Arenal Volcano Accommodations

Old Sep 29th, 2002, 04:00 PM
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Arenal Volcano Accommodations

We need help picking accommodations at Arenal Volcano. Which hotel is the nicest most upscale property with views? Arenal Lodge, Tabacon Resort and Arenal Observatory Lodge are places we are considering, but we would love to hear about other hotels that are nice. Thanks.
Old Sep 30th, 2002, 06:38 AM
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We stayed at the Arenal Lodge in March. It's not what I would call "up scale," though. Really non of the three are. However, of the three the Tabacon is probably the most. I thought that was very commercialized and very crowded with many rude people. I was so turned off by it and would never stay there, however many others are quite happy with it. My brother-in-law stayed there in May and liked it. We enjoyed the Arenal Lodge as it was not crowded (but was competely full). It's directly across from the lava side of the volcano up on a large hill. It was nice, clean, quiet, had a spectacular view (a chalet is a MUST), and the food was very good. It was not the Hyatt, however. The rooms were big and comfortable. The chalets have huge windows from ceiling to floor for volcano viewing. Ours had two rocking chairs which we used a lot.

I've also heard good things about the Observatory Lodge, however I believe it's on the green side of the volcano. I think if we were to do it again (which we're planning to!!), we'd either stay at the Arenal Lodge again or possibly try the Observatory. I'd never stay at the Tabacon just because it is too busy and didn't give me the feeling at all that I was in Costa Rica. The hot springs were nice, though. $17 to use them if you're not staying there, however next time I'd skip Tabacon and hike in to the really "natural" hot springs off the road near the resort.

If I can be of further help, please let me know. No matter where you stay, you'll LOVE the Arenal area. It was one of the best adventures I've had in all my travels!!

Old Sep 30th, 2002, 12:08 PM
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I agree with Tia about Tabacon. It is a loud and busy place that might be nice for a day visit, but I sure wouldn't stay there. We stayed at Arenal Observatory Lodge and were quite happy there. They have a wide range of rooms, from rustic to quite well-appointed. I think that the nicest rooms are in the, "Smithsonian Block", which is separated from the rest of the Lodge by about a quarter-mile. That separation makes for a very quiet and restful area. The views of Arenal through the big windows are spectacular (weather permitting!), and when the volcano is smoking, that is readily apparent. You will not be able to see the lava glowing at night, but you can do that on an evening tour that the Lodge can arrange. Other guided walking tours leave from the Lodge and reach older lava flows in a matter of a couple of hours.

I am not sure that I would describe the Observatory Lodge as upscale, but it is very nice, and there is a great pool and big hot tub. The dining room is fine, and the food is good, but nothing to write home about. I can't compare it to Arenal Lodge, as I haven't been there.
Old Sep 30th, 2002, 02:09 PM
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We stayed at Tabacon last February and enjoyed it. I didn't think it seemed crowded. We could see the volcano smoking and 'belching' from the veranda of our room. I wasn't too impressed with dinner at the restaurant, options were limited and pretty bland. Although I'm not much of a buffet fan, the breakfast buffet was pretty decent. The coati that hung around looking for handouts were pretty darn cute too. As was the pair of toucans that spent a lot of time in the tree fairly close to our room.

The hot springs themselves were fun, although some were too darn hot for me. They did seem a litte 'Disneyish', but it was fun. Also the only park I've ever been in with posted volcano evacuation routes.
Old Oct 1st, 2002, 09:19 AM
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A couple weeks ago, I was in CR and stayed for 3 nights at Tabacon. I enjoyed my stay there, however, do acknowledge that it's less crowded and more low key during the low season of September. My first time to Costa Rica was last November with a tour group --- at that time we stopped at Tabacon for an afternoon in the hot springs & ate dinner there; in November it was more crowded and I can understand how folks are turned off by the place.

When you stay at Tabacon you have two options for dinner; eating down at the resort, the buffet, which is overpriced for average food. Or there's a dining room at the lodge; great breakfast (included in price of your room) --- dinner at 'Los Tucanes' was better quality than the buffet offerings at the resort, however too pricey. I'm happier going into La Fortuna and eating a good casado & cerveza for $6.

Two other hotels that we drove past on our way to Tabacon are Montana de Fuego and Hotel Los Lagos; both are ones that I'd consider staying on a future visit. We did eat lunch at Montana de Fuego's restaurant one day --- again, overpriced meal, but the view! It's got a dead on view of Arenal. We considered ourselves lucky --- there we were in Sept, the green season and the clouds lifted affording us a crystal clear shot of the entire volcano. If you do consider Montana de Fuego (sorry we didn't ask to look in one of their rooms), I'd go for the junior suite cabins (versus the standard) --- these are the ones that have best direct views of volcano. Hotel is located 2 miles from Tabacon, so it's an easy hop to go hot springs for afternoon. The other place we drove by "Hotel Los Lagos" --- it too is located along the same stretch of road between La Fortuna and Tabacon.
Old Oct 1st, 2002, 09:35 AM
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.... a bit more on my stay at Tabacon.
The hot springs, well, they are HOT. Heated courtesy of the volcano, and frankly I found it tantalizingly dangerous that they have evacuation signs posted around the place advising you this is an area of active volcanic activity. I mean, that's why I'm there, to witness one of those National Geographic moments upclose (not TOO close!) and in person. Temperatures of most pools run between 30 and 40 degrees centigrade (temps are posted). I'm not sure what converts to in fahrenheit, it is pretty darn hot. Ohhhhhh, but when you're perched on a rock with the water rushing down pummeling your neck/back, it's feeling mighty fine.

Monkeys @ Tabacon!
One day, late in afternoon I was seated in the open area just past the 'Palenque Bar'. I'm sitting in a lounger, staring at the volcano waiting for a Krakatoa event, when I notice off to the right there were tall trees swaying in the breeze. Except .... there was no breeze. Focused the binoculars in that direction and saw the tree tops were a playground for a small group of monkeys. Saw two mothers, each with babies on board and several other monkeys swinging between the branches.
Old Oct 1st, 2002, 11:07 AM
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We have stayed at Tabacon twice (once with three teenage children and once alone) and stayed at Arenal Lodge once.
I was not at all impressed with the Lodge, long walk up the hill to our villa, not much fun in the fog and rain. Tabacon was very fun, the children loved it. We had much rain there also. It all was a very nice cool change from Quepos. Do go into La Fortuna for lunch and local activity.
Old Oct 2nd, 2002, 12:07 AM
Scott Gauvin
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Hi Darcie,

Another hotel you might want to consider is Arenal Paraiso. Closer to town than the Arenal Lodge it offers similar accomodations in a location that is more convenient to the area hotsprings and the town center.

As for "upscale" accomodations in the area, the other posters are right - there really aren't any that stand out as such. Many area hotels are built in the cabina style are made of hardwoods and are decorated in a rustic style.
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 02:26 PM
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up for Dolores and her query on Tabacon.
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