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For an authentic Osa experience, you may want to look beyond B of C

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Jan 22nd, 2013, 06:15 PM
  #1
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For an authentic Osa experience, you may want to look beyond B of C

I have benefited so much over the years from Fodors and everyone's trip reports and genuine informative answers to questions I and others have posted. I have had some amazing adventures and experienced incredible places to stay. Sometimes I have looked into a place from maybe 1-2 subtle comments made about a place that piqued my curiosity.

I am writing this to try and be helpful so people can learn ahead of time that this may not be right for them. After spending 3 nights in the Osa at the end of December at the Lookout Inn (thanks to a couple of mentions of it here) on the way out we pulled into Bosque del Cabo since I was driving right by it and I have read LOTS of rave reviews and posts about it. I did not stay here but walked around quite a bit. It seems that more than any place B of C is always recommended. I was curious why so many fodorites love it. It may be perfect for some but I want to comment because I never would have wanted to stay at B of C. I would have been very disappointed if this was my experience of the Osa, the jungle. It seems more in line with a Hilton.

To me it had the appearance and feeling of being at a Disney resort, contrived and developed to create a ' jungle' experience. ' It was manicured, sculpted and seemed plastic and artificial. I suggest you keep looking if you want a genuine Osa experience. It hardly seems worth the effort to go to the Osa for this experience. You might as well stay north in Uvita or Ojochal, Dominical. Both my husband and I were sure glad we stayed at Lookout Inn. There are other places to recommend if the Lookout isn't for you.
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 07:09 PM
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Well, I can only tell you why my husband and I go: first and foremost, for the miles of hiking trails that serve to create a wildlife corridor, and attract wildlife enthusiasts and photographers from all over. For access to breathtaking scenery, ocean,river, streams and waterfalls. For their top-notch guides. For the laid-back and warm vibe. For the comfort of sleeping in a cozy cabin, yet not having to dress up for dinner. For the treat of an outdoor shower. And on and on... The owners are dedicated to preserving as much land as they can; only a very small portion of the property could be perceived as "manicured".

We haven't been to the Lookout Inn, but I'm sure it's good!
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 07:19 PM
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I totally agree with you, Cat. Our stay there was just amazing. The hiking and the trails are the best we've ever seen. The beautiful views were jaw dropping. We saw all 4 kinds of monkeys there, several times from the front porch of our cabin, toucans, scarlet macaws. Wonderful food and warm, friendly staff. Some of the best guides we've ever experienced. The photos you can get there are just amazing. I've never gotten any sort of plastic or artificial feeling at all and personally can't see any sort of resemblance to a Hilton. I'm sure Lookout Inn is great too, but I think it's a little hard to evaluate a place without experiencing staying in one of the cabins or spending hours hiking on the trails or spending time with the people who work there. Love that the owners are dedicated to protecting the land. There's a reason it consistently get rave reviews. I've never heard of anyone who stayed there that didn't love it.
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 07:19 PM
  #4
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If you can think of a Disney resort that is frequented by wild pumas, 4 species of monkeys, and Scarlet Macaws please advise us.

Also, did you manage to hike the trails on site?
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 05:01 AM
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Maybe you should have stopped and had lunch and learned a little more of the history of the lodge. The clear cut areas on the land were as such when it was first purchased, it used to be cow pasture. Phil spent years re-introducing more and more plant life to the land, returning it to it's natural state. I don't think you can "contrive" a lodge that you can see all 4 species of monkeys, tamanduas, coatis, pumas et al easier than at any other lodge in the vicinity. Close to a 1000 acres with almost a dozen trails doesn't exactly lend itself to a Hilton comparison. You may wind up with some Hilton devotees wondering where their a/c, tv, bug-free experience is!

In comparison, I've stayed at Lookout Inn as well. It was nice enough, but really can't hold a candle to Bosque del Cabo. The food I found below par, there was only one trail on the property and they had to leave food out to attract monkeys, coatis and birds. Bosque del Cabo is frequently the most talked about lodge on the Osa with good reason.
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 08:20 AM
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For some, the only "authentic" Osa Experience would be hiking into Corcovado National Park and sleeping in a tent... Or maybe getting chased by a croc while crossing a river mouth at high tide...

as many above have pointed out, you're comparing apples and oranges here

Bosque is one of Costa Rica's premier nature lodges. They have great guides, cooks, management and staff. Phil and Kim care deeply about the area, its ecosystems and its communities.

They do have well-tended gardens and beautiful private cabins, but the Disney crack just seems to me to be sour grapes of some sort.

Lookout is fine, but we're talking about something very different here...
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 08:53 AM
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Ditto to all comments above. Juldie, I fail to understand why you feel BdC is not an "authentic" Osa experience based on walking around - how long did you stay? Did you hike the trails and see the incredible diversity of wildlife? Did you take a tour? Eat a meal? Visit with the staff and get background info on the property?

There is a reason that the bi-annual Fodor's GTG is held at Bosque del Cabo - it is considered one of the top nature lodges, not only in Costa Rica, but in all of Central America.
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 09:26 AM
  #8
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@Eliot-Greenspan:

Staying in the rooms at Sirena is authentic enough. Part of the experience is trading gross stories with fellow visitors (cockroaches in rooms, jungle rats drinking out of outdoor urinals, etc).

But good point--at some level any human habitation and 'authentic Osa' are going to be inconsistent.
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 05:03 PM
  #9
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Hello all, my purpose in writing was to reach some people who B of C may not be a good fit for. If one is looking for a smaller more intimate setting, a more diverse mix of guests (no matter how you slice it, people not of means cannot afford to stay at Bosque), a setting where you hear the sounds of the jungle and the pound of the surf day and night, there are other places to look into; that's all.
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 07:08 PM
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If you had had dinner there you would see that it has a very intimate feeling; we had communal dinners with guests from all over the world, gay, straight, different ethnicities, families, singles, old, young - pretty diverse group in my book all dining together by candlelight. One couple had saved and saved for years to go on their 25th anniversary trip. It was a once in a lifetime trip for them. Glad you liked where you stayed but your critique of BDC just seems really inaccurate to me and not truly fair considering that you didn't really experience staying there. What exactly did you mean that it was similar to a Hilton? I really can't imagine what they have in common.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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Actually you can indeed hear the pounding of the surf from the cabinas as it is directly below, as well as all the sounds of the jungle. After dinner as the place goes dark and people go to bed, you may hear a lot more than you ever wanted to. As vg mentioned, I've met such a wide variety of people at BdC, many who have saved for a long time to get there; a good majority of guests are repeats so they know it's worth it to save for something special. I've met so many special people from all backgrounds and locations there over the years.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 08:17 AM
  #12
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The Lookout Inn, btw, is not inexpensive either. The cheapest room is $190 for two people, and that gets you the "Chicken Coop" described by the proprietors as an upgrade back-packers cabina ( Hyatt Hostel )."

In general, any lodge at the Osa is going to have a limited spectrum of incomes present. Things are expensive there.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 10:11 AM
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If the OP had managed to make the point that there are more choices of resort/lodge/etc. on the OSA Peninsula than just BdeC--and had done this without disparaging BdeC AND Disney properties--that would have been useful and reasonable. There is sort of a Bosque de Cabo echo chamber in this forum that, when detected, may lead new readers to think that posters here are oblivious to other choices on Osapen. That is probably the case, for a few posters. OP may feel that these posters don't really have any basis for choosing BdeC over another property. I sometimes feel that way myself.

I have been to four Osa properties, and find that they each offer something unique and worthwhile, and would go back to any of the four (Iguana Lodge, El Remanso, Luna Lodge, and BdeC.) If I had only 5 nights to spend on the OSA, I would choose BdeC, partially because of the things that the OP doesn't like and seems to think that others don't like also. I like the consistently themed design of BdeC and consistently good service, food, and amenities.( I also like the upper end Disney resorts for the same reason. ) Luna Lodge, by the way, also has consistently themed design in most of the bungalows. Nothing about either one of them appears to be artificial or manicured to an excessive degree. The notion of "authentic" or "genuine" experience of the Osa is sort of strange as others have pointed out already.

Beyond "theming" I prefer the food service at El Remanso. The owners are French. Each meal is served to the table with style and gusto. The choices are limited, but sometimes truly excellent. The tuna melt at BdeC is a top choice for both my wife and me. Food at Iguana Lodge was quite good, inventive, and satisfying. At Luna Lodge, although choices were limited, the eating experience was always good, and fit the enviornment well.

Our experiences with wildlife at El Remanso was better than most. We were greeted with a large herd of peccaries and saw monkeys, toucans mating, a whale, and a bell bird, among other things. The garlic trees had bloomed and the monkeys were active sucking nectar from the blossoms. The bungalow we had at Luna Lodge had a porch that faced a large fruit bearing-tree that provided monkeys and toucans, constantly during the daylight hours. Troups of monkeys circle the "quad" at BdeC at least twice daily, stopping at fruit-bearing trees when they are in season. It seems that many critters on the move, turn around at BdeC.

You often hear about the big waterfall near BdeC. It is on El Remanso property, and there is a trail there that leads to the top of the falls where rappelling starts out. Iguana Lodge has the closest access to to the beach, but not the calmest water. Luna Lodge has the closest access to Corcovado.

The point of this is that there are quite a few good options on the Osa--and BdeC will remain a really good recommendation for many people. If you want recommendations for something cheaper, there are lots of resources on the Web. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives to these resorts, but not that much cheaper considering what you get. And Lapa Rios costs even more. Encanta la Vida and Lookout Inn don't get much coverage here, but that is due to the limited number of contributors and their experiences, NOT the inherent flaws or attractions of the resorts on the Osa.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 12:07 PM
  #14
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I agree about the echo chamber aspect of bosque del cabo--I've seen people refer to it as synonymous with the Osa instead of being a very good lodging option within the Osa.

Part of the rap the Osa gets is that it's not affordable to ordinary travelers. It is achievable within a reasonable budget, but the options (e.g. Finca Maresia at Drake Bay) don't get the attention they deserve from most internet forums or guidebooks--all of the attention goes to BdC, Lapa Rios, Aguila de Osa, La Paloma, etc.

Even budget options at the expensive places get overlooked. How many people know you can get a room for 2 adults at Iguana Lodge for $130/night--TOTAL?

This isn't to begrudge anyone's enthusiasm for places like BdC (we're headed there the first week of February)--just that there is room for discussion of other places. I just wish this thread had been more oriented about what's right with Lookout Inn (which would be of great interest) and not one person's impression of BdC after a drive-by visit.

I would urge the OP to write up about what she particularly enjoyed about the Lookout Inn.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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I love to hear about other places. Just read a nice trip report about Aguila de Osa and have enjoyed hearing about others; I just think the approach here, to review a property where you didn't stay, was off and the descriptions of plastic and artificial, etc. to be inaccurate.
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Jan 25th, 2013, 02:34 PM
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Did you realize that most of the lodges on the Osa Peninsula are ex-pat owned?

I'd like to suggest properties that are owned and operated by the local families that have worked hard to make something for themselves in their homeland, instead of coming from another country with pocketfuls of cash to buy the land that the locals can no longer afford to own.

For this reason, from Matapalo to Carate, I recommend La Leona Eco Lodge. It is the closest lodge to the La Leona entrance to Corcovado National Park. it has excellent service, very low turnover of employees, is Tico owned and provides a very authentic Osa experience.

BdelC, Lapa Rios, El Romanso, Lookout, Luna Lodge, Finca Exotica, are all ex-pat owned.

Please consider doing your part for responsible travel and put some of that money into the pockets of the locals whenever you can. This way, you help to preserve our local traditional community here on the Osa.

Pura Vida, Ballardo
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Jan 25th, 2013, 02:45 PM
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We were surprised at how many of the places in CR are owned by Americans. We stayed at Lost Iguana, BdC and several others - most owned by Americans. From what I saw, many of them are part of their communities and contribute to the community, preserve the land, provide jobs, etc. so I give them credit for that. I can understand your wanting to support the Ticos as well.
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Jan 25th, 2013, 05:02 PM
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Many of these lodges also support the community greatly, for 20+ years, from a staff of 50+, to all the companies/people/stores they deal with for food, off property activities, etc. I've stayed at La Leona and I agree it is a great place.
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Jan 26th, 2013, 11:46 AM
  #19
 
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Tully and VG, at least they are good at marketing themselves as in support of the community, however, it would be interesting for travelers to try to verify this directly through candid interviews with the local communities who are said to have received this support. (Not just taking the lodges marketing at face value)

It's all feel good for lodges to say they support communities, but have you asked the locals in the community how these lodges actually assist the community? I have. And the story I get from the locals is very different from the story the lodge operators tell. Lodges have their agendas, and often it is not directly related to what the community needs support with.

There is a lot of shady areas when it comes to the relationship between lodges and the local community, Everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a good dose of reality.

That said, I love my home and wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm not trying to be a bummer, just realistic. -- Pura Vida, Ballardo
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Jan 26th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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Apparently more than the lodges has an agenda. Being friends with some of the owner's of the lodges and many of the staff, yes I take them at their word and thru their actions. I could go into a lot more detail but that is personal information and it sounds like you've already made up your mind. I think the insinuation that they are basically lying is pretty low & classless to be honest.
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