Hotels around Areanl?

Old Oct 11th, 1999, 06:59 AM
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Hotels around Areanl?

Hi again...has anyone stayed at the Tabacon? El Tucano? or Tilajari? The Tabacon sounded nice in the book and the brochure but two other posts suggest otherwise. Is this area worth staying in or should we see the volcano as a day trip only?
Old Oct 11th, 1999, 12:09 PM
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Try this BBS -- there are some great Costa Rica travelers here.
Also try
Dennis has a great bunch of info and links.
Old Oct 14th, 1999, 05:30 AM
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My favourite is the Tilajari (owned by a former Peace Corp member). Have never stayed at the Tabacon, but the pools are great. There are lots of modest places in and around La Fortuna.
Old Dec 4th, 1999, 03:11 PM
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I don't know if this is too late, but we stayed at the Tabacon in January and really enjoyed it. The price seemed high but when you factored in free admission to the hot springs and breakfast it was reasonable. Have also stayed at the Arenal Lodge, not the observatory, pricey but first class. Unfortunately, in four tries we have yet to have a clear night to see the volcano.
Old Dec 6th, 1999, 08:24 AM
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I just got back from 2 weeks in Costa Rica on Saturday. I will post a more detailed trip report separately, but wanted to respond to your question because we did stay one night at Tabacon Lodge and 2 nights at Arenal Lodge. We definitely liked Arenal Lodge better than Tabacon, although Tabacon is marginally worth it for including admission to the hot springs. But we would both categorize Tabacon Lodge as one of the few disappointments of our trip. It was very institutional, like a Holiday Inn or something. It had no local character or charm whatsoever, and the staff there was downright rude -- the only negative experience in terms of service that we experienced in our two week trip. Also be aware that the hot springs are not immediately adjacent to the hotel itself -- you have to take a shuttle or drive, or it's a short walk down the road. The restaurant is at the hot springs as well; there is no restaurant in the hotel itself. You have to wear a plastic hospital-style bracelet that the hotel gives you in order to get admitted to the hot springs and charge things to the room. The hot springs are nice but big and crowded and noisy -- not what I expected. It's a huge "scene" with thumping music and reminded me of a mid-life crisis version of spring break -- everyone sitting around in their bathing suits and drinking too much, although if you venture off the beaten path you can find a few quieter pools away from the action that are less crowded and more relaxing. Admission is $15 per person if you're not staying at Tabacon Lodge. The grounds of the hot springs are pretty with beautiful plants. The food there is not great -- we ate dinner and breakfast and I would rate both as fair or average. Also, you may want to think about wearing water shoes into the hot springs -- I cut my foot badly on the bottom of one of the pools and I was not the only one visiting the first aid bungalow! Unfortunately the restaurant seems to cater to the American tour bus trade. I will say that the hotel was very clean. We did get to see the volcano erupt a little bit from our vantage point in one of the pools at the hot springs one evening.
I would recommend staying at Arenal Lodge instead -- friendly staff, better food, great view of the volcano, pretty garden, horseback riding, nature trails, etc. It's only about 10 km down the road from Tabacon Lodge but has a lot more character and local color. We also visited Arenal Observatory Lodge and that seemed interesting as well (the disadvantage is that it's a long drive down a bumpy gravel road full of potholes).
Frankly, none of the hotels in this area are up to the standards of some of the incredible places we stayed in other parts of Costa Rica -- I would recommend a daytrip to the volcano, except that then there is a very good chance you will not see it erupt in the few hours you're there (although you could be there for days and not see it erupt). We were lucky and got two brief peeks at it erupting on two separate days, but only for a few minutes each time. The cone was almost completely fogged in over all three days we were there, which is apparently not uncommon. Good luck and I hope you have a good trip.
Old Dec 6th, 1999, 04:17 PM
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I just returned from a 2 wk trip to Costa Rica. We stayed at the Tabacon for 3 days and it was the worst experience during our 2 wk stay. The staff was rude. They couldn't find our reservation. Our room was infested with bugs. I could go on and on about how horrible it was. I wasn't aware we needed to walk or take a shuttle bus to the hot springs. The food was overpriced and frankly nothing to write home about. The hot springs were packed with people, camera crews, etc. Our last night we had a wonderful dinner at a place 1 mile from the Tabacon called Acuellas which was next to a hotel called Montana de Fuego ([email protected])This place had an unobstructed view of the volcano and the cabinas looked gorgeous. I would suggest this place and pay the $15 to get into the hot springs. The Tabacon is not worth the money.
Old Dec 7th, 1999, 11:43 AM
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Dawn: Sounds like your experience at Tabacon was similar to ours. Interesting that you mentioned Montana del Fuego -- another American we met who lives in Fortuna told us that he thought that was the best accommodations value in the area for the money. We visited their gift shop and it had a much better selection of Costa Rican crafts than any of the other stores in Fortuna. Also, I forgot to mention, we had a good dinner one night at a local restaurant in Fortuna called La Vaca Muca -- the garlic shrimp, arroz con pollo, and mixed salad are all recommended. This is a very casual local place and they don't speak English but are very nice and the food is delicious.

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