalow (nothing fancy - but quite rustic with low environment impact setup). I had pre-selected activities that were of most interest to our family. This included meeting with local farmers to experience coffee & sugar cultivation tours, fruit and vegetable farming, cow milking, bird watching, night hike and visit to the waterfall.
UGA works with the local farming community to encourage self sustainable agriculture, and eco-friendly tourism.
We also met several other researchers (part of an Earth Watch project), as well as a couple of teacher-volunteers from New York, with absolutely stupendous knowledge about CR culture, local economy, flora and fauna, and astronomy. My daughters were simply thrilled to have a very stimulating star-gazing session and discussion with them (they happened to be reading simple astronomy in their current curriculum). Although astronomy doesn't interest me much, I was simply taken in by the stimulitive approach that the professor took with his tools in star-gazing.
We couldn't do the waterfall hike, since it requires crossing (an overflowing) river 3 times. Normally the river is very wadable, but due to the recent storms, the water current was dangerous, especially because it had washed off some woodden bridges.
We got a student guide who was with us, along with the volunteer teacher to explain and be the translator as need be.
The dining is communal, with all residents eating in long laid out tables and benches in the dining room. The food was good (BLD is inculded in the room price), though not great. However, what we liked most in the dining hall was the chance to meet with researchers from 5 different countries, working on different projects and a chance to have good, serious conversations with them (and their kindness in answering some of our most mundane questions).
The farm visits were great, the souvenirs that were offered were all from local farms or local cooperative.
For those who are looking for an excellent educational experience, I highly recommend this lodge. It is about 15km from Santa Elena town, and about 5 km away from Monteverde Reserve, and you need to have a car to get there.
Let me know if you have questions. Thanks

  • Liked — Great educational value in meeting local farms
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank smartstreamer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed September 6, 2007

A GEM. We went in August, and were the only ones there (except for the two on site volunteers who gave us tours).

Getting out into this beautiful natural setting was a highlight of our trip. We had peace, quiet, learned a lot about the local flora and fauna, and had this whole beautiful place to ourselves.

The food was very simple, but good.

Same with the cabins--very basic, but very nice and clean.

If you are going to Monteverde to explore nature, you absolutely can't go wrong with this place.

Note: It is a bit of a hike to get to your cabins at night, so this might not be good for folks w/disabilities (though they may have more nearby accommodations.)

  • Liked — remote and GORGEOUS views
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank harryanddeborah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
boston, MA
Level Contributor
15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed February 19, 2007

Beautiful place. I was very impressed with the Cabinas. Food was good. Had wonderful private horseback riding tour that was very inexpensive.

Stayed March 2006
Helpful?
3 Thank plum93
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ecolodge San Luis

Property: Ecolodge San Luis
Address: San Luis de Monteverde, 700, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Monteverde
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 74 Specialty Lodging in Monteverde
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 36
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
For a culturally authentic educational experience, make the Ecolodge San Luis at the University of Georgia's Costa Rica Campus your base for exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest!Guests at the Ecolodge San Luis enjoy a wide range of educational, nature-based, and cultural activities, both on our campus and in the local community. Ecolodge San Luis won an international Innovation in Sustainability award. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ecolodge San Luis Hotel Monteverde
Ecolodge San Luis Costa Rica/Monteverde

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