The setting is so stunning I cannot help awarding this property an excellent rating. Do not expect much from the food or staff, expect to be comfortable in your room (more or less), but certainly expect to enjoy the trails and the spectacular views of the mountain and lake.
We opted for a Smithsonian Room (10D) and had a spectacular view of the volcano. The rooms are somewhat basic but good by CR standards. I would skip the many paid excursion offerings presented by the hotel. Instead, I recommend going on the free guided morning walk and exploring the grounds on your own. Do not be surprised if the guide on the free walk is utterly useless. When asked what a bird was he generally replied that it was obviously a bird. This same ignoramus was suddenly transformed into an ornithologist on the paid walk (I happened to overhear him explaining very minute details about bird behavior as I passed by his paid group). Still, you will get a chance to see a lot of the grounds and really it is the setting and the trail system that most highly recommends the lodge. The staff is remarkably unfriendly and unhelpful given that most people in CR are so kind and welcoming.
Understand: The road leading to the lodge is very primitive and so you should have a vehicle with some clearance. We had one of the ubiquitous gold RAV4s and this little SUV was perfect for maneuvering this road and the many other rough forest trails passing for roads in CR.
Also, there is only one food option: a restaurant that serves mediocre food at tourist prices.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated only 1.7 Miles from the majestic Arenal Volcano and with a spectacular view of Lake Arenal, the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) offers guests the opportunity to DISCOVER, EXPLORE and RELAX. Located within the Arenal Conservation Area and surrounded by rainforests and nature, AOL sits on a 870 acres property, which consists of 400 acres of reforestation, 270 acres of natural forest and 200 acres of cultivated land. The hotel offers 48 comfortable rooms surrounded by gardens, the majority with a direct view of the volcano and/or the forest. The 7 miles of well-maintained trails for walking, horseback riding or biking running through the property provide good opportunities to observe a variety of flora and fauna. Approximately 400 species of birds live in the area making AOL a preferred destination for bird watchers. Activities at the hotel include hikes to the waterfall or to explore Cerro Chato (an extinct volcano with a small lake in the crater), horseback riding, bicycling through the trails, enjoying a refreshing swim in our pool, or simply relaxing with a massage in our SPA. The hotel is well located to serve as a base for a variety of excursions such as: Cano Negro Nature Refuge, hot springs, Venado Caves, Canopy Tours, Arenal Hanging Bridges, Fishing, White Water Rafting, Canyoning, Biking etc. It also serves as a very interesting stop before heading on to Monteverde Cloud Forest or to the beaches of the Pacific coast. Arenal Observatory Lodge is the perfect place for adventure lovers, families, and honeymooners. With its spectacular location, great service and friendly personnel you won't be disappointed ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Arenal Observatory Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
- Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/La Fortuna De San Carlos