Lots of hotel questions

Sep 21st, 2003, 05:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Lots of hotel questions

It's me again. I had to set aside my CR planning for a month or so as we thought we might be selling our house of 25 years and moving. For better or for worse, we're not, so now it's back to our CR trip.

I'm having a hard time deciding on hotels. There are five of us, ranging in age from 17 to 50+. Here are my dilemmas:

Near/In San Jose--Vista del Valle or Grano del Oro? I was all set on Vista del Valle because of the views until I found out that we're limited to garden view accommodations because they are the only ones that hold 5 people. We'll be staying here our first two nights and I'd like somewhere that will be a scenic introduction to Costa Rica. We'll be flying in the first day and rafting the Pacuare the second, so won't really spend too much time at the hote, but will probably be exhausted and want somewhere nice and comfortable! Any thoughts between these two--or any other ideas? (Xandari and Finca Rosa Blanca looked great, but get really expensive for 5 people.)

Manuel Antonio--Tulemar vs. Hotel California vs.? I'm leaning toward Tulemar now, despite the expense. My only concern is whether it will seem too lonely and remote. We'll be spending a few days on the Osa (La Paloma) and I think the "kids" may be looking forward to somewhere a bit less rustic and remote than La Paloma. Will Tulemar seem like more of the same, or will we feel as though we're a bit closer to civilization at Tulemar than on the Osa? I do like the idea of Tulemar over Hotel California since we can all stay in one bungalow together. (I've ruled out Si Como No, based on the "Disney-like" comments and El Parador seems too un-tropical, though beautiful.)

Arenal--Tabacon vs. Arenal Paraiso. My aim here is a good (and, hopefully, safe) view of the volcano and some time at the Tabacon Hot Springs. I was all set on Arenal Paraiso because the view sounds better and I've heard so much about the crowds and so-so service at Tabacon. However, I recently learned that if you stay at Tabacon, you can enter the hot springs for two hours in the morning before the general public is allowed and before it gets really crowded. Is it worth staying at Tabacon for this reason?

Tamarindo--Once again, I thought I had this all figured out--wanted to stay at Capital Suizo, but then read several posts that it seems to cater more to families with young children. Where our kids are pretty much grown, I'm not sure this is the place for us. Or is it? Would Cala Luna be a better alternative? My concern about Cala Luna is that it may be too far from the town and the beach. Our purpose in visiting Tamarindo is to give our "kids" the opportunity to hang out, check out the town, etc., since I think that by the time we reach Tamarindo, they'll have had just about enough togetherness with us dragging them around on natural adventures! I'm open to any suggestions here.

Thanks! Sorry this was so long.

JoBurritt is offline  
Sep 21st, 2003, 05:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I can relate to your hotel dilemmas. I'm having the same sort of (pleasant) decisions to make about Belize. We stayed at Grano de Oro last February. We enjoyed our stay. No pool, but a couple of roof top hot tubs and some nice chaise lounges. Restaurant was very good. We did walk downtown from there one day, the market was intereting, but I doubt we'll stay so close to the city again. Since your days are full anyway, not sure I'd want to be 'in the city'.

In Manual Antonio we've stayed at Si Como No and Makanda. Enjoyed them both.
Have you looked at Costa Verde as a hotel option? The reason I mention this one is that it's closer to the park, still a hike, but not that bad. The area by the park entrance has lots of small restaurants and a few shops, I think there's even a disco. I don't think there would be much within walking distance from either Tulemar or Hotel California. During the day, bus service is frequent and cheap on the road between Quepos and Manual Antonio. At night, you'd need to take a cab, just too darn hilly and dark to walk very far.

We stayed at Tabacon a couple of years ago. Maybe it was because travel was still way down from 09/11, but we didn't find it all that crowded. It was nice to be able to come and go as you wanted from the hot springs. If you opt for Tabacon, make sure they have a room with views of the volcano, I don't think they all do.

Sorry, haven't been to Tamarindo (next trip, I hope).

JeanH is offline  
Sep 21st, 2003, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Loved the Grano de Oro in SJ.. didn't feel like being in the city at all, because it's tucked away on a very quiet street... great restaurant, service, really nice rooms (not to mentionTVs with HBO for the "kids"!)

I agree that you should look into Costa Verde as an alternative. It's way less expensive than Tulemar (although that's a great, beautiful place), but for the 5 of you, Costa Verda might be a good "in between" choice. We loved our stay there.
CarolM is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2003, 01:36 PM
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Jo, I would pick Vista del Valle over any hotel in SJ (although Grano del Oro gets very good reviews). I know the bungalow you are talking about at Vista del Valle and I think you would be very happy with it. There are great views from the pool area and the restaurant so you will get the views!

I don't think any place in MA is going to feel isolated, especially in comparison with Osa. I heard great things about Tulemar Bungalows in MA. Having said that we stayed at Si Como No and enjoyed it a lot (but that was before their expansion).

In Arenal, we stayed at both Arenal Paraiso (2 years ago) and at Tabacon (last August). Tabacon does not have much character but the access to the hot springs is a nice feature as you can come and go at your leisure. Views from Tabacon are good if you have a volcano view room. Arenal Paraiso is much more rustic but the views are probably a bit better. Whatever you do, don't eat your dinner at the hotel. There are good restaurants in the area (we ate at El Novillo in August and really enjoyed it).

Iza is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2003, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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In Tamarindo, stay at Capitan Suizo. It is popular with families but I think you and your kids will enjoy it nevertheless. It is right on the beach which is a very nice feature to have in Tamarindo. I don't care for the location of Cala Luna which is away from the beach and not an easy walking distance to town.

Sounds like you have a great trip planned (similar to ours 2 years ago - let me know if you would like my trip report).
Iza is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2003, 06:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I agree with Iza about the San Jose portion. I've stayed at Grand Del Oro once, and while it is a nice hotel, it IS in the city and has NO views, well, except for city view from the roof. If views are what you want, stay at Vista del Valle.

I also agree that Costa Verde is a nice alternative in MA.
Ally is offline  
Sep 30th, 2003, 03:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Thank you all so much for all of your help--sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Life keeps getting in the way of my vacation planning! I'm still a bit confused, but have a few things nailed down, I think.

I just found out that my husband can get us a really good discount at the Costa Rica Marriott, so we may stay there instead of Vista del Valle or Grano del Oro. Is it okay? Or do you think we'll regret it?

Re Costa Verde in MA--it looks great, but I had kinda kept it out of the running because one of the major guidebooks made a big point of complaining about them feeding the monkeys and some other comments about their lack of ecological consciousness. Were they overreacting? It sure seems good price-wise.

Thanks again--you guys are all great!

JoBurritt is offline  

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