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The Springs Resort and Spa at Arenal 4.5

La Fortuna/Arenal, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Rustic-luxe rooms, all with Arenal volcano views and satellite TVs with DVD players (hotel has a 400-DVD library)
  • Five restaurants and five bars, including a fine dining option with volcano views
  • Wildlife sanctuary with 22 different animals where guests can get in the cage with toucans and sloths
  • 18 hot springs pools, some surrounded by rainforest
  • Breakfast included
  • Stables with horses to rent for day or night rides, as well as bike rental
  • Outdoor center with rock-climbing wall, plus whitewater rafting on the hotel's stretch of the class-3 Arenal River
  • Private helicopter landing area (sometimes used by celebrity guests)
  • Babysitting service and a game room for kids that's watched over by a staff member
  • Two- or three-night stays get credit toward the spa or a Club Rio wilderness activity
  • The highest-end suites come with their own golf carts for guests' use
  • Has 28 pools and hot springs, some of which come with waterslides for the kids
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the property

Cons

  • Not easily accessible (at least without a helicopter)
  • Hot springs can stain swimwear orange (from the iron in the water)
  • Steep climb up to the hotel from Club Rio outdoor center (though there's a shuttle)

Bottom Line

A posh wonderland for affluent Americans and their kids, the 47-room luxury resort The Springs is 165 acres of seemingly endless pools and hot springs, restaurants, and activities -- all hidden on a volcano-facing slope seemingly in the middle of nowhere. (Expect a long, bumpy ride to and from the hotel that will dissuade you from day trips off the property). The Club Rio outdoor center allows guests to experience everything from river tubing to horseback riding right on-site. Rooms range from standard hotel rooms with good views of the volcano to entire villas modeled after Swiss ski chalets. Though the nearest notable property is the vastly different (and quirky) Leaves and Lizards, The Springs' main luxury competition comes from the smaller Nayara resorts. The Springs, however, gets to brag that it hosted Jay-Z and Beyonce during a much-publicized couples getaway -- not to mention an episode of "The Bachelor."

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Scene

A Costa Rican wonderland of endless pools and hot springs for affluent Americans and their kids -- all under the watchful gaze of the volcano.

The whole hotel -- centered around a grand, multi-storied lodge that's home to the lobby and most of the restaurants and pools -- is bustling with mostly American, obviously affluent families. Guests can be found eating in one of the five restaurants (the formal dining Las Ventanas has dramatically sloped windows that look out on the volcano), splashing around in the pools or waterslides (the owner swiped the idea for the faux-wood concrete handrails from Disney World), or giddily floating down the Arenal River on an inner tube (and taping the whole thing on GoPros). Kids are everywhere, bellying up to the sushi bar with or without mom and dad, playing FIFA 2014 on the PS4s in the game room (no parents in sight), or trying pool after pool and hot spring after hot spring. Sure, there's a lot of conspicuous consumption going on, but everyone seems like they're having a hell of a good time.

The Springs is one of the top luxury options in the area, but its vibe is dramatically different than the quieter, more romantic Nayara Hotel and Nayara Springs resorts. Rather, this is the spot for adventure-loving, well-heeled families, and the Club Rio outdoor center offers just about every possible activity right on the premises, from river tubing to horseback riding. (Note that the outdoor center is on the river, a steep climb down from the hotel, but regular shuttle service is offered.) Couples can still find their niche here too, evidenced by the fact that this resort hosted an episode of the Bachelor, as well as celebrities Beyonce and Jay-Z. 

Location

The Springs is not conveniently located coming from anywhere, and generally involves a 3.5-kilometer roller coaster ride over bad roads (or a helicopter ride).

Map of The Springs Resort and Spa at Arenal

This isn't a hotel to do a quick overnighter in -- it's not easy to get to from anywhere. You get to the hotel by driving 20 minutes out of La Fortuna, past the stretches of thermal springs and spa resorts, then hanging a right. The next phase of the journey involves tricky slopes, beautiful vistas of cattle pastures and mountains, and a mostly miserable 3.5 kilometers of what's more pothole than gravel road. The 165-acre hotel itself is secluded, and has only farms, river, and rainforest as neighbors. Thankfully, the hotel gives you plenty of excuses never to leave the property. If you're a celebrity or just very wealthy, this is when you break out the private chopper -- the hotel has its own helipad.

Rooms

Rustic-luxe rooms, all with good views of the volcano

The hotel has 47 rooms in 14 different room types, and all have rustic-luxe style incorporating lots of wood and natural materials: wood floors, wood ceilings, and bamboo and whicker accents. Every single room has a big, furnished outdoor space with volcano views. Amenities across all categories include large marble bathrooms with separate jetted tubs and walk-in showers; mini-fridges; and coffeemakers. Tech features include big 37-inch flat-screen TVs with DVD players (guests get free access to the hotel's 400-DVD library), and surround sound systems with MP3 connectivity. 

This hotel draws lots of families, and even the standard Visa Guest Room can accommodate a rollaway bed -- though note there are nightly extra person fees. Those who would prefer to enjoy a private hot tub outdoors (rather than in the bathroom) should upgrade to the Honeymoon Vista Room. There are multiple options that can accommodate large families and groups, including the Three-Bedroom Springs Suite (technically two adjoining rooms that are always rented out together), and the Falcon's Nest (which received its first guests at the end of 2014). The Falcon's Nest comes with its own kitchen, a rare hotel living room that you actually want to hang out in, peaked-ceiling loft bedrooms that bring to mind Alpine ski cabins, and a private hot tub on a large patio

Features

The Club Rio outdoor center has every feature under the sun, from river tubing to horseback riding. 

The hotel is a parent's dream, giving kids plenty to keep busy while simultaneously giving mom and dad excuses to run off for a spa day or couple's night without feeling guilty (there are babysitting service and a staff-managed game room). Features include five restaurants (two international, one high-end, a grill, and a sushi joint) and five bars, allowing for plenty of variety (an important consideration, as nothing is in easy driving distance). There are also a big main pool with a swim-up bar and volcano view, a darts area, and men's and women's spas

The crown jewel is the large Club Rio area down by the river, which includes a rock-climbing wall, rafting and inner-tubing, horse stables, a wildlife sanctuary with 22 different kinds of animals (you can get in the cages with the sloths and toucans), and several rainforest trails that lead to hot springs and waterfalls. The springs are of course one of the main draws, and there are 18 hot springs pools ranging from 83 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. The Club Rio area is a decent, and steep, walk from the hotel, so some may prefer to take the free, regular shuttle. 

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Address

9 Km Oeste y km 4 Norte del centro de la Fortuna, Province of Alajuela 21007, Costa Rica

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