DOMINICAL, Costa Paraiso. 2012 review – mid-range – 3 out of 5.
Beautiful spot but unfriendly management. Rooms in need of cleaning.
DOMINICAL, Villas Alturas. 2012 review – mid-range – 4 ½ out of 5.
Beautiful spot, friendly service, great food. Only negative at time we went were some of the bedroom details (sheets, blinds) but we were assured they would be improved upon.
LA FORTUNA, Leaves and Lizards. 2012 review – mid-range – 3 out of 5.
This place more than a hotel – and we here for a whole week – so I’ll give it a longer review:
L&L is on a large property looking out towards the volcano. Very nice views. It is not a “hotel”; the large property has its own farm, stables for its horses, a central dining area, along with 8 villas well spaced out and private.
The villas are spacious – some reviewers have called them “rustic”. I think they are a step above that; very comfortable with most of the amenities that one needs in a somewhat remote villa (a small fridge, microwave, coffee machine, safe, wifi). They are definitely not romantic, but they are comfortable and we enjoyed the room. Each volcano has a spacious outdoor seating area looking out over the volcano. The nightly rate is $150.
Dining. Food and beverages not included in the above rate. There are set times for meals; breakfast from 7-9, dinner at 7pm. At dinner, all the tables are put next to each other into a community longtable. A good way to talk to people next to you if that is what you want (note that most of L&L’s customers are American and Canadian). Breakfast is a set meal, at dinner you have 3 eating options. Breakfast was our favorite meal, the dining area is a great place to watch the birds going to the birdfeeders.
Free activities: milking cows or picking up chicken’s eggs at 7 am, free hour-long hike at 6:15 am by an onsite guide. You can do some walks on some trails around the large property as well.
Leaves and Lizards offers to arrange many tours, many off site (like the ziplinning, hanging bridges etc). For these off site tours, you better have your own transport otherwise very expensive. For some, I’ve heard the rates are cheaper by booking directly. L&L also arranges a few on site tours including their own horse rides to a private waterfall. $75 per person which is reasonable and everyone who’s done it seemed to have loved it.
The above gives you a good general description of L&L. Overall, I think the owners try to appeal to families and I can see that if you have kids (and your own transport) that Leaves and Lizards might be a good value as well as being fun for the kids because of the farm and farm animals. Couples might not appreciate it as much and might not think that they get the same value for their money.
Particulars that we liked/didn’t like;
Food/dining • Dining area a good 5-10 minute walk from the villa along a rocky, hilly, pot-holed road in the dark. The rocks on the road are the size of baseballs. That got old real fast and honestly dinner was not worth it. Where’s Taco Bell when you need it? What they don’t tell you is that you can have it brought to you in your cabin – after one of the girls told us we ended up doing that 3 out of the 7 nights. We noticed most people seemed to drive to the dining area. • Breakfast was good. We were not impressed with dinners – food overall starchy, salty, a bit bland. A common theme is stuffing things into something else; Stuffed tomato, stuffed Chicken, etc…I wish restaurants in foreign places stuck to cooking local cuisine. • The ladies in the dining area are very nice, nicest Costa Ricans we’ve met on this trip. • I’ve mentioned this on a review of another place; A pet peeve is when you get nickel and dimed on the little things like beer, wine etc. In the other review I commended them for not doing that. At Leaves and Lizards you get nickel and dimed; $4 for a can of beer? $35 for a bottle of wine? I don’t like that.
Tours – Debbie was incredibly nice with us the first day, introducing Lissette to a horse and giving her horse lessons. Lissette still talks about it. Of course the hope was that we would sign up for the horse tour to the waterfall (which we almost did) – but she didn’t have to do that and it was extremely appreciated. L&L also seems to be involved in helping disabled local kids through a therapeutic horseback riding program and Debbie told us a few stories that were inspirational. Meeting the horses, seeing how they were cared for, and hearing about people’s rides to the waterfall was a learning experience. I really recommend doing the horse tour in support of their endeavors.
Having said that, Debbie is bit pushy to book you on a tour. We had mentioned in the beginning that we were thinking of getting a guide for a private hike on the volcano – at breakfast on our 3rd day she suddenly told us that we had a guide that day. We said no, we had never discussed specifics. The same happened to another couple, they found out first thing that morning that Debbie had booked them with a guide – they weren’t happy about it at all about it but went along with it. Our Proyecto Asis/Eco-Thermales tour really disappointed us. We ended up spending most of our time at L&L in the villa; reading and playing scrabble on our balcony while enjoying the view.
Overall, we give Leaves and Lizards a rating of 3 out of 5. As mentioned, if you had your own transport and came here as a family you would most likely appreciate this place much more than we did.
I tried linking the hotel’s website here but the site doesn’t seem to be up. My security software tells me there was an attempt to hack my computer from their site. Typical – everything that could be wrong with this hotel was.
Please note the manager’s response to my review. It is telling how he turns it around and questions why I would have also spent a night in the hotel next door, or how he says I should have known about the room and the amenities (thank you Mr. Manager for “refreshing my mind”). My review had nothing to do with the amenities and everything to do with how the amenities were crumbling around us (ie. shower head breaking off and hitting my wife, flooding in the bathroom, unplugged and empty mini bar). I won’t get into the service which I describe in detail on my review.
I go on Tripadvisor and see that most people seem to have enjoyed this hotel. Maybe I had a “unique” experience where every last little thing went wrong. I would just say that at Rio or New York prices I expect much more from a hotel. I would suggest however that the manager – instead of sending snarky replies to reviewers – instead get off his seat and fix the many deficiencies in his shitty hotel.
MANUEL ANTONIO, La Posada Jungle. 2011 review – mid-range – 4 ½ out of 5.
My review above basically covers it all – A small hotel where they just do everything right and at the right price (for Costa Rica). Enjoyable stay.
OROSI, Orosi Lodge. 2011 review – mid-range – 4 out of 5.
SANTA TERESA, Horizon Ocean View Hotel and Yoga Center. 2012 review – mid-range – 5 out of 5.
Horizon gets a perfect 5 out of 5 from me.
The hotel has about 10 villas and cabins spread out over a lush, green property. The cabins are modern, comfortable, and completely equipped. Each has a private balcony where you can sit and enjoy the sunset. I could stay there for that alone. The highlights of Horizon however are the yoga and the food.
Yoga: A beautiful yoga deck overlooking the coastline and wonderful yoga teachers. I was afraid to embarrass myself but each yoga teacher that we had over the course of 5 days was fabulously helpful and encouraging. Every morning at 9am we would go for yoga, the courses lasting 1 ½ hours. In the beginning I just wanted to survive but after the first class I actually started to enjoy it. It got the circulation going and I would feel great the rest of the day.
Food: The owners (Yoav and Gali) serve the most wonderful food in their lovely “Tea House”. It’s all vegetarian, which made me nervous when I booked this place. But everything was incredibly delicious and we always looked forward to our fruit shakes after our morning yoga.
The hotel attracts a very international crowd and while we were there we met Italians, Israelis, and some Swiss. The hotel has an ambiance that makes it easy to mingle with others. Maybe it’s because of the yoga. Many of the guests were repeat customers.
We actually wanted to prolong our stay because we enjoyed it so much. The only thing I would suggest to Yoav and Gali is that they don’t change anything.
UVITA, Oxygen Villas. 2011 review – expensive – 4 out of 5.
My review above basically covers it all.