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“Family Vacation ”
Review of Hotel Bula Bula

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Hotel Bula Bula
Ranked #4 of 6 Hotels in Playa Grande
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 10 May 2014 via mobile

My husband, one year old son and I just returned from our vacation in Costa Rica. Hotel Bula Bula was a great place! We love the pool, the 5 min walk to the beach and the restaurant onsite. My son has several food allergies. Needless to say we were concerned traveling but the staff at Bula Bula went above and beyond. The chef Johanna went out of her way to make him a special meal every night. She will never know how much that meant to us. If the owner is reading this, she is amazing! We also loved Ernesto. He went out of his way to dance and play with my son even when he was busy. And even brought hi out Legos. My husband also enjoyed talking with Jesse and David at the bar in the evenings. For parents traveling with children that go to bed early I just want to say the Bula Bula rooms have rocking chairs outside the rooms with the pool, restaurant and bar steps away. We could put our son to bed as usual and still enjoy an evening together. The Monkey Park, estuary boat tour, beach and pool made for great family activities. Tamarindo is also a 15 min boat ride away. Great vacation!

Stayed: April 2014
1  Thank sharkey249
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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87 - 93 of 371 reviews

Reviewed 16 April 2014

Bula Bula serves big portions of delicious food in a really fun atmosphere. Although we visited in the off season, the atmosphere was fun and the staff was amazing. The pork enchiladas are really, really delicious and almost more than one person can eat. We heard good things about desserts, but were too full to indulge.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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Thank Elizabees
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 April 2014

My friends and I visited Hotel Bula Bula restaurant almost every night during our vacation last week. We had a fantastic time!!! The staff is great especially Ernesto and Jesse! Make sure you have Jesse dance with the ceramic pig and have Ernesto show you his apron!! Miss those boys already!! We also met Todd and the "Great Waltini" during our visits at the restaurant. Love them!! One night, we brought our catch of the day to the restaurant and Todd ate dinner with us. He is very helpful in his knowledge of the area and also the neighboring countries. Truly outstanding staff/hotel/restaurant and I can't wait to return! Roll Tide Jesse!! Ernesto, don't fall out of trees picking flowers for the pretty ladies!! :) Pura Vida! FYI....Order the Rum Punch-Wicked when you visit..... I think i am still recovering from that one..

Room Tip: I did not stay in the hotel, but Todd did show us one of the empty rooms and it was very clean, deco...
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank 77JLA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2014

Hotel Bula Bula hosted my wedding on March 14th, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a destination wedding venue. Todd was extremely helpful and flexible in arranging all the details (menu, drinks, guest arrangements, florist, etc.), and Chef Wally made us some fantastic food! My guests raved about everything from the appetizers to the mahi mahi to the brownies and ice cream for dessert, and I was told by many that it was the best wedding food they'd ever had. We chose to have the reception on the back patio, and it was absolutely beautiful. There was space for dancing and the service was fantastic. I cannot say enough good things about the staff, especially Victor, Ernesto, and Graciela. They were always friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make our stay a truly special experience. The hotel has a nice pool, comfortable rooms, delicious food, and is conveniently located next to the estuary. This means that you have easy access to Playa Tamarindo or a 10 minute walk to Playa Grande. Playa Grande is a perfect place to set up a ceremony as it is much quieter than Tamarindo, but still gets a breathtaking sunset over the Pacific. There was even parking close to the beach entrance so we could transport people and set up equipment easily. Everything turned out better than I could ever imagine!

Thanks so much to everyone at Bula Bula who made our wedding day a truly special occasion. You guys rock!!

-Russ and Catherine

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank Cbo147
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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...
  • 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
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
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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: £62 - £118 (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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