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“Hidden gem”
Review of Cristal Azul

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Cristal Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Cape Cod, MA
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Hidden gem”
Reviewed 10 December 2013

We just returned from a few weeks in Costa Rica, and our stay at Cristal Azul was the highlight of our trip. We had only booked two days at CA with plans to spend a few days with friends in Playa Junquillal on our way to the airport. We came within inches of cancelling our visit with friends to spend another couple days in Playa San Miguel because we hated to tear ourselves away.

Zene and Henner are the ultimate hosts. The B&B is an extremely plush oasis in a nicely remote and extremely beautiful part of Costa Rica. From our arrival to departure the service and attention to detail were exceptional. Thanks to both (and the kitchen staff) for such a great stay.

The property is beautiful, the views are breathtaking. The infinity pool sitting high over the Pacific is a spectacular place to watch a sunset after a day on the beach. Although not directly on the beach the walk down the mountain to the beach is great, and the beach itself is stunning. There's a great beach bar that serves up a really good ceviche and the beer is cold.

Oh yes, the food! The only complaint I have is that I think I put 5 pounds on while there for 2 days. When presented with the menu options in the morning for dinner that night we would just tell them to make one of each of the appetizers and entrees since we couldn't chose. Jamie and I would then proceed to eat our way through the night while talking with Henner who is a very engaging and entertaining host. The kitchen staff is incredible and we are going to return if for no other reason than to try the sushi.

Thanks again Zene and Henner for a wonderful experience. Thanks also for the Butterfly Farm recommendation, it was a really great way to spend the morning. Mike is an extremely knowledgeable and engaging entomologist and his farm is incredibly fascinating. We loaded up our luggage with honey.

See you next year.

Room Tip: Can't go wrong with any one of the cabinas although the one on the far end (not sure of the numb...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank rsoucy20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Brooklyn, New York
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
Reviewed 29 November 2013

Our honeymoon at Cristal Azul was absolute perfection. My husband had wanted a big resort, but I wanted more adventure without the hovering staff and endless other guests of a resort. The more research I did on Cristal Azul, the more ideal it sounded. We weren’t disappointed. It was just right—a mix of luxury, breathtaking views, delicious food, attentive personal service and adventure. It was easily the best vacation I’ve ever been on. The hotel is small (I believe it sleeps ten?) and we were lucky enough to be the only guests that week. It would be the perfect venue for a vacation with a group of friends or family. Getting there is a trek, but it was worth it. Playa San Miguel isn’t touristy at all, and it’s also not too remote—civilization is available, but you can avoid it if you want to. We were near so much we wanted to do—Mike’s Butterfly Jungle, the ARA Project (Scarlet Macaw sanctuary) at Hotel Punta Islita, the PRETOMA sea turtle conservation project (we released baby turtles!!), and a totally beautiful, basically empty beach. And of course, we did zip lining and checked out some local towns, but our little B&B on the hill of Playa San Miguel was our favorite spot. Zene and Henner are great; it was like staying with friends who want nothing more than for you to have a good time. We miss them! They helped us figure out our plans and set up our little trips; we felt so taken care of. The food by Marco and Chrisly was amazing and probably the best we ate during our trip. We rented a car, which I definitely recommend, it’s part of the fun to drive around on the unpaved roads (which weren’t in the best shape since rainy season was only just ending). There were some great restaurants nearby; we especially liked the Costa Rican owned/operated places. We didn’t get to eat at the highly recommended Tanga’s—one more reason we have to go back. Our cabina was lovely and very private, we enjoyed the huge windows overlooking the Pacific. Cristal Azul’s location on the hill is amazing. We woke up early most mornings so we could enjoy the bird calls and look for the monkeys hanging out in the trees. AC was available but we didn’t use it, the ceiling fan was enough. The rooms were cleaned daily. I should mention, people afraid of animals and bugs (geckos and frogs for example) might get freaked out (it’s kind of a jungle after all), but we expected much worse as far as bugs—they weren’t a problem at all. We were there the second week of November, and the weather was perfect: not overwhelmingly hot or sunny, not too rainy, and everything was lush. We asked Zene to let the dogs hang out with us, which was a treat—we love dogs but don’t have one. We wish we could spend every morning sitting by the infinity pool with a book and that incredible view, sipping one of Chrisly’s delicious smoothies, and not having a care in the world. We didn’t want our honeymoon to end and we definitely plan on coming back. Other reviews have called Cristal Azul “heaven” and I totally agree.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank JulieMlastname
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
mapleville
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 November 2013

My wife and I stayed at Cristal Azul for the second time in june of 2013. If you read my review of our December, 2012, visit you can understand why. We have spent a great deal of vacaton time in this wonderfully rural area of Costa Rican seaside. Therefore, we spent an additional few days at Cristal Azul, with Henner and Zene.
This will be my last review of Cristal Azul, because we have purchased property very close by, and Henner and Zene, are now our neighbors and friends forever. So, it would not be fair to post reviews with such predudice and bias in the future.
Our experience at Cristal Azul has been like returning to heaven one more time, and it always will be. Looking at the pictures tells only part of story. The atmosphere and the views, along with the accomodations and service at Cristal azul cannot be captured in pictures, you may not even believe it when you see and experience it with your own eyes.
Oh, yeah, all the othe wonderful reviews about staying at Cristal Azul are filled with truths.
Charlie

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank charles h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2 reviews
Reviewed 4 October 2013

Cristal Azul is one of those places that wakes up all 5 senses, even during the rainy season. Hosts Zene and Henner, and staff Crisly and Marco are genuine, caring and exceptional at making you feel right at home and at everything they do. The foods coming from the kitchen reflect generations of cooking and tradition, and Henner's recipe for hot sauce is like none other I have ever tasted. It takes over 3 days to prepare.The views from the cabinas or while hanging over the ledge of the infinity pool, are always changing. The tropical forested trail to the beach was a great bit of exercise and made even better with the company of Howler monkeys and a diverse range of butterflies. Cristal Azul is a place that you want to share with your best friends and family because it just feels like an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. I just left this morning and am already planning a return visit in late November. If you value authenticity, and especially when you travel, you will find it in this remote region of Costa Rica and at Cristal Azul.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Charlene W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego
1 review
Reviewed 16 September 2013

My husband and I enjoyed a perfect honeymoon at Cristal Azul, absolutely perfect. It surpassed our expectations on so many levels. To note: this was not my first trip to Costa Rica, I had spent a semester in college living with a host family and returned a few years later with friends but it was my husbands first visit. We spent a week in early March and still speak of the food, the adorable dogs, the empty beach, Henner’s hot sauce and napping in the hammocks almost daily. Having now experienced Cristal Azul I will start this review by saying that this place will always be a favorite of ours and one we will return to for sure, (easy access from NYC & reasonable fares) but it is not for everyone. Having traveled throughout the country before, I can say that this area is my absolute favorite and the only one I want to return to again.
It should go without saying that in order to enjoy the type of privacy and remoteness that Cristal Azul affords, you also have to trek yourself out there. It took us three hours to drive from the Liberia airport but we enjoyed it. Zene gave us excellent directions and suggestions on where to stop for gas, food and ATM. The last part was on dirt roads, which added to our adventure of traveling in Central America. The road up the Cristal Azul is steep and windy but oh so worth it! Once you arrive, Henner is quick to offer a cold beverage and all we could smell was the delicious aroma of dinner being prepared coming from the kitchen. We spent over an hour in the rancho talking with Henner & Zene taking in the views/chatting it up with other guests before we even made it to our “cabina”, which had even better views. (We left NY in the morning and by sunset we were in the pool with a cocktail in hand.)
I loved our “cabina” and would rent one yearly if I could. There were only four in total and all are far enough from the rancho for quiet sleep time but also close in proximity to each other. This did not affect nor bother us at all because we only used ours to sleep, shower and change. The rest of the time we were in the pool, the hammocks or on the beach. We could tell that each room was quite large and our bathroom had plenty of shelf space to allow us to “move in” for a few days. The furniture and décor was tropical, “beachy”, of good quality and classy too. Rooms were cleaned daily, beach and pool towels were provided, and the beds were soft yet firm, and comfy. The AC was very strong but we opted to sleep with the screen door and fan. By far the best thing about our cabina was our outdoor shower. You just have to experience taking one for yourself to appreciate it. Oh, and every morning there were monkeys eating mangos in the tree outside of our bathroom! How cool is that!
The “common area’ shared by the small amount guests the hotel can hold, is a huge “rancho” that looked out over a vanishing edge pool and patio with day beds and a covered table. Off to one side was a suspending deck with hammocks and a small table (we had breakfast here one morning) perfect place if you want some quiet time. The rancho had oodles of games, puzzles, good music they provide (you can play your own too if you like, there is an IPod hookup) and a beautiful pool table that comes with a great story involving a professional pool player/past guest. It is a completely open, “Tiki Hut” type of structure with a palm roof, (that was recycled plastic that looks exactly like palm) and amazing views from wherever you park yourself. We were immersed in “jungle” and in touch with nature! (But not too much!) The pool - divine. Cool, crystal clear, and literally on the edge of the hill with the best view of all on the property. I will refrain from sharing the picture of me with on the edge but there are plenty of pictures posted here that can give you only a hint of what it has to offer.
Our food was amazing and portions were plentiful. A bit more expensive than some places but also the nicest place we ate during our trip and in our lives in general. And beach casual! Henner set the table for us one night with flowers and candles by the pool, cross your fingers for this treat! We could not believe that amazing canopy of stars that were above us for our meal…and no bugs! I doubt we will ever experience something that private and romantic again unless we win the lottery. Thank you Henner! After dinner he laid out candles by the day beds and we took post dinner naps by starlight, listening to the ocean. Spectacular!
Activities were available and we opted to do the Butterfly Farm Tour with Mike, Zip Line Tour & an afternoon fishing. In hindsight I could have skipped the Zip Line but that is because I prefer that San Miguel had no crowds or retails shops and was just empty beach versus Samara which really only had shopping, restaurants and a packed beach. If you like to shop, do the zip line in the morning and spend the afternoon in town. Ourselves, once done zipping we drove as fast as we could back and jumped in the pool. Do not miss Mike’s tour or the lunch place on the beach (I forget the name but it is the only one “on” the beach). We ate at several local places for lunch during our week there. Our advice: eat at the Costa Rican owned/operated places.
We felt the value of Cristal Azul was excellent, worth every penny! The hotel and the grounds are so charming and tropical, the service is five star, food is fantastic, everything is well maintained and cared for, unforgettable, breathtaking views, plenty to do and the kindest hosts ready to point you in all the right directions. Perfect if the small, intimate, pampered experience is what you want and quality, comfort and cuisine matter greatly. We almost stayed at another hotel close by so if you are debating let us offer you this advice: Cristal Azul is the only hotel in town with ocean views and all hotels require you to drive to the beach. In our opinion, it was by far the nicest hotel in town and most authentic. We are already trying to gather a group of friends for a return in 2015!

Room Tip: Contact Zene, she will answer any questions that you have!
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  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Lauren M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oregon
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 June 2013

My husband and I stayed at Cristal Azul the beginning of May and everything you read in these reviews is true! We found Cristal on Tripadvisor and because of the stellar reviews, we knew this was the place for us. Henner & Zene are fabulous hosts and made us feel like family. We spent 4 nights with them and it was truly hard to leave. They gave us fantastic suggestions of places to visit and things to do. They are a wealth of information for all things Costa Rica. We were fortunate enough to be the only guests staying with them at the time and they gave us run of the place. Every morning, we had a delicious breakfast overlooking the ocean. Henner & Zene discussed the night's menu with us each morning. Fresh fish, steak, chicken, anything we wanted for our gourmet dinners. The food was outstanding and they made sure our every need was met. Our cabina was spacious and comfortable with an incredible view of the ocean. And the outdoor shower was the best! There is nothing like showering with a family of howler monkeys hanging out in the trees. But one of the best parts of our stay was the tribe of pups! 6 wonderful dogs also reside at Cristal and they absolutely made our vacation! They made every day so much fun.
There are not enough words to describe how phenomenal our time at Cristal Azul was. You absolutely MUST stay here!!! You will want to go back again and again. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Kazmo77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stamford, Connecticut, United States
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 9 June 2013

We stayed at Cristal Azul a couple of weeks ago. We have been to the Costa Rica Pacific coast several times. From Manuel Antonio to Samara, to Nosara, to Tamarindo and Playa del Coco near the Liberia airport and other places in between.
We can say Cristal Azul is the most amazing place we have visited so far. If you are looking for the true unspoiled, and peaceful Costa Rican beauty, visit Cristal Azul. The place is amazing, quiet, a true natural setting with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.
Add to all this the friendliness and attention of the Zene and Henner and the staff. This is paradise.
We are coming back as soon as we can.

Room Tip: All rooms are the same. One or two might be bigger for families with children. I don't know. I t...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Marco C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cristal Azul

Property: Cristal Azul
Address: Norte Entrada de Residencias San Miguel 1KM, Playa San Miguel 50906, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playa San Miguel
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Playa San Miguel
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3 star — Cristal Azul 3*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cristal Azul is the perfect destination for those looking to step off the beaten path and experience what Costa Rica was like before the world arrived. A totally private property with no public access, guests enjoy 180’ panoramic ocean views and the ultimate in barefoot luxury in a rustic setting. Prepare to unplug, unwind, and get lost in paradise! Great times are had here and memories of a lifetime are created! Four cozy "cabinas" guarantee there is never a crowd; each is equipped with AC, ceiling fans, screened doors that let in the ocean breeze and sound of the surf below, hot water, outdoor garden showers, fine linens, Raw Botanicals organic bath products, and the most impressive views in the area. An oversized, open air Rancho provides a luxe “Glamping” experience with an honor bar and billiards table as well as dining and lounge area ample enough for all guests. The vanishing edge pool overlooks six miles of undeveloped beach and provides a front row seat to the most amazing stargazing under the canopy of the Milky Way! A full typical Costa Rican breakfast is served daily and a chef prepares dinner nightly for guests in the Rancho upon demand. The only Costa Rica owned and operated hotel in San Miguel, your hosts also own LocosCocos (#1 Restaurant in area, #1 Beach Bar in Costa Rica; Lonely Planet)which is a guest favorite for sunset dinners on the beach. It is also a great place to spend the day steps from the surf with cold beers and catch of the fresh fish and seafood ready at your beck and call! 4WD and love adventure required too reach this area! Reservations required-gated entrance for guests only. For best rates, book direct! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Cristal Azul Hotel Playa San Miguel
Cristal Azul Costa Rica/Playa San Miguel

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