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Beautiful views and lush surroundings, but a steep climb
Sunset at the resort
Buena Vista Luxury Villas' killer combo of stunning, panoramic views and a solid beach is rare in Manuel Antonio, where few hotels have on-site beach access. But there's a tradeoff: It's the size of the property, and the steep incline, that make the combo possible. So to get to the pools, reception area, or beach from one of the bungalow-style villas dotting the grounds, you'll either have to be an excellent hiker or be prepared to wait a few minutes for the hotel van.
Although you can request pampering from the hotel-- in-room spa services, grocery shopping, catered meals -- it's not part of the standard experience. No fruity drinks and moist towels at check-in here. You won't even find staff in some of the public spaces: Both the pool bar and the main reception area were deserted during our stay, and we visited in high season. (A dinky reception area next to the security gate was being used instead of the lovely reception area by one of the pools.) Many guests are of the do-it-yourself camp, who want the option to cook and lots of space to spread out. For similar accommodations at a lower rate, the property also houses the more budget-friendly Tulemar Bungalows.
On Costa Rica's Central Pacific Coast, near Manuel Antonio National Park
Buena Vista Luxury Villas is located on Tulemar Beach, in Manuel Antonio and a few miles south of a slightly larger town, Quepos. The hotel's 33-acre grounds are dense with greenery and wildlife, and surrounded by lush rainforest. The entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park -- home to spectacular preserved rainforest, exotic wildlife, and several perfect white-sand beaches -- is a short drive away.
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, and one of the most popular with tourists. Its lush forests are full of howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, sloths, toucans parrots, and more, and line gorgeous stretches of perfect white sand. (Namely: Playa Espadilla Sur, an uncrowded beach that occasionally has rough surf; Playa Manuel Antonio, the park's most popular beach, with tidal pools and good snorkeling; and Playa Puerto Escondido, which has a blowhole in the rocks that shoots up water at high tide.) Just about every sort of outdoor activity is available in or near Manuel Antonio: hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, water sports, boating, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, canopy safaris...the list goes on.
- 3-hour drive from San Jose (about $5 on a local bus; $40 using a shuttle service such as Gray Line, Interbus, or EasyRide; $120 for a taxi; or $170 for a private shuttle)
- 15-minute walk to the on-site Tulemar Beach, or a short drive in the hotel van
- 5-minute drive to Quepos
- 5-minute drive to Playa Playitas, a small, clothing-optional white-sand beach (although we didn't note any nudity when we visited)
- 5-minute drive to Playa Espadilla, a long, active beach outside of the park stretching most of the distance between Punta Quepos and Cathedral Point
- 10-minute drive to Manuel Antonio National Park entrance
- 1-hour drive to Jaco, a party-friendly beach town to the north
- 1-hour drive to Playa Uvita, a stunning beach to the south located in Marina Bellena National Park, where you can watch humpback whales between December and April
- 1-hour drive to Jaco, a party-friendly beach town to the north
- 4-hour drive to Corcovado National Park, one of the country's best --and most remote --National Parks, with untouched beaches and diverse wildlife
- 5-hour drive to La Fortuna/Arenal
Located in the bungalow-style villas that dot the property, with comfortable beds, casual, contemporary decor (think wood, wicker, and bold color accents), and great views
The bedroom of a Bungalow
All rooms include:
All Premium Villas include:
- Beautiful full kitchen with a stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, equipped with dishes and cooking utensils
- 450-square-foot wraparound terrace with panoramic views, a hot tub, a dining table that seats six and a casual seating area for four
- Large living room and a nook with a lounge bed that can be used for extra sleeping capacity
- Outdoor stone showers with rain showerheads
- 500-thread-count sheets
- TV and DVD player in every bedroom
- Air conditioning and ceiling fans
- Junior Suite: 300 square feet; one king or two queen beds; terrace with chairs and a hammock; indoor table that seats two; small kitchenette; travertine counters and tile in the bathroom; walk-in shower; jungle view or partial ocean views
- Bungalow: 645 square feet; two queen beds and a pull-out sofa in the living room; kitchenette with two electric burners; shower/tub combo; TV in the master bedroom; no terrace
- One-Bedroom Select Villa: 1,100 square feet; one king or two queen beds; travertine countertop in the bathroom; walk-in shower with rain showerhead; large terrace with a table that seats four, a large cushioned lounge bed, a small electric grill, and a hammock; big kitchenette with granite countertops; two electric burners, a spice rack, and a toaster oven; full ocean and jungle views
- Two-Bedroom Premium Villa: 2,400 square feet; two bedrooms, one with two queen beds, the other with either one king bed or two queen beds; 2.5 bathrooms, two stories
- Three-Bedroom Premium Villa: 2,900 square feet; three bedrooms, two with two queen beds each and one with a king bed; 3.5 bathrooms, three stories
Kayaks are available at the beach
- Front desk is staffed during the day, and the security gate is staffed 24/7
- Four swimming pools: One at the Luxury Villas reception area, two with infinity edges and ocean views (one popular, one that looked abandoned); and a small kidney-shaped pool with a waterfall
- Pool bar at the kidney-shaped "family pool", but it was unstaffed and deserted during our stay
- No spa on site, but in-room spa treatments are available from Spa UNO
- Beautiful Tulemar Beach is on site, but the sand is littered with small rocks. It's still a quality beach, but it's not as nice as the one at Arenas del Mar.
- Beach attendant who will help set up your lounge chair and umbrella, serve food and beverages, rent free kayaks, boogie boards, and life vests, and request the hotel van to come pick you up when you're ready to go
- Hotel courtesy van available from morning until late evening; if you need to get around the property earlier or later than that, you'll have to hike.
A beach cafe that serves breakfast and lunch
- Tulemar Beach Cafe: Serves breakfast and lunch provided by the hotel's nearby restaurant partner, Victoria's. Cocktails are also available.
- Room service from the nearby Italian restaurant, Victoria's.
- Catered meals available from La Cocina Catering Service
There's a lot to like about Buena Vista Luxury villas: The beautiful, sprawling 33-acre grounds, a great on-site beach and beach bar, and big rooms. But the steep property is difficult to walk around, so you have to wait for the hotel van to take you just about anywhere. And though the staff is exceptionally friendly and helpful, don't expect to get pampered without asking for it.
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Things You Should Know About Buena Vista Luxury Villas
- Tulemar Beach, Manuel Antonio, CR
- 1 Bedroom Select Villa
- 2 Bedroom Premium Villa
- 3 Bedroom Premium Villa
- Junior Suite