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aborak Aug 17th, 2004 07:23 PM

Need Help Please

I am planning my first trip to Costa Rica this winter with my wife. Here is my current itinerary:

Days 1-3 Peace Lodge
Days 4-5 ????
Days 6-9 Makanda By The Sea

I have to do these hotels in these spots, b/c of rigid travel dates and limited availability. I have two nights to fill in between them, what area do you think I visit and where should I stay? I would love to be able to drive to this location from Peace Lodge and then drive to Makanda (Quepos) afterwards as well. Would love suggestions, thanks!!

sclubb Aug 17th, 2004 08:10 PM

I'd recommend Arenal - it is about 2 hours (2 1/2 max) from Peace Lodge - which by the way, is absolutely wonderful! While you are there, you may want to drive north to Hacienda Pozo Azul for a canopy tour & rafting. PL can help with suggestions & call ahead to inform them of your arrival. We stayed at Arenal Paraiso - which gets great reviews on this board, but I was not thrilled with the place. The grounds are lovely, but the rooms are very basic & a bit of a let down especially after Peace Lodge. Maybe you could try Tabacon if you want to pay the money for a volcano view suite. Have a great time!

shillmac Aug 17th, 2004 08:32 PM

Two suggestions:

1. As Sclubb mentioned--Arenal. Definitely a good choice always. We thought Arenal Paraiso was a nice hotel with very pretty grounds and a view of the volcano that is hard to beat. No complaints regarding the rooms, although they were not deluxe by any means. An advantage to staying at Tabacon would be the admission included to the hot springs. From Arenal to Manuel Antonio your drive would be about 6 hours--I think this time would include a brief stop for lunch and the customary stop at Rio Tarcoles to look at the crocodiles!

IF you want to get away from the mainstream and be in an area that is entirely Costa Rican in flavor, drive about 2 hours south of Peace Lodge to La Finca Que Ama, a small hotel overlooking a canyon between Puriscal and San Pablo de Turribares. You won't see a lot of tourist in this area! There is a road that heads south right by the airport. You just cross the Interamerican highway at the stoplight intersection by the Hampton Inn, and you've found the road! Check out their website. Delightful place. Great room amenities and excellent food. Another good thing about La Finca Que Ama is that from there, you are only about 3 hours from Manuel Antonio as opposed to driving 6 hours from Arenal. This is a great way to break up your travel times. You would still stop at Rio Tarcoles, of course! :)

You would be happy with both options, I believe. You'll see a lot of tourists around Arenal, but there is a reason it is so popular! It IS a must see in Costa Rica! If a couple of days of peace and quiet, no crowds, off the beaten path sound good to you, definitely try La Finca Que Ama! You could use a day to go to the new Turubari Nature Park just 45 minutes away. Different experience altogether--it's always nice to have options that fit into what you want out of your vacation!

aborak Aug 18th, 2004 12:49 PM

thanks for the replies. I am going during the holidays so I'm sure Tabcon is all booked. Any other recommendations in the Arenal area for a top notch place to stay? Also, what is there to do at Peace Lodge and it's surrounding area that is different from the Arenal area?

sclubb Aug 18th, 2004 02:50 PM

The area around PL is not crowded at all - and in Arenal - it is very crowded with lots of tourists - however there is obviously a reason for that too. The canopy tour near PL is better (supposedly) than the ones around Arenal. You can drive to Poas & see a different type of volcano (if you're lucky). You can sit on your balcony (in the hot tub) and listen to the quiet. You are closer (I think) to rafting than in Arenal. You are also closer to touring a coffee plantation. Lots of options. Both are great areas. Have fun!

Leslee Aug 19th, 2004 06:48 AM

Hi aborak
Shillmac seems to have a good suggestion although I'm not familiar with Finca Que Ama.
My husband and I went to CR last year and I am one of the few (nervous to write this) that didn't care for Tabacon. It felt like Disneyland (no offense to D'land) with a cattle-call mentality. We were unable to see the volcano due to fog (not unexpected though).
Here's a possible suggestion... we decided to drive from Arenal around the lake. We found a cool place called La Mansion Inn in a beautiful setting with many well-cared-for horses. Horses are a big draw for me -and you can ride them basically anytime. You can drive from there to Arenal (~1 hour maybe).
We had a few drinks outside and their manager was a great guy who showed us around the property. We would have moved from Tabacon, but we were leaving the next morning.
FYI we also stayed at Makanda and liked it very much. We paid for a deluxe (Villa 5), but don't know that it was necessary. The non-deluxe seem nice enough. Makanda had a "resident" sloth that lived in a tree near the pool.
We loved CR - hope you do too.

Leslee Aug 23rd, 2004 02:23 PM

Hi again,
I may have sent "bad" info.
I wrote about La Mansion Inn on Laguna de Arenal; however, couldn't find it on the web afterwards. I found LMI in Manuel Antonio but that is not the place I was referring to - oops. Maybe I wrote the name wrong, maybe the name has changed... don't know what happened but wanted to try to clear this up.

RufusTFirefly Aug 23rd, 2004 02:48 PM

We thought our cottage at Arenal Paraiso was very comfortable. And the bathroom was very nice. Tile floors, good bed, clean, plumbing that worked, air conditioning, great view of the volcano. What else do you need?

Kwoo Aug 23rd, 2004 03:07 PM

We just returned from CR & also stayed at Arenal Paraiso & was very happy with it. We had the deluxe bungalow. Grounds were lush, breakfast buffet was delicious & varied, loved the swim-up bar, room was clean with air conditioning. Staff was pleasant & helpful. Hope this helps.

tully Aug 23rd, 2004 03:11 PM this the one you are referring to? It is the sister property to the one in M.A. :)

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