I just returned from a two week trip with my wife and her brother. We spent the first week in La Fortuna and stayed at Hotel Dorothy, a quiet clean budget hotel on the edge of town, with a nice communal area great for meeting other travellers and includes a delicious full free breakfast every morning. Three years ago we stayed there and it was the perfect budget hotel and the owner, Noel, was amazing. Now things have changed for the worse...
Noel no longer runs the business and instead rents it out to the new manager, Nancy. She used to be the cleaning lady when we were there three years ago and her lack of professional management has sadly turned this once awesome budget hotel into a sour place to stay. To begin, Nancy would tell us that to take a taxi to a certain destination would be very far and very expensive and would be better off using one of her tour connections to save money, yet when we would go into town, the taxi drivers all quoted cheaper fares than what she told us. That was when our guard went up.
Also I should mention, Noel and a friend picked us up at the airport to drive us to the hotel (they charged $40 per person). On the way we stopped for a bite to eat and Noel and his friend both ordered two beers each. When it came time to pay, they took a step back and murmured something about giving us some beers back at their hotel. So we paid and when we got to the hotel suddenly they were nowhere in sight and returned late that night and made no mention of paying us back for the beers and it was a little awkward to bring it up so we let it be. I know that may sound like I’m making a big deal about this but we were on a shoe-string budget for this trip and four beers costing each $3 Canadian is $12, which for us is a one night stay at a budget hotel for one person. The point is that they expected us to pay for them like as if money was no object for us.
Anyways, back to Nancy... We told her we would like for her to arrange transportation from La Fortuna to Jaco through Interbus. The day before we had to leave, she told us that she made some calls and all the companies were full and that she would have Noel drive us for $40 per person, which is a little steep considering his car is a little tiny beat up piece of junk, with holes in the floor that let in the smell of exhaust and the wind-shield wipers don't work. (It was raining everyday while we were there.) So we said we would think about it. We went into town and found a tour company beside "La Parada Soda" who offered to take us for $30 per person and had a nice brand new van to take us in. Another example: a trip to the Baldi hot springs, she was charging $25 per person, yet if you go into town beside "La Parada Soda", they charged $18 per person. What I'm trying to say is: shop around town first before settling with Nancy, because 90% of the time she was not telling the truth.
Since I'm on a roll, I should also mention that my wife's brother got eaten alive by bed bugs in his room for two nights and had to switch rooms (thankfully my room and other travellers we talked to did not have bed bugs so it may have been an isolated incident but I thought I should mention it). We told them about the problem and thankfully, they removed the mattress from the room and scrubbed the room down. Overall, it really is sad, we really enjoyed our stay when Noel was running things, but now things have really turned for the worse. To finish, I would also like to mention that when we were tallying up our bill at the end, she charged us $12 per person for accommodation, so we told her "But you quoted us $10 per person over email" and she just grumbled and made the correction.
So I'm hoping this helps anyone deciding where to stay. I'm not saying don't stay at Hotel Dorothy, I'm just saying it really isn't the same anymore and Nancy strikes me as an unexperienced 20 year-old who thinks everyone is just a bunch of dumb gringo's. She needs to learn to treat travellers with respect and give us a fair chance in a new country and not be so greedy so she could retire at the age of 30. Okay, I'm done. Hope this helps! : )