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Costa Rica - Guanacaste and ? near the arenal volcano or la fortuna

Costa Rica - Guanacaste and ? near the arenal volcano or la fortuna

Old Jan 24th, 2015, 12:49 PM
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Costa Rica - Guanacaste and ? near the arenal volcano or la fortuna

Hello - we are going back to Costa Rica for our second trip in late April. We'd like to spend the first 4 nights near the Volcano and are looking at the Springs, Tabacon or Nayara hotels. The last 7 nights are confirmed at the Riu Palace where we've stayed before.

A few questions to those who've visited or stayed at the volcano area properties:
1) pros or cons or each - the room rates seem quite similar with an all inclusive package
2) i think renting a car would be more affordable than taking their arranged transport which runs around $300 to and from the airport plus the transfer from the airport to and from Guanacaste which would run another $160 or so for the two of us for a total of $460
3)National Car is my corporate sponsor - has anyone had experience renting from them in CR?
4)if the three jungle properties we're considering don't float your boat....what would you recommend?

I'm not new to this site but deactivated my profile a year or so ago when the comments on the european forum started getting downright nasty.

Thanks all -
Iahawk is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2015, 01:05 PM
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We visited Arenal twice many years ago. I can't help with hotel information given the length of time between those visits and today.

However, I can tell you we have rented from just about every car rental agency in CR, each time choosing the agency offering the best car at the best price. National was one of those we have used and we had no complaints.

Remember you have a 50/50% chance of seeing much, if any, of the volcano due to fog, cloud formation and rain. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating area and you ought to find it a very worthwhile visit.

And, I am afraid the anonymity of the internet encourages pretty undesirable behavior from some people.

Pura vida!
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Old Jan 24th, 2015, 04:19 PM
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We've stayed at The Springs Resort and Spa and Nayara, and I would say those are probably the two most upscale properties in the area. Tabacon has beautiful hot springs, but the hotel doesn't seem as new or as luxurious as your other two choices. We had a Groupon deal for The Springs, and it was an amazing elaborate property - lots of hot springs, several restaurants on site, and a huge property; they have a gorgeous river that runs at the base of the property, and you can go tubing or kayaking there with their instructors; they also have horseback riding. The rooms are posh and very comfy. I believe we had a bathtub which is not that common in CR. We loved it. Nayara was smaller and has a more boutique type feel to it; it feels more designed, almost bordering on slick. They both have good food and service. Nayara didn't have springs when we stayed, but they were constructing some called Nayara Springs. We used the Tabacon hot springs - a lot of tourists get bussed there to use them. It was crowded when we went but pretty.
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Old Jan 24th, 2015, 04:23 PM
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As far as renting a car, it's definitely cheaper. I think we paid about $60 a day from Alamo when we used them. We usually hire private drivers just because we like to sit back and enjoy the ride. Also drivers can take you between cities after dark which I would not recommend doing on your own. They can act as a tour guide of sorts since things aren't always well marked, but the roads around the Arenal area are in better shape than most in CR, and a lot of people do like the freedom of having a car. If you drive, I'd recommend getting GPS and not ever leaving anything in your car unattended. We've always felt very safe in CR, but car breakins are not uncommon.
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Old Jan 26th, 2015, 06:25 AM
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Thanks everyone. We got lucky last trip and saw the top of the volcano during our hike and also during dinner at the Springs. Nayara says they only have a suite that runs around $800/night available during our trip. I have to confirm yes or no with them this morning. I think that's more than a 'little steep' personally! I'll stay with National. Expedia had a car for $14/day plus taxes which will probably increase it to well over $40 but it will still give us more flexibility.
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Old Jan 26th, 2015, 10:00 AM
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Whoa, yes, I think that's very pricey. I personally do not think it's worth that much. Not even close. I'm kind of shocked that they can charge those prices. I know Will Smith stayed at The Springs when he was filming his movie in C.R. You might check the Royal Corin. We haven't stayed there, but it looks upscale, sort of towers over some of the smaller places like Silencio del Campo. I kind of don't like them for that reason, but that might not be fair. That sounds like a good deal for the car.
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Old Jan 26th, 2015, 11:22 AM
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I called Nayara today and got a much better room rate! We are booked into a casita and will have 4 nights (3 days) there. The reservations agent was very nice and worked 'the problem' with me to get the 4 nights we hoped for. The package will include all meals, a massage, 2 tours and the hot springs for far less than the original quote. The only thing we may have to add is a night tour for my photog husband!
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Old Jan 26th, 2015, 01:56 PM
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Oh, good, glad you got a better rate. One hint: They have you store your room key card in a little slot. When you remove it, your power will go out. We actually thought we were having a blackout and called the front desk. When we put the card back in, the lights magically came back on. I think they do it to save on electricity so you can't run things while not in the room. If you can, request a room towards the back of the property so it will be more quiet. We were close to reception and had a lot of people walking by. We thought their food was quite good, especially compared to other places in CR. They have nice views of the volcano. Ours had an outdoor hot tub that was nice. It's a pretty property.
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Old Jan 27th, 2015, 02:26 PM
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the room key/electricity thing is common in europe as well. we're still deciding between renting a car for all 11 days and dealing with the sometimes sketchy roads or using the nayara transport for that leg and then having them take us back to the airport where we pick up a rental car for the last 6 days. We want to do some exploring on our own, beach hopping, etc. Don't know if the Riu Palace has a car rental desk onsite or not. I don't remember seeing one last trip.
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Old Jan 28th, 2015, 05:16 AM
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I may be out of touch or just doing our first trip to Costa Rica on a budget but both those places blow out my budget. They both sound amazing but I just plan on laying my head down to sleep(with ear plugs) so clean rooms with no bed bugs and some hot water.

As for the comment on the European forum I had the same experience, it is much friendly on this side of the pond.

As for the room key thing I use a card with a magnetic strip and that usually solves the problem but it is only fair to conserve electricity when you are out of the room but you may want to heat or cool your room while you eat or play for an hour or two.

If your in CR end of February to the middle of March you will recognize me I'm the guy with the hat on so wave and say hello.
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Old Jan 28th, 2015, 06:17 AM
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Stairgod, you're not out of touch; these are just really high end properties. We use a lot of deals to stay in spots like this - Groupon and Luxury Link are two good sources. We've also stayed in places that are much more affordable. CR is good about accommodating all budgets.
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