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Where to stop to break up the trip from Arenal to MA?

Where to stop to break up the trip from Arenal to MA?

Sep 9th, 2004, 05:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,220
Where to stop to break up the trip from Arenal to MA?

We'll be having a driver to transfer us from place to place for our first Costa Rica trip. Still, we don't enjoy long days in the car. We'd thought to stop at Villa Caletas for 2 nights on our way to Makanda (for 3 nights)-- thought that would be a good way to shorten the trip and also allow us to conveniently do the Tarcoles boat tour. BUT: The person who's booking our accommodations is having a difficult time with Caletas (i.e. Caletas is being "difficult"), and she says she's never been particularly happy with that hotel. It sounds as if the views are simply wonderful, but I agree that it's not worth it (esp. at those quite high rates) if the hotel itself has an "attitude" problem. Can anyone suggest another place to stop for 2 nights? Villa Lapas is in the same area, but I'm afraid it'd be too "downscale" for what we're looking for. We don't need extreme luxury (which I hear doesn't exist in CR anyway), but we would like as excellent accommodations as we can find. We've done the camping and hosteling thing plenty in our early years and much enjoyed it-- but don't anymore. Many thanks.
poss is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 16
Hello Poss,

One of the problems of Costa Rica is that some (may be a lot) drivers or cabdrivers only like to take you to an hotel where they get the biggest tip. We have a few cabins and all the cabdrivers of the main airport explain to our guests that they know a better hotel/cabin than ours.
They charge $ 20,- to our place and they ask us another $ 20,- tip, so we don't pay tips and we never see any taxi.
About the rates in Costa Rica the following: you can find decent rooms from $ 30,- and above. Sometimes you get a really good room for $ 50,- or even less and at other places you need to pay double the price for not even the same quality.
The only problem is you do need to know the country yourself and as we explained before the cabdrivers like to take you to places where they get the biggest tip.
Have a nice time in Costa Rica!!
elcolibri is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 562
Have never heard of anyone else having a "difficult time". It can happen I suppose. It would break up the trip and is a very nice place. One other option in that area is the Marriot Los Suenos. You might want to think about contacting them (VC) yourself just to see how they respond to you. This is your trip and if that is where you want to stay, go for it! Different tour operators get different deals on the hotels. Yours is probably pushing for the one that gives her the best.
You are correct about Villa Lapas being more down scale. A pretty setting but a little run down when we were there.
Jessie_ is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 08:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 125
I visited both Villa Caletas and Los Sueños on a site inspection visit about 6 weeks ago... Caletas is very nice with super views and they were friendly enough with us showing us around - I have found that some of these smaller properties don't like to deal through travel agents and tour operators - call them directly yourselves.
Los Sueños is a very nice property but it is a lot bigger and more "resorty" than Caletas - they are only 10 minutes from each other. Either would make a nice stop over.
Hope this helps,
AndrewGW is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 19

Another nice option is to stay at La Finca que Ama for a night or two, located about 1.5 hours from Manuel Antonio. It's pretty new, so not many people have been there, but gets great reviews on this board. Neta and Arbel are the owners, and the hotel is lovely! The food is amazing as well! http://www.costaricafinca.com/index1.htm

Good luck!
rominacr is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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Thanks to all who replied. I tried to call up the Finca que Ama website, but couldn't get it because it required a special kind of software that my computer doesn't have. Does anyone know any other way to call up info on "Neta's Place"? Also: would it really be a direct trip on the way from Arenal to MA? (as Caletas would) (What I'm trying to do is break up that long ride-- not add to it by going out of the way.) Thanks!
poss is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 12:15 PM
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I loved Villas Caletas. But would only recommend it for one night as there is essentially no beach (rocky, small) and not much else to do except enjoy the view or drive to Jaco or Los Suenos. They have a great restaurant but shy away from the steaks as they are not up to US Angus standards and are expensive. But bottom line, Villas Caletas is one of the finest lodgings in CR if you get a nice unit. go there and choose your own. I like the units that are just removed from the main, just downhill 400 mtrs. Wish i could remember the number...#19??
Sep 9th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Toucan-- Thanks for your reply. The reason we'd thought to do 2 nights at Caletas is that we figured the first afternoon we'd get there and just enjoy the place after the drive from Arenal. Then the next day, we thought we'd do a boat "tour" of the Tarcoles River-- and then come back and just hang out in the handsome scenery for the rest of that day (are there no trails or anything like that at Caletas? no place to hike or take a little walk?); and on to MA the next morning (or to Rainmaker and then on to MA). I don't see any mention of any Tarcoles outing on these websites; I wonder if it's worth doing. If not, maybe I should just skip Caletas altogether and put up with the long haul from Arenal all the way to MA (Makanda). A big problem for us at Caletas is that only 1 unit has a king bed-- and we can't sleep in a queen. We had very much been looking forward to staying at a place that's supposed to be so beautiful, but maybe it's not worth doing after all? I know, for instance, that I don't want to stay at the Marriott, especially since the beach isn't anything and we're not golfers. I wish I knew more about that Finca que Ama place (other than from the Fodor's Neta Booster's Club)-- but I suspect that place is out of the way anyway. Maybe what I should do is just add a 3rd day to Arenal and a 4th to Makanda (tho I don't think we really need that extra time in those places-- esp. as we won't have our own transportation)
poss is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 01:10 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 298
I think you'll be missing out if you skip Villa Caletas. We absolutely loved it...all of it...the room, grounds, pool and restaurants. As with the other posters, I can't fathom the "difficulty" factor. All the staff were exceptionally polite and professional when we visited. The Marriott is a good option however, IMHO it felt "too cookie cutter" Marriott. A bit too standard-American feeling but a lovely upscale resort just the same. (Only my opinion.) Costa Rica is currently banning USDA beef (mad cow)... might be the reason the previous poster was displeased with their steak. There is rumor the ban will be lifted soon but no definite date that I'm aware. Possibly by the time you travel to CR? Pls feel free to report or email if you have any further questions. Safe travels!

Lisa in Manuel Antonio
Latitude9Lisa is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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If your driver takes you through Orotina (easily done) on the way to MA, Neta's place (La Finca Que Ama) is only about 20 minutes out of the way.
It would be worth your time. Nice rooms, amenities, good company, good food.
shillmac is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 293
Hi, we stayed at "Neta's". There is a queen-size bed with a separate sitting area (TV.DVD,Mini fridge,coffee maker).They can put a double bed into the sitting area. There is a jacuzzi tub and gourmet meals. Breakfast is included. The web-site is www.costaricafinca.com...they have a nice brochure; maybe you could e-mail them and they can send it to you: [email protected]. The views are lovely. I think my son posted some pictures. Good luck! Joyce
trevorjoyce is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 05:32 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 29
Please post a trip report and let us know what you think of Makanda when you get back. I'm anxious to hear something as we will are planning on staying there as well (as in, is it worth the $$$)!
Lauralis is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 390
I think you should go straight to MA. My family and I did it and the drive was long but we stopped along the way.(Tarcoles bridge for example)I think the private drivers stop along the way and let you eat lunch or sightsee.
koa is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 08:46 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 562
If you did want to stay at Villa Caletas you could easily go to Carara reserve to go hiking. The trails are in good condition and there are lots of things to see. We saw a peccary (phew...smelled it first), lots of macaws, howler monkeys, beautiful birds too numerous to mention here, a beautiful black and white rat snake, crocs.
Jessie_ is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 06:11 AM
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Posts: 2,220
Thanks again to everyone.
Jessie: Did you do Rainmaker and/or Tarcoles as well as Carara? I'd been trying to choose among those 3 and decided to omit Carara; maybe I should reconsider. I wish I could get info abt that Tarcoles boat tour (and more abt Rainmaker also)
Toucan: No way we can go to Caletas and choose our unit. That would be great-- but they're pretty well booked for our time (mid-Jan)
Trevorjoyce: We need a king bed (or 2 beds pushed together). Thanks for the Neta info (and all your other very useful postings). Sorry Finca won't do for us: sounds like a good place.
Lauralis: I absolutely will post when we're back-- tho that won't be until January.
I'd be interested in hearing from folks who've done any of the boat activities in the MA area-- kayaking, etc. Where we live in Florida (if it's still there at the end of this season-- we're up on the Chesapeake Bay now)has so much of the mangrove type thing that I'm not sure it'd be all that different from what we're used to.
Again-- many thanks!
P.S. Shillmac: How is it that you're so "connected with" CR?? You sure are helpful in any number of ways. (and I'm not convinced that you're not Neta-- tho I don't care if you are...)
poss is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 09:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,211
Let me put to rest any thoughts that I am Neta! I have met Neta, and consider her a friend! She is only 27 or 28, cute as a bug, and very thin. . .so thanks for the compliment! My husband and I are both in our fifties (early!), and we have been to La Finca twice. Neta is very dear to us because she invited our daughter to spend a weekend with her and Arbel while she was in Costa Rica for 8 weeks this past summer studying Spanish. Jamie was there as their houseguest. This is the kind of person Neta is. . .very giving and kind and helpful.

To pretend to be someone other than the person you are is a bit dishonest, and that isn't my style. I hope there is no one on this board who does that-- for whatever purpose.

My husband and I (and our family at times) have been visiting Costa Rica for 3 years. We have been 8 times. Compared to many, I am just a novice. But from the moment we first arrived there, I fell in love with the country and the people and have read and studied a great deal as much information as I could get my hands on. We have our favorite places, but on each visit try to see a new part of the country. We have, by now, seen most of it with the exception of Monteverde and Tortuguero, which we hope to do next visit.
shillmac is offline  

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