Private trails in the rainforest for one- to two-hour hikes
Large gift shop
About a 45-minute drive from La Fortuna
Steep, dimly lit paths and roads; staff go everywhere by golf cart
Showers in Standard Rooms are too dark
Fitness center is sparsely equipped
This 42-room, upper-middle-range spa resort on the west side of the Arenal dam is a bit farther out from La Fortuna than most area hotels (about a 45-minute drive) but offers a stunning Bali-inspired spa building and large, well-appointed rooms overlooking the rainforest. The property also offers private trails in the rainforest as well as a pool and a big hot tub with swim-up bar -- but no hot springs (for those, consider the similarly priced Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa or the slightly pricier Tabacon).
A mountainside retreat that fuses aesthetic elements from Bali and Costa Rica, and caters mostly to American couples
The owner, who lives mostly in Florida, designed the resort to incorporate both woodwork and art from Bali and from the local area, making for a unique fusion of both cultures. The spa has a lofty, arching ceiling like you might see in an Indonesian house, while room details like headboards are carved by local artisans. Guests tend to be mostly American -- during our visit we saw mostly middle-aged American couples, who appreciated both the resort's colorful fauna and its creature comforts, and a trio or younger British men backpacking through the country.
Located just off the Arenal dam, the
Lost Iguana keeps clear of the tourist-hotel buildup closer
to La Fortuna and offers a spa-resort experience in a secluded, naturally beautiful setting.
Guests reach the hotel by crossing to the west side of the Arenal dam, hooking a sharp right, and then taking a series of steep, sometimes bumpy, winding roads up a slope on the side of a mountain. The hotel is made up of a series of terraced areas up the steep slope, carved into the mountain with rainforest trees all around, the dam to one side, and the volcano to the other. From San Jose, you're looking at a lengthy trip, maybe four hours or more if you go via La Fortuna, and about 40- to 50-minute drive from La Fortuna. Driving on past the dam, the scenery is all pretty, and you get majestic, sweeping views of the lake and the volcano. The distance from the nearest towns of Nuevo Arenal and La Fortuna mean your options for eating out, shopping, or the like will be limited. The hotel is, however, right by the beautiful scenery of the lake, and there are several hot springs that accept day visitors not far on the other side of the dam.
Rooms with tropical decor incorporating elements of Bali and Costa Rica, as well as beautiful rainforest views
The rooms allow guests to rest amid woodwork from both hemispheres, as artwork and carved pieces from Costa Rica live side by side with blankets and accents from Indonesia. Rooms look out over the trees and at the volcano (when it's visible), and come with AC, mini-fridges stocked with beer and soda, coffeemakers, and cable TVs. (The hotel restaurant delivers, too -- particularly useful since some rooms are a bit of a walk away.) Showers in the Standard Rooms can be a bit dark. All rooms have private patios with volcano views, but it's worth upgrading to a Luxury Suite or above for an outdoor hot tub.
A sign on seemingly every guest balcony asks visitors to pipe down at night so as not to offend neighbors, which seems to indicate that noise from adjacent rooms can be an issue; on our visit, however, the only noise was the constant hum of the rainforest, including tropical birds that apparently remembered that old adage about getting the worm. The grounds are dark at night, and the hotel provides flashlights. This is a true rainforest experience and some insects may find their way into the rooms.
A large spa area with fireplace-warmed massage bungalows, private rainforest trails, and a pavilion for weddings
The hotel takes pride in its spa area, which has a high-ceilinged, Bali-influenced main building, and massage bungalows that are warmed by fireplaces. There are also private rainforest trails that take one to two hours to hike, including one that leads to a hanging bridge, and a hedge maze (which seemed to need a little trimming on our visit). A pavilion at the top area of the property is rented out for weddings two or three times a year, according to staff. The owner's newest pride and joy, however, is the condo section -- people can buy a condo and, when they're not there, have the hotel maintain it and rent it out like one of the other hotel rooms.
There is an outdoor pool surrounded by lounge chairs and vegetation, with a big upper-level hot tub featuring a swim-up bar. There are late afternoon happy hour discounts. The attractive, open-air restaurant with vaulted wood ceilings and volcano views serves all three meals, and even delivers food to the guest rooms.
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