Hotel location near Arenal

Old Aug 31st, 2010, 06:38 AM
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Hotel location near Arenal

I am furiously researching all the hotels in the Arenal area. I first decided we should aim for a lava view, but AOL is booked. Linde Vista Norte is not booked, and according to the reviews has a great view of the lava side. Prices are good. However, this hotel is 30 minutes or so from town. We are renting a car, but 30 minutes each way on a bad road is still a lot. However, do we really need to go to town for anything? Other than the hot springs, we are really only interested in nature activities, which some seem to be located out that way. Plus its by the lake. Should I stay closer to town? Lost Iguana seems closer, and also has a lava-side view, although only indirect (reviews said lava was seen going down the sides of the volcano). This is much pricier. OR should I just skip chasing the lava altogether? I hope that if its a clear night, we could make our way to the AOL observatory deck and view the lava that way. Any advice/experience much appreciated!
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:17 AM
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The Lost Iguana is a great hotel. A lot of times they offer specials like buy two nights, get one free. We've seen lava every time we've stayed there, but of course there's no guarantees. We've also had several days of foggy mist where you couldn't see the volcano from anywhere. If you decide to pass on the lava, you might check out Silencio del Campo.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 09:05 AM
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We stayed at Arenal Paraiso a couple of years ago. It has nice porches with chairs to watch the volcano, lovely grounds but the most amazing hot springs, I think 9 in all. The cabins are a bit rustic but isn't that what CR is all about. We loved it. The zipline was right there which we did & enjoyed.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 09:41 AM
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Don't be disappointed if you don't see molten lava. The "lava flow" side is a misnomer and can be taken to mean that if lava were flowing, it would probably flow there because it has in the past (rarely). What you may see at night are large, red-hot boulders and rocks bounding down the volcano leaving a trail of smaller red hot rocks and sparks--sometimes a lot of them. A time-exposure at night will make an awesome photograph, and might even look like lava. I have seen red in the rocks in the daylight, but it's simply not describable by the standard definition of hot lava, "molten rock." Arenal is a Stomboli type of volcano, meaning that it is capable of producing almost everything volcanic in small amounts almost all the time, day and night. Molten rock was plentiful during the great 1968 eruption, and some was reported last May when things got a little more active. There are side vents that produce a little now and then. Gas and ash plumes and even the dread pyroclastic flows are part of Arenal's drama. Between the frequent cloud cover and the paucity of true flowing lava, you will increase your chances of seeing lava only slightly by staying of the "lava flow" side. The probability that you will see red bolders at night is higher, but still subject to volcanic whim and cloud cover. When we were there last month, the burps-du-jour were vast and loud releases of roaring gas and/or steam from the "other" side of the volcano. The plumes were beautiful and the 4-6 second roar was magnificant. We saw the plumes and the point of exit clearly from the "other" side and had a full view of the lush, green volcano in the sunlight for two days in a row. Lava chasers will be rewarded in Hawai'i.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 11:23 AM
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I agree with Kinkazote. Don't get hung up with the lava flow. There are a lot of other factors to consider.

This is a popular location, and offers many good hotel choices. Someone mentioned Arenal Paraiso, which is a good discount option with a convenient location. They also have their own small hot springs. You will still want to pay the admission at one of the larger resorts, that is half the fun of being here. But it is nice to have something onsite for a quick soak after dinner.

Lost Iguana Resort is a personal favorite of mine too. The location is a little remote, but they do have the 3 nights for the price of two special that was mentioned. It expires on November 15. Very pretty property.

Arenal Lodge has the same special until December 19, and includes a horseback tour too. Great rustic style hotel. The location is not very convenient, but the payoff is the spectacular view. It is on a hilltop, and the valley spreads out below you. This is one of the few spots that allows you to see the entire volcano.

Hotel Mountain Paradise is a bargain for the quality of accommodations offered. There is even a little hot tub on each terrace. Great view and location.


Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for all the great feedback! I appreciate people taking the time to write. I think as Pat points out, there are so many things to consider and this is why I am having a hard time deciding. I can't figure out whether the priority is the view, the proximity to town or the hotel itself...and then there is budget..
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:06 PM
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Actually, that is another question I have. What benefits are there to being close to town? The only thing I can think of are different options to eat, since hotel eating can get expensive. Do the tours generally leave from town also? What other reasons would you need to go into La Fortuna?
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:39 PM
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There are not that many reasons to go into La Fortuna. Really only if you need a pharmacy or grocery store. All of the tour companies pick up at the hotels. Some will add a small surcharge if you stay too far from La Fortuna. You will pay this if you stay at Arenal Lodge or Lost Iguana.

Since you plan to have a car, you could drive to the tour company's office to avoid this fee.

Just about everything else of interest to tourists (hotels, restaurants, hot springs) is located along the main road that runs from town to the dam. The total distance is probably 10 to 12 miles? The greatest concentration of hotels and restaurants is just a few miles outside La Fortuna. If this convenience is important to you, then Arenal Paraiso or Mountain Paradise might be your best options.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 02:54 PM
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I planned a trip last year that included 4 nights in Arenal. I decided on AOL, but they were only available for 2 nights, so I booked the two nights and then planned on moving to Silencio del Campo for the other 2 nights. I ended up canceling that trip, but now as I start thinking about rescheduling the trip, I think I'm going to do the same thing. We would have 2 days to stay put and enjoy the views and hikes of AOL, and then 2 days closer to town to do tours and get around a little easier.

Just another option, you may want to consider.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 04:09 PM
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Bd - I was also thinking of splitting time at AOL and another place, because they were booked the last night. Not a bad idea. What I'm struggling to understand is whether, if we book at a good lava view hotel (Linda Vista Norte) that is half an hour from town out by the lake, will it be more difficult to get tours without having them come out to pick us up? Do tours only leave from the town itself, as Pat mentioned? Or in some cases can we drive to where the tour begins (In the park or elsewhere)? I don't plan on being in the hotel all that much, so I want to be somewhere that is a good base for exploring.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 04:20 PM
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You can check out Sunset Tours website to see how the pricing works. The hotels are set up by zones; each zone has a different price for pickup. Some people drive into town to the headquarters to avoid the extra charge. At the Lost Iguana, I believe we paid twelve dollars over the base price for pickup; some hotels will be more, and others will be less.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 07:28 AM
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Great - thanks!!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 11:13 AM
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Ngolden -- If you do split your time Silencio del Campo is a great choice. It's smallish, nice cabinas, wonderful local family, hot springs on site plus not too far from town and close to Eco-Thermales.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 12:21 PM
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Husband decided we should take our chances to see the lava. We booked at Linda Vista out by the lake. It's about a half hour to town, but we will have a rental car. Reviews on TA as of April said the road had been improved and the ride is much better, so hopefully that's true!
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