Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Foder's Travel Guide: Costa Rica

Now, it's already 9 PM and I'm just now starting this post... It's not smart, but if I don't do it now, I'll be doing this all day tomorrow at work instead of working. So without further dudes (Family Guy), here's my guide to Costa Rica hotels!

First of all, almost, if not all of the hotels I am skimming over are villa- or bungalow-style hotels with individual buildings for ultimate romanticism and privacy. This is not because I'm some sort of snob, but I had no idea these types of places existed and I had no idea there was so many of them in Costa Rica AND I had no idea they were so affordable... for real.

Here's a very helpful map of Costa Rica with all the important regions outlined:
This map is from a website for one of the hotels... can you tell which one? But anyway, the main areas I'm going to touch on (aka the ones where I found the best hotels) are Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Alajuela, with a few outliers in a couple other regions.

First, in Guanacaste, is the Hilton Papagayo. I know, a Hilton, but it's a Hilton with separate little buildings. I don't have any pictures since it looks exactly like every other Hilton, but here's a map!

I know this is a ridiculous and difficult to read map, but it's just to show all the different bungalows!

Also, this is the first Costa Rican resort I'd found so far that's all-inclusive, I didn't even know Costa Rica had all-inclusive resorts!

Next up is Capitan Suizo, little bungalows that have built in hot tubs!

Not so fancy but still private and isolated. I don't remember at this point... because I've been looking at soooo many, but I think this one was also well-priced. Once we narrow this down some, I'll do a more thorough analysis of price, amenities, etc...

Anyway, moving on, next is Hotel Punta Islita:

Also not particularly captivating, but with hammocks, hot tubs, nice porch, great ocean view, and a good price tag!

Moving right along, next is Anamaya Resort and Retreat Center:

This one has a great selection of casitas and cabinas, I love all the windows, the great views, and the outdoor hot tub. This is another well-priced place, but still not as fancy and boutique-y as some of the ones coming up.

Next up is another all-inclusive resort, Recreo:

I love how it's round. I love the floor to ceiling windows, I love the jacuzzi outside, and I love the bathroom. This place is really well-priced for all the inclusions.

Well, it's hard to believe but we're already done with Guanacaste! These are all a bit easier to get to because the Libera Airport is in Guanacaste, where as the San Jose airport is in, you guessed it, San Jose, in the middle of the country.

I'm going to move next to Puntarenas because it's the other Pacific coast region of Costa Rica. Puntarenas is home to our current favorite; Oxygen Jungle Villas!

*Sigh* Compared to all the others, it's just so much more luxurious. I guess the appeal is that as much as we like the jungle scenery, we aren't crocodile dundees, I need to know we're not roughing it, because I'm no toughy, if I see a spider in the room, I'm gonna' freak out... I know what you're thinking, maybe she shouldn't go to Costa Rica. Shut up, I'll be fine. I'm just trying to justify why I want to stay in a fancy boutique villa :)

Puntarenas has lots of other great hotels to offer, like Flor Blanca:

With outdoor hot tub and living room!

Red Palm Villas:

I think though that I've already eliminated this one because it's too expensive for what it is; even though it's really nice, it's not nice enough for the price.

This place however, is more than nice enough for it's really really great price; Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat:

Wow, was what I said when I first saw it. You can say wow too. Well-priced, outdoor hot tub, open air living room. One of my new favorites! HOWEVER, it turns out it's even harder to get to than Oxygen, or at least it takes a lot longer... based on initial observations. Jury's still out.

Lapa Rios is another all-inclusive:

Not the best one so far, but still, all-inclusive is great, and I love the open air aspect. Worth considering for now.

Next is my personal, but most indulgent (expensive) favorite; Rancho Pacifico:

I could keep going and going, this search would be over if not for the price, which is much higher than Oxygen :-( HOWEVER it's still not as high as the hotels in other parts of the world, like Hawaii. This retreat has everything that I loved about Oxygen but also with everything I wish Oxygen had, like infinity hot tubs! Didn't even know I wanted that! Well, for now, let's move on.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge:

Open air, nestled in the jungle... well-priced.

Buena Vista Luxury Villas:

Another great luxurious option. Not as special as Oxygen or Rancho Pacifico, but definitely fancy and new. This is another kind of expensive option.

Latitude 10:

Yet another great open air villa. Didn't get much info though on the website but another great, well-priced option!

Next up, (almost there) another fantastic hidden gem; Casa Chameleon:

Complete with open air living area and bedroom, and your very own infinity pool! Check it out, I can roll right out of that hammock into my own pool!

Finally, the last great gem in Puntarenas is Moana Lodge:

Another really, really well-priced option with a great hot tub and a nice openness, and a cool safari feel.

Well, I can't stop now, we're more than half way! Next is a single option on the Caribbean coast, in the Limon region, called Shawandha Lodge:

This is another example of the more restic resorts that make you feel like you're in a hut in the jungle. It's also very cheap but the bathroom's a bit kitchy though. But the island of Tortuga is off the coast... Maybe I'll be able to visit Jack Sparrow :D

We're now moving inland, I was surprised at how many great resorts were inland, most are in the middle of great nature reserves or at the base of active volcanoes! In the San Jose area (that would be really easy to get to...) there's Monte Azul:

This one's more minimalist because it's some sort of art retreat center. It doesn't have a lot of luxuries, but it's clean and new and inexpensive, just a cool option to consider.

The last region we're going to look at is Alajuela, which sounds cool to say. There are volcanoes jungles, lots of great scenery, but no beaches, which isn't a huge deal, but worth mentioning. First up is El Silencio Lodge:

Even though it's in the mountains, and there's no ocean views, it's still a really luxurious option with a lot of amenities for a great price! If we decide to stay inland, I think this is a front runner.

Next up is Tenorio Lodge:

This one I had to put up here because it's like the inland equivalent of Oxygen Jungle Villas. The only problem is that everyone shares the two jacuzzis... Yeah, pretty sure Kyle's not going to go for that, but like I said, it looks a lot like Oxygen Jungle Villas but with a volcano in the background!

I already showed you Arenal Nayara Hotel and Gardens:

Spectacular bathrooms, open air spas, and a hot tub on each villa porch. Warm and inviting and again, with a great view of the volcano, and a good price tag to boot.

Next up, Hotel Mountain Paradise:

Very cool looking bedrooms, but on the whole, there aren't many windows, it's not as open as the other resorts. It feels more like a hotel.

Lastly (!!) I've saved the most stereotypical treehouse resort for last; Hidden Canopy Treehouses Boutique Hotel:

Not as "new" or modern, but still really nice and romantic, great-priced little treehouses and they still have hot tubs! There's also the great sun roof and the floor to ceiling windows.

So, that post only took 4 hours, it's time for me to go to bed! My computer is crawling with all these pictures. I hope that it's not too much info for anyone, I mean, if you never intend to go to Costa Rica, just ignore it! If you have any advice though, or if you are planning on visiting Costa Rica, and you've made it this far, well then Thanks! I found all these hotels on TripAdvisor. And now Kyle and I can finally go through and narrow it down. I'll be back next with more details, prices, inclusions, travel details, etc...

Next up...: We. make. a. decision!!!!! Hopefully...

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