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“Our Favorite Place to Visit”
Review of Hotel Bula Bula

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Hotel Bula Bula
Ranked #4 of 6 Hotels in Playa Grande
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 15 March 2014

My husband and I visited Hotel Bula Bula for 10 days in January, but the wonderful memories are still fresh in our minds. This was our fifth year in a row as returned guests. If you enjoy all inclusive hotels with swim up bars, Hotel Bula Bula is not for you. If you enjoy going to the beach and find yourself tripping over the sunbathers to find a place to lay your towel, Hotel Bula Bula is not for you. If you want to experience serenity, get in tune with your inner self, watch the beautiful sunset disappear every evening on the beach, mingle with others who come from all parts of the world, who are looking for the same experience, this hotel may be for you. Granted, "stuff" may happen once in awhile that you're not accustomed to in the hurry up, get it done USA, but hey, you're in Costa Rica!! I can't begin to list all of the positive attributes of the owners, Wally and Todd, and their entire staff. Their restaurant, The Great Waltinis, kicks out some awesome dishes. On Monday evenings, they host a Mexican Buffet that is to die for. Wally hand makes the entire spread, and he takes great pride in seeing his customers enjoy his tasteful culinary dishes. As for us, we are already planning our next visit to Playa Grande and Hotel Bula Bula. We just returned from a stay in another Central America country, and we thought this may be the place to knock Bula Bula off its perch as our favorite place to vacation. Close, but no. Hotel Bula Bula rules!

Room Tip: 10 similar rooms to choose from. The rooms closer to the bar/restaurant area may have better WIFI re...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank sully5452
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 March 2014

Would you like to brush your teeth when you get up? flush the toilet? Take a shower when you come back from the beach covered in salt water, sunblock and dust from the walk? If you answer yes to any of the above, then Hotel Bula Bula is not the place for you: they don't have running water!!!

We made a last minute reservation through booking.com, it's a bumpy ride to get there but the place was basic and nice, about a 10 min walk from the beach, our room was small-ish but we were fine with it. At no point through booking or check-in, we were informed that there was an ongoing water issue (apparently it was going on for 5 days according to our neighbors). Surely it didn't even cross our mind to ask assuming running water is a basic feature of a 3-star, $120/night hotel.

The first day, when we noticed no water coming out of taps, we were told they needed to turn on the pump. We got back from the beach, there was no running water but after about 1,5 hrs, water was back. We were told that it didn't rain so the whole area didn't have water, however it sounded more like a blip then an ongoing issue. The second day, we left early and spent all day on the beach, it was hot and humid. We came back looking forward to a shower, but no such luck. We were told we had to wait till 6pm as there was nothing they could do, then it was 7pm but it wasn't till midnight that there was any water! At some point, electricity went down as well! The owner was nowhere to be found!

To add on to the issues, the remote to the AC stopped working in the middle of the night and turns out they have no staff on the property at night! If anything goes wrong, you are in a very secluded area with no assistance!

The next morning, again, no water!!! When I asked the manager shrugged his shoulders and said "nothing we can do", I told him about the AC, asking if no one was here at night, he said "no!". I told him that we wanted to check out, he said "OK".

We realized that there wasn't going to be an imminent solution and no one really seemed to think that this was an issue but we had a 20 hour journey back home the next day and we desperately needed a shower. We assumed under the circumstances our cancellation would be refunded as any respectable business would do: were we wrong? The manager said they have to pay booking.com so he couldn't refund the money (which makes no sense, they probably pay a fee not the full amount). We suggested to take off the food bill which would even it out, he refused. It was quite obvious that he didn't care, was not going to do anything including a simple apology, or even try to reach a compromise, we had no choice but to leave.

We understand that the water issue is not their fault, but it is their problem! The restaurant down the street has a water tank but the hotel doesn't or doesn't use it! The lack of a water tank coupled with the lack of management presence combined with the carefree attitude of the staff is more than enough to ruin any holiday. Sometimes business has to suffer financial loss under unforeseen circumstances to make things right for their customers.

I am sure the owner will come with a vengeance after me in this platform as he did to previous bad reviewers, but i can only say he could have simply shown up, admit the problem and make it right. Before he makes any allegations, we were there to have a good time, kept up the good spirit but to a point then we had to leave; this is not a broken amenity like a TV, water is as basic a necessity as it gets.

Before you book this hotel, ask yourself: Do i want to risk infrastructure issues that no one will own up to during my holiday so I will loose money and time? There is way too much choice in Costa Rica to waste your hard earned money and vacation time... I usually dismiss these one-off situations, but there is a first for everything that I have realized dragging suitcases into a boat, then on the beach at 35C heat after no shower and i can assure you that it is really not fun!

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Funtimes900
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PG-FT-Resident, Owner at Hotel Bula Bula, responded to this reviewResponded 11 March 2014

First of all, kudos to our local water association for the difficult and thankless job of keeping the flow of water to all of the community. In the *twelve years* we have been in business here, this is the first community-wide water service breakdown we have experienced that overwhelmed our defensive measures to make sure our guests are comfortable.

Regarding your complaint about the standard of care you received
There are literally hundreds of glowing reviews on this website about our wonderful staff and the attentive care they provide our guests. I’m very proud of our team as they made extraordinary efforts during the two days of extensive water supply problems. Your near frantic review on this website likely indicates to readers the attitude you exhibited towards our staff and how that might color your recollection of events.

Regarding your complaint about a refund
You mentioned that you did not book directly through us but with an online travel agency. Our manager explained to you that there is a refund process that involves the agency who transacted your booking. We are simply unable to hand you cash upon departure. Although not up to your expectations, this is standard procedure anywhere. As of this writing, the refund process has been completed and you were refunded the hotel charge made on the day of your check-out.

Regarding your complaint about the availability of water
I’m glad that you wrote about the water issue on your first night being a “blip rather than an ongoing issue”. This coincided with our first day of extensive water supply issues. Behind the scenes, there was much work being done by our staff and the water company to minimize any interruptions. I’m glad to learn that their efforts were successful.

The second day was difficult not only for our hotel but for the entire community. We don't expect you to understand the magnitude of the challenge Playa Grande was facing. You’ve already shared your thoughts about this day, but everything that could have been done was done. Before sunrise of the third day, the community water association had resolved the various issues of the water supply and the hotel water was back to normal.

In summary, I again wish to thank our staff and our water association for their extraordinary efforts and an admirable job. After living here for twelve years, we fully understand that we are custodians of this precious resource and make our best conservation efforts to ensure access to water is enjoyed by everyone.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2014

My fiancee and I had a fantastic stay at Hotel Bula Bula and I'm hoping we can come back soon. The staff were all friendly and helpful (and even let us borrow towels after we had checked out and gone to the beach) and helped us to book activities like turtle viewing and surf lessons. The food was delicious and the portions were very generous, you could probably get away with splitting some dishes depending on your appetite. The beach is a 5 minute walk away. The rooms were clean, comfortable and cutely decorated. It is definitely off the beaten track, but this was exactly what we were looking for. I can't wait to come back!

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank BrettsterB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 February 2014

My wife and I returned last night from our stay at the Bula Bula. That's the real reason for writing this review so quickly. Everything was fabulous. From the moment we checked in till the day we left we couldn't have had a better time. Everyone was friendly. The staff, and the other guests. The breakfasts were great. We didn't have lunch there because we didn't want to miss a minute on the beautiful beaches. The beaches are a 5 minute walk and you'd just about be alone there were so few people on the beach. The water was warm the waves were great. We try to go to a differnt resort every year, but we'd definitely fo back to the Bula Bula.
Hat's off to the staff and don't miss happy hout at the Great Waltinis (the bar at the Bula Bula). Go, you want be disappointed. I didn't rate the fitness center beacause there isn't one. Who needs one, you're on vacation

Room Tip: They all seemed fine. There are only 10 and everyone there seemed to like their room. They all hav...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Tim A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2014

This is my first trip to Costa Rica and I'm staying with friends in a condo 20 minutes drive from Playa Grande. They are surfers and love that beach so we go to it daily. On my first day here, we stopped at the bar/restaurant Bula Bula and had the most fabulous drinks and home made tortilla chips and guacamole, learned about the Monday night Mexican buffet and decided to head back to it. We arrived promptly for happy hour and happy indeed it was. It was a huge social gathering with everyone joining in, meeting new people - guests, visitors, and locals gathered to just be friendly. I was struck with the good humour, kindness, and gentle teasing that the bartender Victor displayed towards everyone - knowing names, calling some of them his auntie. We met some guests who stay there every year and they showed us the rooms. Very sweet, clean, cozy and attractive with a pair of rocking chairs outside looking into the garden and pool area. Without question, I would stay here and probably never want to leave. I have 2 days left in Costa Rica and I'm begging my friends to return to Bula Bula every day for happy hour and dinner. You couldn't do better anywhere or feel more welcome! Highly recommend it.

Room Tip: all the rooms are great and overlook the pool/garden. Can't go wrong with any of them. There'...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank ProfessorNurse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 February 2014

Wonderful experience at Bula Bula! Bula was recommended by a friend and it did not disappoint. I started my stay with a warm welcome from the staff as though we were old friends. This was followed by many great meals...we highly recommend the tuna and eggs Benedict! Bula's open bar and dining area make for a great place to gather and meet new friends. The owner, Todd, and his staff (particularly Jessy and Ernesto!) add to the warm atmosphere and entertainment. As for the property itself, the rooms have a colorful, Costa Rican charm and the beds are super comfortable. They were also very well air-conditioned, which was great since we had unseasonably warm weather. Lastly, the property is only a 10-minute walk to Playa Grande...a wide, uncrowded surfer's beach. Be sure to catch the gorgeous sunsets each evening. All in a great experience! Thanks to all and I hope to see you again soon!
- Hao

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Hao P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2014

My fiancé Kyle and I heard about Bula Bula through TripAdvisors and through a friend who lives and works in Playa Grande, so we decided to give it a try.

If staying in Tamarindo (which we were), Bula Bula offers a free boat ride across the estuary with dinner reservations. We did not have reservations so we decided to take the 20 minute drive and we're so glad that we did!

We ordered the buffet which included beans, rice, chicken, steak, guacamole, various salsas, and more food which I cannot honestly remember because there was a lot of food... it was all very delicious! For dessert, we ordered their chocolate brownie with ice cream.... WOW.


The atmosphere is very pretty and welcoming, and the staff is great. Jesse and Ernesto are a friendly and hilarious duo. Todd (the owner) came over and talked to us for a while, sharing his story and experiences with us. He is an excellent host and treats his guests like family.

My fiancé and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Bula Bula and would highly recommend!

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Candice M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Bula Bula

Address: Playa Grande Road, Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playa Grande
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Family Hotel in Playa Grande
#5 Romantic Hotel in Playa Grande
Price Range: £78 - £121 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Bula Bula 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set outside Tamarindo in the beach village and national park of Playa Grande. We offer the romantic, the surfer, and the active traveler a tropical oasis amid the tourist stops. Superior rooms with modern amenities compliment the elegant restaurant where exceptional seafood, steaks and local specialties are served. Friendly and attentive staff ensure your stay is a satisfying one. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bula Playa Grande

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