First Timers to CR! Hotel Help!

Oct 3rd, 2008, 11:36 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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First Timers to CR! Hotel Help!

My family (Mom, Dad, 3 boys - 11, 9, 7) are travelling to Costa Rica in June 2009. I have spent hours and hours on the internet to help narrow the choices for hotels. I just found these Fodor postings and have certainly appreciated everyones input.

We want to experience the natural wonders of Costa Rica. However, for hotels, I think our family, while interested and excited about the natural diversity, is better suited for resort type accomodations. Doesn't have to be extravagant, but fairly nice. We are pool and beach people and look forward to both relaxing at the hotel/beach and enjoying tours. We are thinking an all inclusive may be nice for part of the trip so we don't have to worry about the process involved in detemining where to go and getting the crew organized to go there. Also, rooms for 5 tend to be a challenge since most hotels seem to have a 4 person per room limit. We are OK with someone sleeping on the floor or a rollaway. Also, at this point, our tour/activity plans are yet to be determined.

So, here is the current itinerary with candidate hotels. I welcome your feedback.

Day 1 - Arrive at Liberia around 1:30. Plan to rent a car and drive to Arenal Observatory Lodge, or maybe Linda Vista.
Days 2&3 - AOL
Day 4 - Drive to Central Coast area (Puntarenas/Jaco/MA). Candidate accomodations include...Bahia Encantada, Hotel Parador, Marriott Los Suenos, Xandari by the Pacific.
Days 5 - 7 Central Coast
Day 8 - Drive to North Pacific area. Would like to have a nice beach experience here, if possible. Candidate accomodations include...Flamingo Beach Resort, Best Western Tamarindo Vista Villas, Bahia del Sol, Allegro Papagayo, Capitan Suizo (might be too pricey), Hilton Papagayo, Casa Somos Uno, Carmela by the Sea.
Days 9-12 - North Pacific area
Day 13 - Drive to Liberia for 1:30 flight.

We are looking forward to the trip and would love your comments.
just_da_fax is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 03:23 AM
  #2  
 
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In Arenal, Los Lagos is also a nice choice for families. It has a huge pool with fun slides for the kids. It's probably not quite as upscale as AOL, but very nice and has plenty to keep your kids busy.
msteacher is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 03:55 AM
  #3  
 
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Si Como No in Manuel Antonio would be perfect for you. Nice for families and great location.
MarciaM is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 04:24 AM
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I'll second the recommendation for Los Lagos in Arenal. We stayed there this past summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. The rooms themselves are very basic, but the superior will accomodate a family of 5 and the grounds are very nice. AOL is nice, but very remote and not easily accessable to town and other activities. Los Lagos has great pools, horseback riding and zip lines right on their property. They also have a small hot springs set of pools right there as well. Of all the places we stayed this past trip, it's the one place my son still raves about!

We also considered Marriott Los Suenos, but opted for Manuel Antonio. The Marriott seems great for the pools and resort feel, but there is not a great beach there. I've also heard that Xanadari by the Pacific doesn't have a safe swimmable beach. In MA, Tulemar Bungelows should have accomdations for 5 - we stayed in the Mot Mot villa and there are 2 double beds and in the living room I believe the sofa is a trundle bed. It is a great place as well with it's own private beach and unbelievable wildlife.

For reference, my kids are 7 and 9 and loved both of those places.
ShellD is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 04:52 AM
  #5  
 
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I agree with all the MA suggestions. Check out Buena Vista Villas, Tulemar Bungalows, or Si Como No. The Lost Iguana is nice in Arenal and has casitas and villas. Our room had a jacuzzi on the balcony and a wonderful view of the volcano. It's set a little outside of town, and we loved its beautiful grounds, right next to the Hanging Bridges.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 06:41 AM
  #6  
 
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For Manuel Antonio, as volcano girl mentioned, check out Buena Vista Villas / Tulemar. We (kids 9 & 14) stayed in a one bedroom villa (which will accomodate 5 with one on a large couch)and loved the pools & private beach (boogie boards, kayaks, etc included).

As for you itinerary, it seems like a lot of travel. You will be closer to the NW area when you land in Liberia. You might consider going there first or selecting only 2 areas. We spent 3 nts in Arenal (Lost Iguana) and 6 nts in Manuel Antonio (Buena Vista Villas). Some on here might feel 6 nts is too long in MA. However, with kids and all the activities in the area we were never bored (far from it). FYI- it is a 5 hr drive from Arenal to MA.
Enjoy...you & your kids will have a blast!
SiteC_er is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 09:01 AM
  #7  
 
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Agree with the good suggestions here, especially Los Lagos in Arenal with the pools and activities there.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 10:04 AM
  #8  
RAC
 
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I'll speak up for AOL--it's not the most luxurious place, but the wildlife and volcano view there is ummatched anywhere.

RAC is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 10:43 AM
  #9  
 
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Agree with RAC: AOL is hardly luxurious. We felt it was pretty middle of the road. Of course, this was just after staying at the Peace Lodge!!

MichelleY is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 11:44 AM
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I quadruple the suggestion for Los Lagos. Your boys will love it, my kids just loved the pools and waterslides. It's also in a good location. We have also stayed at the Tulemar bungalows twice and those are good for a family as well.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Oct 5th, 2008, 08:37 AM
  #11  
 
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Hi just_da_fax,

You've gotten some good hotel recommendations from the other folks. I'll just add that most places listed would not be considered all-inclusive resorts. CR doesn't seem to have many AI offerings. Several posters here have stayed at the Flamingo Beach Resort and have enjoyed it, but I believe it is nothing particularly fancy and I've also seen recommendations against buying their AI plan (there are apparently much better food options off-site).

Most hotels will have a tour desk to help you line up activities and most will also have restaurants onsite. I'll just add that there are some good food options in both Arenal and MA (haven't been to the northern pacific area yet, so can't really comment there...).

I bet your family will have a wonderful time. Costa Rica just has so much to offer!
cmerrell is offline  
Oct 5th, 2008, 01:08 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2007
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Yep, all-inclusives are not very common in CR. Usually the worst food you'll get will be at your hotel, with a few exceptions. There are a lot of great restaurants, so don't limit yourself to eating on the property. Have fun!
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 5th, 2008, 04:58 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Villas Sol is an AI located in Guanacaste that has rooms that will accommodate your family. I haven't been there yet but will be traveling next month & will post a report when I return.
petite43 is offline  

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