Free breakfast buffet features homemade granola and fresh fruits
Free Wi-Fi and self-parking
Rates are pricey compared to similar properties
Hilly grounds (electric carts are available for transport)
Not all rooms have ocean views
Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort is a four-pearl hotel located on the outskirts of Manuel Antonio National Park. This remarkable location is combined with impressive eco-conscious practices and upscale amenities. It’s almost impossible not to spot exotic wildlife while dining at one of the resort’s restaurants or lounging by the pools. Not only is it one of the few hotels in the area located on the beach, it has access to two different beaches. The resort’s 38 guest rooms are subtly stylish, offering minibars stocked with generous supplies of Costa Rican treats. For a more luxurious stay, travelers might want to check out Los Altos Beach Resort, which offers huge three-bedroom condos, but the beach is rocky.
High-end resort with progressive environmental practices and fantastic wildlife-viewing
Arenas del Mar is the first upscale hotel in Costa Rica to be awarded five (out of five) leaves in the Sustainable Tourism Certification program. This carbon neutral property is among the country’s finest examples of sustainable tourism. The resort was built around the existing rainforest, with few trees felled to make way for its construction. Water heated through solar panels, pool water cleaned by a chlorine-free ionization system, and energy efficient lighting throughout are some of the its eco-friendly initiatives. The resort’s minimal environmental impact comes with the added bonus of preserving the area as a habitat for wildlife. White-faced monkeys scamper across rooftops, sloths laze in trees, iguanas scurry around the pools, and hundreds of bird species can be seen flying through the trees. A network of trails wind through the surrounding forests, offering additional opportunities to see local wildlife.
The resort is almost symmetrically split into two areas: The high point of the property includes one of two restaurants, the spa, a swimming pool, and some guest room buildings. It overlooks Playa Espadilla beach, which can be reached via a tree-lined pathway. The lower part of the property includes access to a second beach, as well as a smaller pool, a restaurant, and additional guest rooms. The steep grounds are difficult to explore on foot, but electric golf carts are available to shuttle guests around the resort. The clientele is composed mainly of mature couples and families, drawn by either the romantic atmosphere or the great children’s menus and kid-friendly tour options.
An 11-acre property on the edge of Manual Antonio National Park
Set down a partially paved road lined with vegetation, the hotel's secluded location fits with its image as a hideaway nestled amid natural surroundings. There are no restaurants or other conveniences within walking distance. The nearest town is Quepos, which is a 15-minute drive away. Manuel Antonio National Park can be accessed by walking along Playa Espadilla, or it’s a 15-minute drive to the park’s main entrance. Home to mangroves, tropical forests, and a lagoon, the park’s trails offer the chance to spot monkeys, iguanas, diverse bird life, and three-toed sloths. Jaco’s buzzing nightlife scene is around an hour’s drive away, while San Jose and Juan Santamaria International Airport can be reached in just under three hours.
Attractive guest rooms with minibars filled with free local snacks, and many feature wraparound decks
Guest rooms at Arenas del Mar are chic and minimalist, decorated with colonial-style tile flooring, muted color palettes, and attractive wooden furniture. Many have distinctive artwork by Costa Rican artists. Soft king-size beds have 400-thread count organic cotton linens. All rooms include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, as well as free local and international calls. Coffeemakers are stocked with organic coffee and minibars overflow with free snacks. Bathrooms don’t scrimp on space, featuring green accent tiles and huge, wood-framed mirrors. Overhead showers have glass-block detailing that illuminates the showers with natural light. Bathrobes are provided, along with the resort’s own brand of organic soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion.
Ocean View and Ocean Breeze Rooms have covered decks with outdoor kitchenettes and seating areas. Kitchenettes have sinks, kettles, as well as different types of mugs and glasses. As the name suggests, Ocean View Rooms feature full or partial ocean views, while Ocean Breeze Rooms overlook the property’s lush rainforest. Suites add separate living areas with sofa beds, kitchenettes with dining tables, and covered decks with mosaic-tiled hot tubs. All Ocean View Suites and some Ocean Breeze Suites have two bathrooms with showers.
Two splendid beaches, two picturesque pools, and two excellent restaurants
Arenas del Mar offers access to two serene beaches, with beach chairs available at both. Drink service is provided at Playitas Beach, where palm trees extend onto the sands and provide ample natural shade. Playitas Beach is suitable for swimming at low tide. Playa Espadilla is accessed via a short walk through a jungle path. Ideal for surfing, bird-watching, and walking, this wide, mile-long beach stretches into Manuel Antonio National Park.
The hotel’s lagoon-shaped upper pool is set on a concrete deck with spectacular views over Playa Espadilla. The pool is surrounded by graceful wooden loungers with soft beige cushions, along with matching wooden tables with beach umbrellas. The similarly sized lower pool is set close to Playitas Beach. It’s bordered by a concrete and wood deck, with a mix of rattan chairs and armchairs offering seating.
The hotel’s main restaurant, El Mirador, has walls of windows framing wonderful views of the jungle and Playa Espadilla. Free breakfast is served here in the morning, offering freshly baked pastries and breads, along with fruits, eggs, and pancakes. The lunch and dinner menus focus on locally caught seafood, plus a great selection of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes. Playitas Restaurant and Bar is more casual with its thatched roof and bench-style tables and chairs. It serves lighter fare, such as salads, pizzas, and sandwiches. Both restaurants emphasize the use of local, organic food, including hormone-free chicken and grass-fed beef. Room service is available during limited hours. Full board packages are available, which include lunch at Playitas Restaurant and dinner at El Mirador.
Massages and organic treatments are offered at Las Brisas Wellness Center, where many rooms have spectacular ocean views from floor-to-ceiling windows. Two free activities are available for guests: tortilla-making classes and “Easy Being Green,” which teaches guests about the hotel’s eco-friendly practices. A variety of paid tours are also offered, ranging from birdwatching and hiking to snorkeling and canoeing. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout, and free self-parking on-site.
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