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“Beautiful & Relaxing!”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Level Contributor
24 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Beautiful & Relaxing!”
Reviewed 17 July 2014

From the staff to the amenities, the grounds, and even the daily Chef's recommended dishes, everything was absolutely fabulous at the Banana. We stayed in the Howler Suite, with gorgeous ocean views (even from the bathroom shower) and the perfect wildlife-watching vantage point, as well. This is the best place to stay in the Puerto Viejo area without a doubt. Give them a try and you won't be disappointed -- you won't even want to leave!

Room Tip: The Howler Suite is worth the splurge!
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Vidaesviaje
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (385)
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English first
Oregon City, Oregon
Level Contributor
20 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 July 2014 via mobile

We spent our last three nights with Colin and his staff and were terribly dismayed when it came time to leave. We truly wish we had just skipped the tourist trap of Arenal Volcano and spent those days here in wonderland. We met some amazing people during our stay and came home more relaxed than I have ever been after a vacation.

We were initially BLOWN AWAY by the grounds and spent an hour wandering around while our room was readied. When the staff informed us the room was ready we realized our heavy bags had been brought upstairs for us! Unexpected but much appreciated after the long ride in. Our room had a bottle of wine, fruit, local chocolates and a hand colored note thanking us for choosing Banana Azul for our honeymoon. Incredibly thoughtful!

The rooms are gorgeous and absolutely perfect, as long as you're a bit adventurous and aren't hoping for things like a tv. Who watches tv on vacation anyways?!? Yes, the porches are "shared" (there is a divider between patios but it doesn't fully section it off) but we had some great conversations with our neighbors that way! The walls are thin, it can get a little loud during the really good storms (or if your neighbors fancy a romp!) and for utmost comfort if its warm you will want to sleep with the French doors open. They have no screens so you will wake up to a creepy crawly or 7, just use the mosquito net and get over it. :-) There aren't nearly as many of them that close to the water. Go 100 yards into the jungle and thats a different story!

There was no AC, but other than on one day for 2-3 midday hours, we found the fans were perfectly efficient in keeping the air from becoming stagnant or too hot.

Remember, this is the Caribbean, you are not going to get the Hilton anywhere. The service, while incredibly courteous and sweet, does take longer than we are used to. If you feel the staff seem indifferent realize it is likely just cultural differences and not a personal attack.

The couples relaxation massage in the beach hut is worth every penny. I laid in the sand, a useless pile of goo, for hours after she worked her magic. They time most of the strokes with the crashing of the waves, makes for an amazingly relaxing effect.

The "typical" breakfasts were delicious, well presented and we really enjoyed having the two options of hot items to choose from. On our last morning I really wanted to serve my new husband breakfast in bed. I snuck downstairs to inquire and the woman working was so amazing! With a grin she shoo'ed my robe clad self back to our room stating she would take care of everything and boy did she! She arrived with a beautifully displayed tray of delicious goodies, a fresh ice bucket for our champagne, yummy hot coffee and cold OJ for mimosas! The hubby loved it!

The two dinners we had were very good and I had an amazing steak that was actually prepared rare (hard to find in CR, the waitress was so grossed out lol.) One of our lunches was brought on a small serving tray beachside for us, so relaxing!

**The ONLY and I repeat ONLY negative aspect we had was regarding laundry services. About half of the laundry we had washed came back ruined with multiple large bleach stains. They were big, enough that there was no way they didn't notice during folding. We only brought clothes we didn't care too much for so other than one of my hubbys favorite shirts it wasn't too much of a big deal. Our packs were lighter for the return trip! :-) Pura Vida.

The town of Puerto Viejo is so laid back, we had a blast partying the nights away with the locals dancing, playing pool and dominoes and just chatting with new friends!

There is far too much good to say about this Hotel so I will end with JUST GO. IT IS AMAZING.

Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank jessicaboedeker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dixon, Montana
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 July 2014

We visited Costa Rica the first week in June. Hotel Banana Azul was our destination and was/is a wonderful paradise...would venture to say that this is the number one place to stay in this area, near Puerto Viejo. The staff is caring and friendly, and the relaxed atmosphere is superb. The hotel itself is very nice with spacious accommodations and beautifully tended grounds. The "typical" breakfasts, lunches and dinners were excellent. The beach is private and just a short walk away from Puerto Viejo (also accessible by taxi, which is about a 5-10 minute ride). There is no doubt in our minds that we will be visiting here again.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Tracy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rosh
Level Contributor
30 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 July 2014 via mobile

We're there for 3 nights. It's a special place, the decoreation of the hotel itself and the garden, the pool - all very nice. The staff are great, the most "hotelish" we've seen in costa rica at this price level. The private beach, were you can order from the bar without needing to do nothing. Just beautiful place.
What missing, also we gave it the 5 points:
A/c - not always needed but steel.
Tv - needed. For sure at this hotel level.
The one thing we didn't like - the noises! all the walls made of wood and you can hear everything, everything, everything and the worst was the rain drops smashing into the roof. Ssshhh, want to sleep... :-)

Stayed July 2014, travelled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank erelb2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cairns, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 July 2014

We are an Australian couple who recently stayed at Banana Azul on 27/6/14 - 29/6/14 while exploring Costa Rica. It was a great experience and deserves to be the number one hotel in the area. It definitely has that relaxed Caribbean lifestyle. The hotel is a 3 minute drive just outside of Puerto Viejo. You can also access Puerto Viejo on foot by beach. The town is small and authentic to its grass roots surfing culture. As with anywhere in the world, there are reports of petty theft so travel together at night and leave valuables at home. There are sophisticated restaurants which blow you away with fusion cuisine. The hotel provides charming small rooms and very spacious balconies where you can chill in your own hammocks for hours. The hotel has a private beach with beach chairs and a bar selling 2 for 1 cocktails during a 4-hour happy hour every day of the week. The restaurant on site is amazing and good value. This chef can cook a juicy and tender sirloin steak better than most and is a real asset to the hotel. The staff are friendly and are very welcoming to non-Spanish speaking travelers. If you feel like a massage, there are quality trained masseurs on the beach. If you feel like booking a tour last minute, there is gecko trail adventures on site from 6am to 9pm each day. Expect to fall asleep at night listening to waves of the ocean and wake early to the morning sunrise. This hotel delivers a personalised stay with only a handful of rooms giving you that slice of paradise you have been looking for.

Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank David R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 July 2014

I have spent many years living in and touring in Costa Rica, and Banana Azul is my favorite when in Puerto Viejo!
A perfect blend of North American standards and Costa Rican flair. Nicely decorated with attention to detail, beautiful grounds and a wonderful mix of flora and fauna throughout create a special ambiance, combine that with a great location on the beach and attentive staff, how can you go wrong!
This is my first choice for hotel stay when in Puerto Viejo. Great value for the price!

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank loritravels2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
49 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2014

We stayed 4 nights at Banana Azul during a 2 week trip to Costa Rica. Our plan was to spend 3 days relaxing on the beach/eating/drinking following a trip of adventure! It was relaxing, for the most part...

PROS:

- The beach and the drink service. They have a private beach with shaded spots to sit. It is clean, quiet and relaxing. The water was rough when we were there, but my husband had a blast playing in the waves. Drinks and lunch could be delivered right to our chairs. We took advantage. The drink special was the best deal, so we mostly did the 2-for-1 special of the day. Our waiter on the beach was very friendly. Hammocks by the pool and the beach were great. Heavenly!

- Location: 4 minute cab ride from town/the bus stop and 10 minutes walking. You can also rent bikes, but it cheaper to cab for 2 people. There are restaurants and bars fairly close.

- Grounds: The garden, pool, beach, etc. are all very pretty and well-maintained. The pool was too cold for me, but I'm always cold.

- Cleanliness: The room and everything I saw around the hotel was very clean.

- Bed: Our bed was very comfortable.

CONS:

- Room: We stayed in the garden room suite (late booking). It is right next to the front desk, lobby area and kitchen (it is a small hotel). It is loud. Poor location also; other guests watched me go into and out of my room each time I entered/exited...definitely awkward to have an audience. There are also no windows or peephole on the door. Once inside our room, it felt a bit like a bunker. The big tub was nice, but it took forever to fill. Also, I kept my swimsuit on in the tub, since there was a big space in the plastic roof over the garden and the wall... and there were construction workers next door who could look in if they tried. The bed is comfortable and once it quiets down, it is easy to sleep.

- Employees: The front desk staff and the Geeko Adventure staff were very friendly and accommodating. The restaurant staff was indifferent and borderline rude. We came to have a late lunch one day and they were visibly annoyed that we came late (according to the schedule, lunch would be served for another hour).

- Food: I have Celiac disease. I was initially happy to see that there were gluten free options/accommodations on the restaurant menu. From the moment I arrived and spoke to someone regarding this I realized that most of the staff did not truly understand what gluten free eating is. I tried to be careful when eating there. Breakfast was included and good (my husband has no food allergies). Every evening there is a dinner special (it was the best value). When the dinner special was not gluten free, I was told to order off the menu and I could not have any part of the special/no substitutions.

They fed me gluten: This only applies to those with a gluten intolerance. On my last day, I ordered nachos for lunch (hey, it's vacation!). Corn tortilla chips could be substituted according to the menu. I inquired repeatedly while ordering about gluten free/corn rather than flour tortilla chips and then confirmed that it was the corn chips upon being served (it's hard to tell the difference once it's cooked/smothered in toppings). Long story short, they served me the flour tortillas and I became very ill and was taken to the Clinic. Don't trust this place if you have Celiac Disease! Costa Rica was supposed to be an easy country to eat gluten free in and it was otherwise! One of the staff members, I think Miguel, drove us to and from the Clinic. He waited 3 hours or so to drive us back to the Hotel. He was so nice to drive us and wait. It probably ruined whatever plans he had for the evening. I was very appreciative of this!

This is a nice place to relax for a few days while on a trip to Costa Rica, but I wouldn't chose it to be my main destination. If you are looking for a beachy, all-inclusive hotel/resort, go to the Pacific side of Costa Rica or a Caribbean island. My husband would stay there again if he had a different room. We won't be returning, because of the gluten incident.

Room Tip: Don't pick the garden bath suites (room 9 & 10).
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Laurel7682
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
colinsito, Owner at Hotel Banana Azul, responded to this review, 6 July 2014
I find it odd that your review follows a letter to me that you felt our staff did not take this incident seriously enough. In that letter you, I also corrected that the person who took you to the clinic and stayed with you was the General Manager and his name is Jorge. He was in constant contact with me while he was with you at the clinic.

First of all I am very sorry about what happened. I was well aware of the situation and I can assure you that the staff was also acutely aware of their error.

The first immediate reaction was to get you to a clinic and make sure you were okay. And while it looks like you are not aware, but there was a big meeting of kitchen and service staff immediately following the incident and the staff member that made the mistake (regardless of what caused your reaction) was suspended from work for this gross oversight.

Overall he is not a bad employee, but like most here, he is young and just has no comprehension of what food allergies can potentially mean for someone. Most food allergies in countries like this and especially in an area like Puerto Viejo would go totally un diagnosed and people just live with the consequences. In fact, I would bet that not even half the staff know what gluten is.

Given that we had a previous staff member ( North American), that was gluten intolerant, we are one of the very few places that make an effort to try and accommodate food sensitivities. I know this might not sound like enough and I agree whole-heartedly. But over the years of living here, I have had to come to terms and accept there is only so much I can do to get local staff to understands the needs of people from developed countries traveling here and we just have to keep working on it.

Given that this particular staff member had no idea of the severity of his lack of attention to detail, I actually felt bad about suspending him. But we did so to send a very strong message to the other staff as to how serious this was. We also did it for his own development as we really want him to succeed in his future in working in tourism. In our small community, it is one the best jobs that locals can get, given the vast majority have not even finished high school.

As for the concerns you have about people spying and watching you at the hotel enter and exiting your room, I am not sure how to respond to that, so, I suggest you be open to the possibility, they were not watching you. If this condition persists, you might research "scopophobia".

With your decision not to return to Banana Azul, given the severity of your condition, and you having to putt your well-being in the hands of people who might not understand your issue - if it was me, I would limit my travel to developed North American countries.

We have also decided to evaluate as to whether we are capable of meeting the needs of people with multiple food sensitivities. It just seems, no matter how hard we try, I can not feel confident that the staff can fully understand and appreciate every new dietary phenomenon.

Again, I am sorry for what happened. I wish we could have done better. And I am very sorry if you got the impression we did not take it seriously. I can assure you that was not the case and in fact was quite the opposite.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Banana Azul

Property: Hotel Banana Azul
Address: Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Banana Azul 3.5*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Banana Azul hotel is a small and simple hotel north of town on Playa Negra. The small boutique hotel has been created with care using local products and a philosophy that emphasizes relaxation. We cater to adults, 16 years and over. Blooming gardens adorn the property, as does several freely-hanging hammocks, providing the perfect spot for afternoon napping or leisurely reading. A meandering pond inhabited by fish and turtles flows through portions of the property adding a lighter element to the ongoing natural soundtrack of waves crashing against the shoreline. The hotel consists of 22 beautiful guest rooms with private baths, fans (some with A/C), and free WiFi. Most rooms are on the second floor of the main building, and open onto a large veranda with sweeping ocean views and of the garden. Banana Azul offers its guests a quaint restaurant that serves a complimentary filling breakfast, variety of lunch options and refreshing drinks throughout the day and a relaxing three entre dinner option in a romantic atmosphere at night. Caribe Fun Tours is on site to assist with tours and transportation needs and can assist with a variety of package options including visits to the Arenal Volcano, canopy tours, snorkeling trips, and even rafting excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Banana Azul Hotel
Banana Azul Puerto Viejo
Hotel Banana Azul Costa Rica/Limon

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